Sweetpea started nursery school this morning, marching off in her flowered wellies, looking oh-so-sweet and so very grown-up. And now I’m back home, wondering how she’s doing… and also exactly where the summer went. Back in July I made three huge to-do lists, and I’m nowhere near the bottom of any of them. As for my reading pile, it’s even higher than it was when the summer began.

But hope springs eternal! Now that nursery school’s started, I’m thinking maybe I’ll reach the bottom of the pile by Christmas.

And at least I did get the luxury of reading a few books start-to-finish last month. I’m going to try and review them here, starting with Extraordinary, by Nancy Werlin.

The book officially debuts today, September 7th (Happy Book Birthday, Nancy!), but I was lucky enough to get an early copy from Nancy herself, who knows just how eager I was to read it. (And to see it, too. Isn’t the cover gorgeous?! You can read more about it here.)

Set in the modern suburbs of Boston, Extraordinary is a YA fantasy about a friendship, a bargain made with the Faerie world, and two young women, Mallory and Phoebe, who are both more than they seem at first sight. Although YA (sub)urban fantasy is almost a genre of its own by now, Extraordinary strikes out in an entirely original direction, in part because it draws on Jewish history for its plot. It’s rare to find Jewish heroines in fantasy, let alone strong Jewish themes, but 18-year-old Phoebe is a descendant of the Rothschilds, an extraordinarily powerful Jewish clan — and their history (both real and imagined) plays a key role in the story.

At heart, the book is about the many ways in which our friendships and relationships mold us, for good and for ill. Along the way it treats us to some of the most breathtaking descriptions of Faerie that I’ve ever read. A striking, brave, and memorable book.

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