Year of the Bookwormz: 2011

52 weeks. 2 friends. 1 challenge.

Book T: LibraryLove February 1, 2011

True Colors by Kristin Hannah

Book description~ Sisterhood triumphs over sibling rivalries in this artfully turned Kristin Hannah novel. Winona, Aurora, and Vivi Ann grew up together in a small Washington State suburban town. Bonding together closer after their mother’s early death, they develop differently. In a matter of moments, everything will change. The Grey sisters will be pitted against one another in ways that none could have imagined. Loyalties will be tested and secrets revealed, and a terrible, shocking crime will shatter both their family and their beloved town. With breathtaking pace and penetrating emotional insight, True Colors is an unforgettable novel about sisters, rivalry, forgiveness, redemption—and ultimately, what it means to be a family.

Hi again! I’ve taken a much needed mental break from blogging after the recent completion of our 52 book plunge and I’m back for another reading challenge! As you may know, us bookworms are scaling the alphabet and tackling 26 books this year, a nice departure from the pressure of last year’s challenge. In my first book review of the new year, I was so glad to finally take the time and read this chunkster of about 500 pages. One of our newest book club babes selected this for February discussion, and I cannot wait to discuss this with the ladies in a few weeks. Wrongful imprisonment, and the subject of this novel, will surely be a conversation piece!

Not only was Hannah such an artist in the way she gradually built the rising action, she did so with nicely developed characters and many surprises along this emotional journey for the Grey family. This was a story of The Grey sisters,  their family, their fight for what they believed in, and not giving up when others told them to. Can you imagine what life would be like if you grew up never having known your father because he was wrongfully accused and imprisoned for over a decade for a crime he didn’t commit? Unfortunately, Noah, one of this books’ main characters had to do just that. The older he gets, the more he questions his reality and searches for answers right under his nose. Noah doesn’t know who he is, or who is father is. But one thing is true…his mission is to figure both out. We’re taken along the ride with mainly Noah, his mother, Vivi Ann, and Vivi Ann’s sisters, although Winona is really the only other ‘main character’.  I definitely would have enjoyed more dialogue from Aurora, another of the sisters. I felt she was just lost in the shuffle in the background. But, the turning point of the novel came and I couldn’t read fast enough.

“Beside an ad for one of the city’s newest high-rises, she saw a gloomy photograph of a man standing in front of a prison guard tower. The headline read:  ‘Innocence Project Northwest Works to Exonerate the Wrongly Accused’. There might be an animal called absolute truth, but it couldn’t be caged and certainly didn’t roam the halls of justice. In her research for Dallas’ case, she’d read about more than one hundred men who’d been freed from prison in the past five years based on DNA testimony… and even more who hadn’t. Those unfortunate souls were all too often in Dallas’ position: DNA evidence neither tied them irrefutably to the crime nor will exonerate them. It amazed and shamed Winona how inflexible district attorneys and police could be once they decided on a defendant’s guilt. Often no amount of evidence could dissuade them, and so they kept fighting, making specious, ridiculous arguments that kept innocent people in prison for decades. “

Although I think Hannah could have shaved off 100 pages from  “the middle”,  I was along for the ride the whole way through. And if you’re expecting a book to grab you right from the very first page, I don’t think this is the book for you. However, patience prevails because this book is slow and steady; more of a trot and less of a gallop. Either way, it was well worth the wait to make it to the sweet ending. This was my first Kristin Hannah novel and I look forward to reading more of her work in the future.

4/5 stars

1 down, 25 to go!

Up next: C for Carry Me Like Water




Book #49: LibraryLove November 28, 2010

The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May & June by Robin Benway

Book description~ I hugged my sisters and they fit against my sides like two jigsaw pieces that would never fit anywhere else. I couldn’t imagine ever letting them go again, like releasing them would be to surrender the best parts of myself. Three sisters share a magical, unshakeable bond in this witty high-concept novel from the critically acclaimed author of Audrey, Wait! Around the time of their parents’ divorce, sisters April, May, and June recover special powers from childhood—powers that come in handy navigating the hell that is high school. Powers that help them cope with the hardest year of their lives. But could they have a greater purpose? April, the oldest and a bit of a worrier, can see the future. Middle-child May can literally disappear. And baby June reads minds—everyone’s but her own. When April gets a vision of disaster, the girls come together to save the day and reconcile their strained family. They realize that no matter what happens, powers or no powers, they’ll always have each other. Because there’s one thing stronger than magic: sisterhood.

Phew. After FOUR, yes, FOUR Thanksgivings meals shared with both family and friends over the last few days, I finally had this morning and afternoon COMPLETELY unscheduled and uninterrupted to read, read, read like the wind! Although I enjoyed every moment of spending time with friends, families, and babies this weekend, I’ve felt the pressure of this challenge now more than ever. Back in the summer, I was inundated with books to read and review and unfortunately didn’t get to them all. This book fell by the wayside and I finally got around to it this week. Special thanks to Penguin Books and Young Adult (YA) author Robin Benway for sending me this galley copy of April, May & June to review. What a fun and unexpected read! Although I do enjoy the YA genre from time to time, this story was really well-written and could be enjoyed by adults and not just young readers.

“No thanks. I know smoking kills and all that but also, you get these really weird pucker lines around your mouth. And I haven’t been using moisturizer every night since I was ten for no reason. “

The story is focused around the three sisters, named sequentially after the months in which they were each born, each with unique abilities (think Jedi mind tricks!). Dealing with the emotions of being a teenager is more than enough for these three girls. Add on to that a painful divorce for the girls’ mother and you have yourself the starting threads for this fun, suspenseful tale of love, sisterhood, and teen angst. The girls are trying to navigate through high school while missing their father, who now lives states away. The girls’ mother starts to date and so too, do the girls. However, as I was trying to sink my teeth into this quick read, my main criticism is that the mysterious and suspenseful juicy rising action of the plot line didn’t unfurl until almost 200 pages in, then the book suddenly halts and leaves the reader wanting more. I loved April & her love interest Julian’s storyline; I would have much preferred more of them than some of the other extraneous half-developed characters. What is it with most YA novels these days? YOUNG kids are reading 600+ pages of Harry Potter and/or Lord of the Rings; why can’t YA books go a little more in-depth too??

This was a fun and for the most part lighthearted book. Although rated as Young Adult, many of the “party scenes” in this book, to me, wouldn’t be what I’d want my teenager reading. Alright, off I go to enjoy the afternoon with my hubby and puppies in front of the fireplace and excited to crack open of my friends’ suggested reading of The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Off I go….stay tuned!

3/5 stars

49 down, 3 to go!