Anna Godbersen’s Bright Young Things Series


The Bright Young Things Saga by Anna Godbersen | Harris County Public Library Online Catalog

The Bright Young Things Saga by Anna Godbersen | Harris County Public Library Online Catalog

Title and Author(s): Bright Young Things; Beautiful Days; and The Lucky Ones by Anna Godbersen
Release Date: October 12, 2010; September 20, 2011; November 27, 2012
Publisher: HarperCollins
ISBN: 006196266X; 0061962686; 0061962708
Pages: 400; 368; 384
Source: Library

Reasons for Reading:  When I finished The Luxe Series, I wanted to read more Anna Godbersen. Upon hearing of a new saga set in the 1920s, I quickly requested the first book – Bright Young Things from the library.

Summary: Beginning with a prologue voiced in the first person, this narrator recalls the last summer of the Roaring Twenties. The narrator mentions three young ladies – one who became famous, one who got married, and one who died. Then, the saga leads the reader to two best friends. Orphaned Cordelia Grey leaves a boy at the alter with her best friend, Letty Larkspur (Letitia Haubstadt), and escaped their boring life in small town Ohio for the glitter of New York in the summer of 1929. Cordelia wants to reunite with her bootlegger father, Darius Grey, while Letty wants to see her name in lights. When they arrive in New York, Cordelia serendipitously meets her father, her brother – Charlie Grey, and Charlie’s sweetheart – Astrid Donal.  These three teen beauties strive to make their marks in New York is one dazzling summer.

One Thing I Learned from reading Anna Godbersen’s Bright Young Things Series

What I Liked : I like the styles from the 1920s – the fashion, the architecture, the art, the music, etc. Also, unlike the main characters of Godbersen’s The Luxe series, these girls appeared kind and caring – no frenemy in the bunch. Lastly, these girls definitely possessed the maturity of teenagers.

What I Disliked: While Godbersen started telling an interesting story, I found myself bored and tempted to scan pages early on in my reading of the third book, The Lucky Ones. Astrid, in particular, didn’t appeal to me. I found her absolutely insipid and I nearly skipped the Astrid-centric chapters. On the other hand, her stepsister Billie didn’t have enough scenes in the saga.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: “Yes, Sir! That’s My Baby!” (Lee Morse, 1925)

Setting: Ohio, New York City, Long Island New York

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Jodi Picoult’s Nineteen Minutes


Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult | LibraryThing

(Written on Monday, 14 January 2013)

Title and Author(s): Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
Release Date: March 9, 2007
Publisher: Atria
ISBN: 0743496728 
Pages: 455
Source: Library

Reasons for Reading: I read My Sister’s Keeper several years ago. Later, I posted a review when I reread it before doing a book talk at a senior center. When Nineteen Minutes came out in 2007, I didn’t want to read about a school shooting. Yet, watching the continuous coverage of the Sandy Hook shootings, I realized the importance of understanding such situations. So, I requested the book via HCPL.

Summary: Sterling, New Hampshire is a sleepy little town where denizens settle so they can send their kids to good schools. Nothing of note really happens in Sterling until March 6, 2007. In nineteen minutes, bullied Sterling High School junior Peter Houghton hauls five guns into the high school and goes on a shooting spree. When Detective Patrick DuCharme apprehends Peter in the locker room, he finds jock Matt Royston dead but Royston’s girlfriend, Josie Cormier, stirring. Daughter of Madam Justice Alex Cormier, Josie recalls nothing. Picoult relates a tale of bullying, broken relationships, and a reeling town.

One Thing I Learned from reading Jodi Picoult’s Nineteen Minutes: Battered person syndrome is a physical and psychological condition that is classified as ICD-9 code 995.81.

What I Liked:  I liked that Picoult began with the date of March 6, 2007. This gave me an idea of the setting and attitudes to expect. Also, she fed into my preference of having a date stamp.

Also, I appreciate that Picoult deals with relevant events and offers likely reasons for characters’ motives. On the whole, this novel has believable, sympathetic characters.

While I’ve yet to read Change of Heart, The Pact, or Salem Falls, I liked that Picoult brought back characters Patrick Ducharme, Jordan McAfee, and Selena McAfee. This gives me hope that I might see friendly faces if I pick up other books by her.

What I Disliked: I did appreciate the time stamp of March 6, 2007. However, Picoult would toggle between the big event and chapters with titles along the lines of “Seventeen Years Earlier.” Couldn’t she have added “1990” to this?

Then, there was the sense that this book’s plot was “straight from the headlines.” I’d avoided this book dealing with school shootings for a long time, not wanting to be reminded of Columbine High School Massacre around the time Nineteen Minutes hit the bookshelves.

Additionally, I remember reading My Sister’s Keeper and found reading Nineteen Minutes like watching any M. Night Shyamalan movie after I’d seen The Sixth Sense. Thus, I tended to smell a rat early in the narrative. I won’t spoil the end but I wanted to know more about how certain characters were doing. Maybe I’ll see them in another Picoult work.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: Foster The People – Pumped Up Kicks – YouTube

Setting :  Sterling New Hampshire

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Kim Edwards’ The Memory Keeper’s Daughter


The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards | LibraryThing

Edwards, K. (2005). The memory keeper’s daughter. New York: Viking. 9780786571031

Reasons for Reading : One of my friends asked me to read The Memory Keeper’s Daughter. (Check out its entry on my TBR list.) Initially, I checked it out from HCPL. Then, I found I could check it out in eBook format from Houston Public Library.  I did this so I could read it on my Nook during my vacation.

Summary: Due to a blizzard in 1964 Kentucky, Dr. David Henry delivers his own twins. First, David delivers a healthy son, Paul. After delivering his daughter, Phoebe, David sees that she has Down Syndrome. Wanting to spare his wife, Norah, heartache, David asks his loyal nurse, Caroline Gill, to secretly institutionalize his daughter. Caroline, though, leaves Kentucky with the baby girl and raises her as her own daughter.  This split second decision changes the lives of David, Norah, Caroline, and their children.

What I Liked: The language of the narrative is lovely. Also, I felt David’s motives were well-explained by the author. He seemed earnest and loving. Norah’s relationship with her sister, Bree. I truly admired Caroline for her love and heroism. It was a relief to me that Caroline created a family of friends for her daughter, Phoebe. Lastly, I found the photography motif beautiful.

What I Disliked: Towards the end of the book, I wondered if Edwards just didn’t know what to do with it. She added in some characters in the eleventh hour to help resolve conflicts. Throughout the book, I wanted to throttle the good doctor and say “Tell your wife that your daughter lives!”

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: Kentucky Rain-Lyrics-Elvis Presley – YouTube

Setting : Kentucky, Pittsburgh, Aruba, France

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Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love


  • Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert | LibraryThing

    Gilbert, E. (2006). Eat, pray, love: [one woman’s search for everything across Italy, India and Indonesia]. New York: Penguin Audio. 9780143058526

As I sought more material for the 2011 Non-Fiction Challenge, I requested Eat, Pray, Love through HCPL.  While I hardly recommend watching the movie before reading the book, I saw the film just a month or so before requesting the audio.

Thirty-something Elizabeth “Liz” Gilbert seems to have everything. She’s a successful writer and she’s married. Yet, she is completely miserable. So, after a bitter divorce and a tempestuous relationship with a younger guy, Liz seeks out pleasure and spiritual devotion. She treks through Italy, India, and Indonesia (Bali) during one year and journals her self-discovery.

There were some points I didn’t care for in the book but I’m really pleased that I checked out this audiobook. The book seemed natural and authentic, especially since Liz also narrated. It even led me to check out what is considered a sequel to Eat, Pray, Love. While I don’t agree with her on some spiritual aspects, I appreciated Liz relating her views.

Four Out of Five Pearls

Places: United States, Italy, India, Indonesia, Southeast Asia

Song:  YouTube – ‪Florence + The Machine – Dog Days Are Over (2010 Version)‏

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    • Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
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 For more on Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, check out the following:

 

 

Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants


Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen | LibraryThing

Gruen, S. (2007). Water for elephants. Detroit: Thomson Gale. 9781594132001

In my three years working as a librarian, I’ve observed trends in books. Patrons request various books. Time and again, patron sought Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants. This past November, a friend and I saw a trailer for the movie based on the novel. Yet, what encouraged me to read this book myself was a reader’s advisory workshop I participated in during February. I requested a large print copy through HCPL and received a copy shortly thereafter.

Gruen presents two different storylines. The first one is the young veterinarian student Jacob Janowski. He’s the son of Polish immigrants and his father is a veterinarian. His parents died in a tragic car accident and Jacob in effect drops out his veterinary program at Cornell. Then, Jacob stumbles onto the train of the traveling circus. He takes on the care of the exotic traveling menagerie of the Benzini Bros Most Spectacular Show on Earth. Traveling with the circus, Jacob meets the neurotic August, August’s wife – equestrian Marlena, and the anthropomorphized elephant, Rosie.

The other narrative thread finds the ninety-something Jacob in a nursing home. He reminisces about his circus days, the tempestuous August, and Jacob’s pining for Marlena.

I won’t reveal the ending but both threads are neatly and happily knit together. While I’m one who often favors such, it didn’t totally ring true. Also, learning that Jacob ends up in a nursing home where he’s patronized didn’t set right with me. Here’s the good news, though. I enjoyed reading about the animals, especially when Jacob found his vocational calling. Rosie the Elephant and Bobo the Chimpanzee were my favorite characters in the book.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: “The Show Must Go On” by Three Dog Night

Places : Upstate New York, The Midwest, Chicago, Poland

 
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For more on Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, check out the following sites: