Ever since she dipped her toe into a pool, Maggie has been obsessed with being the water. Driven to be one of the best swimmers in her state and country, Maggie is training hard for her final year of high school and her college career as well as a shot at the United States Olympic team.
But in between keeping her grades up and swimming laps, Maggie can’t help but wonder if she’s missing out on something. Namely, dating, guys, relationships and the logistics of making out. As Maggie ponders this situation, she begins to see her best friend and fellow swimmer, Levi in a new light. So Maggie proposes that Levi teach her the basics of making out before she graduates from high school.
What could possibly go wrong? Continue reading
When her senior year at her prestigious private school comes crashing down on her, Taylor is expelled in disgrace. Covering for her boyfriend, Taylor figured her powerful senator father’s reputation and influence would be enough to help her survive being caught with a backpack full of prescription medication.
Turns out she was wrong.
Now she’s home, forced to go to the Hundred Oaks High School and starting over. She’s got daily visits with her guidance counselor to make sure she’s staying away from the drugs and trying to recover from this huge hit to her goal of getting into Yale and following in the family business.
But what if the life that Taylor had planned out for herself isn’t necessarily the one she wants or needs?
Miranda Kenneally’s latest Hundred Oaks Defending Taylor novel examines this question and gives us a fascinating character study into Taylor and the people who inhabit her life. Taylor’s frustration at her family, her situation and her ex-boyfriend spill over time and again and are well explored. As with Kenneally’s other novels, the characters and situations in the novel feel completely authentic and are well realized. Taylor’s struggle to find her role on her new soccer team is well done, as is her confusion over her feelings for that one boy who broke her heart years before but has suddenly turned back up. Turns out that like Taylor, he’s harboring his own secrets from his family and the two find themselves back in each other’s orbit with feelings beginning to resurface. Continue reading
It’s Tuesday and that means it’s time for the Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.
This week’s focus is my top ten new (to me) authors I read during 2014.
1. D.C. Pierson‘s The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Never Had To wasn’t published in 2014, but I finally got it off my to be read shelf early in the year and I’m glad I finally got around to reading it.
2. Ben H. Winters‘ The Last Policeman was chosen for my local community read earlier this year. And while I never quite made it to any of the discussions of the book, I still read the entire trilogy during 2014. Set in a future Earth facing imminent collision with an asteroid, the series examines how society would crumble in the wake of a such news and how various people would react to it. Our hero is a police detective, promoted only because so many others have abandoned their jobs, who keeps trying to close cases, even if there’s no way to really convict the culprit or even if the sentence for said culprit would be a life sentence. The entire trilogy is superbly done and as the asteroid gets closer to Earth, it’s fascinating how society continues to break down and the various scarcities that develop.
3. Emily St. John Mandel‘s Station Eleven is making a lot of year-end best book lists — and for good reason. It’s a book about the end of the world that is far less bleak than The Road, but equally as compelling. But Eleven wasn’t the only Mandel book I read this year. I also read and enjoyed The Lola Quartet. Both are worth every heap of praise that you’ve probably already heard. Consider this just one more recommendation for both.
4. William Campbell Powell. If I had a vote for the Hugo Award for 2015, I’d give it to Expiration Day. In the near future, the ability to have children has been dramatically reduced, leading to couples adopting robotic children. Each year, the family goes on a “vacation” where the child body is upgraded until such time as the children get too old and they’re retired. Our hero is one of the adopted children who realizes that she’s not human and has to struggle with the implications that her life is coming to a close and what, if anything, she can do about it. This one may be shelved in the young adult section of your library or book store, but it’s worth finding.
5. Miranda Kenneally’s Breathe, Annie, Breathe was outside my usual reading comfort zone, but I’m glad I found it and read it. Annie’s struggling with issues related to the death of her boyfriend and so to honor his memory, she vows to run and finish the Country Music Marathon. But Annie faces more than just the physical toll of trying to get in shape for the epic run. She faces the guilt over her memories and the guilt over her new feelings for a fellow runner and adrenaline junkie. Kenneally brings Annie’s dilemma to life in a believable way and one that doesn’t become cliched. And I’ll admit part of the fun was seeing familiar locations from the Music City area referenced in the book.