Sunday, November 24, 2013

Books of the Week - Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler

A few years ago books with a protagonist in college were adult books. Now they are YA or as some call them new adult. As an adult, but one who remembers that first year out on my own, I still can identify with the young women featured in these books.

I freely admit that I'm a fangirl. Not a fangirl of characters (OK, so Miles Vorkosigan is my hero) but a big fan of authors. I get giddy when I meet them in person or when they dm me on Twitter or Facebook. In Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell's latest novel, Cath is a fangirl of a book series turned movie series with shades of Harry Potter and Twilight. She writes slash fan fiction about her favorite characters and has accrued a huge internet following. When she and her identical twin go off to college in Lincoln, Cath is abandoned by Wren who has moved on from their shared interests when they were younger. Cath is lonely and isolated but the boy she thinks is her roommate's boyfriend keep encroaching on her life. This is a beautiful, heartfelt coming of age story with a smart but insecure heroine and thoughtfully depicted young men.

Sarah Ockler burst onto the scene with 20 Boy Summer, a book I never got to read because the girls in the Bistro Book Club passed it from hand to hand and I didn't want to take it back when so many were sharing with each other. I liked Bittersweet quite a bit but her 2013 book, The Book of Broken Hearts is a definite keeper. Jude Hernandez will be going of to the University of Denver in the fall but she is spending her last summer before college hanging out with her beloved Papi who is suffering from early onset Alzheimers. A Harley Papi had ridden through out South America before emigrating to Colorado from Argentina seems to be something that keeps him in the present. Needing help to restore it, Jude asks for help at a local motorcycle shop and ends up hiring Emilio Vargas to help with the project. Unfortunately, years earlier when she was only twelve, Jude had made a pact with her much older sisters to never become involved with a Vargas boy. Now she is with one every day as she tries to make her dream for her dad come true. A good read-alike for Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles.

These books are very different from each other even though they both feature strong intelligent young women who have finished high school, who care deeply about their fathers who are having difficulties, and who become involved with really good guys. Both are winners in my book and as of this minute they are a couple of my favorites this year.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Books finished today - The Whole Enchilada by Diane Mott Davidson, One Second After, William R. Forstchen

I had been posting recent reads on my home page with a link to my review. Suddenly the widget I was using won't allow links so I'm looking at other ways of keeping track. Anyway, I usually have 3 or 4 books going at a time, sometimes more. This leads to the very bizarre chance that I will sometimes finish more than one sizable book on a particular day. I'm really swamped so it will be a while before I can get my reviews done on The Whole Enchilada by Diane Mott Davidson and for my book club, One Second After by William Forstchen.

It had been a long time since I had last read one of Mott's delicious culinary mysteries and it was nice to The Whole Enchilada starts with a birthday party to celebrate Arch's seventeenth birthday and the birthday of a lifelong friend born the same day. Holly, one of Goldy's close friends in the days after their divorces from doctors, and the mother of the other birthday boy, drops dead of an apparent heart attack when leaving the party. But, since this is a Goldy Schulz mystery, of course Holly's death turns out to be a murder. As Goldy tries to figure it out, events from the past come into play.
revisit her and the people in her life.

A total change of pace is One Second After, Fortchen's 2009 cautionary tale of the potential for an
EMP caused apocalypse. I'm looking forward to meeting with my book club next Saturday to discuss it. It brings up lots of interesting questions. I am definitely not a prepper or a survivalist but I do believe in being self sufficient and using good sense. Ilsa Bick's Ashes, the first in a YA trilogy, also uses an EMP to bring on the end of the world as we know it. Personally, after an EMP apocalypse, I imagine librarians may play a major role in rebuilding, with their ability to find and organize information.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Book of the Week - Seeing Red by Kathryn Erskine

Ever since Quaking, Kathryn Erskine's books have been automatic reads for me. While Seeing Red skews a little younger than most of what I read it is oh, so good. Set in 1972, Red, a twelve year old living in rural Virginia has just lost his dad. His best friend Thomas, a black kid a couple years older than him, has rejected him and the family business "Porter's: We Fix it Right," a garage/convenience store/gas station looks to be going under. Red is dismayed when his Mama decides to sell the business and move away. As Red tries to figure out how to stay in Stony Gap, he makes some bad decisions, learns a lot, discovers some historical family secrets, and begins to become a man. Erskine's stories always delve deep into what it is that makes a person human, what goes into their moral makeup, how they decide what is good and right. This is a terrific heart-warming but definitely not saccharine story that deals with real issues for the here and now as well as the role history can play in a family down through the years.