Wednesday, July 3, 2013

My Vacation Reads

We just spent 15 days traveling and I can chart our journey by the books that I read.  First up Strange but true by John Searles.  I sat in the back of our Vue and loved the heck out of this thrilling book while I mentally thanked my husband and son for doing such a fine job of driving. Before leaving on our road trip I'd finished Boy still missing (his first book) which made me steal Strange but true right off my husband's to-read book pile.  I'm impressed with Searles' creativity.  His stories lean toward the bizarre and twisted yet are believable and oh, so crafty.  If you have not picked up any of his books yet please do-you won't be disappointed.  He has a new book coming out in September, Help for the Haunted.  I want an ARC of this book so much I would jump up and down to get one as I would be the perfect person to read and review it.  Who do I have to beg...?

Next I read the historical fiction story The Sandcastle Girls so I could participate in my mother-in-law's book club which gave me a reason to see Donna's beautiful house.  My review of Sandcastle Girls.

On the trip from DC to NYC I listened to my Audible downloaded copy of Tina Fey's BossyPants.  The last weeks of school I listened to this in my car and then summer hit and I let it slide.  I've got to get used to working around my house holding on to my phone as I listen but as I've yet it's more of a car activity for me.  My son looked at me with his pitiful teenage eyes, shaking his head at me because I laughed out loud on the bus, subway, and street corner as we waited, rode, and walked.  Laughed Out Loud.  Now I want to go back and watch more 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live segments that feature her and Amy Poehler. I learned a great deal and found Fey's life stories energizing and of course hysterical.  Also she narrates which makes all the difference!  I successfully clicked the finish button as we drove through Ohio on Monday.

College Boy read Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan while we lounged in Silver Spring.  He read it quickly because he was engaged (a challenge...) and turned it over to me.  This amazing tale combines the love of books with 21st Century  technology and stirs them together with a great story. Clay Jannon, main character extraordinaire, finds a job at Mr. Penumbra's book store where things are a bit weird and not many books are sold.  Clay takes a closer look at the books in the back of the shop to discover why and with his quirky cast of friends ends up shaking up poor Mr. Penumbra and his bookstore!  Excellent story!

Random Quote:

"To run Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore around the clock, one owner and two clerks divide the circle of the sun into thirds, and I get the darkest slice.  Penumbra himself takes the mornings-I guess you'd call it prime time, except that this store doesn't really have one of those.  I mean, a single customer is a major event and a single customer is as likely to show up at midnight as at half-past noon." (21)

I finished Sloan's book and moved quickly into Sara Gran's film noir mystery Dope.  We swap books in this house like others share toothpaste.  My husband read it on the way out to DC while College Boy drove, College Boy read it from DC to Penn Station and I read it on the car trip home.  It's only 243 pages long but packed with a slew of interesting characters and a gritty, intense story that takes place in 1950 NYC.

It begins like this:

Maude said my name flatly, like I was dead or she wanted me to be.  I sat across from her at a booth in the back of the bar, where the daylight never reached and the smell of stale beer and cigarettes never cleared.  Maude had been the mistress of a gangster back in the thirties and he'd bought her this bar to set her up with something after he was gone.  It was on the corner of Broadway and West Fourth, and if you'd never been there before it would take a minute to notice that there wasn't a girl in the place, other than Maude. {1}

And that's it!  This is why it is important to have good, long, wonderful vacations-to READ lots of great books (and to see a few amazing sights).

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