Literary Quote of the Month

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Sunday Salon... Reading Travels and Destinations!

Welcome to the Sunday Salon! It's the day of the week where we get together and chat about books! Pull up a chair, grab a cup of joe and relax!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I was away enjoying the warm weather and the great hospitality of North Carolina. Which brought to mind today's Sunday Salon- traveling and destination. When we travel, we always have a destination, so I've got a couple of great "Travel" books and a true crime book written about where my destination was this week!

Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck... In the 1960's, 58-year-old John Steinbeck gets in his truck and goes off in an adventure with his standard poodle, Charley. He wanted to explore the American landscape he had written about for so long. This has been on my "to read" list for some time, and when thinking about my recent travels I decided it was high time to crack the spine and see what Steinbeck discovered.

As he talked with all kinds of people, he sadly noted the passing of region speech, fell in love with Montana, and was appalled by racism in New Orleans.

Were there any similarities as I left Connecticut for the great unknown? I did learn that Y'all is a word!

The Time Travelers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger... I fell in love with this novel the moment I started reading it! If you are a true romantic, there is nothing more special that the love story between Henry and Claire.

When Henry meets Clare, he is twenty-eight and she is twenty. Henry has never met Clare before; Clare has known Henry since she was six. Impossible but true, because Henry finds himself periodically displaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity from his life, past and future. Henry and Clare's attempts to live normal lives are threatened by a force they can neither prevent nor control, making their passionate love story intensely moving and entirely unforgettable. The Time Traveler's Wife is a story of fate, hope and belief, and more than that, it's about the power of love to endure beyond the bounds of time.

A love story that isn't bound by the rigors of time, and wonderful heartfelt writing, make this a great read! If you haven't read it, DO IT NOW! Definitely part of my travels this past week.

Bitter Blood: : A True Story of Southern Family Pride, Madness, and Multiple Murder by Jerry Bledsoe... Now we come to my destination - Greensboro, North Carolina, and my last book pick of today. Bitter Blood still evokes a response from people living in Greensboro, who unwittingly became part of a bizarre and horrifying series of murders.

The first bodies found were those of a feisty millionaire widow and her beautiful daughter in their posh Louisville, Kentucky, home. Months later, another wealthy widow and her prominent son and daughter-in-law were found savagely slain in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Mystified police first suspected a professional in the bizarre gangland-style killings that shattered the quiet tranquility of two well-to-do southern communities. But soon a suspicion grew that turned their focus to family. The Sharps. The Newsoms. The Lynches. The only link between the three families was a beautiful and aristocratic young mother named Susie Sharp Newsom Lynch. Could this former child "princess" and fraternity sweetheart have committed such barbarous crimes? And what about her gun-loving first cousin and lover, Fritz Klenner, son of a nationally renowned doctor?

Everyone who I have talked to about this book says it is an amazing page turner and not to be missed by any true crime reader! Mesmerizing, haunting and riveting are some of the comments I have heard about Bitter Blood and the writing of Jerry Bledsoe. I'm toting this one around in my pocketbook with a fast moving bookmark!

What have you been reading this week? Did you have any bookish travels for Thanksgiving? Although I didn't have time to read too much while flying down to North Carolina, I did discover some great reads!

Happy reading... Suzanne

Monday, November 21, 2011

Memoir Monday (almost)... Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai... It's a memoir... but not exactly. It's a children's book, and it did win the National Book Award for YA Lit this year, but it's more than that. Inside Out & Back Again is a verse book, or a book totally written in short verses, but not a book of poetry. What is Inside Out & Back Again exactly then? It's a poignant look at a young child's life as she is being thrown into a new life unexpectedly and how she deals with it all. It's an immigrant's story, but the perspective we see is from the voice of an intelligent 10-year-old girl, who has a little spunk behind her, and who simply tells us in unfaltering prose what it's like to lose your best friend, dream, be torn from all you know and ultimately be the outsider. The last time I read a book that was in complete verse (Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow) I didn't like the medium at all. But this is a different story, and Thanhha Lai measures her words more carefully like a delicate brushstroke at times, almost like Haiku.

The life of Ha is based on the life of author Thanhha Lai, who moved to Alabama at the end of the Vietnam War. And so, though this isn't really a memoir, it really is. Here's what's on the front jacket flap...

No one would believe me but at times I would choose wartime in Saigon over peacetime in Alabama.

For all the ten years of her life, HÀ has only known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, the warmth of her friends close by . . . and the beauty of her very own papaya tree.

But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. HÀ and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope. In America, HÀ discovers the foreign world of Alabama: the coldness of its strangers, the dullness of its food, the strange shape of its landscape . . . and the strength of her very own family.

This is the moving story of one girl's year of change, dreams, grief, and healing as she journeys from one country to another, one life to the next.

The story is moving, and wonderfully written. A sweet story for any young girl at heart, but also a story of the hopes, dreams and reality of immigration.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Sunday Salon... Rolling out the Dough at Chick with Books

Welcome to The Sunday Salon! It's that time of the week where we all virtually get together and talk books! So grab you're cup of java, pull up achair and let's talk...

The Holiday season is slowly surrounding us. I'm not really a cookie baker, but I just got an invite to what is going to be an annual cookie swap. I actually helped organize it. What was I thinking?! I was thinking it would be a great way for us girls to get together and have some fun. I was not thinking too much about the cookies. But now that the invitations went into the mail, I needed to figure out what cookie I was going to make dozens of. The last cookie swap I went to, about 10 years ago, I made Whoopie Pies. Do you realize that Whoopie Pies are like 2 cookies plus?! No Whoopie Pies this time, but what to bake...

So, today's Sunday Salon I thought I would take a peek at some great cookie books!

Betty Crocker's Cooky Book... This is the "cooky book" I'm going to use to bake those cookies! Originally published in 1963, Betty Crocker's Cooky Book is a classic! If you don't have an originally copy, don't worry, General Mills reprinted the original copy, spiral bound, with all the original illustrations and photographs. It's a blast from the past, along with all your favorite traditional cookies like Chocolate Crinkles, Toffee Squares and Chocolate Kisses. My friend Lauretta has baked Christmas cookies from this book for over 20 years and they always turn out great!
So, I'm halfway to great cookies with at least the book!

One Girl Cookies: Recipes for Cakes, Cupcakes, Whoopie Pies, and Cookies from Brooklyn's Beloved Bakery by Dawn Casale and David Crofton... Tucked away on a quiet, tree-lined street in Brooklyn, New York, is One Girl Cookies: a charming bakery and café whose owners have created what they call an Urban Mayberry. Little do most people know that this dessert destination—famous for its gorgeous bite-sized cookies, amazingly moist cakes, seasonal pies and tarts, and dangerously addictive whoopie pies—started simply, with one girl baking cookies out of a tiny apartment. One Girl Cookies shares the recipes for the shop’s sought-after treats, as well as the sweet story behind its beginnings. There we go again with those Whoopie Pies. OK, looking towards a more contemporary cookie cookbook, I stumbled upon One Girls Cookies "Cookie Book". If the selection of cookies on their website tempts you, this cookie book should too! Although I couldn't get a peek inside because it's not going to be published until Jan. 10th! So, I can't share what's in it... we'll all just have to wait and see, but I love these cookbooks from family eateries because they are from real people who put love in their cooking, and in this case lots of sugar!

Sweet Auburn Desserts: Atlanta's "Little Bakery That Could" by Sonya Jones... Tucked in a historic section of downtown Atlanta, Sweet Auburn Bread Company celebrates and showcases southern and African-American baking. After discovering the thriving business in 2009, CNN featured Sweet Auburn on television, naming the segment "The Little Bakery That Could." This beautifully illustrated book depicts the fresh-baked desserts and delicious breads that have brought the locale national recognition. From classic recipes to innovative creations, Chef Sonya Jones's best baking secrets fill the pages of this mouth-watering collection. This cookbook grabbed me just from the front cover! And it's another cookbook from a small bakery. I haven't cracked the spine on this one yet either, but I'll be looking for it my next trip to the bookstore. How can you not be tempted with 200 pages dripping in confectioners sugar and strawberries!

So, do you have a favorite cookie book? Favorite cookie you make? How about a favorite dessert cookbook? Share it here with us! I'd love to hear all about your Holiday cookie cooking! And until next week, when the books here will probably not be dripping with calories... Happy reading! Suzanne

*P.S. And what did I finally decide to make? Russian Tea Cakes! Wish me luck!

Friday, November 18, 2011

First Lines...

"From the Divine Pen fell the first drop of ink."
Habibi by Craig Thompson, 2011.
It's funny to think of graphic novels as having first lines, but they do, just like any other novel. Their first lines are in a panel and if you think about it, each panel must be a precise thought. I picked up a copy of Habibi by Craig Thompson because I loved his previous graphic novel Blankets. Blankets was the first graphic novel I ever read, and it's referred to by some as "the girlfriend's graphic novel". It's the graphic novel you give to your girlfriend so she'll understand what you spend all your time reading. Well, I was the girl who was interested in learning more about graphic novels, so that's what was put in my hands. The artwork was wonderful, the writing was moving and I was hooked. I had to wait 8 years for Craig Thompson to write another graphic novel, and I didn't hesitate to order it. Here's what Library Journal writes about Habibi...

Habibi tells the tale of Dodola and Zam, refugee child slaves bound to each other by chance, by circumstance, and by the love that grows between them. We follow them as their lives unfold together and apart; as they struggle to make a place for themselves in a world (not unlike our own) fueled by fear, lust, and greed; and as they discover the extraordinary depth—and frailty—of their connection.

The book itself is beautifully reproduced in a hardback tome. But I'm looking forward to cracking the spine and getting lost in the pages of another Craig Thompson story. Habibi has already received much praise from reviewers all over. Look for my review coming soon...

*BTW, if you've never read a graphic novel before, and I know there are some of you out there, pick up a copy of Blankets by Craig Thompson, you won't be sorry! I'll be reviewing that as well soon, as part of books I am reading once again.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Sunday Salon... Visiting Out of Oz: The Book and My Life

Thank you Harper Collins for sending along a copy of Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire! It's the final volume in Gregory Maguire's series of books covering what is referred to as "The Wicked Years", or the land of Oz with a twist.

Out of Oz came at an interesting time in my life, because I've been away from Chick with Books for a little while, traveling down what feels like that yellow brick road, encountering adventures along the way, with my life changing leaps and bounds. But just as Dorothy discovered at the end of her adventures, I knew that "there's no place like home"... So even though I've been thrown a few curves along the way, I'm back home! Nice to see you all again! And with that said, let's take a look at Out of Oz...

Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire... First, let's look at that gorgeous cover by illustrator Douglas Smith! Capturing the beauty of Oz and Dorothy with his scratchboard illustrations, Douglas Smith not only designs the book jacket and cover, but also illustrates the inside covers of the book too! They say don't judge a book by its cover, but I defy anyone not to pick this book up after walking past it. The jacket is cut out in the middle revealing Dorothy peaking through, and revealing a beautiful illustration right on the book cover itself. I just love books that are just as beautiful without their jackets on!

The story, of course, is the magical world of Gregory Maguire. Always taking us beyond the pages of Frank Baum's classic Wizard of Oz series, Mr. Maguire delights us again in this final story of Oz.

"Out of Oz The marvelous land of Oz is knotted with social unrest: The Emerald City is mounting an invasion of Munchkinland, Glinda is under house arrest, and the Cowardly Lion is on the run from the law. And look who’s knocking at the door. It’s none other than Dorothy. Yes, that Dorothy. Amid all this chaos, Elphaba’s granddaughter, the tiny green baby born at the close of Son of a Witch, has come of age. Now, Rain will take up her broom in an Oz wracked by war."

Opening the pages of Out of Oz, made me feel 10 years-old again. Though the story is not for the young, it is for the young-at-heart. A fairy tale with a bit of a bite to it. Though I have not devoured it all yet, I am excited to be visiting Oz and Gregory Maguire's writing is always wonderful and always captures me, holding me captive.

If you haven't read the Wicked, Son of a Witch and A Lion Among Men, the first 3 books in the series, no worries because Gregory Maguire briefly catches you up to speed on each book is about. But I might start at the beginning, just so you can enjoy the series for as long as you can...

Happy reading... Suzanne

Monday, July 25, 2011

212 By Alafair Burke... TLC Book Tour and Review!

212 by Alafair Burke...
When New York University sophomore Megan Gunther finds personal threats posted to a Web site specializing in campus gossip, she's taken aback by their menacing tone. Someone knows her daily routine down to the minute and is watching her — but thanks to the anonymity provided by the Internet, the police tell her there's nothing they can do. Her friends are sure it's someone's idea of a joke, but when Megan is murdered in a vicious attack, NYPD Detective Ellie Hatcher is convinced that the online threats are more than just empty words.

With smooth, straight-talking partner J. J. Rogan at her side, Ellie tries to identify Megan's enemies, but she begins to wonder if the coed's murder was more than just the culmination of a cyber obsession. Phone records reveal a link between Megan and a murdered real estate agent who was living a dangerous double life. The detectives also learn that the dead real estate agent shared a secret connection to a celebrity mogul whose bodyguard was mysteriously killed a few months earlier. And when Megan's roommate suddenly disappears, they know they have to find her before another young woman dies.

What did I think? How can a girl complain about crime fiction that stars a smart, young and good female homicide detective? What's even better than a great protagonist is the great writing! I enjoy good writing and, although I haven't read any crime fiction in a while, Alafair Burke simply invited me into the story with a peek at what is to come, and I was hooked! Once I started reading I was turning those pages pretty fast. The setting is New York City, and the modern day approach by using twitter and google, make this piece of crime fiction fresh. She develops her characters well and that along with a good story pace kept my attention. I also liked the short chapters that allowed me to read this in short spurts. Alafair Burke's background as a prosecutor makes this authentic too! So, if you enjoy crime fiction, a great female protagonist, and great writing that will have you turning those pages at a rapid rate, 212 is a book you will enjoy!

About the Author... Alafair Burke is the author of what the Sun-Sentinal has hailed as "two power house series" featuring NYPD Detective Ellie Hatcher and Portland Deputy District Attorney Samantha Kincaid. Alafair's novels grow out of her love for writing, her experience as a prosecutor in America's police precincts and criminal courtrooms, and her ability to create strong, believable, and eminently likable female characters. According to Entertainment Weekly, Alafair "is a terrific web spinner" who "knows when and how to drop clues to keep readers at her mercy."

Alafair Burke is Virtually Touring with her book 212 with TLC Book Tours! You can read more about her at the author's website, and you can find 212 by Alafair Burke at your local bookstore right now! Thanks Trish of TLC Book Tours for sending this along! Loved it!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Sunday Salon... The Enduring Power of Love

Welcome to The Sunday Salon! Another beautiful Sunday here in Connecticut. I'm on vacation and relaxing a bit. I was also able to make a trip to my favorite Indie Bookshop! The Hickory Stick Bookshop in Washington Depot, CT. It's about a 40 minute drive, which means I don't go there too often, but just love it when I can make the time. And it's really the only good bookstore near me to go to now. So, while I was enjoying myself leafing through the pages of books, I naturally found some interesting new reads to talk about... The enduring power of love. As the world changes around us, love happens and can stay with us forever. Here are some books just about that...

The Love of My Youth by Mary Gordon... From the Publisher, "a beautifully choreographed novel about first lovers meeting again after more than thirty years and reimmersing themselves in their shared past. Miranda and Adam, high-school sweethearts now in their late fifties, arrive by chance at the same time in Rome, a city where they once spent a summer deeply in love, living together blissfully. At an awkward reunion, the two—who parted in an atmosphere of passionate betrayal in the 1960s and haven’t seen each other since—are surprised to discover that they may have something to talk about. Both have their own guilt, their sense of who betrayed whom, and their long-held interpretation of the events that caused them not to marry and to split apart into the lives they’ve led since—both are married to others, with grown children. For the few weeks they are in Rome, Adam suggests that they meet for daily walks and get to know each other again. Gradually, as they take in the pleasures of the city and the drama of its streets, they discover not only what matters to them now but also more about what happened to them long ago. Miranda and Adam are masterfully portrayed characters, intent upon understanding who they are in relation to who they were. A story about what first love means and how it is shattered, and the lessons old lovers may still have to share with each other many years later, The Love of My Youth is also a poignant look back at the hopes and dreams of a generation and what became of them.

What if you could revisit someone from your past? How do you think things would have changed? Picked this book up because I just had to find out about how these two young lovers see things in the present day as older, wiser, and mature adults.

Next toLove by Ellen Feldman... "A story of love, war, loss, and the scars they leave, Next to Love follows the lives of three young women and their men during the years of World War II and its aftermath, beginning with the men going off to war and ending a generation later, when their children are on the cusp of their own adulthood. Set in a small town in Massachusetts, the novel follows three childhood friends, Babe, Millie, and Grace, whose lives are unmoored when their men are called to duty. And yet the changes that are thrust upon them move them in directions they never dreamed possible—while their husbands and boyfriends are enduring their own transformations. In the decades that follow, the three friends lose their innocence, struggle to raise their children, and find meaning and love in unexpected places. And as they change, so does America—from a country in which people know their place in the social hierarchy to a world in which feminism, the Civil Rights movement, and technological innovations present new possibilities—and uncertainties. And yet Babe, Millie, and Grace remain bonded by their past, even as their children grow up and away and a new society rises from the ashes of the war. Beautifully crafted and unforgettable, Next to Love depicts the enduring power of love and friendship, and illuminates a transformational moment in American history."

A family saga, lifelong friendships, loved ones going off to war, all with a helping of history makes this an interesting choice to me. Love reading about women friendships, because they are usually deep and powerful. I received a copy of Next to Love by Ellen Feldman from Random House and I'm eager to crack the spine soon!

The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes... "It is 1960. When Jennifer Stirling wakes up in the hospital, she can remember nothing-not the tragic car accident that put her there, not her husband, not even who she is. She feels like a stranger in her own life until she stumbles upon an impassioned letter, signed simply B", asking her to leave her husband. Years later, in 2003, a journalist named Ellie discovers the same enigmatic letter in a forgotten file in her newspaper's archives. She becomes obsessed by the story and hopeful that it can resurrect her faltering career. Perhaps if these lovers had a happy ending she will find one to her own complicated love life, too. Ellie's search will rewrite history and help her see the truth about her own modern romance."

Does love endure for these two lovers? I would love to find out! Intriguing is how Ellie has possession of the letter, and the story behind the letter as well! Now on my wishlist!

So is past romances revisited sound intriguing to you? Ever wonder, what if? Well, these books should satisfy any reader with a romantic heart. What else have you been reading lately?! Please share those great finds! I always love a book recommendation from a person who loves to read!

Have a great week! Happy reading... Suzanne

Friday, July 15, 2011

First Lines... I Gave My Heart to Know This by Ellen Baker

"Violet set out from the little white house walking, but, when the pains came, she was brought to her knees. Watching the puffs of her breath make steam, she willed herself not to make a sound, not to give in to this sensation that wanted to strand her and her baby on this lonely road."
I Gave My Heart to Know This by Ellen Baker, "a sweeping multigenerational saga of the searing power of war, memory, friendship, and family. " and coming this August 2 to a bookstore near you!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Memoir Monday presents... Moby-Duck

Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of Them by Donovan Hohn... What Publisher's Weekly said of Moby-Duck: Whimsical curiosity begets a quixotic odyssey and troubling revelations about plastics polluting the seas in former high school teacher and journalist Hohn's charming account of what he learned searching for 28,800 rubber bath toys lost at sea in 1992. His curiosity, prompted by a student's quirky essay, begins in 2005 around Sitka, Alaska, where yellow "duckies," frogs, turtles, and beavers washed up after three-story waves buffeted a container ship traveling from China to America. Hohn, a senior editor at Harper's magazine, eventually tracks more rogue ducks bobbing up from isolated Gore Point, Alaska, to Maine beaches. The author's quest leads him to a research vessel trawling for degraded plastic in Hawaiian seas, to the Chinese factory where the toys were manufactured, aboard a container vessel traversing the same route as the original ship (a particularly hair-raising section), and finally to the high Arctic to study the science of oceanic drift. Packed with seafaring lore and astute reporting, this enthralling narrative is the Moby Dick of drifting ducks.

Who can resist knowing the fate of 28, 800 cute Rubber Ducks? Well actually 28,800 rubber bath toys. The cover alone made it worth a look through, but Donovan Hohn has intrigued me with this story, which on the outside may look like a cute little tale of a cute little duck, but promises to be so much more. And Moby-Duck has garnered quite a few great reviews too! This is definitely on my wish-list, and today's Monday Memoir, even though it's not quite a memoir, but a high sea adventure!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Sunday Salon... What's Your Style for Summer Vacation Reading?

Good Morning! It's Sunday! And it's time for The Sunday Salon! It's been a few weeks of resolving all the "hacking" problems, which lead me to concentrate on administrative problems rather than having fun reading and reviewing, but finally I put the final touches on all that. And thanks to the readers who joined my Google Friends Connect, so I didn't have to look at 666 followers anymore!

I'm on vacation starting tomorrow and I look forward to some great summer vacation reading! And that's today's post... Summer reading. Do you pick up something different to read during your vacation or during the summer? I like wandering the bookstore for fun reads I normally wouldn't pick up. Of course that's harder these days, with my local bookstore having been Borders and now it is closed. But that's another trip during vacation- a favorite Indie bookstore that's just a little too far for a regular weekly visit. But back to summer reading... How about a classic?Or something just for fun?

Classics aren't what you normally think of as summer reading, but what better time really to relax with some wonderful writing that you can simply immerse yourself in... My thoughts turn to Faulkner today just for that... One of the great Southern writers of our time, you can expect wonderful complex characters that lend themselves to interesting settings....

Light in August by William Faulkner... Quick blurb about this book: "In a small town everyone knows everyone's business, but who really knows the heart of a man? Lena Grove and Joe Christmas are both searching—Lena, for the father of her unborn child, and Joe, for his place in this world. Their parallel journeys will lead to horrific tragedy—and a small ray of hope." This is the first book where William Faulkner confronts racism head-on. It's also said to be his most accessible read, with a plot not as complex as say, The Sound and the Fury, but still a fulfilling read.

OK, so classics may not be part of your summer reading, how about imaginative and fantastical? For a very long time I've been meaning to read German writer Walter Moers. He has a cult like following with readers worldwide, and his books are like zany fairytales for adults. Fantastic settings and wild characters.

The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers... From Overlook Press: "A bluebear has twenty-seven lives. I shall recount thirteen and a half of them in this book but keep quiet about the rest, says the narrator of Walter Moers s epic adventure. What about the
Minipirates What about the Hobgoblins, the Spiderwitch, the Babbling Billows, the Troglotroll, the Mountain Maggot . . . Mine is a tale of mortal danger and eternal love, of hair s breadth, last-minute escapes. Welcome to the fantastic world of Zamonia, populated by all manner of extraordinary characters. It s a land of imaginative lunacy and supreme adventure, wicked satire and epic fantasy, all mixed together, turned on its head, and lavishly illustrated by the author."

And the world of Zamonia doesn't end with Captain Bluebear either. There are 3 more books in the series with equally great characters and fun!

Still in fantasy, but a YA choice that adults can certainly enjoy is a surprise from author China Meiville. You may know Meiville from his recent hit Kraken, and Perdido Street Station, both Sci-fi award winners for adults. But inbetween those books was a little known book called Un Lun Dun, written for Young Adults, but filled with "magic, monsters, quests, and heroes" fit for any Harry Potter loving adult...

Un Lun Dun by China Meiville... From School Library Journal: In present-day London, strange things start happening around Zanna: dogs stop to stare at her, birds circle her head. Then, she and her friend Deeba find themselves in an alternate reality where obsolete objects such as old typewriters eventually "seep" and strange people and creatures dwell, including sentient "unbrellas." The girls learn that Zanna is the chosen one, the "shwazzy," of UnLondon. However, her first fight with the nefarious Smog isn't what was predicted in the book of prophecies.

Un Lun Dun has been on my shelves for a very long time, but I think I'm dusting it off during my two weeks of undivided reading attention!

What are you reading this summer?! Are your vacation reads different than your regular reading? I would love to hear what you're reading these days! And I'm happy to be back reading myself instead of playing with code and passwords!

Happy reading... Suzanne

Thursday, July 7, 2011

First Lines... Overbite by Meg Cabot

" Meena Harper knew things, things no one else knew...things no one could know.
One of those things was that the man sitting in the car beside her was going to die..."

Overbite by Meg Cabot, is the 2nd in her paranormal series where we find Meena Harper who can predict how you are going to die, her boyfriend is Dracula's son, and there are plenty of other undead men around. First book was Insatiable, which just came out in paperback last month. And this just arrived in my mailbox and I cannot wait to crack the spine. Fun, light and enjoyable is what Meg Cabot books usually offer and this should be no exception.

Friday, July 1, 2011

First Lines Friday is Back!

"He stands in a corridor. He has been there for nearly an hour. For many this would feel like the final imposition, the last straw, the bitter end: something to ignite crimson threads of anger in the brain and provoke a tumble backward into the pit of clotted fury the consigned from here in the first place."
Killer Move... Your password is protected. Your life is not. Just released from William Morrow Publishers! It's a psychological thriller! And I have a copy waiting for me to crack the spine! I can't wait!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Chick with Books Caught a Cold... It's been HACKing and seems like it caught a VIRUS!

Well, it's been a long week or so... I caught a virus of some sort... not me personally, but my computer! All sorts of funky things have been going on as I tried to post, work other applications on my Macintosh and then even use my iPhone and iPad! All my info got dumped from my contacts lists on both the computer and iPhone! At one point Chick with Books disappeared altogether off the internet! Talk about panic! But things have settled down a bit... The Genius at the Genius Bar at Apple couldn't find the problem, ran 2 anti-virus scans there and at home, and restored some of the information on my iPhone. Nothing else has gone crazy, although someone did tell me my "subscribe to this blog" link was not working and will be checking on that tonight. But barring no other problems, I'm back to work on Chick with Books!

So, if you hang out here normally, or if you just stopped by recently, thank you for your patience as things get back to normal! If something funky happened while you tried to subscribe to the blog or even become a Google Friends Connect, please let me know! And in the meantime, someone did point out that I have 666 followers, so not being all that superstitious, but after all that's gone wrong a little cautious, can someone start to follow me so I don't have 666 on my blog! ;-)

Happy Reading.... Suzanne

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Sunday Salon... Summer Reading!

It's Sunday! Time to relax and take it easy! Open a good book and have a cup of Joe! Sometimes life gets in the way of reading & blogging, and my time has been spent in the throws of that the last few weeks. Now though, as things have settled down, I'm back to say hello and to say I've missed you! But books are still published and authors still havea lot to say, and today I'd like to share some of the books I've discovered that have a lot of Buzz! Summer has come to Connecticut with a bang and there are some wonderful summer reads coming our way! Here's some Books with Buzz...

Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan... For the Kellehers, Maine is a place where children run in packs, showers are taken outdoors, and old Irish songs are sung around a piano at night. Their beachfront property, won on a barroom bet after the war, sits on three acres of sand and pine nestled between stretches of rocky coast, with one tree bearing the initials “A.H.” At the cottage, built by Kelleher hands, cocktail hour follows morning mass, nosy grandchildren snoop in drawers, and decades-old grudges simmer beneath the surface. As three generations of Kelleher women descend on the property one summer, each brings her own hopes and fears. Maggie is thirty-two and pregnant, waiting for the perfect moment to tell her imperfect boyfriend the news; Ann Marie, a Kelleher by marriage, is channeling her domestic frustration into a dollhouse obsession and an ill-advised crush; Kathleen, the black sheep, never wanted to set foot in the cottage again; and Alice, the matriarch at the center of it all, would trade every floorboard for a chance to undo the events of one night, long ago.

This book is splashed all over the web, in emails I've received and has gotten great pre-pub reviews. And I for one am excited about this book! I love generational stories and these 3 women sound rich & complex and should make for a wonderful luxurious summer read. This will be released Tuesday, June 14th!

Ten Thousand Saints by Eleanor Henderson... Here's what Publisher's Weekly had to say: Henderson debuts with a coming-of-age story set in the 1980s that departs from the genre's familiar tropes to find a panoramic view of how the imperfect escape from our parents' mistakes makes (equally imperfect) adults of us. Jude Keffy-Horn and Teddy McNicholas are drug-addled adolescents stuck in suburban Vermont and dreaming of an escape to New York City. But after Teddy dies of an overdose, Jude makes good on their dream and forms a de facto family with Teddy's straight-edge brother, Johnny; Jude's estranged pot-farmer father, Lester; and the troubled Eliza Urbanski, who may be carrying Teddy's child. What results is an odyssey encompassing the age of CBGB, Hare Krishnas, zines, and the emergence of AIDS. Henderson is careful, amid all this youthy nostalgia, not to sideline the adults, who look upon the changing fashions with varying levels of engagement.

Coming-of-Age stories are always popular, and this has gotten a lot of positive buzz. What may be different with this story is that it takes place in a more contemporary era that is not the norm with these kinds of tales. That may make this even a better bet because we all can relate to the landscape of this portrait. This book was recently released (June 7th) and is available fromyour favorite bookseller!

Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in All the Confusion? by Johan Harstad... Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in All the Confusion? opens with the line: "The person you love is 72.8% water, and it hasn’t rained for weeks." From there, Brage Award–winning author and playwright Johan Harstad’s debut—previously published to great success in eleven countries and now making its first English-language appearance—tells the story of Mattias, a thirty-something gardener living in Stavanger, Norway, whose idol is Buzz Aldrin, second man on the moon: the man who was willing to stand in Neil Armstrong’s shadow in order to work, diligently and humbly, for the success of the Apollo 11 mission. Following a series of personal and professional disasters, Mattias finds himself lying on a rain-soaked road in the desolate, treeless Faroe Islands, population only a few thousand, a wad of bills in his pocket and no memory of how he had come to be there—that’s when a truck approaches him, driven by a troubled, fantastic man with an offer that will shortly change Mattias’s life. And so, surrounded by a vivid and memorable cast of characters—aspiring pop musicians, Caribbean-obsessed psychologists, death-haunted photographers, girls who dream of anonymous men falling in love with them on bus trips, and even Buzz Aldrin himself—launches Buzz Aldrin, What Happened To You In All The Confusion?, the epic story of Mattias’s pop-saturated odyssey through the world of unconventional psychiatry, souvenir sheep-making, the Cardigans, and space: the space between himself and other people, a journey maybe as remote and personally dangerous as the trip to the moon itself

This book sounds like fun! With a group of quirky characters and a road trip, how can you go wrong? Add the fact that this has been published to great accolades in eleven countries doesn't hurt. Kirkus Reviews calls it, "A modern saga of rocketships, ice floes and dreams of the Caribbean, and great fun to read." And I for one am looking forward to a fun romp with this one! Though we had to wait almost 6 years for Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in All the Confusion by Johan Harstad, it's now available from your favorite bookseller!

So what have you been reading lately?! Does your reading change like the seasons? Do you slow down and read more fun in the summer? I'd love to hear what summer reading means to you!

Happy Reading... Suzanne

Friday, June 10, 2011

First Lines... 212 by Alafair Burke

"Tanya Abbott noticed the quiver in her index finger as it pressed the three silver buttons in the rain-- 9... 1... 1. Listening to the ring, she found herself mentally calculating the number of days that had passed since she had first arrived in New York City.
Tanya had put the number at twenty-six by the time the dispatcher answered the call..."
212 by Alafair Burke, just published! And if you like crime fiction with a thriller bend, you'll want to pick this one up! Alafair Burke is having a Virtual Book Tour and making a stop at Chick with Books! Look for my review coming in a couple of weeks!

Friday, June 3, 2011

First Lines... I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman

Eliza Benedict paused at the foot of the stairs. Time for what, exactly? All summer long - it was now August - Eliza had been having trouble finding the right words. Not complicated ones, the things required to express strong emotions or abstract concepts, make difficult confessions to loved ones..."
i'd know you anywhere by Laura Lippman coming August 2011!

Laura Lippman fans are in for another treat from their favorite author! Psychological suspense at it's best! Eliza Benedict was kidnapped at 15, but now years later leads a normal life, with a husband and two kids. What remains inside her is the constant question of why Walter Bowman killed all his victims, but her? She may find out the answer because 23 years later, Walter Bowman on death row contacts Eliza...

Friday, May 27, 2011

First Lines... Trader of Secrets by Steve Martini

"Most of the blood left on the concrete floor of the garage in Washington belonged to the big black investigator working for Madriani, the man named Herman Diggs, but not all of it..."
Trader of Secrets by Steve Martini, coming 5/31!

Steve Martini fans rejoice! Defense attorney Paul Madriani is back and is embroiled in a case as perilous as any he has ever faced: one that involves an angry killer who will stop at nothing short of vengeance, and two missing NASA scientists who are holding secrets that a hostile government desperately wants to purchase—in blood if they must.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

When We Danced on Water by Evan Fallenberg... A TLC Tour & Review!

When We Danced on Water by Evan Fallenberg... Have you ever been surprised by a book?! Thought it would be about something and it turned out to be something totally different? Something that burst with a story that faintly resembled what it started as? That's what happened as I turned the pages of When We Danced on Water. What I thought initially was that this was going to be a love story; a May/December romance between two people. One of which was recovering from a war she served in and a love affair that ended badly. What I read though was a story so rich and encompassing that I still feel the story even after I've turned that last page.

In a small cafe in Tel Aviv, Vivi, a waitress in her 40's reignites the passion of 85 year old Teo as they see each other every day. Their conversations become more intense until Vivi, a supposed artist who can't stay with one project too long, is inspired by Teo's passion for the beauty & discipline of dance; of ballet. Teo was once a gifted ballet dancer, well respected and applauded. As a gift, Vivi decides to celebrate his life and accomplishments. But what becomes an amazing gift has the consequences of almost crushing Teo as he is brought back to long-buried secrets and painful memories of his life spent surviving WWII and the extermination of the Jews by the Third Reich.

What I thought was a simple love story, swept me off my feet into a time and place where the carefree life of a young Jewish boy could change with the slightest bit of circumstance. With lush prose, we are transported back in time to both Teo's life during WWII and Vivi's life as a young girl madly in love during a time of war. Though both wars were different, both had a devastating effect on their lives. And it is their shared pain, and their opening up to one another that finally frees them from their pasts.

I was totally absorbed in the stories of Vivi and Teo. Heartbreaking and believable, When We Dance on Water is the kind of book that will stay with you... The characters, their stories, the consequences of their actions. The setting of this story is Poland, Berlin and Tel Aviv, which seems fresh and unique.

Beautifully written, but there are parts of Teo's life surviving the Holocaust that may disturb you, as there was sexual abuse at the hands of Teo's torturer. I would definitely recommend this book to reading groups, and readers who enjoy stories taking place during WWII.

About the Author... Evan Fallenberg is the author of Light Fell, winner of the American Library Association’s Barbara Gittings Stonewall Book Award for Literature and the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction. His translation of Meir Shalev’s A Pigeon and a Boy won the Jewish Book Council Award for Fiction and was short-listed for the PEN Translation Prize. He lives and teaches in Tel Aviv.

Today's post is part of Evan Fallenberg's TLC Book Tour! I want to thank TLC Book Tours for sending along a copy for review! I thoroughly enjoyed it! And Readers can enjoy When We Danced on Water this coming June, when it will be released by Harper Perennial!

Friday, May 20, 2011

First Lines... Best Kept Secret by Amy Hatvany

Being drunk in front of your child is right up there on the Big Bad No-no List of Motherhood. I knew what I was doing was wrong. I knew it with every glass, every swallow, every empty bottle thrown into the recycle bin. I hated drinking. I hated it,,, and I couldn't stop...
Best Kept Secret by Amy Hatvany, release date: June 7th!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Man Booker International Prize... And the Winner Is?

Philip Roth wins The Man Booker International Prize! What is The Man Booker International Prize? It's the literary award presented once every two years to a living author for a body of work published "originally in English or widely available in translation in the English language." The prize is worth £60,000 (or about $97,000) to the winner.

Philip Roth's first book, Goodbye, Columbus (actually a novella and 5 short stories) won the National Book Award in 1960 and Roth has continued writing to critical acclaim ever since, in fact a career that has spanned 50 years!

You can read all about The Man Booker International Prize and who the other finalists were at And you can find a list of all Philip Roth books at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Memoir Monday... Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff

I really had to look twice to make sure that this was indeed a true story even though its description reads like an fictional adventure. But that is what caught my attention with this one... Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff is a story that sounds so amazing that it's hard to believe it's true... but it is...

In 1945, twenty-four American servicemen and women boarded a plane to see “Shangri-La,” a beautiful valley deep within Dutch New Guinea. But when the plane crashed, only three pulled through to battle for survival.

Emotionally devastated and badly injured, the trio faced certain death. Caught between spear-carrying tribesmen and enemy Japanese, they trekked down the jungle-covered mountainside and straight into superstitious natives rumored to be cannibals.

Drawn from interviews, Army documents, photos, diaries, and original film footage, Lost in Shangri-La recounts this true-life adventure for the first time. Mitchell Zuckoff reveals how the trio traversed the jungle; how brave Filipino-American paratroopers risked their lives to save the survivors; how a native leader protected the Americans; and how a cowboy colonel attempted an untried rescue mission to get them out.

From the excerpt of Lost in Shangri-La that I read, Mitchell Zuckoff does a great job holding your attention. His style of writing wasn't sensationalizing, but factual with the added creative style a good writer has. And what a story! Lost in a jungle with cannibals?! A rescue mission equally as dangerous?! This is definitely one on my TBR list! It has gotten quite a lot of praise since its release late in April and for people who think WW II stories are all dried up... think again!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Sunday Salon... What's New Pussycat? or Books with Buzz!

Welcome to the Sunday Salon! Grab a cup of joe, sit back and relax! It's the day of the week where we get together to chat about all the bookish things we've read, seen and done! This week was Read Like a Mother Week at Chick with Books, where we reviewed and highlighted books books that showcase women in the rolls of mothers, sisters or just simply friends, and,in the case of The Guardian by Margaret Mallory, lovers! Fiction (and nonfiction) that showcases women. Today I thought we'd finish up the week with some other great reading that isn't necessarily all about us girls...

Check out these great reads that I found in my travels this week... Of course those travels weren't to a bookstore this week. Alas my local bookstore has finally shut its doors. Yes, my local bookstore was a Borders. Now I'll be traveling a bit farther to get the feel of a real book in my hands when it comes to bookstores, but there is an independent bookstore I just love that I don't get to visit as often as I like and I look forward to driving off to visit it more often now. So, here are some great Books with Buzz...

Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks... from the author's website: "Geraldine Brooks takes a remarkable shard of history and brings it to vivid life. In 1665, a young man from Martha’s Vineyard became the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College. Upon this slender factual scaffold, Brooks has created a luminous tale of love and faith, magic and adventure. The narrator of Caleb’s Crossing is Bethia Mayfield, growing up in the tiny settlement of Great Harbor amid a small band of pioneers and Puritans. Restless and curious, she yearns after an education that is closed to her by her sex. As often as she can, she slips away to explore the island’s glistening beaches and observe its native Wampanoag inhabitants. At twelve, she encounters Caleb, the young son of a chieftain, and the two forge a tentative, secret friendship that draws each into the alien world of the other. Bethia’s minister father tries to convert the Wampanoag, awakening the wrath of the island’s strongest pawaaw, against whose ritual magic he must test his own beliefs. One of his projects becomes the education of Caleb, and a year later, Caleb is in Cambridge, studying Latin and Greek among the colonial elite. Bethia, also in Cambridge at the behest of her imperious elder brother, finds herself enmeshed in Caleb’s fate as he crosses between cultures."

What really caught my attention with Caleb's Crossing was the thought of being immersed in a story that would take me to a time and place virtually untouched by civilization, a landscape that was pure and in which we could enjoy the discovery of it's secrets as Bethia, our heroine, explores it's riches, which include a culture unfamiliar to her and how her friend Caleb finds his place in her world. Geraldine Brooks is a master at creating wonderful stories from pieces of history, and I can't wait to dive into this one!

The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon... It is 1968. Lynnie, a young white woman with a developmental disability, and Homan, an African American deaf man, are locked away in an institution, the School for the Incurable and Feebleminded, and have been left to languish, forgotten. Deeply in love, they escape, and find refuge in the farmhouse
of Martha, a retired schoolteacher and widow. But the couple is not alone-Lynnie has just given birth to a baby girl. When the authorities catch up to them that same night, Homan escapes into the darkness, and Lynnie is caught. But before she is forced back into the institution, she whispers two words to Martha: "Hide her." And so begins the 40-year epic journey of Lynnie, Homan, Martha, and baby Julia-lives divided by seemingly insurmountable obstacles, yet drawn together by a secret pact and extraordinary love.

This sounds like an amazing story. What further convinced me to put this in the TBR pile was part of a Publisher's Weekly review that said...
"Although their stories diverge and unfold independently of one another, memories of their short time together sustain them for more than 40 years..."
I love stories where we hear the story from two characters separate from each other. And my heart tugged at the notion that their "memories of their time together sustained them for 40 years." A love story, a story that shows that love isn't restricted to people with disabilities, and an adventure all wrapped up in one make this a must read for me!

The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto... From Publisher's Weekly: Yoshimoto delves into an elusive romance between an artist and a
student, each of whom bears scars from unusual upbringings, in this clever, off-beat novel. The 30-year-old narrator earns a modest living as a mural painter in Tokyo, supported by her businessman father whom she sees only occasionally since the death of her mother; her parents never married, as her mother was a Mama-san of a nightclub, her father the devoted customer, and his family dead-set against the match, seeding a deep sense of shame and inadequacy in the girl. Presently, she has befriended a curious young man, Nakajima, who begins to sleep over at her place, though chastely. A student in an advanced program of genetics, he hints at terrible secrets in his childhood, which are gradually revealed after the two visit Nakajima's very strange friends in the countryside, and it's revealed that Nakajima had been kidnapped as a boy by a cult and brainwashed. Unsettling as Nakajima's story is, the narrator has grown to cherish him and must decide if their uncommon connection—not passionate, but comforting and near-maternal—will bring lasting happiness.

Banana Yoshimoto is a wildly popular Japanese author, who I discovered while reading for the Japanese Literature Challenge. Her books are often short, amazingly wonderful stories with quirky characters. As a fan of Japanese literature, it's a treat when an author is translated for us, and this should be welcomed by fans of the author as well as anyone who enjoys a good story. This has gotten a lot of great buzz since it publication at the beginning of this month! It's coming my way, so keep a look out for a review soon. BTW, A portion of the sale of this book will go to Japanese Disaster Relief.

Weekly Recap... We started this weeks theme of "Read Like a Mother" Monday with Two Kisses for Maddy by Matt Logelin, the heartfelt memoir of Matt Logelin, who lost his wife, Liz, 27 hours after the birth of their daughter Maddy, from a pulmonary embolism. Matt's story is one of learning how to be a single dad at the same time as becoming a widow. Originally he poured out his heart on a blog he created after Liz's death. Wednesday, I highlighted Ann Brasheres, a favorite author of mine who gave us the wonderful story of 4 young girls, their friendship, their coming-of-age story, and their shared pair of magical jeans. The story of course is The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, which became 4 books, and now 10 years later those friends have grown up and we can revisit them in Ann's new book Sisterhood Everlasting! Thursday this week brought the sexier side of women, with a review AND GIVEAWAY of The Guardian by Margaret Mallory! Men in kilts, history, adventure and ROMANCE await ye in this wonderful book by Margaret Mallory! Don't miss your chance to win a copy! Follow the link above to enter! Friday's First Lines gave us a sneak peek at Wallflower by Holly-Jane Rahlens. The novel is set during the fall of the Berlin Wall. It's "Wallflower is four hours in the life of Molly Lenzfeld, sixteen-year-old New Yorker in Berlin." After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Molly decides to visit her mother's birth house in East Berlin, that's when she meets Mick & the Berlin no one really knows..." This is on my reading table right now. Holly-Jane Rahlens writing is fresh & the story is entertaining. I'll be righting my review for it soon...

That's how my reading week was, how was yours?? What great books have you discovered this week?! Share them so the rest of us can enjoy them too! I hope you found something to pique your reading curiosity here today! And I hope you enjoyed Read Like a Mother Week! Take care and Happy Reading... Suzanne
FSB Media Book Blogger Directory
my read shelf:
Suzanne's book recommendations, favorite quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)
First To Read
Reviews Published
Professional Reader
Challenge Participant