Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Boyfriend League

The Boyfriend League by Rachel Hawthorne

Another Kindle limited time freebie, teen romance.

Dani is a baseball fanatic, but at 16 let's face it, boys are way up there on the interest list! With the help of her friend, they talk their families into hosting players for the summer collegiate league in hopes that they will find boyfriends for the summer. The plan is to house players so that they will introduce them to the rest of the team, their own guest being off limits.

But who can determine where their heart will end up?

Of course, our character HAD to end up hosting the hottest player on the team and trying to avoid her heart (and his) proves to be entertaining.

This is a very cute story. I could see enjoying it as a middle school-aged girl. The reviews from the other teens that offered their say, averaged 4.5 stars.

This is a quick and easy read, content and language is very clean and suitable for TWEENS.

God Don't Like Ugly

God Don't Like Ugly by Mary Monroe.

This was a limited time freebie I downloaded to my Kindle. Set in the 1960s, this story brings together two black girls from very different worlds, struggling to make it through a changing America.

Dirt poor Annette lives with her mom after dad runs off with a rich white woman. They move from one run down place to another, Annette's mom working for various white families cleaning their homes and sometimes turning tricks for a little extra money. Annette's mom brings in a boarder to help with the bills, and he helps himself to Annette.

The trio makes it to Ohio and Annette finds relief in a new friend, Rhoda. Beautiful, rich and spoiled, Rhoda is everything Annette wants to be, and the fact that Rhoda WANTS to be her friend makes life bearable.

Together Annette and Rhoda make it through a difficult adolescence and share some HUGE secrets along the way. Annette overcomes her insecurities and becomes an independent adult.

In all honesty, the title turned me off, but FREE always adds a little push toward trying it out anyway. The story was a little depressing at times, but the friendship forming behind it pushed me to keep reading. That said, the end left me a little disappointed and unless they are offered for free, I doubt I will read it's sequel.

NOTE: rape and sex moderately covered

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Short Bus: A Journey Beyond Normal (memoir)

This book, as it turns out, is a jewel that has been sitting on my to-be-read bookshelf, gathering dust, for over a year.

The author, Jonathan Mooney, was diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD in elementary school, and labeled "severely learning disabled." As a result, he was placed in special ed classes and grew up riding the proverbial "short bus" with the other special ed kids. The short bus, to the author, came to symbolize the feelings of marginalization for being different, or not normal.

As an adult, after graduating with honors from Brown University, Jon, still carrying around the pain of growing up different, buys an old short bus and goes on a three-month long odyssey from one end of the United States to the other and back again, meeting, interviewing, and profiling roughly a dozen "different" people along the way, ranging from a young deaf-blind girl who curses people out in sign language, to a teen labeled with ADHD, to a transgendered man who lives in a shack with no running water, to a young woman with Down syndrome, to a middle age man with autism - and several others in between. Jon goes on this journey hoping to come to terms with his own differences, hoping to learn from other individuals relegated to the fringes of society, and hoping most of all, to come out of the experience a different person. Along the way he faces his own prejudices and confronts his own notions of what's normal and what's not, and most of all, how arbitrary and mythical "normal" really is. He does come away from the experience changed, if only in the sense that he finally accepts himself for who and what he is.

I was so moved and impacted by this book. I laughed, and I cried, and I was moved by every single person the author met on his journey. I was, of course, drawn most of all to the young woman with Down syndrome, and I loved what seemed to be a very honest, genuine portrayal.

I have plans to expound on how this impacted me on my other blog, Finnian's Journey; stay tuned.

I highly encourage anyone touched in any way by difference or disability to read this book. Hell, I'd love everyone to read it, just to get a sense of what it's like to live one's life being made to feel different and therefore less than.

I'm keeping my copy; I underlined and highlighted so many passages, I can't give it away. But go get yourself a copy!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Girl Who Played With Fire (fiction)

In this sequel to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, our pierced, tattooed, waif-like heroine, Lisbeth Salander, is back fighting bad guys with a vengeance. Mikael Blomkvist, hero investigative journalist is back, too. When two people working with Mikael to expose a vast, underground sex trade in Sweden are violently executed, Lisbeth becomes the prime murder suspect. Mikael, convinced of his friend's innocence, goes on a mission to uncover the real killer. Meanwhile, Lisbeth evades the authorities on the hunt for her and seeks her own form of justice while being forced to finally face up to her past.

Talk about a thriller! I stayed up nights reading until my eyes were burning - it was that hard to put down. I often realized that every muscle in my body was tense as I read, wondering what was going to happen next.

Larsson was a brilliant writer. I am absolutely in awe of the complexity of the plot, the development of characters who truly come to life on the pages, and how he was able to make the utterly unlikely seem completely possible.

Wow. That about sums it up. I can't wait to read the final installment of this trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.

I'm keeping this one.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Half Broke Horses: A True Life Novel

Half Broke Horses: A True Life Novel by Jeannette Walls tells the story of her grandmother on her mother's side. It's sort of a follow-up to her previous memoir The Glass Castle. I really think it's necessary to have read that book before reading this one because as dysfunctional as Ms. Walls family was, it's amazing that her grandmother is so practical!

I loved reading how Granny just got stuff done, no matter what it took. She was just a matter of fact, hard working lady and Jeannette Walls tells her story with admiration and really brings the lady to life, even though she seems larger than life!

Of course, since Granny died when Jeannette was young, the author has decided to call it a "true life novel" because she's not certain what stories from her family are true and what is fiction, which puts a bit of a damper on things.

Still, it's a quick, enjoyable read and a great look into how a strong woman survives in the wild west.

This one's on my Kindle.

The Audacity of Hope

Wow, it took me FOREVER to read The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama. Mostly because I don't usually read political books, so it wasn't something I enjoyed reading, but felt obligated to read.

However, it is a good way to get in to our current president's head and see what he values. He touches on a wide range of subjects (religion, racism, health care, foreign affairs) but doesn't really seem to go into great depth on any of them. The most enlightening parts are when he shows how issues have affected him personally. He portrays himself as always trying to do the right thing, but often I see it as naiveté. I often agree with his ideals, but just wonder how we are supposed to pay for it all.

Personally, preferred his autobiography, Dreams From My Father to this book.

This one's up for grabs.

Let The Great World Spin

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann was my Book Club's selection a few months ago.

It tells the story of several characters lives on the day that a tightrope walker walked between the Twin Towers, which actually happened in August of 1974. This book also won the National Book Award in 2009.

It's certainly an ambitious piece of work. There are about a dozen different story lines to follow, and the story lines and characters often cross in unexpected ways.

And it captures that moment in time perfectly (not that I can remember 1974!). I really felt immersed in that time period and in particular, New York City during that time.

Unfortunately, with so many characters it was hard to really get to know any of them well and care for any of them. Just as you were getting a feel for them, their part of the story ends. It was a bit frustrating, but still worth the read.

This one's on my Kindle.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (fiction)

Thriller, murder mystery, (sort of) love story . . . this most definitely isn't the type of book I ever would have chosen on my own. In fact, I've seen it on the Bestsellers bookshelves at Barnes & Noble for months and never had any desire to buy it. Then it was chosen as this month's book for my book club so I decided to give it a try.

Set in Sweden, our hero is financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist, recently convicted of libel and as a result, with a career and reputation in the toilet. He is hired by Henrik Vanger, elderly patriarch of the elite Vanger family, an industrialist dynasty, to investigate the disappearance of his favorite niece almost forty years ago. Along the way, Mikael is aided by an unlikely heroine, Lisbeth Salander, brilliant hacker with a mysterious past and lots of secrets of her own. What they uncover is out of the realm of anything old Henrik Vanger could have imagined.

I had a bit of a hard time getting into the story, just because the first hundred pages or so covers a lot of financial mishmash, but once I got into the meat of the story, I was on the edge of my seat and had a hard time putting the book down. I loved it and highly recommend it - I am looking forward to delving into the sequel, The Girl Who Played With Fire.

I already gave my copy away, but go buy your own! Or check it out from the library! It's that good.