Cover Lust

New Murakami Covers

I am shaking my head because this is so unfair.

I finally, FINALLY own all of Murakami’s novels in paperback and what happens?? They come out with these awesome new covers.

If you look closely, the images on the cover contain clues:

The Elephant Vanishes

See how that center image resembles an elephant’s trunk? Clever, huh?

I. Need. These.

Review: The Here and Now

The Here and Now
The Here and Now
By Ann Brashares
(Delacorte Press, Hardcover, 9780385736800, April 8, 2014, 256pp.)

The Short of It:

Every now and then, I reach for something just because I know it will be a quick, fun read. The Here and Now, was that book.

The Rest of It:

Prenna James, born into a world riddled by plague, leaves the 2080′s with her mother and a group of time travelers in order to escape what the world has become. They travel to the present day, where she must mingle with other teens, assimilate, or risk losing everything.

This was a super quick read and if you like time travel, reading this will be a nice way to spend the afternoon. It felt very YA, and I believe it is categorized as such but I still enjoyed it. Some of the story was a little predictable and convenient, but overall it was what it promised to be. I would have liked more of the 2080′s, to get a real feel for what she was escaping from but that is the fatalist in me talking. I love a world riddled by catastrophe so of course I wanted to spend a little more time there.

I could see my daughter reading this and she is only ten so that should give you an idea of the reading level. Overall, simple, quick, fun.

Source: Sent to me by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review & Tour: Casebook

Casebook
Casebook
By Mona Simpson
(Knopf, Hardcover, 9780385351416, April 15, 2014, 336pp.)

The Short of It:

A little bit of mystery and a lovable protagonist add a special something to an otherwise familiar story.

The Rest of It:

After his parents split, Miles Adler spends his days eavesdropping on his mathematician mother, Irene. Although his father visits frequently and Irene is still good friends with him, Miles fears that she’s lonely and a little depressed. When she meets Eli Lee, Miles sees a different side to his mom, a happy side. Her laughter and the easy breezy way she has about her when Eli is around, makes the days that much easier. But when Miles begins to suspect that Eli is too good to be true, he employs the help of his best friend Hector, to find out the truth.

The setting of this novel is both Santa Monica and Pasadena, Ca. Two places very local to me and for that reason alone, I decided to accept this novel for review. It’s fun to read a book and discover that yes, that is exactly how those neighborhoods are and that was absolutely the case here. I love when I can relate to a character through setting.

The setting wasn’t the only thing that caught my eye. I loved the characters, too. Miles, when we first meet him, is an awkward teen. He’s not a ladies man but is okay with it. He hangs out with his best friend Hector, and they spend their days cooking up business deals to make a few bucks. Selling snacks at lunch or providing re-location services for problem pets, Miles and Hector seem to do alright. When Miles begins to suspect that Eli is not being truthful with his mother, Miles and Hector tap her phone and look into Eli’s personal life to get a feel for the kind of guy he is. This is difficult for a couple of reasons, one…that Miles has grown to like Eli, and two…that his mom is so happy around him. Does he really want to know the truth?

I loved this book and was so sorry to see the story end.

Miles is such a sweet kid. Hector, too. I loved their friendship. It really reminded me of my teen years. How all you wanted to do all summer long was hang with your best friend. I spent many summers at my friend’s house, on her floor, gazing at the ceiling or out the window. It was okay to just BE and that’s how it is with Miles and Hector. The added mystery of Eli and who he really is just adds to the story.

As a mystery, it’s pretty tame. But as a coming-of-age story about friendship and family, it hit the ball out of the park. It just hit me in all the right places. It was sweet, funny and reminded me that there is goodness in the world. I highly recommend it.

 

Mona Simpson

Ms. Simpson’s Facebook page.

Ms. Simpson’s TLC tour stops.

TLC Book Tours

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher via TLC Book Tours.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Spring (Break) Reading

Pool Side Gossip

Slim Aarons’ iconic Poolside Gossip as seen on the Glam Pad blog.

We haven’t had much of a winter here in Southern California but it doesn’t quite feel like spring either. It’s a little too cool in the mornings for it to feel like spring, but according to my calendar spring break is right around the corner and that means…

Reading. Movies. Eating.

See that photo above? I love the name of it, Poolside Gossip. I want to be one of those ladies and pretty soon, I’ll have my chance because Palm Desert is one of our destinations. I don’t think it’s very warm there and last week they had one heck of a wind storm but it’s nice to get away.

Part of the fun is choosing which books will go with me. I have a lot of good ones to choose from:

Spring Break Collage

The Martian by Andy Weir
The Painter by Peter Heller
A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami
The Vacationers by Emma Straub
Under a Summer Sky by Nan Rossiter
Up at Butternut Lake by Mary McNear
The Fever by Megan Abbott
Driftwood by Elizabeth Dutton

Never in my wildest dreams will all of these be read but I hope to get to at least two of them. I think two, is a realistic expectation and if I get to more, then that will be the the icing on the cake. That’s how I see it. I never know what mood I will be in while away so I have back-ups to choose from. Plus, I seem to like books about vacations, whenever I am ON vacation. Funny, huh?

Do you have any special reading plans coming up? If you need some reading motivation, Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon is just around the corner. I haven’t been able to participate properly in a couple of years but it’s always a lot of fun and a good way to go through your shelves and get those books read.

Anyway, off to begin my Friday. Friday at work, but hey… it’s Friday.

Review: Life After Life

Life After Life
Life After Life
By Kate Atkinson
(Reagan Arthur Books, Hardcover, 9780316176484, April 2013, 544pp.)

The Short of It:

Interesting premise and at times, fluid, beautifully written passages but overall, one of the most frustrating reads I’ve read in years.

The Rest of It:

The story begins in 1930. Ursula Todd assassinates Hitler while he is sitting in a cafe in Munich and she dies in the process. Next, the story takes us back to 1910, the night of Ursula’s birth. Due to bad weather, the doctor is unable to attend her birth and the poor girl dies with the umbilical cord wrapped tightly around her neck. As Atkinson takes us back and forth through time, we see Ursula in various stages of life. Sometimes, she’s a child and ends up drowning in the ocean, other times…she’s older and as readers, we get to spend a little time with her family before tragedy strikes.

But tragedy does strike and over and over again, at that.

I really had a hard time with this one. The writing itself wasn’t bad. In fact, much of it is beautifully written but I didn’t care for Ursula all that much so seeing her die and come back so many times was a bit much for me. Oh, and it was long, which of course felt even longer with all of the back and forth going on.

The one thing that kept me reading is the idea that one small change can affect your life. That aspect of it was interesting to explore but it was ultimately lost within the structure of the novel itself.

My book club is discussing this book later this week. I’m interested in how the discussion will go because I feel as if I’ve spent so much time with it, that I don’t want to spend more time discussing it.

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

The Sunday Salon: Three Day Weekend

Track Meet Saturdays

Well, it’s been a fun but crazy weekend. Friday, a retired co-worker came for a visit so a group of co-workers and I headed to a local restaurant for dinner. That was a nice way to start off the weekend. Lots of laughs for sure.

Saturday, we had another track meet. This time, it was an away meet and about a 45-minute drive to get there but the surrounding campus was very pretty. I didn’t mind the view one bit. And this time we brought the umbrella so sun was not an issue. Thank goodness. We got there around 7:45 am and it ended around 3pm. The Girl did great! No injuries and no tossing her cookies! It was a good meet. And that red thing you see is not a tent. They are called Sport Brellas and are low profile umbrella/tents. They are all over the place and we will be getting one real soon.

The Teen was not able to come with us due to a mandatory dress rehearsal but he called us to tell us about the 3rd or 4th earthquake that hit while he was taking a shower. I think it spooked him a little but as many as we’ve head in the past 72 hours, this is nothing compared to the Northridge quake. It does make me wonder if something larger is just around the corner though.

Last night, we attended a movie event at our church. They showed the movie Soul Surfer, which is about Bethany Hamilton, a surfer who was attacked by a shark back in 2003 at the age of thirteen. She lost an arm in that attack and our church scheduled the movie night in anticipation of her visit. I was worried The Girl would not be able to watch parts of it but she was okay.

Bethany Hamilton

Photo credit: Wikipedia

We had a great time at the movie event. The Girl invited a friend and her family to come and we all had a really good time. But on the way home, the church sent an email warning of large crowds for Sunday services. This morning, we decided to stay home and watch her speak online. I really wanted to go to the service but the line wait was over an hour-long and they were only letting 1000 people in for sure so watching online was the next best option. It was a good talk but I think watching online was fine.

Sunday Salon

What’s going on for the rest of the day? Laundry and cleaning and maybe some reading. The Teen is off for more rehearsing and later he is performing in a Master Chorale performance.

I am rather happy because this is a three-day weekend for me since my campus is closed on Monday in observance of Cesar Chavez day. Yay!! And guess what? The kids have school which means it’s a ME day.

What am I reading?

I am reading lots of good stuff. I started Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and love it. I am almost done with Casebook by Mona Simpson and really, really love it. I am about to start a third book but don’t know what yet. I don’t want to break my reading mojo by choosing the wrong book.

What am I cooking?

Nothing. Just not in the mood. I am going to try to convince The Hub to pick-up something for dinner later. Chinese or maybe some chopped salads. Scratch that. He just told me NO on Chinese take-out. Drats!

What am I watching?

Tonight is the season finale of The Walking Dead. The rumors are flying that a major, beloved character will be killed. I will totally lose it if my beloved Daryl Dixon gets killed off!! I can’t even bear to think about it.

Well, the washer is ready for the next load so off I go. What do you have planned for today? Something more glamorous than laundry, I hope.

Review: The Museum of Extraordinary Things

The Museum of Extraordinary Things

The Museum of Extraordinary Things
By Alice Hoffman
(Scribner Book Company, Hardcover, 9781451693560, February 2014, 368pp.)

The Short of It:

Freak shows typically grab my attention but the oddities contained within these pages piqued my interest but failed to impress me.

The Rest of It:

The museum in question, is a Coney Island attraction run by Professor Sardie. Sardie is part magician, part scientist but mostly a con artist with a knack for finding wayward souls. All of his “attractions” are mainly people afflicted by some horrible disfigurement. If the affliction is not obvious enough to garner huge crowds, then he helps them “transform” into something that is.

This way of thinking applies to his ten-year-old daughter, Coralie as well. Born with webbed fingers, she is dyed blue and taught to swim long distances and to hold her breath for long periods of time so she can become the Human Mermaid.

As the surrounding area attractions become bigger and better, Sardie is forced to up his game and resorts to “after hour” shows which feature his daughter, naked. Yes, he is that kind of man. Their relationship is tenuous at best, but the forced humiliation of having to perform, naked, is not something she can ever forgive him for.

There is a lot of stuff going on in this novel but none of it seemed thoroughly developed to me. Hoffman piques my interest in a lot of places but none of it seems to come together all that well and that, ultimately, is what made this an okay read, as opposed to a riveting one.

I don’t know about you but I am fascinated by freak shows and oddities of nature so although this wasn’t a complete success for me, I still enjoyed it enough to want to read her work again.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it?

Source: Sent to me by the publisher via Edelweiss.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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