Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Dry Grass In August - Anna Jean Mayhew

On a scorching hot day in August 1954, thirteen-year-old Jubie Watts leaves Charlotte, North Carolina, with her family for a Florida vacation. Crammed into the Packard along with Jubie are her three siblings, her mother, and the family's black maid, Mary Luther. For as long as Jubie can remember, Mary has been there - cooking, cleaning, compensating for her father's rages and her mother's benign neglect, and loving Jubie unconditionally.

Bright and curious, Jubie takes notes of the anti-integration signs they pass, and the racial tension that builds as they journey further south. But she could never have predicted the shocking turn their trip will take. Now, in the wake of tragedy, Jubie must confront her parents' failings and limitations, decide where her own convictions lie, and make the tumultuous leap to independence.

Publisher: Kensington Books - Kindle edition
Year: 2011
Pages: 305
ISBN: 0758254091

I had not heard of this book before, it was one suggested by Amazon for my Kindle.  As I am a fan of 'The Help' I thought it may be one that would appeal.  The story evolves around a trip to Florida for a vacation at Jubie's uncles house.  On route back  the family Packard is involved in an accident and is in need of repair.  Whilst waiting for the car to be fixed Jubie, her siblings and Mary visit a church.  It is on route back from the church that a turn of events occurs that will change the families lives forever.

I believe this is the debut novel of AJ Mayhew and for a first I thought it was very good.  It depicts a time in the USA when segregation was in full force in the south and AJ Mayhew puts this across very well.  She also tells you of the relationship that Jubie has with her parents, their shortcomings as well as the love they have for their children.  Very well written and one I would recommend.


Thursday, 24 July 2014

Songs of the humpback whale - Jodi Picoult

The first time Jane Jones tried to leave her husband, her daughter almost got killed. This time, she's going to do it right.

Jane escaped a childhood of abuse into the refuge of marriage, only to find history repeating itself. And when her husband's neglect extends to their daughter too, she knows it must stop.

Taking Rebecca with her, Jane runs away, seeking the only place of safety she knows. But however far she runs, she cannot escape the question always on her mind how can she save her daughter, when she couldn't save herself. 

Published by: Hodder Paperbacks - Fiction
Pages: 448 Paperback
Year: 2009
ISBN: 978-0340897300

I was given this Jodi Picoult novel for Christmas and, so there it joined the merry band of books waiting patiently on the bookshelf to be read.  This is number 17 to be read from the bookshelf since Christmas. Having read The Storyteller  last month and thinking it was absolutely brilliant I was quite looking forward to reading this one.  Unfortunately I was left quite disappointed. Following a disagreement with her husband Jane Jones decides to take off taking her 15 year old  daughter with her following an elaborate plot/route  devised by her brother to get her to his home without Oliver being able to track them down.  As with some of her other books this one is split into chapters about each character who are then  supposedly linked throughout the book..  This on the whole works really well but on this occasion the book to me was very disjointed you couldn't always tell which character was linked to who.  The story basically being that Jane Jones seems to blame everything that's wrong in her life on her husband Oliver. By the end of the book I was left thinking she was the one that really need to see her shrink and fast.  Her parenting skills definitely would of been called into question along with her stability.   I believe this was one of Ms Picoults first novels if not the first.  I was glad I had read The Storyteller first otherwise this one could have put me off reading any others.  I am assured by my work colleagues that her other novels such as Plain Truth and her renowned novel My Sisters Keeper are much more in tune with her later works.  Just as well as they too are on the bookshelf to be read sometime soon.

In the meantime hope you are all enjoying the sunshine and not getting too many of the horrendous storms some areas of the UK have been experiencing.  I have to confess I do love watching a good thunder and lightening storm.

Have a good week one and all 


Saturday, 19 July 2014

The Diary of a Young Girl - Anne Frank

Anne Frank and her family hid in the back of an Amsterdam warehouse for two years in an effort to escape the horrors of Nazi Occupation. Only thirteen when her family went into the Secret Annex, she reveals her daily life as the world around them succumbed to the worse horror the modern world had seen, facing hunger, the threat of discovery and death, estrangement from the outside world, and above all, the boredom, the petty misunderstandings, and the frustrations of living in such confined quarters.

Publisher: Maple Press - Memoir
Year: (This edition 2008) Paperback
Pages: 350
ISBN: 978-8190739146

Anne Frank Diary of a Young Girl is my July return to school read.  I was probably the same age as Anne Frank the first time I read this and nearly 40 years on it is still as memorable. Anne Frank had just celebrated her 13th birthday when she and her family went into hiding in the annex in Amsterdam.  Anne, her sister Margot and her mother and father shared the annex with another family who she calls the Van Dams in her diary and a dentist who she called Mr. Dussel. For the next two years they would be confined within the annex relying on others to provide them with their food and other essentials.  Within her diary Anne describes the every day events which she constructs in the way of a letter to her friend Kitty.  The content of her letters to Kitty would contain anything from a disagreement to the trials and tribulations of being a teenager.  It was one morning at the beginning of August 1944 that the family and the rest of the inhabitants of the annex were apprehended.  Otto Frank, Anne's father was the only survivor of his immediate family.  His wife had died of exhaustion and starvation, Anne and Margot had both died of Typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.  Miep Gies who had been one of the families helpers during their time in hiding had discovered Anne's diary following their capture and had kept it safe until she could reunite it with Anne.  When Otto Frank discovered the loss of his family Miep Gies gave him Anne's diary.  Otto Frank decided to keep his daughter's wish to have her diary published. He and his second wife traveled to schools and gave talks right up until his death in the 80's.   The annex in Amsterdam is now Anne Frank museum and has had millions of visitors.  This is somewhere I am yet to visit but one day I will have to get there.


Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Breaking the Silence - Casey Watson

'Are you saying Georgie's going to live here?' Jenson groaned. 'Here in this house? He can't live here'

Looking after two 9 year-old boys was never going to be easy, especially two boys with such different needs. But it's not long before Casey realises that, with Jenson and Georgie, she is facing her toughest challenge yet. 

Published by: Harper Collins Publishers - Memoir
Year: 2013 - Paperback
Pages: 270
ISBN: 978-0-00-747961-0

Casey Watson and her husband have been fostering children with complex behaviour for many years and has documented her journeys in a series of books. In her books Casey describes the needs and problems some of the children who have passed through their care. Each child is unique and she describes within her books how with each new charge they set out on a new journey of learning.  Normally the Watson, s don't do short stay fostering, their charges are normally with them for the long haul but,  Jenson is a 9 year old boy, whose mother decides to leave him and his teenage sister home a lone whilst she enjoys a holiday in the sun with her new boyfriend. The two are placed in emergency care and in such an emergency  their caseworker cannot think of anyone better to take care of Jenson. Initially they thought he would only be with them for two weeks but this soon turned into months rather than weeks.  When the children's home Georgie has lived in for most of his young life is due to close a new placement has to be found and quick.  Georgie has autism and has some very complex needs. Once more the Watson's seem to be the ideal foster carers to look after this young 9 year old boy until they find him a more permanent home.  This initially causes disruption in the Watson household. Both boys go to the same primary school and Jenson  finds Georgies behaviour embarrassing.  The Watson's are left wondering if they have taken on too much with both boys having their own issues.  By the time the boys leave their care the two boys have formed their own unique bond and the Watson's have been on yet another steep learning curve.  

Happy reading one & all


Tuesday, 8 July 2014

The Fault In Our Stars - John Green

Despite the tumour-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal., her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

Published by: Penguin Books - Fiction
Year: 2012/13 - Paperback
Pages: 313
ISBN: 978-0-141-34565-9

Not only has this book but also the film been the talk of the office just recently.  Having read the book over the last few days I can now understand why.  It is a beautifully written teenage love story.   Hazel was not necessarily looking for love when she attended the Cancer Kids Support Group, but when it came in the guise of Augustus Walters a survivor of cancer who understood her completely she fell hook line and sinker but of course could not tell him that.  I am not going to ruin the outcome for you, you'll have to either read the book or watch the film either way you're going to need a king sized box of tissues and the requisite chocolate

If you have teenagers and are worried whether they should be reading this book.  I would most definitely say yes.  There are sad elements but there is a lot of laughter too and it is so nice to see the affection these two young people hold for one another.

Would highly recommend to the young and old alike and now I will most definitely have to go and see the film.

Wonder what my daughter is up to this weekend.

Happy reading one & all


Friday, 4 July 2014

Wicked - Gregory Maguire

An astonishingly rich re-creation of the land of Oz, this book retells the story of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, who wasn't so wicked after all. Taking readers past the yellow brick road and into a phantasmagoric world rich with imagination and allegory.

Published by: Headline Review - Fiction
Year: 2006 - Paperback
Pages: 512
ISBN: 978-0755331604

Almost a year ago I was lucky enough to be given tickets to the show in London as part of my golden birthday.  I had heard many great reviews from others who had seen it and was desperate to have the opportunity to see it for myself.   Everyone knows the story of the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy, Tin man, Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion but you never got to know the story of the witches until Gregory Maguire bought them back to life in this the first novel of four of the life and times of Elphaba, Nessarose and Glinda. This alternative to Oz takes you back to when Elphaba and Nessarose were children, their time at school and how they met Glinda and all that happens in between.  As much as I loved the show and would highly recommend that if you get the chance go and see it you will not be disappointed as it is truly Wicked but if you get a chance to read at least this first book on which the show was based you would most certainly get a better understanding of the show itself.  There is so much to absorb within the show that having read the book all will become clear. As with all things there is a lot more contained within the book than the show and you will learn more of the extended characters and their significance to the story. 

I was also given book 2 A Son of a Witch, I am yet to read this one but I know I will be able to pick up from where the first finishes.and not be disappointed. 

Happy reading one & all