Archive | September, 2015

Fastest 900+ pages ever!

21 Sep

If you haven’t heard of Brian Selznick, you should look him up. All of his stuff is wonderful. Though he is targeted towards younger readers, his stories are so deep and compelling that I think everyone would love them – no matter the age. His newest, The Marvels, came out on Tuesday.

MarvelsHere’s his schtick: half of the story is told through illustration, half through text. This one starts with about 400 pages of illustrations telling the multi-generational story of a family of actors. It starts with a shipwreck, a fire, the construction of a theater. Next, we get the text of a young boy who has run away from boarding school and shows up on his uncle’s doorstep. His never-before-seen uncle. As the two get to know each other, we weave back to the story of the earlier actors. It was really great. Touching, smart and a page turner. Plus with all the illustrations those pages turn fast!

Roll, Baby, Roll

17 Sep

Guys, I’m on a roll! I finished another book during the b’s morning nap.

fatesLauren Groff’s Fates and Furies is getting TONS of press right now. TONS. Plus it was just long-listed for the National Book Award (see the full list here NBA 2015 ). I have to say, it was pretty great. It’s a novel in two parts – the first half is told from the husband’s point of view and second from the wife’s. Lotto and Mathilde are so fun to read – and things get pretty twisty when they switch narratives. 5 stars.

One Up, Two Down.

15 Sep

If I have to read a dud, let it at least be a fast-moving dud! I read two this week. On the up side, I read one that I liked! And it was non-fiction, how about that?

EileenI thought this was such a promising premise, so darkly intriguing and strangely timely. The story is about a young woman, Eileen, who works as a secretary in an all male juvenile detention center. The question on the jacket is something like “can she be persuaded to commit a crime” or something like that. Immediately after starting it I pictured Eileen as a young Kim Davis, and simultaneously the woman at the Dannemora prison that helped those two convicts escape not so long ago. Here’s what: this book was so uncomfortable and vulgar. Eileen is maybe one of the most disgusting creatures I’ve read, just in a purely hygienic sense. She doesn’t shower, talks disgustingly about her bowel movements and periods. Ugh so gross I’d like to forget her. 2 stars.

harriet chanceAnother dark one, although you’d never guess it based on the cover. The cover sets it up to read like Where’d You Go, Bernadette? (which I liked). And there are funny parts, to be sure, but it was also so sad and twisted. This is the life’s story of Harriet Chance. Her husband is recently deceased, her children grown and moved out. After her husband’s death, 87-year-old Harriet learns that he had bid on and won an Alaskan cruise. So she decides to invite her best friend and have an adventure. Turns out to be a whacked out trip. 3 stars.

boys in teh boatHere is the one I liked! Along with just about everyone else in the nation who has read it. It’s the true story of the mens rowing team from Washington University in the 1930s. Comprised of a bunch of poor farm boys and scholarship students, the team shockingly pushes past its competitors and qualifies for the 1936 Olympic games in Germany. I loved the parallel stories, most heavily the boys in the boat but also the German preparations that went on ahead of the games. If you haven’t read this, you should. 4 stars.

Add them to the List!

10 Sep

I’m determined to get back into the reading swing. Now that we are moved and semi-settled I think I can make time for some reading. Driving home from lunch with my mom today, I realized that working at the bookstore (and not having a husband or baby) was such a luxury. It gave me time to read a lot of not-so-great stuff in order to get to the great ones. I think if I had to guess I’d say it was 8 duds to every 5-star read. Now that my time is limited, I’m petrified of picking a dud and I think it’s holding me back. So, my new strategy is to always have 9 books handily available to read! Just kidding. Sort of.

I did some sleuthing and came up with books that are either just out or coming out this fall and queued them up on my library account. Here are the ones I’m now in line for:

For sure, without a doubt, there are at least two 5-star novels in here. I hadn’t heard of Eileen until I started googling around, turns out I’m number 53 in line at the library! Guess I’m late to the party. If you are reading this and live in KC, I’ll let you in on a little library secret: If you frequent any of the Johnson County Libraries, and are way down deep in line for something, check with the KCMO library. For some reason the hold line is always MUCH shorter – I’m number 2 for Eileen there. Plus they sometimes get new books a week or so faster. Don’t go telling all your friends so that we can keep it that way!


Also, I forgot to mention that one of my book clubs read Go Set a Watchman. I was all set not to like it and to read scenes of Atticus Finch holding court at the local KKK meetings. Turns out, I really liked it and there was nothing so blatantly racist as all of that. If you mostly remember the movie of To Kill a Mockingbird and aren’t obsessed with preserving the characters as you remember them, you should read it. Knowing that it was basically the first draft of TKAM, I loved reading it. I can completely see how an editor read it and declared that the parts about Scout’s childhood were (by far) the best parts of the book. It’s worth reading for those scenes alone. I think I gave it 4-stars.

go set