Archive for the ‘Books’ Category
Hey there friends! I don’t know about you, but I can’t believe it’s almost beach season. Dad has his pool open already. I even cleaned it for him a couple of weeks ago… my good deed for the summer
While I love spending time with family and friends around the pool and watching the little nephews jump in and want me to do tricks on the diving board (yes, I still have tricks), I long for the summer days alone where I can spend the entire day reading with a good book.
When I go on vacation, the clothes are easy, the books are hard. How many to take? Should I take regular books or Nook books? Do I have a range of genres so I can change it up? Do I have the books that will keep my interest for several hours on the beach?
Well if you are planning a vacation and looking for books to haul along, you are in luck. I have put together a list of the books I’ve read this year so far that will have you lathering on the sunscreen, because you’re not leaving until this book is over. I know that many people like easy, light beach reads, but this list is a little different. The reads are a little harder, more in depth, but I promise you, these are books that will keep your attention and you won’t want to put down. **Warning…I am not to blame if you lose track of time and get sunburned**
1. Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler: This book is told through the past and present. In the past, we learn about young Isabelle’s struggle as a young girl in the 1930s who falls in love with a her black housekeeper’s son. The present tells of a road trip to a funeral with her hair dresser, who is also black. Along the way, Isabelle tells her story…except for just whose funeral they are attending, and why. This one pulls you in immediately. You want to know who is so important for this elderly lady to drive across the country for and you want to know how she managed to break the color barrier back when it was as tall as the Berlin wall.
2. Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks: You have to have a love story at the beach right? And it’s so sunny out, no one will be paying attention to your tears. They will think that you are just sweating. But let me tell you, the tears will come with this one. Katie has a secret…a major one. She has a former life that no one can find out about. And a present life that one person in particular must never find out. I read this book just before I went and saw the movie. The movie was good, but the book was better.
3. Hysteria by Megan Miranda: Ok, so I’ve given you a little historical fiction and a love story. Now add YA To the list. Mallory killed her boyfriend and is now having nightmares about that day and day terrors about a possible stalker. This one has a twist that you won’t want to miss. Just keep reading. Just keep reading.
4. The Boy from Reactor 4 by Orest Stalmach: This is totally not what you expected to be on my list, right? I know, I know. I turned it down originally, but read it and loved it. I recently watched A Good Day to Die Hard and the movie is set in Russia, part set in Chernobyl. Thanks to this book, I felt like I had been there and knew exactly where they were and what they faced. The book follows Nadia, whose father’s dying wish leads her back to his homeland, Russia, to help a young family get a better life and protect a secret that could be world changing. This was such a page turner, I couldn’t put it down.
5. The Sixth Station by Linda Stasi: What could I add to this list? Religion. Linda Stasi knocked it out of the park with this book. It’s reminiscent of Dan Brown books and follows a journalist who tries to uncover the story of a man who is believed to be the second coming of Christ. This thriller starts in New York, but takes you on an international trip that will have you wanting to find the deepest, darkest religious secrets in the remote parts of the world.
6. The Fate of Mercy Alban by Wendy Webb: Who doesn’t love a good web of tangled family secrets that have been hidden under decades of cobwebs in a moss covered mansion? This is probably one of my favorite audio books I have ever listened to. I just couldn’t get enough. I kept driving around more than I needed (which means I was at 100+ miles a day thanks to my commute, so you know it’s good) just to keep listening. I will say there is a bit of paranormal in this book that kept it from being perfect in my eyes, but it was still so good, it had to be added to the list.
7. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Cline: Who is this girl that keeps adding all of these books to this summer reading list? What happened to the girl who only used to read YA? Folks, she’s growing up and so are her reading tastes. Orphan Train is an amazing piece of historical fiction that had me doing research late into the night to find out more about these trains. How did I never hear of these? The story puts together a foster care teen with a wealthy elderly woman who has taken a long journey to get to where she is today. You start loving the characters early and can’t wait to hear more about their lives.
Alright friends. There is my beach reading list. All of these books were ones that I could. not. put. down. I wanted more, and still do as I am writing up this list. As I went through my list of books I’ve read so far this year, I fell in love with all of these stories over again and hope that you love them as well!
I want to know what you books are on your Beach Read List for 2013! Leave a comment. Let me know. I am always looking for more books to add to my shelf, even if I have to sneak them in so my husband doesn’t see
Happy Sunday! Hope you’ve had a great week and weekend. Mine was filled with sunshine, mommy time, and lots of babes…as in babies.
Hubs and I watched the last few episodes of the new 90210 this weekend. I am very sad it is over, but I was happy with how it ended. Now I just need something else to try.
After we ended that with tears… from me, not the hubs, I wanted something different. I grabbed our DVD of Blow, but I couldn’t get it to run in my laptop. I tried to find something on Amazon Prime, and nothing floated my boat. I watched an episode of Eureka on Netflix, but didn’t want to watch another. I tried to watch some scary movie with Jennifer Lawrence and I couldn’t blog and watch it at the same time because it was in some stupid little box and would only play fullscreen. Needless to say, I was smidge frustrated. So, I ended up watching nothing, curled up with my book and knitting.
I have a lot of reading I am hoping to get done this week. I don’t have any scheduled reviews, so reading will be a priority over blogging, but I do have a couple in the reserve that I’ve been waiting to post, including a fun summer reading list for you!
On The Blog
On My Bookshelf
Out This Week
I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Jeffree Wyn Itrich’s Destiny at Oak Valley. If you haven’t read my review yet, take a second and scroll down just a smidge and check it out. I absolutely loved the book!
I also love that Jeffree took the time out of her busy life to take part in a Q&A with me.
KA: Holy hot air balloons! I have never been up in one, or even been given the opportunity. To be honest, I’m not sure if I would take it if one landed in my yard…at least not far off the ground. How did a hot air balloon come to play such a monumental role in this book?
JI: The story actually began in a balloon, the very one depicted on the front of the book. My husband and I married in that very hot air balloon in Albuquerque. Our friends, Wally and Kathi Henderson, owned the balloon. Every year we went on multiple hot air ballooning trips in TEGWAR (that’s the name of that particular balloon — stands for The Exciting Game Without Any Rules). It was during one particular trip that we flew in the White Sands Balloon Rally, (the same one Rachel flew in) that the story emerged. Kathi and I were the first of our group to launch. There was an eerie fog that morning covering the dunes, just like in the novel. As we rose above the fog bank I remarked to Kathi ‘wouldn’t it be wild if when we landed we found ourselves in the Wild West?’ Being the practical person that she is she laughed. I began thinking about the story that was to become Destiny Later that day after the rally our whole group visited the nearby ghost town of White Oaks. My head began spinning; the story was formulating in my head faster than I could think! By the time we returned home on Sunday eve I had the whole story sketched out in my brain. It was almost as if the story was waiting for me to come find it and tell it. As for all the details of the ballooning, both Kathi, and my husband, who at the time was a licensed balloon pilot, reviewed the details to make sure everything was accurate. I knew a lot about the logistics of flying balloons because I was a crew member on TEGWAR and flew a couple of weekends a month. In addition I did quite a bit of research on the history of southeastern New Mexico, home to Billy the Kid, and other colorful rogues.
KA: And after the balloon is the Wild Wild West. How did you land on setting your book in the time and place?
JI: Like I mentioned above, the balloon rally took place in that part of New Mexico where the Wild West was in full action. I didn’t have to make anything up! The area’s history gave me all the fodder I needed.
KA: I see on your website that you’ve said that your stories beg you to write them. I feel the same way. It may takes months and months, but there comes a time when I have to get it out. What kind of advice do you have for authors, or aspiring authors, about telling the stories that come to them, especially if they don’t come pouring out all at once, or that often?
JI: The best bit of advice I can give an aspiring writer is to listen to the voice. I believe that each of us has a voice within us, a voice that speaks to us and guides us. Some of us listen, others ignore it. I have learned to trust the voice, whether it’s guiding me in writing a chapter or giving me an idea. I don’t ignore it. If I don’t have time to actually write it out then I make copious notes. I always have paper and pen with me — in my purse, on my desk at work, on my nightstand, on the kitchen counter, in the car. I never know when an idea is going to pop into my head; I’ve learned to be ready when it does. The only place where I don’t have a pad and pen is in the shower! I would suggest that someone new to writing to write down everything even if it doesn’t seem like such a hot idea at the time. It may be useful later. The key here is to write. Write everyday. Get used to writing so that it becomes as natural as a daily habit. Write short stories. Write essays. Write poetry. Write something. The only way to motivate the creative juices to flow is to practice writing. After awhile inspiration will come. You have to feed it.
KA: I also see that you like to cook and have written a cookbook. If you had one recipe to add to this book, what would it be?
JI: What a tough question! Perhaps a recipe for gingerbread (I love to bake) but that wouldn’t be in keeping with Rachel’s limited cooking skills. But rest assured that there are plenty more food scenes in the sequel. BTW, did you notice on my website that I have recipes for all the dishes mentioned in the book?
KA: If your book would be turned into a movie (which would make my day), who would you have play your main characters?
JI: Oh, that’s easy. Christian Bale would play Matt and Olivia Wilde would play Rachel.
KA: What are you reading now?
JI: In the sequel, I introduce a group of curanderas (traditional healers). My neighbor who I have known most of my life told me about a book written by Rudolfo Anaya called Bless Me Ultima. It’s a classic. One of the characters is a curandera. I had finished my manuscript when I started reading it but I was curious to see how he treated the role of a curandera. I found that he handled it quite differently from me. But it was interesting nevertheless.
KA: I know you are working on the second book in this series. Any hints as to what we can expect and when?
I should tell you that originally there was no sequel. I wrote Destiny as a stand alone novel. But so many people contacted me and asked me what will happen next that I agreed to write a sequel. It took me a month of thinking about it before I sat down to write an outline. When I started I wasn’t sure where I wanted to take the story but very quickly the story emerged. Then as I was writing the manuscript the story took a few new turns. Scenes and characters that I had not anticipated jumped into my head. And yes, they ‘begged’ to be in the tale. At times it was though the characters took over my brain and told me what to write. After a while I just went with the flow; I had to. The characters were not going to give me any rest until I followed their direction. I know it must sound like I’m loony but seriously, my characters kept after me. (I’ve heard other writers say the same thing so I guess I’m not crazy.) I’m pretty happy with the result. All I can say is that the characters were right but I suppose readers will be the proof of that.
Imagine flying in a hot-air balloon, getting caught in an eclipse and descending over 100 years into the Wild West of New Mexico. You meet a strikingly handsome man who challenges every notion you ever had about love. That’s exactly what happens to independent, high-spirited Rachel Kingston, who doesn’t know how to get home, but must find a way without losing her heart.
Jeffree contacted me about reading and reviewing this book and she caught me at just the perfect time. I had just wrapped up my review for Orphan Train and was in a very loving mood for historical fiction. Who am I? But when I read that Rachel ended up back in the Wild Wild West, I couldn’t turn it down. As much as I love my iPhone and my Polar watch, cars, electricity, indoor bathrooms, fast food joints, blogging, my Nook… I think I could have lived in the olden days. Give me some yarn for knitting, some classic books, some old family recipes, I think I could have done just fine.
I devoured this book. I could not wait to see what happened. Would Rachel ever get home? What if this happened to me? Would I stay or would I go? Don’t we all wish at some point in our lives that we could travel back to another time or place and find a soul mate that doesn’t exist today? Don’t lie… I know that in a single time of your life you’ve thought about it, just knowing that there is not a single person in this century that gets you and you know they lived a previous life that you wish you could have been part of.
This book is also short and sweet. At just over 125 pages, Itrich tells a wonderful love story that spans hundreds of years. And does such a great job of going from present to past. Obviously, there will be a major jump, but it flowed flawlessly.
Books like this give me such inspiration to write. Even though I know that I am writing fiction, I love to be able to relate to things that happen in books. Because of that, I have a hard time thinking outside the reality box. I cannot jump over the fiction bump and go somewhere completely unrealistic. Books like this encourage me to jump off the page and try something new. I need to bookmark this paragraph so I will remember it in the future
I give Destiny at Oak Valley 5 out of 5 bookmarks. I am so happy this is just Book 1 in the series. I can’t wait to see what is coming around the bend, hopefully this fall, from Irtrich.
The author of Bird in Hand and The Way Life Should Be delivers her most ambitious and powerful novel to date: a captivating story of two very different women who build an unexpected friendship: a 91-year-old woman with a hidden past as an orphan-train rider and the teenage girl whose own troubled adolescence leads her to seek answers to questions no one has ever thought to ask.
Nearly eighteen, Molly Ayer knows she has one last chance. Just months from “aging out” of the child welfare system, and close to being kicked out of her foster home, a community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping her out of juvie and worse.
Vivian Daly has lived a quiet life on the coast of Maine. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past. As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly discovers that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.
The closer Molly grows to Vivian, the more she discovers parallels to her own life. A Penobscot Indian, she, too, is an outsider being raised by strangers, and she, too, has unanswered questions about the past. As her emotional barriers begin to crumble, Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life – answers that will ultimately free them both.
Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of second chances, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.
I got this book through my online book club, SheReads.org. If you want to read stellar books, check out their selections each month. For the past several months, my favorite books have been their picks.
It’s amazing how much my taste in books has changed since I started reading and reviewing five years ago. I went from being a YA junkie, to now reading whatever genre comes by way, and yes, I still cave to YA frequently. But one thing that has surprised me about my reading taste is how much I enjoy a little historical fiction. Christina Baker Kline bundled everything I love into one book with Orphan Train.
The story is told through two perspectives that flow seamlessly. You have Molly, in foster care, struggling to find a family and a place to finally call home. Then you have Vivian, the wealthy elderly woman, who has a story most couldn’t fathom, let along believe if they heard it. But they become unlikely friends, and even more than that, family. They both have so much to offer each other. It is an absolute beautiful story of heartache and pain and triumph. Both women have so much courage. It makes you think about what you have and the petty things that bog down our life on a daily basis. It’s sad that so many young children still have to live like Molly does.
I often say that my favorite books are the ones where I come away with knowledge. Chalk this book up on the list. How have I lived for 26 years and never known about orphan trains? I was never good at history, I just couldn’t remember all of the facts and dates and locations. But the older I get, the more I’m starting to have a soft spot for history. I want to know all of the little hidden secrets throughout the years and that’s exactly what Christina did with this book. The stories you can find online about the children who rode on these trains are incredible. I could read them for days. They seem more like fiction than anything I’ve read, they are so raw and real. I thank SheReads and Christina for bringing this amazing piece of history to my life and to light.
I give Orphan Train 5 out of 5 bookmarks.
Click here to listen to Christina Baker Kline talking about Orphan Train on NPR.