Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring Reading Thing 2011

It's time for the annual Spring Reading Thing over at Callapidderdays.  From March 20th until June 20th, I hope to read the books I'll list below.  I'm being cautious because I work full time, my daughter plays spring softball about 100 times a week, and I'm in graduate school. 
If only I didn't need sleep..... 

This is a no pressure, self-paced, pick-your-own-books challenge.  I really enjoyed the 2010 reading challenges and I'm ready to dive into this one.  I just wish I could dive into the deep end, but priorities, priorities. 

Here's what I hope to tackle this spring:


Elizabeth Street by Laurie Fabiano
(I do love historical fiction.)
Amazon.com Review
In Elizabeth Street, Laurie Fabiano tells a remarkable, and previously unheard, story of the Italian immigrant experience at the start of the twentieth century. Culled from her own family history, Fabiano paints an entrancing portrait of Giovanna Costa, who, reeling from personal tragedies, tries to make a new life in a new world. Shot through with the smells and sights of Scilla, Italy, and New York’s burgeoning Little Italy, this intoxicating story follows Giovanna as she finds companionship, celebrates the birth of a baby girl, takes pride in a growing business, and feels a sense of belonging on a family outing to Coney Island.  However, these modest successes are rewarded with the attention of the notorious Black Hand, a gang of brutal extortionists led by Lupo the Wolf. As the stakes grow higher and higher, readers share with Giovanna her desperate struggle to remain outside the fray, and then to fight for—and finally to save—that which is important above all other: family.

After the Leaves Fall by Nicole Baart
(A freebie on Kindle a while back.)
From Publishers Weekly
In her promising debut novel, Baart writes compellingly about a young girl's struggle with loss, love, identity and faith. Julia Bakker knows what loss is. Her mother abandoned her, her beloved father died, and her childhood love has gone to college and found another. As a teen, she lives with her saintly grandmother, who urges her to go to church camp, but Julia finds only quick answers and thrilling conversions there. Disillusioned, Julia decides it is up to her, not anyone else-even some impossible, far-flung God-to reinvent herself. The truth was, I didn't know who I was, and I was afraid of being defined by who I wasn't. By what I didn't have.... By remembering with predictable, cyclic accuracy all I had lost. After chronicling her early years, the story follows Julia as she enrolls in college to study engineering and become someone who is too smart to attach, too independent to want to, and so secure as to be untouchable. Soon, Julia is repeating her mother's mistakes. The love of her rock-solid Christian grandmother and a newfound (and not completely well-explained) reliance on God help fortify her for the difficult path ahead. Sparkling prose makes this new novel a welcome addition to inspirational fiction.

These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf
(I keep seeing this on must-read-lists.)
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Gudenkauf's scintillating second suspense novel (after The Weight of Silence) opens with the release of 21-year-old Allison Glenn from prison, where she has served five years for an unspecified but particularly horrible crime. Allison is reluctant to enter a halfway house in her hometown of Linden Falls, Iowa, where "even a heroin-addicted prostitute arrested for armed robbery and murder would get more compassion than I ever will." Allison, her family's former golden girl, secures a job at a local bookstore, but her efforts to resume some sort of normal life are undermined by her well-to-do parents' indifference, her sister's hatred, and the stigma of her conviction. Meanwhile, one little boy holds the key to the tragedy that led to Allison's imprisonment. The author slowly and expertly reveals the truth in a tale so chillingly real, it could have come from the latest headlines.

Mockingbird by Katherine Erskine
(I plan to read this at the same time my eleven-year-old daughter does.)
From Booklist
Ten-year-old Caitlyn hates recess, with all its noise and chaos, and her kind, patient counselor, Mrs. Brook, helps her to understand the reasons behind her discomfort, while offering advice about how to cope with her Asberger’s Syndrome, make friends, and deal with her grief over her older brother’s death in a recent school shooting. She eschews group projects in class, claiming that she doesn’t need to learn how to get along with others, but solitude is neither good for her or her grieving father, and when Caitlyn hears the term closure, she turns to her one trusty friend, her dictionary, and sets out on a mission to find it for both of them. Along the way, Caitlyn makes many missteps, but eventually she does achieve the long-sought closure with great finesse, which is another of her favorite vocabulary words. Allusions to Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, the portrayal of a whole community’s healing process, and the sharp insights into Caitlyn’s behavior enhance this fine addition to the recent group of books with narrators with autism and Asbergers.


Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
(There's nothing like a good, Southern, crime novel to head into summer.)
Amazon.com Review
Edgar Award-winning author Tom Franklin returns with his most accomplished and resonant novel so far—an atmospheric drama set in rural Mississippi. In the late 1970s, Larry Ott and Silas "32" Jones were boyhood pals. Their worlds were as different as night and day: Larry, the child of lower-middle-class white parents, and Silas, the son of a poor, single black mother. Yet for a few months the boys stepped outside of their circumstances and shared a special bond. But then tragedy struck: Larry took a girl on a date to a drive-in movie, and she was never heard from again. She was never found and Larry never confessed, but all eyes rested on him as the culprit. The incident shook the county—and perhaps Silas most of all. His friendship with Larry was broken, and then Silas left town.
More than twenty years have passed. Larry, a mechanic, lives a solitary existence, never able to rise above the whispers of suspicion. Silas has returned as a constable. He and Larry have no reason to cross paths until another girl disappears and Larry is blamed again. And now the two men who once called each other friend are forced to confront the past they've buried and ignored for decades.