Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Boy is Back by Meg Cabot (TLC Book Tours)

When life is stressful, it’s nice to have a light hearted book to curl up with as the cool fall weather takes hold.    The Boy is Back is the story of golf legend Reed Stewart and the high school sweetheart he’d left behind, Becky Flowers.  After a mishap Prom night senior year, Reed left town never to return for ten years.  Becky tries to contact him through various means, but she never hears from him again.  After her father’s death, she takes over the family moving business.

Reed comes back to town after his parents are arrested for not paying their bill at a local eatery.  Or rather paying their bill with a stamp that they believe is worth $400, but is only worth $2.  Reed and his two siblings find out things are much worse.  Although their parents had a lot of money, it is gone, and have become hoarders with their home in disrepair.  How will Reed help his parents and will he be able to patch up his relationship with them and his siblings? Ten years later, is it too late for him to have a chance with Becky again? Does Becky want a chance with him with her business and boyfriend?

I really enjoyed The Boy is Back.  Cabot’s novels are also enjoyable with fun characters and storylines.  I really like how this book was set up as an epistolary novel – although not the letters of an old fashioned epistolary novel, but a modern one where we get the story through a variety of means including texts, journals, e-bay postings, interview transcriptions, etc.  It also included pictures of items for sale (Reed’s mother is always selling cat figurines) and of their hoarding basement (looked a little too much like my basement for comfort).    I had read and loved The Boy Next Door (almost ten years ago) that had the same concept, but was told more through emails at that time.  I enjoyed an update to the epistolary novel.

I also LOVED that part of the romance between Reed and Becky is that they talk to each other with Jane Austen quotes. I love this meet cute with Jane Austen.

“I thought I would die of disdain until Reed looked at the book I was sneak-reading (because Government was so boring) and said, ‘There are so few people whom I really love and still fewer of whom I think well.’

I stared at him in shock.  You’ve read Pride and Prejudice?’

‘Yes, Flowers.’ He smirked.  ‘I can read, you know.’

It was as if he’d peered into my brain, No my soul.”

I also loved when Reed is trying to woe Becky back after a ten year absence, he harkens back to my favorite Austen novel, Persuasion, which also involves an aborted romance and eight year separation by writing this in an email.

“And despite what you may think, I have pictured us meeting again.  This is embarrassing to admit, but for years I’ve had this fantasy that when I came back to Bloomville, it would be as a rich man, like Captain Frederick Wentworth in

Persuasion by Jane Austen.  Do you remember him?”

The Persuasion theme continues in a text to Becky toward the end of the novel.

“Fine, we can do that.  As soon as you confess that you wrote, ‘You pierce my soul, I offer myself to you again with a heart even more you own than when you almost broke it, ten years ago’ beneath my senior photo.”

Overall, The Boy is Back is a fun story with a great romance, and a wonderful love letter to Persuasion for any Jane Austen fans.

Book Source:  Review Copy for being a part of the TLC Book Tour.  Check out this link for a complete tour schedule.

About The Boy is Back

• Hardcover: 368 pages • Publisher: William Morrow (October 18, 2016) In this brand-new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot, a scandal brings a young man back home to the small town, crazy family, and first love he left behind. Reed Stewart thought he’d left all his small town troubles—including a broken heart—behind when he ditched tiny Bloomville, Indiana, ten years ago to become rich and famous on the professional golf circuit.  Then one tiny post on the Internet causes all of those troubles to return . . . with a vengeance. Becky Flowers has worked hard to build her successful senior relocation business, but she’s worked even harder to forget Reed Stewart ever existed. She has absolutely no intention of seeing him when he returns—until his family hires her to save his parents. Now Reed and Becky can’t avoid one another—or the memories of that one fateful night.  And soon everything they thought they knew about themselves (and each other) has been turned upside down, and they—and the entire town of Bloomville—might never be the same, all because The Boy Is Back.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Photo by Ali Smith

About Meg Cabot

Meg Cabot was born in Bloomington, Indiana. In addition to her award-winning adult contemporary fiction, she is the author of bestselling young adult fiction, including The Princess Diaries and the Mediator series. More than twenty-five million copies of her novels for children and adults have sold worldwide. Meg lives in Key West, Florida, with her husband. Find out more about Meg at her website, follow her blog, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Book of Halloween by Ruth Edna Kelly

Title: The Book of Halloween
Author: Ruth Edna Kelley
Read by: Oliver Vale
Publisher: New Paradigm Press Audio
Length: Approximately 2 hours and 31 minutes
Source: Review Copy from Narrator Oliver Vale – Thank-you!

I am a big fan of holidays.  As a child, I used to love to read every book I could get my hands on to find out more about the background of all of the holidays I loved to celebrate.  As an adult I enthusiastically decorate my house for the holidays with my children and still love to read about the holidays.

The Book of Halloween is a vintage book about Halloween from ancient times to the early Twentieth Century.  Oliver Vale bring the book to life as an audiobook narrating all of tales, myths, and legends that make up the background of Halloween across different countries in the world (mostly Great Britain).  This includes that Halloween takes place on the important date that several cultures celebrated.  

I was sad that The Book of Halloween didn’t contain more detail on how Halloween is celebrated in the United States and the history in this country of where all of our traditions came from.  Also a lot of the information seemed very randomly put together with not much transition between ideas.

Overall , I enjoyed this audiobook and learning the background legends from the past that form the basis for Halloween.  It put me in the Holiday spirit!

Do you have a favorite Halloween book or tale?

Monday, October 24, 2016

I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood up for Education and Was Shot by the Talaban by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb

I am Malala is our FLICKS (Rogue) Book and Movie Club pick for October/November.  It will give us a lot to discuss!  Malala was a young girl who refused to back down to the Talaban in Pakistan and gave speeches and wrote blogs about the need for girls to get education.  In order to silence her, on October 9, 2012, Malala was shot in the head while she was riding a bus home from school.

I am Malala starts with the fateful bus ride home and then goes back into the story of Malala, her parents, and her growing up in Pakistan.  She is a proud Pakistan citizen of the Pashtun heritage growing up in the Swat Valley, a remote valley in Northern Pakistan that sounds quite beautiful.  She was named after a Pashtun heroine who sacrificed herself during battle to inspire the soldiers and win the day.  Her naming is prophetic for the young brave girl she became.

Malala’s father, Ziauddin, and grandfather, Rohul Amin, were both great speakers and Malala continued in their footsteps.  As Malala grew older, the Talaban came to Swat Valley, and people were getting murdered for not following their decrees.  Malala spoke up when they started to demand that girls stop going to school as education is very important to her.  After that fateful date, Malala and her family found themselves separated from their beloved country of Pakistan with no way to return in the current climate.  They are refuges living in Great Britain.  I felt really bad for their family being displaced and wanting to go back to a homeland that is not safe for them.  I hope one day they will be able to return.

I was fascinated by this book by having descriptions of Pakistan and a world I don’t know much about. Equally fascinating and disturbing was a look at how the actions of the United States have a direct impact on the people of another country.  While we were celebrating the death of Osama Bin Laden, our actions in Pakistan going in and killing him without telling the leaders of the Country, deeply offended the leaders of Pakistan.  With drone attacks killing not only the guilty, anti-American sentiment is up and allows for groups like the Taliban to take hold.  Reading this right now during our current election cycle made me very fearful of the feature.  The words that the President say can lead to the rise of radicals in other countries that hurt the people of that country more than they hurt us.

I enjoyed Malala’s story of growing up.  She seemed so relatable along with her love of Ugly Betty and Twilight – like an average girl.  That is what makes it even more horrifying to get shot for speaking out.  It made me realize one again that we are lucky to live in the United States were you are allowed to freely speak your opinion on the government.  You make not like your neighbor’s opinion, but we are allowed to voice them without fear of reprisal.  I also was sad that it is still so hard in other parts of the world for females to get educated.  An educated female population allows a country to move onto the path of a more developed nation and a better living for all people of the nation.

There were a few times in the book where it did move a bit slow to me – I would get slightly confused on the action that was taking place in the past.  I probably should have kept track of the characters and events by writing them down.  

Favorite Quotes:

“I come from a country that was created at midnight.  When I almost died it was just after midday.”

“It’s the same with stealing.  Some people, like me, get caught and vow they will never do it again.  Others say, ‘Oh it’s no big deal – it was just a little thing.’  But the second time they will steal something bigger and the third something bigger still.  In my country too many politicians think nothing of stealing.  They are rich and we are a poor country yet they loot and loot.  Most don’t pay tax, but that’s the least of it.  They take out loans from state banks, but they don’t pay them back.  They get kickbacks on government contracts from friends or the companies they award them to. Most of them own expensive flats in London.”

“I was ten when the Taliban came to our valley.  Moniba and I had been reading the Twilight books and longed to be vampires.  It seemed to us that the Taliban arrived in the night just like vampires.”

“Though we loved school, we hadn’t realized how important education was until the Taliban tried to stop us.  Going to school, reading, and doing our homework wasn’t just a way of passing time, it was our future.”

“We were learning how to struggle.  And we were learning how powerful we are when we speak.”

“Those who could, stayed in the homes of local people or with family and friends.  Amazingly three quarters of all the IDPs were put up by the people of Mardan and the nearby town of Swabi.  They opened the doors of their homes, schools, and mosques to the refugees.”

“Foreign governments pointed out that most of our politicians weren’t paying any income tax, so it was a bit much to ask hard-pressed taxpayers in their own countries to contribute.”

“Peace in every home, every street, every village, every country – this is my dream.  Education for every boy and every girl in the world.  To sit down on a chair and read my books with all of my friends at school is my right.  To see each and every human being with a smile of happiness is my wish.  I am Malala.  My world has changed, but I have not.”

Overall, I am Malala is a must read, inspiring tale of one girl’s struggle for education in Pakistan.

Book Source:  The Kewaunee Public Library.  Thank-you!

Have you read any inspiring books lately?