Sunday, February 19, 2017

Book Thoughts - Raising Stony Mayhall by Daryl Gregory

Raising Stony Mayhall Raising Stony Mayhall by Daryl Gregory 
published 2011
422 pages

Synopsis -

In 1968, after the first zombie outbreak, Wanda Mayhall and her three young daughters discover the body of a teenage mother during a snowstorm. Wrapped in the woman’s arms is a baby, stone-cold, not breathing, and without a pulse. But then his eyes open and look up at Wanda — and he begins to move.

The family hides the child — whom they name Stony — rather than turn him over to authorities that would destroy him. Against all scientific reason, the undead boy begins to grow. For years his adoptive mother and sisters manage to keep his existence a secret — until one terrifying night when Stony is forced to run and he learns that he is not the only living dead boy left in the world.

My thoughts -

This was, for me, quite a unique take on the zombie fiction genre. While it had a healthy dose of the blood & terror I expected, it also had a lighthearted sense of humor about itself that was really quite refreshing. Interesting musings on identity and discrimination and a setting in rural Iowa gave the book depth and value for me. I was pleasantly surprised by this novel, and I would definitely read more by this author.

Finished - 1/22/17
Source - my shelves
MPAA rating - R, because zombies
My rating - 4/5

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Book Thoughts: The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

The Little Paris Bookshop The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
published 2015
392 pages

Synopsis -

Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can't seem to heal through literature is himself; he's still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened.

After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, Perdu travels along the country’s rivers, dispensing his wisdom and his books, showing that the literary world can take the human soul on a journey to heal itself.

My thoughts -

Well, this novel was a delightful surprise. I received it as a Christmas gift, and guessed from reading the synopsis that I would enjoy it. I was certainly right about that.

This book feels VERY French. Now, I've never been to France, so I could be very wrong about that - but reading this book felt like taking a trip across the ocean and experiencing life in a Paris apartment, and in the countryside of Provence. There was just something about the pace - the tone - the language that was slower, more deliberate than an American novel. This book was about the experience of reading as much as it was the story, and I loved the experience.

This book is, of course, a celebration of the love of reading. It was such fun to read the references peppered throughout to various great books of history. It is also a book for readers who love the written word, and the way a story looks and sounds on the page. I found myself purposefully reading slower, to savor the time I spent in this world.

I had not heard of this book before my friend gave it to me, so I likely would not have found it without her. I am thrilled The Little Paris Bookshop found it's way into my life. It was a lovely, heartbreaking, and spirit-lifting experience. Definitely recommended.

Finished - 1/29/17
Source - my shelves, via Maria Z.
MPAA rating - PG-13
My rating - 5/5

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Book Thoughts - Soprano Trouble by Victoria Kimble

Soprano Trouble Soprano Trouble (Choir Girls, Book 1) by Victoria Kimble
published 2/3/17
76 pages

Synopsis -

Summer McKidd is a bright, compassionate 7th grader. She has a good group of friends, which can be a hard feat for someone in junior high. She and her friends love to sing in their choir at school, and this is where her trouble begins. At the fall concert, her friends drag her into a mean prank and Summer is soon sentenced to nursery duty at church. When she walks into the nursery, she sees that the victim of their prank is also a volunteer. Summer begins a friendship with this girl but soon sees that she will have to choose between her group of friends and her new friend. Can Summer do what is right and keep her friends?
My thoughts -

Well, this was just delightful! I'm always on the lookout for a good series for my daughter, who is just a touch younger than the target demographic here, but will be ready for it soon - and I think the Choir Girls series is going to be just perfect.

I'm always impressed when an author can write a book that really captures the essence of junior high - that self-absorbed yet truly seeking part of a young person's life. Kimble infuses this novel with enough fun to draw her audience in, yet remains thoughtful throughout, never talking down to or underestimating her readers. This is certainly a book about tweens, but the ideas of standing up for what's right and being brave enough to confront a friend when they are in the wrong are applicable far beyond those junior high years.

Kimble writes from a place of faith - Summer and her friends attend church, and there are references to the Bible and its teachings - but the novel never feels preachy or stuffy. I appreciated the way the author was able to convey the moral message of the story organically within the flow of the narrative.

I'm thrilled to have found this series, and I can't wait to read more! Definitely recommended for anyone looking for a light-hearted yet smart read for their mid-grade reader. I can't wait to get copies of the entire series for my shelves!

Finished - 1/18/17
Source - ARC from publisher (TouchPoint Press) - thank you!
MPAA Rating - G
My rating - 5/5