Saturday, February 15, 2014

Books, Lately: Call Me Zelda, Heading Out to Wonderful, and The Day the Crayons Quit

Call Me Zelda

by Erika Robuck

"Tender isn't selling enough. My best work yet-my soul splayed open for all to feast upon-and the readers simply do not care."

I nearly laughed aloud. His soul? I could not find any words to answer him.

He looked up at me and then stood as anger flashed over his face.

"I know what you're thinking," he said. "It's her soul-her soul that was used. But don't you see? her soul is my soul, and not because it belongs to me but because we share it."

This book explores the next stage of the Fitzgeralds life: after the wild Paris days, after the elaborate courting. You can feel the inspiration for his novels as you turn each page. The love between Zelda and Scott is twisted and confusing. They are devoted and despising in one fell swoop.

Call Me Zelda is not only the story of their later years, it is the story of a fictional nurse named Anna who falls under the Fitzgeralds spell. This is the real gem of the story. Anna has a life filled with loss. As she becomes intwined in the Fitzgeralds wild web, she finds it impossible to remove herself. But her work with Zelda and Zelda's need for her will ultimately open her up to life again. This is a tragedy and an uplifting story wrapped up in one. 

Heading Out To Wonderful

by Robert Goolrick

This is a dark story and "haunting" tale of love gone wrong. A young country girl marries a rich older man, but falls in love with the mysterious young butcher in town.

She parades around town in her ridiculous, handmade Hollywood frocks. She is almost a child-bride at the age of 19, and behaves impulsively and without fear of consequence.

But what will happen when the secret is out, as always is the case? And who will live to tell the tale?

And ending on a (much) happier note....

The Day the Crayons Quit

by Drew Daywalt

This might be the best book ever. It is hilarious. The crayons write accusatory letters to their young owner, begging him for more time of the page, to be the color of the sun, and not to peel back their cover so much! It is hysterical, and a great way to study persuasive writing in a primary classroom.

Jodi Picoult

Vanishing Act

by Jodi Picoult

"Does it really matter why I did it?

By now you've already formed our own impression. you believe that an act committed a lifetime ago defines a man, or you believe that a person's past has nothing to do with his future. You think I am either a hero, or a monster. Maybe knowing more about the circumstances will make you think differently about me, but it won't change what happened twenty-eight years ago."

Delia Hopkins' mother passed away when she was young. She and her father got in the car and drove across the country to New Hampshire. A little state and the perfect hiding place.

Twenty years later, there is a knock on the door and Delia's father is arrested on kidnapping charges. Delia is caught in the middle of her loving father and the law. But why did her father take her, and why does he show no remorse for his actions? Delia has had a good life. She's wondered and dreamed of her mother, but it hasn't stopped her from living a good life. 

The book follows Delia and her daughter, along with best friend Fitz, and lawyer boyfriend Eric, to New Mexico, where the trial will be held.

Picoult has a wonderful way of blurring the lines of right and wrong. Her story is told from multiple viewpoints, helping to keep your mind jumping as you struggle with whose side you are on. And just when you've chosen a side, she'll make you question your choice.

Plain Truth

"Suddenly, Lizzie felt profoundly sorry for her. Life never stopped for death; she should know that better than most...."I know this must be very difficult for you, but I'm going to have to ask you some questions about your baby.

Sarah Fisher raised her eyes to meet Lizzie's. "It's not my baby," she said. "I have no idea where it came from."

Detective Lizze stumbles upon the scene of an amish newborn left to die in a barn. The child doesn't belong to Mrs. Fisher, an amish wife, but in fact to her daughter Katie. Katie is in complete denial despite all the facts pointing to her. Lizzie will be left to unravel the twisted tale of secrets as an outsider in a secretive culture.

This is a unique look into an extremely interesting lifestyle. You will meet those sticking strictly to their religion; those who have have turned their backs on their families; and those tiptoeing a thin line in-between. And the main question will still remain: was this a stillborn or a murder? And what, exactly, are they all covering up?

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Indiscretion by Charles Dubow

"And she, like so many of the young, was looking for a shortcut, an edge over the competition, always in a hurry, not yet realizing there is no benefit in speeding up the journey, that the destination is not the point but merely part of the process. They also don't fully appreciate that their actions have repurcussions. That lives can be ruined. Of course, the young don't have a monopoly on selfishness. We want what we want. The bitter truth is that it rarely makes us happy once we get it."

In a Gatsby-esque narration, Walt will take you behind the curtain of a picture-perfect Hamptons family. This is not the overwhelming, self indulgent glamour that Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan drip of. This is the sweetness of home-cooked meals and uncorked bottles of wine finished after midnight beneath the hand-sewn blanket on the couch, bare feet tucked beneath in the cozy cottage by the shore. This is the story of letting in a stranger, under the guise of being kind and generous, only to be ripped to shreds by betrayal. It is a gripping, believable story which will leave you both angry and in agreement. This is it. The modern classic. This is real life.

Claire is a twenty-something New Yorker on a weekend trip with a new boyfriend. As she attends a dinner party, she meets author Harry and his beautiful wife Maddy.

Claire becomes a weekend fixture at the house and as the seasons change, it is another chance coincidence that will change all of their fates forever.

Excuse me, but Claire is a dope. There are two other characters in fiction that rival my distinct dislike: Amy from Gone Girl and Daisy from The Great Gatsby. Claire is a wreckless 20-something living carelessly and without consequence. She's a confused girl masked by beauty and outer confidence. Unfortunately, her charm becomes all encompassing. She is welcomed with open arms into a family so comfortable in their love.

This book tells the lesson of "be careful what you wish for" perfectly. Claire parallels Daisy in her carelessness, her utter selfishness.While Harry is no Gatsby, he shares the hopefulness and brightness of romance. But Walt is a narrator worthy of comparison to Nick Carraway, an introspective side-kick to the damage of it all. Walt watches from the eaves; tucked behind the curtain, observing. He is a reflective narrator, the outsider on the inside. But he is also yearning for something.

This is the book you yell at, you roll your eyes at, you call the characters idiots. And yet you don't put it down. Because you can't. Because this, this is the modern story of love and betrayal, of what it looks like at its core. It will break your heart. It will make you hope and pray for redemption. It will twist you and turn you until the very last page.

Morning Glory by Sarah Jio

"I think back to that night, and I write exactly what happened. How he made me laugh until my sides hurt. How we stayed out until two talking at a greasy spoon diner. How I came to realize that some of life's most beautiful things grow out of the darkest moments."

Morning Glory is the merging of two worlds...two stories...two lifetimes.

Ada moves from New York City to a Seattle houseboat two years after tragedy has shattered her life into tiny pieces which she is left to walk over every day. Searching for solace from the heartbreaking loss of her husband and daughter [Jio leaves us hanging for quite some time as to how they are no longer with her] Ada chooses to try the relocation cure.

As she arrives in Seattle, her houseboat has its own stories to tell, as do the neighboring floating homes and their inhabitants. When Ada finds the key to the coffee table trunk, inside she will discover pieces of a mystery she is destined to solve.

The houseboat's former inhabitant, Penny, disappeared many years ago. As to whether she left of her own free will, no neighbors are willing to talk. The rumors have been flying for years, of torrid love affairs and unkept promises. Of a elusive young man thought to have whisked Penny away, or a jealous husband driven to murder.

As Ada herself is trying to come out of her own darkness she will learn that beautiful new beginnings can come from the most heart-wrenching of times.

The stories are woven together as neatly as the morning glory twisting and curling through the aged dock homes.

Cracking the neighbors' resolve will take time and patience. And Ada, being a writer, is the perfect person for this job.