They're all sitting on my shelf calling to me, but I've had to ignore them quite a bit lately!
Here's what I read in November:
"Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" by Jamie Ford
To be honest, I'd give it a 3 1/2 if that were an option. I listened to this on audio CD, and had I not, I probably would have given up 1/3 of the way in. It starts out very slowly, but after, it's a delightful and sweet story. It centers around Henry, a Chinese American boy, and Keiko, a Japanese American girl, during WW2. This is when the US was at war with Japan, and thus many Japanese Americans were treated unfairly as 'the enemy', even having been born here. *Think Sandra Dallas' "Tall Grass" which I seem to remember was about the same thing* They are 12 for the majority of the story, although the telling is done mostly in a flashback from 1985.
If you'd told me I'd be grinning like a Cheshire cat at a "love story" between 12 year olds, I would have thought you crazy. But this story is told so sweetly, and their growing relationship is just so special, I did find myself audibly saying, "awww" several times. :)
I recommend it, but be warned that it takes a little bit to get into. The audio version was well done.
"April & Oliver" by Tess Callahan
First time in ages I've taken a day to just read and not do anything responsible. I'm so glad I decided to invest a day into this book. It contained tragic characters and a beautiful love story that breaks your heart at every turn. I'm sure I will not be able to describe it well-enough to not sound trite, but I'll attempt such.
In a nutshell, April and Oliver are childhood friends who have a lifetime of history together. They part circa college, each going their own way. They reunite for April's brother's funeral, where it becomes apparent that April has been living in an abusive relationship. There is major subtext and tension in each and every encounter between A & O (which frankly makes the book very enjoyable!), but Oliver is now engaged and April seems to be addicted to abuse, feeling it is all she deserves--you find out her horrid secrets as the book progresses. This book is definitely for mature audiences due to subject matter and language revolving around April's history of physical and sexual abuse which affects each and every aspect and relationship in her life. I felt such sorrow for her!
Tess Callahan has a beautiful way with words and is a master of describing the perfect moment with perfect imagery. She captures every blip of feeling between April and Oliver so well, you can't help but get caught up with it yourself.
**major spoilers, don't read unless you've already read this book or have no desire to!**
The ending leaves you thinking for sure. Oliver is ditched at the alter by a deservedly jealous fiance, who has been up to this point, very understanding. When A & O make their pact to not speak for six months, as a reader, one is mystified. I felt myself thinking, "But...but...but....where's the happily ever after?" However, the fiance Bernadette was a good person and deserved the respect shown. I do feel that the monthly letters sent to Oliver's dad were meant for April vicariously, and the offer of airline miles and the address at the B&B in Ireland were definitely clues for April to finally do something right for herself and follow her heart.
I think a final summary or epilogue would have been nice, since you never really get a nice happy scene with the two main characters in resolution. An "I've always loved you" dialogue or "ohmygosh you are so much nicer than those last two losers who've beaten me up and raped me" moment or a makeout scene or something! Throw us a bone here! :)
It was good, I recommend it (cautiously).
What have you been reading?