Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

I love novels that take seemingly unrelated characters and then, as the story progresses, their stories intertwine.  This is one of those books. 

It takes place at Westish College and involves a star shortstop, his roommate, the catcher, the college president, and the college president’s daughter.

A sprawling, satisfying novel that kept my attention.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Odds: A Love Story by Stewart O’Nan

After 30 years of marriage, Marion and Art take a second honeymoon during Valentine’s Day weekend. It’s really a last-ditch effort to save their marriage.

A realistic and honest rendering of marriage. So honest in its descriptions of life and disappointment that it can be a bit painful.

A good, short read.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Crazy U: One Dad’s Crash Course in Getting His Kid Into College by Andrew Ferguson

Getting into college these days has gotten so much more competitive since I applied. I am not really sure if I could get into my alma mater today if I were to apply with my old high school grades/SAT scores/activities. Ah well, good thing I don’t have to apply to college again.

This is a very funny and readable account of what the college application process is like today. As he guides/pushes his son through the process of looking/applying/deciding where to go, the author writes about college rankings, SAT scores, and the whole industry that surrounds getting into college. A fast, interesting read.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The House I Loved by Tatiana de Rosnay

I LOVED Sarah’s Key. I could not put it down.

This is by the same author, but I had no problem putting it down. I’m not recommending this one to you at all.

It’s told from the perspective of Rose in 1860’s Paris. Her house is marked to be destroyed in order to renovate and modernize Paris. She chronicles the history of her family in this house and explains why she refuses to leave.

Another one for you to skip. But pick up Sarah’s Key if you haven’t already!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Why We Broke Up – Novel by Daniel Handler, Art by Maira Kalman

When you break up with someone (or he breaks up with you), you might be left with a broken heart, a relieved heart, a confused heart, or a combination of all three (and probably a bit more). One thing is probably true though – you’re left with items that remind you of him and your relationship. Either things he gave you (letters, jewelry, books, clothes, etc.) or things that he left around your place. What to do with these things?

One ex-boyfriend mailed me back some of my books (but he forgot one…a hardcover bestseller at the time!) overnight delivery. That must have cost a fortune. I really didn’t need to get them back THAT fast, but thanks, Ben. 

Anyway, this book, in both story and pictures, is one long letter from Min to her ex-boyfriend, Ed. She is planning to drop off a box of stuff at his house, and she describes the story of their relationship (and why they broke up) via each item in the box. 

A clever idea, and it sounds like it would be really interesting, eh? Wrong. It’s actually kinda boring and lacking in emotion. I didn’t like Min or Ed, and didn’t like their relationship or interactions at all, so why would I care why they broke up? I never really thought they should have been together in the first place. The pictures are cool though.

This was one book that I read about halfway through, and then hit that point of: Should I just finish it because I’ve already read half of it? Or should I quit now? I decided to finish, and now that I reflect back, that really wasn’t that necessary.

You read it here: you can skip this book.  Oh yah, and Ben, you can keep that bestseller (and why are you reading my blog)!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson

Ashley doesn't really care about the prom, but her best friend, Natalia, is the in charge of the whole thing. When they find out that the math teacher stole all of the prom money, Natalia recruits Ashley to help her out.

Okay, I'm a little embarrassed to review this book, but I picked it up because I read Wintergirls and Twisted by the same writer, and I liked them both. This one, however, was just average. Fast reading, but not so much depth.

I am impressed by this writer though because all of her books are very different from each other. She isn't stuck in a Young Adult Formula, and so I will keep reading her books. Next in the queue is her book, Speak.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Wingshooters by Nina Revoyr

Michelle is half Japanese, half white, and she lives with her grandparents in rural Wisconsin in the 1960s/70s. Michelle's mom left the family, and her dad went off in search her and, although he promises to return for Michelle, doesn't do that.

Racism is still alive, and Michelle is teased and bullied for being different. The teasing abates for awhile when an African-American couple moves to the town and they become everyone's target.

I really liked this book! It was well-written and very thoughtful. The racism is painful, and the ending is crushing, but this book ranks up as one of the best that I've read so far in 2012.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson

Have you ever wondered what it's like to be a teenage boy? Well, if you have, this is a book for you.

Tyler Miller is an overlooked, average teenage boy until he pulls a prank at school at the end of his junior year. Suddenly, he's notorious, but also facing all of the consequences that come with getting in trouble.

The first page of the book states: "NOTE: THIS IS NOT A BOOK FOR CHILDREN." This is true. I found this book in the Young Adult section, but I would not recommend it for young teens. It's heavy and has mature themes. I would recommend this book to adults though. It's well-written from a very different perspective.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World by A.J. Jacobs

I read The Year of Living Biblically, also by A.J. Jacobs, and loved it. It was so funny.

This one, about him reading through the Encyclopedia Britannica (33,000 pages!), was not as entertaining. In fact, it was downright boring at times.

Since I check most of my books out of the library, I can tell how into a book I am by how many times I have to renew it. Some books are a breeze and no renewal is necessary. My library allows for two renewals, and I had to renew this book both times. That means it took me nine weeks to finish it.

But I haven't given up on A.J. Jacobs. His new book, Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection is coming out in April, and I'll probably read it.