Monday, July 17, 2017

Always and Forever, Lara Jean

Han, Jenny. Always and Forever, Lara Jean. 8 CDs. unabridged. Recorded Books. 2017. ISBN 9781501942143. 

Lara Jean romances her way through her senior year of high school in the final installment of the To All the Boys I've Loved Before trilogy. Everything seems to be going Lara Jean's way; she has the cutest and most adoring boyfriend, she's on the verge of perfecting her perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe, her father is engaged to their next door neighbor, and she has college to look forward to in the fall. There is only one problem, she's on pins and needles waiting for her college acceptance letter to come. When it finally arrives her picture perfect world seems to fray at the edges. What's a girl to do, listen to the head or the heart? Beautifully narrated by Laura Knight Keating who manages to capture the ups, downs and naive beauty of teenage angst and romance. Teens will eat up the satisfying conclusion to this laugh out loud romance trilogy. - Erin Cataldi, Johnson Co. Public Library, Franklin, IN

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Olive Kitteridge

I enjoyed this book but it wasn't remotely what I thought it would be. Olive Kitteridge is the common thread between all the stories in this novel. Set in a small town in Maine, Olive is a retired school teacher who loves her son (too fiercely perhaps), enjoys in the goings on of others, and tries to make sense of her life as she ages. Some of the stories are from her perspective and many others are from other townsfolk as they view her, sometimes from a far distance. She is a bit prickly and stoic but she is also very relatable and sympathetic. An interesting and complex  look at an aging woman and then lens through which she sees the world around her and the way that others perceive her as well.

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Reason You're Alive

Matthew Quick never lets me down. He is wonderful at getting in the mind of his characters and letting his reader understand mental illness and emotional distress. The Reason You're Alive is the story of Vietnam vet, Daniel Granger. After a car accident makes him have brain surgery he is sent to live with his son and granddaughter. Told in a crass, un-politically, unapologetic voice, this book is sure to win over readers. Daniel tells it like it is, from his marriage, experiences in the war, troubles with his son, guns, and race. It's funny, shocking, distressing, and hopeful. I wasn't sure where the story was headed for the first half of the book but it wrapped up nicely at the end and brought everything back together. Another slam dunk for Matthew Quick.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Veil of Roses

Halfway though I realized that I had, without a doubt, read this book some years before. Not that I minded. It was a good re-read. I do have some concerns with the author's research on Persians and modern day Iran and I don't think all her assumptions are fair or accurate, but other that that I thought it was a good story and premise. A young Iranian woman comes to the United States in order to find a husband (her visa is only good for three months). She wants to escape the radical religious government and have freedom (unlike her parents who are trapped in Tehran). She stays with her sister and her husband and together they look for a suitable Persian American while she takes English classes at the local library. During the midst of this she meets a charming barista at Starbucks but she doesn't give him the time of day because he would never understand her predicament. Or would he?

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Into the Water

Suspenseful, riveting, and unique. The ending was a little anti-climactic, with a twist the reader could easily sniff out, but it was still a fun, morbid read. Told from multiple narrators, a manuscript, and some flashbacks, Into the Water, tells the story of Nell Abbot's fall? suicide? into the drowning pool where many other women before her have entered the water depths never to re-emerge. The narrator includes her estranged sister, her 15 year old daughter, the mother of a girl who also died in the drowning pool, some cops, a psychic and some other characters. Full of twists and turns this reads fast all the way up to the lackluster conclusion. Still a good read despite that though.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Rebel of the Sands

Arabian Nights meets Aladdin meets teen romance. A wonderfully executed teen fantasy novel set in the harsh desert where guns are the currency of the land. As a woman, Amani knows that she has no rights and might soon be forced to marry her uncle and become one of his many wives. Trying to escape she goes to the pistol pit disguised as a boy trying to win a shooting contest to get money to escape the hell hole she's grown up in. While their things get out of hand and she finds herself befriending a foreigner who is almost as a good shot as she. Little does she know that her chance encounter with him will forever change her future. Full of daring escapes, magic, folklore, and all around badassery, this young adult novel is a slam dunk. I'll have to check out the second in the series.

P.S. I Still Love You

I thought this was a pretty solid follow up to the first book. It wasn't amazing, but I thought it stayed true to all the characters and the overall feel. Lara Jean and Peter are going to try out a real relationship rather than the charade they've put up for everyone, but their fledgling relationship gets off to a rocky start when a video of the two of them making out in a hot tub on their ski trip becomes a viral sensation. Suddenly everyone thinks Lara Jean is a slut and Peter is a hero. Lara Jean knows that Genevieve, Peter's malicious ex-girlfriend and her former best friend has to be behind it. Can their relationship survive all the drama?