Saturday, February 22, 2014
I've been kept busy reading for the 2014 Maine Readers' Choice Award. This year we divided into five teams and read about 25 books per team. That's a lot of reading. Our team was great! Thank you, Sally Leahey, Renee DesRoberts, and Monica Wood. We worked well together (aided by a glass of wine or two...and chocolate, of course!) and had some fun yet serious discussions. It was a very unique book discussion group. Of the books that our team (affectionately known as "The T-ettes") read we recommended Colum McCann's TransAtlantic and Visitation Street by Ivy Pochada for the semi-finalist list. They are both excellent reads. McCann's novel is wonderful history-based story that spans the 1860's to the late 1990's with great historical figures playing prominent roles in the story. Pochada set her nove in Brooklyn's Red Hook neighborhood and the location is a prominent character in the story. I'm very proud that we recommended these two. There were other great literary novels on our list, too; but, we felt that these excellently written books would have broad appeal to all readers.
Tumble & Fall by Alexandra Coutts. As a YA read, three teenagers find themselves dealing with issues of family, friendship, loss, and love as all await the arrival of a possible world-ending asteroid. While the looming destruction takes a back seat to the immediate concerns of the teens, it's a great backdrop that moves the story along. This is a well-written book of YA angst. The characters and their issues are not out of the ordinary, but the asteroid threat gives the novel the twist that it needs to make it successful. I'd recommend it to all teens, especially for a book discussion group. Adults should take notice, too. (An advance readers copy was provided by the publisher.)
The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian. It neither wowed nor disappointed. I was impressed by how up-to-date their time frame was - well into 2013. I think I expected more analysis, though. At times it seemed that it was a mere recitation of bad behavior that was dealt with in ways that you might expect when you're talking about big-time college football programs and stars. The focus of the book seemed to be Mike Leach and his journey through the college coaching ranks. Others are examined (Nick Sabin among them) and their stories are very interesting. A number of football programs are put under the microscope (Notre Dame included) and some of the reporting is eye-opening, especially with regard to how some schools have bought their way into national prominence. It was worth the time invested. It kept my attention without distracting from my driving. It actually made me think about my affection for and interest in college sports.
There are a few more that deserve reviews here, but it's time for more MRCA reading and maybe a little housework..........then it's back to the stacks: