July 24, 2016

The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell: A Book Review (and Giveaway!)

Lisa Jewell (The Making of Us, The Third Wife) does a beautiful job of creating large casts of detailed and believable characters in her novels. Some are likable, some are not, and Jewell carefully explores what makes each of them tick, from the unstable to the overachievers to those in search of love. I always love her books, even if I hate some of the characters.

The Girls in the Garden is no exception, featuring a cast of families who live around the same exclusive garden square in a London neighborhood. The communal space creates a lovely intimacy among the residents, and the teens and preteens of the surrounding flats and houses run wild in it with the blessing of their parents. Then the dreadful moment at the midsummer party when 12-year-old Pip discovers her 13-year-old sister, Grace, bleeding and unconscious, ruptures their placid way of life, and brings old secrets to the surface.

Begging the question of whether anyone ever truly knows their neighbors, The Girls in the Garden is a delicate exploration of teenage love and rivalry, mental illness and how far people will go to protect those they care about. The way Jewell structures the novel--beginning with Pip finding Grace, and then flashing back to six months earlier--leaves the reader eager to find out what ultimately happens. Fans of Liane Moriarty and JoJo Moyes will love The Girls in the Garden, as will anyone who remembers the angst and ecstasy of being a teenager.

I liked Pip and Grace a lot, and so I was uneasy the whole book, anxious to find out what happened to Grace. I also thought it was a little funny (since I live in an area where homeschooling is very popular...) that the homeschoolers in this book were presented as such counter-cultural oddities. But, I'm sure homeschooling is much less common in England!

Anyway, this is a fast, addicting sort of read - perfect for a lazy summer afternoon. And so I checked with the publisher, and they kindly agreed to give away a copy of the book to one of you!

To enter to win, please leave a comment letting me know what Lisa Jewell books you've enjoyed, or (if you've never read her) who your favorite modern English author is. 

Comments will close in one week (on July 31, 2016), and the winner that random.org chooses will be notified soon thereafter. US & Canadian addresses only please! Good luck!

(I originally wrote most of this review for Shelf Awareness. The publisher is providing a copy to you at no cost to me. I just liked the book enough that I asked for one, so that one of you could read it too!) 

July 21, 2016

July Reading Plan: New on the Stack

Consider this post the virtual version of adding something you've already done at the end of a list, just so you can have the joy of checking it off! Here's my reading plan for July.

The Paris Librarian by Hugo Marsten

Why: For review
Where I got it: From Shelf Awareness
Did I read it? Yep. It was a little awkward in the first chapter, lots of expository dialogue, but then I ended up really liking it. The Parisian setting was lovely.

Swear on This Life by Renee Carlino
Why: For review
Where I got it: From Shelf Awareness
Did I read it? Yes, I read the whole thing in one day! I couldn't put it down.

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard
Why: as the follow-up to Red Queen
Where I got it: From the library
Did I read it? Halfway. And then I bailed, because I just didn't care at all what happened to Mare.

A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny
Why: For review
Where I got it: From Shelf Awareness
Did I read it? Yes! It was really good. I loved the first part of this series, and then got a little tired of it in the middle, but I really feel like the last book or two have been great again.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfield
Why: It's been so hyped lately!
Where I got it: From the library
Did I read it? Haven't yet. I have another week till it's due at the library. We shall see if I have time!

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
Why: For fun; I really liked hearing Carson speak at TFOB in March.
Where I got it: From the library
Did I read it? Haven't gotten to it yet... but hopefully soon! Like Eligible, I have a week left. I think I'll probably pick this one instead of Eligible if I run out of time for both.

The Language of Sisters by Cathy Lamb
Why: For review
Where I got it: From Shelf Awareness
Did I read it? I'm a couple of chapters in. So far so good!

What are YOU reading this month?

This post contains some affiliate links. Thanks for supporting Quirky Bookworm! And, I'm linking up with the New on the Stack link-up over at the Deliberate Reader.

July 18, 2016

Eleanor's Favorite Series

We made strawberry jam as a meet-the-teacher gift; and E designed a card saying "I hope your class will be "strawsome". 

Today is Eleanor's first day of first grade! (We live in a district with a modified year-round schedule.) In honor of that milestone, she's helped me make a list of her favorite series to share with you.*

Cupcake Diaries

Eleanor likes these "because they're creative, and they bake cupcakes which are sugary". 

Judy Moody

"I don't know why I like them. I just do." (Note from Jessica: I think I need to read one of these! She giggles out loud SO MUCH when she's reading them. It's adorable.)

The Sisters 8

"I like that the sisters have adventures. And a robot to clean their house. And they have plants inside their house and a big watering can that zips around the ceiling and stops over each plant to water it. And once it watered Rebecca."

The Buddy Files

"Buddy is a funny dog detective. He's not good at math. When he counts to 3 he's like, 'One, seven, five.' "

Just Grace

"There are lots of comics and drawings inside these books. Mimi has a little brother named Robert who loves to play with her dog, Mr. Scruffers. It's a girl dog but has a boy name."

What books did you like as a first grader? 

(I was HUGELY into Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden, but alas, I can't get Eleanor into either of them, no matter how hard I try. Maybe one of these days...)

*She does read ahead of grade level; so just know that some of these books may be too hard for some first graders! But hang on to this list for later, because she promises they're all great. Also, images are affiliate links. Thanks for supporting Quirky Bookworm!