Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley

Synopsis: A retelling of Sleeping Beauty, filled with magic and adventure. Review: I tried to read Spindle’s End when it first came out, and I gave up after about 50 pages. This time, I made it to the end, but it still left me cold. Robin McKinley’s writing is absolutely gorgeous, and I applaud the plot she devised for her retelling, but I never really connected with the story. I would definitely read another of her books, though, because I did enjoy Beauty. Any recommendations?…

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Jesus and Justice by Peter Goodwin Hetzel

Synopsis: Subtitled “Evangelicals, Race, and American Politics,” an overview of the history of 20th-21st century evangelicalism as it moved from ignoring race to embracing the Christology of Martin Luther King, Jr. Review: In Jesus and Justice, author Peter Goodwin Hetzel writes an incredibly detailed history of Focus on the Family, Sojourners, and the National Association of Evangelicals, among others. He also presents a thorough examination of Martin Luther King Jr.’s theology, which was a topic I’d never really explored before. I knew that King was…

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I’m So Happy For You by Lucinda Rosenfeld

Synopsis: When her flighty best friend all of a sudden lands her Prince Charming, bitter Wendy tries to be happy–she really, really tries. Really. Review: Frenemies + schadenfreude = a book I very much enjoyed reading. I’m So Happy For You takes a very funny and insightful look at best friends who’ve long since forgotten what drew them together in the first place. Lucinda Rosenfeld’s acutely honest depiction of the ways that women hurt each other with a smile kept me absolutely riveted. This is…

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Hollywood is Like High School with Money by Zoey Dean

Synopsis: Taylor’s lucky break landing a job as an assistant at a major film studio turns into a disaster, until she enlists the help of her boss’s alpha girl high school daughter to help her navigate the social landscape. Review: Hollywood is Like High School With Money is not the most original book to come down the pike, but it’s a quick and relaxing read. There’s some good insider-y stuff, which I found amusing because I was a “creative associate” for a film producer once…

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Easy on the Eyes by Jane Porter

Synopsis: At 38, TV personality Tiona Tomlinson is starting to be considered over-the-hill, and she’s not going to give in and get plastic surgery. Review: Jane Porter writes chick lit for women on the cusp of middle age, and her stuff tends to have some substance to it. Easy on the Eyes is an easy read, and I appreciated its message about how our culture is so awful to women as they age. I also liked that her backstory included a Daniel/Marianne Pearl-type marriage and…

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How Children Learn by John Holt

Synopsis: John Holt’s diary of classroom observations. Review: How Children Learn is far too dense for me to critically analyze. Suffice to say I am really enamored of his respect for children, and inspired by his philosophies on facilitating learning. The closing paragraph of the book sums it up: In my mind’s ear I can hear the anxious voices of a hundred teachers asking me, “How can you tell, how can you be sure what the children are learning, or even that they are learning…

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The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

Synopsis: A princess who can talk to animals sent to marry a foreign prince is replaced by her lady-in-waiting in a nefarious plot, and ends up caring for geese while she figures out a plan. Review: The Goose Girl was simply wonderful. Shannon Hale’s writing is poetic, subtle, and complex, and she really knows how to spin a good yarn. You won’t find any feisty foot-stamping redheads or skinnily sinister villains or gushily girly love interests. Ani’s lady-in-waiting Selia used the fact that Ani was…

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Accidentally on Purpose by Mary F. Pols

Synopsis: The true story of 39-year-old film critic who has a one-night stand that leaves her Knocked Up. Review: Accidentally on Purpose is heartwarming, honest, and achingly real. Mary F. Pols is a fantastic writer and she managed to avoid many of the pitfalls of the autobiography by just letting the story tell itself. I was most interested in her relationship with Matt, her 29-year-old unemployed, directionless baby daddy. In many ways she tried to parent him, too, only to have to let go and…

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The Straits by Jeremy Craig

Synopsis: After losing his mother and his sister in a devastating hurricane, high school student Jim now faces losing the FEMA trailer he shares with his aunt, so he turns to gambling to win the money to save them. Review: I just had to review The Straits, because author Jeremy Craig lives in my neighborhood! A mutual friend told me about the book and it sounded right up my alley. I really enjoyed it. The Straits refers to the trailer park where Jim and his…

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