Mindy Hardwick's Blog

Author Mindy Hardwick Muses about Writing

Good Reading Choices

on January 20, 2013

I go through stages with my reading. Sometimes, I am reading a lot. Other times, not so much. Lately, I’ve been reading quite a few good books, and I wanted to share them.  

Slammed

SLAMMED, by Colleen Hoover

Blurb from Amazon:

Following the unexpected death of her father, eighteen-year-old Layken becomes the rock for both her mother and younger brother. She appears resilient and tenacious, but inside, she’s losing hope. Then she meets her new neighbor Will, a handsome twenty-one-year-old whose mere presence leaves her flustered and whose passion for poetry slams thrills her.

Not long after a heart-stopping first date during which each recognizes something profound and familiar in the other, they are slammed to the core when a shocking discovery brings their new relationship to a sudden halt. Daily interactions become impossibly painful as they struggle to find a balance between the feelings that pull them together and the forces that tear them apart. Only through the poetry they share are they able to speak the truth that is in their hearts and imagine a future where love is cause for celebration, not regret.

I first heard about SLAMMED on Goodreads. SLAMMED was self-published in January 2012. Colleen Hoover ran a couple of Goodreads giveaways to generate interest. Then, in March 2012, a couple bloggers picked up the book. It took off like hotcakes.  By summer, it hit the New York Times Best Seller list and Simon and Schuster picked it up. You can read the whole story about the book’s journey here.

I was interested because of the poetry aspect in SLAMMED. I love poetry slams.  Every week long workshop I do with the teens in detention, I always show them clips from slams. In the spring, I try to attend the Youth Speaks Poetry Slam in Seattle. I wish the teens in Everett had a few more opportunities to attend poetry slams closer to home. I think a lot of them would really find the slams are a way to express their voices.

The book did not disappoint. It’s a fast read. A love story. A story about secrets. A story about poetry slams and how poetry gives us a way to tell the truth about our lives. I’m going to recommend it to the kids in detention, and am now starting on the second book in the series, POINT OF RETREAT.

Some are classifying this as YA, I’d say it’s more in the New Adult category as the characters are 18 and 21.

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Memoir of the Sunday Brunch by Julie Pandl

Blurb from Amazon:

For Julia Pandl, the rite of passage into young-adulthood included mandatory service at her family’s restaurant, where she watched as her father—who was also the chef—ruled with the strictness of a drill sergeant.

At age twelve, Julie was initiated into the rite of the Sunday brunch, a weekly madhouse at her father’s Milwaukee-based restaurant, where she and her eight older siblings before her did service in a situation of controlled chaos, learning the ropes of the family business and, more important, learning life lessons that would shape them for all the years to come. In her wry memoir, she looks back on those formative years, a time not just of growing up but, ultimately, of becoming a source of strength and support as the world her father knew began to change into a tougher, less welcoming place.

I enjoyed this memoir for a couple reasons. The first was the structure of the book. Each chapter could be a stand-alone short story as well as a chapter to the book.  The story links together by the relationship of Julie Pandl with her Father. It’s a fascinating inside look at the restaurant business and how the Sunday brunch, as well as other meals, work from the inside.  But not only is it a good story, it is also a well-written story.  I’d recommend this to those looking for a good memoir.

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WILD: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

Blurb from Amazon:

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than “an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise.” But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone.
 
Strayed faces down rattlesnakes and black bears, intense heat and record snowfalls, and both the beauty and loneliness of the trail. Told with great suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild vividly captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

This book popped onto my radar because my bookgroup is reading it this spring. I requested it for Christmas, and copies appeared everywhere under the tree. By the time we were done, my Mom, sister, and I all had a copy! I started reading this book on New Year’s Eve day and couldn’t put it down. It’s an amazing story of one woman’s hike on the Pacific Coast Trail.  The most amazing part is Cheryl is not a hiker when she sets out on that trail. She’s comfortable in the outdoors because of her homesteading growing up experience, but she’s not a hiker. I live in the Pacific Northwest, and although I love my beach walks, and an occasional hike through Moran State Park on Orcas Island, I can not imagine setting off on a trail as strenuous as the Pacific Coast Trail having little to no hiking experience–but that’s what Cheryl does and it’s a fascinating read!

What are you reading on these days of January?

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