I’m Back – It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

I took a few weeks off recently to wrap up Spring Semester 2012. I’m officially finished with coursework for my Ph.D. and now have a whole lot of writing to do (more on that in future posts). I’ve enjoyed taking time in the past week to connect with my reader self.

Last week I read:

After Eli by  Rebecca Rupp was recommended by Paul Hankins on either Twitter, GoodReads, or Facebook (likely all three)! This did not disappoint. Daniel is trying to make sense of his brother’s death and growing up. His voice is thoughtful and honest, and brought me to tears a few times. This is the first complete book I’ve read on my new iP*d through NetGalley. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about reading on an e-device, but the story was so fantastic I barely noticed. Release date: Aug. 14, 2012

Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin – I’ve been on the waitlist at my local East Lansing Public Library for a while; and am glad that it finally came in! I remember distinctly sitting at dinner at ALA Midwinter reading Roger Sutton’s editorial mentioning this book, it was the first I’d heard of it. Less than 2 days later it was announced as a Newbery Medal Honor book. It’s one that I want to read a few more times and am thinking of pairing with the beautiful picturebook The Wall by Peter Sis. Lots to think about in the best possible ways.

See You At Harry’s by Jo Knowles – this one is getting it’s own review, check back tomorrow!

A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle – This was on the “new books” shelf at my library and I thought I’d read something about it (can’t remember were). The dialogue is distinctly Irish, making me think of my father-in-law (born outside of Belfast), and my own Kelly & O’Malley relatives. Mary’s characters is multi-dimensional and the plot intriguing. Another book I want to reread.

This coming week I’m reading:

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny – Detectives Extraordinnaire by Mrs. Bunny translated from the Rabbit by Polly Horvath – My 2nd grade daughter and I are reading this adventure story together. She is quite enchanted with both Madeline (the main human character) and Mr. & Mrs. Bunny. We are looking forward to finishing it this week.

A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper – This is was recommended to me by a librarian friend who knows that I like historical fiction and am also looking for books to read by Australian authors in preparation for my first visit down under in a few months.

How to Write A Lot by Paul Silvia – A fabulous little book about academic writing. I’m rereading it for the third time as I return to the final leg of writing my practicum and begin to work on my dissertation proposal. This, along with Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird are my two favorite books about writing.

There will be more… but I’m not sure exactly what yet! I’ve been trying to hold off reading Insurgent thinking it would be good for the airplane trip to Australia, but I honestly don’t think I can wait that long. I’ve also got the 6th and final book in the Nicholas Flamel series waiting for me on NetGalley and am hoping to get Rebecca Stead and Sharon Creech’s newest titles soon as well.

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See You At Harry’s

This past saturday I read See you At Harry’s by Jo Knowles. I noticed some buzz about this book over on twitter and requested to review it on NetGalley. I was not disappointed. I started Saturday morning and finished it this evening. Before dinner.

12-year-old Fern narrates this coming-of-age, contemporary realistic fiction story. She tells readers of her adventures, misadventures, growing pains and life growing up in a family who owns a restaurant. For me, it’s her voice makes this story. Fern often feels as if she isn’t heard, that she doesn’t always have a voice (though she surprises herself a few times). What Knowles has done so masterfully is to write Fern’s voice in an honest, believable way. To me, this is a fine line (I’m sure this is due in part to the fact that I currently live with a middle school girl).

Fern’s tales of trying to navigate life with family and friends transcends age, family structure and even birth order. She is often a parent to her youngest brother Charlie, is the friend and confidant of older brother Holden, and sometimes feels like she has two mothers when her oldest sister Sara tries to “help”. Fern’s friends Ran and Cassie are the kinds of friends I long for my own children to have; loyal, supportive, and caring. When unexpected tragedy strikes, Fern and her family struggle together to make sense of life. Suddenly Ran’s mantra, “all will be well”, that has always calmed Fern is in jeopardy.

I’m not going to say a whole lot more about the plot because it is impossible to do so without spoilers. However, there are phrases that will make you laugh, others times you will hold your breath, and plot turns that will surprise you – tears will be involved, so be sure to have kleenex.

My two favorite parts of this book:

  1. All of the children in Fern’s family are named for characters from books.
  2. The opening line of the book, “The very best day of my life, I threw up four times and had a fever of 103 degrees.”

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