Surznick Reads: May 2014 - The Surznick Common Room

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Surznick Reads: May 2014

Can you guys believe tomorrow is June already?! May flew by so quickly. Here's what we read this month!

Sarah's Reads!

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
From "When Lily's fierce-hearted black 'stand-in mother,' Rosaleen, insults three of the town's most vicious racists, Lily decides they should both escape to Tiburon, South Carolina—a town that holds the secret to her mother's past. There they are taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters who introduce Lily to a mesmerizing world of bees, honey, and the Black Madonna who presides over their household. This is a remarkable story about divine female power and the transforming power of love—a story that women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come."

This was a very enjoyable, very easy read. The story was heartwarming and the characters (most of them at least) are easy to love. I really like Kidd's writing style and she did an excellent job of weaving together all of the themes in the story. No, this story is not just about bees, it's also about motherhood, racism, growing up, and many other things. This book was also made into a movie, which I have not seen, but I would like to. If you happen to stumble upon a copy at Goodwill like I did, give it a read!

My Rating: 4 Stars

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
From "It starts with a letter, lost for half a century and unexpectedly delivered to Edie’s mother on a Sunday afternoon. The letter leads Edie to Milderhurst Castle, where the eccentric Blythe spinsters live and where, she discovers, her mother was billeted during World War II. The elder Blythe sisters are twins and have spent most of their lives caring for their younger sister, Juniper, who hasn’t been the same since her fiancé jilted her in 1941. Inside the decaying castle, Edie searches for her mother’s past but soon learns there are other secrets hidden in its walls. The truth of what happened in 'the distant hours' has been waiting a long time for someone to find it. In this enthralling romantic thriller, Morton pays homage to the classics of gothic fiction, spinning a rich and intricate web of mystery, suspense, and lost love."

The Distant Hours was actually my April book club selection, but I didn't finish it in time (oops.) It just started off soooo slooooow and I had a really tough time getting interested. The story jumps around from present day to 1941 and tells the story from 5-6 different perspectives. It was a little tough to follow at times and some of the story lines were left open-ended, which can be a little frustrating. If you can get through the first half of the book, the second half is definitely more intriguing as the puzzle pieces start to fit together. The other members of my book club felt the same way I did and were extremely disappointed because they LOVE the other Kate Morton books they've read. Since her other works are highly recommended, I may check them out in the future, but I wouldn't read this again.

My Rating: 3 Stars

Go Ask Alice by Anonymous (Beatrice Sparks)
From "It started when she was served a soft drink laced with LSD in a dangerous party game. Within months, she was hooked, trapped in a downward spiral that took her from her comfortable home and loving family to the mean streets of an unforgiving city. It was a journey that would rob her of her innocence, her youth -- and ultimately her life. Read her diary. Enter her world. You will never forget her. For thirty-five years, the acclaimed, bestselling first-person account of a teenage girl's harrowing decent into the nightmarish world of drugs has left an indelible mark on generations of teen readers. As powerful -- and as timely -- today as ever, Go Ask Alice remains the definitive book on the horrors of addiction."

Go Ask Alice just didn't do it for me. To me, the book had a very "after-school special" vibe. I think what bothers me the most is that this book is advertised as a real diary, when in reality it is not. If a book is a work of fiction, I don't think it's fair to make a reader think it's non-fiction. Maybe my thoughts on this skewed my perception of the story, but oh well. It was a super quick read and I don't regret reading it, but if I'm going to read a book about drug addiction, I'd much rather read a REAL memoir.

My Rating: 2 Stars

Nick's Reads!

Catch Me If You Can by Frank Abagnale
From "Frank W. Abagnale, alias Frank Williams, Robert Conrad, Frank Adams, and Robert Monjo, was one of the most daring con men, forgers, imposters, and escape artists in history. In his brief but notorious criminal career, Abagnale donned a pilot's uniform and copiloted a Pan Am jet, masqueraded as the supervising resident of a hospital, practiced law without a license, passed himself off as a college sociology professor, and cashed over $2.5 million in forged checks, all before he was twenty-one. Known by the police of twenty-six foreign countries and all fifty states as "The Skywayman," Abagnale lived a sumptuous life on the lam-until the law caught up with him. Now recognized as the nation's leading authority on financial foul play, Abagnale is a charming rogue whose hilarious, stranger-than-fiction international escapades, and ingenious escapes-including one from an airplane-make Catch Me If You Can an irresistible tale of deceit."

I wasn't too impressed with this book. I have seen the movie before, and it was a lot of fun. The fact that I liked the movie so much was basically the entire reason I decided to read the book. That being said, with the expectations I had when I started it, I was easily let down. I'm not saying the book isn't interesting or written out of a truly incredible story; it was just a tad bit boring. I had to constantly remind myself that this is a TRUE story, and that these things really happened, because otherwise I would just zone out and breeze through the stories believing they were just mediocre stories of fiction.

My Rating: 2 Stars

See you guys next month!

Sarah & Nick


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