Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Mrs. Kimble by Jennifer Haigh

Don't be fooled by this chic-lit-ish looking cover. Inside are real and complicated characters and a story that connects them all.

There are three Mrs. Kimbles. And basically, they all marry the same jerk (not at the same time).

I enjoyed Haigh's writing, the characters, and the ending.

I can confidently say that Mrs. Kimble would make excellent airplane reading because I read it on a cross-country flight and was absorbed with it.

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

"We're the unknown Americans, the ones no one even wants to know, because they've been told they're supposed to be scared of us and because maybe if they did take the time to get to know us, they might realize that we're not that bad, maybe even that we're a lot like them. And who would they hate then?" --from The Book of Unknown Americans
This is the third book of three that my local library highlighted this year, and I liked it the best. It's about the Rivera family who comes to the US seeking out a better education for their daughter who has suffered a traumatic brain injury, and their neighbors, the Toro family. We also hear the immigration stories and hopes and dreams of their other neighbors who hail from various South American countries.

I liked this book so much because it shows that we are all humans trying our best to provide for our families. Each person has his/her own story of what they hope for and the losses they carry around with them. In addition, each immigrant has a story of what and who they left behind and why they took the risk of moving to America to start again. I think if we all had a better understanding of this, we might be more kind, gentle, and gracious with each other.

Touching, and also a bit heartbreaking. I loved Henriquez's writing style. It's simple and spot-on. This book could be easily read by middle school aged students on up.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World by Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh writes the blog TheArtofSimple.net, and I believe she is currently traveling the world with her family. In her book, she writes of her experiences living in Turkey and in the United States, and asks questions about how we want to live our lives. She wants her family to live simply, eat well, spend their money wisely, and travel and see the world.

Overall, I like her take on things. I like that she wants to intentionally choose how she and her family will live. I do wish she had shown a bit more of her imperfect side though. :P

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Discreet Hero by Mario Vargas Llosa, translated by Edith Grossman

Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2015 Reading Challenge is really helping me think outside of the box in terms of what I am thinking about reading. This book could fall into both the categories of "A book that was originally published in a different language" and "A book published this year."

Originally published in Spanish, The Discreet Hero tells the parallel stories of two men whose lives end up intersecting. There is a lot packed into this book - infidelity, disinheritance, blackmail.

The story became more delightful as it went on, and my experience reading it was above-average.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

Nastya moves in with her aunt and starts high school in a new town. But there's something off about Nastya. She hasn't talked to anybody in a year. At school, she meets Josh who has suffered the loss of all of his close family members. Kids stay away from him. Can their friendship provide any healing for them?

Why doesn't Nastya talk? What happened to her? These are questions that are answered along the way. Gripping, intense, beautifully written, and one of my favorites of 2015 so far.

A caution to my younger readers: contains Mature Content.

Friday, April 10, 2015

A Tightly Raveled Mind by Diane Lawson

Let me save you some time. Please don't check out this book. It is awful and a waste of time. A psychoanalyst's clients begin to die one by one and then she falls in love with her private investigator. And that's about all you need to know. Skip!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

BEFORE YOU READ ANY FURTHER, you will want a pen to write down this title!!

It's about August (or Auggie), a fifth-grader with facial deformities that startle and shock others, so much that they want to avoid him. He's been home-schooled until he starts fifth grade at a mainstream school. It's challenging for him, and challenging for his fellow students. However, they are all changed for the better by having him at school.

I loved Auggie because he is brave, funny, and honest. I also loved this story because it's about being human and being kind.

I LOVED this book. I cried twice while reading it. It touched my heart, and I hope lots of people - parents, kids, teachers, bullies, underdogs, the general population - read it!

Thanks to Nannette for recommending it! :)

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Sweetness of Forgetting by Krstin Marmel

Hope is a recently divorced 37-year-old woman living on Cape Cod struggling to keep her family's bakery in business. She's grieving the death of her mother and the cognitive decline of her grandmother, dealing with the moodiness of her teenage daughter, and flirting with the possibility of dating again. Okay, that's already a lot, and then add in secrets that her grandmother alludes to in a moment of clarity, a trip to Paris, long-lost relatives....and you have this book in a nutshell.

You might dismiss this book as a "chick-lit" book, and it kinda is, but there is a bit more depth in here. It's a good book if you're looking for something to immerse yourself in during a flight or day off.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova

Written by the same author as Still Alice, Left Neglected is about Sarah, an 60-80 hours/week full-time working mother of three young children who multi-tasks her way through life. Until one day as she's driving and distracted and totals her car. She's left with a brain injury that leaves her unaware of her left side. She has to learn to walk, dress and feed herself, and compensate for her injury.

I found Left Neglected to be about more than the brain injury part of the story. It's about slowing down, taking a step back, and evaluating what kind of life we want to live. A very fast read, informative, and thoughtful.