Okay, here are some thoughts on my most recent favorite reads of the summer...but first, let's start with my least favorite.
The Casual Vacancy (J. K. Rowling)
Our Summer Book Club read.
Ugh. Ick. As my one friend remarked, and I quote, "How can so many awful people live in one town?" Yes. This pretty much sums it up. This book was just awful. The plot was awful. The character development was non-existent. It took well over 150 pages to get into the book (because there are so many characters thrown at you all at once it takes a while to get them all straight), and the only reason I continued to torture myself was to discover why everyone hated it so much. Yep. I got there. And, seriously, the last 30 pages are the only ones worth reading (and it wasn't worth it at all, by the way). Ugh. Ick. Skip it. Oh, wait. I hear they're making it into a movie. If you must, see the movie.
Now, the favorites....
Okay For Now (Gary D. Schmidt)
Listened to the audio book.
Set in the late 1960's, this book is about a tween boy, Doug, finding his way, which is very hard. Even harder when everyone around him seems to have lost theirs. A new town, a new start...maybe? Doug is witty, emotional, and delightful. A perfect read for 5th-8th graders. And the audio: Lincoln Hoppe, is excellent. FABULOUS. It's very laid back with life lessons around every corner, but not in an in-your-face kind of way. Very subtle. It pulled at my heart strings. I cried. I'm a huge fan and would recommend it to anyone, any age. [This is Schmidt's companion novel to his Newbery Honor book, The Wednesday Wars <--- I have yet to read this.]
Looking For Alaska (John Green)
Our Book Club read for August.
I read this first-love teen novel a few years ago during one of my YA courses in library school and LOVED it. There are quite a few YA fans in my book club, and a few John Green fans, so when this book was suggested we were all in. I was all for reading it again. Besides, I'd been meaning to add it to my home collection. It was just as heart-wrenching and wonderful the second time around. A co-worker saw I was reading it; she told me it was the book that made her want to become a teen librarian. She said "this is the kind of book high school English classes should be reading, but they aren't, and someone needs to get this book into their hands." Awesome. [Click on the title above for a link to a synopsis!]
Eleanor & Park (Rainbow Rowell)
My work's Book Club read.
Another YA novel about first love, but this one is set in 1986. I read this for my work's book club. I haven't "officially" joined this book club because 1) as we all know, I'm in another book club, and the only people in multiple book clubs are librarians...right? Ha! 2) the discussion locations are not exactly close to my home, and 3) I don't always read the book. My co-worker keeps me updated on what they're currently reading, and if I'm interested I'll read it, or add it to my ever-growing Want-To-Read list. Eleanor & Park was already on my to-read list, and I heard nothing but good things about it. I.couldn't.put.it.down. And I will try extremely hard to actually make this book club meeting! The drive will be worth it to hear what everyone thinks about the plot, the characters, the ending. I cannot wait to discuss this quirky teen romance.
Revolution (Jennifer Donnelly)
Currently listening to the audio book.
Annnnd....another YA novel. Cough, someone's getting her fill, cough. This is a historical fiction book set in Brooklyn and in Paris, about two girls, two centuries apart, a diary, and the French Revolution. When I first read this a few years ago I remember liking it enough that I flew through the lengthy book within days and marking it as a must-own. It's all about the heart and its struggles. There are many layers. It's dark, sad, dramatic. I'm listening to the audio because it's an Odyssey winner (best audio books). And so far...I am not disappointed. I'm still a fan.
One Thousand Gifts (Ann Voskamp)
I was first introduced to this book through Eat, Live, Run's blog post, and since then I see this book and its reviews everywhere. My cousin strongly suggested I make time for it, and soon. It's about a woman's journey to live life fully, eyes on God, lips speaking nothing but thanksgiving, and seeing the beauty in the ugly-beautiful.
This book has hit home. I'm a very optimistic person. I always try to see the positive side, the blessing in disguise. I'm one of the most grateful and optimistic people you'll ever meet. But it can be hard. There are moments when I don't want to be grateful or considerate or kind or positive. There are many times I want to be selfish, scream, lash out, kick things, and cry until someone fixes it. People ask me why I have such a passion for my yoga practice. My yoga practice brings me closer to God. When I'm on my mat, I'm calm and relaxed. No matter what pose or flow I'm doing, my heart is conversing with my Father, listening to the still small voice. And this book. This book is the extra push I need. The reminder I can reach for when I fall, when I fail. It will do a number on your heart. I would loved to have read this with a Bible study group.
Have you read any good books lately? Share your good reads below!
With Love and God Bless,