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Friday, January 9, 2015

Best Book of 2014--Book Review


I know I'm a little late but still had to say it. Hope your holidays were filled with surprises and adventure. Now breathe, breathe, so we can get on with 2015 and make this new year shake the rafters with joy-filled anticipation.

I need to admit something...I LOVE BOOKS. All different types and shapes and sizes. Funny ones, scary ones, sad and hopeful. Poignant ones, ones that sneak up on me with their beautiful melancholy and ones written so beautifully that I feel like I'm being transported to another universe on a fluffy, thick cloud, while I absorb their language.

It's never easy to answer the question: What's your favorite book? Because the only fair response is: So many. It's like picking your favorite child, I just can't do it. They're all unique and wonderful in their own way. I've decided to pick my favorite book of 2014 instead. I should be clear, I read this book in 2014 but it was actually published in 2011 by Atheneum.

Drumroll please...yes, it's that good; it deserves its very own drumroll. Preferably one thrusting it into the collective spirit of humanity. It's a book that lovely...

Where Things Come Back by one Mister John Corey Whaley.

It's so many things all at once that I have a hard time deciding where to begin. I'm not going to spend much time on the plot because it's easy enough to read a brief synopsis. Just click on this link, for example, and you can read that on Amazon.

I think what took me most by surprise about Where Things Come Back was equal parts tone and beautiful language. The language didn't overwhelm the story but it was impossible not to notice how adeptly the author used pretty sentences to convey specific emotional tags.

Two stories seamlessly woven into one. I don't want to give away the many enjoyable twists and turns in hopes that when you read it, you too will be easily moved and awed by the feelings stirred in your heart for these very endearing characters.

But I will say, the main character, 17yr. old, Cullen Witter has more than his share of heartbreak the summer between his junior and senior year of high school. I don't know how he manages. He's a braver, hardier spirit than myself. If I suffered the way he did, I'm pretty sure, I would've just stayed in bed and watched trashy TV or movies all summer long. Luckily, for the reader, Cullen Witter keeps on keeping on, searching for understanding and answers.

The reasons to read this book are vast and varied. I happened upon this author by bookstore recommendation. If you're local to the Austin area and looking for solid suggestions from a bookseller, check out The Book Spot in Round Rock. Owners Danny and Julie know their stock and are very helpful.

I don't know how John Corey Whaley came up with the idea for his novel. Nor do I know how he so beautifully connected with the languishing yearning that held my heart captive like a Russian prison for the entire 228 pages. I hope it has zero to do with personal experience and everything to do with talent and insight.

The last thing I need to address is the ending of Where Things Come Back. I'm not going to ruin your read by stating the obvious, but, must point out that the story at the end of the book is almost more tragically mesmerizing than when things start unraveling for Cullen Witter in the beginning. The summer between junior and senior year in high school is supposed to be exciting. The anticipation of ruling the school when you return in the fall is something to be revered. Poor Cullen gets to savor none of the anticipation he is rightly entitled because of horrid personal events that capture and sustain his attention.

No one deserves such treachery.

At the end of the story, John Corey Whaley used a technique that originally left me thinking the story had ended one way. Call me an optimist but I forever retain my hope, especially when I love the character in question. Brace yourself reader, because if you are like me [at all] and walk around for days on end after finishing a book, wondering to yourself what the heck has happened to your poor sweet character since you read the last word the author offered up on it in his version, they you may be shocked or disgruntled, or simply in awe when you realize what actually happened.

I thought the book ended one way and then three days later realized, no, no, no!!! I was all wrong. This other thing really happened. Say what? Believe me, I was sad and unsettled. So I read the ending again to make sure I understood the writerly technique used to simultaneously imply two things. As the reader, I think you can honestly believe that the story ends either on a happy note or a sad note. Initially, I went happy but then I had to accept the fate of my character maybe wasn't so hopeful.

Sad, sad, sad...I love this book. Touching, endearing, melancholic, and enjoyable to read. I don't know he did it, but John Corey Whaley wrote a beautiful, unforgettable story and this is why, Where Things Come Back, is my favorite book of 2014.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


Best video EVER!

Watch adorable sixteen month old cub, Bao Bao, resident of the Smithsonian Zoo, Washington, DC. Mama Mei joins him and they play outside on his first snow day. So cute I can hardly handle it.

What's that silly panda carrying? 

I warn you though, once you click, there's no way you will get as much work, chores or anything done, as prior to joining Club Bao Bao. Tread lightly.  

Does anybody else have an immediate urge to visit DC? 

May 2015 deliver adventure, good fortune, wisdom and an unwavering sense of hope and confidence to your doorstep.