Tag Archives: NYC

The Never War by D. J. MacHale

This is the third book in the Pendragon Series, following The Lost City of Faar. We needed a book to listen to on our drive to Baltimore for vacation/conference. My husband remembered we’d started this book and was able to find the next book in the series in audio form.

Published: 2005

Genre: middle grade fantastical fiction (hard to judge if it’s science fiction or fantasy as the Travelers move between worlds by flume)

Length: 352 pages

Setting: mostly NYC in First Earth (1940), with a trip to Second and Third Earth, immediately following the events from The Lost City of Faar Continue reading


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Two-Part Invention by Madeleine L’Engle

This is the fourth and final of L’Engle’s Crosswick Journals. I skipped the third one (The Irrational Season) because it focuses on L’Engle’s relationship to Christianity, and I’m just not interested in that topic, even if it is L’Engle writing.

Published: 1988

Genre: nonfiction memoir

Length: 232 pages

Setting: Crosswicks in 1987, NYC in the 1960s Continue reading

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Valiant by Holly Black

I’m pulling books off my reading lists that fill letters I’m missing on my alphabet challenge. This book fit the bill. I originally put it on my reading list after reading a post about strong female characters in books at The Hub.

Subtitle: A Modern Faerie Tale (there’s a whole series of modern faerie tales by Holly Black)

Published: 2005

Genre: urban fantasy

Length: 313 pages (although the book dimensions were small, so it read faster than usual)

Setting: NYC, present day Continue reading

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When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Audiobooks have been our saving grace as we drove 20 minutes to rehearsal four times a week. I was first introduced to this book by The Modern Mrs. Darcy and it caught my eye because A Wrinkle in Time is a major plot point. I’ve heard it made a good read aloud, and was excited to see the audiobook was available from our library.

Published: 2009

Genre: YA time travel fiction

Length: 199 pages

Setting: New York City, 1978 Continue reading

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Sophie’s Choice by William Styron

Published: 1976

Genre: fiction

Length: 562 pages

Setting: 1970s New York City, and WWII in Aushweitz

Interest: It’s one of the Time Top 100 books of the century Continue reading

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The Cricket in Times Square by George Seldon

Published: 1960

Genre: middle grade talking animal fiction

Length: 176 pages

Setting: Times Square, NYC, late 1950s (present day for when the book was written)

Interest: I’ve heard it was a good read aloud, so it was our bedtime story for a while. Continue reading

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The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos

Published: 1989

Genre: historical fiction

Length: 407 pages

Setting: Cuba and NYC, 1950s-1980s

Interest: It won a Pulitzer Prize

Summary: We follow the life of Cesar Castillo. In the book, he’s an old man who’s checked himself into a hotel room to drink himself to death. He’s reminiscing about his life as a Cuban mambo player. Cesar was originally from Cuba. He and his brother, Nestor, left their farm to become musicians, first in Havana, then in Miami, and finally moving to NYC. While their group, the Mambo Kings, never made it huge, they enjoyed moderate levels of fame. Nestor eventually settled down (although was never truly happy), but Cesar continued to party his way through life. Cesar was always looking for the next gig, drink, or lady to forget his troubles with.

Final thoughts: This book did a great job describing a particular ethnic scene I didn’t know much about – Cuban exiles. That being said, the amount of sex described throughout the book took away a lot of the enjoyment I might have gotten from the book. Cesar was always on the prowl for the latest hook-up, and he liked to remember the many sexual encounters he had. It made him seem like more of a man. Not bad enough to give up on, but not one I particularly enjoyed or would have finished if it hadn’t been for the Pulitzer Prize associated with it. It was also one of those books I just keep reading to see if it got better, but no. The end is very similar to the beginning. We just hear about different parts of Cesar’s life, but he didn’t change too much as he got older.

Title comes from: The Mambo Kings was the name of the group Cesar headlined, and one of their albums was THe Mambo Kings Play Song of Love.

Awards won: Pulitzer Prize in 1990

Reading challenges fulfilled: 6/100 in my Finally to 100 Challenge, an H in my Author Alphabet Challenge, and 3/12 in my Award Winning Challenge

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