May Reading Recap – Part 2

The second half of my May reads. (Click here for Part 1)

6. Girl Walks Into a Bar. . .: Comedy Calamities, Dating Disasters, and a Midlife Miracle – Rachel Dratch

After reading and enjoying Tina Fey’s Bossypants and Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, I thought I’d get back on the female comedian memoir train and read Girl Walks Into a Bar. This book was a slightly different animal than the other two books as Dratch attempted to focus specifically on her dating life. The first half focused on her early life and career path, while the second shifted specifically to her romantic woes.

This book felt a little disjointed to me as it was trying to be two things at once–a story about Dratch’s career, and a story about her dating life. And ultimately, I didn’t find it to be all that funny. There were definitely funny parts, but the writing just didn’t do it for me. There was a lot of telling rather than showing that just took the humor right out of many of the more potentially comedic situations.

As a long-time fan of SNL and of Dratch, the parts of the book that I found most interesting focused on her career, and I would have liked to have seen more of that in the book. It was a fast read, but overall it was just so-so for me.

7. A Greyhound of a Girl – Roddy Doyle

While perusing the last issue of The Horn Book I was excited to see that Roddy Doyle had written a new middle-grade novel, A Greyhound of a Girl. I immediately put it on hold at the library.

The book is about 12 year old Mary O’Hara, a Dublin girl who’s bravely coming to terms with the imminent death of her beloved Granny, Emer. One day, Mary meets a strange woman who turns about to be the ghost of Emer’s mother, Tansey. Tansey needs Mary’s help delivering a message to Emer to help ease her passage.

I had some mixed feelings about the story as a whole. The tale is told alternately through four different perspectives–Tansey’s, Emer’s, Mary’s, and Scarlett’s (Mary’s mother)–and at times it was difficult to keep each character straight. My favorite parts were Tansey’s and Emer’s as they had the strongest voices and best dialogue. Additionally, because this was more of a character study, the plot was less than riveting. Nevertheless, I still liked the book.

I hate to use the word “sweet” but I cannot think of another more accurate adjective. Overall, this truly was a sweet story about four generations of women helping each other through their own various life transitions, and about the connections between mothers and daughters. It would be a great mother/daughter book club selection.

8. The Penderwicks at Point Mouette – Jeanne Birdsall

Oh Penderwicks, I frickin love you! The Penderwicks at Point Mouette is the third book in The Penderwicks series. The Penderwicks are four sisters, Rosalind, Sky, Jane and Batty from Massachusetts. Their father is a Latin professor and their mother died when they were young. The books are a bit of a throwback…though they take place in the present day, the tone and mood of each book is reminiscent of children’s lit classics like Little Women. I got to see Jeanne Birdsall speak last summer and was happy to see that her books are beloved both by children and adults. Kids love them, but they have a charming, nostalgic quality that appeals to a lot of adults too.

In this installment, Rosalind, the oldest sister, is off to New Jersey for a mini vacay with a friend, leaving Sky in charge as OAP (Oldest Available Penderwick) while she and the other girls head to Point Mouette in Maine with their friend Jeffrey and their Aunt Claire.

Like the others in the series, this book is incredibly charming and fun. Every character is so well defined, and I loved seeing how each one has grown and changed since the last installment, especially with the three oldest sisters now shifting into that liminal teenage territory.

These books make me so happy and they are perfect for summer! Please check them out!

9. The Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor

I mentioned before that one of my summer goals is to branch out a bit more with my reading. Picking up this fantasy novel was a step in that direction. I rarely read fantasy, but I’ve been a fan of Laini Taylor since I reader her book Lips Touch Three Times a few years ago. This lady knows how to write, people! When I was deciding what book I wanted to read after The Penderwicks at Point Mouette, I grabbed The Daughter of Smoke and Bone intending to read just a few pages but I was immediately hooked by Taylor’s prose.

Karou is a 17 year old art student living in Prague. If it sounds like she leads a charmed life, it’s because she does, literally. Karou was raised by Brimstone, a chimera that runs a wish shop of sorts in a little building that sits between our world and Elsewhere, and four other lovable but demonic creatures. She occasionally runs strange errands for Brimstone and on one of these dangerous trips she is nearly killed by the terrifyingly beautiful Akiva. All her life Karou has felt that she’s missing something, that there is some other life she should be living. That feeling becomes even stronger when she meets Akiva, who turns out to be an actual angel from Elsewhere.

A Romeo-and-Juliet-esque whirlwind romance ensues, but trust me, it is anything but cliche and predictable. I was surprised but how much my realism-loving self actually liked this book and I’m looking forward to reading the next installment when it is released this fall.

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One Response to May Reading Recap – Part 2

  1. katherine says:

    i almost bought that rachel dratch book! and the penderwicks sounds like an adorable series – i’ve never heard of it before, but i’m going to have to see if there are kindle editions.

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