Category Archives: Realistic Fiction

On the Jellicoe Road

Marchetta, Melina. On the Jellicoe Road (2008). 432 Pages. HarperTeen.

Melina Marchetta Jellicoe RoadFrom the Author’s Website

“What do you want from me?” he asks.

What I want from every person in my life, I want to tell him.


Taylor Markham is not a popular choice. She is erratic, has no people skills and never turns up to meetings. Not to mention the incident when she ran off in search of her mother and only got halfway there. But she’s lived at Jellicoe School most of her life and as leader of the boarders that’s her greatest asset. Especially now the cadets, led by the infamous Jonah Griggs, have arrived. The territory wars between the boarders, townies and cadets are about to recommence.

But Taylor has other things on her mind: a prayer tree, the hermit who whispered in her ear, and a vaguely familiar drawing in the local police station. Taylor wants to understand the mystery of her own past. But Hannah, the woman who found her, has suddenly disappeared, leaving nothing but an unfinished manuscript about five kids whose lives entwined twenty years ago on the Jellicoe Road.

First Lines

My father took one hundred and thirty-two minutes to die.

I counted.

It happened on the Jellicoe Road. The prettiest road I’d ever seen, where trees made breezy canopies like a tunnel to Shangri-la. We were going to the ocean, hundreds of miles away, because I wanted to see the ocean and my father had said that it was about time the four of us made that journey.

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Filed under Book Review, Contemporary Romance, Mystery & Suspense, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult Fiction

Maids of Misfortune

Locke, M. Louisa. Maids of Misfortune: A Victorian San Francsico Mystery (2009). 336 Pages*. $2.99**

From the Author’s Site

It’s the summer of 1879, and Annie Fuller, a young San Francisco widow, is in trouble. Annie’s husband squandered her fortune before committing suicide five years earlier, and one of his creditors is now threatening to take the boardinghouse she owns to pay off a debt.

Annie Fuller also has a secret. She supplements her income by giving domestic and business advice as Madam Sibyl, one of San Francisco’s most exclusive clairvoyants, and one of Madam Sibyl’s clients, Matthew Voss, has died. The police believe it is suicide brought upon by bankruptcy, but Annie believes Voss has been murdered and that his assets have been stolen.

Nate Dawson has a problem. As the Voss family lawyer, he would love to believe that Matthew Voss didn’t leave his grieving family destitute. But that would mean working with Annie Fuller, a woman who alternatively attracts and infuriates him as she shatters every notion he ever had of proper ladylike behavior.

Sparks fly as Anne and Nate pursue the truth about the murder of Matthew Voss in this light-hearted historical mystery set in the foggy gas-lit world of Victorian San Francisco.

First Lines

The bastard!

Annie Fuller gasped, shocked at even allowing such an unladylike expression to enter her mind. She had been enjoying her tea and toast while sorting through her mail in splendid solitude.

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Filed under Adult Fiction, Book Review, Historical Romance, Mystery & Suspense, Realistic Fiction

The King’s Daughter

Martel, Suzanne. The King’s Daughter (1998 ed.) 231 Pages. Groundwood Books. $14.95*

From the Cover

The year is 1672. Eighteen-year-old Jeanne Chatel has just been chosen as a “king’s daughter,” one of the hundreds of young women sent by the French government to become the brides of farmers, soldiers, and trappers in the North American wilderness.

Orphaned at age ten, Jeanne has been raised in a convent. But with her independent spirit, she doesn’t hesitate to the opportunity to go to New France, as Quebec was then known. Wildly romantic, she conjurs up a new life full of adventure.

Upon her arrival in New France, Jeanne’s romantic dreams are soon cast aside, and she learns to be practical and realistic in this wild new country where death stalks the settlers every day. Life is not easy: her new husband is not the dashing military man she has dreamed of, but a trapper with two young children who lives in a small cabin in the woods. Proud and aloof, he is still grief-stricken over the death of his first wife and a child at the hands of the Iroqu0is. Alone much of the time, Jeanne faces danger daily, but the courage and determination that brought her to this wild place never fail her, and she soon learns to be truly at home in her new land.

First Lines

“A king’s daughter! I’m a king’s daughter!”

Closing the parlour door without a sound, as she had been taught, Jeanne repeated the magic words that had just changed her life. Her heart was beating wildly. She pressed both hands to her chest as her thin face relaxed into an unguarded smile.

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Filed under Book Review, Children's Fiction, Fantasy, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult Fiction

A Girl, A Ghost, and the Hollywood Hills

Zindel, Lizabeth. A Girl, A Ghost, and the Hollywood Hills (2010). 302 Pages. Viking Juvenile. $16.99

Sometimes I have far too much fun exploring the newly-input lists at the local library, and I end up with my holds maxed out at 10 and more items I still wanted to get. This is one of those books. It’s a Hamlet spinoff, but it follows the interpretation which I don’t entirely agree with.

From the Cover

Something is twisted in the state of Cali

It’s winter break, and Holly has come home from boarding school to face her dad’s new girlfriend, Claudia– who also happens to be her mom’s sister. Gross. Holly’s mom died less than a year ago, and already Claudia has taken over her movie production company, her house, and now her husband.

Then the ghost of Holly’s mother appears, claiming that Claudia murdered her. Holly vows to avenge her mom’s death no matter what it takes, but as the stakes get higher, she starts to wonder: What does this ghost really want from her, and why?

Throw in an adorable college guy named Oliver, an all-night house party with a pack of Australian surfers, and a shopping disaster on Rodeo Drive, and you wind up with a Hamlet-inspired ghost story unlike any other.

First Lines

It was ridiculously early as I sat on the steps of Reed Hill waiting for the cab to take me to the airport. I was bundled in my favorite red peacoat and warm hat with earflaps that looked like some nice grandma had knitted it.

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Filed under Book Review, Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal, Realistic Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

Five Flavors of Dumb

John, Antony. Five Flavors of Dumb (2010). 338 Pages. Dial Books. $16.99

When I read Erin’s review over at LitSnit, she made this book sound super interesting, so I looked for it at my library to no avail. But a few weeks later, I noticed it in the “newly input” list, and I jumped right on that. Hooray for librarians who track search terms!

From the Cover

Eighteen-year-old Piper has gotten herself into a mess. Because of her big mouth, she has one month to get a paying gig for her high school’s hottest new rock band, called Dumb. In Piper’s mind, the band couldn’t have a more perfect name. Just look at the members: one egomaniacal pretty boy, one silent rocker, one talentless piece of eye candy, one angry girl, and one nerd-boy drummer– five discordant personalities who, when put together, seem ready to self-destruct at any moment. Getting them an actual gig seems impossible. Add to that the fact that piper doesn’t know if their music is good or not, because, well, she’s deaf.

But Piper is determined to get the band a gig to show her classmates that being deaf doesn’t mean she’s invisible. And as she gets to know the five flavors of Dumb, some hidden talents, secret crushes, and crazy rock music emerge. She doesn’t need to hear the music to sell it, but Piper wants the chance to feel the music too. Does she have what it takes to manage Dumb and discover her own inner rock star?

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Filed under Book Review, General Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult Fiction

Ship Breaker

Bacigalupi, Paolo. Ship Breaker (2010). 323 Pages. Hachette Book Group. $17.99

I feel like I’ve inadvertently written an essay about this book, but if you’re interested in reading more, by all means, click through.


Mankind has caused the ice caps (or at least most of them) to melt and raise the water levels, in most cases, far more than was ever predicted. As a result, many cities were lost, and much technology is gone. There are two groups remaining; the rich and the poor. The rich are ultra-rich, living on clipper-ships (which are like yachts, but nicer) and controlling the fate of the poor, whether or not they are aware of it. The poor, meanwhile struggle to get by, working at whatever jobs they can find, and dreaming of a better life.

On the beaches of a greatly-expanded Gulf Coast, Nailer works as part of a scavenge crew, breaking down ancient oil tankers for scrap. Specifically, Nailer works on light-crew; the group of youths who are small enough to fit into the ducts and reclaim copper wire*. It is dangerous, dirty work with a high mortality rate, and every time Nailer crawls into the ducts, he hopes it won’t be his last. He dreams of a bit of luck, and hopes for a day when he won’t have to work on the ships to survive.

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Filed under Book Review, Realistic Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

Rot & Ruin

Maberry, Jonathan. Rot & Ruin (2010). 458 Pages. Simon & Schuster. $17.99

Don’t let the cover put you off. It’s a creepy book, at times, but not as creepy as the eyeball seems to suggest.


Benny Imura has only vague memories of the night his parents died. What he does remember paints a bleak picture; his father was a zombie, his mother facing imminent death, and his brother was the coward who took him and ran, leaving their parents behind. Despite what everyone seems to think about Tom Imura, Benny knows the truth; his brother is a coward.

On Benny’s fifteenth birthday, he becomes an “adult,” and has six weeks to find a job, or his rations will be cut in half. With hunger looming, and the best jobs long gone, Benny turns to his brother, Tom the Bounty Hunter– zombie killer for hire– to ask for a job. He doesn’t want to join the “family business” but doesn’t see any alternatives.

What he learns about the world outside his town’s fences– the Rot & Ruin– and about his brother will change Benny’s life forever.

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Filed under Book Review, Fantasy, Horror, Realistic Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction