May provided a mixture of titles. It was a grab and go find time to read as the month was filled with AP testing and finishing up curriculum units. Brain in a blender is how I refer to those mad days of teaching in overdrive mode. Sometimes it’s difficult finding enough energy to peruse a few pages without falling asleep. Book whap in the face is embarrassing.
Greenwillow by B.J. Chute
An enchanting tale with a warmth about it that makes it suitable for a cozy wintertime fireside session or as a drowsy summer hammock companion.
Reminiscent of Tuck Everlasting in how true love is shadowed by a family curse, with a bit of the charm found in D. E. Stevenson’s novels. Gently told and full of quaint characterization and imagery. I hope to find other novels by the author. A delightful five star read.
How to Stop Time by Matt Haig
A bit of Benjamin Button mashed with Dr Who timey-wimey stuff. The idea of someone who ages incredibly slow is intriguing as it has so many plot possibilities. Unfortunately, most of the story centers on how miserable Tom Hazard is concerning his condition. He is over 400 years old though he looks to be in his forties. Falling in love is problematic, as is staying in one place for more than eight years. The flip flop of Tom’s backstory mixed with present day is the stuff of novels these days, so that wasn’t the issue as much as the over-dramatic ending with serious plot holes. The overall premise is quite clever, the storyline fairly entertaining despite Tom’s grousing. The inclusion of Shakespeare garnered the four stars, otherwise a middling three.
First Impressions by Debra White Smith
While some readers may appreciate yet another spin off of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, it is a universal truth that providing a refreshing retelling is difficult. This is the case for First Impressions by Debra White Smith, who begins her series of Austen retellings with the familiar love story of Darcy and Elizabeth. White attempts to freshen up the story by placing it in a contemporary Texas small-town. Some of the characters have changed, yet not so much for the better. Darcy is Dave, a millionaire hiding from his fame, Elizabeth is Eddi, a sassy lawyer, Jane is Jenny, ambivalent about the men in her life, and Bingley is Calvin, endearing, yet somewhat bumbling in his attempts at admiring Jenny. Lydia is Linda, the promiscuous sister. The Bennett parents still play their assigned roles of mother with no filter and passive father. The other two sisters didn’t make the cast. Wickham is a police officer gone wrong, and Connor becomes the awkward smitten cousin. Overall, the dialogue and attempts to match key dialogue and plot points comes off forced, such as making Connor a third cousin, with several reminders that it’s okay to marry cousins in Texas.
Retelling such a well-known story can be problematic, partly since readers have high expectations the characters and plot will provide similar vitality. Unfortunately, First Impressions did not impress, and it is with regret, as it held promise in its chosen format, but tried too hard to emulate Austen’s story and earns a two star.
The Lost Girl of Astor Street by Stephanie Morrell
Piper loses her best friend Lydia, and is determined to find out what happened to her. This is no easy task for an eighteen year old society girl living the crime-prone era of 1920’s Chicago. As Piper begins her investigation into Lydia’s disappearance, she begins to jeopardize her own safety. Fast-paced, with notable era details, this is an engaging read. Odd, that it is labeled as a YA, since its history-mystery format is more inclined towards an adult audience interest-wise.
One off-putting aspect of the novel is the way Piper is presented: tomboyish, clever, yet emotionally immature. Her overly-dramatic behavior makes her seem much younger than eighteen, more like fifteen, which makes it surprising that a mature police detective like Mariano would be interested in her. The ending definitely hints at sequels, as there are a couple of loose ends that need attention. A four star in spite of Piper’s tendency towards being irritating in her enthusiasm in solving problems.
Bizarre Romance by Audrey Niffenegger and Eddie Campbell
One of those books that turn out to be a not what I thought after reading a trade review. I liked the cover and was initially persuaded this would be quirky graphic novel. The idea intrigued me of illustrating published stories, a blending of text and visual interpretation. Somehow the stories didn’t quite work. The art kind of did. But they didn’t necessarily work together. “Thursdays, Six to Eight p.m.” is the best pick–fresh and funny. A middling three. A side note is that Niffenegger is the author of The Time Traveler’s Wife.
After next week I am free to read anytime I care to since school obligations will be over. I already went shopping at the library and have a shelf of reads ready to go. I look forward to feasting with my reading sessions instead of the peck and nibble I contend with. As much as I enjoy teaching, it does get in the way of my reading.
Happy June–the gateway to summer. Aah, yes…
book cover images: Goodreads
hammock image: Pinterest
My idea of vacation is a quiet condo equipped with a comfy couch and a sunlit balcony–and being within walking distance of a library.
Fortunately, I got all that at a great price–free! Yup, I’m staying at my mom’s place for a couple of weeks while she is traveling. Perfect set up. It’s my old neighborhood, just down from my high school and I’m here for about two weeks.
No yard to tend. No tv to distract. No tempting pantry beckoning me. So no weeding, channel zoning, or needless snacking. Just reading. And yeah, I’m here to focus on my writing too.
Upon unpacking I immediately trotted next door to the library, the one I grew up with from fifth grade through part of college, and scoured the shelves and ordered books not readily available. I’m thinking they would come in a bit at a time, kind of staggered in their return to the shelves.
They all popped in within two days and I am reading, reading, reading.
Life should be so complicated, right?
I am now at 53% towards my reading challenge of 101 books. Ooh, I do so like having a batch of books at my fingertips. *sigh*
So far I’ve read:
As well as having thumbed through a couple of fun books:
How is your summer reading going?
Dunbar was one of the first African Americans recognized for his talent in poetry. This is almost magical in its lyric imagery. I can’t even think of trying to find a photograph that could possibly capture its radiance. Perhaps a Monet?
Come when the nights are bright with stars Or come when the moon is mellow; Come when the sun his golden bars Drops on the hay-field yellow. Come in the twilight soft and gray, Come in the night or come in the day, Come, O love, whene’er you may, And you are welcome, welcome. You are sweet, O Love, dear Love, You are soft as the nesting dove. Come to my heart and bring it to rest As the bird flies home to its welcome nest. Come when my heart is full of grief Or when my heart is merry; Come with the falling of the leaf Or with the redd’ning cherry. Come when the year’s first blossom blows, Come when the summer gleams and glows, Come with the winter’s drifting snows, And you are welcome, welcome
Dishevelled leaves creep down
Upon that bank to-day,
Some green, some yellow, and some pale brown;
The wet bents bob and sway;
The once warm slippery turf is sodden
Where we laughingly sat or lay.
The summerhouse is gone,
Leaving a weedy space;
The bushes that veiled it once have grown.
Gaunt trees that interlace,
Through whose lank limbs I see too clearly
The nakedness of the place.
And where were hills of blue,
Blind drifts of vapour blow,
And the names of former dwellers few,
If any, people know,
And instead of a voice that called, “Come in, Dears,”
Time calls, “Pass below!”
As I get older, I realize autumn is replacing my favorite season of summer. The warmth is still there, the greens fading into muted colors–there is a peace, a tranquility to fall versus the frantic heat and activity summer requires. I think Hardy realized this as well.
At this point it’s wishful thinking…is it me, or is this an especially warm summer?
Food and summer. Yup.
Besides barbecue, picnics, reunions, vacation binges, craft fair nibbling, beach concession splurges and the like, there is also food found in our reading. Take poems, for example.
This is just to say by William Carlos Williams
Watermelons by Charles Simic
Peach Blossoms by Carl Sandburg
A Ballad of Nursery Rhyme by Robert Graves
Orchard by Hilda Doolittle
Plums, watermelons, berries, peaches, oh my. Time to browse the Farmer’s Market!
For more summer foodie poems try this delightful site: TasteArt