Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead

 

Hello Fellow Reader!

It is summer and time to take it easy and read some lighter fare. This week’s choice is certainly lighter fare. I had heard a lot of buzz about this book and it sounded interesting, so I had to read it. Okay, it is a children’s book. From what I can tell, it is for third to fifth graders. The book is classified by Amazon in the Friendship and the Fantasy sections. (Who knew there was a Friendship section?)

Yes, I read the book even though it is classified as a children’s book. A story is a story. There can be interesting stories of all lengths.

Livy has not been to Australia to visit her Grandmother for five years. At 10, she doesn’t remember a lot about her prior visit. Her Grandmother has some of the things that were precious to her on her last visit out for her when she arrives. She doesn’t remember any of them. There was a baggie with all the black chess pieces, a toy elephant, and a tape recorder. This cache means nothing to Livy. Her Grandmother seems very disappointed the Livy doesn’t remember her visit and the things that she loved when she was 5.

When Livy goes up to her bedroom, she has a surprise waiting for her. When she opens the closet door, besides seeing a tutu, some old clothes, a Lego pirate ship, and a dictionary, there is a small zombie wearing a chicken suit. The zombie (Whose name is Bob.) looks at her and says “You’re back. Took you long enough.”

“Here are some of the things I did while I awaited Livy’s return:

Counted to 987,654, 321. Six times.

Built a Lego pirate ship. Sixty-three times. In the dark

Played chess against a Lego pirate monkey and still lost most of the time.

Tried to do the hokey pokey like Livy had taught me but there’s not much room to turn oneself around.

Cried. But only once.

Okay twice. Each day. But only for the first year.

Thought of all the reasons that might explain why Livy didn’t come back for me.”

The chapters in the book alternate between  Livy and Bob’s perspectives. Livy and Bob each have some pieces of the puzzle as to what Bob is and together they figure it out. It is a very sweet little book about old friends reuniting and finding their friendship is still strong. (Even If one doesn’t remember the other too well.) (But there is a reason for that and they find that out too.)

Okay, so I am recommending a Children’s book this week. I usually give away books after I read them, but this is one that I will keep. I look forward to sharing it with my grandson.

Thanks for reading!

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The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer

 

Dear Fellow Reader,

I don’t often say this but GO READ THIS BOOK NOW.  I did not expect to like this book as much as I did. Yes, it has been on many “favorites” lists for the year. Yes, I know there is a lot of buzz about it. I read the description of the book and was not especially drawn to read it.  I put it on hold at the local library and I got it faster than I ever would have expected.  I was still a bit ambivalent about reading it but I started it and then…

Okay, I will tell you that I love it when a book has a plot twist that you could never have seen coming. When it is such a shock that you gasp out loud while you are reading it.  That happens in this book. There was no way to see this coming and it totally affects the rest of the story.  I bow before Meg Wolitzer.  It was so good.  For the first time in a long time, I would like to talk to her about her writing process and where this came from.

Let me say right now that I think that the description of the book leaves it a little flat. It is so much better than the description. I’m not sure if I can do better than those paid to tell you the description but I will make an attempt.  The book tells the story of four characters. Two of the characters are the center of the story. Greer and Cory are high school sweethearts. They are both very bright and often referred to as the “twin rocket ships”. They look like they will be able to be very successful and they have big plans. Greer is very quiet and needs to learn to use her “outside voice” to be able to stick up for herself. She meets Zee in college and they become fast friends. Zee is a feminist and introduces Greer to the movement. They both go to see the famous feminist, Faith Frank, talk and Greer becomes a dedicated follower of Faith Frank.  While she knows that there are more zealous feminist movements, she continues to be in awe of Faith and her role.

The story tells us about Greer, Cory, Zee, and Faith and how their lives come together and then separate and how some come back together.  It is about friendship and growing and finding or accepting your place in the world.

And I loved this book. I want you to read it and love it.

Thanks for reading!

 

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The Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Meyerson

Dear Fellow Reader,

The Bookshop of Yesterdays is classified as fiction but it also contains a mystery. Or, I guess it could be said that it contains a quest.

Miranda Brooks is doing well. She is living in Philadelphia with her boyfriend, Jay. She teaches eighth-grade history in a private school and she loves it. The school year has come to an end and she is getting ready for a party she and her boyfriend are having to celebrate. She sees that there is a package that obviously contains a book in her mail. The book in the package is the play, The Tempest. Since Miranda is named after the character in the play, she knows the play well. The enclosed card has the message “Understanding prepares us for the future.”  Then she notices that there are some passages highlighted in the play. She didn’t understand but she had a party to prepare for so she put the book and card away.

During the party, Miranda receives a call from her mother. Since she and her mother were very close, she was surprised that her mother called during the time she knew that Miranda was hosting a party. Her mother was calling to tell Miranda that her Uncle Billy had died.

Miranda had not seen her uncle in sixteen years. She knew that Billy and her mother had had an argument, but she never knew why they argued. She saw her uncle one time after the night of the argument and then he left and never returned. She tried to find him at the bookstore that he owned, Prospero Books, but he was not there.

Miranda’s relationship with her uncle had been special and one of the special parts was that he would create scavenger hunts for her whenever they were together. She would have to solve clues to move on to the next step of the hunt. She loved the time she spent with her Uncle Billy.

Upon hearing of his death, Miranda went back to California to attend the funeral. Her mother would not go with her. She went by herself and felt very strange among the group of people who were at the funeral. They all seemed to know each other, and she was the outsider. Uncle Billy’s lawyer came up to her at the cemetery and asked her to come and see him the next day about Billy’s will.

Her mother decided that she had to go with Miranda to the lawyer’s office. The lawyer informed them that Billy had left the bookstore to Miranda. There was also a copy of Jane Eyre. There were highlighted passages in that book also and a name in the front cover. Evelyn Weston. Miranda’s mother was upset about Billy leaving the bookstore to Miranda and even more upset when Miranda brought up the name Evelyn Weston. When prodded, she told Miranda that Billy had been married to Evelyn Weston before Miranda had been born.

The clues from the highlighted sections of The Tempest and Jane Eyre set Miranda on a quest to find out what Billy wants her to know. The process leads her to question her relationship with her parents and others. There are times she is ready to give up when suddenly things become clear and she moves ahead.

The Bookshop of Yesterdays is Amy Meyerson’s first book and it is very good. I enjoyed seeing how the story unfolded. The book has many literary references, which always make a reader’s heart beat a bit faster. An altogether good read.

Thanks for reading!

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Calypso by David Sedaris

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Dear Fellow Reader:

I was very happy when I received the notice from the library that it was my turn for Calypso, the new book by David Sedaris.  I was slow in finding out that he had a new book out and I wanted to read it.

As I read it last night, there were many times that I laughed out loud. I think David Sedaris is funny but I will tell you that his humor is not for everyone.  It can be a bit crass (sometimes surprisingly so) but I like his writing.

CalypsoAs with most of his other books, this book is a compilation of stories from his life. Many of these stories feature times he has spent with this family. He also is fascinated with his health and the aging process. He is an observer of everyday life and his observations are funny. Sometimes a bit crass – which is why I would not recommend David Sedaris to everyone. If you like him, this book is great.

There were some stories that had a familiar ring. For example, the chapter entitled “Calypso” is about David having a fatty tumor removed by a woman who attended one of his book signings. He let her remove it because she claimed to be a doctor and she would let him keep the tumor.  He had gone to a surgeon to have the tumor removed the surgeon would not let him have the tissue after it was removed. You see, he wanted to feed the tumor to a misshapen turtle that lived by his home in North Carolina. Yes, you read that right.

I do think my favorite chapter was “The Perfect Fit” which was about the clothes that he and his sisters buy in Japan. His descriptions are so funny.

“The Ginza branch sticks to clothing and accessories. I’d gone with Amy on our first trip together, in 2014, and left with a pair of wide-legged Paul Harnden trousers that come up to my nipples. The button-down fly is a foot long, and when I root around in my pockets for change, my forearms disappear all the way to the elbow. You can’t belt something that reaches that high up on your torso, thus the suspenders, which came with the trousers and are beautiful, but still, suspenders! Clown pants is what they are – artfully hand-stitched, lined all the way to the ankle but clown pants all the same.  They cost as much as a MacBook Air, and I’d have walked away from the were it not for Amy saying, “Are you kidding? You have to get those.”

The pants are the least of what they bought. The descriptions are great. You can see the bazaar clothing and just imagine them acting like they are dressed beautifully.

If you are familiar with David Sedaris and find him funny, this is a great book for you. If you are unfamiliar with him but can accept some crude humorous stories, this book is for you.

Thanks for reading!

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Sea Change by Karen White

 

This week we are back to fiction with a book written by Karen White.  I have previously reviewed the book, The Sound of Glass by Karen White.  (https://cecooney.com/2015/04/17/the-sound-of-glass-by-karen-white/)  I enjoyed that book, so I looked forward to Sea Change.

I hesitate to classify Sea Change as a beach read. I usually think of beach reads as light as air and super easy to follow the plot.  The plot to Sea Change is a bit twisty.

The story is told from the perspective of three women. Ava, the main character, is a new bride who has moved to St. Simons Island, GA. She knows that her family lived on the island when she was a baby but she has not been back since. Ava has not known her husband, Matthew long. They met at a medical conference and fell in love immediately. Ave had been engaged to another man for 4 years but she knew when she met Matthew that he was the love of her life. When she moves into Matthew’s family home, she finds that she feels she has been there before. She also finds out that Matthew had been married before and that his wife (Adrienne) died in a car crash.  Ava meets Adrienne’s brother and learns that he and his parents believe that Matthew had something to do with Adrienne’s death.

Gloria is Ava’s mother. It is apparent that she has a secret that she is keeping from Ava. She lives across the state of Georgia from Ava in the town that Ava grew up in. She lives with her husband and mother. Her four sons (who are much older than Ava) are married and live in the neighborhood with Gloria. Gloria is a gardener. She spends hours in her garden and Ava used to be out in the garden with her all the time. Mimi is Gloria’s conscience. She urges her to talk to Ava.

Pamela is a midwife in 1805. She loves her husband, Geoffrey and her son Robbie. At the start of the story, her sister, Georgina lives with them. Geoffrey and Georgina had dated before Geoffrey and Pamela met but for a reason that Pamela doesn’t know, they broke up. While Pamela loves her sister, they don’t necessarily get along. Geoffrey and Pamela are Matthew’s great great great great grandparents.

The blending of these stories leads to the present day and Ava’s life. Ava and Matthew have struggled along the way as she doesn’t understand his reluctance to talk about Adrienne and he seems to hide things that had been Adrienne’s. When Matthew hypnotizes Ava to find out about her medical history, there are consequences that are unexpected.

The book is good and easy to understand and follow despite what could be a confusing plot. The plot ins and outs are handled very well. So, all in all, a good read but might be a bit more complicated than what I would normally think of as a beach read.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

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