Books, David Perez, fiction, Fifty Shades of Gray, Heidi Durrow, Kevin Powers, Summer reads for adults, The Yellow Birds, Wow: A South Bronx Memoirito

Finding F Books

June has been my lucky month for books. Not only did my coastal town reverse its usual June Gloom but the four o’clock winds also abated for most of the month. This all made for some great outdoor reading weather. 

I’ve also had luck with finding fascinating, funny, and fearless books for a fraction of the cost: (yes, that F thing was on purpose and I’m tired of it now too). Let’s proceed.

First the Fascinating Read: The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi Durrow

Rachel, the daughter of a Danish mother and an African American G.I., becomes the sole survivor of a family tragedy. She does not remember much about what happened until later in the story, so I won’t spoil the ending.

As a young girl she is forced to move to a new city and largely African American community. With her light brown skin, blue eyes, and Danish upbringing she is the oddity among her peers. 

Rachel’s adjustment to the tragedy and her grief is heart-wrenching. Biracial identity, the mother daughter bond, the desire to fit in, and abandonment are major themes.    

The novel is the winner of the Bellwether Prize for best fiction as well as several other awards. Bought it for $10 and had it signed at a book reading by Heidi Durrow-she is one of the most gracious author I’ve met and gives a heck of a presentation.

The Funny: WOW! A South Bronx Memoirito of Boyhood and Catholic School by David Perez.  
Now this one was almost guaranteed to make me download onto my Kindle Fire. Latino in Catholic School and the South Bronx= Funny before I flipped the page. 

This is a memoir set in 1964. David Pérez is living in the Millbrook housing projects, about to be transferred to St. Luke’s Elementary School, where the Brothers of the Sacred Heart are about as scary as the baddest gangs. 

This “memoirito,” follows David trying his best to be cool in a neighborhood where being the smartest guy in school isn’t something to brag about. His trials and tribulations as he navigates through his ‘tests of manhood,’ altar boy experiences and his first date are laugh out loud funny.

Perez has a great way with detail, description, and dialogue. I was able to borrow this e-book from Amazon Lending Library, but I would have bought it for the 2.99 Kindle price if it hadn’t been available. 

The Fearless: The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers

“The war tried to kill us in the spring,” begins this breathtaking account of friendship and loss. In Al Tafar, Iraq, twenty-one-year old Private Bartle and eighteen-year-old Private Murphy cling to life as their platoon launches a bloody battle for the city.”

This book is due out on 9/11/12. A 20 page excerpt was in the free Book Expo America Buzz Books of the 30 top Fall 2012 titles. I was mesmerized from the first line to the last. Powers creates a setting that is both fearful and fearless.   The narrative is clean but descriptive of setting, emotive, and insightful. 

Powers  joined the army at the age of 17, later serving a year as a machine gunner in Mosul and Tal Afar, Iraq in 2004 and 2005. He is currently a Michener Fellow in Poetry at the University of Texas at Austin, where he will receive his M.F.A. in 2012. 

I can’t say I’ve ever read a book about the Iraq War but from what I’ve read I’ll definitely be waiting for this one, which I’m sure will become a classic. 

A F not read yet: Fifty Shades of Gray  

My sister and most of the world raves about this book. She just finished the first two of the trilogy and lent the first one to a girl friend who said she couldn’t understand all the hoopla and the book was boring, so she’s getting it back and lending it to me to see what I think. 

I’m not holding my breath for the book,  it received 2,500 1 star ratings and 3,000+ 5 star ratings. 

July started out beautifully over here in coastal Southern California, but today it’s overcast, 68 degrees and humid. Forecast is the same all week. Doesn’t really matter to me, I’ll read most anywhere. I hope to fit in 4 or 5 more books this month.(Using another letter in the alphabet).

Any recommendations? 
Colin Falconer, Family, Heidi Durrow, Liebster Award, Melinda Palacio, Michele Serros, Pat Fry, Women's Literary Festival, Writing

Writing to Feel Better

Heidi Durrow-Author

Boy did I have a great weekend. It started with  four ‘nominations’ of the Liebster Blog Award. That’s an interesting award, and I’ll explain that soon.

Next was the Santa Barbara Women’s Literary Festival where I was enthralled with the stories told by amazing writers. I was also lucky enough to take some photos with authors Melinda Palacio, Michele Serros, and Heidi Durrow. All of them were so sweet and I found them to be most engaging. Same as their fascinating stories. Of course, I came home with a bagful of books. And I won the beautiful centerpiece: a large terracotta pot filled with fragrant herbs and viola flowers.

Later I visited with my sister who took an unexpected trip into town, spent two nights dancing to a great band and gazed at the gorgeous supermoon on a warm coastal night. The one below is over our pier in Ventura, CA.

FjB63 Studio

I’m so glad for the amazing weekend because today I feel kind of lousy. Two of my three kids caught a stomach flu with resulting headaches, temps, and a bad case of the ‘ralphs.’ (throwing up). Ugh, I know you probably did not want to hear that last item, TMI for sure. 

I explain this because I didn’t want to do revisions on my WIP today nor blog but proceeded to read the blogs I follow instead. I’m glad I did because I came across Colin Falconer’s post. He tells a lovely story about his mother and the history of memories. After attending to the kids, making chicken soup, and cleaning up, I fell asleep. Then I got up and read more posts. Which led me to Patricia Fry’s blog on writing. 

Her question: What motivates you to write? 

It made me think. Although I still feel rumblies in my tumblie, I’ll feel worse (emotionally) if I don’t write something today. So now that the nap refreshed me and the aspirin kicked in,  I think I’ll jot my thoughts down. 

If I’m rambling, please understand. 

Now back to the Liebster Blog award, which makes me feel even better. 

The word “liebster” allegedly means dearest in German. I don’t know about that, but its a sweet idea. The writers/poets who nominated this blog were:

Michelle Pond, at MAPoet who was so kind as to say I tell amazing stories. She’s just published a book “I Keep You With Me-Looking at Grief with Verse.” 

Sarah over at Sarah Writes has a funny story on Beta readers that I completely agree with and took to heart.

I love Jennifer Chow’s description on her profile: “Like a fortune cookie, I’m twisted into dual selves, my Asian-American nature. This blog serves my words and my culture in a written delicacy.”  Captivating.

And lastly, the tagline on Bonnie’s blog, Just Ventures Coaching, is a twist on one of my favorite quotes from Ghandi: “Be the change you want to see.” Her unique twist is ” It’s Time to be The Change.” Here, here. 

Now, the awardee (me) is supposed to nominate 5 bloggers for every nomination. That would be 20 bloggers. Remember I said I’m not feeling too well? So you will forgive me if I nominate one writer-(pretty please)

Nomination goes to:

 Anne because she made me laugh so hard when I read about the Jersey Oompa-Loompa Mom. I’m sure she’ll have you ROFL-ing. 

(it’s not the ralph mentioned previously , but rolling on the floor laughing). 

Enjoy their blogs!