Transcription by Kate Atkinson

I was sooo looking forward to this (even though I still haven’t ever read God in Ruins, but I loved Life After Life so much) and, while I did like it, I can’t say I loved it.

This was a very atmospheric story. I felt the whole time like fog would would be rolling in everywhere and you never know who to trust. Both things that are explicitly stated in the story, as well as I’m just assuming. Gaslight the film is referred to, as well as the idea that someone might be experiencing gaslighting. What we do know that in WWII Juliet Ambrose is working for MI5 in a rather boring clerical fashion in a spy setup. She is in an apartment transcribing the audio recordings of all the goings on in the apartment next door. The story is told mostly in 1940 and 1950.  We know that something big probably happened in that operation, and it’s either happening again or haunting Juliet in some way. Basically this story is a whole lot of “I can’t quite see the picture…everything is hazy”, which is kind of spooky and mysterious, but also a little frustrating. I actually had a bit of trouble keeping some characters straight and some things I’m still not exactly sure what happened! Overall I’d give this  3.5 stars.


One Day in December by Josie Silver

This was a delightful and satisfying decade long love story. On a dreary winter day close to Christmas Laurie looks out the bus window and sees a man at the bus stop. It’s a lightning fast love at first sight for both—but the bus pulls away.  After a year of hoping to find her mystery man (I guess they don’t have “Missed Connections”) it’s not a surprise to the reader that her very best friend’s new boyfriend is none other than “bus boy.”  The story continues for the next decade-checking in with the main characters every few months and alternating points of view between Jack and Laurie. There’s not just a love triangle because Laurie also has other romantic entanglements. This book felt a bit like a collection of all the things I like in British romances and movies and deliberate references to Love Actually and Bridget Jones’s Diary feel like a nice acknowledgment from the author that she’s aware of that. There’s a cheerful loud Aussie, drunk roommates, Christmas parties and whatnot, a woman eager to work in the magazine industry, and missed declarations of love. But you know what? I like all those things and so it was very nice to read a new book that had them all and I thought this was a good one.

Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett Krosoczka

This was just terrific, and sad, and inspirational. Though I know Krosoczka’s work because Lunch Lady is very popular in my library, I haven’t actually read any of his things. Nor have I seen the Ted Talk that inspired this book.  (Pause: start watching the video, it’s touching already.)

Anyway, this was a really great memoir. Jarrett’s grandparents adopted him as a toddler because his mother was a heroin addict who was either in jail or rehab for most of his childhood. His grandparents weren’t the sweetest easygoing-est people–they are heavy drinkers and smoke like crazy. Lots of swearing, too! But they loved him so much and they invested in him and supported his art,which led to him becoming a successful graphic novelist today.

This was a compelling story and I highly recommend it!

One question: Did grown up successful Jarrett ever meet Jack Gantos? I sure hope so

You Go First by Erin Entrada Kelly

It was the cover that drew me-floating Scrabble tiles! And indeed, Scrabble is something that connects the two main characters. Ben lives in Louisiana,Charlottelives in Pennsylvania. Both are very smart and in the course of one week both are dealing with big family issues-his parents announced an unexpected divorce, while her father had a heart attack (her parents are fairly old.)  Both are in middle school and both are having friendship issues too. Her best friend no longer seems to be a best friend and the most painful scene of the whole book was where she overhears Bridget betraying her to other girls. For real-those scenes of social isolation and mockery were really hard to read! Fortunately Ben and Charlotte have each other, even though they aren’t friends in real life.

I enjoyed the way the point of view went back and forth and also the structure of the story being told over the course of six days. Ben and Charlotte have very parallel stories and I enjoyed when those aspects were played up.

A little bit sad, but both stories end very hopefully and I really enjoyed this.

Locked in Time by Lois Duncan

When I was in 7th grade I loved these spooky suspenseful Lois Duncan books and happily passed them around with my friends. I decided it’s time to reread them. As with many books and movies from my childhood that I read/watch now I can’t get over how slow they were. In this case that’s not exactly true-Duncan keeps the tension going and you can’t wait to see how it works out. But on the way there are many passages of rather lavish descriptions of (in this case) the hot weather of Louisiana, the intense fragrances of the many flowers, and the bayou. It’s hard to imagine an impatient 2018 12 year old carefully reading all that (but they should! Because it’s great.)
You don’t have to wait long for all the clues of the family’s big secret to be dropped. Nore’s creepy new stepmother is controlling and gives off a bad vibe. Nore soon figures out that something is going on with her age and that of her new stepsiblings. What I found annoying about the book was what a dull buffoon her father was. We’re supposed to believe he’s so besotted that he doesn’t listen to his daughter or believe her when she explains how her stepbrother tried to kill her and frankly that was unbelievable.

Fun to have this quick re-read. Looking forward to…Stranger with my Face!

Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman

I love me some Neal Shusterman but this one took me a while to get through. And not because it wasn’t good–because it was WAY TOO TERRIFYINGLY REAL.

The premise of this apocalyptic story is that in a region of California suddenly one day all the water is turned off–the Tap Out they end up calling it. This is told from the point of view of Alyssa and Garrett (Brother and sister), Jacqui (a tough street girl on her own), Henry (an obnoxious rich kid), and Kelton-the saving grace for everyone because he comes from a weird doomsday prepper family. Make fun of those families until you need them, right? Kelton goes to school with Alyssa and has had a crush on her, so is inclined to latch on to her and help her out. Kelton’s family is serious survivalist ready and his father has taught him that it takes just 3 days for people to become basically wild animals.  A statement which proves horribly true and if anything is actually a generous estimate.

Without water civility disappears and there are some fairly typical post apocalyptic responses-trashed stores, abandoned cars on highways, enclaves of helpful people, desperate people willing to do terrible things. If all that seems pretty typical for this type of story it is, but this story truly was terrifyingly real to me. It’s not decades in the future and it seems connected to current climate change catastrophes. I think one of the scariest things was the times it was mentioned that FEMA was unable to respond appropriately because they were busy with yet another hurricane. And that other parts of the country were probably holding bottled water drives, but really none of that mattered because people were about to kill each other over a cup of water and also die of dehydration.

I took a big break halfway through to read some other titles and then came back to this and quickly read the rest. While it was very unsettling, it was a good book and I did like it. That said, hurry up Mr. Shusterman and finish that Scythe trilogy! That’s what I really want to read!

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

I saw this author speak a couple weeks ago alongside Kate Morton and it made me quite excited to read this book. Fortunately it came in soon after for me. I enjoyed this book so much that I read the entire thing in one day! I didn’t save it at all! Just one long Sunday reading every chance I had (and it was a day where we had a few activities going on, too.)
The premise of this was immediately enticing. A woman in 1970 is pregnant and told by doctors that her baby has a heart defect and will die when born. Her brother-in-law tells her he’s from the future and in his time the baby’s problem can be fixed with fetal surgery, and persuades her to leap forward into time.
Time travel is always complicated and I love seeing how different authors deal with different aspects of it-the actual process, how it was discovered, whether or not they try to give a scientific explanation, the rules they’ve set up (usually along the lines of not interfering), and, always, how something ultimately goes wrong.

The times in this story are 1970 and 2001 and the author told us that she specifically chose 2001 for a reason. I found that very intriguing and was curious to see how that played out (I assumed maybe something to do with 9/11)

I thought this was a great story and I loved the historical aspects of it as well as the time travel and the very real family/parent aspects of the story.