Monthly Archives: October 2012

Clever and witty love tale

   OK….maybe I should not have labeled this a “love tale” because it is not along the lines of Nicholas Sparks or a Harlequin Romance.   Charlotte Street by Danny Wallace is ever so much more clever…more original….more real than any of that.  This is the tale of Jason Priestley (not THAT Jason Priestley) who has found himself unengaged to the “love of his life” and unemployed by choice due to a brief tragic moment in his professional life.  He finds himself living with his best bud Dev in an apartment.  Said apartment is located over the video game exchange shop that Dev owns and operates in London.  Jason finds himself working for the free city magazine London Now  writing reviews for restaurants people would never eat at, watching movies no one wants to see and attending art shows with no artistic talent.

And then (you knew there was a “and then”), Jason has a chance encounter with a strikingly beautiful woman…not only once….but twice.  Both encounters are brief, but enough to take over his thoughts.  During one of the encounters, she drops several packages and he helps her pick them up.  However, in the commotion, she leaves behind a disposable career in Jason’s hands.  He now struggles with trying to find her to return the camera, develop the pictures and learn more about her or just throw the camera away and forget the whole thing.  Luckily, for you he does not do the latter.  This is where the story turns interesting.

With surprising support and encouragement from several characters, Jason develops the pictures that lead him on a hunt of sorts to find the beautiful girl in the blue coat and red shoes.  It could seem like stalking and a bit creepy….or it could simply be a boy following his heart based a chance encounter in order to complete this “love tale”. It answers the questions for all those people who may have walked by someone on the street and made eye contact or saw someone on a train or a bus…..and thought “maybe she is the one?”  Yet the moment passes and there is no way of knowing and you go on with your life.

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Would you start over….if you could?

  I flew through this book !  This is the book Forgotten by Catherine McKenzie which tells the story of 30-something Emma Tupper….a successful lawyer ready to become partner when her mother’s health begins to fail.  Her mother has dreamed of traveling to Africa for years; however, that dream does not look like it will become reality.  So Emma promises her mother that she will take the trip in her place.  After her mother’s funeral, she inherits a ticket to Africa…and Emma decides to go alone.  She leaves behind a handsome and accomplished lawyer as well as postponing her shot at partner for a while.

It is on this trip that Emma takes ill….very ill.  She is to be gone one month, but what tragedy strikes…she is gone 6 months without any contact with her friends or work.  They assume she has died.  The proper measures are taken in the event of her “death”.   When she finally returns, her apartment has been rented to someone else, her office has been taken by her mortal enemy….and her boyfriend…well…..let’s just say he has moved on.

Emma has a chance to start over….because she has no choice.  Emma is a strong character, and she is not about to fall to piece.  She finds a way to carve herself a new life….a better life..for herself.  The expressions “Things Happen for a Reason” is heard often, but truly do we heed its message?  Sometimes we have to sit back and allow for life to take us on our path….and not to fight it so much.

I love this book and plan to read others by her.  I found myself carrying the book around to read it whenever there was a break in the action, and I took it to bed and read while my husband softly snored beside me….I felt like I was 12 years old and reading Christopher Pike in my bedroom with a flashlight while the rest of the world slept on.  My own little place of distraction.

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Can lost friendships be found?

      Intriguing story of lost friendship by Marisa de los Santos is entitled Falling Together.  The story is original, and I really enjoyed the main story of Cat, Pen and Will….three college friends who were inseparable…they completed one another until they didn’t.  Cat requested for a break-up of all three at the end of school with strict no-contact rules for them to all abide.  The three of them go into separate ways….without looking back.  It is now 6 years later, and there is a college reunion.  Pen and Will receive a bizarre email from Cat requested their presence.  What follows is a string of mysterious events as Will and Pen try to piece together what has happened since they left college.

I really enjoyed the story of Cat, Will and Pen and the changes that their friendship has gone through.  I was less pleased with all the side stories of the other people in the story and wished for more focus on the three main characters.

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Wonderfully original

   I pulled this book off the shelf at school because I was in the mood for a happy, upbeat book , and I felt the cover for Summer of the Gypsy Moths sounded like just what I needed.  The author is Sara Pennypacker (love that name!), and she is the author of the Clementine series which is well-loved by elementary school girls.  Very funny, upbeat and cleverly written.  Well….what I discovered is that Ms. Pennypacker is quite a diverse writer.   This is the story of Stella who is spending the summer with her great-aunt Louise.  Stella is sent to live with her aunt while her mother is ordered to take parenting classes (so much for an upbeat story).  Stella does not know her father and has had to be responsible for herself while taking care of her mother for 12 years as her mother “finds herself”.  Stella is now to spend the summer on Cape Cod helping her aunt with the beach rentals and taking care of the blueberry bushes.  Louise decides to take in a foster child, Angel, to keep Stella company (add more drama and sadness).   Angel and Stella are complete opposites and do not form an immediate bond, but when tragedy strikes….the two react in a most unusual way and find their way in the midst of their unorthodox childhoods.

I loved this book….loved the characters….especially Stella and her obsession with Heloise (and all her helpful hints).  I love her passion for order and cleanliness which balances out Angel’s chaos and disorder…..the book makes you laugh, gasp and cry….so much for a book aimed at middle readers.  I was thoroughly taken by this original tale.

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Battle of the Book Favorite

  After a month of neglect, I am back.   It has been a whirlwind of a month adjusting to the new school year both for myself and my four boys.  We are starting to get into a rhythm….and I couldn’t be more pleased.  I feel like I am running on empty far too often.  I have been reading….reading and running are two of my stress relievers….I would be a pile of mush without them.  I just have not had the opportunity to sit down and write up anything.  The Battle of the Books competition, that I hold along with my friend Sue, is less than two weeks away.  We have 46 teams of 5th and 6th graders registered who have been reading from a list of 12 books.  They have been busy working with their sponsors to prepare for the competition.  I am so excited for them and so proud of their hard work…..but what I really love is how much they love this competition, and how it has helped created real readers….lovers of books.   Students tell me that they would never have picked up  some of the titles on the list.  Girls who didn’t think they would enjoy a story of a boy surviving in the Maine woods on his own, boys who did not want to read any book with a main character who is a girl, students who thought they hated historical fiction or fantasy….a lot of them will become true book lovers by the day of the competition.

I have asked the students to tell me their favorites from the list.  This year it was Because of Mr. Terupt….hands down….no debate.  (I have posted the review for that one on a previous post.)  Let me tell you….when I told the students that the sequel to this book comes out October 9th…..I was greeted with squeals of delight and requests for me to purchase the book for the library straight away.  Several told me they have pre-ordered it.  Now that is cool.

So that brings me to their second favorite book…..Savvy by Ingrid Law.  This is the story of soon-to-be 13 year-old Mississippi Beaumont A.K.A,  Mibs.  She is the middle child….two older brothers (Rocket & Fish) and two younger siblings (Samson & Gypsy).  Their family is unique….unusual….is a most fantastic super natural way.  On their 13th birthday, each family member (usually) acquires a SAVVY….a special ability that no one else seems to have.  They do not know ahead of time what their savvy will be or when they will attain it….just sometime on their 13th birthday.   Rocket has the ability to control electricity and Fish has a power over water and created a hurricane on his 13th birthday….not on purpose, of course.   I really love Momma Beaumont’s savvy….everything she does is perfect….even when she messes up….she messes up perfectly.  I like to pretend that is my savvy.

So, it is a few days away from Mibs’ 13th birthday….she is filled with excitement and anxiety waiting and wondering what her savvy will be….when tragedy strikes.  Mibs’ father is in a terrible accident in another city, and it is not looking good.  Momma heads out there to be with Poppa leaving the kids with family.  Rightly so, Mibs’ birthday plans are put on hold, but Mibs believes in her heart that her Savvy will help save her father’s life and decides with the help of a few friends and family….to steal a bus and get to the hospital so she can be with Poppa on her 13th birthday and save his life.  What follows is a life adventure…coming-of-age for Mibs…..an unforgettable story.

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