Seguin Island from Popham Beach
In summer you’ll find me reading on the beach or in my hammock.
I’m so behind on book reviews that I’ve bundled six of the best in one post.
Novels for Adults:
Promises to Keep by Jane Green (UK title: The Love Verb) 2010. Be sure to pack tissues in your beach bag. Based on the true experience of losing a dear friend to breast cancer, Jane Green has crafted a warm story about the end of life and those who keep on living. It’s sunnier and easier to read than you might expect given the subject but still manages to be emotionally true. The author is donating 20% of her royalties to a breast cancer charity.
Disclosure: I bought this book. The author is a friend and an art client.
Property by Valerie Martin 2003. A biracial slave on a Louisiana sugar plantations tries to subvert the system. I didn't sympathize with the slave-owner narrator, but her story captured the dehumanizing effect of slavery on the owners as well as on the slaves. It was an interesting and fresh perspective, making good use of the unreliable narrator. This perfectly crafted novel is bigger than its 200 pages. Property well deserved its Orange Prize. A Book A Week has a more in depth review here.
Disclosure: I bought 2 copies of this book, one for me and another for my mother, who loved it too.
The Master Butchers Singing Club by Louise Erdrich 2003. This has to be the best book with the worst title. It could have been called “The Great American Novel” with its epic story spanning both World Wars and the Depression. The writing is gorgeous if a bit slow at first; it reads like a classic from that era. Erdrich, who is part Ojibwa, usually writes about the Native American experience, but in this novel she draws on her German grandfather’s story (a singing butcher too.) The sunnier attitude toward humanity reminded me of her earlier work.
Disclosure: gift book from my mother – thank you!
Young Adult Novels (ages 12 and up):
Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey, 2009. Another good book with a lousy title. A vampire prince, disguised as a Romanian exchange student, experiences culture shock in farmland USA. Jessica is a brainy girl, who doesn’t believe in vampires but can’t resist the bad boy. The romance sizzles. The secondary characters, however, are flat, and the story isn’t sure if it’s a spoof on vampire romance or not. It's still a fast and fun read that has gotten strong reviews from many YA book bloggers.
Disclosure: library book. We'll be renewing this book so my daughter can finish reading it.
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart, 2008. Barred from the campus secret society on account of her gender, Frankie crafts a scheme to infiltrate the all boys club at her boarding school with hilarious results. The opening confession letter spoiled the suspense, but I still enjoyed the story and appreciated the good writing, the feminist perspective and the fabulous dialogue. My daughter didn't have time to finish reading before camp and has asked me to buy a copy so she can. I will because this is one of the best young adult novels I've read.
Disclosure: library book recommended by my YA author friend Maria Padian.
Airhead by Meg Cabot, 2008. After a freak double accident, a smart girl’s brain is transplanted into the body of teen supermodel. Only a skilled writer like Meg Cabot could make this narrative sound remotely plausible. It’s fluffy and funny. My 13-year-old daughter says it’s not her usual type of book, but she enjoyed it enough to read the next 2 books in the series. I quit reading the sequel, Being Nikki, because I'm not too interested in models, but my daughter says the third, Runaway, is the best.
Disclosure: my daughter bought the first novel with her book allowance. Grandparents bought her the next 2 books on her request.
Children's Books recently reviewed:
The Accidental Adventures of India McAllister by Charlotte Agell
Touch Blue by Cynthia Lord
Books in my Beach Bag:
Edinburgh by Alexander Chee
The Thousand Acres of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell
One Day by David Nicholls
Book on Order:
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins(publication date: 8/24/10)
How about you, read any good books lately?