Thursday, November 3, 2011

Anna and the French Kiss

I just finished Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins last night after my friend Erika recommended it to me.  Well technically I finished it this morning, in the wee hours to be more precise.  I've been a bit sick and for some reason despite the fact that I am completely exhausted, I'm not sleeping very well.  So when I went to bed last night I thought I'd read for a while until I get sleepy.  You know how that usually works- just read a book while you're all snuggled  and cozy in bed and before too long you can hardly keep your eyes open.  Well in this case it did not work.  I started this book at about 11:30 pm and read and read and read.  And at about 2:45 am I looked at the clock, realized that I only had about a chapter left and still wasn't tired, so I just finished it.  Clearly I enjoyed the book since I read it straight through.  It was pretty fun.

It's the story of Anna, who is sent off to Paris by her author father for her Senior year of high school.  And how she goes from hating being there and missing her home, family, friends and crush back in the States to making new friends, falling in love with Paris and all it has to offer, and developing a new crush along the way.  Again a typical chick-lit-young-adult book.  But you know I like those.  In fact I liked it so much that I have already requested Perkins' next book Lola and the Boy Next Door.  Which apparently has Anna and her boyfriend in it as well as side characters - very excellent.  Can't wait to get it.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


For our October book club Heather W chose Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand.  It's the story of Louis Zamperini how he went from a incorrigible delinquent as a boy to running in the Berlin Olympics as a teenager to fighting in WWII- crashing in the Pacific Ocean and surviving 47 days lost at sea only to become a prisoner of war.

This book is amazing!  I realized part way into it that Louie is only about two weeks older than my Grandma.  Which made it extra interesting for me.  It's crazy to think of all the things that both she and Louie have seen in their lifetimes.  And to think they will both be turning 95 this January - so inspiring!  In fact this whole book is inspiring - makes you put your own life in perspective.  Our book club all agreed that it was a really hard book to put down because it is so fascinating.  And Louie is so full of spirit and funny that you can't help but fall in love with him.  We also all agreed that pretty much once he's training for the Olympics is when this book gets hard to put down.  And despite all the terrible things that happen to him and others at the POW camps, the parts that we could not quit talking about was when he was with the sharks in the ocean!  Talk about nail biting moments!  I really can't say enough about this book.  You just need to request it from the library - or just buy it - and start reading now.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

Lisa chose The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart for our September book club and I adored it!  Frankie is hilarious.  In fact I think I have a bit of a girl crush on her.  I want to be just like her when I grow up!  What's that you say?  I'm technically already grown up?  Well then, I will instead pretend that I was just like Frankie when I was 16 years old and am now the woman that she would have grown up to be.  Oooh I feel cooler and more interesting already.  I also find myself suddenly craving cheese fries and strawberry Mentos.  Curiouser and curiouser.

Everyone at book club really enjoyed it as well.  Frankie's just so spunky how can you not love her?  Ultimately it's just a quick, fun read - but sometimes you just gotta give yourself a break and read some fluff!  At least I think so - and so does everyone in our book club.  It's the story of Frankie Landau-Banks (big surprise there) who grows up enough between 9th and 10th grade that she goes from a rather small ordinary slightly geeky girls to a tall curvy bombshell with attitude in one fell swoop.  And sets out with her new found self along with her quick wit and scheming mind and decides to make some changes at her elite boarding school.  Namely a secret society The Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds.  So the point is if you want to read a good old young adult strong female lead type book this is the one for you!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Heart of the Matter

So I've read all (I think) of Emily Giffin's books, so I picked up Heart of the Matter the other day at the library while I was waiting for my requests to come in.  And I guess it had been a while since I read Giffin's other books, because I remember liking them.  I had vague memories of disliking a lot of her main characters - but I thought I always enjoyed the books themselves.  That being said I'm pretty sure I read all her other books when I was young(er) and single.  And now I am older and married and more judgmental I guess - cause let me tell you I was not impressed.  In fact about half way through the second chapter I told Mark the entire plot and the ending, and I was right.  That is not good if I can predict your entire story, including specific details at the very beginning.  I'm just saying.

I guess in the years since I read her other books, I forgot that they are all about cheating and affairs, etc.  So it will come as no surprise that this one it too.  And I am just frustrated with the idea that people have that all men will cheat.  The notion that if they haven't yet, they will, it is inevitable really ticks me off.  It is not true.  I won't believe it.  I do believe there are cheater - both male and female, but I do not believe it is an inevitability.  It is a choice - a bad one - made by one person that inflicts harm upon many.  And that's my soapbox for you.  Anyway I didn't actually hate this book, I did finish it after all.  Although I did put it down at least three times declaring I was done with it, only to pick it up again.  And I must admit that the main reason I always picked it up again was because I wanted to know if I was right.  And as I mentioned previously - I was.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

I just finished Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs and I really wanted to like this book.  Perhaps I went into it with my expectations too high?  I don't know.  What I do know is that I expected it to be the story of an adult - I had read a few things about it and knew it was about a boy hearing the fantastical stories of his grandpa's childhood on an island and then when he's grown he goes on an adventure looking for the island himself.  And for some reason I thought that meant he was going to be in his 20s or 30s.  But he's 16.  Which in and of itself is fine, it just takes the story on in a different way than it could have if he had been older.

Anyway without giving anything away, I will just say that there are several things that come up throughout the story that aren't ever explained that bother me.  Like how are they sending and receiving mail?  I'm just curious, because based on the story there is no way that they could be sending each other mail.  I've thought of several possible solutions to this (like a PO Box), but based on what we know of the island they don't make sense with the story.  (If you have any ideas, let me know!)  But the main issue I have is with one particular relationship - I spent most of the book trying not to think about it, because if I did then I found it rather disturbing.  I mean didn't an editor or someone along the way say, "Wait a minute, this is a little too weird.  Let's change it."  Apparently not.  My brother Mike read it a few weeks before me and he felt the same way - if not more so.  And of course it leaves the story hanging, so there's going to be a sequel.  Typical.  I don't think it was good enough to warrant a sequel (or heaven forbid a series!) I think it is a great idea that is a bit forced and not well executed.  I mean I didn't hate the book - I just thought it was OK, but I wanted to love it.  So in the end I am left a little annoyed and pretty sure that I won't be reading the next one.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Plum Wine

About 10 years ago I took a creative writing class at NCSU and my instructor was Angela Davis-Gardner.  At some point during the semester she brought in a box and as she carefully pulled a stack of papers tied together with twine out of it, she excitedly told us that she had finished her book Plum Wine.  After completing the class my mom gave me two of her other novels Felice and Forms of Shelter as a gift, which I read and enjoyed.  But over the passing years I had forgotten about Plum Wine.  When I was in the library last week, they had a section of NC authors and there it was, right in front of me, telling me to read it. So naturally I checked it out and started reading it as soon as I got home.

It is the story of Barbara a young American woman teaching Literature at a women's college in Tokyo, Japan in the 1960s, during the Vietnam War.  She inherits a tansu chest from another teacher and dear friend, Michi, who has recently passed away.  The chest if filled with bottles of homemade plum wine that Michi and her mother made, dating back to 1930.  But the real story begins when she realizes there are letters wrapped around each bottle telling the stories of Michi and her mother and grandmother - telling the stories of their family and their survival of Hiroshima.

It is a beautiful story of love and loss.  And an unusual point of view - because in a way it is the Japanese point of view of WWII and Hiroshima as well as Vietnam, but it is the Japanese point of view told through and American woman in Japan.  So it's very interesting and intricate.  I loved this story and found myself easily lost in it.  And while reading it, I often thought of the class I took with her 10 years ago and how this novel gave me a new perspective of her, even more so than her other novels.  And it really made me want to start writing again...

Friday, August 19, 2011

Gunn's Golden Rules

For this months book club we went to see the movie The Help which is based on the book The Help by Kathryn Stockett, which was our favorite book club book so far.  (If you haven't read it yet - go do it.  Amazing.)  And I think we all really enjoyed the movie too.  I know I loved it. Things were changed, of course, but the core of the story was there and done well.  And the actors were perfect!  (The only one that took me a while to get used to was Constantine.  That was not the Constantine from my mind.)  But when you go, be prepared - bring tissues.

Since we went to the movie Catherine decided to choose more of a 'fluff' read to discuss over food after, so we read Gunn's Golden Rules: Life's Little Lessons for Making it Work by Tim Gunn.  And I have to say that I am super glad Catherine chose it.  Because having never watched Project Runway (I know!  I have added it to my queue on Hulu and am going to catch up) I didn't really know anything about Tim Gunn and therefore would never have read this book on my own.  And I really enjoyed it.  (That's the point of book club after all, isn't it?)  The title pretty much sums it up - Gunn offers rules for life, and through the rules he peppers us with anecdotes, gossip and personal stories.  What's not to like?
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