Mar 2, 2015

Book 68: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

Admittedly I am not the target market for this book.  But having a daughter who is reading YA I will read them as well.

The story is about a geeky boy who seems to fall in love over and over again with girls who have the name Katherine.  After the breakup with the latest Katherine he goes on a road trip with his best friend and all sorts of learning happens.  Mainly, he can let go of Katherines and fall in love with a Lindsay.

Very readable, but I just did not find it fresh, you could see what was coming.  Of course I am comparing it to his other work Fault in our Stars which is a much more mature work.

Book 67: Everthing I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

This is a book that kept popping up as a recommendation, but I was hesitant to read it as it has to do with a suicide.  I am not sure why suicide is the thing that makes me reluctant, but it is.  In the end I am glad I read this one.

the story does revolve around the suicide of a families favorite daughter.  We learn about hopes and dreams and what happens when they are not fulfilled.  We learn about how parental pressure effects children or what the lack of parental attentiveness does. 

This is a very well defined family and each of the family members seem real and complex.  Neither good nor bad, but a mix and really just trying to figure out their place.

A very good book, I so recommend this one.

Book 66: Maude by Donna Mabry

How much bad luck can one woman have over the course of her life?  Well, Maude can tell you...quite a bit.

This book is written by Mabry about her Grandmother.  She is retelling the stories her Grandmother imparted to her about her life.  Maude started life in the 1890's and lived into the 1960's.  She saw many changes and had many tragedies befall her.

Maude is both likeable and unlikeable.  I felt for her, but hated some of the things she felt about her children.  But it was an book that had me turning the pages and wanting to know more.  Through out the book, I never got the impression that Mabry's Grandmother felt sorry for herself, instead she was stoic and just put one foot in front of the other until one day she stopped.

Book 65: Funny Girl by Nick Hornby

Another new release book I stumbled on.  I only mention this because I am usually decades behind book releases.

Can I just start out by saying I was dissapointed in this book.  I have only read one Hornby book and that was years ( 10+) ago (How to be Good), but I had high hopes because I loved the adaptations of High Fidelity and About a Boy (one day I will get around to reading them).  But Funny Girl really never got rolling.

Barbara is obsessed with Lucille Ball and dreams of getting out of her small town and being famous for making people laugh.  She stumbles into TV and becomes a success.  That is the premise of the story.  We follow her and the writing gang as the show progresses.

Barbara/Sophie (which I never felt suited her) is a very flat character.  Other than being told she wants to be funny there is very little to understand her choices.  Hornby did not get the girl right in this book.  The rest of the characters are all men.  I found I cared about the writing duo, but had a hard time keeping their names straight.  Would have liked more about their shared trouble and how each dealt with it.

The book was easy to read, but not very interesting.  I would not recommend it.

Book 64: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Have I mentioned I have a soft spot for grumpy old men?  Well I do and Ove is a great example.

Ove lives in Sweden and wakes up each morning with the plan to commit suicide.  Every day he is thwarted by insufferable neighbors.  Throughout the book we understand what has made Ove so grumpy and why he wants to end his life, we also see Ove coming back to life and learning to live and let go.

A very accessible book, and one that I jumped right into.

Book 63: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

This is a simple little book that I very much enjoyed.

The book starts out with a grumpy curmudgeon, but really he is not old enough to be so miserable.  AJ is a book owner on a small remote island, the island that his now dead wife grew up on.  He is alone and grieving.  The island is filled with quirky residents, like all small islands are, but that is where much of the joy comes from in this book.

I love AJ and wish I was on the island and was able to visit the book store.  Obviously, I was drawn into this book  but it is also one of those that is a quick read.   Good for airplane trips or a beach read...or in bed sick like I read it.

Book 62: How to be Both by Ali Smith

This book was short listed for the Man Booker award, and I have been waiting for it to be available for a while.  I was intrigued by the concept and the cover.

If you are not familiar with the book, it is actually 2 books in one that cover the same events, one story (camera) is about a girl in the present and one story (eyes) is told from the view of a man from the 1400's.  The stories play off each other and can be read in either order.  I happened to read Camera first.

I enjoyed the book, but was not blown away.  I am not exactly sure why, but I have a couple of guesses, and I don't think it was the authors fault.
1.  I had been waiting for the book and I anticipated something more than it was.
2. I was sick and not really well enough to take in the book.
I think it was a combination of both ( I was sick for 2 1/2 weeks and read a lot of books between sleeping).

I am giving the book some space and I hope to go back to it and read it the other way around, eyes than camera.  Also I knew there was a connection between stories and as I read the first one I was always trying to figure out how they connected.  Don't do that.

Book 61: West of Sunset by Stewart O'Nan

I stumbled upon this book by chance and saw that it was a novel on F Scott Fitzgerald, then I noticed it has just been released.  So this time I am on the front edge of a book, and it happens to be on a topic I enjoy.

West of Sunset is a fictionalization of the last years of Fitzgerald's life, his final time in Hollywood and also covers Zelda's institutional situation at the time.

I found it to be a fair treatment of the events of the time.  The author takes a more gentle approach to both Scott and Zelda.  He tries to give them both the benefit of the doubt and neither of them comes out the villian of the relationship (which is probably an accurate stance).  It is not an in depth look at any specific event, but that can be found in other novels like:
The Disenchanted
Beautiful Fools
Beloved Infidel

I do wonder if I am too close to the subject matter.  I am very curious to see how people who are not as familiar with the topic find the book.

I wouldn't say the book is a fast paced book and not one I found lost in.

Book 60: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

This is one of those books that everyone was really talking about years ago when the book and movie came out.  I was curious, but skeptical on the book, and at that time I was exclusively reading the classics.  To be honest, I had completely forgot about this book until I caught the movie on TV and that is what prompted me to read it at this time.  And I am happy to say this is one of the books that live up to its hype (as well as the movie).

As simply as I can put it, the book is a look into the lives of black servants in 1960's Mississippi at the beginning of the Civil Rights movement.  It highlights the hypocrisy of the system that has black women raising white children who grow up to look down on the same women who nurtured them.

It is a book I think I would put on a list for my kids to read when they get a little older.

Regarding the movie adaptation....Good job with the material, of course the book is always better, but this is one of the better ones.