Thursday, March 31, 2016

Coffee, Tea and Books: March edition

Hi Everyone!

I have something a little different for you today and something I hope will become a monthly feature here on the blog. I have mentioned in the past that I am an avid reader. I love to read and discuss books and am always on the lookout for a great story. I often read 2-3 books at a time. I'm not sure when my love of reading began, I just know that books have just been a consistent part of my life for as long as I can remember.
I often find it impossible to sit down with a good book without a good cup of coffee or a nice cup of tea. Just the combination of having something warm to savor while reading makes me happy. The only possible exception to this is during the late spring and early summer months when the evenings are pleasant enough to sit on the front porch with a glass of wine.

So, today I'd like to share with you the books I read in March; and a few thoughts about each of them. I hope you find time to grab a warm beverage of your own and get lost in your own books!
As I said, I hope to make this a regular post at the end of each month. I'd love to know what you've been reading and anything you have to share as well!

Ok. Here we go!

1. The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

This book was very hard for me to read. Any book dealing with a teenage suicide is going to be hard especially for a mother to read. However, when the name of the young boy at the center of that suicide story has the same name as your own son, let me tell gives you reason to pause for a moment before deciding whether or not you're actually going to be able to read such a story.
I decided to be secure in the knowledge and hope that my own 11 year old Tyler was happily playing xbox in the living room with his younger brother and *gasp* had even let me hug him earlier in the day and forged ahead with this book.
This story is just as much, if not even more, Lex's story. Lex is Ty's older sister and the book is told through her perspective and how she deals with her brother's suicide and more importantly the aftermath: her guilt over what she sees as her role in her brother's suicide, the devastation it wrecks upon her mother, and the fact that she must decide the course of her own future. As with most suicide stories, there is an assumption that the focus will be on answering the "Why?" Question. In the case of this story, as with many real life suicides, the answer isn't always clear or as black and white as we'd like to believe. Often times people who are driven to the desperation of committing suicide don't get there simply as the result of one incident or one problem.
I was extremely moved by the beautiful writing of this story. It was really hard for me to read, as I said; but I also found myself unable to put it down!

2. Heading Out to Wonderful by Robert Goolrick
The second book I read for March was a story that should really be the poster book for "Don't judge a book by it's cover" That is not to say, it wasn't a good book. It was a great story, and one that I enjoyed quite a lot. There is, however, not a whole lot of "wonderful" happening in this story.  This is one of those books you read and wish you could close your eyes while reading because you just know...that IT is coming! And by IT, I mean that "Whoa, I did NOT see THAT coming" moment. And this story...let me tell you, this story has a doozy of an "IT" moment!

The "aha" moment of the story not withstanding, there were a few technical flaws with the story over which I found myself a little conflicted. Much of the story is told from the perspective of Sam as an adult looking back on the incidents that occurred during his childhood with Charlie. However, he recounts many scenarios that he couldn't have been part of, namely those with Charlie and Sylvan in the bedroom etc; and also those with Boaty and Sylvan when he "purchased" her from her family. If those parts of the story were not meant to be told through Sam's voice, then the author should have made the distinction a bit more clear.

This is a good story for a book club because there's definitely room for discussion and questions.

3. Home Front by Kristin Hannah

Kristin Hannah is one of those authors that I have read and often find myself wondering from one book to the next if they are written by the same author. She has penned books which I consider to be a little more "chick lit" in nature, such as "Angel Falls" and "Home Front" and she has also penned wildly popular and deeper novels such as "Winter Garden" and "Nightengale"

"Home Front" tells the story of Jolene Zakardes, a Black Hawk helicopter pilot serving in the National Guard, who gets called to serve her country in Irag. A calling which she knows she is honor and duty bound to fulfill. Unfortunately, this obligation comes at the same time her marriage is falling apart, and her oldest daughter is in the throes of the beginning of adolescence and needs her mother more than anything. War comes at a cost, and for Jolene and her family there is a heavy one. The story is an examination of the ways in which that cost must always be paid in one way or another.

This was a good story. It is well written and easy to read. You keep turning the pages because you want to know what is going to happen next and also because you want to see the results and consequences of what does happen. Having said all that, towards the last quarter or so of the book, it does become a little bit predictable. At points I thought I would perhaps need to ready myself for some huge emotional heavy moment; and in the end, that just wasnt't the case. Don't get me wrong, there are emotional, heart wrenching moments in the story; but they are easily recoverable too as a reader.

Put this book on your summer beach read or vacation list. It's a great and easy way to steal a couple of hours by the pool!

Thanks for visiting me today! Leave me a comment and let me know if you've read any of these books and your thoughts. Also anything you've been reading or recommend!

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