Friday, January 18, 2013

Book Club Friday -- Springsteen and two YA picks



by Caryn Rose

Amazon description:
18 days, five countries, and seven concerts: this was how long-time Springsteen chronicler and veteran Backstreets contributor Caryn Rose spent her summer vacation, running from Paris to Prague to Vienna to London to Dublin, following Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band on tour. Were European Springsteen fans that different from their Stateside counterparts? Were the shows overseas truly better than the ones in the States? Part travelogue and part rock and roll love letter, Rose takes you with her every step of the way: queuing in the rain, sleeping on the sidewalk, and watching Paul Mc Cartney from the front row in London.

My review:
I "met" Caryn, the author, through Twitter.  She's an avid Mets fan (and blogger), and I later learned about her Springsteen fandom.  Let me be upfront about this -- I am not a huge Springsteen fan. I actually don't know more than a handful of his songs. But this book spoke to the music fan in me. I appreciate and understand the passion Caryn (and the people she mentions in her book) have for Bruce and concerts. This was a quick and very interesting read. I've never been to a Springsteen show or Europe, but Caryn makes me want to do both. 

 As a bonus, there's an excerpt from her other novel, "B-Sides and Broken Hearts" at the end of this one.  I read that one last year and loved it.  I highly recommend it.

My rating:
4 -- really liked it

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by Lauren Myracle

Amazon description:
When her best guy friend falls victim to a vicious hate crime, sixteen-year-old Cat sets out to discover who in her small town did it. Richly atmospheric, this daring mystery mines the secrets of a tightly knit Southern community and examines the strength of will it takes to go against everyone you know in the name of justice. Against a backdrop of poverty, clannishness, drugs, and intolerance, Myracle has crafted a harrowing coming-of-age tale couched in a deeply intelligent mystery. Smart, fearless, and compassionate, this is an unforgettable work from a beloved author.

My review:
This book was really hard to get into at first. The characters were hard to like and hard to understand. But I stuck with it as I always do (I rarely quit on a book), and it eventually picked up. And all the characters started to make sense too. But they weren't the compelling part. I really just wanted to find out "who did it." The crime in the story is heartbreaking, and the reasons behind it are equally heartbreaking. Just when I thought I had an idea, there would be another twist. It was kind of like a really long episode of "Law & Order: SVU."

My rating (1-5):
3 -- liked it

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by Jessica Park 

Amazon description:
Meet Dani McKinley: A typical teen whose world is rocked when she finds out that her father is a famous Hollywood action star. Now meet Mark Ocean: A self-serving actor with a floundering career who sees that a daughter is just what he needs to reinvent himself as a family man and get back on track. When the two decide to spend the summer together, they must not only wrangle their own love lives, but try to figure out who they really are to themselves and to each other.

Now armed with credit cards, club memberships, and a new wardrobe, Dani learns that what Mark has in wealth, he sorely lacks in parenting skills. Trying to show Mark that parenting is about more than loading her up with Prada bags and taking her to movie premieres is challenging enough, but she's also got her hands full with her new friends. Oh, and the boys... Dani meets Jason, a gorgeous young personal trainer who is easy on the eyes and wildly flirtatious. But is this smug hottie the one for her? Or will she ignore her friends eye-rolling and go for the goofy but sweet surfer?

While juggling her own complicated love life, Dani tries to set her father up with someone less likely to appear on a VH1 reality show, and someone more... well, normal. And age-appropriate. And dressed in anything but a thong bikini. But whether Mark is able to heal old wounds and move forward with anything more than a meaningless fling remains to be seen.

Can Dani fit in with this new, fast-moving California crowd without losing herself? With the world at her fingertips and hot boys now after her, staying grounded gets tough. And can Mark drop his egocentric approach to life and learn to appreciate how truly wonderful his daughter is? As driven as he is to get that A-list acting role, he's willing to do whatever it takes to get there, even if it means using his daughter. Or is he...? Mark and Dani's relationship hits a few highs, but the question becomes whether the lows are too much.

My review:
I picked this up after flying through "Flat-Out Love." Dani discovers her father is a movie star, and as she gets to know him, she sees that his world is very different from hers. Some of those differences are good and some are bad. In addition to getting to know her father, she makes new friends and learns more about herself. This story was really cute and very funny at times. I really like Jessica Park's writing style and her development of characters. They're always very distinct. I can picture them easily. I liked "Flat-Out Love" better, but this is still a gem.

My rating (1-5):
4 -- really liked it

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Currently reading:  
"The Happiness Project" 
by Gretchen Rubin


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