Sunday, August 28, 2011

GAP YEAR by Sarah Bird

The Gap YearI absolutely adored Sarah Bird's THE BOYFRIEND SCHOOL which, I believe was made into an amazing movie called DON'T TELL HER IT'S ME starring Steve Gutenberg and Jami Gertz. I know it was not a good movie, but I loved it so and when I read the book and found out it was GOOD good I was enraptured. But then I had a baby and forgot about Sarah Bird until this week.

I was reading THE GAP YEAR and absolutely loved it and am thrilled to learn that I have 5 more Sarah Birds just waiting for me! I read ALAMO HOUSE: WOMEN WITHOUT MEN, MEN WITHOUT BRAINS right after BOYFRIEND SCHOOL and it was funny. But the rest came out after I stopped paying attention.

So GAP YEAR is Cam writing in 2010 about trying to get her distant, disobedient daughter, Aubrey ready to go to college and Aubrey writing in 2009 about falling in love under the eye of her smothering mother, Cam. The format works beautifully and I kept pulling out and trying to figure out who was the bad guy in each situation and the magic is that everyone and no one is at fault.

With my oldest child graduating and leaving home, the timing is perfect. I am very curious if this book would have blown me over as much if I wasn't a walking (minor) wound of half-empty nest. I think so. It was really beautiful with lots of surprises, organic twists and beautifully drawn characters.

What a splendid book!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Slow Reading Summer!

I have read so little this summer! I am quite ashamed. I have done a lot of starting a book, growing bored and putting it to the side. I won't list all the loser books that I ditched. (Wow, that sounds so mean!) Because I may have just been in a mood when I was reading them and perhaps will give them another chance later.

Here are the books that I either finished, or am sticking out. And right now I am reading 4 different books! Zoiks...

The Year We Left Home: A Novel I was quite surprised at how much I loved this book. It had a strange slow start and I was reading it on an airplane so I was able to slide into with less effort that I usually need to appreciate something on the literary end. I could tell the writing was good, but it wasn't showy-good. Just the simple story of a mid-western family from the Vietnam era to the present day.  Not, frankly, a possible summer reading pick because I can't imagine it capturing the interest of many teenagers, not because it isn't interesting, but because it is so specific. I can't explain, just go read it.

A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book One Apparently they made a television series out of this book... Well, HBO - if you call that television. I have since watched it and have to say that as awesome as the book is, the series makes it even more so. And usually I am NOT a fan of books into television. (See Stephen King's THE STAND, if you dare...) But the book is full of knights, kings, intrigue, betrayal and some downright nasty old sex and violence. Again, not worth my job to put this on summer reading, but it was recommended by several students and danged if they weren't right. I was completely hooked.

A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 2)So much so that I went directly on to the second in the series! Usually I make myself read a couple of books between series books just to slow myself down, but I couldn't. I made one of those rare bookstore trips where I don't even look at the price and just snatch it up like a hungry bear. It was delicious!

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar ChildrenThis is the first young adult book I read all the way through since July. It was a strange little beastie. It is based on actual vintage photographs that the author saw and constructed a story around. The premise is that Jacob's grandfather has been telling him "fairy stories" all his life and after his death (the grandpa's) Jacob learns that the world is a far more diverse place than he has been led to believe. The ending flummoxed me, but I loved the ride. Highly recommended.

Summer RentalFrench Lessons: A NovelEven though I read these both through in record time, I will put them up together because they are total middle-aged-lady beach reads. Enjoy...

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's BerlinDid you read DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY? I haven't yet, but I am going to this fall, because Erik Larson can write! This book is non-fiction - about the American ambassador in Berlin in the early to mid 1930s when the Nazi's had just taken over Germany - but it reads like a terrific suspense novel. It is all I can do not to google the people in the story to see who lives and who dies! I am nearly done, and am only pacing myself so that it doesn't end too soon.

Ship BreakerRemember when I said that sometimes I think my mood keeps me from finishing a book? Well I have started SHIPBREAKER twice, because so many people have recommended it but never stuck it out for whatever reason. The third time finally stuck. It is terrific. I am going to plod through a little at a time, because it is a bit depressing - post apocalyptic starvation/slavery interrupted by near death experience. But the action is fierce.

A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 3)Speaking of which... Seriously, am I made of iron?? I can only resist for so long. I am forcing myself to keep to no more than 2 chapters a night until I have finished at least one of the other books I am working on. Ayra Stark, Tyrion Lannister how much do I love you? The answer is LOTS!

Divergent (Divergent Trilogy)Here is another seemingly dystopian (or is it?) YA book that comes well recommended. The idea is that there are 5 factions in future-Chicago (which seems sort of off on its own) and everyone has to choose one. But Beatrice is a rare Divergent, who can't be pigeonholed. Poor Beatrice... Some of the background details are a bit vague, but I love Beatrice and her confusion about her loyalties really resonate in a terrific story.

I suppose I will start getting piles for the upcoming standardized testing season soon. Stay tuned!