Friday, April 26, 2013

Book review: Naked

Naked by David Sedaris

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Linking up with Blonde... Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday.

Welcome to the hilarious, strange, elegiac, outrageous world of David Sedaris. In Naked, Sedaris turns the mania for memoir on its ear, mining the exceedingly rich terrain of his life, his family, and his unique worldview-a sensibility at once take-no-prisoners sharp and deeply charitable. A tart-tongued mother does dead-on imitations of her young son's nervous tics, to the great amusement of his teachers; a stint of Kerouackian wandering is undertaken (of course!) with a quadriplegic companion; a family gathers for a wedding in the face of imminent death. Through it all is Sedaris's unmistakable voice, without doubt one of the freshest in American writing.

I've had several friends who were HUGE David Sedaris fans. I'd never really given him too much of a shot, but when I started listening to This American Life, I started hearing more and more from him -- he's a regular contributor. So I got his boxed set of audio books from the library -- I think there's four? -- and this is the first one I listened to.

Naked is a collection of true short stories or mini-memoirs, I guess -- stories about his life. 

Some of them I really loved -- one in particular about his father's constant warnings of men who lost a limb skateboarding or chopped off their thumbs chopping up vegetables reminded me of conversations with my own parents. 

Some of them were a little obscene or graphic and I was glad I was listening alone. Nothing too gory -- David as a child found a book about an incestuous family, for example. That plot line had a few interesting quotes...

Overall I enjoyed Naked. I laughed more than I cringed, for sure, and soldiered on to his next book, which is obviously a good sign. I gave it three stars on Goodreads.

Are any of you familiar with David Sedaris? One of his books, which unfortunately isn't in the boxed set, is about when he was a Christmas Elf in a department store -- can't wait to read that one!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Book review: Hawksong

Hawksong by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Linking up with Blonde... Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday.

DANICA SHARDAE IS an avian shapeshifter, and the golden hawk’s form in which she takes to the sky is as natural to her as the human one that graces her on land. The only thing more familiar to her is war: It has raged between her people and the serpiente for so long, no one can remember how the fighting began. As heir to the avian throne, she’ll do anything in her power to stop this war—even accept Zane Cobriana, the terrifying leader of her kind’s greatest enemy, as her pair bond and make the two royal families one.

Trust. It is all Zane asks of Danica—and all they ask of their people—but it may be more than she can give.

I loved Hawksong from the start. From page one, you're right in the mind and world of Danica -- an avian shapeshifter, heir to the throne in a world torn by war. Danica is to inherit the throne soon and simply can't stand the war anymore. When a member of the enemy's royal family -- a shapeshifter who turns into a cobra -- shows up and pleads for movement to create peace, Danica embarks on a journey toward peace.

The greatest strength of this story is the incredible world building. You will be enamored with Danica and Zane's world. It was one of those books that I listened to every minute I could, even if it was just for a minute, and I couldn't wait to get back to it when I put it down.

There is a bit of action here and there, but a lot of the plot line is emotional. My two complaints about the book are that it was a bit predictable -- I bet you can already guess some things that will happen -- and that the plot lines were rushed at the end -- there was a loooot of buildup for a couple climaxes that were wrapped up all in the final pages. Poof, done.

Still, I really enjoyed this book and have already read the sequel! I have the third of the series on hold at the library now. I gave Hawksong four stars on Goodreads.

Have any of read Hawksong? What did you think?

Friday, April 5, 2013

Book review: Dreamland Social Club

Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Linking up with Blonde... Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday.

Jane has traveled the world with her father and brother, but it's not until her fractured family-still silently suffering from the loss of Jane's mother many years before-inherits a house and a history in Coney Island that she finally begins to find a home. With the help of a new community of friends, a mermaid's secrets, and a tattooed love interest with traffic-stopping good looks, the once plain Jane begins to blossom and gains the courage to explore the secrets of her mother's past.

Colorful characters, beautiful writing, and a vibrant, embattled beachfront backdrop make this the perfect summer read for anyone who has ever tried to find true love or a place to call home.

I really liked this book.

Jane moves into the house her mother grew up in on Coney Island as a junior in high school. Her mother died when she was very young, and Jane begins to uncover a lot about her mother and the grandparents she never knew by living in the place -- the house, and the community -- where they all lived.

There are a few driving themes in Dreamland Social Club. One, obviously, is Jane's discovery of her mother and her maternal grandparents and what their lives mean to her. The process is slow and steady, emotional, and overall, realistic.

Another huge theme, though, is conformity versus nonconformity. I have to assume the name Jane was picked for a reason -- to evoke the thought of Plain Jane -- because that's how she feels going into her high school. Jane's classmates fully embrace the sideshow culture of old Coney Island. They are known for their quirks -- a seven foot tall "giant," a little person, a bearded lady, and more. It was a really interesting backdrop for the typical struggles of cliques and high school.

One thing I did struggle with, though, was that the characters never lost their original monikers -- the giant stayed "the giant" throughout the book, even when Jane got to know him and considered him a friend.

Otherwise, I really liked this book. I thought the relationships between characters were realistic and fun, and the romance was adorable and butterfly-inducing. I gave it four stars!

Have any of you read Dreamland Social Club? What did you think?


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