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May. 31st, 2013

chestnutcurls: (bookworm)
This was a quality month!

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson (4.5 stars)
Confession: I've never read the original Peter Pan, and the Disney movie wasn't my fave growing up. But I was intrigued by this serious take on Tiger Lily, the native Neverlander girl who's a peripheral character in Peter's story. Tiger Lily is the adopted daughter of the tribe's shaman, Tik Tok. Her exceptional strength, skill, and quiet ways make her an outsider to most of the tribe, except for her two best friends and of course her father. At fifteen, she learns that she's been promised to the most horrible man in the village and must marry him at the end of the hot season. Shortly thereafter, she wanders into the forbidden forest and meets the infamous Peter Pan and his Lost Boys. What follows is a heartbreaking story of first love (and so much more). Anderson de-cartoons these familiar characters and Neverland itself. This book far exceeded my expectations and has a quiet truth and sadness about it that will stick with me for a long time. I should also mention that the story is narrated by Tinker Bell, who, as a mute but highly empathic fairy, can sense the thoughts and feelings of all the characters.

Emotional Vampires at Work: Dealing with Bosses and Coworkers Who Drain You Dry by Albert Bernstein (4.5 stars)
I read this for Netgalley and just finished it, so it'll have its own post next week. Preview: it's fascinating and very helpful for dealing with people everywhere, not only at work.

But Enough About Me: A Jersey Girl's Unlikely Adventures Among the Absurdly Famous by Jancee Dunn (5 stars)
I already liked Jancee Dunn after reading her debut novel, Don't You Forget About Me. Now that I've backtracked to her 2006 memoir, I see her as a kindred spirit. She engagingly describes the high points of her life, starting with her childhood, progressing through her years at Rolling Stone and as one of the first VJs on MTV2. The chapters are interspersed with pieces about some of her favorite celebrity interviews, all VERY boldfaced names. As the title suggests, Dunn is totally unpretentious despite her many brushes with rock and roll fame. She's a crafty, documentary-watching homebody who counts her quirky parents and sisters as her best friends. She's also naturally hilarious - I hadn't LOLed so much at a book since Bossypants. If you like music or journalism or any story told by a likeable person, this is totally worth a read. I'm glad I bought it so I can revisit my favorite parts.

Reclaiming Your Heart: A Journey Back to Laughing, Loving and Living by Denise Hildreth Jones (4 stars)
Denise Hildreth Jones' latest book focuses on the hard things in life that shut down our hearts, and the crucial importance of fighting to keep our hearts open and alive in a difficult world. Each chapter describes a different type of shut-down heart - angry, controlling, disappointed, and fearful among them - how it got that way, and how to revive it. As with all of DHJ's writings (she and I have similar histories), this was very timely and applicable to me. I could benefit from a more in-depth study!

Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler (4 stars)
Three years ago, Hudson Avery, rising figure skating star, gave up the ultimate big break after discovering that her dad was cheating on her mom. Since her parents split, she's helped her mom at their family diner, creating one fantastic cupcake after another and trying to forget the old days. Then a letter arrives inviting her to a skating competition with a huge scholarship prize. Seizing her only chance to get out of her dead-end small town, she starts skating again in secret. But she's found out by Will, captain of the hockey team, and his friend Josh. The team hasn't had a winning record in years and is facing disbandment, and they want her to share her ice-queen secrets with their players. As she works to regain what she's lost in the midst of her current crazy life, Hudson finds that what she thought she wanted may not be what's right for her after all. This book felt really real. I especially enjoyed the sweet relationship between Hudson and her younger brother. And Josh is pretty dreamy. :)

Because It Is My Blood by Gabrielle Zevin (5 stars)
The continuing tale of Anya Balanchine, illegal-chocolate heiress and mafia daughter, trying to keep herself and her loved ones alive in dystopian 2082 New York. In this second novel, she's forced to flee to Mexico as a fugitive, where she takes refuge on a cacao farm and learns about the family business. Meanwhile, back home, more unexpected tragedies and surprises are set into motion. I've read reviews complaining that "not enough happens" in this series, but not only do I disagree, I also think the quieter times we spend with Anya and the other characters are the best parts. To me there's a definite Dickensian vibe. Can't wait for the final installment!

Books for May: 6
2013 year to date: 28

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