In the tumultuous world of 1960s Chicago, Naomi Hill is a jazz singer at the Blue Angel. For the past ten years, she’s felt like she’s on the verge of making it big. Jazz isn’t as popular as it used to be, though, so the Blue Angel will be closing down. Naomi might just find her big break elsewhere, but at what cost?
Last Night at the Blue Angel by Rebecca Rotert is a deeply atmospheric book about ambition, love, and family and I was completely mesmerized by it. It’s told in the present (1965) through the eyes of Naomi’s young daughter Sophia, and in the past by Naomi herself. Both characters are complex and fascinating but I found Sophia to be the more sympathetic of the two so I was somewhat partial to her part of the story. Naomi’s story was essential, though, even if she wasn’t always likeable. The two were surrounded by great friends and supporting characters who added a lot to the story.
My book club chose this for our June meeting. It gave me a lot to think about as I read it so I knew we’d have a great discussion and we did! We were lucky enough to Skype with Rebecca Rotert – she gave us a lot of insight into the characters and hope for a sequel. Our discussion lasted long after our conversation with her. The paperback copy of Last Night at the Blue Angel contains great resources for book clubs including discussion questions, a musical playlist, and a note from the author. I highly recommend this book, especially for book clubs, but you’ll want to read it even if you don’t belong to one.
Review copy provided by Harper Collins and Book Club Girl Book Club. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued, and now hosted on its own blog. Another week has flown by, and, to be honest, I’m not sure what all I did – seriously, where does the time go? I did make it to Fiction Addiction for an author event and, while I was there, I picked up my coloring book for this week’s Girl’s Night In event – an evening of coloring, cocktails, and conversation – which should be loads of fun. I found these books in my mailbox last week:
- Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War by Susan Southard came from Penguin Random House
- The Summer of Good Intentions came from Simon & Schuster
- Don Quixote: A Spanish Language Primer by Jennifer Adams came from the author
- The Secret Garden: A Flowers Primer by Jennifer Adams came from the author
- The Girl Who Slept with God by Val Brelinski came from Penguin Random House
- Expect a Miracle by Jenny Long came from Wunderkind PR
What did you find in your mailbox last week?
Lonnie’s parents died in a house fire when he was seven. No one would take both Lonnie and his little sister, Lili, so they’re in separate foster homes. Lonnie lives with Miss Edna who’s kind to him but he still misses his parents and his sister like crazy. Lonnie’s new teacher, Ms. Marcus, encourages him to write and he discovers a whole new way to express himself.
Writing makes me remember.
It’s like my whole family comes back again
when I write.
Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson is a wonderful story of an eleven year old boy trying to put his life back together again. Lonnie was in a group home for a little while after his parents passed away, because not many people want boys who aren’t babies, so he knows things aren’t too bad with Miss Edna. He’s cautious and quiet, though, because he doesn’t know where life will take him next. Math is a struggle for Lonnie but writing and poetry are helping him figure out his jumbled feelings.
I’m in awe of Woodson’s talent. Locomotion is written in free verse from Lonnie’s point of view and it is nothing short of marvelous. I adored Lonnie – his life is sad yet his writing is hopeful. With the help of his teacher, he’s finally found a voice to express all those feelings he has bottled up inside. This book gives readers a lot to think about including family, individuality, and foster care. I highly recommend it to middle grade readers on up.
I will link this up to Booking Mama’s Saturday feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, leave a comment as well as a link on her site.
I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
When a young couple is out parking they notice a stomach churning smell that ruins the mood. The young man mentions it to a deputy who discovers countless bodies stuffed in a well. Lucas Davenport is called in and he makes some stomach churning discoveries of his own. There’s a serial killer out there and he’s been at it for years. It’s up to Lucas to figure out what is going on and why it took so long for anyone to notice.
I’ve long been a fan of John Sandford‘s Lucas Davenport books so I was looking forward to reading Field of Prey, the 24th book in the series. As usual, Lucas is called in to solve a difficult case but this time his teen-aged daughter, Letty is helping in the investigation. Readers know early on who the killer is so the storyline is more about the cat-and-mouse game the investigation turns into, and, while I thought the book was okay, I didn’t love it. For me, it is one of the weaker books in the series. I had trouble buying Letty’s involvement in the investigation and some of the killer’s scenario seemed over the top to me. Fans of the series will still want to read the book but, if you’re new to the series, I wouldn’t suggest starting with this title.
The audio version of Field of Prey is narrated by Richard Ferrone and he did an okay job. I thought his voice was great but his delivery was flat at times. The audio book is on 9 CDs and lasts approximately eleven and a half hours.
Review copy provided by Penguin Random House. I am an Indiebound Affliate.
I hope you’re as excited as I am about the soon to be released movie version of Paper Towns by John Green! The movie will be in theaters on Friday, July 24 and is sure to be a hit!
About the movie:
Adapted from the bestselling novel by author John Green (“The Fault in Our Stars“), PAPER TOWNS is a coming-of-age story centering on Quentin and his enigmatic neighbor Margo, who loved mysteries so much she became one. After taking him on an all-night adventure through their hometown, Margo suddenly disappears–leaving behind cryptic clues for Quentin to decipher. The search leads Quentin and his quick-witted friends on an exhilarating adventure that is equal parts hilarious and moving. Ultimately, to track down Margo, Quentin must find a deeper understanding of true friendship–and true love.
Starring: Nat Wolff, Cara Delevingne, Austin Abrams, Halston Sage, Justice Smith
Directed by: Jake Schreier
Screenplay By: Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber, based upon the book by John Green
Watch this featurette to learn more about the movie:
To celebrate this exciting release, 20th Century Fox is allowing me to give away a fabulous prize pack to one lucky reader:
- $25 Visa to see the film in theaters
- Paper Towns Buttons
- Copy of the book (Movie Tie-In Cover)
To enter to win this terrific prize pack, simply fill out the entry form. Contest is open to those with a US address only – one entry per person, please. I will use random.org to determine the winner. Contest ends at midnight EDT Thursday, July 30, 2015. Comments are welcome (and appreciated) but will not get you an entry in the contest.
Check out the PAPER TOWNS websites:
Like ‘Paper Towns’ on Facebook
Visit the Official Website
Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love. Feel free to get creative! If you want to play along, grab the button, write a post and come back and add your link to Mr. Linky!
I found two new words in Fun Home by Alison Bechdel.
1. humectant – “And while I acknowledge the absurdity of claiming a connection to that mythologized flashpoint. . . might not a lingering vibration, a quantum particle of rebellion, still have hung in the humectant air?”
The air here is very humectant this time of year – humectant means moist.
2. deracinate – “My deracination was kindly abetted by various friends at college.”
Deracinate has several different meanings but, in this case, I think the author means to remove or separate from a native environment or culture.
What words do you want to celebrate today?
“The wife” tells her story – of marriage and motherhood – in snippets forming a stream-of consciousness like narrative in Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill. She starts out deliriously happy, but, like most people has her share of woes through the years so this story is one many can relate to. And, most people have. I picked this book up because I read so many great reviews of it but I have to admit, I struggled with the writing style. Sure, it made for a fast, engrossing read, but I wanted more from it and didn’t feel satisfied at the end. Don’t go by me, though, The New York Times Book Review called it one of the Top Ten Books of 2014. If you want to try something different, give Dept. of Speculation a try.