Monday, April 28, 2014

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

This is such a little treasure.  I read this book in one was that good.  It is about a very sad and quirky man who is given a gift at a second chance at life.  It is also about the love of books and how they have the power to affect our change them. 

"My life is in these books, he wants to tell her.  Read these and know my heart."  Pg. 249 

This is so, so, so is why book recommendations can be so personal.  When I tell someone, especially a friend, that I LOVED a book...I want them to love it to...I want them to have the same shared experience.  Now this doesn't happen with every book - the latest "new adult" book that I pass along with a casual "this was soooo good", is not the same as handing someone Sarah's Key or The Sparrow or The Kite Runner.  Even some of the Young Adult and Juvenile books I have read - Between Shades of Gray, The Fault in Our Stars, Harry Potter...these books have stayed with me....they have become part of me...those books are different. 

Another favorite quote:

"...the necessity of encountering stories at precisely the right time in our lives.  Remember Maya: the things we respond to at twenty are not necessarily the same things we will respond to at forty and vice versa.  This is true in books and also in life." Pg. 41


Book Description via Amazon

“This novel has humor, romance, a touch of suspense, but most of all love--love of books and bookish people and, really, all of humanity in its imperfect glory.” —Eowyn Ivey, author of The Snow Child
A.J. Fikry, the irascible owner of Island Books, has recently endured some tough years: his wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and his prized possession--a rare edition of Poe poems--has been stolen. Over time, he has given up on people, and even the books in his store, instead of offering solace, are yet another reminder of a world that is changing too rapidly. Until a most unexpected occurrence gives him the chance to make his life over and see things anew. 

Gabrielle Zevin’s enchanting novel is a love letter to the world of books--an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Torn by K.A. Robinson

This is the first installment in the "new adult" series Torn.  The chemistry between Chloe and Drake is very swoon worthy, and while the story followed a somewhat predictable arc, I still found myself reading to the wee hours to read how it all played out.  I am *really* glad that book two is already published because the author leaves you on a cliffhanger.  

Book Description via Amazon

Two people with battered souls are thrust together unexpectedly, leaving a profound impact on each other’s lives.
Chloe hasn’t had the easiest childhood. With a mother who was absent most of the time, she practically had to raise herself. Determined to start a new life and leave her demons behind, she heads to West Virginia University with her best friends Amber and Logan. On the first day of classes, she spots a student who takes her breath away. Drake is a pierced, tattooed bad boy, and no matter how hard she tries to fight it, he’s all she can think about.

Drake has never cared about anyone other than himself, but when Chloe grabs the empty seat next to him in class, he is instantly drawn to her. Drake is left wondering whether this girl can take his cold, womanizing heart and alter him forever.

Developing feelings for each other was never a part of their plan, and when it happens, things do anything but fall into place. Long-hidden emotions are revealed and friendships are tested to the brink as Chloe and Drake become helplessly entwined in each other’s love.

Get Happy by Mary Amato

This is the first book I am reading by author Mary Amato...and boy am I happy I "met" her.  This story was so cute - I loved the BFF relationship between Gabby and Fin...I wish I had a Fin in high school...I am quite certain I would have been much happier.  I also adore how she wrote Gabby's character - focusing on her talent and "cool" personality rather that her physicality.  I am so tired of every character being the gorgeous, but not knowing it, type.  That's not to say Gabby isn't pretty, it is a non issue, and I like that...a lot.  I also like that the love story is secondary to her relationship with her family and friends.  Such a great contemporary YA up Guitar Notes.

This review is based on an advanced readers copy I received through Netgalley - Get Happy comes out October, 2014.

Description via Netgalley

In this poignant, realistic, contemporary YA by a state master list star, perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Gayle Forman, a young songwriter builds a substitute family with her friends in place of the broken family she grew up with.  Minerva has been raised by her single mother after her father left them both. On her 17th birthday, she is shocked to discover that he has been trying to keep in touch, but her mother has been sabotaging his attempts. Furious at her mom, she begins to investigate her dad, a famous marine biologist, only to discover that he has a new family, including a beloved, and perfect, stepdaughter--a girl Minerva already knows and despises. As she makes her way, trying to build her performing and songwriting career, her jealousy takes over and threatens to derail her life completely. It is only through the efforts of her best friend, Fin, and the introduction of Hayes, a new young man in her life, that she is able to see clearly who she is and who makes up her family.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Vintage by Susan Gloss

This is a great book about female friendships, in all different forms, at different points in life.  It is also a love letter to clothing...not the boring stuff being sold at the mall, but beautiful, timeless, original pieces.  Each chapter is centered around a piece of clothing or jewelry, and that item has it's own story...they almost became characters. I loved the idea that fashion is about individuality and not what's currently trending.  I will caution you, this book made me want to go out thrift shopping and overhaul my wardrobe.

Book Description via Amazon

Vintage is Susan Gloss's sparkling debut novel in the vein of The Friday Night Knitting Club, centered around a Midwestern vintage clothing shop and and a group of women who eventually transform the store and each others' lives.

At Hourglass Vintage in Madison, Wisconsin, every item in the boutique has a story to tell . . . and so do the women who are drawn there.

Violet Turner has always dreamed of owning a shop like Hourglass Vintage. When she is faced with the possibility of losing it, she realizes that, as much as she wants to, she cannot save it alone.

Eighteen-year-old April Morgan is nearly five months along in an unplanned pregnancy when her hasty engagement is broken. When she returns the perfect 1950s wedding dress, she discovers unexpected possibilities and friends who won't let her give up on her dreams.

Betrayed by her husband, Amithi Singh begins selling off her old clothes, remnants of her past life. After decades of housekeeping and parenting a daughter who rejects her traditional ways, she fears she has nothing more ahead for her.

An engaging story that beautifully captures the essence of women's friendship and love, Vintage is a charming tale of possibility, of finding renewal and hope when we least expect it.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Paper Towns by John Green

Oh John Green, I think I love you.  What can I say, the man is a genius, and while this has not replaced Fault in Our Stars (or Will Grayson, Will Grayson) as my favorite "John Green" book, I can see why of his books is always checked out of the library. 

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 9 Up—Quentin Jacobsen, 17, has been in love with his next-door neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegelman, for his entire life. A leader at their Central Florida high school, she has carefully cultivated her badass image. Quentin is one of the smart kids. His parents are therapists and he is, above all things, "goddamned well adjusted." He takes a rare risk when Margo appears at his window in the middle of the night. They drive around righting wrongs via her brilliant, elaborate pranks. Then she runs away (again). He slowly uncovers the depth of her unhappiness and the vast differences between the real and imagined Margo. Florida's heat and homogeneity as depicted here are vivid and awful. Green's prose is astounding—from hilarious, hyperintellectual trash talk and shtick, to complex philosophizing, to devastating observation and truths. He nails it—exactly how a thing feels, looks, affects—page after page. The mystery of Margo—her disappearance and her personhood—is fascinating, cleverly constructed, and profoundly moving. Green builds tension through both the twists of the active plot and the gravitas of the subject. He skirts the stock coming-of-age character arc—Quentin's eventual bravery is not the revelation. Instead, the teen thinks deeper and harder—about the beautiful and terrifying ways we can and cannot know those we love. Less-sophisticated readers may get lost in Quentin's copious transcendental ruminations—give Paper Towns to your sharpest teens.—Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library

Tempting Fate by Jane Green

I really, really loved this book.  First let's get a big, giant "AMEN" for writing a book with characters in their 40's.  It was nice to take a break from all the young adult/new adult books I have been reading lately and read about someone I recognize...someone I relate to (well except for the whole cheating thing...but everything on.) I laughingly said this should be required reading for anyone who has been married a bunch of keeps it all in perspective.

Book Description via Amazon

From Jane Green, the New York Times bestselling author of such beloved novels as Jemima J, The Beach House, Another Piece of My Heart, comes an enthralling and emotional story about how much we really understand the temptations that can threaten even the most idyllic of relationships….

Gabby and Elliott have been happily married for eighteen years. They have two teenaged daughters. They have built a life together. Forty-three year old Gabby is the last person to have an affair. She can’t relate to the way her friends desperately try to cling to the beauty and allure of their younger years…And yet, she too knows her youth is quickly slipping away. She could never imagine how good it would feel to have a handsome younger man show interest in her—until the night it happens. Matt makes Gabby feel sparkling, fascinating, alive—something she hasn't felt in years. What begins as a long-distance friendship soon develops into an emotional affair as Gabby discovers her limits and boundaries are not where she expects them to be. Intoxicated, Gabby has no choice but to step ever deeper into the allure of attraction and attention, never foreseeing the life-changing consequences that lie ahead. If she makes one wrong move she could lose everything—and find out what really matters most.