Sunday, December 13, 2015

Taking on Time: Passenger

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken (Passenger #1)
Disney-Hyperion, Expected Release Date: January 5, 2016

*e-ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley - Thank You! This in no way impacted my opinions of this book.*

Etta Spencer is a violin prodigy desperate to have her moment in the spotlight. After years of practicing as well as battling horrible nerves, she knows she's ready for her solo debut. Only fate (and foes) have other plans. One minute she's performing, the next she's being sucked through time. Her mom has always been secretive about their past and she's never had family to speak of, but it turns out it's because their family is different: they're time travelers, and they've been hiding. So is Nicholas Carter, a young man currently living in pre-Revolution times and scraping together a living as a pirate of sorts. He wants his freedom more than anything, both from society's claims that a black man is worthless as well as from the vicious Ironwoods, another time-traveling family with plans that could have horrible repercussions.

From the summaries I've read, this book sounded like it was right up my alley. Time travel. Music. History. Pirates. Adventure. Sign me up! In the end, I'd say this book was more of an okay one-time read for me. The pacing was a bit slow for my taste at first, though it wasn't until after I started reading that I found out this was the first book in an intended series (that changes things). Another thing that didn't quite hit the spot for me was the romance. Given the short amount of time that these characters know each other, the depth of their feelings felt a bit rushed. I actually found myself rooting that they would just be friends - guys and girls can care about each other and not want to make out with each other! It's possible!

While this book wasn't quite for me, I'll absolutely be getting it for my school library. This is one of those times when I'm able to recognize that this is a book that will be a hit with its intended audience if not with me: teens will probably eat this up, and exactly for the reasons I wasn't wild about. Also, the author's previous novels have been a hit with my students, so they're anxiously waiting for more.

Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Stories and Songs: Sounds Like Me

Sounds Like Me: My Life (So Far) in Song by Sara Bareilles
Simon & Schuster, 2015

I grew up in the world of music just as much as the world of books. Being in band from 5th grade all through college had a huge impact on my life, both in terms of skills I have and the person I am. It's a challenging thing to describe how music made so many changes, which I always thought was ironic considering how universal and uniting music can be.

But recently, I was able to find some words that give voice to my thoughts in Sara Bareilles' essay collection. In these eight essays, singer-songwriter Bareilles sheds light on her childhood, various aspects of her career as it has changed over the years, and how music has been there for it all, seeing her through. A few of the pieces are stories behind some of her songs ("Gravity", "Love Song", and "Brave" all get time in the spotlight), while others cut into the pain she's endured: her parents' divorce, her struggles in high school and later in the music industry, learning to find herself while living alone in Italy. There are high points, too, such as writing the music and lyrics for the 2016 Broadway musical Waitress.

Given her background in songwriting, essays were a perfect choice for Bareilles to try her hand at a longer format. There's an extremely conversational style to the writing which is reminiscent of the banter Bareilles is known for in between songs at her concerts. I've been lucky enough to see her perform live once on her Little Black Dress Tour, and hear her when she was on tour for this book. The event hosted by Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville, Illinois was enjoyable and I left with a big smile on my face. There's such comfort that comes with meeting another introvert! Also, I made her laugh when I met her in the signing line, which was a bonus.

If you like Sara's music, pick this book up. You'll laugh. You'll get misty eyes. You'll lose count of how many times she swears, but f-it, you won't mind (I sure as hell didn't haha). This was a quick read that I throughly enjoyed and I hope she picks up her pen again soon.

Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading.