Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
(St. Martin’s Press, 2012, 328 pages)
Eleanor is new in school and is unlike anyone else there. She wears weird clothes, has bright red hair, and just generally doesn’t seem like she fits in with anyone. Until she meets Park. Park has been going to the same school his whole life and although he is different than everyone else, everyone accepts him. Park and Eleanor start their relationship from their love of music, comic books, and a shared seat on the school bus. But the struggles they face between the bullying Eleanor faces at school, her horrible home situation, and Park’s reluctant acceptance of their relationship in front of others is what really bonds them.
This is the first book I’ve read of Rowell’s and I really enjoyed it. I liked the combination of everyday teen struggles such as Park being hesitant of his feelings because of what his peers will think and unthinkable circumstances such as what Eleanor faces every day at home. The slow buildup of Park and Eleanor’s relationship really pays off when Park becomes so sincere about his feelings for her and Eleanor gets more fearful about the relationship being pulled apart. This was a great read for both young adults and adults to breeze through.
You can also read Julia’s review of this title.
One Plus One by Jojo Moyes
(Pamela Dorman Books, 2014, 384 pages)
Jess has been running on empty for a while now. Her husband left a few years ago because he couldn’t deal with the stress of their lives leaving Jess with their young math genius daughter and his teenage son who seems to attract the neighborhood bullies. When Jess discovers that her daughter has the opportunity to go to a prestigious school based on her math abilities, she needs to come up with some quick cash. Their last hope lays in getting to a Math Olympiad for a chance to compete and win the cash prize.
Ed is a millionaire in the tech industry who is being investigated because of some insider trading claims. He is isolated after being suspended from his own company and is forbidden to talk to any of his friends or coworkers. With lots of time on his hands and a chance encounter with Jess and her struggling family, Ed gets pulled in to help the family get to the Math Olympiad while trying to forget about his own very big problems.
Moyes definitely didn’t disappoint me with another great read from her. Her characters are always so interesting and completely different book to book that I never know what to expect. I also love that she pulls two characters together that are seem to be totally opposite and in extremely different life situations than one another. The plot line reminded me a lot of the movie Little Miss Sunshine but I loved the quirky feel to it and the traveling ensemble, including their giant dog Norman.
You can also check out Julia’s review of this title.
The Golden Hour by Todd Moss
(Putnam Adult, 2014, 336 pages)
The Golden Hour is the debut international spy and diplomacy thriller by Todd Moss. Director of the State Dept. Crisis Reaction Unit for the United States, Judd Ryker, has a political theory that he calls “the golden hour.” Normally, “the golden hour” is used in medicine to refer to the principle of rapid intervention in trauma cases. The treatment done in the first hour can optimize the chance of survival and lessen the chance of permanent damage. Ryker’s “golden hour” theory says that in international politics the first 100 hours after a coup is the best chance for diplomacy and reversing the results of the coup. Ryker gets to test his theory when there is a coup in Mali. The United States supported the overthrown President of Mali and wants him to be reinstated. Ryker must use his theory and his diplomatic contacts to try to restore the deposed President to power.
The author, Todd Moss, served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of African Affairs in 2007-2008. Moss knows the inner workings of United States politics and diplomacy. Moss brings that knowledge to his novel to create an interesting portrait of a United States response to a coup. The Golden Hour was a quick read with short chapters. Fortunately each chapter is labelled with a location, day, and time to keep the reader from being too confused about what’s happening and where. If you have an interest in United States politics, this novel might be of interest to you.
Ray of Light (The Days of Redemption #2) by Shelley Shepard Gray
(HarperCollins, 2013, 288 pages)
This story gives the reader a little insight into Amish life, which is not very different from anyone else’s life. While vacationing in Florida, Roman develops a fondness for his neighbor, Amanda, and her daughter, Regina. Roman has led a simple, conservative life. He is a farmer who bears a lot of responsibility for the family farm back in Ohio. Roman’s family harbors many secrets that unfold as the story develops. Amanda is a recent widower who moved to Florida just after marriage and works and lives with her in-laws. Amanda overcomes the guilt of thinking about love and decides that Roman is worth the move across the country where she and Regina can start a new life.
Power Trip by Jackie Collins
(St. Martin’s Press, 2013, 536 pages)
The lives of the rich and famous prove to be not so glamorous as this story unfolds. Aleksandr Kasianenko, the Russian billionaire, decides to invite five couples onto his yacht to celebrate his girlfriend’s birthday. Only the crème de la crème are invited, which includes a senator, a football player, a rock star, a fashion model, and a well-known writer. Little do they know that their yacht is will be high-jacked by Somalis during the getaway cruise. Collins provides intrigue by intertwining deception, lust, and love. The reader’s interest is kept as the secrets of guests are revealed. The relationships that the reader thinks are on solid ground prove otherwise, and vice versa.
Looking for Trouble by Victoria Dahl
(Harlequin HQN, 2014, 352 pages)
I’ve enjoyed Victoria Dahl‘s books in the past so when I saw she had a new book out I had to pick it up. This is the first book in a new romance series she is starting (set in one of Dahl’s favorite spots, Jackson Hole, WY) and it is taking things down a more “suggestive” route. I prefer my romances on the steamier side so I was fine with the direction Looking for Trouble went, if you’re more a fan of cozy/tender romances, this isn’t going to be the book for you.
Sophie is a librarian in Jackson Hole and while she likes dressing in 40’s style classic clothing she’s hiding a wilder side under her conservative exterior. When she finds herself crossing paths with Alex, a sexy new man in town (shaved head, tattoos, motorcycle), there is an instant attraction. She’s not looking for anything serious and neither is Alex. It’s the perfect setup. Except for the fact that the two have something of a shared past that goes back to when they were children and their parents (his dad, her mom) got involved with one another.
Sophie and Alex definitely have chemistry and they can escape from the reality of their lives when they’re together. They went into this looking for nothing more than a short-time fling, but will they find each other to be such kindred spirits they end up wanting more?
A fun, quick read. I’m not really into the whole motorcycle/bad boy thing, but I got past it. Having the main character be a librarian didn’t hurt 😉
Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia by C.S. Lewis
(Harper Trophy, 2000, 223 pages)
As with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, I’ll offer my daughter Adelaide’s observations about Prince Caspian. I say observations, but really it is a cryptic list of characters and events that she liked in the book:
“I like that they found the fauns and danced with them. I like the Bulgy Bears, because one sucks his paws. I like that they found their gifts. I like that Lucy saw Aslan two times. I like Repicheep because he was dancing under all the feet in the big battle.”
I asked her what she would say to someone thinking about reading the book:
“Oh, it’s pretty good, it’s kinda as good as the other one but it’s a little bit longer. You might like that the Bulgy Bear sucks his paws.”
*You can also check out my review of this title.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
(Harper Trophy, 2000, 189 pages)
I’ve reviewed the Chronicles of Narnia in the past. I’m currently reading them to my daughter, so I thought I’d let Adelaide (five years old) offer her comments after we finish each book. I asked her what she liked about The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and she seemed particularly impressed with Aslan the lion and the gifts that the Pevensie children received from Father Christmas. This is her response in full (it’s a bit cryptic, but I suppose there are some spoilers here):
“So, the first thing is that Aslan jumped right on the White Witch. Aslan freed all of the stone people. I liked Aslan because he jumped over stone walls, and I bet he could jump over a whole house. I also like the High Queen Susan because she has a horn and it sends people to the people that blow it. And I also like the High King Peter because I like his sword and his shield and that he killed the wolf. Also, I like the High Queen Lucy, and I like her cordial that she healed Edmund with. And I like the High King Edmund – oh, he didn’t get a gift because he was bad (listening to the Witch).”
I then asked Adelaide what she would say if someone told her that they were thinking about reading the book. She said,
“You should read it, they’re pretty good.”
Catnapped! by Elaine Viets
(NAL Hardcover, 2014, 276 pages)
Catnapped is the 13th book in the Dead-End Job Mystery series by Elaine Viets. Helen Hawthorne and her husband, Phil Sagemont, own a detective agency in Florida called Coronado Investigations. In Catnapped, Helen and Phil are tasked with finding a missing prized Persian cat as well as solving a murder or two. The Persian cat named Justine has been “catnapped” and her frantic owner, Trish Barrymore, will do anything to get Justine back, including paying a $500,000.00 ransom. Helen takes a job at a cattery to learn the ropes of cat shows as well as to gather information on potential “catnappers.”
In Catnapped, Helen and Phil are also investigating the death of their landlady’s (Margery’s) ex-husband. After 30 years, Margery’s ex shows up with a bouquet of flowers and an apology. He is quickly and publicly rejected by Margery. When Margery’s ex turns up dead, Margery is the prime suspect. Helen and Phil know that Margery is not a murderer.
I enjoy reading the Dead-End Job Mystery series even though the heroine, Helen Hawthorne, no longer needs to take dead-end jobs. Helen still takes unusual jobs as a means to investigate crimes. Elaine Viets also has another popular series, Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper. Though I haven’t read one, that series also get good reviews.
How About Never — Is Never Good For You?: My Life in Cartoons by Bob Mankoff
(Henry Holt and Co., 2014, 304 pages)
I picked this up on a whim when I saw on the New Book bookshelf at my library. I’ve always been a fan of The New Yorker and I love reading the cartoons. How About Never — Is Never Good For You? is Mankoff’s memoir that briefly traces his history and how he came to become interested in being a cartoonist but it spends the bulk of its time discussing Mankoff’s tenure at The New Yorker and what goes in to getting a cartoon published in its pages.
Not surprisingly Mankoff’s approach to this book is a humorous one and is filled with pictures and cartoons which certainly make this a quick read. I think most people are familiar with New Yorker cartoons and how “out there” they can sometimes be, but I had never taken the time to really think about the people behind them and how hard it is to get one published in the magazine. Let me tell you, it takes dedication and a lot of rejection.
I’m glad I picked this up – it gave me a glimpse into a world I wouldn’t really have thought twice about and I discovered a new-found appreciation for the art of cartooning 🙂