It's the beginning of September which marks the end of summer. Why does it always seem that the summer comes and goes in the blink of an eye? This summer has been the hottest summer I can remember too. But Fall really is my favorite season. And with Fall comes cooler temps and NEW BOOKS!
I'm always on the lookout for books that sound interesting. Sometimes I get books in the mail from some generous publishers, or I'll be in a bookstore and open up book or two that seem to be calling my name. This week I went to my local independent bookstore, Byrd's Books, and found a few YA books I wanted to read and I found a couple of books through some "Fall Reading" blurbs. First, my YA finds that you should be reading...
Kirkus Reviews gave it a starred review (which is great). It's a YA book, written for ages 10 and up, but if you were ever a twelve year old girl, you know that awkward stage, then you should be able to relate to this book. And I loved the writing that I sampled too. Here's the blurb from the publisher...
"The last year of elementary school is big for every kid. In this novel, equal parts funny and crushing, utterly honest and perfect for boys and girls alike, Christine Gouda faces change at every turn, starting with her own nickname— Tink—which just doesn’t fit anymore. Readers will relate to this strong female protagonist whose voice rings with pro- found authenticity and absolute novelty, and her year’s cring- ingly painful trials in normalcy—uncomfortable Halloween costumes, premature sleepover parties, crushed crushes, and changing friendships."
This is on top of my reading pile. After I finish what I'm reading now (A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth L. Ozeki, short listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2013), I'll be cracking open Hundred Percent. (Hmmm, I may just start this now instead...)
Drama by Raina Telgemeier... There was a display at Byrd's Books of banned books for Banned Books week, which is coming up Sept. 25. I alway like to read a banned book in "honor" of our right to free speech, and I saw displayed Raina's book Smile, which reminded me about her book, Drama. I asked if they had a copy of Drama, which they did in the part of the banned book display only visible from the front window. I didn't realize that Drama had been tagged as banned and asked why it was banned. They didn't know offhand, but quickly looked it up and told me it was banned because of it being "gay". I hadn't known that it had any gay characters, so I investigated a little further and here's what I found at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund site...
"a small but vocal minority have objected to the inclusion of two gay characters, one of whom shares a chaste on-stage kiss with another boy. Negative online reader reviews have accused Telgemeier of literally hiding an agenda inside brightly-colored, tween-friendly covers, but in an interview with TeenReads she said that while she and her editors at Scholastic were very careful to make the book age-appropriate, they never considered omitting the gay characters because “finding your identity, whether gay or straight, is a huge part of middle school.”
I feel that most "banning" of books is done out of fear. Fear that your child is going to become "gay" because they "read about it in a book", Fear that your child is going to start taking drugs because they "read about it in a book", Fear about almost anything you can find in a book. I feel that parents should take an active part in their children's lives, and that includes what they read, to either determine that a book is not appropriate for THEIR child or to open a conversation about what is in a particular book. In any case, I'm reading Drama for my banned book choice this year, but more on that during Banned Book Week. BTW, if you are a fan of Raina Telgemeier, who writes books for middle school readers, her next book Ghosts (it's another graphic novel) is due out Sept. 13th. You can read more about it at her website, Go Raina.
Now onto a few "adult" books...
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles... Immerses us in another elegantly drawn era with the story of Count Alexander Rostov. When, in 1922, he is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him a doorway into a much larger world of emotional discovery.
Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.
I initially glanced past this when I was looking at fall book recommendations. I was thinking this was going to be a historical fiction story about an exiled Count and how he survived his circumstances. But what this description does not tell you is that Count Alexander Rostov strikes up a lasting friendship with a young girl named Nina, who also lives in the hotel. When Nina grows up, marries and the man she marries is exiled to Siberia (Wasn't Russia doing that to everyone in those days!), Nina deposits her six year old daughter, Sophie with the Count. When Nina does not return, the Count raises Sophie as his own daughter. It's that twist that intrigued me and so this is now on my TBR list. This book is also on quite a few "must read" fall book lists. Published by Viking, it is on the shelves in bookstore this tuesday, Sept. 6th!
The Mothers by Bait Bennett... "All good secrets have a taste before you tell them, and if we'd taken a moment to swish this one around our mouths, we might have noticed the sourness of an unripe secret, plucked too soon, stolen and passed around before its season."
It is the last season of high school life for Nadia Turner, a rebellious, grief-stricken, seventeen-year-old beauty. Mourning her own mother's recent suicide, she takes up with the local pastor's son. Luke Sheppard is twenty-one, a former football star whose injury has reduced him to waiting tables at a diner. They are young; it's not serious. But the pregnancy that results from this teen romance—and the subsequent cover-up—will have an impact that goes far beyond their youth. As Nadia hides her secret from everyone, including Aubrey, her God-fearing best friend, the years move quickly. Soon, Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey are full-fledged adults and still living in debt to the choices they made that one seaside summer, caught in a love triangle they must carefully maneuver, and dogged by the constant, nagging question: What if they had chosen differently? The possibilities of the road not taken are a relentless haunt.
The fall book recommendations I was looking at yesterday, were from a list on Literary Hub. It's a pretty cool site for all things literary (you should check it out), and they asked their favorite booksellers what books they were excited about coming out this fall. The Mothers had 5 booksellers recommending it, and the premise intrigues me. I can't find any reading samples, so I don't know if I like Bait Bennett's writing style or not, but I'm sure after it's October 11th release, I'll be able to find a chapter or two to read before making a decision to purchase it or borrow it. Published by Riverhead.
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett... One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny’s mother, Beverly—thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families.
Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them.
When, in her twenties, Franny begins an affair with the legendary author Leon Posen and tells him about her family, the story of her siblings is no longer hers to control. Their childhood becomes the basis for his wildly successful book, ultimately forcing them to come to terms with their losses, their guilt, and the deeply loyal connection they feel for one another.
Ann Patchett is a wonderful storyteller and this looks to be one of those interesting stories that developes into something beyond the seed of the story that starts it all. This book is also on many lists for anticipated releases this fall. Published by Harper and due out Sept. 13th!
The Journey Hardcover by Francesca Sanna... "At first glance The Journey seems to be a picture book for children but quickly reveals itself as a troubling mirror for adults today. This masterpiece—and I do not use that word lightly—is a story of a refugee family escaping their unnamed country in pursuit of safety. What is unsaid speaks volumes, and the illustrations will remain in mind long after The Journey ends." –Cressida Hanson, Kepler’s
A picture book aimed at 3 - 7 year olds, with beautiful illustrations by the author herself, who studied at Lucerne School of Art and Design with a Master of Design in Switzerland. Published by Flying Eye Books and in bookstores, Sept. 13th.
Faithful by Alice Hoffman... "Alice Hoffman does something different and beautiful with each novel she crafts. Faithful is a rich, heartbreaking story about two friends and the devastating tragedy that separates them. Hoffman is so adept at exploring the depths of human emotion, especially in young women, that her characters seem to pulse on the page." –Mary, Newtonville Books