Tuesday, June 26, 2018

She Loves You (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah) - Book Review

I didn't know what I was in the mood for, so last night I sat down with a stack of books and the intent to read a few pages of each. I started with She Loves You (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah) by Ann Hood. Before I knew it, I was over halfway finished with this lovely and endearing novel. It's intended audience is middle grade children but this Beatles fan was immediately enraptured.

Trudy Mixer is the president of the Robert E. Quinn Junior High Fan Club. Until recently it has been the most popular club at the school with 24 members but suddenly the students and Trudy's best friend Michelle are flocking towards Future Cheerleader Club. Now there are only four members of the club, including Trudy. The other three members are the nerdiest, weirdest kids and Trudy is determined to win back her popularity and her best friend. When she hears that the Beatles are coming to Boston in concert, she cooks up a plan to meet Paul McCartney.

She Loves You place in 1966 when the world was changing. Stuck in the middle of the upheaval of the Vietnam War, the Hippie movement and Beatlemania, spunky sixth grader Trudy Mixer is dealing with the trauma of junior high. She's an adorable character with about as much charm as most sixth graders. She's been dumped by her best friend who has moved on to newer, cooler friends and more exciting pursuits than writing fan mail to John Lennon. Trudy's love for the Beatles is pure and will be recognized by any who has been a true fan of anything. You're going to cheer for her and her little group of fans.

Ann Hood is an excellent writer who strikes just the right note in her newest book for younger audiences. I was fully transported to the 60s even as I recalled my own middle school years in the 1980s. Middle school is middle school is middle school. That is one universal truth. I'm excited to share She Loves You with my middle school aged children when they finally wake up from their summer sleep ins.

She Loves You (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah) by Ann Hood is published by Penguin Workshop and releases June 26, 2018.

Friday, June 22, 2018

We Begin Our Ascent - Book Review

Solomon has been focused and dedicated on achieving his goal as a professional cyclist. Now, he's part of the team that will help star Fabrice win the Tour de France. The only thing that has ever distracted Sol from his success on his bike, is his wife Liz and their new baby son. But Liz and Sol are supportive of each other's careers. Liz will do anything to help Sol get ahead, even help transport illegal performance enhancing drugs. Soon, the young couple is in way over their heads.

Several years ago, I read and loved Gold by Chris Cleave. His novel focused on dedicated and competitive athletes hoping to win Olympic gold in track cycling. I was suddenly intrigued by the sport that I previously knew very little about. Cleave successfully told a brilliant and thoughtful story with the sport as the backdrop. I was hoping for something similar with We Begin Our Ascent by Joe Mungo Reed.

Once I started Reed's debut novel, I was on the fast speed bike descending down a steep hill and holding on tight. You can't brake on the descent and so I couldn't stop. I read the novel yesterday and didn't sleep until I had finished the last page. Reed tells a moving and exciting story of passion, competition and a willingness to do almost anything to win. Woven throughout the exciting bike race, Sol muses on his relationships with his wife Liz and his new baby son.  The writing is beautiful and compelling and I am a going to shout this book's praises to anyone who will listen.

We Begin Our Ascent by Joe Mungo Reed is a fabulous summer read. I was thrilled by the details of the races and all that goes in to winning. I will definitely be watching the Tour de France this summer with a lot more understanding and interest.

We Begin Our Ascent by Joe Mungo Reed is published by Simon and Schuster and released on June 19, 2018.