Thursday, May 10, 2012

Calico Joe

I am not a huge fan of John Grisham, but I wholly recommend Calico Joe.  My husband picked it up at the airport a couple of weeks ago and has yet to crack the cover.  I hate to see a book sitting all alone and neglected, so I picked it up this morning and just finished it.  (Yes!  I have a life besides reading, but it's a short book and a quick read.)

Now you don't have to be a baseball fan to like this book.  It's historical fiction, so there are a great many famous names, places and events portrayed, but the main story is completely imagined.  It IS about baseball, but it's also about family dynamics and betrayals, lost dreams and redemption.  In short, it has something for everyone.  My husband will LOVE it, because he is a huge baseball fan.  I just have to get him to read it.  (He's more of a vacation reader.)

If you like this you'll also like John Grisham's Playing for Pizza.  That one is about American football in Italy, plus parmesan cheese.

Ciao, for now!  I'm off to find something else to read...Mary Kay


Whatever you have planned for today, forget it!  Go out and buy Wonder by R. J. Palacio, and read it.  Today.  Avoid all interruptions if possible, because once you start this incredible book, you won't be able to stop.

Wonder is the story of Auggie Pullman.  He would be just like any other boy about to enter the 5th grade except for one major difference:  Auggie was born with extreme facial abnormalities.  He has been home schooled up to now, but his parents have decided that it is time for him to go to the private school just down the street from their New York townhouse, and Auggie is terrified.  You see, people who don't know him tend to gasp at surprise when they see him, or even run away in fear.  Now imagine going into a school full of middle school kids with a face like that.  It's bad enough for average, regular, "normal" kids, but everyone is about to find out that Auggie is NOT your average kid.

Wonder is written from the perspective of several different characters, each lovingly developed.  We hear from Auggie, his sister Olivia, her friend Miranda.  We learn how Auggie's health has shaped all of their lives, and how it has defined them for good and for bad.  Palacio has created characters that speak to the reader's soul, and in the end it's not just a story she has given us, but a question she is asking us: "How kind are you?"

I believe that R. J. Palacio has created a classic.  Wonder is a book that everyone who can read, should. It should definitely be on the curriculum of every fifth grade in the country, and probably should be read again in the ninth grade.  Maybe even every few years after that just as a reminder that "Everyone born of God overcometh the world." Now, hurry up and read it, and let me know what you think!

Mary Kay

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Peach Keeper

Do you need a break from your reality?  Would you like to wander a misty forest trail leading to a most unexpected destination? Do certain sights, sounds and scents transport you back in time? Do you believe, at least a little bit, in magic? Then you need to read The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen.

The little town of Walls of Water, North Carolina has its secrets, and they are about to be unearthed. Willa Jackson's ancestors built Walls of Water, but the depression took all of their money and the finest home in town, the Blue Ridge Madam.  Now Willa's high school classmate, Paxton Osgood, is restoring the old Madam, and she unwittingly awakens the long buried memories of her grandmother Agatha and Willa's grandmother Georgie.  Soon the scent of peaches and regret will permeate the air in this mountain town, and the unbreakable bonds of true friendship will conquer all.

This is Southern Gothic with all of the atmosphere and none of the creepiness.  I loved Allen's book, The Girl Who Chased the Moon, and The Peach Keeper completely lived up to my expectations.  It truly was...wait for it...A PEACH!! (Come on, you knew that was coming!)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

What in the World Do I Do Now????

I've just finished reading The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, right after I finished The Girl Who Played with Fire, both by Stieg Larsson.  I am now at loose ends.  I initially resisted starting this series, admittedly because I am a wimp.  Now I am pining for more.  I need help.

Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Sander are in the thick of things once again.  She is falsely accused of murdering two journalists working for Blomkvist's magazine Millennium, just as they were set to publish an expose of the Swedish sex trade.  Lisbeth soon realizes that evil forces are lurking behind the killings, and she sets out to clear her name.  In the process she faces a giant genetic mutant, an evil-to-the-core so-called psychiatrist, and a sociopathic former Russian spy, who also just happens to be her estranged father.  But lucky for Lisbeth she has Mikael and friends on her side, not to mention her genius computer hacking skills.

Needless to say I LOVED these two books.  You can read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo on its own, but don't even start The Girl Who Played with Fire unless you have Hornet's Nest on deck.  Another thing, make sure you have large blocks of undisturbed time to read the combined 1285 pages of these books.  Or, you could just let life fall apart around you until you're finished.  It will be well worth it!