Saturday, July 30, 2011
Tara is a woman still in mourning over the loss of her husband Sam. She teaches high school at the same school where her daughter Grace attends. Grace and Tara used to be close, but since Sam's death there is a mountain building between them.
Emerson is Tara's closest friend and the busy owner of a popular restaurant. Emerson's daughter, Jenny, happens to be Grace's best friend.
Noelle is another very close friend of Tara (and Emerson). She is a midwife who has many causes and is the head of a "babies-in-need program".
These three women have been close since they all met in college. They are family to one another. When Noelle commits suicide, she leaves them reeling. As the women go through Noelle's belongs after her death, they piece together a letter of apology. This letter ultimately helps them discover who Noelle really was, what she really did and what role she really played in all of their lives.
Told in alternating narratives, the author takes the reader on a roller coaster ride of emotion. It is definitely a page-turner that will keep you guessing until the very end! Ultimately this is a story about the love between mothers and daughters, the love between friends and family, and the secrets that can tear us all apart.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
I received an Advance Readers Edition of this book through the publisher. Both my 10-year-old daughter and I read the book.
Journal of a Schoolyard Bully: Notes on Noogies, Wet Willies, and Wedgies is a book similar in style to Diary of a Wimpy Kid and The Dork Diaries. It features cartoons alongside text to tell the story of Niko Kaylor, the school bully. Niko has been asked to keep a journal by his therapist.
This book does have several amusing moments. I did find myself chuckling out loud a couple of times. However, I have to say that I was very disappointed overall in the tone of the book. Slated to be released in September 2011, the time when kids will be returning to school, I think that this book is really more of a celebration of bullying than a lesson to bullies. The author, Farley Katz, touches on issues of why Niko may bully such as an absent father and weight issues. However, I kept hoping that the bully would change his ways and become a better person and that never happens. At a time where bullying has become a serious epidemic, I fear that this book may only make matters worse.
My Daughter's Review
My daughter states that she thought that the book was going to be really funny. She thought that in the end the bully would see the error of his ways. Instead, it seemed to encourage bullying and gave bullies ideas on how to be a "better" bully. At the end of the book he didn't discover the error of his ways but decided to try to become an even better bully. She thought it was a very bad book for children - especially her age or younger. She thinks this book could cause big problems. She gives the book only 1 star on a 5 star rating system.
Click here for more information about bullying!
Saturday, July 23, 2011
I was fortunate enough to be selected to receive an Advance Reader's Edition of Becoming Marie Antoinette: A Novel. I was thrilled to be selected because I have always found Marie Antoinette to be an interesting person in history. Many have portrayed Marie Antoinette as self-absorbed and dimwitted. I was quite intrigued to see how Juliet Grey would present her in this novel.
Maria Antonia grew up in Austria always knowing that one day she would be a "sacrifice to politics". Her mother, Maria Theresa, was the Empress of Austria and demanded great things from her daughters. By the age of 10, Antonia had been promised in marriage to Louis Charles, the dauphin of France. A complete intellectual and physical transformation had to be undergone to prepare Antonia to become the dauphine of France and eventually their Queen. Finally, at the age of 14, the marriage was ready to move forward. Antonia had to leave nearly everything behind; her family, her servants whom she loved like family, her homeland, her language, her customs, etc. She had to convince the people of France to love her, despite the fact that many had preconceived notions about Austrian women. One of the people who needed the most convincing was her new husband, Louis.
Through the pages of this book, Juliet Grey shows us what a strong and compassionate person Marie Antoinette was. Despite constant criticism from her mother, she constantly strove to make her happy. Within the corrupt world of Versailles, Antoinette worked hard to keep her morals. Antoinette struggled to learn who she could trust and who she could not and it becomes clear in this book how lonely of a life it must have truly been.
Thoroughly researched and well-written, I very much enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone. This is the first book in a trilogy and will be released on 8/9/11. The second book in the trilogy, Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow, will be released in the summer of 2012. The third and final book will be released in 2013. I look forward to reading the next two books in the trilogy.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Between Shades of Gray is Incredible from start to finish. Ruta Sepetys has written a remarkable story that needed to be told, and she does it beautifully.
Under Josef Stalin, the Soviet Union occupied the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in 1939. The Kremlin created lists of people they were suspicious of being "anti-Soviet". Teachers, writers, artists, lawyers, doctors, etc. were placed on these lists and rounded up and murdered, sent to prison or deported into slavery in Siberia. The first deportations took place in 1941.
Lina and her family were on the list. Without warning, the police barge into her home one night and give her family a matter of minutes to pack up their lives. Her father had already been taken away previously. Herded into cattle cars with other terrified people from all walks of life, Lina, her younger brother Jonas and their mother Elena are quickly put into survival mode. The thought of keeping their family together and reuniting with their father is what forces them to stay strong, but the challenges they have to endure will test them, tear them down and change them profoundly.
The characters in this book are so vividly portrayed, which only makes the story that much more moving. I really think this is an amazing book. We've all heard a lot about the horrors and atrocities of the Nazis during WWII, but little in comparison about what happened to the Baltic states during Stalin's reign of terror. This book is intended for young readers, but I think adults will enjoy it and learn from it as well.
The Tiger's Wife is a brilliantly written novel. I enjoyed it thoroughly and am really looking forward to reading more from Tea Obreht!
The only trouble I can really speak of with this novel is that when people have asked me what the book is about I am at a loss. It is difficult to succinctly describe this book. I have found it best to simply say - Just Read It!
Obreht has beautifully woven together layer upon layer of mystery, magic and beauty within the pages of The Tigers Wife. Natalia is a young doctor who is trying to find answers about her beloved grandfather's death while she is on a medical mission to inoculate orphans. In learning more about her grandfather's life, we are introduced to other characters such as The Deathless Man, The Butcher and the Tiger's Wife. The Tiger's Wife has a fairytale quality to it, but there are no cliche happily-ever-afters in this book.
Christine has suffered a traumatic brain injury. That much we know. She wakes up each morning and is not sure where she is, who she is lying in bed with, how her body got to look as old as it currently does, or why she doesn't recognize any of the photographs strategically placed around the home. Chris suffers from amnesia. Every day she begins anew - a type of perpetual Groundhog Day, for those of you familiar with that movie.
Since Christine can't remember any of the details of how she got to where she is, she also can't remember who to trust. Is the man who claims to be her husband and claims to take care of her really who he says he is? Is the doctor who is claiming that he can help her with new treatments really keeping her best interests at heart? What about her family? Her friends? What really happened to them?
This book kept me guessing from page one. I kept thinking I knew what was going on, only to discover that I knew nothing! It was an exciting page turner... one that I simply couldn't put down until I knew the whole story. I loved it!
Before I Go To Sleep is now sold in over 30 languages around the world. It has been acquired by Ridley Scott’s production company, Scott Free, with Rowan Joffe set to direct. Filming is scheduled to begin in 2011. Make sure to read it first. You know books are always better than the films. I will definitely be checking this film out too, though!