Tuesday, May 24, 2016

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - The Fireman; Joe Hill

Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros where I share the first paragraph sometimes two, of a book that I'm reading or plan to read soon. 

The Fireman; Joe Hill
William Morrow - May 2016



"Harper Grayson had seen lots of people burn on TV, everyone had, but the first person she saw burn for real was in the playground behind the school.

Schools were closed in Boston and but in New Hampshire they were still open.  There had been cases in New Hampshire, but only a few.  Harper had heard that half a dozen patients were being held in a secure wing of Concord Hospital, looked after by a medical team outfitted in full-body protective gear, every nurse armed with a fire extinguisher."

What do you think -- keep reading or pass? 
(Feel free to join in this week by posting your intro below?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Orphan Train; Christina Baker Kline

Orphan Train; Christina Baker Kline
William Morrow - 2013

Molly Ayer has been in over a dozen foster homes in just 17 years of life. She's been though plenty and despite her tough exterior of piercings, wildly colored hair and tattoos, she's a wounded child inside.  When she takes a tattered copy of Jane Eyre from the library, she's required to do community service for the offense.  Her service assignment is to help out 91 year old Vivian Daley, a wealthy widow who also lives in Maine.

As Vivian's story unfolds, it's clear that she did not always have an easy life.  As a child, Vivian was an Irish immigrant who traveled with hundreds of other orphans by train from NYC to the midwest. As it would turn out, the fates of these children were mostly determined by luck.

The story is told in dual narratives and, the characters come to life on the pages.  I loved how the relationship between the two characters develops as they sort through boxes of keepsakes from the past. It was touching to see how Molly and Vivian had much they in common than one would expect despite a 70+ year difference in their ages. A moving story that was well written. This would make a good discussion book. The audio narrated by Jessica Almasy and Suzanne Toren.

4.5/5 stars
(library audio)

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

My New Books

Except for a few reviews here and there blogging has been taking a back seat to life, family and nice weather.  I have received some wonderful books over the last few weeks that I really want to try. Are any of these on your "hope to read" list?

Forty Rooms; Olga Grushin - DNF

Forty Rooms; Olga Grushin
Blackstone Audio - 2016

Although Forty Rooms was a different kind of novel and  although Christa Lewis' narration was excellent, I was unable to finish this one. It just wasn't for me.

The story begins in Soviet Russia with an unnamed narrator at the age of four. The young girl is bright, imaginative, and dreams of being a poet. Each of the chapters centers on a different "room" which represents a memorable life experience for the narrator who as an adult is referred to as only Mrs Caldwell.  The chapters have a dream like quality and for me, there seemed to be little connection. As the narrator matures, I started to find the protagonist unlikable. Although the audio version had a pleasant tone, I had to jump abandon this one around the halfway mark.

(library audio)

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Somebody I Used to Know; David Bell

Sorry - for late post today - Blogger was uncooperative uploading images!

Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros where I share the first paragraph sometimes two, of a book that I'm reading or plan to read soon. 

Penguin - 2015

Chapter One

"When I saw the girl in the grocery store, my heart stopped.

I had turned the corner into the dairy aisle, carrying a basket with just a few items in it. Cereal. Crackers. Spaghetti. Beer.  I lived alone, worked a lot, and rarely cooked.  I was checking a price when I almost ran into the girl.  I stopped immediately and studied her in profile, her hand raised to her mouth while she examined products through the glass door of the dairy cooler.  

I felt like I was seeing a ghost."

What do you think -- keep reading or pass? 
(Feel free to join in this week by posting your intro below?

Monday, May 16, 2016

Britt-Marie Was Here; Fredrik Backman

Britt-Marie Was Here; Fredrik Backman
Atria - 2016

"Forks. Knives. Spoons. In that order.

Britt-Marie is certainly not the kind of person who judges other people. Far from it.  

But surely no civilized person would even think of arranging a cutlery drawer in a different way from how cutlery drawers are supposed to be arranged?

We're not animals are we?"

Britt-Marie is a 63 year-old woman who is socially awkward and set in her ways.  After leaving her cheating husband she needs a job and the only job she finds is in Borg, 12 miles away.  Her new job is to clean the recreation center in the town.

The people that Britt meets at her job and in Borg are what makes this book a fun read. There were many funny scenes like when Britt-Marie finds out that the recreation center does not stock the ONLY acceptable cleaning product that someone would use.  Britt-Marie is a woman who never had children of her own yet, she finds herself in charge of a kids soccer team with children who are longing for some attention.

Britt-Marie's debut came in Backman's last book, My Grandmother Told Me To Tell You She's Sorry. When that story ended Britt was leaving driving in her car.  This story picks up where the other left off but, it isn't necessary to read that book to enjoy this one.  The author knows how to create quirky, yet sympathetic characters.  Britt-Marie was so rigid and opinionated yet because of her past and present situation, she's an easy character to root for. You'll know everything there is to know about her and, by the end of the book she felt like someone I knew most of my life. It was so nice to see her become a vital part of the community.

Readers looking for a sweet story with a quirky protagonist should try this book. Almost every phrase uttered by Britt-Marie ended up being highlighted and put a smile on my face.

4/5 stars
(review copy)

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Be Frank With Me; Julia Claiborne Johnson

Be Frank With Me; Julia Claiborne Frank
William Morrow - 2016

Mimi Banning is a reclusive Hollywood Hills author who has lost all her money in a ponzi scheme. As a result she is now feeling the pressure to finish another book by her deadline.  To help her meet this deadline the publishing house sends Mimi an assistant named Alice Whitley who was previously working at the Genius Bar at Apple.  Alice is unclear on what exactly her role will be but, she seems to fit Mimi's criteria: [No Ivy leaguers or English Majors. Must drive, cook, tidy. Computer whiz. Good with kids. Quiet, discreet, insane.]

When Alice arrives at the Banning mansion she is quickly introduced to Frank, Mimi's nine year old son.  Frank has a photographic memory and is quirky and set in his ways. He has nothing in common with the other fourth graders in his class.  He and Alice develop a unique relationship as Alice's job turns out to be as a full-time companion for Frank.

There is not a lot that happens in this story but, it's the relationship between Alice and Frank that makes this novel special.  The story is told by Alice and is dialogue driven.  

Frank is a terrific character, he loves to dress in top hats and cuff links and old fashion styled garb.  It's easy to see why he and most other nine year olds wouldn't have a lot in common. One can assume he has some autism related diagnosis but, we never learn exactly what that is.  

Julia and Frank will make you laugh and maybe even shed a tear as you get to know them.  Readers who like eccentric and lovable characters should give this novel a try.

4/5 stars
(review copy)