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Nerdy Special List January 2018

January 12, 2018 – 12:33 am | One Comment

Hello, how is everyone? You’re all looking wonderful and that outfit totally suits you.
I hid from the internet for about 3 weeks over the holidays because I wanted to reclaim my mind space. Choose what …

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Nerdy Special End-of-Year List 2017

December 8, 2017 – 1:36 am | 4 Comments

While all the TV shows and commercials are depicting snow, here in L.A. it’s raining ash and debris. Happy holidays!

Because a smoke advisory is in effect, I have to stay inside and read. Luckily, cabin fever and I have never met. I could shelter in place for years.

This month’s Nerdy Special List, our final of 2017, features some favorites from this year that didn’t appear on previous lists, because we read them after publication or had too many strong choices that month. But these are special, too, and we wanted to make sure they’re on your radar.

Many thanks to Jen, Rory, Lauren, Erin, and Patti for contributing recommendations throughout the year. Each month I look forward to seeing what your choices are, and you expand my reading universe. I couldn’t do this without you.

From Jen at Brown Dog Solutions:

My Fairy Godmother Is a Drag Queen by David Clawson (Sky Pony Press/Skyhorse, May 30)

David Clawson’s young adult debut is a modern retelling of Cinderella. Following the death of seventeen-year-old Chris’s father, his stepfamily is determined to regain the wealth and social status they lost in the recession. Chris’s stepmother plots to marry her daughter off to J.J. Kennerly, New York’s most eligible bachelor. But her plan goes awry when J.J. falls for Chris instead.

My Fairy Godmother is full of sharp dialogue you’ll want to read out loud just to taste the words. The characters are amazingly rich, and the themes are both powerful and timely. It’s funny, it’s deep, it’s smart, and it’s at the top of my recommendation list for YA books.

A Stone of Hope by Jim St. Germain, with Jon Sternfeld (Harper, July 4)

This book should have been called A BOULDER of Hope. Jim St. Germain is a Haitian immigrant who grew up on the streets of Brooklyn, found trouble at a young age, and had the luck to be placed in a rehabilitation program called Boys Town.

Stone takes readers through his experience at Boys Town and how it put him on the path to give back to others like him. His story is inspiring, but it’s also an excellent look at the destructive nature of poverty, and at an effective justice system with the potential to change our society. In our current climate of hopelessness, A Stone of Hope is a reminder that goodness still exists—and matters.

From Rory at Fourth Street Review:

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent (Riverhead, August 29)

Turtle Alveston is 14 years old, being raised by her father. That’s where any sense of normalcy ends, though Turtle doesn’t know that. Raw eggs, guns, and beer begin her day. Turtle does her best to please her survivalist father, but she never quite succeeds.

Within the first few pages of Gabriel Tallent’s debut novel, the reader knows tsomething has gone very wrong in the Alveston household, but the author does an exceptional job of slowly revealing the true depth of Turtle’s torment, her confusion, and her rare moments of happiness. Artfully barbaric and masterfully written, My Absolute Darling is one of my favorite novels of the year.

From Lauren at Malcolm Avenue Review:

This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel (Flatiron, Jan. 24)

An orange peel on the cover didn’t tell me much, and by the time I got a copy from the library, I didn’t remember what it was about (seriously, no clue) or what might have intrigued me.

But I cracked the cover and discovered one of my top 5 favorite reads this year. I’m not going to tell you what it’s about, either. Because the moment I read the line that told me where it was going was so lovely and heartbreaking and…everything, I wouldn’t ruin that for anyone. It’s a topical book about a beautiful family. Just do a trust fall with me and let this book catch you.

The Driver by Hart Hanson (Dutton, August 8)

This book is like Ocean’s 11 in book form. Friendship, action, smart dialogue, great pacing, crime, humor, and a little heartbreak. Michael Skellig, highly educated and decorated military veteran, owns Oasis Limo Services, employing a dedicated and unique tribe of fellow veterans. Skellig gets embroiled in the dangerous problems of a client, testing his moral compass and putting everyone around him at risk. The Driver is a rip-roaring good time.

PCN recommends:

I Found You by Lisa Jewell (Atria, April 25)

A handsome man with amnesia, an abandoned bride, and long-ago events in a seaside town are somehow linked in this layered, well-paced mystery. The characters ache with loneliness and a desire to belong, making me root for them even while I suspected a happy ending wasn’t possible for everyone. Sometimes I have to pick between strong plot or characters but Lisa Jewell let me have both, plus an atmospheric setting. I’m glad I found her.

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Mini Movie Reviews: Holiday Season 2017

November 26, 2017 – 9:41 pm | 2 Comments
Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 7.13.34 PM

Hope you had a wonderful weekend! My Thanksgiving was nice and relaxing and the only drama occurred onscreen, with my trying to catch up on movies being touted as award contenders. If you’re wondering what …

Nerdy Special List October 2017

October 6, 2017 – 12:52 am | 2 Comments
we're going to need more wine

October is one of my favorite months. The leaves change colors—well, not in L.A. but back east in pictures from family. The weather is cooler so I don’t have to sweat my back off every …

Text, Don’t Call: An Illustrated Guide to the Introverted Life

September 27, 2017 – 1:11 am | One Comment
text don't call

Being an INFJ (the rarest personality type), I was happy to come across this book. The following review appeared originally in Shelf Awareness for Readers and is reprinted here with permission.
Twenty years ago, as illustrator and …

Nerdy Special List September 2017

September 20, 2017 – 12:08 am | 4 Comments
dead woman walking

I’m late getting the list up this month because I ran away. It’s been an exhausting year and I needed a respite from everything, so I went to stay with relatives where there’s no cell service …

Nerdy Special List August 2017

August 7, 2017 – 1:37 am | 7 Comments
the blinds

Summer is almost over and I’m relieved because I’m melting. But I’ve had more excellent reads this summer than I did in the past few years, and many of the standout books are August releases.
Here are our recommendations this …


July 19, 2017 – 11:53 pm | 7 Comments

I was in a bad reading slump recently. Picked up six novels and put them all back down after reading only the opening paragraphs. Nothing pulled me into its world, or introduced me to characters I …

Nerdy Special List July 2017

July 6, 2017 – 11:41 pm | 2 Comments
beautiful, terrible thing

Oh, man, it’s been so hot here, I’m tempted to run down the street naked and dive into random sprinklers. Mr. PCN said the neighbors would just think it’s a regular Friday.
The other day, I was reading …

Book Review: THE LIGHT WE LOST by Jill Santopolo

June 13, 2017 – 8:43 pm | One Comment
light we lost

Lucy and Gabe met as Columbia University students on 9/11, when emotions were running high and “our shields were down.” After spending a very intense day together, however, Gabe reunites with an ex, and Lucy …

Nerdy Special List June 2017

June 8, 2017 – 9:13 pm | 2 Comments
the child

School’s out and summer has started, which means lazy days—or in my case, lazier days. I blame it on the heat. And laziness.
But there’s one activity I’ll always do a lot of and that’s reading. The NSL contributors and …

Interview with Dennis Lehane

May 9, 2017 – 8:37 pm | One Comment
photo: Gaby Gerster/Diogenes, Zurich

Dennis Lehane’s latest novel, Since We Fell, was published this week. I reviewed it for Shelf Awareness, and interviewed Lehane for the same issue. Below is our conversation, reprinted with permission.
It seems the only thing predictable …

Nerdy Special List May 2017–Take 2

May 8, 2017 – 12:44 pm | 4 Comments
where dead men meet

OK, let’s try this again. Earlier this post was unfinished but published without my knowledge or permission. While writing it, I experienced technical issues so I saved what I had and asked tech support to look into …

Nerdy Special List April 2017

April 10, 2017 – 6:34 pm | 4 Comments
cruel is the night

I’ll be having a birthday soon, which means I’ll have to confront something on my list of fears. This year’s challenge: spring cleaning. [Insert horror scream here.] I think I’ll read a book instead and hope the …

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