A little note on reading recaps: The links for each book will now take you to that particular book's page on The Bookshelf and Gallery website, the store I help run in Thomasville, Georgia. If you're the type who orders books based on the reviews I post here, would you consider ordering through The Bookshelf's website instead of through Amazon? Or, do one better: Purchase your books through your own local bookseller. Find nearby independent bookstores through Indie Bound; I'd be willing to bet there's a great local bookstore in your area. Thanks, friends!
Book: The Mountain Between Us
I'd never heard of Charles Martin before he paid a visit to The Bookshelf for a reading and signing, so my boss put this on my immediate "to read" list. The Mountain Between Us was reminiscent of Nicholas Sparks, though maybe not as schmaltzy, and the adventure aspect of the novel was especially appealing. Word on the street is they've bought the rights to make The Mountain Between Us a movie, which I believe would work well. The book was a fast, easy read, and the ladies here in Thomasville love Charles Martin -- he's a local fan favorite, and he was perfectly pleasant in-store. Maybe worth adding to your beach bag.
Stop what you're doing, and go get this book from the library. I first picked up Eleanor & Park right when we got it in stock, but I'll be honest: I'm a little prudish when it comes to language, and I put it down after the first few pages just because there was so much (seemingly unnecessary) cursing. Then I saw Jules proclaiming her love for the book on Facebook, and I decided to dive in. I am so, so glad I did. Eleanor & Park is a well-written, genuine, heartfelt love story, and I think it depicts high school first loves better than any book I've ever read. (And if you're like me, and a ton of F-bombs just aren't your thing, well... It gets better, and those few words are worth ignoring for the overall loveliness of the book as a whole.) The 80s setting and vibe is super fun, and you'll fall in love with the main characters right along as they fall in love with each other. I'm recommending this to my teen readers this summer, and placing it in a prime shelf location. It's just that good.
Lame. I don't really know what else to say, except some so-called "beach reads" aren't even worth putting in your bag. I like fluff, but in moderation, so I thought this sounded like a fairly fun, lighthearted-but-still-educated book for my family's annual beach trip. The writing was fine, and the book went along at a decent pace -- I think I finished it in about a day -- but I wasn't a fan of the overall themes of the book. And -- here I go, sounding like a prude again -- I just don't love when a book glosses over adultery and makes it seem like there are no consequences to that kind of behavior. So, in short, not my favorite, even for a fluffy chick-lit book. I think you're better off reading Sophie Kinsella or Jennifer Weiner.
I searched for this one after coming across a glowing review on Kate's blog. Her recommended reading list looks a lot like mine, so I figured What I Did would be a safe bet. I was right. The book's narration reminded me of a cross between Room and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, two books I happened to love a lot. It was a dark story, tragic and twisted, but I thought it was incredibly well-written and thought-provoking. Recommended reading, for sure.
Oh, don't mind me. I'm just slowly making my way through John Green's entire catalogue of books. Paper Towns was one of the last ones on my list, so when my cousin needed a recommendation, I recommended Paper Towns (hoping she'd buy it, and I wouldn't have to). We both read it over our family beach trip, and although I still think Looking for Alaska or An Abundance of Katherines might be my favorite John Green titles, Paper Towns definitely didn't disappoint. John Green has his own genre/style/character type down to a beautifully-written science, and I happen to love it. Go ahead and add Paper Towns to your list; the characters are just as genuine and flawed and likable as John Green's other protagonists.
This was our May/June book club pick, and since only two of us showed up to the meeting, I can't really speak for everyone else, but I wasn't a fan of Judy Blume's Summer Sisters. I mean, I liked it enough to read it, and I was intrigued enough to finish it, but I felt a little disappointed. I'm not an avid Judy Blume fan, but I've read and enjoyed a lot of her books, and this one just didn't live up to the well-deserved hype of the others. Summer Sisters tracks the lives -- and, of course, summers -- of two best friends, and the tale is told from various perspectives at various times, making for some confusing reading and unnecessary plot jumps. Has anybody else read this one? I'm curious what other readers might think.
Of all the books I read while on vacation, Z was my absolute favorite. The book was a belated birthday gift from a dear friend (she obviously knows me well), but I think I would have splurged on the hardback version, both for its pretty cover and its well-written story. I should confess that I have a longstanding obsession with the Fitzgeralds, before an obsession with the Fitzgeralds was cool. I went to school in Montgomery, Alabama, where Zelda spent much of her growing-up years (and where she and Scott lived briefly later in their marriage). Even without that obsession, though, I think Z would make an interesting, thought-provoking read, filled with historical fact and an author's imagination for the missing details. Aside from Eleanor & Park, this is the book I think you should read next.