Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy











Close Your Eyes Hold HandsFrom Goodreads: A heartbreaking, wildly inventive, and moving novel narrated by a teenage runaway, from the bestselling author of Midwives and The Sandcastle Girls.

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands is the story of Emily Shepard, a homeless girl living in an igloo made of garbage bags in Burlington. Nearly a year ago, a power plant in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont had a meltdown, and both of Emily’s parents were killed. Devastatingly, her father was in charge of the plant, and the meltdown may have been his fault—was he drunk when it happened? Thousands of people are forced to leave their homes in the Kingdom; rivers and forests are destroyed; and Emily feels certain that as the daughter of the most hated man in America, she is in danger. So instead of following the social workers and her classmates after the meltdown, Emily takes off on her own for Burlington, where she survives by stealing, sleeping on the floor of a drug dealer’s house, inventing a new identity for herself, and befriending a young homeless kid named Cameron. But Emily can’t outrun her past, can’t escape her grief, can’t hide forever-and so she comes up with the only plan that she can.

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This is an amazing, poignant story that delves deep into the world of teen homelessness. Emily Shepherd promises to tell the whole truth; she doesn’t sugarcoat it for readers, and she sometimes strays from the topic of hand, but the novel flows beautifully and I was enamored from the very beginning.

Life hasn’t been easy for Emily, and as the final remnants of her world fall apart with the meltdown of the nuclear power plant her parents run, disappearing becomes her only option. Scared of those around her and their reception of her family name, Emily takes on a different persona and hits the streets. This gritty depiction of her life as she recalls it isn’t overly graphic, but gets the point across just the same as it comes to drugs, stealing, shelter survival, lies, and meaningless sex.

I love Emily’s voice, and I’m in awe of Bohjalian’s ability to capture the essence of a teenaged girl as she hits rock bottom, attempts to care for a young runaway she meets on the street, and ultimately giving up. Where do you go when you have absolutely no one? As Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands unfolds, readers become one with Emily as she spirals down, reminiscing about her parents and her experiences along the way.

The title has a rather profound meaning that is explained near the very end—to close your eyes to the bad all around you and walk away from the bad, holding hands with another who will help keep you grounded, but in Emily’s case, there is no one to hold hands with, and as she stumbles blindly through life, ready for death, she becomes a resilient, strong young woman who beats the odds. Five stars.

5 stars

I received this novel from the publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.  This title releases today (and you really MUST read it!).

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The String DiariesFrom Goodreads: A family is hunted by a centuries-old monster: a man with a relentless obsession who can take on any identity.

The String Diaries opens with Hannah frantically driving through the night–her daughter asleep in the back, her husband bleeding out in the seat beside her. In the trunk of the car rests a cache of diaries dating back 200 years, tied and retied with strings through generations. The diaries carry the rules for survival that have been handed down from mother to daughter since the 19th century. But how can Hannah escape an enemy with the ability to look and sound like the people she loves?

Stephen Lloyd Jones’s debut novel is a sweeping thriller that extends from the present day, to Oxford in the 1970s, to Hungary at the turn of the 19th century, all tracing back to a man from an ancient royal family with a consuming passion–a boy who can change his shape, insert himself into the intimate lives of his victims, and destroy them.

If Hannah fails to end the chase now, her daughter is next in line. Only Hannah can decide how much she is willing to sacrifice to finally put a centuries-old curse to rest.

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Imagine being hunted by a shape shifter–you’d never know your enemy, they could silently become a loved one at any moment, getting close to you without sparking an inkling of suspicion until it’s too late. Imagine a life where you’re forced to constantly pay attention to every small detail and validate everyone who crosses your path, being on the run to stay ahead of a crazed killer intent on reuniting with his love from so long ago… so is the story of Jakab, a sociopathic shape shifter obsessed with the female lineage of one specific family. Of Hannah’s family.

This novel opens in a whirl as Hannah drives recklessly towards an abandoned farmhouse, her husband bleeding out in the passenger seat while her nine year old daughter sleeps in the back. Fraught with danger, this novel exemplifies the creep factor, and as I read it late at night, I was constantly on watch as Jakab sent fear coursing throughout my body as I turned the pages.

Told in alternating timelines, both present and past, the novel sucks readers in from the get go. The characters and events within the story are puzzle pieces waiting so patiently to be put together, and as the tale weaves in and out, readers learn of what hunts Hannah, how Jakab came to be, what lore resides behind shape shifters, and the faction that plans to finally finish wiping the seemingly immortal shifters from the world.

Intense and amazing, this is a must read novel that kept me on my toes as it unfolded. I loved putting the pieces together, learning about Hannah’s current story, that of her parent’s in the 1970s, and that of Jakab as he became the sinister, sociopathic enemy that he truly is. You wont be able to stop reading once you start, and I highly suggest you pick up this amazing read stat. Five stars.

5 stars

I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley, prior to its republication, in exchange for an honest review.

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