Monday, February 29, 2016

US of Books Tour - The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie **Review by BookJunkieMom**

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
by Sherman Alexie, Ellen Forney (Illustrator) 

Review by Elisha at Rainy Day Reviews (
Entertainment Weekly says about their Washington state pick– “Alexie grapples with serious issues through the not-always-serious voice of a 14-year-old caught between his life on the reservation and his entry into an all-white high school.”
Bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.

Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by Ellen Forney that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.
I was intrigued with this book once I learned that this story was based on the author’s own experience. I was not aware of the coarse language in the book until I began reading it; which in my opinion makes this read inappropriate for younger readers. However, that said, I did appreciate that even though this teenager saw a lot of heartache and injustice, including racism and death, there is a lot of laughs throughout the story.
I like the narration of the book, hence the title. That was different than the typical read. Gave it a different feel from a story being told. Even with the racial divide in the story that the boy dealt with, I think this story is very relatable to other young adults out there (tragedy in life, being bullied, and the instability that life can bring with its ever-changing twists that life tends to do to all of us. All in all, a good book and a quick read that I would definitely recommend to everyone to read.
* Disclaimer: language may be coarse for some readers*

Thursday, February 18, 2016

US of Books Tour - My Antonia by Willa Cather (Great Plains Trilogy #3) **Review by Teri**

Reviewer ~ Teri at Sportochick's Musings

Blurb ~ 

Through Jim Burden's endearing, smitten voice, we revisit the remarkable vicissitudes of immigrant life in the Nebraska heartland, with all its insistent bonds. Guiding the way are some of literature's most beguiling characters: the Russian brothers plagued by memories of a fateful sleigh ride, Antonia's desperately homesick father and self-indulgent mother, and the coy Lena Lingard. Holding the pastoral society's heart, of course, is the bewitching, free-spirited Antonia. 

Review ~  1/2

This story is narrated in first person by Jim Burden in what I think is a very plain unemotional manner. I honestly had a hard time reading this book and at points kept putting it down. It was puzzling to me that for all of the unusual dramatic events in this book it was for me unemotional. I am not sure if listening to it on Audible and switching off and on with the book impacted my feelings. Though these dramatic events in the book were described in fine detail my mind felt a distance from the writing.

Two characters did stand out. Antonia who was very expressive and Jim's grandfather for the ways that he dealt with crisis's, personality issues and his deep integrity. Antonia throughout the book was very emotional and it was obvious to see why quiet Jim liked to be around her and had grown to love her.

I finally connected with the book in the last chapter and a half where it became to me a book worth reading. This part of the book make me feel great sadness for Jim and Antonia and where they were 20 years later. The ending was poignant and still brings tears to my eyes. 

This book leaves the readers pondering the what if. What if Jim didn't go away to college? What if Antonia made a different decision when her first love deceived her? What if Jim had told her he loved her? But the largest question that I had was how did Jim love Antonia? A sister, friend, lover? This book left me feeling sad because if Jim had more gumption his life would of been so different than it was. It also left me pondering on how many people lost out on the best thing of their lives because they were afraid.

Find the Book At ~ Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Monday, February 15, 2016

United States of Books - Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella Review by Laura

Review by Laura
@ Laura@125Pages

125US of Books

This weeks United States of Books brings us to Iowa with Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella. Entertainment Weekly says - Not only was this novel - adapted for Field of Dreams - set in Iowa, but Kinsella also attended the state's other claim to fame: The Iowa Writers' Workshop.

itsiowa[icon name="fa-star"] I went into Shoeless Joe with such hope. I have not seen Field of Dreams, but love uplifting sports movies, so I thought I would love one in book form. But this was no uplifting sports movie, it was a strange tale of a man who builds a baseball field on his failing Iowa corn farm then leaves his wife and small child to kidnap famed writer J.D. Salinger and take him on a road trip. I'm sorry what? Where is my tale of a downtrodden man who has a vision and through that builds his dream on his farm? Instead I get a wacky buddy road trip comedy, complete with carnies and diner hold ups. The action on the farm is limited to the very beginning and the very end, and that is where the heart of the story was. A struggling man trying to save his farm and his family with a dream and pure gumption. Those parts were fantastic, but the rest was just ridiculous.

The plot had its moments, but they were sadly few and far between. The family parts were great, but the whole kidnapping road trip aspect totally lost me. The world created was the same, certain select parts were crisp and vivid, then it veered into crazypants territory. The writing was fine, sentence structure wise, but the story was so over the top I couldn't really see any fine nuances. The characters were a mashup of amazing and then not, they started strong but then went downhill the more I read. I had no emotional tie to any of the characters. Ray was dismissive of the real world and the potential harm he was bringing to his wife and child.

God what an outfield,” he says. “What a left field.” He looks up at me and I look down at him. “This must be heaven,” he says. “No. It’s Iowa,” I reply automatically.
Shoeless Joe is considered one of the greatest sports books written. I just didn't see it. Less a book about baseball to me, and more a book about what too much Round-Up in a field will lead to. I do understand the baseball at the heart of the story and how it linked every part together, but failed to see the amazing parts as the random hostage taking of a reclusive writer and a road trip with said writer to pick up baseball ghosts took away from that for me. As did the husband and father endangering the future of his family by leaving them as their farm is about to be foreclosed on. Now, I don't hate baseball and I know, national sport and all, but this book just didn't do it for me.

[icon name="fa-star"] Favorite lines - Pedestrians in the East behave like lemmings rushing dispassionately to their deaths—it takes a good ten minutes to make a left turn into the blinding rush of oncoming traffic, with pedestrians thronging suicidally into the intersections.

[icon name="fa-star"] Biggest cliché - If you build it, he will come.

[icon name="fa-star"] Have you read Shoeless Joe, or added it to your TBR?

Check out all of the #USofBooks posts here.