Monday, 27 January 2014

Lisa's Summer Reading List

Since I've now completed reading a whole bunch of books over summer, I thought it was about time I reviewed some of them. I recommend each and every one. Enjoy!

I read The Book Thief in a day. It was honestly that good. The novel is about a young girl, Liesel and her unquenchable desire to read and write. Assisted by her foster father, she learns to read and to love her new family. I laughed, I cried, I laughed some more. I have also seen the movie which only missed out a few minor details. All up, my favourite book of the summer.

Set in Penola, this novel spans the first year of high school for Robbie, an intelligent misfit who becomes obsessed by his new teacher, Miss Peach. Miss Peach also has a vast array of admirers and conjures up fear, surprise and suspicion as she tries to enlighten the small town she has exiled herself to. A disturbing book, but compelling and far too close to home for those of us in the teaching profession - or for those who were ever teenagers themselves.

A reread about three women who are mourning the lost of a friend who commits suicide due to her husband's infidelity and dishonesty in business. The ladies form The First Wives Club to help combat their own demons and bring down their former husbands, who would have been unsuccessful without them. Very clever, lots of characters to remember and some unfamiliarity of New York City sometimes requires some rereading of pages. Fortunately this novel is nothing like the movie starring Bette Midler.

Instead of cleaning my house I read this book instead, and it was well worth it. Jancee was a dorky teenager who happened to strike it lucky by landing a job at Rolling Stone magazine. Chapters interchange between Jancee's personal life and reflections about her professional life. It is fascinating reading about her interviews with certain celebs and her tips for dealing with those with difficult behaviour. Refreshing, funny and sweet, I would love to be friends with Jancee, and now that I've read this text, I feel that I am.

I had not been anticipating a book of this nature, but I happened to read some reviews online and knew what I was getting into. With the death of Mark Darcy (by the way, that's no spoiler, you find out in the first pages in), Bridget is juggling motherhood and singleton life again. Some of the characters are a little unbelievable, the tweets and text messages are both desperate and badly overwritten and I spent most of the book lamenting the death of Mark. All the same, Bridget is the one of old - still obsessed with her weight, having an overbearing mother and dealing with Smug Marrieds. Another character missing is Shaz, her journalist friend who likes to say "fuck" a lot. Seeing as I was a huge Shazzer fan and the new-to-the-scene Talitha is a terrible substitute, I really wanted her back. She didn't reappear. 
All in all, lots of laughs and a few tears. Billy and Mabel are adorable, though Mabel's speech is incredibly frustrating throughout the text. Despite Daniel's belief that if Bridget had a baby "she'd leave it in a shop", she actually makes an excellent mother. 
The novel, still in classic diary form, is a little time warped - we start in the present, then go back a year, then come back to the present again. Still very Bridget Jones - lots of lists, mentions of being Buddhist and Tom being adorable - with a predictable ending you can see miles away.

Of all the books I read, I liked this one the least, but as it is Jane Green, I powered through all the same. The novel centres around a group of friends who grew up together and lost touch. However, the person who helped keep them all sane was Tom, who is killed in a terrorist attack. While trying to deal with their grief, the group rediscover themselves as a social circle, reveal issues they are battling and fall in love lust. The most realistic character is Holly, who has her life domineered by her husband, and who never truly fell out of love with Tom. Least realistic is Saffron, a movie star with an alcohol problem who is having an affair with a married actor. Fluffy and totally put-down-and-do-housework, it's worth reading if you don't want to overthink the text.

Quick pick airport read!
This memoir tells the story of a young Robyn Davidson who trained with camels for two years before walking across the outback (NT to the coast of WA) with four camels she had trained. When other people asked her why she wanted to do her, her response was "why not?" Robyn did the trip just for herself, not to prove any point or for a specific cause. Her sponsorship with National Geographic helped fund the journey, though this was a cause for concern as she wanted to avoid invasion of her privacy. Robyn walked the majority of the distance by herself, though she did have some help from new and old friends along the way. An insightful and thought provoking travel book, Tracks is well worth a read.

Last but not least, I read The Vale Girl on my birthday and was both fascinated and disappointed. Narrated interchangeably by the third person and missing girl (Sarah), the novel tells of the days following the disappearance of the town prostitute's daughter. The townsfolk are disinterested in helping locate her, her mother is disengaged from the situation and those who couldn't talk don't. The saving grace of this novel is Tommy, Sarah's only friend who continues to challenge this mindset. Probably too many twists and some unbelievable events to make this one a particularly satisfying read (at least from my perspective).