Sunday, July 05, 2009

The Sunday Salon - Slump, Busted!


Hot damn! I knew it had to happen sometime, and I was right! You got it, my lovelies...I'm reading again! In the spirit of my Reading in Order Challenge, I picked up the next book on the TBR and zipped through 50 pages immediately. Briar Rose, by Jane Yolen, is just as good as you all said it would be. This is my first time sampling Yolen's work, and now I'm really sad that I didn't see her speak at Texas A&M University - Commerce (my alma mater) this past semester. I suspect she would've been fascinating to listen to. But back to Briar Rose...

If you've been under a rock--as I've been--here's an Andi blurb for ya:

Becca is one of three granddaughters to Gemma. Gemma spent her lifetime telling stories to her granddaughters...mainly the tale of Briar Rose. Before her death, Gemma makes Becca promise to investigate her story as she insists that she is Briar Rose. What follows is a lot of investigative work on Becca's part, and I know this all leads to Gemma's experiences during the Holocaust, but I haven't read far enough yet to know exactly how that transition happens or how Becca will stumble upon the truth of Gemma's mysterious past.

I know this one is considered young adult fiction, though I consistently find myself surprised by Yolen's authorial choices in this regard. Becca is a grown woman...no angsty teenage narrators here. This is one of those novels that rides the fine line between teen and adult fiction. The only thing that seems particularly "teeny" about it is the cover. I'm very much enjoying Yolen's take on the "Briar Rose" tale since you all know what a fairy tale whore I am. Yeah, I said fairy tale whore. It's true...why hide or sugar coat it, right? Ha!

I'm also reading a SECOND BOOK! No one is more shocked than I am, I assure you. I'm a lazy one, and I left my copy of Briar Rose in Pandora the Prius last night when we got done running around and doing Fourth of July things. I didn't feel like venturing out into the rain sprinkles in my pj's this morning, so I picked up the nearest book (toootally not in order for Reading In Order Challenge): Saving Fish From Drowning, by Amy Tan.

I freely admit that I'm probably the only person on earth to have not read ANY Amy Tan. My friend Beth assures me that I will fall over and worship at Tan's feet if I read The Joy Luck Club. After just a few pages of Saving Fish From Drowning, I am quite sure that Tan will be a new fave, and I can't wait to get to my copy of The Joy Luck Club on my stacks. An Andi-blurb about Saving Fish:

Bibi Chen narrates the book after her death. She's an art patron and generous benefactor to numerous Asian organizations during her lifetime. She arranges a trip down the famed Burma Road for eleven of her friends, but she mysteriously expires before the trip can take place. On a hazy Christmas morning her friends take off on a boat tour and never return.

I just have to say, Tan's "voice" for Bibi Chen is freakin' fantastic. I can totally picture her as a little fireball of a woman...outspoken and excitable. I'm not very far into the novel yet, but the premise is fantastic, and I'm totally hooked on Bibi as the narrator of her friends' trip and her own life. There's also a really interesting author's note in the beginning of the book wherein Tan describes a chance trip to a psychic research center and archives in an attempt to escape a New York City downpour. She happened upon the premise for the book after reading some supposed "channeled writings" from the real life Bibi Chen.

If you need a pick-me-up book, either of these should do the trick. They sure have for me. In fact, I think I'm going to finish tallying midterm grade reports right now and head back downstairs to my cozy bed and curl up with one of these books.
Have a great night, everyone! I hope all you American readers had a fantastic Fourth of July! I'll be posting fireworks pics soon!

20 comments:

  1. Yes, Briar Rose is pretty darn good. Glad it's boosted you out of your slump!

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  2. Glad you are out of your reading slump. I read Saving Fish From Drowning last year, but I will reserve my comments after you finish it to see what you have to say about it.

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  3. Thanks, Eli! I was beginning to think my slump would never get busted!

    Fem, looking forward to finding out what you thought about it. I hope I like it. :)

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  4. I haven't read any Amy Tan. But I saw the movie The Joy Luck Club.

    I'm so happy you're out of your reading slump!!

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  5. Yay, I'm glad the slump's busted. I've read all of Amy Tan's work and loved each and every one of them. I saw her from a distance at BEA too!

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  6. Oh, wow, I haven't read any Amy Tan in ages. When I was a sophomore in high school, I went to live with my aunt and uncle for a month, and they had all of Amy Tan's books. I always associate Amy Tan with being jumped on by my small cousins and eating these delicious dinner rolls that my aunt used to buy.

    I'm glad your reading slump is over! Those are such a bummer!

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  7. Thanks for reminding me about Briar Rose. I am a fairy tale whore too, and I keep meaning to add it to my list and always forget. Not this time!

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  8. Yay the reading slump is over. Both books sound really good. I know I've seen Briar Rose mentioned on several blogs but still have yet to pick it up. What's wrong with me! :)

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  9. Oh yay! I loved Briar Rose. It was my first by Yolen as well. It remains one of my favorite Holocaust (and fairy tale) books! You should give The True Story of Hansel and Gretel a try too.

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  10. I am a huge Tan fan and, actually, Saving Fish From Drowning was unlike any of her other works I have read, which all have a similar feel. In the end, whether you enjoy it or not, you should read The Joy Luck Club because it is quite different. Or the Bonesetter's Daughter... wow.

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  11. Oh, yeah. The Joy Luck Club is amazing. You'll love it.

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  12. I have not read The Joy Luck Club yet, but I read The Bonesetter's Daughter and I have to say that I liked it better than Saving Fish.

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  13. What's funny about me is that I picked up Briar Rose, and I had NO FREAKING CLUE it was about the Holocaust. Like none. Like, I thought it was just a straight fairy tale retelling. Yeah...

    Anyhow, I think Amy Tan is pretty darn amazing as well, but I liked The Joy Luck Club so much, I'm almost scared to try more of her books for fear they wouldn't live up to it. Sounds like I have nothing to fear, though.

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  14. Now I must be the only person on earth not to have read Amy Tan. And I even own something by her! I really need to try her books someday, glad you liked her, and esp. that the reading slump is over. Hate those.

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  15. Oh, I'm so happy for you that you've recovered! I can feel the joy emanating from this post. I love Amy Tan, but I've not read Fish From Drowning. One of my favorites of hers was The Kitchen God's Wife. I was terribly saddened to hear that she took her life, awhile ago I think. But, oh, so sad that she was that desparate.

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  16. I'm glad you're out of your reading slump.I'm going to admit that I have read anything by Tan and I haven't read Briar Rose. To make things worse, I had a copy of it and GAVE it away! Can you believe that? I suck. =)

    Happy reading.

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  17. Did I know you went to Texas A&M? You are one smart cookie!

    The book sounds fabulous, sadly, I feel like I'll never get to read a book again. When I do get a free minute I just want to sleep :O( Dr. Seuss here I come!

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  18. 1 - Briar Rose: I read this for a class, Adolescent Literature, and remember adoring it. In fact, it's one of the few books that I managed to keep over the years from my undergrad (sheesh, nearly ten years ago?) I can't wait to hear your review. Already this bit of a snippet reminded me why I treasured it so.

    2 - Do not fear, there is one other person at least - me- who has not read Joy Luck Club. In fact, I have not read anything by Tan regardless of the fact that I hear how great she is. Glad that you are one step ahead of me and at least diving into Tan. :)

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  19. Great reviews, Andi, Thanks! I haven't read any Jane Yolen in ages, but this sounds delightul...after all, the heroine is named after me :)

    And somehow I missed this Amy Tan novel. So far, for me, none of her work has come up to Joy Luck Club. But this one sounds good. I'll be looking for it!

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  20. I loved Briar Rose and I really hope you read more by Yolen as she is fantastic! I hope your slump improves soon.

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