Thursday, June 27, 2013

Winners of Literary Blog Hop!

Congratulations to the winners of my Literary Blog Hop Giveaway!

 Mona won Alley of Love and Yellow Jasmines
 Iris won City of Hope
 Books in the Burbs won A Hundred Summers

Congratulations to the winners and thanks to everyone who stopped by my blog to for the Hop - I hope you stick around and keep reading!

 Thank you to Judith of Leswammes Blog for hosting the hop!

Review: City of Hope by Kate Kerrigan

City of Hope by Kate Kerrigan continues the story of Ellie Hogan which started in the novel Ellis Island (my review). When we leave Ellie in Ellis Island, she has returned home to Ireland following the death of her father and is reunited there with her husband, John. City of Hope picks up a number of years later, still in Ireland, and Ellie has made her mark on the rural village in which she and John live. She has a number of small business and is as independent as ever. When John dies suddenly, Ellie, despite her apparent strength, can't cope. She flees Ireland and arrives back in New York City, now in the throes of the Depression.

Ellie Hogan is strong-willed and relishes her independence. Beneath that hard exterior, however, Ellie has a strong love for her husband and even curtails some of her grand ideas to align to her husband's desire for a more humble lifestyle. She is devastated when John dies suddenly of a heart attack and feels some guilt since she had been more focused on getting to town to check in on one of her businesses on the day John died than on spending time with him. In a rash act, Ellie flees Ireland following the funeral and heads to NY - she can't bear her grief in Ireland and is desperate for distraction.  There is much to distract her in NY but it is not what she expected. The NY she left was glittering with parties, fashionable clothes and beautiful homes; she returns to NY in the Depression and she is surrounded by desperation with families living on the streets.

Ellie soon finds her purpose among the needy in NY and starts refurbishing derelict homes and taking in needy families. Ellie gets to further bury her grief while staying so busy and the families gain some dignity as they work for Ellie refurbishing and running the homes. Soon she has launched small businesses including a bakery and uses the profits to further her initiative of providing homes for the needy. Despite the satisfaction Ellie gets from her good works, she is running from her grief and it is always on the verge of catching up to her.

My Thoughts
As with Ellis Island, I was drawn into City of Hope and the story the author weaved. I found myself rooting for the families that Ellie "rescued" and enjoyed watching their redemption as they contributed to helping other families in need. Although baffled by Ellie's choices at times, I couldn't help but cheer for her too and admired her strength and willingness to "just get it done".  I felt sorry for Ellie, too, both for her loss and for her inability to be honest with herself and those around her about her grief. As a reader, I knew she could not outrun her grief and dreaded the moment at which it would catch up with her.

City of Hope is a fabulous follow-up to Ellis Island and I loved the continuation of Ellie's story. It does, however, stand on it's own. If you enjoy immigrant stories, historical fiction or stories of redemption, you will love City of Hope!

You can read other reviews of the book from those on the TLC Tour.

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for providing an ARC as part of the tour.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Review: Commencement by J.Courtney Sullivan

In Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan, we meet Celia, Bree, April and Sally as they start their first year at Smith College. The young women are dorm mates and, although they come very different backgrounds, they develop a bond as much out of an affinity for each other as out of a need to connect now that they had left their homes and all that was familiar behind. The four women stay close after graduation and return to the Smith campus for Sally's wedding a few years after graduation. The story is told from each woman's point of view both during college and following college as they gather at Smith for the wedding. Their lives have moved on from when they were in college and the bonds formed during college are strained as the girls question whether they have truly made lifelong friends or if the magic of their shared college experience is what has held them together. 

Celia comes from a loving, Irish-Catholic family and is quick to make friends and draw others in; when she hears the beautiful Southern Belle, Bree, crying in the next dorm room she invites her in, offers her comfort (along with Oreos and Vodka- this IS college, after all) and gets to know her new hall mate. Bree has left her high school sweetheart at home and although she wants to pursue her dream of going to law school in Stanford, she wonders whether she should ditch her dreams and just go home and live a conventional life as fiance to her high school sweetheart. April is a staunch feminist, frequently on a soapbox about any number of issues and, on the surface seems to have little in common with the likes Celia and Bree. April's difficult childhood as the daughter of a single mother who frequently failed to protect her, however, has left her with a vulnerability that allows her to let the other girls in. Sally has experienced a great loss right before the start of school - the death of her mother to cancer - and her wealthy father's distance just further deepens the loss. She will need the three other girls to help her through her grief.

 My Thoughts
This book has all the making of chick lit or contemporary women's fiction but the writing elevates it to something literary. I found myself marking pages all through out the book both because I was impressed by the writing and the sentiments expressed resonated with me.

Sullivan so well captures that early adulthood (although I sometimes still feel this way!) insecurity about what life ahead holds for you and wanting to just be settled.

If things had been different, she would be in Carolyn's place right now.  She didn't want that sort of existence, but there was something so attractive about the security of feeling like you had stopped moving toward your life, and actually arrived.
As the women return to the Smith campus, they see college life through adult eyes with a certain amount of wistfulness.
In the main room, Smithies sat alone at carrels, serious as monks, their faces down in their used copies of Thackeray and Joan Didion. Sally had a ridiculous urge to walk over to them, smooth their hair, and tell them to savor every minute of this. But none of the girls even looked up. Sally was twenty-six, which in college student years was borderline elderly.
But my favorite quote is this one:
 The A train came quickly, as it always did at rush hour. Celia stepped into the crowded car and sucked in the burst of air conditioning. She closed her eyes as the train screeched to its next stop. Outwardly she was a very peaceful person. But the rage she felt daily on the New York City subway hinted at the possibility that the only difference between her and those raving-mad homeless people in the car was the she knew enough to keep quiet.
Commencement is an apt title for this novel - these young women, although mourning the end of their college years and having their best friends in their daily lives, are really at the start of their lives and recognizing that their friendships and what they have learned about themselves through those friendships will help them navigate what comes ahead. This novel has smart, well developed characters and is well written - I will definitely be reading more by this author.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sunday Salon: June 23, 2013

The Sunday

The city has been treated to another weekend of warm, sunny and most importantly to me, not humid, weather. I am soaking all this great weather up before it gets hot and sticky in the city. I hope to get back up to the roof deck today to do some reading of this book:

This week I reviewed The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank. It is a fun story about a wife questioning why she puts up with what she does from an inattentive husband. While she considers her next move, she heads to the city of Charleston, SC to spend time with her brother in the city of their youth. In my review, I commented that the city of Charleston was almost its own character in the book - Les, the main character, frequents Charleston's restaurants, talks of the city's history and walks by its landmarks. Michelle of That's What She Read commented: "The city of Charleston is pretty much its own character in EVERY novel that uses it as its setting!"

Elle Decor Goes to Charleston

I have been to Charleston once and was completely charmed and this book had me considering a return trip. I have also seen some recent blog posts talking about things to do in the city and great restaurants there that have me hankering for a visit. Kristin from Iowa Girl Eats (great blog for recipes and delicious eats) visited this spring and summarized her favorite Charleston restaurants and the favorite parts of her trip overall. The author of blog Cocktails in Charleston is making his way through 1000 drink recipes and includes pictures of his hometown of Charleston in posts. Finally, Charleston Grit is a visually appealing blog with lots of information about the city and beyond. Have you been to Charleston?  What other city becomes its own character in a book?

In Case You Missed It
This week started with a post about audiobooks as part of Audiobook Week. On Wednesday, I reviewed The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank (see above re: Charleston!). On Friday, my review of Big Brother brought me to reveal more than I generally do in my posts. This book obviously resonated with me and the writing is excellent - this book will definitely be on my Best of 2013 list. Finally,  I am taking part in the Literary Blog Hop and am hosting a giveaway  - stop by to enter!

Have a great week!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Giveaway: Literary Giveaway Blog Hop

Judith from Leeswammes Blog is once again hosting a Literary Giveaway Blog Hop. I am happy to be taking part and have three books to offer for giveaway.

A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams (ARC) - This book made my Top Ten Beach Reads list and has been cropping up a lot of other Best of Summer lists. I think the beachy cover belies the historical fiction themes of this book. 

The Alley of Love and Yellow Jasmines by Shohreh Aghdashloo (ARC) -  Oscar nominee and Emmy Award–winning actress Shohreh Aghdashloo shares her remarkable personal journey—from a childhood in the Shah’s Iran to the red carpets of Hollywood—in The Alley of Love and Yellow Jasmines, a dazzling memoir of family, faith, and hope.
  When revolution swept Iran in 1978, the Ayatollah Khomeini’s religious regime brought stifling restrictions on women and art. Shohreh Aghdashloo seized the moment and boldly left her husband for Europe and eventually, America, a vastly different culture.

City of Hope by Kate Kerrigan - This is the sequel to Ellis Island (which I LOVED). It continues the story of Ellie who has returned to Ireland from New York City.  After tragedy, she returns to NY during the Depression and finds it very different than she left it. UPDATE: The e-book version of Ellis Island is currently on sale for $1.99 wherever e-books are sold!

  • This giveaway runs from June 22 - June 26 and I will select the (3) winners - one for each book- on June 27
  • Giveaway is open worldwide as long as Book Depository delivers in your country
  • The Alley of Love and Yellow Jasmines and A Hundred Summers will be unread ARC's sent to US winners (ex-US winners will have the book shipped to them from BD)
  • To enter, leave a comment with the which of the books you would like to win (more than one is ok) and a way to contact you 
Visit other's on the giveaway hop:

  1. Leeswammes
  2. Ciska's Book Chest
  3. The Book Garden
  4. Sam Still Reading
  5. Ephemeral Digest
  6. Curiosity Killed the Bookworm
  7. Rikki's Teleidoscope
  8. The Things You Can Read (US)
  9. Seaside Book Nook
  10. The Relentless Reader (US)
  11. Under a Gray Sky Blog
  12. Exurbanis
  13. Candle Beam Book Blog
  14. Booklover Book Reviews
  15. Books in the Burbs (US)
  16. Babyboomerwrites
  17. River City Reading (US)
  18. Lakeside Musing (N. America)
  19. Read Lately (US)
  20. The Book Diva's Reads
  21. A Place That Does Not Exist
  22. Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book (US)
  23. A corner of the library
  24. Roof Beam Reader
  25. The Misfortune of Knowing
  26. Girl Vs Bookshelf
  1. heavenali
  2. Love at First Book
  3. The Little Reader Library
  4. The Siren's Tale
  5. Musings and Ramblings
  6. The Readers Realm (US)
  7. Lost Generation Reader
  8. Readerbuzz
  9. Literary Meanderings
  10. Book Clutter
  11. Bay State Reader's Advisory
  12. Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity
  13. Nose in a book
  14. Audios & More
  15. Laurie Here
  16. Mythical Books
  17. Books in the City

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Review: Big Brother by Lionel Shriver

Big Brother by Lionel Shriver is the story of Pandora Halfdonarson who is trapped between her recently obese brother and her aggressively fit, restrictive husband. Through Pandora and her navigation of these two diametrically opposed loved ones in her life, Shriver tackles the loaded and controversial topics of fat, diets, control and shame. Layered on top of obesity and its consequences, Shriver also explores the sibling relationship and attempts to answer the questions of whether someone can really be saved by another, how far the responsibility of siblings to take care of each other extends and whether blood really is thicker than water. This ambitious book constantly prompts you to think.

 Pandora Halfdonarson lives in Iowa with her husband, Fletcher, and his two teenage children from a previous marriage. Pandora had been a caterer when they met and prepared lavish meals for her then fiance. But Fletcher has taken on an almost religious discipline about eating and exercise; his meals are sparse and nutrient dense and he cycles for hours each day. Concurrent with, but ostensibly not because of, Fletcher's move towards the healthiest lifestyle, Pandora shutters her catering business and falls into a career creating custom made talking dolls for her business "Baby Monotony". Pandora's brother, Edison, is a jazz musician living in New York City but she receives a call from his friend asking Pandora if she can help out her brother by letting him come to visit. Concerned as to what may be going on, Pandora sends Edison money and tells him to book a flight. She is stunned when she meets him at the airport and sees that her brother has gained 200 pounds and is morbidly obese.

 The tension on their arrival home is almost immediate and Pandora worries about Fletcher or the children insulting her brother or reacting to his size without thinking. Everyone is repulsed by his size but he is Pandora's brother and her revulsion is tinged with sympathy and a desire to protect her brother. Pandora and Fletcher's relationship had cracks prior to Edison's arrival but having this literally larger than life character in their home coupled with all he brings along with him strain things even further. Edison cooks up large batches of chocolate chip pancakes for this household that eschews white flour; in addition to pushing food on them, his presence forces a confrontation of their feelings about excess, lack of control and indulgence. As things escalate at home, Pandora is forced to choose between her brother and husband.

My Thoughts
Fat is an important but loaded topic in society today and it is an important but loaded topic in my own life - I have struggled with weight and an eating disorder for most of my life. Having grown up in a, at times, obsessively health conscious home and even holding many of those beliefs myself despite my size, I am well-acquainted with the battle between self-loathing and indulgence that accompanies obesity.  Even during the times in my life when I have been thin, I have been obsessed with trying to maintain that and to neutralize food to a mere source of nourishment and not to imbue it with all this other meaning. Shriver expertly navigates this battle in Big Brother by placing Pandora between Edison and Fletcher. Fletcher represents the militant, "food only as fuel" camp while Edison represents the indulgent, "food as comfort" camp.  Pandora's own approach to food lies somewhere in between.  For example, here she describes her philosophy on food:
I propose: food is by nature elusive. More concept than substance, food is the idea of satisfaction, far more powerful than satisfaction itself, which is why diet can exert the sway of religion or political zealotry. Not irresistible tastiness but the very failure of food to reward if what drives us to eat more of it. The most sumptuous experience of ingestion is in-between: remembering the last bite and looking forward to the next one. The actual eating part almost doesn't happen. This near-total inability to deliver is what makes the pleasures of the table so tantalizing, and also so dangerous.
Pandora always represents the more balanced and, at times, conflicted point of view.

The relationship between Pandora and Edison is also central to this novel and, although complicated and brought to the fore by Edison's descent into "slow-motion suicide by pie", exists outside of Edison's obesity. Throughout their difficult childhood, Pandora and Edison relied on each to get through with a "ferocity of mutual clinging".
Often ashamed of tugging the children's loyalties in opposite directions, the parents fail to grasp their kids' salvation: the children's uppermost loyalty is to each other. . . . Edison and I did rat each other out from time to time, but they were isolated strategic sorties in the complex politics of the playroom about which our parents knew nothing. We used our Mom and Dad as weapons in the far more central relationship to one another. Certainly with Tanner and Cody, I tried never to forget: children know your secrets. You do not know theirs.
Sharp, intelligent writing allows challenging topics to be explored and to resonate for the reader. This book challenges you to consider your own visceral reactions to topics such as obesity and accountability to family members. You are also never completely sure where Pandora stands - there is sympathy for her brother, a desire to protect him but also disgust and frustration with his lack of control.  Although uncomfortable at times with characters I didn't always like, Big Brother is definitely on my list for Best Reads of 2013.

You can read other reviews of the book from those on the tour .

Thank you to the publisher for providing an ARC for review as part of the tour. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Review: The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank

The Last Original Wife : Leslie "Les" Carter has been married to her husband Wesley (yes, "Wes") for thirty years and they have two grown children. Wes is successful and Les has dutifully supported her husband through the years by keeping a beautiful home, preparing lovely meals and raising their children - all on a meager allowance provided by Wes. Now that Wes's two best friends have married much younger second wives, Les is the last original wife and feeling underappreaciated and somewhat dispensable.  Those feelings are confirmed when she falls down a manhole while walking in Edinburgh with her husband and he gets all the way back to hotel before realizing she is missing.  Les is at her breaking point.

Les is fuming after the incident in Edinburgh - which was only worsened by awakening in a Scottish hospital with the two girl wives leaning over her - Wes and his friends went on to play at St. Andrews once they knew that Les's injuries were not life-threatening. To add insult to her literal injuries, Les discovers that while she has been carefully living on a budget and doing without many of the luxuries the wife of a man as successful as Wes should be afforded, Wes has been sitting on a large sum of money which he has diligently been adding to with his miserly habits. Les is at a crossroads in her marriage and she flees to Charleston to spend time with her brother, Harlan.

With some distance from Wes, Les is able to consider what she really wants for heself.  She reconnects with her brother, Harlan, who Wes has always shunned and revels in the charm of her hometown, Charleston while she lives at Harlan's house.  When a childhood sweetheart starts to show Les how a man should treat a woman, Les realizes she has some tough choices to make and that "Les and Wes" may not make it for the long haul.

My Thoughts
I loved this book! Les (not unlike Caroline in Lowcountry Summer) has a spirited, snarky humor and delivers great lines. It is interesting - I think many authors would write Les as a victim, a weak woman who let a man run her life. But Les most certainly has a backbone and a fighitng spirit which you see from the beginning and it just flourishes as the book continues. I definitely sensed that Les always had a lot to offer but that Wes had dampened her spirit over the years and you see her come back slowly but surely as she takes care of herself instead of catering to everyone else.  Wes is also not a one dimensional character-  as infuriating as he could be with his cheap habits and his lack of appreciation for Les, he also saw right through the "girl wives".  When one came to him complaining about her husband, his friend, he shook his head in dismay recognizing how naive these girls were and how his friends had their hands full keeping up with their antics. It doesn't excuse some of his treatment of Les but it does humanize him and ensure he is not a mere caricature.

You will find yourself rooting for Les and laughing right along beside her as she navigates a possible exit from her marriage and a new life for herself!

You can read other reviews of this book (and some of her backlist) from those on the tour.

Thank you to the publisher for providing a copy of this book as part of the tour.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Your Audiobook Year - Audiobook 2013 Week Post

Audiobook Week is being hosted by Jen of Devourer of Books and she has daily topics selected for the week to explore people's audiobook habits, favorites, etc. Today's topic is "Your Year in Audiobooks" and the prompt is:

Are you new to audiobooks in the last year? Have you been listening to them forever but discovered something new this year? Favorite titles? New times/places to listen? This is your chance to introduce yourself and your general listening experience.
I am not new to audiobooks - I tentatively started listening to them about 3 years ago when I acquired a frequent 2 hour drive to Connecticut for work - I realized how pleasantly the time passed while I listened to a book.  I originally started with non-fiction and mostly stuck with humor in that genre. I felt as if I couldn't follow plot on audio. I did, however, move on to listening to fiction on audio and realize with the right narrator I can enjoy a book on audio even more than in print. In the past year, I notice I have listened to more fiction than non-fiction. Here are a few of the fiction audiobooks (you can see all the audiobooks I have reviewed here)  I have especially enjoyed on audio (links are to my reviews):

American Dervish by Ayad Aktar (read by the author)

Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani (read by Orlagh Cassidy)

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake (read by Orlagh Cassidy)

The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris (read by the author)

In addition to listening in the car (the commute to CT doesn't happen everyday), I listen throughout the city - walking to work, on the subway, waiting for the bus. Now that I have my Fitbit and am trying to increase my steps, I want to work on going out for walks with my audiobook as opposed to just getting incidental steps in.

What type of audiobooks do you like? Where so you listen to your audiobooks?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sunday Salon: June 16, 2013

The Sunday

Well, after spending the week amid flash flood warnings, NYC was treated to an absolutely gorgeous weekend. The weather was in the 70's, sunny without a hint of humidity. I felt compelled to drink it in - it won't be long before it is hot and sticky in the city and I knew I would regret not getting out when the weather was so nice. I even spent some time up on my roofdeck with this book:

Next week is Audiobook Week hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books. There are topics for each day and I plan to post about a couple of them. I generally have one audiobook going at a time and have found that they are a great way to supplement my printed reading and, more importantly, to keep me occupied on drives to CT for work or walking around the city. Do you listen to audiobooks?

In Case You Missed It
I have really been enjoying the Top Ten Tuesday topics hosted by Broke and Bookish lately.  This week's topic was Top Ten Beach reads.  I included a mix of my favorite beach reads over all and those releasing this summer which I am looking forward to spending some time with while relaxing in a beach chair. 

On Friday, I posted a review of the audiobook of Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani. This book had many of my favorite book elements - an immigrant theme and a NYC setting.  It was my first listen to narrator Cassandra Campbell but I will definitely be listening to more narrated by her.

Finally, Happy Father's Day Dad!

Don't get blinded by the wallpaper!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Audiobook Review: Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani

Lucia, Lucia (narrated by Cassandra Clare, 9 hours, 35 minutes) by Adriana Trigiani is the story of Lucia Sartori, a young woman living in 1950's Greenwich Village. Lucia is the daughter of immigrant parents who, along with her older brothers, run a successful grocery on Commerce Street. Lucia, however, is independent and has big dreams for herself - she wants a career, not just a job. She does, however, have one foot in each world. She is engaged to her childhood sweetheart from the neighborhood, Dante Demartino whose family has traditional expectations of their soon-to-be daughter-in-law. Lucia desperately wants to make her own parents, Dante and even his parents happy but she also wants to pursue her own dreams. Will she have to sacrifice love for independence and a career?

Lucia Sartori is a woman ahead of her time. At twenty-five, she should be married with children but even though she loves her fiance, Dante, she bristles when he and his family suggest that she will leave her successful job as a seamstress once she marries. Unlike her peers, Lucia wants to delay having children after getting married so she can continue to develop her career. Dante is not comfortable with this but his mother is completely outraged and things come to a head at a family dinner with both sets of parents. Lucia's parents love her but they want her to conform and to have a happy, albeit conventional and boring, life with Dante. In a bold move of rebellion, Lucia breaks her engagement with Dante, scandalizing her parents.

Lucia takes comfort in her career at B.Altman and in her colleagues there. Soon, however, she catches the eye of dashing John Talbot who lavishes Lucia with gifts and takes her to the best NYC destinations. Unlike Dante, he doesn't seem concerned with convention and respects her career. They talk of building a dream home on the water in Long Island. There are a few things about John which remain mysterious - including his family and what he actually does for a living but Lucia is in love and riding the upward trajectory of her life.

My Thoughts
This book has many of my "book triggers" - NYC setting, independent woman who also really wants love, and immigrant/second generation themes.  Author Adriani Trigiani beautifully wraps a story around these elements and the result is an audiobook to which I could not stop listening. I did not want to say goodbye to Lucia or her big Italian family.

This is my first listen with narrator Cassandra Campbell but I will definitely be looking for other audiobooks read by her. Her voice has a rich tone to it which is easy to listen to and she did a great job with the accents of Lucia's Italian parents. A satisfying listen for sure!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Beach Reads - June 11, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by Broke and Bookish and asks participants to create a top ten list around a different topic each week. This week's topic is "Top Ten Beach Reads". One of my favorite places to read is on the beach and there are some books that just belong there. When I did my winter covers collage earlier this year, a lot of commenters said they preferred summer/beach read - this one is for you! (If I have reviewed the book, the link goes to my review)

 A Summer Affair by Elin Hilderbrand - If it is summer, there must be a book by Elin Hildebrand. She has the best summer/beach covers for these books and this one is no different. It has a meaty storyline but is utterly readable.

The Three Weismanns of Wesport by Cathleen Schine - This book is a take on Austen's Sense and Sensibility and it is what I call a "smart" beach read.

Life's a Beach by Claire Cook - of course, this one is a shoe-in for a beach read list!  Light and fluffy, perfect way to pass a beachy afternoon

Maine by J.Courtney Sullivan - Maine seems to be the literary destination of late.  I have seen a lot of books set there and it is, of course, a great summer destination.

Monarch Beach by Anita Hughes - Being an East Coast gal, most of my beach reads seem to feature the beaches of the Northeast but this book's setting is Laguna Beach on the West Coast

Releasing this summer  . . .

A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams - the vintage beach cover on this one just draws you in!

Sweet Salt Air by Barbara Delinsky - the water is in the distance on this one but salt air says beach to me!

The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank - I read my first book by this author (Lowcountry Summer) earlier this year and really enjoyed it.  This one is also a winner (review coming soon) and the cover is quintessential beach.

Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand - see above re: this author!  She takes us back to Nantucket for a wedding in this one.

All The Summer Girls by Meg Donohue - I had a beach house share on the shore with friends for many years and this book takes me back to that time.

What are your favorite beach reads? Favorite Beach?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday- Have Book, Will Travel - June 4th

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by Broke and Bookish and asks participants to create a top ten list around a different topic each week. This week's topic is "Top Ten Books Featuring Travel". I love to read and to travel so it is a perfect marriage! (links are to my reviews if I have reviewed them)

1. The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places on Earth by Eric Weiner: This book is at once a travelogue, sociological study and memoir. Weiner, a foreign correspondent for NPR, traveled the world for a year in an effort to determine how place and the characteristics of that place influence an individual's happiness.

2. O Come Ye Back To Ireland by Niall Williams and Christine Breen: This book tells the story of a couple that move to the rugged West of Ireland and their discoveries during the first year there. It celebrates the beauty of rural Ireland and the excitement of moving to a new country.

 3. Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson: Bryson does a travel memoir like no one else- his dry humor comes right through the pages. In this book, he takes a final tour through England before moving his family back to the US

4. Little Princes by Conor Grennan: A trip around the world turns into a life mission when Grennan arrives in Nepal and meets the boys in a local orphanage. They capture his heart and they will capture yours too.

5. Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven by Susan Jane Gilman:  The author and a college friend head out on a post college trip and start in China.  This is China before it was open to the West so travel there was challenging - that coupled with the friend's gradual unraveling make for very funny scenes. The author's writing is smart and witty.

6. A Thread of Sky by Deanna Fei: At direction of their mother, a group of sisters (with Mom in tow) head to China for a package tour of all the major sights. The relationship between the Mom and each sister is fractured and the trip is her (ill-fated) attempt at remedying that.

7. The Paradise Guest House by Ellen Sussman: This beautiful book is as much an homage to Bali as a story of recovery following the 2001 bombings. I visited Bali in 2007 and this book immediately transported me back to the beauty and calm of the country

8. Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik: I read this before I started blogging and absolutely loved it.  The author, a writer for the The New Yorker, moves his family to Paris and this book chronicles their year there learning about the city and it's people. I fell in love with Paris through this book. 

9. The New York Times 36 Hours: 150 Weekends in the US and Canada: I love the 36 hours feature in NYT and this book collects those into a book.  I think this hardcover makes a great gift for a traveler, graduate, newlyweds, etc.

10. Without Reservations by Alice Steinbach:  This one is still on my shelves but I can't wait to read it. Self-discovery in the process of discovering destinations - definitely right up my alley!

What are your favorite travel books?