Summer days, drifting away

Why does summer always go by so quickly? I used to think it was just because I didn’t want to go back to school as a kid, but even as an adult I just seem to lose track of the time. July was a busy, whirlwind month for me and while I made a little time for reading, I didn’t make time for blogging, so I’m going to get caught up with some flash reviews. So here are a couple of the books I’ve been up to.

Book #32 The Chaperone, Laura Moriarty

chaperoneRating-3, It was a good book.

Synopsis: Cora volunteers to chaperone a young Louise Brooks for the summer in New York City in the 1920s. Louise is there to become famous; Cora is there to dig into her past. Cora’s earliest memories are of her life at the New York Home for Friendless Girls, before she was put on an orphan train and adopted in the midwest. Cora is trying to set a good example of decorum for Louise, but in the late 20’s Louise is intent on breaking all the rules while she joins a modern dance troupe on her way to becoming a silent film star. At the end of the summer, Cora goes back to her life, but she and Louise will cross paths again.

My Impressions: While the first part of the story was as advertised, and the character back stories were strong, the years following the initial “chaperone” summer didn’t have a lot to do with the original story line. The book started out strong, but the storyline deviated a lot for me to stay interested.

Read if you liked: The Paris Wife (Paula McLain), Orphan Train (Christina Baker Kline), A Tree Grows In Brooklyn (Betty Smith)

 

Book# 33 The Home For Wayward Ladies, Jeremy Scott Blaustein

ladies Rating- 4, Would recommend to a friend

Synopsis: Nick, Hunter and Eli have been friends since college and now they are roommates in New York City. Each trying to make their way in the NY theater scene, each searching for something, each with their own vices in their way. When Nick meets Mr Right, he gets a chance to do a one-man show tour and his producer boyfriend gets Eli and Hunter a gig as the director and choreographer of a summer stock production in the Poconos. Since nothing can go smoothly, the Ladies have to pull together for each other to make through the summer.

My Impressions: For starters, this book is not PG for anyone scanning for a book to read. There is a lot of sexual reference and humor. But there is a lot of humor! This was a really funny book with great character relationships and truly shows the heart of life-long friendships. And gay men making vagina jokes is a good time! Full disclosure: the author is a high school friend of mine… But I’d still recommend his book even if I’d never driven him home after school play rehearsal.

Read if you liked: Sex and the City (Candace Bushnell); Someday, Someday Maybe (Lauren Graham)

Book #34 Lost Lake, Sarah Addision Allen

lost lake Rating- 3, It was a good book

Synopsis: Kate opens er eyes on moving day, one year after her husband was killed in an accident. Her mother-in-law is in charge of the move and waiting to settle-in Kate and her daughter, Devin, in her home across town. But instead of driving to the house, Kate keeps driving and ends up at Lost Lake, where she spent the summer as a child. Her estranged aunt, Eby, owned the lake-side retreat with her husband and she is struggling to stay afloat. This will be the last summer at Lost Lake. Eby welcomes Kate and Devin with open arms, but knows there is more to the story of why they’ve come.

My Impressions: While this was a sweet story with a whimsical side, it was fairly predictable. There was a twist in the back story that kept it interesting and it’s a quick read. This is great light-reading vacation book.

Read if you liked: Garden Spells (Sarah Addison Allen), The Last Camellia (Sarah Jio)

 

Books 32-34 in the bag!

“In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.” ― Mortimer J Adler

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All Aboard!

Well after the last two clunkers, it was great to read a book this week that I absolutely devoured. I read this one in about 3 sittings including one interrupted lunch break at work. It’s less than 300 pages so it’s a really quick read, but very interesting subject matter so it goes even faster. And now I can say that I have successfully read my 10th book! (well at least since I started this blog)

orphan Book #10– Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline

Rating: 4- Would recommend to a friend!

Synopsis: To avoid going to juvie and getting kicked out of her foster-care home, Molly owes 50 hours of community service (for stealing a book from the library). With a little string-pulling by her boyfriend Jack, she serves her time by cleaning out the attic of a large home where his mother works as a housekeeper. The home owner, Vivian, is a nonagenarian who doesn’t seem to want to throw out any of the items in the attic, but she does have some fascinating stories to tell about them. Vivian was a first-generation Irish immigrant who was orphaned by a fire shortly after coming to New York. She was sent to the Children’s Aide Society who quickly put her on a train to the mid-west to be taken in and hopefully adopted.  Molly also lost one parent to an accident and one to drugs and jail. They form a bond over their similar histories while Vivian gives Molly hope for her future and  Molly gives Vivian and gift to connect to her past.

My Impressions: I really enjoyed this book. I always love cross generational story-telling and this was very well done. I think you could categorize this book as both young adult and historical fiction. But I’m in the camp that YA books are just as interesting to adults. The subject mater of the book was new to me. I’d never heard of this element of American history before. The movies “Newsies” and “Annie” touch a little of the number of orphaned children in New York at the turn of the century, but never really shed light on the attempts to find homes for these children. The first-hand perspective in relationship to the modern foster care system was an interesting parallel. For the curious minds, there is additional material in the book that offers more information on the Children’s Aide Society and the orphaned train riders.

While I appreciate an author who gets to the point without pontificating, I actually think this book could have been a little longer. I would have enjoyed a little more character development and insight into Molly’s past homes and reasons for leaving them. I think some of the secondary characters could have been built up a bit more as well to help understand their behaviors. I think the modern side of the story needed a little more telling.

Why you should read it: This was a quick and easy read that I thoroughly enjoyed; simply because it was different from most of the subject matter of American historical fiction. There were enough twists and surprises to make a slightly predictable ending still very interesting when you arrived. This would be a great January book club pick as people wind down from the holidays and get back into a normal routine or a resolution.

Book #10 in the bag!

“My Best Friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read.” ― Abraham Lincoln