Field Notes on Love: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

“Look, this is what I do. I tell stories. And stories are magic. Trust me on this.”

cover art for Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. SmithHugo is used to being a minor celebrity in England–that’s what happens when you’re a sextuplet. He’s used to being grouped with his siblings at home, at school, and even in posts on their mom’s parenting blog. He’s used to having a girlfriend and he’s dreading what happens when he starts college with all of his siblings next year.

But then his girlfriend dumps him and suddenly a lot of the givens in Hugo’s life are up in the air. Like the trip he and his now ex-girlfriend were going to take across the United States after graduation. Hugo still wants to go, is actually looking forward to the chance to travel alone if he’s being honest, but there’s one problem: the tickets are all booked under the name of his ex, Margaret Campbell. Nontransferable. No exceptions.

Margaret “Mae” Campbell has just been rejected from her dream film program. Her dads assure her that her application film was perfect. And Mae can always apply again as a transfer student. But with her life in small town New York already feeling so tiny, she’s ready to shake things up. Enter Hugo’s post online looking for a Margaret Campbell to take his spare ticket in exchange for making this trip happen.

Traveling together is meant to be a simple business arrangement. But how can Hugo help but be drawn in when Mae starts recording footage for a film about love? And how can Mae not want to help Hugo figure out how to follow his own dreams when she finds out how much he wants to learn who he is away from his brothers and sisters?

Sometimes you only get one chance to get what you want. As they near the end of their trip, Hugo and Mae have to decide how much they’re willing to put on the line for their dreams–and each other in Field Notes on Love (2019) by Jennifer E. Smith.

Find it on Bookshop.

Set over the course of their whirlwind trip, Field Notes on Love alternates closer third person chapters following Hugo and Mae. Smith populates this story with a distinct and memorable cast of characters including Hugo’s large, boisterous family as well as Mae’s dads and her grandmother.

Hugo and Mae are excellent foils as they push each other to chase their dreams even if it means going outside of their comfort zones. Mae’s practical, savvy personality is a perfect contrast to Hugo who is more of a dreamer and still figuring out what he wants from life. Although both characters have very different visions for their future, Smith presents each course thoughtfully and honestly.

Field Notes on Love captures the strange intimacy of being forced into a small space with a person you don’t know and uses that starting point to build a fully realized love story that is effervescent and sweet. Field Notes on Love is the perfect story for anyone who’s ever wanted to take a vacation from their life, ever dreamed of making a big change, and anyone who has ever wanted that intangible something more. Highly recommended.

Possible Pairings: With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo, Dramatically Ever After by Isabel Bandeira, Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett, The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo, An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi, Save the Date by Morgan Matson, From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon, Truly Madly Royally by Debbie Rigaud, My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma, The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Bad Luck Girl: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

“Once upon a time, there was a girl named Callie LeRoux. She left her home in the Dust Bowl and traveled across three different worlds to free her parents from the evil king. Along the way she found her worst enemy, her best friend, and her own name.”

Bad Luck Girl by Sarah ZettelCallie has been through a lot since leaving behind the Dust Bowl in Slow Run, Kansas and traveling across the country to Los Angeles to rescue her parents from the Seelie King. Fast-talking and quick-thinking Jack Holland has been beside Callie since the beginning because that’s what best friends do.

Now that Callie’s parents are free, it feels like there should be some kind of happy ending. Or at least a rest. But the Seelie King is still spitting mad. Both the Seelie and the Unseelie courts want to find Callie. They hope to use her to manipulate the prophecy that Callie will close the gates between the worlds in their favor.

Callie wants nothing to do with any of the Seelies or her Unseelie relatives. After a whole lifetime not knowing him, Callie isn’t even sure she wants anything to do with her fairy Papa. She’s even less sure how to go back to being her Mama’s daughter when so much has happened since she left Kansas.

But none of them have time to think about that. Callie’s bad luck is already a known thing and it is none too helpful as Callie, Jack and her parents try to get away from the fairies chasing them.

As word of Callie’s bad luck and her connection to the prophecy spread, Callie realizes there is never going to be a happy ending or any kind of peace. Not if Callie doesn’t take a stand in Bad Luck Girl (2014) by Sarah Zettel.

Bad Luck Girl is the conclusion of Zettel’s American Fairy Trilogy which started with Dust Girl and Golden Girl.

Zettel once again delivers a perfect blend of fantasy and historical details in the conclusion to one of my favorite trilogies. Although Callie is sometimes rash and even reckless, the story still focuses on her resilience and her development as a character. Readers and characters alike will see Callie’s growth throughout this series as well as her inner strength. Callie also contends with changing feelings for her best friend Jack as well as figuring out what it means to have parents again after so long on her own.

1935 Chicago is brought to life with Zettel’s evocative descriptions which make the city just as vivid as the characters who populate it. The fairy lore and world-building builds here to several surprising twists and an ending that is as clever as it is unexpected.

Bad Luck Girl is the perfect conclusion to a nearly perfect trilogy about fairies, Depression Era America, and a girl trying to find her place in the world. I can’t recommend this book or this series highly enough.

Possible Pairings: Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson, The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black, The Diviners by Libba Bray, The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron, Graceling by Kristin Cashore, Enchanted Ivy by Sarah Beth Durst,  A Creature of Moonlight by Rebecca Hahn, The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow, Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones, The Iron King by Julie Kagawa, A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin, The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope, Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter, Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin, Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

Dust Girl: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Dust Girl by Sarah ZettelOnce upon a time Callie thought she was a normal girl.

Sure, she had dust in her lungs and lived with her mama in a rundown hotel in the rundown town of Slow Run, Kansas but that wasn’t as strange as you might think in the middle of America’s Dust Bowl. Certainly Callie had her secrets, same as her mama, but those were normal, human girl secrets. Because, once upon a time, Callie really thought she was a normal, human girl.

That ended on April 14, 1935 when her mama disappeared and Callie found out she wasn’t human at all.

Left alone for the first time in her life, with strange creatures tracking her, Callie will have to leave behind everything she knew to find the unbelievable truth of who she is in Dust Girl (2012) by Sarah Zettel.

Dust Girl is the first book in Zettel’s American Fairy trilogy. The second book, Golden Girl, is due out in summer 2013. This is Zettel’s first book for a young adult audience.

Zettel’s writing is filled with evocative descriptions of deadly dust storms and sprawling landscapes that bring 1935 Kansas to life. References to the music and nuances of the era create an atmospheric read. Written in the first person, Callie’s voice is reminiscent of tall tales and wide spaces. Dust Girl is brimming with magic and mystery but throughout the story it is the heroine, Callie, who really makes this novel stand out.

Dust Girl is a subtle, contemplative read where Callie’s journey throughout the novel is just as satisfying as the dramatic conclusion. While there is clearly more to Callie’s story, Dust Girl ends nicely with enough closure to make the wait for book two bearable.

Possible Pairings: Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson, The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black, The Diviners by Libba Bray, The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron, Graceling by Kristin Cashore, Enchanted Ivy by Sarah Beth Durst,  A Creature of Moonlight by Rebecca Hahn, The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow, Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones, The Iron King by Julie Kagawa, A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin, The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope, Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter, Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin, Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff