Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood by Varsha Bajaj

Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood by Varsha Bajaj (2014)

 This book, intended for middle grade readers (main character is 13 years old), is a fun read.  Abby Spencer does not know her father.  Her mother knew him when he came to the United States from India to attend college.  When they'd both graduated, they split up because they always knew that her (Abby 's father) would be returning to India in part because his parents were there.  Her mother did not know she was pregnant until later.  She wrote him a handwritten letter, which he never received.   

Now, Abby wants to know who her father is.   And she is shocked to find out that he is the hottest Bollywood star in India!  For Thanksgiving, she heads to India to meet her father and paternal grandmother for the first time.   

This is a fun read with some cultural clash as well as some angst of being a young teen.  Abby finds a boyfriend in India (although he is also from - another part of - Texas.)  I highly recommend this book!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

Sisterhood Everlasting  by Ann Brashares (published in 2011)

Why didn't anyone warn me about this book?

I had read the other books years ago now, as they came out.  I saw the movie version of the first book first run in the movie theater.

I was not aware of this book for some reason. Or maybe it blipped onto my radar screen so briefly, I heard was it was about, and decided to forgo reading it. 

I checked it out as an ebook.  I was shocked that I had not seen it previously.  To find out what happened to all the girls ten years later as they are on the cusp of thirty?   Yes, please. 

I finished reading it in less than a day.  I just had to keep going, even though at the same time I wondered why?  Why would the author do something so awful to one of the girls?   Sure, it it realistic that something might happen to one of the girls, andneb I know that.  Still, I just wanted a nice, and maybe fairly bland story about their present lives.

Bland it is not.  I really won't share too much of what actually does happen in this book (except that it really takes Carmen too long to realize she is not in the right relationship for her . . .)   I would encourage you that if you read at least the original book, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, that you should at least read this one.  It turned out to be a powerful read.  Ms. Brashares crafted it well, unrolling more information just a bit at a time so that the reader needs to just keep reading. I have seen the criticism that the girls remain immature, but that is pat of the point. Most of the girls have remained "stuck" in parts of their lives - mostly emotionally - and this is this story of how they become unstuck and really begin to grow up.

To skip to the end will not tell you anything. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Best Kept Secret (Family Tree Book 3) by Ann. M. Martin

Best Kept Secret (Family Tree Book 3) by Ann M. Martin

This is the latest installment of the Family Tree series by Ann M. Martin.  I must say that i picked up the first book because I love genealogy and the idea of a "family tree" type of series thrilled me.  However, the first and second books kind of left me cold - not in a Stephen King kind of way - but in the way that some members of this family do not get along.  Another way they left me cold is in the style they are written.  Sometimes they feel like warm family stories and at other times, I feel detached and separated as the reader, as each chapter sometimes skips months or even years from the one before.  This book and the first two leave me with very mixed feelings.  This third one also ended with the main character, who grew up during the 1970s and ends in the 1990s, in a relationship and pregnant just as the first two did.  These books are also trying to explore both mother/daughter relationships and father/daughter relationships, and in many ways are probably fairly realistic of some families.    

I want to see what is going to happen in the fourth installment.  I thought that this third one didn't quite leave me as "cold."  It was wrapped up a little better, although Francie's mother, Dana (the main character of the second book), still has an ongoing battle with her mother Abby (main character of the first book).  I still can't discern the exact reason. They just don't quite get along because of decisions they've both made.  

In this book, Francie is age seven when the book opens, and it struggling to learn how to read because of dyslexia.  Soon she's made life-long friends, but over the coming years her immediate family goes through changes.  The next book will feature Francie's daughter.

I don't know what age I would actually recommend these books for.  I suppose ages 9 to 13.   I would have probably enjoyed these when I was about eleven years old, to be specific.  I might have been annoyed then, too, that some things are never resolved in this story.

Overall, I gave this one four out of five stars on LibraryThing.  

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Little House and LIW in my life: Part One

As a young girl of about eight years old, I became obsessed with all things to do with the books of Laura Ingalls Wilder.  To note, by that time I'd seen a handful of the television show episodes (I saw more of them the next year when a local channel started carrying syndicated reruns.) The show's original run was nearly coming to an end by then.  Anyway, I'd seen enough to know that the tv show was really nothing like the books, and had already become a separate entity in my mind.  (I know there are still people out there who think the events and people in the tv show are the complete real-life truth.)

When I was five years old, my mother read Farmer Boy aloud to my brothers and I.  The chapter that sticks out the most in my memory is when Almanzo and his siblings are left alone for the week to mind the house and farm on their own.  They use up almost all of the sugar making and eating sweets, and Eliza Jane has to repair the parlor wallpaper from where the blacking brush hit the wall after Almanzo threw it.

A couple of years later, I borrowed Little House in the Big Woods from the Wanamaker Branch of the Indianapolis Marion County Public Library.   I remember really enjoying it, and then borrowed Little House on the Prairie.  I was reading ahead of where they had me in reading group in elementary school.  (My fourth grade teacher finally recognized that I could read very well, and moved me up to where I should be - in the highest reading group.  It was just previously - in first grade - I was so shy and nervous that sometimes my speaking/reading aloud was not great, but it was just nerves! Same in second and third grades. . . even though I was reading chapter books on my own silently just fine.)  In fact, I usually read the entire reading text books at the beginning of the school year, and it was pretty borrowing the remainder of the time.  

Anyway, I digress. 

I think steadily read the whole little house series so that by the summer I was nine I was re-reading the whole series.  I had my favorite titles.  I have shared one or two of my favorites in the past on this blog.   I still think Little Town on the Prairie was and is one of my absolute favorites of the series.  I loved seeing Laura growing up and having some fun with friends and family.  This book also is not quite as bleak as some of the others.  As an adult, I think I appreciate the later books in the series as well because apparently Rose (Wilder Lane) may not have done quite as much work on them.  Rose did a great job shaping the books, etc, but according to Pamela Smith Hill, author of Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer's Life, Rose simply did not have the time or energy to put quite as much time into re-writing her mother's stories later on as she did with the first books in the series.  
I have more to say about the books, and also about my visits to a couple of the home sites over the years, but  I will tackle those things in a future post!