Sunday, January 31, 2016

Review: Everything I Never Told You

Everything I Never Told You Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Achingly good family drama, involving parents, children, racism, infidelity and death. Intense storytelling. Stark writing. Should have ended 12 pages sooner.
Highly recommended...but not a "feel good" story.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Review: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

A realistic portrayal of life for a teenager on an Indian reservation, and the many obstacles (family, friends, alcoholism, death, living in a white culture) that freshman, Junior Spirit, must overcome to succeed in life.

I can see why this is a mandatory book for some high schools -- many complex issues to discuss and ponder; it's extremely well written; reminds me of a PG-13 version of A Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but harsher and grittier. I can also see why it's routinely on the "banned book" list -- language, crassness, and innuendo abound.

In terms of a literary piece -- it's probably a 5 star book -- but as far as my "enjoyment" of it, more of a 3.

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Friday, January 22, 2016

Review: First & Then

First & Then First & Then by Emma Mills
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Under achiever, Devon, is trying to find her way (with the help of Jane Austen) during her Senior year of HS -- but a new step-brother, a complicated boy friendship, and a potential love suitor, may make things more complicated than she thought.

It was only meh.
Didn't feel any chemistry between the characters.
Thought the storyline was a bit disjointed.
She totally mucked up the football theme.
Way too much language and Fbombs for my taste.
But a cute ending.
My daughter liked it a lot.

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Monday, January 18, 2016

Review: What Alice Forgot

What Alice Forgot What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Re-read for book club (first read Aug 16-26, 2014) . Wouldn't change a thing about my review -- loved it just as much the 2nd time around.

Who knew spin class could be so risky? But for Alice, a fall off her stationary bike and a "bonk" on the head, causes 10 years of memories to disappear.

I loved it. I loved it. I loved it. I loved reading about Alice's discovery that before her accident she was a suburban, overachieving mom with three kids with an estranged husband, to the realization that she was none of the above after her accident. I loved her family members -- especially her sister, Elisabeth, whose infertility woes and letters to her therapist are truly crushing. And Gina -- the friend that everyone knows, Alice most of all, but who can't remember the depth of their relationship.

I loved the author's writing style -- using glimpses of memory, epistles, and diary entries -- made this so interesting and unique and added necessary depth to all the characters.

This was such an enriching read and a brilliant look at the complications of a seemingly ordinary domestic family life.

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Review: Last Stop on Market Street

Last Stop on Market Street Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A profound, yet simple message...always find the beautiful in all things. From the meager to the grand. A great reminder for young and old readers.
2016 Newbery Award winner.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Review: A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories

A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories by Lucia Berlin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lucia Berlin was a hard drinking, multi-married, ex deb, whose travels and family led her everywhere from Alaska to Texas to Chile and California, and she put it all into these gritty, brutal, heartbreaking short stories/essays. Manual is as smart, nervy and unforgettable as the woman who wrote them.

These stories left a lasting impression. Makes my life look dreamy in comparison.

Highly recommended.*

*Content: Fbombs, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, sexual abuse

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Monday, January 4, 2016

2016 Reading Bingo!

Because I like this format.

It works for me.

And my children.


A look back at 2015

The older I get, the older my kids get, the fewer books I read.

Consider it a function of work, their multiple activities, and the need for sleep. 

When most people were in their "summer reading" frenzy, I was mourning the death of my father.  I couldn't function for months.

This year I managed 42.  

Once again, I followed a "bingo" reading format -- this doesn't not include all 42 books, but the books I finished from my bingo "card." 

Here is the breakdown:
A book from the library: Girl on a Train by Paula Hawkins
A book borrowed from a friend: The Bishop's Wife by Mette Ivie Harrison
A book by a British author:  Frenchman's Creek by Daphne duMaurier
A book club book:  The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
A book with a proper name in the title:  Serena by Ron Rash
A book about women's issues: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (WWII women's resistance)
A book that makes you LOL!: Yes Please by Amy Poehler (which wasn't very funny after all)
A book with an African author and/or continent: Circling the Sun by Paula McLain\
A book by an author you've never read: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel 
A biography: Strapless by Deborah Davis (about John Singer Sargent and "Madame X")
An award winner: Bomb by Steve Sheinkin (Newbery Honor award)
A WWII historical fiction:  All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
An e-book: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
A book about/with science:  The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
A classic:  Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
A travel/exploration book:  Dead Wake by Erik Larson (about the sinking of the Lusitania)
A book set in Paris: A Star for Mrs. Blake by April Smith
A new juvenile fiction: Princess in Black by Shannon Hale

Squares I didn't complete:
A book with a Red cover
A book published the year you were born
A new YA book 
A religious book
A regency romance
A book by Anne Lamott

Missing the above makes me feel kinda silly. I mean, a book with a red cover or a YA book? How hard was that? Oh well. 

My ultimate favorite this year: All the Light We Cannot See

Looking forward to exploring the vast number of books on my shelf, as well as newly published books this year! 

Happy 2016 reading! 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Review: Peter and the Starcatchers

Peter and the Starcatchers Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars
A perfectly plausible prequel for the origination of Peter and his Neverland.
Loved Molly the best.
Can't wait to see the stage production.

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