Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Review: Girl Unmoored by Jennifer Gooch Hummer

Girl Unmoored by Jennifer Gooch Hummer introduces us to seventh grader Apron who has recently lost her mother to cancer and her best friend to one of the more popular girls in school. When her father remarries and her "evil" stepmother becomes pregnant, it is almost too much for Apron to bear - she becomes unmoored. Fortunately, her friend Mike and his partner, Chad, offer Apron a job in their florist shop and things get a little better. As the summer progresses, however, young Apron begins to see things happening in the lives of the adults around her that force her to grow up very quickly and the comfort she once found in working at the flower shop is eclipsed by the drama she witnesses there in the lives of her friends.

This is a quirky coming of age story that crosses genres - its young protagonist could land it in YA but her precocious observations of the adult situations by which she is surrounded make it more of a contemporary adult fiction. As an adult reader, there are things (such as Chad's illness) that you figure out before Apron but rather than that being a disappointment, there is still interest in watching as Apron is initially blind to these revelations and then seeing her young mind trying to get a handle on these adult situations. I found myself worrying about Apron as I could see things coming down the pike; the pain and awkwardness of being thirteen are palpable as you watch Apron grapple with the loss of her mother, her best friend and even her Dad to the evil stepmom. Despite the many funny moments in the book, I was sad for all that Apron faces and the childhood that she is quickly losing as she copes with all this loss.

Girl Unmoored certainly appeals to adults especially as we can be reminded of how happy we are that the early teens are behind us! I also think, however, that this book could be good for girls in their mid to late teens - they will be close enough in age to Apron to relate and she is a solid heroine who copes with adversity with a lot of pluck which makes for a good teen role model.

The author is offering a unique promotion right now for Girl Unmoored: Now through April 6th, when you comment about Girl Unmoored on Jennifer’s blog at, you’ll be automatically entered into a drawing to win a tote bag stuffed with gifts that blend the hottest 2012 e-reader with totally rad ’80s memorabilia and more! And if you purchase the book (print or e-book) and forward your receipt confirmation to, your name will be entered to win 10 TIMES! That’s 11 chances to win the following awesome prizes:

 - A Kindle Fire, just in time for spring break lounging!
 - DVDs of Best Of 80s movies to celebrate the year of Girl Unmoored, 1985
- Copies of Jennifer’s Top 5 YA books: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie; She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb; Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson; The Center of Everything by Laura Moriarty; and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
- A gift card to 1-800 Flowers in honor of Apron’s summer job at Mike and Chad’s flower shop, Scent Appeal

The winner will be notified and announced the week of April 23rd.

Thank you to Lisa at SparkPointStudio for the copy of this book she provided for review

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Saturday Snapshot: March 17, 2012

Alyce of At Home with Books hosts Saturday Snapshot and asks participants to post any photo (just no random photos you found online)

Gap of Dunloe - County Kerry, Ireland

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Audiobook Review: Miss New India by Bharati Mukherjee

Miss New India by Bharati Mukherjee, narrated by Farah Bala; length: 13 hours, 35 minutes

In Miss New India we meet Anjali Bose, a young girl born into a lower class family in the small town of Gauripur, India whose family's only goal is to get her married "well". Anjali, however, has other aspirations - thanks to an education and a teacher who believes in her, Anjali dreams of a new, independent life in Bangalore where she can work at a call center. Anjali is conflicted about leaving her home and family until a terrible encounter with the man her family has selected for her seals the deal and sends her packing to Bangalore. Once in Bangalore, Anjali meets a collection of women who have all come to the city to reinvent themselves and find success in a call center. They are jaded about the role they play in society as essentially commodities in the service of Western companies and the Indian businessmen and women who have bought into this new economy for their country. While in Bangalore, Anjali finds herself in a number of dangerous situations and continues to be unsure about the decision she made to leave home but, with a lot of help from generous benefactors, Anjali persists in finding a new life in Bangalore.  

My Thoughts

Although there are other characters in this book, the only one brought to life is Anjali and so the success of the book for the reader largely lies in their reaction to her as a character. Anjali wore on my last nerve - in theory, I should have respected her gumption in leaving her life behind and facing so many challenges in Bangalore but, although I had flashes of respect and even empathy, overall I found her to be inconsistent. She wavered between using her femininity to get what she wanted by flirting to being indignant that she was being taken advantage of by the same men she was luring with her feminine wiles. In one breath she felt insignificant and undeserving and in the next she expected her benefactors to provide for her without hesitation. This conflict is expected in a woman in transition is Anjali is following her move but for some reason in Anjali it doesn't ring true and just seems inconsistent. At times, I felt as if I was reading about two different people. Had there been a logical progression from the more insecure to the confident Anjali, it would have made sense to have those two voices, but by flitting back and forth constantly, the author lost me.

This audiobook is 13+ hours long and it could have been 4 hours shorter. The story meandered quite a bit and towards the end I stopped caring and felt the book could really be wrapped up. To be fair, I did listen to this over a long period of time so it is possible all the interruptions made me lose interest However, regardless of that, if the book had been edited better I think the story would have been more compelling and a strong storyline would have emerged.

The narrator, Farah Bala, did an excellent job with the Indian accents in the book and I liked listening to her. With so many of the characters working at call centers, different accents were very important in the book; the narrator did well with the Indian accents and the American accents but her British accent was terrible. I cringed a little bit every time I heard it.

The storyline and themes of this book had a lot of promise but, unfortunately, the execution didn't work for me.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Scene of the Blog

Cathy at Kittling Books hosts a feature where she offers readers a peek into the blogging spaces of book bloggers. I love the posts and seeing where the bloggers I follow do all their blogging so I was flattered when Cathy asked me to participate. Come take a look at my blogging space!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Review: I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

I've Got Your Number: Poppy Wyatt is recently engaged to the very cerebral Magnus and is over the moon. In many ways, she is the perfect balance to his studious, staid persona which has been cultivated within his family of “great minds”. Magnus plays Scrabble with his parents and brother while they each discuss their latest published journal article analyzing the latest in philosophical thought. By contrast, Poppy, although a dedicated physiotherapist, is not writing papers likely to be published in a peer reviewed journal. Rather than reviewing the merits of new approaches to critical thinking, Poppy discusses the minutiae of her day via text with her closest girlfriends – often punctuated by smiley faces :). When Poppy loses the engagement ring which has been in Magnus’s family for generations, she panics about how he and his stuffy family will react and imagines it will just be one more strike against her with his family. So . . . she is desperate to fix this at all costs – and the spiral of compromising positions begins . . .

Poppy is frantic when she loses her engagement ring and immediately connects via her lifeline, her phone, to ask for her friends’ help in finding it. She also alerts the hotel in which she believes she has lost the ring that they must reach her on her phone as soon as they locate the missing ring. When she is unexpectedly separated from her phone, she anxiously picks one up that seems to have been abandoned by someone. That someone was personal assistant to strategic consultant Sam Roxton and when Poppy tells him about her plight he reluctantly agrees to allow her to keep the phone. In exchange, he asks her to manage a few of his messages until his new assistant is on board. I am sure you can imagine the mix-ups that ensue when Poppy begins managing Sam’s messages while also trying to conceal the loss of her ring from Magnus and his family. At the outset, I worried that this would seem very contrived and that Poppy would be exasperating. However, like all of Kinsella’s heroines, Poppy has a lot of heart and you can’t help but root for her and get caught up in the chaos that surrounds her. My one quibble was Magnus and Poppy’s relationship – they got engaged and are due to be married very shortly after meeting which did feel contrived and made me question how committed they were to each other from the start.

Each time I pick up the newest Kinsella I hold my breath and hope I am not disappointed. I loved the Shopaholic series and her stand alone novels (my review of Twenties Girl) but I worry that I will outgrow them or her novels will begin to be formulaic. I think the key is the author’s heroines – she has a talent for creating skittish, self-deprecating heroines who have all the best intentions. Those best intentions allow you to forgive their scatterbrained, half-baked predicaments and cheer them on while laughing with them. Poppy Wyatt is this quintessential heroine. Kinsella does this genre like none other and I've Got Your Number doesn’t disappoint!

Thank you to Karen at Random House for providing a copy of this book for review.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sunday Salon: March 4, 2012

The Sunday

I am writing this post from NY but was supposed to be writing it from Lake Tahoe. I had a vacation planned for this week but always knew it was "at risk" due to some things going on at work. The inevitable happened and I had to cancel but I am hoping I can maybe get out there by mid week and salvage the last half of the week. Having pictures like the one below texted to me from friends that are already out there is not helping my mood today! Anyway, next week's TSS will hopefully be filled with pics from snowy Tahoe.

The Indie Lit Awards are given to books recommended and voted on by independent literary bloggers. Nominations have closed an now those of us on the panels are discussing and voting on the short lists for our categories. My category is memoir/biography and there is a great selection of books this year - I can't wait to see which one wins and to be able to tell you all what I thought of each one!

Last year I attempted to read Midnight's Children as part of Reading Buddies led by Erin of Erin Reads and, although I really enjoyed the complex story and detailed writing, I got pulled into some other things and had to put the book down. So when I saw that Arti, Mrs. B and Bellezza were planning a read a long this year, I decided to join in and finish the book. The read a long takes place over the next 3 months - the book is split up into "books" and we will do about one per month. Check out their posts if you are interested in joining in!

Have you seen the Scene of the Blog feature on Kittling Books? In this feature, Cathy takes a peek into the blogging and reading spaces of book bloggers. I am very flattered she asked me to share my space and you can check it out on her blog this Wednesday March 7th.  

In case you missed it
In the past two weeks, I have posted the following reviews (the links take you to the reviews):
 Julia's Child by Sarah Pinneo
 First You Try Everything by Jane McCafferty
 The Underside of Joy by Sere Prince Halverson  

Coming Up This Week
 Review of I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella
 Post on interview with author Jane Green about her new novel Another Piece of My Heart (giveaway too!)
Review of Miss New India (audiobook) by Bharati Mukherjee

Hope you all have a good week!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Saturday Snapshot: March 3, 2012

Alyce of At Home with Books hosts Saturday Snapshot and asks participants to post any photo (just no random photos you found online)

Parade of Monks: Phnom Penh, Cambodia

While in Cambodia, I would see monks with these orange, yellow or maroon robes walking throughout the city and became obsessed with photographing them. There was something about their brightly colored robes against the background of the street that made a striking photo.