What I'm Reading

by jennifer20. October 2015 17:22
This week I finished All the Light We Cannot See. It was AMAZING!! I won't give any spoilers but will say that the characters that I thought would suffer a tragic demise did not. And that made me happy. There were quite a few times when my eyes got a little wet, and I had to stop reading and catch my breath. Excellent story telling. And then in a 2 day period I read and finished The Book of Speculation.This debut novel by Erika Swyler was breathtaking!! After my first day of reading, that night when I went to bed, I actually had a dream about Simon Watson. I have NEVER had a dream about a fictional book character before. I could not shake the story from my mind. The next day I pretty much binge read. I just had to know more about these characters and the ties that bound them all together.  Simon is a librarian who in the beginning of the book gets downsized.  The Book of Speculation is a log from a traveling carnival dating back to the 1700's. Simon gets sent the book from a bookseller who somehow figures out that a name in the book was Simon's grandmother and through some research tracks down Simon and send him the book. Simon discovers that the book does in fact contain information about his ancestors, which calls his attention to a freaky coincidence: generations of circus mermaids (related along the female line) all died by drowning on July 24th, which is the date his mother, a former circus mermaid, also drowned when he was a child.  Side note: Not mermaids like this:But are "mermaids" in the sense that they can hold their breath for a really long time and swim around sexily underwater in clingy white dresses. Oh and apparently can't drown until a seemingly random July 24th.  Okay, for lack of spoilers, I'll stop there. But I loved this book. Once I was finished with The Book of Speculation I decided to try out some Zombie lit. I chose Zone One by Colson Whitehead. From the publisher: In this wry take on the post-apocalyptic horror novel, a pandemic has devastated the planet. The plague has sorted humanity into two types: the uninfected and the infected, the living and the living dead. Now the plague is receding, and Americans are busy rebuild­ing civilization under orders from the provisional govern­ment based in Buffalo. Their top mission: the resettlement of Manhattan. Armed forces have successfully reclaimed the island south of Canal Street—aka Zone One—but pockets of plague-ridden squatters remain. While the army has eliminated the most dangerous of the infected, teams of civilian volunteers are tasked with clearing out a more innocuous variety—the “malfunctioning” stragglers, who exist in a catatonic state, transfixed by their former lives. Mark Spitz is a member of one of the civilian teams work­ing in lower Manhattan. Alternating between flashbacks of Spitz’s desperate fight for survival during the worst of the outbreak and his present narrative, the novel unfolds over three surreal days, as it depicts the mundane mission of straggler removal, the rigors of Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder, and the impossible job of coming to grips with the fallen world. And then things start to go wrong. Both spine chilling and playfully cerebral, Zone One bril­liantly subverts the genre’s conventions and deconstructs the zombie myth for the twenty-first century.   Blah blah blah. Sounds great, right? I think I made it 3 chapters before I had enough. Done. Enough. Maybe I need to give it a little bit longer, but I honestly don't have time to read bad books.  So today I started a book that had been on my TBR (to be read) shelf for a few months, and it finally became available.  Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica started off reminding me of The Girl on the Train, which I did not love. But its switched gears and seems to be picking up steam and I think it holds a lot of promise. I'm sure I will have it finished by next Wednesday.    What have you been reading??

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Jenny

What I'm Reading Wednesday

by jennifer7. October 2015 09:32
Hello and Happy Wednesday!! This week I am reading a GREAT book!!  All the Light We Cannot See was awarded the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.  This fantastic book took Mr. Doerr over a decade to write and tells the tale of a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.  Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel. In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.   Saint-Malo is an area of France that I was familiar with only because of my background in Marine Biology. Saint-Malo has the largest tidal change in ALL of Europe.  I know I am going off on a tangent now, but just check out the tidal range for a week (October 7-15.) IT'S HUGE!!If you look closely you will see more than a 20' difference between high and low tide. In Florida that sort of tidal range would wipe out many of our beaches for half of a day! Okay, back to the book. I am loving this story. I am about a third of the way through the book and each page just gets better and better. His descriptive narrative is simply breathtaking. I feel like I am right there in Saint-Malo.I've been to Germany twice so I do know firsthand some of the areas that Mr. Doerr is writing about, but France is new to me, so that is the part of the story that is keeping me the most intrigued right now.  I have a feeling that something tragic is going to happen to Marie-Laure and/or to Werner's sister Jutta.  Have you read this book? Did you love it? Do you typically read books that win The Pulitzer Prize?

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Jenny

What I'm Reading Wednesday

by jennifer23. September 2015 11:32
This week I finished The White Queen and In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume. Yes, THAT Judy Blume. The one and only Judy Blume.Oh how I loved her books when I was a pre-teen. From Fudge to Tiger Eyes to Are You There God? It's me Margaret, I lived and breathed Judy Blume in the late 1970's and early 1980's. It came full circle when my two daughters both started reading some of Blume's "tamer" novels like Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. And I was so happy to hear that they loved her writing just as much as I had at their age. I was so excited that I finally got a copy of her newest book (and it's for adults too!!) In the Unlikely Event. I had been on the wait list for quite some time. What a great story. In The Unlikely Event takes place in the early 1950s when the United States is dealing with the Korean War along with changing social mores. Miri Ammerman is the daughter of a single mother whose father left before she was born. Miri learns to negotiate a difficult adolescence with her loving family as they, and everyone in her hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey, deal with the unexpected and unexplained rash of airplane crashes literally in their backyards. 3 planes fell from the sky over a 2 month period and changed the lives of thousands of people. This story, while based on factual events is a work of fiction. The story focuses on how several of the impacted characters deal with this tragedy and then ultimately life as they re-group years later.The main female protagonist, Miri, is wonderfully developed and you can see the author's gift in creating rich and believable female teenage characters. The story is told from many points of view (over 20) and some of these characters are not as richly developed. One of my biggest challenges was getting engaged in the story early on with the POV continually changing Many great descriptions of life in the 1950's are included -- from the music to the food to the current events. I really enjoyed reading about life back in the 1950's.  Reading Judy Blume as an adult did not give me the same feelings as when I was a child, but that's ok. I'm not the same person I was 30+ years ago. I grew up, and so did Judy. Were you a Judy Blume fan as a child? Have you read any of her books as an adult?

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