Tag Archives: books

Summer Round Up

She lives!

I’m sorry, I’ve been neglectful, and I have new found respect for all the real book bloggers out there, because after a full day at work, it’s difficult for me to muster the energy to turn on my laptop, let alone write up a book review. You guys are amazing.

The new job is great. I’m learning a ton and feel more secure in my duties with every passing day. Everyone I work with has been incredibly welcoming and so helpful, and I’m lucky to be a part of such a smart team of publicists.

Thanks to my long commute, I’ve been able to get in a lot of pleasure reading and read nearly every book on my Summer 2012 list on Pinterest. Unsurprisingly, much of what I read was in the mystery/thriller genre, which I love all year round but which is particularly good in the summer. I did manage to get in some contemporary fiction, historical fiction, and romance in between murders, though!

I reviewed quite a few of my summer reads on the blog, but here are a few others that I really enjoyed, in capsule. I’m so excited for fall!

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Summer Wanderlust: My favorite books to bring on my travels

I usually get a major case of wanderlust in the summer. Sadly, I don’t always get to satisfy it, but on those occasions where I managed to get away, choosing which books I wanted to bring was right up there with planning my outfits (okay, maybe higher than planning my outfits). On my first trip to England, I happily hauled my massive hardcover copies of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and The Oxford Shakespeare to keep me company (I needed the latter for class! I swear!), and I might have made a few purchases while I was there, too. I went to Italy the following summer with The Historian and the next HP installment adding a good five kilos to my luggage, and even though they nearly caused me to wipe out on the cobblestones in Florence, they were well worth the evening hours I wiled away reading them. When my friends and I took our epic trip to England and Italy two summers ago, I was mindful of the amount of times we’d be changing locations and limited myself to a single book: a paperback of Bocaccio’s The Decameron. We ended up being so busy that I didn’t make it beyond the first page (sorry, Giovanni). I kept this in mind when I put together my packing list for Ireland and, again, took only one book, the very exciting Grammar for Smart People. By the time I reached Killarney, I was into my second reading and wanted to fork out an eyeball. I hadn’t taken into account that I’d be traveling solo during the low season, when things closed earlier for lack of tourists, and that without my friends, my evenings would generally be wide open (thankfully, a benevolent soul left an old Victoria Holt novel at my hostel in Dublin, so my eyeball was saved).

After I got back from my Ireland trip, I commenced on a search for the perfect books to read while traveling. My criteria were pretty simple: a) the book had to be portable (i.e. paperback, or a really short hardcover), and b) it had to be something short that I could get lost in for a quick stretch of time. And, dear readers, I’ve found them! These are my top three favorites, and please tell me which books make it into your luggage too!
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Penguin Twitter Book Club Part III: The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

The third Penguin Twitter Book Club discussion of The Weird Sisters was slightly different because we were missing author extraordinaire Eleanor Brown. The folks at Penguin did an incredible job in her stead as we tackled some extremely action heavy chapters.

Once more, a quick synopsis, courtesy of the publisher:

Three sisters have returned to their childhood home, reuniting the eccentric Andreas family. Here, books are a passion (there is no problem a library card can’t solve) and TV is something other people watch. Their father-a professor of Shakespeare who speaks almost exclusively in verse-named them after the Bard’s heroines. It’s a lot to live up to.

The sisters have a hard time communicating with their parents and their lovers, but especially with one another. What can the shy homebody eldest sister, the fast-living middle child, and the bohemian youngest sibling have in common? Only that none has found life to be what was expected; and now, faced with their parents’ frailty and their own personal disappointments, not even a book can solve what ails them…

WARNING: THE SPOILERS COMETH!
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Penguin Twitter Book Club Part II: The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

Today was the second meeting of the Penguin Twitter Book Club. Just to recap for those who are unfamiliar: the Penguin Twitter Book Club is a new initiative born from the company’s search for new ways to interact with their fans. As with traditional book clubs, Penguin will choose a different book written by a Penguin author each month and tweet out the date and time for the discussion, which can be followed at the hashtag #readpenguin. The author will also sit in on the chat when possible.

The first selection is The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown. Again, for those who are unfamiliar, here’s a quick synopsis of the book from the lovely folks at Penguin:

Three sisters have returned to their childhood home, reuniting the eccentric Andreas family. Here, books are a passion (there is no problem a library card can’t solve) and TV is something other people watch. Their father-a professor of Shakespeare who speaks almost exclusively in verse-named them after the Bard’s heroines. It’s a lot to live up to.

The sisters have a hard time communicating with their parents and their lovers, but especially with one another. What can the shy homebody eldest sister, the fast-living middle child, and the bohemian youngest sibling have in common? Only that none has found life to be what was expected; and now, faced with their parents’ frailty and their own personal disappointments, not even a book can solve what ails them…

I am a huge fan of this book and the author, and the discussion has been incredible so far! Today’s selection focused on chapters 5-11.

NOTE: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!
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Penguin Twitter Book Club Part I: The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

Two weeks ago, Penguin announced the first official Twitter book club, a new initiative born from the company’s search for new ways to interact with their fans. As with traditional book clubs, Penguin will choose a different book written by a Penguin author each month and tweet out the date and time for the discussion, which can be followed at the hashtag #readpenguin. The author will also sit in on the chat when possible.

The first selection for the club was The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown. I was extremely excited because I’ve heard wonderful things about this book, and Eleanor is an avid Twitter user (follow her @eleanorwrites), so I knew she’d be involved in the discussion. Penguin was kind enough to send me a copy of the gorgeous, newly released paperback, so when it arrived, I got cracking right away and finished the section we were going to discuss just in time for the meeting.

First, a synopsis from the lovely folks at Penguin:

Three sisters have returned to their childhood home, reuniting the eccentric Andreas family. Here, books are a passion (there is no problem a library card can’t solve) and TV is something other people watch. Their father-a professor of Shakespeare who speaks almost exclusively in verse-named them after the Bard’s heroines. It’s a lot to live up to.

The sisters have a hard time communicating with their parents and their lovers, but especially with one another. What can the shy homebody eldest sister, the fast-living middle child, and the bohemian youngest sibling have in common? Only that none has found life to be what was expected; and now, faced with their parents’ frailty and their own personal disappointments, not even a book can solve what ails them…

Second, I finished this over the weekend and loved it so much! It’s an incredible and beautifully written story of sisterhood, the power of reading, and of growing up, and it quickly earned a place in my “favorite books” category.

Now, the discussion.

NOTE: SPOILERS UNDER THE TAG!
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My teetering to-be-read shelf…

Those are all the books in my to-be-read pile.

You’ll notice that in the right corner of the photo, there is another book with a bookmark in it. That would be what I’m currently reading (Vienna Waltz by Tracy “Teresa” Grant). Someone needs a mandatory freeze on her library card.

*ducks head*

On the bright side, I should be able to get a review or two (or several) out of these books.

Just two quick things from my last review:
First, I zipped through Faithful Place. I think this might be the best place to start if you’re going to attempt Tana French, because the case is extremely personal to the protagonist and, as a result, is a bit more fleshed out than the other two. It’s an incredible study on family life in The Liberties and how those bonds are tested, and it was the only one of Ms. French’s books where I was upset that she left things slightly ambiguous, because I really wanted to know how things played out. And I really liked learning more about Frank Mackey’s past, because he was a bit of a bollocks in The Likeness. I cannot wait for Broken Harbor to come out next summer (thanks to the folks at Viking for the heads up on that one). I’m curious whose story it will be—I have a few ideas.

Second, I also finished A Game of Thrones. For the most part, I enjoyed. It reminded me of Lord of the Rings, but I found it a little easier to relate to as far as parallels with our history are concerned (knights, kings, religion, etc.). Parts were a little dense, but there were also moments where the tension was so high that I wanted to scream. Perhaps the best part of all is being able to discuss it with all of my friends, who are addicted to the T.V. series and are reading the books after the fact. A Clash of Kings is next in the queue.

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The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson

The LanternThe Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson

Eve and Dom are at the beginning of a whirlwind romance when they decide to move in to a crumbling old villa in Provence. The summer is idyllic, and they indulge in any pursuit that catches their fancy. Only one topic is taboo: Dom’s first wife, Rachel. Initially, Eve promises not to ask questions about her, for Dom’s sake and because she’s so swept up in the relationship that she fears losing him, but, slowly but surely, the questions begin to gnaw at her: What was Rachel like? Where is she? Does Dom still love her? This is all compounded by the presence of Sabine, a neighbor who knew Rachel well. When Eve begins to ask questions, Dom begins to distance himself, and Eve starts to wonder if she’s comfortable knowing so little about the man she’s with. And then, the house starts acting up with inexplicable power outages, lit lanterns mysteriously appearing in the garden, and things that go bump in the night.

In the past, the villa belonged to the Lincel family, and Bénédicte, the youngest daughter, picks up the narrative and reveals the farm’s tumultuous and, some would say, cursed history. As the story of the Lincels intertwines with Eve’s, the mysteries of the small hamlet begin to emerge. But will they tell Eve something about Dom that she’d be better off not knowing?

I struggled with The Lantern. Now that I’ve finished it and can see the total package, I completely understand what Lawrenson was going for. This is, indeed, a modern Rebecca, replete with descriptions in extremely gorgeous prose and plenty of psychological drama. However, I don’t remember having to work nearly as hard to make it through Rebecca; there was just enough space devoted to creating atmosphere and establishing the odd moods of the characters, and nothing felt superfluous to me. With The Lantern, I had to wade my way through 200 pages of wild gardens, crumbling houses, and sulky Dom before the real mystery emerged. Was it all very interesting in the end? Yes. Am I glad I pushed through? Yes. Am I turning into one of those horrible people who insists on instant gratification? I hope not! Like I said, Lawrenson has a way with words, and I appreciated it, but I suppose I felt like I needed a little more of the mystery a little earlier in the narrative.

I’ve heard from other readers that this book is extremely well done in audio. I think that might be the best way to experience this book.

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