Wednesday, December 16, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: If I Stay by Gayle Forman


ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen ­year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make. Heartwrenchingly beautiful, this will change the way you look at life, love, and family. Now a major motion picture starring Chloe Grace Moretz, Mia's story will stay with you for a long, long time.


Sometimes I accidentally pick out juvenile fiction and don't realize it until I'm so far into the story that I can't turn back. In this case, however, it worked out just fine because this book is amazing!

There was just one thing I didn't like about the story -- a (completely non-graphic) sex scene between the main character and her boyfriend, both of which are in high school.  I was picturing my daughter reading the book and felt that the reference was completely inappropriate for the audience.  Granted, my daughter is only 11 (a little younger than the target audience for this book), but her 13-year-old friend mentioned to me that she had read this book and I just don't like that being in it at all.  In my opinion, the story would have been just fine without it.

Besides that, this book is phenomenal.  Seventeen-­year-old Mia is in a fatal car accident with her family.  As her body lies in a hospital bed recovering, Mia is in a coma, but her mind is working overtime -- assessing all that has happened, what she has lost, what she has left on this Earth and whether she should "stay" or go.

While telling this story, the author provokes a range of emotions in the reader.  Despite the subject matter, the story isn't just sad.  There are funny, sweet, light-hearted moments as well.  Overall, it is bittersweet.  It makes the reader think about life and love and the bonds that we have with those around us, even at just 17-years-old.  I recommend this book to any fiction lover, even if you don't typically read books in the "juvenile" category.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: The Good Neighbor by A.J. Banner


ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

From a phenomenal new voice in suspense fiction comes a book that will forever change the way you look at the people closest to you…

Shadow Cove, Washington, is the kind of town everyone dreams about—quaint streets, lush forests, good neighbors. That’s what Sarah thinks as she settles into life with her new husband, Dr. Johnny McDonald. But all too soon she discovers an undercurrent of deception. And one October evening when Johnny is away, sudden tragedy destroys Sarah’s happiness.

Dazed and stricken with grief, she and Johnny begin to rebuild their shattered lives. As she picks up the pieces of her broken home, Sarah discovers a shocking secret that forces her to doubt everything she thought was true—about her neighbors, her friends, and even her marriage. With each stunning revelation, Sarah must ask herself, Can we ever really know the ones we love?


Recently married to Dr. Johnny McDonald, a well-known dermatologist in their quaint little town, Sarah Phoenix's life is flipped upside down when a fire next door kills two people and destroys her home. Johnny wasn't home when the fire broke out and he didn't answer his phone when Sarah tried to call him.  As things begin to settle down, Sarah discovers the fire wasn't an accident and she finds herself beginning to question everything and everyone around her, including Johnny.

If you're looking for a fiction "quickie," this is it.  There's a little bit of action, a little bit of mystery/suspense, even a little bit of romance, but nothing terribly intense or deep or thought-provoking.  It's worth reading if you enjoy fiction and you're looking for something interesting, but it won't necessarily knock your socks off.

Monday, December 14, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron


ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

How much of an impact can an animal have? How many lives can one cat touch? How is it possible for an abandoned kitten to transform a small library, save a classic American town, and eventually become famous around the world? You can't even begin to answer those questions until you hear the charming story of Dewey Readmore Books, the beloved library cat of Spencer, Iowa.

Dewey's story starts in the worst possible way. Only a few weeks old, on the coldest night of the year, he was stuffed into the returned book slot at the Spencer Public Library. He was found the next morning by library director, Vicki Myron, a single mother who had survived the loss of her family farm, a breast cancer scare, and an alcoholic husband. Dewey won her heart, and the hearts of the staff, by pulling himself up and hobbling on frostbitten feet to nudge each of them in a gesture of thanks and love. For the next nineteen years, he never stopped charming the people of Spencer with his enthusiasm, warmth, humility, (for a cat) and, above all, his sixth sense about who needed him most.

As his fame grew from town to town, then state to state, and finally, amazingly, worldwide, Dewey became more than just a friend; he became a source of pride for an extraordinary Heartland farming town pulling its way slowly back from the greatest crisis in its long history.


Left in a library drop box on a freezing cold night when he was only a few weeks old, "Dewey Readmore Books," as he was later named, was adopted by the Spencer Public Library.  First he charmed the library staff and then the community of Spencer, Iowa and eventually his fame spread worldwide.

I lived in Spencer, Iowa for a few years and even though I frequented the library when I lived there, I never got the chance to meet Dewey.  He was the king of the Spencer Public Library for nearly 20 years, but I moved into town just a couple of years too late.  According to Vicki Myron, an employee of the Spencer Public Library and author of this book, I really missed out on something special!

This story is touching.  Yes, it's a book about a cat who lived in a library, but there are also pieces of the author's life story, small town drama and history of the town of Spencer (and northwest Iowa).  The author had me in tears one moment and laughing out loud the next.  The book is lighthearted and heartwarming.  Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World is a must-read if you love cats (or any animal, really) or you love libraries or you live (or have ever lived) in Iowa!