Tag Archives: penguin

A Hundred Summers Read Along

6.2.13_AHundredSummers

I might have raved about Beatriz Williams on this blog once or twice. Her newest book, A Hundred Summers, just went on sale last Thursday. I was lucky enough to snap up a galley of this beauty in February, and I read the entire thing in one sitting; I was so wrapped up in Lily’s story and so enchanted by the characters and the settings of Rhode Island in 1938 and New York City in the 20s that I was loath to put it down. Not to mention it banished the dreary winter weather we were having and made me look forward to summer. As with Overseas, I couldn’t wait to read it again.

The perfect opportunity to do so came when Jennifer from Literate Housewife announced that she was planning a read along for July. When she brought it up to the Hashtag Book Club, our three-month-old Twitter discussion group, all of us jumped on board and tried to think of a fun way to get the word out, and the blog hop was born.

I chose this quote because it comes at a point in the book where both the physical and emotional storms that have been brewing are about to break, not to mention it gives you an idea of just how incredible Beatriz’s writing is.

I hope you’ll join us for the read along! Check out the discussion schedule, and for further inspiration, visit my fellow bloggers and see what quotes they chose:

May 28 — Teresa’s Reading Corner

May 29 — Girls Just Reading

May 30 — Anita Loves Books

June 1 — Linus’s Blanket

June 2 — The Red Headed Reader

June 3 — Poof… books.

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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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Hooray!

We interrupt our regularly scheduled reviewing to bring you some very exciting news:

I got a job!!!!!

(and yes, that photo is an accurate depiction of what I did when I found out)

As of Wednesday, July 25, I will be working in the marketing and publicity department at Gotham and Avery, which are two non-fiction imprints at Penguin. I’m so excited to join the team over there and to be back in the offices where I interned last summer!

I’m so grateful to all of the people I’ve met in publishing over the last year, who have been so helpful and encouraging. I’m especially thankful to the incredible book community on Twitter, because you guys always knew what to say when I was feeling low and made me genuinely believe I’d get here!

This blog will continue as normal, i.e. I will try to post reviews as often as I can and will probably continue pasting a synopsis from the publisher, rather than write my own. And maybe I’ll post a bit about what it’s like to work in publishing, too!

We now return to our semi-regularly scheduled posting.

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The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty

The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty

Summary from the publisher:
Only a few years before becoming a famous actress and an icon for her generation, a fifteen-year-old Louise Brooks leaves Wichita to make it big in New York. Much to her annoyance, she is accompanied by a thirty-six-year-old chaperone who is neither mother nor friend. Cora Carlisle is a complicated but traditional woman with her own reasons for making the trip. She has no idea what she’s in for: Young Louise, already stunningly beautiful and sporting her famous blunt bangs and black bob, is known for her arrogance and her lack of respect for convention. Ultimately, the five weeks they spend together will change their lives forever. For Cora, New York holds the promise of discovery that might prove an answer to the question at the center of her being, and even as she does her best to watch over Louise in a strange and bustling city, she embarks on her own mission. And while what she finds isn’t what she anticipated, it liberates her in a way she could not have imagined. Over the course of the summer, Cora’s eyes are opened to the promise of the twentieth century and a new understanding of the possibilities for being fully alive.

I was so excited to receive this book at a BEA event. I’m not a Louise Brooks aficionado by any means—I haven’t seen her films or read her autobiography—but her image is iconic, and I was really intrigued by what her first trip to New York was like. The author won me over even further when she read a hilarious passage where Cora, the eponymous chaperone, tried to explain the importance of maintaining a spotless reputation, complete with metaphors about unwrapped candy. There was no hope for it, I had to dig in right away.

I think what I enjoyed most about The Chaperone was watching the country change through Cora’s eyes. The action begins in 1922, where older women were still wearing corsets and worrying about showing ankles while the younger generation was rolling down their stockings and raising their hems above the knee, and continues all the way through the 1970s. The passage of time really gave Cora an incredible character arc, and I loved watching her evolve from a very proper, conservative, almost priggish Midwestern wife to someone who was able to stand up at a ladies’ luncheon and say that she thought it was fine for pharmacists to sell birth control.

The catalyst for Cora’s change in attitude is Louise, a charge who is as infuriating as she’s fascinating, and whose devil-may-care life keeps Cora on edge, but also teaches her that not everything is so black and white. The scene where the two meet after Louise is forced to move back home was my particular favorite, because the tables were turned and Cora was able to finally offer some advice to Louise that she could take.

The book is mostly Cora’s story, but we do learn a bit about Louise. I was amazed that she survived her childhood, after being brushed off by her resentful mother and absent father and then molested by a neighbor. And experiencing these revelations from Cora’s perspective really helped humanize Louise. It explained a lot about her and made me want to learn more.

The Chaperone is a fantastically written and vividly detailed historical novel, not to mention a very fast read. I highly recommend it.

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Overseas by Beatriz Williams

Overseas by Beatriz Williams

Summary from the publisher:
When twenty-something Wall Street analyst Kate Wilson attracts the notice of the legendary Julian Laurence at a business meeting, no one’s more surprised than she is. Julian’s relentless energy and his extraordinary intellect electrify her, but she’s baffled by his sudden interest. Why would this handsome British billionaire—Manhattan’s most eligible bachelor—pursue a pretty but bookish young banker who hasn’t had a boyfriend since college?

The answer is beyond imagining . . . at least at first. Kate and Julian’s story may have begun not in the moneyed world of twenty-first-century Manhattan but in France during World War I, when a mysterious American woman emerged from the shadows of the Western Front to save the life of Captain Julian Laurence Ashford, a celebrated war poet and infantry officer.

Now, in modern-day New York, Kate and Julian must protect themselves from the secrets of the past, and trust in a true love that transcends time and space.

Readers, let me ask you: have you ever read a book that makes your heart hurt in the best way possible? Where you grow to love the characters so much that they’re the last thing you think of when you go to sleep and the first thing you think of when you wake up?

That is Overseas.

Let me say right off, this is not a historical novel. It’s more of a romance with elements of magical realism, and it requires some suspension of disbelief, which, for me, wasn’t at all difficult because I was so completely immersed in the story that I didn’t find myself questioning the plausibility of the whole thing, rather I wondered how the events of the past affected Kate and Julian’s future, and whether those things were going to catch up to them. Alternating between Amiens in 1916 and Manhattan in the present day also allowed the author to maintain some seriously high stakes, and the last 50 pages were particularly harrowing.

The characters are also wonderfully engaging. It was so easy to identify with Kate as she reeled with the knowledge of Julian’s past and then fought to maintain a balance between her independence and Julian’s protectiveness and wealth. And Julian is definitely going to perpetuate my unrealistic expectations in men, although I did like that he had his own flaws and that Kate called him out on them.

I can see readers getting a little confused about the how and why of the time travel and wanting more of an explanation. It made sense to me, and as the characters don’t fully understand how it works, I was able to accept the explanation we got. The author is very open to questions, so contact her via her website (linked above) or on Twitter if you want to know more.

I highly recommend this book if you’re looking for a story of epic, consuming love, with some interesting little twists. For me, it was the ideal way to kick off the unofficial beginning of summer.

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Penguin Twitter Book Club Parts IV and V: The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

Tonight marked the final Penguin Twitter Book Club discussion of The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown. I’ve loved discussing this book with the author and my fellow tweeters and am kind of sad for it to come to an end, although I know the great discussion will continue with our next read, the incredible A Discovery of Witches.

Again, a quick synopsis from 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…

Previous recaps are available here

HIGHWAY TO THE SPOILER ZONE!
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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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