Thursday, October 24, 2013

Reading...Forgive me, Leonard Peacock

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

I knew going into it, that Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick was going to be a tough read in some ways. After all, you find out within the first few pages that Leonard Peacock is planning to shoot a classmate then kill himself. This plot point on its own is heavy stuff, not to mention the likely revelation of what event or events are motivating Leonard to walk toward this choice. However, having read Matthew Quick's novel Silver Lining's Playbook, I was confident in Quick's ability to handle serious subjects. Thankfully, my confidence was rewarded. Quick sheds light on subjects like depression, severe loneliness, bullying, abandonment, and abuse, and puts them in a context of hope. He tells a story that is respecful of pain, trauma, and despair, but approaches it from the viewpoint of someone who believes that people can help each other through these desperate situations.

Now, I'm not going to lie: this book was heartbreaking, and it's not going to be for everyone. Kids being abused isn't exactly easy to read about, even in past tense. It would be easy to get bogged down thinking about how there are real kids going through this kind of stuff (and more) every day. And the ending isn't exactly "and they all lived happily ever after." Of course...that all depends on how you look at it.

Clearly, I connected with the tone and heart and themes of this book. But more than that, Quick is a talented writer. Leonard's voice rings true, and each character is distinctive. And something that stood out to me personally: Leonard strikes up a slightly odd relationship with a teenage girl who hands out Christian tracts at the train station, and I appreciate that Quick writes this character respectfully. Lauren is very firm in her faith and beliefs, but it's a blind faith -- the faith of a teenage girl who hasn't delved deep into the things she's always been taught. Leonard asks her some valid and tough questions, and she doesn't really have satisfactory answers (in fact, she gets a little upset at Leonard's challenges). As a Christian, I wanted to sit down with Leonard and answer his questions -- they were good questions! Perfect for some honest dialog about faith and God. And I wanted to sit down with Lauren and say -- look, sweetie, I appreciate your determination and doggedness, but you need to step back and really THINK. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Don't be afraid of a deeper look.

Anyway, that stood out to me, but probably won't to other readers in quite the same way. The bottom line is: this book is heartbreak and hope. A wake-up call and a challenge.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Reading...The Dream Thieves

The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle, #2) The Dream Thieves, by Maggie Steifvater is the oh-so-delicious sequel to Raven Boys. I kind of wish I'd re-read Raven Boys just to help me remember some of the details of the story, but I still thoroughly enjoyed this latest adventure with Gansey, Ronan, Adam, Noah, and Blue (and Blue's family....and the Grey Man...not Kavinsky, because he's just CRAZY and super creepy and pretty much a sociopath). So here are some thoughts...

1. Ronan takes center stage in this book, and becomes more than the slightly unhinged, rough around the edges, unpredictable one. He's a kid who is confused and hurting and lost.

2. As much as I despised Kavinsky, he's kind of the anti-Ronan. By that, I mean that Ronan could have been Kavinsky. They have some striking similarities....but Ronan has his brothers (ok, he has Matthew. What's Declan good for at this point?), he has Gansey and Adam and Noah. And before his dad died, he had a mom and a dad who loved him. And in a lot of ways, I think it's these relationships that really ground Ronan and help him take a healthier path.

3. Love all the relationships in this book and how they're alive (you real live relationships). Adam and Gansey, Adam and Blue, Blue and Gansey, Ronan and Gansey, Blue and her mom and her aunts/cousins....

4. Still fantastically atmospheric. I was there in the hot, summertime Virginia mountains. In Gansey's parent's mansion.

5. For some reason during this book I kept picturing Logan from Gilmore Girls as Gansey.

6. The Grey Man = nice addition to the cast of characters.

All in all, a great sequel. It was great spending time with the kids of Henrietta and Aglionby.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Reading...The Bookman's Tale

The Bookman's Tale: A Novel of ObsessionThe Bookman's Tale: A Novel of Obsession, by Charlie Lovett was given to me by a friend who knows my bookish weaknesses. The book opens in a bookshop in Hay-on-Wye, Wales (see: bookish weakness, stories set in Great Britain), where an antiquarian book dealer stumbles upon a Victorian painting that looks exactly like his recently deceased wife. Peter Byerly is not dealing well with his grief and the loss of his wife, and this picture lights a fire inside of him, urging him to figure out where it came from, who painted it, and who is pictured. His quest leads him into a mystery surrounding a history-making rare manuscript, a centuries-old family feud, a blackmail scheme and murder.

As Peter's present-day story unfolds, the author uses alternating chapters to also tell us the story of the manuscript and more of Peter and Amanda's story. I enjoyed the alternating time periods and point of views, the reveal of more layers to both Peter and the mystery. The author is also clearly a rare books officianado himself, because this story is as much a story about books and the love of books (the older the better) as it is about the characters and plot. It's a book for booklovers.

For a mystery, the pace was a bit slow, but personally I don't think that detracted from the story at all. I actually enjoyed it. Reading the book brought to mind chilly, rainy days, crackling fires, musty libraries, and good strong cups of tea. In a word: yes, please! (okay, that's two words)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


I got to attend the Austin Teen Book Festival last weekend. Fun times! I'd never been to a book festival like that before, so it was a cool experience. I went to three author panels and got a book signed (Dream Thieves by Maggie Steifvater. CANNOT wait to read it!). Hubby came along to get a book or three signed by Brandon Sanderson who was there with his new YA book Steelheart which has a pretty cool premise: what if people started getting super powers but did not take the advice of Peter Parker's uncle? What if all the super powered people were jerks and the regular people wanted to fight back. It looks like a quick read, so hopefully I'll get to pick it up soon as well. It's always a good time to hang out with people who share your interests and who get excited about the same things you're excited about.