Archive | September, 2017

Catching Up & Surpassing Goals

27 Sep

It’s been a while since my last post, but I’ve been keeping up with my reading, just a little slower than I’d like. With this last batch of books, I surpassed my goal to read 50 books this year. I finished Child Finder today, my 55th book of the year. I definitely didn’t think I’d hit this and am thrilled to have done so – with time to spare!

A lot of these were good, but the best one, for me, was definitely Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward. There was a lot of hype about this one since her last, Salvage the Bones, won the National Book Award the year it was released. I haven’t read that one, but this one really hit the spot for me (you know I like those dark, depressing, character driven family stories with no happy endings). It’s the story of a young boy living with his elderly black grandparents. His white grandparents want nothing to do with him or his little sister, his mom is deep in a drug addiction and his father in jail. When his father calls to say he’s being released, the mom grabs both kids and heads to the prison to pick him up. I loved the grandfather, the boy himself, the way it was written. Definitely one of my favorites this year. 5 (depressing but great) stars.

Maybe next on my list would be The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas. This is a massive novel. Physically massive. I think it clocks in at over 500 pages. But I really loved it! Most of it, at least. It’s the story of Joan Ashby, acclaimed author of two collections of short stories published at a young age. She built her career on the idea that as a writer, and a woman of her own making, she would never marry, never have kids. She shocked the literary world when she married, and then shocked herself when she accidentally wound up pregnant. We follow her into motherhood, see her give up her name and her fame and her writing to raise two sons. But then she starts to take her life back and I loved watching her/reading about her doing it. The shortcomings for me were the excerpts of the stories that made her famous (also fictional). I just didn’t think they were that great, in fact I didn’t like many of them and was skimming or skipping completely all of the parts that she “authored” by the end. 4 stars

Two thrillers on the list were just what I needed when I needed them. Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips – a woman and her son stuck inside a mostly empty zoo that is apparently under attack by two snipers. Fast-paced, hooked me right away, loved the mom. The Child Finder I just breezed through today during preschool/nap times. VERY fast. A woman named Naomi has a career of finding missing children (she’s known as “The Child Finder”). She takes a case in her hometown trying to locate a girl who went missing in the woods three years ago. She, of course, has her own back story and working in her old hometown forces her to face a lot of things she’d forgotten. Kind of reminded me of Descent by Tim Johnston. 4 stars.

Affections by Rodrigo Hasbun kept popping up in my social media feeds so when I saw it at the library I snagged it. It’s short – maybe 120 pages – and reminded me of a lot of things I’ve liked. Part In the Time of the Butterflies, part Paul Theroux/Mosquito Coast. The story of a man who flees Germany with his family after WWII (he had been Leni Reifenstahl’s (fictional) main camera man) and lands in La Paz, Bolivia. He goes on lots of expeditions working on a nature documentary and sometimes takes one or two of his three daughters along. Chapters alternate between daughters – one later becomes a revolutionary. All the pieces for something great are here, it just felt a little chopped up to me. 3 stars.

Rabbit Cake was a light-ish book club book last month – a coming of age story of a young girl named Elvis who is dealing with the sudden death of her mother. Grief finds everyone in different ways and between Elvis, her father and her sister…things get a little weird. Easy, fun even though it’s dealing with death and grief, and just really quirky and weird. 3.5 stars

Serpent Essex is kind of a slow burn that has been growing on me little by little since I finished it. Also kind of a weird one, but very atmospheric. It’s the story of a woman whose terrible husband dies and she finds herself free to live how she pleases (late 1800s, I think, England). She decides she wants to be an archaeologist of sorts and moves to a small town rumored to be home to a monstrous sea creature. Part of this were slow, but it all felt very misty and muddy and foggy. Some great characters that keep popping back into my head. 3.5 stars.

Five Stars!

4 Sep

littlefireseverywhere

Please go out right now and reserve this book from your library or bookstore. It was so good!! You might remember Celeste Ng from Everything I Never Told You, a bestselling debut. Her sophomore effort is also A+! I loved it even more. Set in Shaker Heights, where everything from the color of your house to the length of your hair seems to be dictated, Little Fires Everywhere starts with the burning down of the Richardson family home. Immediately everyone suspects Izzy, the youngest of the 4 siblings and the black sheep of their otherwise perfect family. Of course things are not always what they seem, even to those in the middle of the drama. I loved loved loved this layered story, all of the characters were so beautifully drawn and so believable. Definitely one of my favorites so far this year. 5 stars.

Here are two other titles coming out in September. Warcross by Marie Lu is perfect for that tween/young adult in your life who liked Maze Runner or Ender’s Game or who kind of liked Hunger Games. A virtual world, a high stakes game, a potential assassin. 3 stars for me but I think lots of kids will love it.

Lily Tuck has written some novels I’ve liked in the past. Sisters is more of a novella about the second wife of a man I didn’t like so much. It’s her first-person story of meeting him and loving him and living with the ghost of his previous marriage (his ex is still very much alive). I didn’t connect with her as well as I wanted to. 3 stars.