Archive | July, 2014

Summer Sunday

28 Jul

I am no stranger to Young Adult literature, but lately it hasn’t crossed my nightstand. Until yesterday. This weekend at the pool I ran into some of my favorite Rainy Day customers and was recommended We Were Liars by e. Lockhart. Oddly enough, I’d just picked it up at the bookstore because I’d been hearing such rave reviews. And guys? it was crazy.

WeWereLiarsThe story revolves around three cousins and one friend-of-cousin (he’s actually the nephew of the boyfriend of one of the aunts, but that’s confusing). They are Cadence, Mirren, Johnny and Gat. They spend all of their summers on the island owned by their grandfather, each family living in a huge, wonderfully named house. Cadence is the main gal, and we know that there was some accident on the island when she, Mirren and Johnny were fifteen (summer fifteen). Now it’s summer seventeen, and Cadence is trying to remember what happened (since the accident, she’s been suffering incredible migraines and memory loss, and no one is answering her questions). The cousins are being vague, refusing to help her remember, saying that the aunts and doctors said they should let her memory come back on its own. Lots of beach time, summer love (a Catherine/Heathcliff type affair between Gat and Cady) and an ending that will blow your socks off! I really recommend this to anyone who wants a perfect poolside/seaside read – it was riveting. 4.5 stars.

A New One from an Old Favorite

27 Jul

One of the VERY BEST things that can happen in a bookstore (for me) is to be surprised by a new novel from an author I love. It hardly ever happens because I try to keep pretty good tabs on my favorites and know when to expect a new one. Sometimes one slips through the cracks, though, and that is the best bookstore discovery. Long ago – so long ago I can’t remember, I read and loved Crow Lake by Mary Lawson. Shortly after that, she published The Other Side of the Bridge which was also lovely. And then….nothing….for years and years. Until now!

road endsI was so excited to see this on the shelves. Excited enough to pause the novel I’m in the middle of (and really enjoying) to give it a whirl. From the very beginning of it, I knew I wanted to love Road Ends. Turns out I didn’t even need to try to make myself love it, it just happened naturally – Mary Lawson is such a fantastic writer. So Road Ends is told in three different voices – first person from Edward, third person from Meg and Tom. Edward is the patriarch of the family, married to woman named Emily (so ethereal it’s annoying) and father of nine. Meg and Tom are the eldest of the nine, Meg the only girl in a house full of brothers. Emily, the mother, loves to have babies – loves babies – but loses interest to an alarming extent when those babies turn into children. Meg, therefore, pretty much runs the house. She cooks, cleans, makes sure people go to school etc. And then she decides to move from their Canadian home to London, breaking free of the rigors of running a household and caring for her brothers. Edward, continually shocked at finding himself married to Emily and father of nine, seeks solace in his office at the bank and then locks himself in his study when he gets home, revisiting the ghosts of his childhood. Tom, quite possible the brother with the most potential, has been laid low by some personal tragedies (that unfold over the course of the book). When Meg leaves for London the family begins to fall apart, slowly descending into chaos and filth. I loved most parts of this book. I mostly loved this book, I guess I would say. Mary Lawson does such a spectacular job writing siblings – in this one and in Crow Lake I can remember wishing I’d had an older brother like the one in the book. Her older brothers are the best. If I had to rank the narrators, Meg and Tom would get five hundred stars and Edward I could do with less of. I think his story is an important part of the novel, but the other two were way more captivating. Kind of depressing and featuring lots of snow/blizzards, this novel may be best for winter (and not July, even if it’s a cool July). Four stars and I really hope she writes another one soon!

A 5-star Debut

18 Jul

sleepwalker

I was browsing the shelves of new fiction today and realized that one of my 5-star reads finally came out! I read The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing back in December and it hit the shelves this last Tuesday. It was AWESOME. The debut novel revolves around an Indian family who has traveled to the US and made their home in New Mexico. We meet the father, Thomas, a brain surgeon, his wife Kamala and children Amina and Akhil in present day, but the story toggles back and forth between now and then (India, 30 years ago). Even though I read this over 6 months ago, the characters were so great and so vivid that I can still call them up. It’s a long book – over 500 pages – but completely worth it. So worth it that I very nearly purchased it today (I had to return the advance I borrowed) for my “Most Favorite” shelf. Mira Jacob is a fantastic story-teller and I am already waiting for her next one. 5 great big stars.

Every Once in a While

14 Jul

Every once in a while, I feel like I have a really cool book store story. And Rainbow Rowell is one of them. She came to Rainy Day when her first novel (it was for adults) came out in 2011. It was called Attachments and was a sweet office romance novel with some really remarkable dialogue and loveable characters. We hosted her at the book store and had about seven attendees. And then Rainbow Rowell made it BIG. If you haven’t heard of her, that’s ok. She hit the jackpot with her second book, a young adult romance called Eleanor & Park and followed it with one that I liked even better, Fangirl. She’s pretty brilliant with dialogue, she’s fun and thoughtful.

landlineAfter those two HUGE young adult smashes, Rainbow released another adult novel last Wednesday called Landline. Pretty much it’s a novel intended for adults, but made so cleanly that young adults can/will read it (she has obsessive YA fans, there is no way they’d miss it). And that’s great for YA fans, but she should have just marketed it as YA. It was pretty vanilla as far as adult-summer-beach-love stories go. But it was a nice, easy fast read. The story is about a woman named Georgie who is a comedy writer for a hit show. Her best friend/collaborator is Seth and her husband, a one-time illustrator, is Neal. Georgie and Neal have two kids, and at one time were completely in love but lately Georgie’s work has consumed her and she has been neglecting her family, especially Neal. They’ve planned a trip to Neal’s home in Omaha for Christmas but at the last minute Georgie backs out (due to a work deadline). That is the set up. And  here is the hook: Neal isn’t answering his phone, Georgie decides to call his mother’s house from HER mother’s landline. It’s a magic landline. She finds herself talking to Neal, but Neal from 19 years ago when they broke up (just before he showed up on Christmas Eve and proposed). A little gimmicky, right? but it works and her YA audience will eat it up. 3.5 stars.

Nuclear Meltdown.

5 Jul

I have never read anything by Chris Bohjalian. Even though he has written 15 novels – like  1.5 a year – for some reason I’ve never picked one up. Until now.

Close Your EyesSet for release July 8th, Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands feeeeeeels like a post-apocalyptic story but it’s really not. It’s the story of a troubled youth, Emily Shepherd. When we meet her, we know that she is using a false name, that she is not yet 18, that she does drugs and sells her body to truckers for spending money. Not too pleasant. She’s also a huge Emily Dickinson fan. What we learn rather quickly is the reason WHY she is using a false name, living in a trash bag tent, doing hood-rat things. Turns out, her parents ran a nuclear reactor in upstate Vermont. THE nuclear reactor that suffered a melt-through, causing thousands and thousands of people to be displaced from their homes, children in the nearby schools to suffer continual nosebleeds from their radioactive exposure. Horrible things. And her father may or may not have been drunk the morning of the incident. With her parents labeled as the villains of the century, she feels she MUST change her name and live on the streets. People would hate her if they knew who she really was. I would have given this five stars – but for some reason the ending was only so-so for me. 4 stars.