We started this blog in 2010 after a New Years' Resolution to read 60 books between the two of us. (40 for C, 20 for D.) After reaching our goal, we decided to keep going in 2011. This year, C has pledged to read 30 books, and D will read 12. By no means are we professional reviewers; we're not even professional bloggers. We're just two people who love to read and decided to share our thoughts and offer our limited insights. We hope you enjoy!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Book #24: Songs for a Teenage Nomad

Sorry for the pause between updates. Not sure why it took me a month to sit down and write this review, but the good news is that I enjoyed Kim Culbertson's Songs for a Teenage Nomad so much that I have no trouble remembering what I want to say about it.

The narrator is 15-year-old Calle, a smart, reasonable teenager with a flaky, unstable mother. Her mother has had short-term relationship after short-term relationship for Calle's entire life, each new man coming with a new city and a new lifestyle. The only man that Calle's mom doesn't seem interested in discussing is Calle's dad, about whom Calle knows absolutely nothing. Songs for a Teenage Nomad opens with the family starting over yet again in Andreas Bay, California.

For the first time in all of their travels, Calle finds a group where she fits. She makes friends quickly, and even though she mostly hangs out with the "theatre kids," she develops a relationship with a popular athlete at school. Naturally, her mom's newest relationship starts to turn sour, and the threat of moving looms yet again. Then a unexpected visitor shows up in Andreas Bay, and Calle's entire world is turned upside down.

Why the title Songs for a Teenage Nomad? Calle loves music -- pretty good music, too. Music is the only thing that she knows will never change, so she keeps a journal of songs and the memories that each song holds. Each chapter of the book begins with a handful of lyrics and a short blurb of Calle's memory of the song. For example, this is the song she and her mother listened to after Boyfriend #7 left. This is the song that was playing when Calle found out they were moving to Nevada. It was a brilliant way for Culbertson to give more background information about exactly how unstable Calle's life had been without boring us with it all in to the first chapter or so of the book.

I really, really enjoyed this book, probably because I liked the connection between the story and popular music. I think particular songs remind us all of a certain time or memory from our lives. I love that Calle keeps a record of it. (The back of the book includes instructions and suggestions for keeping your own journal like Calle's. ) As for the plot, I saw some of it coming just by reading the book description, but don't let that fool you -- there is a lot you will not see coming. :)

There were some very, very eerie similarities between a few random things in the book and my own teenage years. My life was nothing like Calle's, of course, but I'm talking about tiny little circumstances that freaked me out. The first play the drama club does at Calle's new school is Christopher Durang's The Actor's Nightmare. The first play I did in high school as a freshman was The Actor's Nightmare. Calle mentions that she and her friends love the scene in the movie Almost Famous where the characters sing Elton John's "Tiny Dancer." My friends and I reenacted that scene in drama class one day... There were many, MANY other examples, some even creepier (bu would require a lot of explanation). I got to the point where I was seriously freaked out a couple of times, but I guess that just means I was meant to read this book.

Definitely a great read, and it's young adult, so recommend it to all the 'tweens and teens you know. Way better than Twilight.

Read from June 28, 2011 to June 30, 2011

5/5 Stars


PS -- I've been reading George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones for a MONTH. A MONTH!!!!! I'm about 3/4ths done, so hopefully I'll write a review soon. Don't lose faith in me!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Book #23: The Scars

This is one of my favorite books of the year so far, although it's not at all like I thought it would be based on the description I read.

The Scars by William Tennant is free on Kindle and also a free audio book from Podiobooker. The Amazon page for the book gives the following description: 

"Peter has lost the love of his life, Mags is a young girl broken by abuse, Bernard has a glint in his eye and a slur in his soul and Emma is powered by a hidden past. In 'The Scars' we find life, loss, beauty, darkness, desire and violence.In 'The Scars' we find the saddest of loves."

Nothing in that description is false, but it does leave a lot out. In The Scars, Peter is a fresh-out-of-college literature teacher in England who has recently lost his brand new wife. Bernard and Emma are his fellow teachers who become very close to Peter, but refuse to be around each other due to a mysterious past encounter between the two of them. Peter notices that one of his students seems deeply troubled. He eventually learns that the student, Mags, is being abused by her stepfather. Peter fights to get her the justice she deserves while simultaneously  trying to put his life back together after the devastating death of his wife. 

So... There are many twists and turns in this book that I'd love to discuss, but I want everyone to read it so badly that I refuse to spoil it. And can I just say, please do NOT read the reviews by the readers on Amazon before you read this book. Not because I think the reviews are unfair, but because they are literally riddled with spoilers. Most of them ruin the entire climax of the book within the first few sentences. So, please, don't read those.

There are some things in this book that are hard to swallow, but, I'm here to tell you, are reality. Regardless, Tennant is a gifted author with a talent for character development. There's a deep connection between the reader and the characters, even the more secondary characters. There is a scene in towards the end of the book where Peter is talking to someone in an online chatroom, and for some reason I found myself thinking that it couldn't possibly be Peter talking -- I knew his character too well to believe he was saying the things he was saying. It was very, very subtle, and it wasn't meant to be obvious to the reader at all, but soon you find out that it was, indeed, someone impersonating Peter online. That's just a small example of how well Tennant describes Peter's personality.

This book sort of has everything -- love, scandal, abuse, justice, death, action, mystery... You name it, it's in here. It's a wonderful book that I think some people might skip over due to the lackluster description, but I hope if you get a chance, you'll check out the Kindle book or the audio book. It is highly recommended.

Read from June 25 to June 28, 2011

5/5 Stars