The Classy Crooks Club

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The Classy Crooks Club

by Alison Cherry

July 2016

Have I mentioned that I started working part-time at a library nearby? I work in both the Children’s and Adult departments and while it’s my dream job, it is also fostering my addiction of bringing home a ton of books every time I enter a library! And as I love many genres and many age levels, I have been bringing home at least one “juvenile” book a week. This week was The Classy Crooks Club. Oh my goodness . . . it was amazing. I was hooked by the description (not the cover this time . . . I know, incredible!):

“Twelve-year-old AJ dreads spending an entire month living with her strict grandma Jo. . . . But AJ’s dull summer takes a sharp turn when she discovers that her grandmother’s ‘bridge group’ is actually a heist club”

This book was clever, clean, hilarious, and so much fun. Basically the perfect juvenile fiction book. I was very impressed with Cherry’s plot and writing and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this captivating book. Spoilers included: AJ’s parents are scientists spending a month in the Amazon, so AJ is forced to live with her very prim and strict grandmother who doesn’t seem to love AJ at all. But when grandma Jo’s friends, Edna, Cookie and Betty convince her to let AJ help with their heists, she lets AJ into her world. The four grannies “liberate” things for “ethical” reasons, such as a rare bird locked in the attic and only taken out to perform. At first AJ is excited and gets drawn into the hype and rush, especially because she learns how to pick locks and starts getting closer to her grandmother. But when she needs to lie to her best friend and then the grannies want to liberate an item that will hurt a school mate, she decides to back out. However, they make AJ come along so she doesn’t rat them out. Betty drives her and AJ is excited to spend time with her because she feels closer to Betty than to her real grandmother. However, in a huge twist, Betty drives AJ away from the others and drugs her. Her plan being to take AJ to their “own little cabin in the woods.” Saying, “Once we’re alone, we’ll be safe. Won’t that be wonderful? Just the two of us, like it’s supposed to be. We’ll have such a beautiful life together, AJ.” While, AJ feels bad that Betty never had children, she is determined to get away (after she wakes up from being drugged). So using her new skills and her own cleverness, she is able to get untied and convince Betty to stop the car, where she is able to get the keys and Betty’s glasses and run away. AJ gets help, Betty goes to jail, and before long, AJ is able to tell the truth to her best friend, as well continue to strengthen her relationship with her grandmother. It is a very sweet ending.

Summing it up: I highly recommend this book. It was clever, fun, and quite brilliant. I loved it!

All the best, Abbey

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The Food Babe Way

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The Food Babe Way

by Vani Hari

July 2016

I am regularly, steadily thinking about health and food and fitness and how my family can be healthy and strong. I’ve been following Vani Hari here and there for a while, so I was curious about her book. I finally made the effort to pick it up and sure enough it was very interesting. Hari is passionate about discovering all the ingredients in everything she puts into her body. She is against “foods” that have a long ingredient list full of chemicals, products including GMOs, and antibiotics and other additives. She has done an incredible amount of research and included it in her book. I really enjoyed her style for the most part and I found her facts and way of eating fascinating and helpful. I don’t believe/agree with everything she says, but I think this book had a great amount of insight. I really liked how she categorized food groups and had a lot of science to back up what she said. There are so many chemicals that Hari defines by other places they are found, i.e. “azodicarbonamide, the yoga mat chemical.” This is helpful at first to understand that the ingredient is not food, but it’s so redundant and in and out of her entire book that it got annoying fast!

Summing it up: I’d recommend this book if you are curious about what’s in your food and are looking for options without chemicals/additives. It was a quick, informative read!

All the best, Abbey

Eligible

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Eligible

by Curtis Sittenfeld

July 2016

I consider myself more of a Jane Austen purist, so I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about a “modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice.” And while there were certain updates that I didn’t love, overall I really enjoyed Eligible  and thought Sittenfeld did a remarkable job retelling Austen’s classic. I felt from the first page that it could be Austen if she was writing today . . . I’m very impressed. I was completely caught up in the familiarity of the characters and the plot, but very curious to see how it was modernized. Let me just say that it was a quick read!

Sittenfeld stayed with the heart of the story, using similar, or the same, names and only veering from Pride and Prejudice’s plot on occasion (i.e. Lydia runs off with a transgender man, not Lizzy’s love interest (like Wickham from the original story). I loved how she took the social aspect of the original story and translated it into today’s social norms. For instance, Jane is 39 and unmarried, and Darcy is a well renowned brain surgeon. The book was clever and heartwarming and I simply enjoyed it!

Summing it up: I recommend this book. If you’re more of a purist, it may very well not be your cup of tea, but if you’re not so much of a purist, I think you’d definitely like it. Have any of you read it and if so, what’s your opinion?

All the best, Abbey

The Gallery

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The Gallery

by Laura Marx Fitzgerald

July 2016

The Gallery was such a cute book. I loved it. I found it in the juvenile fiction section and (surprise, surprise) took it out because of it’s cover. I am really enjoying books geared for middle school aged kids. There’s something about them that is so serious in a lighthearted way. What I mean is, it’s a lighthearted plot, perhaps a bit outlandish, but the young heroine or hero takes things very seriously and must “save the day” even when the adults think it’s crazy (but of course those adults come around in the end). It’s just delightful and a great way to get caught up in a fun story. I’m very impressed by Fitzgerald’s way with words and ability to create clever, interesting characters. She moves the story along at a steady pace and pulls you into her story with ease.

The plot follows 12 year old heroine, Martha, a maid in a fancy New York house in the 1920’s. Her mother is the housekeeper and the owners are a newspaper tycoon and his mad wife. Or is she mad? Martha is determined to find out. Spoiler: Martha figures out that Rose (the wife) is in fact being poisoned and not actually mad at all. She sets about to rescue her, but when they get discovered Martha believes all to be lost. Rose however (along with Martha’s mother) is not deterred and uses a market crash to force her husband to leave town so she can start a life of her own.

This book is just so clever and fun and I’m going to read Fitzgerald’s other book, Under the Egg. Anyone else read either book? I’d love to know what you thought!

Summing it up: I highly recommend this book! It was clever, fun and an all around great read.

All the best, Abbey

The Sea House

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The Sea House

by Esther Freud

July 2016

Have you ever paused to listen while you’re floating in the water? Perhaps you’re swimming, getting caught up in the rhythm of your strokes, and then decide to rest, willing your body to straighten and bob on the surface. It’s then you are calm and can hear an easy whoosh and all the background noises are muted so you can’t make them out. It’s a soft, calm state, where there is no rushing, just being. That is how I felt reading The Sea House. It was such a calm, steady, beautiful book. Freud’s writing is descriptive, but muted, in such a good way. As much as I felt like I couldn’t wait to find out what happened, I knew I’d get there at the right pace and that there was no rush. I was transfixed by the characters and the quiet little sea town of Steerborough, England.

The Sea House follows two points in time Steerborough 1953, and Steerborough present. In 1953, a deaf painter named Max moves to town. He is mourning his sister, and staying with her friend, Gertrude, who is trying to help Max by giving him a job to do — paint her house. He has a difficult time beginning, but finds purpose in painting the whole town on a long scroll. He has a brief affair in the midst of working and by the end of the summer he is ready to live again and moves on. In the present time, Lily is an aspiring architect who has lost her purpose. She is in a committed relationship, but questioning it because her boyfriend has never told her he loves her. She is working on her thesis, studying the great architect, Klaus Lehmann, who lived briefly in Steerborough with his wife. He was immensely popular, which meant his work took him away from her often, causing him to write her many letters: the basis of Lily’s research. Lily is struggling to find her passion and meaning, but is drawn into the quiet town life and finds it increasingly difficult to leave. Spoilers: Lily soon realizes what bothers her about her boyfriend and their relationship and is able to speak up about it. Her boyfriend realizes he needs to change and does so. He is able to say, I love you, by the end of the book. Lily also decides to stay on in Steerborough for a few more months doing the things she loves: painting and waitressing (in order to afford rent) and finding herself.

There was a great quote at the beginning of the book. I thought it not only applies to art, but to life. When Max was learning to paint his mentor wrote him the following:

You can only get to understand things by drawing them. If you give up drawing something because you don’t understand it, then you never will understand it. And if you wait until you can draw perfectly, then you will have to wait until you are dead.

For those of you who have read The Sea House, what did you think about it?? Where you surprised with Lily’s choices and what about Max? Why did he leave at the end, especially when he didn’t have to? I’m so sad for him and I don’t understand it!!

Summing it up: I recommend this book! It was a calm, beautiful book and a delight to read. It was also a perfect summer book!

All the best, Abbey

Confess

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Confess

by Colleen Hoover

July 2016

Oh. My. Goodness. Confess was incredible . . . I read it in two and a half hours straight. Reading it was like cooking an important meal – you start off excited and full of hope, but as you get in you’re fraught with anxiety wondering if it will turn out all right, and then you finish up with a grand success. Hoover, in my opinion is brilliant. Her writing scoops you up and transports you to the middle of the story. She is descriptive and creative. Her plot was fast-paced and unexpected. I would say a cross between a romance and thriller. And you know you’ve got me when the ending is tied up in a pretty bow, which is exactly what Hoover did. I cannot wait to devour her other books.

My summary will contain a lot of spoilers . . . I can’t help it with this one! 😉 The story follows lovers Auburn and Owen. Auburn is 21 and recently moved to Texas to be with her son, who is under a friend’s custody. Auburn is doing everything she can to be with him and get custody. Back when she was 15 she fell in love with a boy named Adam and got pregnant, before she new of her pregnancy Adam died. It’s Adam’s mother, Lydia, who has custody (and who is not very nice to Auburn). Owen is also 21 and is a talented and popular artist. He paints people’s confessions. The following is entitled: I will love you forever, even when I can’t.

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They meet when Owen is having a show for his art and needs someone to handle the sales. Auburn is there at the right time and takes the job. From there on, they struggle to be together. Owen holds a secret that is keeping them a part. His father has been addicted to drugs ever since Owen’s mother and brother died in a car crash (a drunk driver hit them when Owen was driving). One night Owen picks up his dad (who is drunk and carrying drugs) and takes him home. On the way they get pulled over and Owen takes the fall for his dad and goes to prison. Because he is a “criminal” Auburn can’t be with him if she wants a chance at getting custody for her son. To make it even more suspenseful, Adam’s brother Trey is the police officer who arrested Owen and who is also trying to get Auburn to fall in love with him (side note: he is an awful person!!). Auburn feels like she needs to be with him for her son’s sake, but is torn because of her love for Owen.

Ending: Ahhh, it was perfect! Trey sets up Auburn and Owen and they fall for it. Owen gets arrested, but on the way Auburn secretly records Trey confessing to all the awful things he’s done. She gets Owen’s dad (who is a lawyer – that’s why Owen took the fall), and they use the confession to get Trey to drop the charges against Owen and Lydia to sign over custody to Auburn. Then, Owen and Auburn get to be together with Auburn’s son! It was the best ending . . . I read it twice.

Summing it up: I highly recommend this book! It was so good. I’m in awe of Hoover’s ability and genius and I just can’t get over how amazing Confess was. I will be reading it again (which, frankly I almost never do with a book)!

All the best, Abbey

The Girl On The Train

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The Girl On The Train

by Paula Hawkins

June 2016

I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to write about The Girl on the Train, but I’m finally sitting down to do it before I forget too much. I will always remember The Girl on the Train fondly because it is the first thriller I’ve read, and as an introduction to the genre, it got me hooked. I really liked this book. I immediately felt for Rachel because she was so depressed and in such a bad spot in life. I wanted her to find happiness. I love that through her ups and downs she came out on top. I also loved the twists in this book . . . wow . . .I was totally caught off guard and I loved the surprise of a huge plot twist (it’s addicting!). While parts of the plot were sad or disturbing, overall I really enjoyed The Girl on the Train and I’m seriously thinking about seeing the movie!

Spoilers mixed in the plot: Rachel is down and out — she is an alcoholic, jobless, divorced, and purposeless. She just wants her life to go back to the way it was when she was married and happy. So, she rides the train, which passes by her old house that her husband and his new wife live in, pretending to go to and from work. Most days she sees a couple that live near her old house. They seem perfectly in love and happy until one day she sees the wife, Megan, embracing another man. A few days later Megan is reported missing and Rachel feels like she needs to solve the case, especially since she was in town the night of the disappearance, only she was blackout drunk and can only remember bits and pieces. In her research she learns that Megan used to be a nanny for Tom and Anna (Rachel’s ex-husband and his wife). She also learns that Tom was having an affair with Megan (ironic because he had an affair with Anna when he was married to Rachel). Soon, Rachel pieces together the mystery. Tom killed Anna because she was pregnant and wanted to be more than an affair with Tom. Tom is a malicious, devious liar, who has made Rachel believe things about herself that are not true for years. He never loved her and never told her the truth about anything, including his family and past. He repeated the same pattern with Anna and with Megan and is finally caught in his lies.

Summing it up: I highly recommend this book! It was a great thriller and a very quick read.

All the best, Abbey