Sunday 24 March 2019

Tea, treats and Young Adult books on a mild spring morning...

The weather has been all over the place recently, mild and rainy one day, sunny and brisk the next, and today is no exception.  It should be mild and partly sunny today, but then getting much colder overnight, so I’ll need to switch from my lighter coat back to my winter coat when I go to work tomorrow morning.  I have tea and a delicious Date Bar, and also a slice of freshly baked Zesty Extra Banana-y Banana Bread as a treat this morning - yum!
I’ll start today with a quick summary of my Friends’ Book Club meeting on Monday.  We all loved The Death of Mrs Westaway by Ruth Ware.  We loved the characters, the setting, the plot, all of it.  We talked about the role of money in literature and in life, and discussed how it can motivate people to do things they would not normally do.  Someone mentioned The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, about what happens when four siblings expectat a sizeable inheritance, and how this affects their judgement in various situations throughout their lives.  We discussed family, what makes up a family, the role family plays in literature and in life, and what “family” really means. It was a great choice and a successful meeting, and I would recommend this book for any book club.  It’s a gothic mystery, but one with enough substance to keep a discussion going.
I read a Young Adult novel last week, The Lonely Dead by April Henry.  This novel is typical Henry, a young girl is somehow involved in a crime that she alone has the insight and the determination to solve.  In this book, Adele is a high school student who, when not taking her meds, sees dead people. Diagnosed with schizophrenia at age seven, she has been on medication that makes her lethargic and dulls her perception of the world.  At age seventeen, she forgets to take her meds one day and her life becomes so much brighter and clearer, her responses so much quicker. She’s decided to skip her meds, but she can’t tell anyone about her visions or they will deem her mentally ill and possibly lock her away, like they did with her grandmother and her mother.  One night, sneaking out of the apartment she shares with her grandfather, she goes to a party hosted by her former best friend, super-popular Tori, only to get drunk and stumble home alone through the woods later that night. When she comes across Tori in the woods, calling out to her, she is at first confused: why would Tori be out there alone?  Then she realizes Tori is dead, and she implores Adele to help find her killer. But without an alibi, Adele becomes the prime suspect in the murder, and as the evidence against her piles up, she must act fast and find the truth before she ends up in jail for a murder she’s fairly sure she didn’t commit. This novel was OK, not great, but interesting enough to keep me reading right to the end.  I can imagine that it would appeal to the intended audience, intermediate and high school students, and while I don’t think it’s Henry’s best book, you could do worse than this one if you wanted a YA mystery as a quick read.
Speaking of YA mysteries, I’m nearly finished The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert right now, and compared to Henry’s book, it is astounding in its complexity and character development.  Imagine what would happen if Alice in Wonderland went in search of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and you’ve got the basic scenario in this dark modern fairytale-gone-wrong.  Seventeen year old Alice and her mother Ella are on the run from bad luck; they’ve been on the run their whole lives, never staying any one place for long.  Motel rooms, guest rooms, crashing on friends’ couches, this is a way of life for Alice, and she accepts it as a necessity… until Ella meets and marries Harold, and it seems their luck has changed.  Alice gets a job, goes to a posh high school, and actually starts to make some… hmmm… acquaintances (not friends). Then Ella goes missing and Alice must race to find her, wherever she is, and save her from whoever or whatever has abducted her.  Down, down, down the rabbit hole goes Alice, only to discover the truth about herself… and that’s all I can tell you so far. I will finish today, but I have to say that this book is one heck of a rollercoaster ride through fairyland, and I can see why it got such great reviews.  This debut novel tells such a great story that I think I will add it to my YA collection at school, despite the modest use of swear words (I wish she hadn’t used the “f” word - it would make this decision so much easier). Next week I can just mention how I felt about the ending of this book, which two of my colleagues at work have already read; one did not find the ending satisfying, the other thought it was OK, but mentioned that a sequel will be coming out in the fall.  
That’s all for today.  Have a wonderful Sunday, and be sure to make time for tea and reading!
Bye for now…

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