Book Review: “Father’s Day” by Simon Van Booy

Apr 26, 2016 by

Book Review: "Father's Day" by Simon Van BooyHarvey’s parents die in a tragic car accident when she is six years old.  Suddenly orphaned, the social worker finds the only living relative Harvey has left – her uncle Jason.  Jason has been long estranged from his family due mainly to his criminal record, and wasn’t even aware than his younger brother had a child… much less that his brother was gone now too.   The social worker sees something in Jason though, and helps him find his way to taking care of Harvey.  Fast forward twenty years, and Jason is visiting Harvey in Paris, where she lives and works now.  Harvey has put together a Father’s Day present for Jason during his visit, and plans to unveil the secret she thinks he’s been hiding from her.

I hadn’t read Van Booy before now, but I see why so many people love him so much.  This book was beautiful and careful with emotions and wonderful.  It took me a chapter or two to become completely enraptured with this story.

Harvey and Jason have much to offer and teach each other, but it’s far more than that.  There is a lot of love here, and it mostly starts with the opportunity for second chances.  The relationships that come out of these second chances are amazing.  Some take some time and effort, but what doesn’t?  I loved how the narrative moved so seamlessly between past and present.  It worked so well, and I especially liked how each perspective or memory was offered to the reader.  Its truly beautiful.

I strongly recommend this to readers of literary fiction and those who enjoy redemption stories.

*****
Father’s Day

by Simon Van Booy
Harper, 2016
304 pages
Source:  TLC Book Tours
*****

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Book Review: “Bonjour Tristesse” by Francoise Sagan

Aug 26, 2015 by

Book Review: "Bonjour Tristesse" by Francoise SaganIts the 1940s in France, Cecile is a seventeen year old girl spending the summer at a seaside villa with her father and his (current) girlfriend.  Her mother died when Cecile was very young, making her handsome father, Raymond, a very young widow; having a new girlfriend every few months is not unusual.  Ever since Cecile came home to him 2 years ago from the convent school – they have been partying together and having a great time.  Now away with one of his girlfriends, Raymond invites another woman to come stay with them too.  This new woman, Anne, was a friend of Cecile’s mother’s, and Cecile is quite taken with her.  Until Raymond throws over the girlfriend for Anne and Cecile begins to fret over the possibility of losing the lifestyle she shares with her father.  All of this while she is developing a relationship with the handsome guy next door – who is almost ten years older than her.

I found this novella purely by accident and was compelled to read it one Sunday afternoon.  Cecile is kind of a spoiled rich-kid brat who has almost an incestuous love for her father.  She is very young and naive, and yet is surprised to find herself attracted to the guy next door as he isn’t of her father’s age.  She is just so lonely for his attention – he doesn’t ignore her – but he does give plenty of attention to young pretty things that grab his attention for a month or two.  For such a short book, that honestly reads quite light and breezy, it really holds a surprising depth.  Now that I’ve read up a little bit about this – the author was just eighteen herself when this was published – and that really adds to the authenticity of the main character.  This was a glorious find!

Also, not that it means much, but I love this cover.  Isn’t it wonderful?

*****
Bonjour Tristesse
by Francoise Sagan
Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2008.  First Published 1955.
160 pages
Source:  Library
*****

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Book Review and GIVEAWAY(US/Canada): “Sweet Tooth” by Tim Anderson

Jun 26, 2014 by

Book Review and GIVEAWAY(US/Canada): "Sweet Tooth" by Tim AndersonThis is such a funny memoir!  This takes us through almost 15 years of Tim Anderson’s life – but they are big years.  They are the years in which this North Carolina teen starts to think that he might be gay, embraces the church as a way to somehow counter-act his sexuality (and maybe go on a retreat with some really cute college guys), and is diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes – which was obviously God’s way of punishing him for being gay.  He eventually comes around to realizing that God is not punishing him, that the Church is not going to balance out his gayness, and that the music of this time period (late 80s to early 90s) was awesome.  Yes, I love Morrissey and the Smiths too.

I really liked Tim’s sense of humor throughout the book.  Even when he has become comfortable with himself, but doesn’t necessarily have potential love interests knocking down his door – you feel bad for him and then he says something a little profound, maybe, but mostly sarcastic and funny.  He’s being really honest about what he was going through, what he was thinking, and how it shaped him – and he is really funny to boot!

Also, I learned quite a bit about diabetes and what diabetics go through on a daily basis.  I really had no idea at all – other than I once saw a woman have an attack at the beach when her sugar got too low – but that’s it.  I’m glad to have this new knowledge.  Oh, and the music!  So many of my old favorites are talked about here that I want to go and listen to again!  Such fun!

The bottom line here is that this is a great memoir that I think will appeal mostly to 25-40 year olds who can remember/relate to the numerous pop culture references.  This would also be of interest to those who enjoy love stories – though heavy on the trials and tribulations of finding love, not necessarily about being in love.

Now this is exciting – I can giveaway a copy of SWEET TOOTH!  Only US or Canadian addresses will be accepted.  I’m using this Rafflecopter form for the first time in a very very long time – I hope I didn’t screw it up!  Good Luck everyone 🙂

*****TLC Logo
Sweet Tooth
by Tim Anderson
Lake Union, 2014
319 pages
Source:  Review copy provided by TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: “Pushing the Limits” by Katie McGarry

Nov 26, 2013 by

Book Review: "Pushing the Limits" by Katie McGarryAt one time, it seemed like Echo had everything.  She was pretty, smart, had amazing artistic talent and was dating the basketball star.  But then something happened, and Echo just isn’t the same – she’s considered to be more of a freak than anything.  And now she has terrible scars up and down her arms that she hides from everyone, and has no memory of how they got there.

Noah had everything going for him too – until a house fire made him and his two younger brothers orphans.  The foster care system has split Noah from his brothers and he wants to do everything he can to get them back and in his custody after he graduates.  But the system, and life just gets him down and he tunes out to partying, drugs, and one night stands.

Echo and Noah are thrust together courtesy of their high school counselor…  and they help each other in more ways than they ever could have hoped.

So, my book bully friend has been telling me about this book for such a long time…  and I finally got the chance to read it.  I use the term “read’ loosely here – it is more like I devoured it!  I just couldn’t put it down!  Echo and Noah really took me by surprise…  I didn’t realize just how involved I was getting in their story until something really intense happened to Echo, and I found myself holding my breath.  And there were tears.  Smiles and laughter too – plenty of that as well.  It is really just emotional all over, and I loved it.  I really did.

Echo and Noah have had such different experiences, and tell their stories in alternating point of view narration.  Their individual histories help them really understand each other on such a deep level – a true connection.  But there is so much that can get in their way!  They also each have their own set of loyal and trustworthy friends, and their counselor is awesome.  These people become crucial to their overcoming their individual obstacles, and the way that it all plays out is incredible.  This was really much better than I expected, and I am so glad I read it!  I will absolutely read on in the series, as the next two books follows the story of different characters introduced here.

*****
Pushing the Limits
by Katie McGarry
Harlequin Teen, 2012
391 pages
Series:  Pushing the Limits #1
Source:  Purchased New
*****
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Audio Book Review: “Animal Farm” by George Orwell

Aug 26, 2013 by

Audio Book Review: "Animal Farm" by George OrwellMan, I love this book.  Even the first time I read it in English class years ago – I loved it.  I mean, it is pure genius.  I love this cover too…  Even though I downloaded the audio from my library and didn’t get to see it firsthand, the graphic is good enough here.  It certainly doesn’t make much question as to what the book is about, does it?

If you somehow are not familiar with the story line, Animal Farm is a tale based in the Russian Revolution, only instead of human Russians overthrowing the governing party – it is the British animals of Manor Farm.  These animals cast out the drunken leadership of Farmer Jones and his wife and assume control, renaming the property Animal Farm.  They begin to rule themselves with a very pure idea of socialism, and seven governing principles (among them “Four legs good; Two legs bad”).  But it doesn’t take long for the pigs to rise above the other animals, and for Comrade Napoleon to become the overall leader.  The pigs become increasingly more corrupt, and the uneducated masses of other animals allow it until, finally, the pigs even start to resemble the humans they replaced in the first place.

The way the characters are developed is fascinating.  To watch the pigs slowly transform themselves into “more than” the rest of the animals is something to behold.  The way they manipulate the others, and how we can see humans do the same thing even now is just genius.  I think my favorite character of all is Squealer the Pig.  He is the one who spreads the propaganda and further’s Napoleon’s cause and influence over the animals.  I love the way he just changes history and gets the others to believe him…. believing more in him than their own memories.  Is this a good (as in positive) character?  Not at all – but I admire his boldness.  Whenever the text announced Squealer’s presence in a scene, I’d smile because I knew something interesting/appalling/crazy was about to happen.  And I could picture him hopping from feet to feet while he was spinning his tales.

I’m so glad I experienced this one again…  I remembered it as being good, but I had forgotten just HOW good it really is!
*****
Animal Farm
by George Orwell
Narrated by Ralph Cosham
Blackstone Audio, 1999.  First published 1945.
Source:  Library
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Book Review: “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum

Nov 26, 2012 by

“We’re off to see the Wizard…  The Wonderful Wizard of Oz!”

This is one of my all time favorite movies.  I have always loved it – and remember fondly when it would be shown on television once a year.  My family would turn it into an event with popcorn and my brother and I were allowed to stay up late.  Technology being what it is today, I own the DVD and watch it often with my kids (or maybe by myself.  I’m not ashamed.)  I’d always wanted to read the original book, but just never got around to it.  Until now.  This is pretty much the general rule, so I was not particularly surprised.   The story is pretty much what you think it is:  a little girl and her dog get caught up in a tornado, which brings them from their mundane life in plain Kansas to a magical world.  Now in this unfamiliar land, she meets up with a Scarecrow, Tin Woodsman, and a Cowardly Lion with whom she travels to find the Great Wizard of Oz to have their wishes granted.  Along the way, they meet with Wicked Witches, Good Witches, Flying Monkeys, and Munchkins.

Book Review: "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" by L. Frank BaumIn the book, they meet many other curious creatures which add to the adventure.  Other major differences?  (Here is where I’ll start mentioning spoilers)  I always kind of loved that in the movie, the Scarecrow, etc. were imagined versions of people Dorothy knew in Kansas.  Also that her whole adventure was when she was out cold unconscious after being hit in the head during the tornado.  However, in the book, this just isn’t the case.  The world of Oz is real, and real time passes while Dorothy is there – enough time for Uncle Henry to build a new farmhouse, to replace the one presumably still sitting in Munchkinland.  This really is a huge difference, and makes the entire story more of a fantasy, and not just a dream.  Does that make sense?  Also, I really liked that the book made reference to the fact that Dorothy needed to sleep and eat during her long journey on the yellow brick road.  Many people are also put off a bit that Dorothy’s shoes are silver and not ruby as in the movie.  But you have to remember that when the movie was released in 1939 – it was one of the first to be in color, and ruby slippers look way more impressive than silver.  On a much smaller note – The Flying Monkeys used to scare me in the movie, but I like them much more in the book.

I also just wanted to mention that I listened to most of this as an audio book, narrated by Anne Hathaway.  She did a great job, though some of her “voices” for characters were somewhat interesting!

*****
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
by L. Frank Baum
Originally published 1900
Narrated by Anne Hathaway
Series:  Oz #1
Kindle/Audible version
Source:  Purchased New
*****
Links for purchase:


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