Monday, August 22, 2016

The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson, 473 pages

"The Summer Before the War" is set in East Sussex, England in 1914.  Beatrice Nash arrives in the community set to become a Latin teacher at the local school.  Latin is not a subject a woman typically taught in pre-World War I, England.

The world is beginning to change, but it is still a shock to the community when the young, much-to-pretty-to-be-a-spinster school teacher arrives.

This lovely book takes us into the lives of the people in the idyllic coastal town of Rye and then into the horrors of World War I.  It is one of those wonderful, well written novels that is hard to put down and I'm sad to leave behind.  


Friday, August 19, 2016

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson 480 pages

There are many books that I find are so good that they deserve multiple readings. This book is in my personal top three re-readables.
When you combine the action and suspense writing of Ridley Pearson with the bodily function humor of Dave Barry, you have the best tandem to create the backstory to Peter Pan.
Why does Peter not age? How can he fly? How did he get to Neverland? How did Hook lose that hand? Find the answers inside one of the most entertaining books you’ll ever read. Peter and the Starcatchers.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, 297 pages

The book begins "Lydia is dead. But they don't know this yet."  This is the story of a family with a Chinese father and Caucasian mother who were married at a time when that was illegal in some states.  Lydia dies at the age of 16 in 1977.

Lydia, the favorite of three children, drowns and the question is was it murder or suicide?  The Lee's are an unhappy family with a mother, Marilyn, who wanted to be a doctor but fell in love and got pregnant so became a stay at home wife and mother instead.  It is the story of father James, the son of Chinese immigrants who has felt discrimination his whole life.  It is the story of their three lonely children who are the only Asian children in their schools.  The parents put all of their energy, hopes and dreams into Lydia.  This is hard on all three of the Lee children.

The first 3/4 of the book were very difficult to read.  Lots of sadness, lack of communication, frustration, misunderstanding and anger.  I almost gave up on it and would have, if it wasn't a book club book.  I am so glad I didn't give up.  The last 1/4 was hopeful, powerful and healing.  This is not a book where the story is tied up prettily at the end but it ends on a note of hope and that little bit of hope is all I need to be satisfied.


Friday, August 12, 2016

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer, 400 pages

"Stars Above" is book number 4.5 in the Lunar Chronicles young adult sci-fi series.  It is a collection of short stories that mostly consist of back stories about the major characters in the Lunar Chronicles series.
There is also a short story "The Little Android" which is a retelling of "The Little Mermaid" that only tangentially includes one of the characters we know.  There is a nice wrap-up story "Something Old, Something New" about the wedding of two of the characters in the series.  As an added bonus, also included are the first two chapters of the upcoming book from Marissa Meyer "Heartless" that is not part of the Lunar Chronicles series.

Pretty much a must-read for any Lunar Chronicles fan, everyone else can pass it on by.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler, 237 pages

"Vinegar Girl" is a fun retelling of Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew."

Kate Battista is an acerbic, put-upon 29 year old who works at a daycare, basically raises her 15 year-old sister and takes care of the household for her scientist father.

Her father asks even more of her when he requests that she marry his lab assistant, Pyotr Shcherbakov, to keep the young man from being deported.

This is a short and fun book that I recommend to fellow readers of chick lit.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany, Jack Thorne & J.K. Rowling, 330 pages

I was quite surprised that I was compelled to buy this book.  I knew I was a Harry Potter nerd, but I thought maybe I was over it.  Nope.  Had. To. Buy. It.  And that rarely happens to me.

The book begins at the epilogue of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  Geeze Louise, even that brought a tear to my eye.  The story focuses on Albus Potter, youngest son of Harry and Ginny Potter.  Let's just say his experience at Hogwarts is different from his parents.

This is not a novel.  It is a play.  That's how desperate we HP fans are for anything Potter.  Whatever.  I'll happily and thankfully take what I can get.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Pursuit by Janet Evanovich & Lee Goldberg, 320 pages

This is book #5 in the Fox and O'Hare series that is a collaboration between Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg.

Fox is Kate Fox an FBI agent secretly tasked to work with O'Hare.  O'Hare is Nicolas O'Hare con man and super criminal extraordinaire who looks like he is on the run, but is secretly working with the FBI to bring down really bad guys.

This time the duo is trying to stop a Serbian bad guy from unleashing a small pox epidemic on the world.

Deep?  Uh, no.  Fun? You betcha.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty by Amanda Filipacchi, 332 pages

My sister, who often tells me what to read, highly recommended this book.  She found it funny and quirky.

I did find it quirky, but not very funny.  The main characters are a group of creative friends, one of whom is extremely beautiful and another extremely ugly.  Barb, the beautiful one, works hard to hide her beauty.  Lily, the ugly one, tries to transform herself into beautiful.

I typically like books with a little magic, and this book has that, but it just wasn't for me.  I read it, I finished it, but I didn't think it was funny, instead it made me sad.  Funny how two people can read the same book and have a different experience.  Sounds a little like life!

A Few of the Girls: Stories by Maeve Binchy, 319 pages

A Few of the Girls is a collection of short stories by Maeve Binchy that was published posthumously.

I listened to this collection that was read by several different people.  I am not much of a short story person, but I enjoyed the stories.  Some were happy, some were sad.  All dealt with human relationships in one way or another.

Maeve was a prolific writer and I wonder if some of these were ideas she jotted down to be fleshed out later.  Whatever their purpose they offered the chance for me to step into Maeve's world one more time.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son on Life, Love and Loss by Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt, 304 pages

CNN correspondent Anderson Cooper is the son of Gloria Vanderbilt.  At the beginning of her 91st year they started an email correspondence where they shared what was important to each of them and what they still wanted to learn about each other.

I listened to the book and each read their own letters.  It was a fascinating look into their lives and strong relationship.  I probably would have never picked up this book, but I heard Anderson Cooper talk about it at a conference a few months ago and it sounded intriguing.