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, June 30, 2013

The Sunday Salon and Books with Buzz

Welcome to The Sunday Salon! It's the time of the week we talk about all things bookish. So, grab a cup of Java, pull up a chair and relax!

It's been a crazy week as I try to plan for our vacation- a road trip down South that will end up in Savannah, Ga! I have always wanted to visit Savannah ever since reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt, who described it as a "hauntingly beautiful city of moss-hung oaks", and whose book was absolutely wonderful. Because of our "road trip', I was thinking of making this Sunday Salon all about "road trip" books - friends hopping in a car and heading out to parts unknown, or books about travel. But then as I started to try and figure out what books I'm going to bring with me ( and we always bring something to read, don't we?!) I thought "let's just talk about some great books that have poked their spines up for me to find in my week of travels." So no themes this week, just books that sound great and are going in my wish list...

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer...
“They say there are many worlds,” she explains. “All around our own, packed tight as the cells of your heart. Each with its own logic, its own physics, moons, and stars. … And in those other worlds, the places you love are there, the people you love are there. . . . So what if you found the door? And what if you had the key? Because everyone knows this: That the impossible happens once to each of us.”   
From the publisher... 1985. After the death of her beloved twin brother, Felix, and the break up with her long-time lover, Nathan, Greta Wells embarks on a radical psychiatric treatment to alleviate her suffocating depression. But the treatment has unexpected effects, and Greta finds herself transported to the lives she might have had if she'd been born in a different era.
Have you ever thought to yourself, "what if I was born 100 years ago, what would my life be?"What if I could go back just a little bit and meet my true love in a different era?" I LOVE time travel novels! I loved The Time Travelers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. It's always fascinating to see the "what if's". The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells has gotten a lot of great reviews, "Magically atmospheric, achingly romantic", and it looks to have the potential to sweep you off your feet in that romantic time travel kind of way. In the book, Greta is transported back in time, but with her same family and surrounding people. She's aware of the shift, but can she really enjoy herself? Just published this week by Ecco, an imprint of Harper Collins, The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells is available right now from your local bookstore (and it's on my wish list!)!

The Thinking Woman's Guide to Readl Magic by Emily Croy Barker... Nora Fischer’s dissertation is stalled and her boyfriend is about to marry another woman.  During a miserable weekend at a friend’s wedding, Nora wanders off and walks through a portal into a different world where she’s transformed from a drab grad student into a stunning beauty.  Before long, she has a set of glamorous new friends and her romance with gorgeous, masterful Raclin is heating up. It’s almost too good to be true.

Then the elegant veneer shatters. Nora’s new fantasy world turns darker, a fairy tale gone incredibly wrong. Making it here will take skills Nora never learned in graduate school.

This book sounds like a fun romp! I like the elements of magic and the fairy tale gone wrong scenario. I also would like to see how the author merges the modern day with the fantasy world. This is coming to your local bookstore August 1st and is published by Penguin.

 We are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler... Meet the Cooke family: Mother and Dad, brother Lowell, sister Fern, and our narrator, Rosemary, who begins her story in the middle. She has her reasons. “I spent the first eighteen years of my life defined by this one fact: that I was raised with a chimpanzee,” she tells us. “It’s never going to be the first thing I share with someone. I tell you Fern was a chimp and already you aren’t thinking of her as my sister. But until Fern’s expulsion, I’d scarcely known a moment alone. She was my twin, my funhouse mirror, my whirlwind other half, and I loved her as a sister.”

Just reading the description tugged at my heart. Don't you just want to know what happened to Fern?! Reading just a small sample of this book, the story slowly draws you in and I enjoyed the writing. Of course Karen Joy Fowler is the author of the wildly popular The Jane Austen Book Club, which swept through book clubs and put Jane Austen on the map with new readers.

What do you think of the title? I passed this by the first time I saw the title, because I thought it was a bit wordy and it didn't really compel me to open the book. I think that would be a great post one of these days - good books, not so good titles. Of course, I'm sure the title has to do with the loss of Fern, but on first sight... Anyway, We are Completely Besides Ourselves is available from your local bookstore and is published by Marian Wood Books/Putnam a division of Penguin.

So, now I'm going to stop looking at the books I am putting on my wish list and am going to start packing away the books I'm taking. I'm also packing away my Nook HD, which has a lot of books already loaded in my TBR pile. We'll have to talk about eReaders again too. It's been a while and there are even more choices including the advent of Tablets, which were not part of the discussion last time we talked digital reading. For Christmas, my hubby gave me a Nook HD, which I was pining for. I debated a long time on the Kindle Fire and the Nook HD. Finally deciding on the Nook HD because of it's size (it's definitely lighter and way thinner) and resolution. Although with Barnes & Noble hooking up with Google, there is an App that allows me to read my zillions of Kindle books now too! Best of both worlds... BUT if you are thinking of getting the Kindle Fire HD, it is on SALE on Amazon for $169 with adds for "a limited time'!

Now that I've shared what new books I found, what are you reading? What are you waiting for to be released?! I'd love to hear all about it! You can share it right here in your comment!!!

Have a great week... Suzanne

Friday, June 28, 2013

First Lines... " I was born of cold copulation..."

"I was born of cold copulation, white-fleshed and waxy like a crust of fat on beef broth left outside in winter. I was born of seed that would have seized with frost if spilled on the newlyweds' bed. I was born on the twenty-seventh of September because in the month of January my parents had been sealed in a wedding chamber made of ice." 
The Age of Ice by J.M. Sidorova                                      (Scribner- Pub. date of July 23, 2013)
"An epic debut novel, boldly imagined, beautifully written, and infused with Russian history and scientific wonder... a bold and romantic work of historical imagination about a lovelorn eighteenth-century Russian noble cursed with an immunity to the cold."

"This novel screams "Sweeping Russian Storytelling" at its best! Thank you to Scribner (an imprint of Simon & Schuster) for sending this my way! I can't wait to sink my teeth into this story!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Memoir Monday... and The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel

They had the perfect marriage, the perfect smiles, they were married to American Hero's, they were the "Astronaut Wives". I really didn't give The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel a second thought when it started getting some buzz. But then I read a post (Ever Wish for an Out-of-this World Romance? America's Astro Wives Had It, and It Wasn't All Moonbeams) on the Huffington Post by the author, Lily Koppel, that had me wanting more. I loved the title of her article, but it was her writing more than the subject matter that captured my interest. There are enough "celebrity" stories out there that sometimes they all just blend together- different people, same kind of story. Lily Koppel made me want to crack the spine on this one. Maybe it was the tidbit about astronaut Jim Lovell seeing how beautiful the Earth was & how his love for his family, and his wife, grew after seeing the beauty and realizing that all he loved was on that small beautiful planet. Maybe it was Lily Koppel's reference to the astronauts and their wives as "Moon Couples". But in any case I really liked Lily Koppel's writing from that small sample and hope that The Astronaut Wives Club will be a page turner. Here's the blurb from the publisher...

As America's Mercury Seven astronauts were launched on death-defying missions, television cameras focused on the brave smiles of their young wives. Overnight, these women were transformed from military spouses into American royalty. They had tea with Jackie Kennedy, appeared on the cover of Life magazine, and quickly grew into fashion icons.

Annie Glenn, with her picture-perfect marriage, was the envy of the other wives; platinum-blonde Rene Carpenter was proclaimed JFK's favorite; and licensed pilot Trudy Cooper arrived on base with a secret. Together with the other wives they formed the Astronaut Wives Club, meeting regularly to provide support and friendship. Many became next-door neighbors and helped to raise each other's children by day, while going to glam parties at night as the country raced to land a man on the Moon.

As their celebrity rose—and as divorce and tragic death began to touch their lives—they continued to rally together, and the wives have now been friends for more than 50 years. THE ASTRONAUT WIVES CLUB tells the real story of the women who stood beside some of the biggest heroes in American history.

I have always liked strong female protagonists, and The Astronaut Wives Club looks like it has 49! My hope is that The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel, is to the Space Program what Laura Hillenbrand and her book Seabiscuit is to horse racing... And if you haven't read Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand,  it is simply a great book and you should! (here is my review on that great nonfiction book!)

Happy reading... Suzanne

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Sunday Salon or How to Survive the Apocalypse...

Welcome to The Sunday Salon! What is The Sunday Salon? Imagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them, and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound journals as they go. Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake...

Do you ever get up and gingerly make your way to the coffee maker? Eyes half closed, hair messed, legs a little stiff?... I'm not sure if I also have those dark circles under my eyes (big no no to look in the mirror so early!), but if I stay up a little too late, sometimes I kinda feel like a ZOMBIE in the morning! And these days as a reader, I'm in good company because Zombies and the Apocalypse are all the rage! 

My love of dystopian fiction should meld well with Zombies, but I have to confess, I haven't read too much Zombie fiction. Although what I have read I have enjoyed. I think it was right after the Vampire craze started that I read The Reapers are The Angels by Alden Bell, which I loved. Good versus evil, a great strong female protagonist, and even a sprinkling of Zombie humor. 

So, what's a girl to do? I can solve my Zombie problem with a little coffee. How do other people deal with zombies? I thought maybe I'd check out the literary side of Zombies today in The Sunday Salon... 

World War Z by Max Brooks... The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. World War Z is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years.

This a little different from a "normal" story with a plot, this is written as an oral history and thus the book is set up with interview questions from Max, who is making a record of the War, and the answers from the interviewee. Before the interview, and there are plenty, is the background of what the person is going to be talking about, so you can get a feel for what was happening and where, and this in turn is creating the story from just before the outbreak to the end. Just glancing at the preview of this book made me want to read more. I think it is such a great concept to write the story this way. Some may think that the way the book was written could have been a cop out, something a lesser writer may have done to cover up his poor writing, but from what I have sampled, this definitely is NOT the case! The story was pulling me in and I had only read the beginning. Max Brooks writing is gripping. I look forward to cracking the spine on this one. 

BTW, little did Max Brooks know in 2006, when he published World War Z, that it would become a major motion picture. There was actually a bidding war between Leonard DiCaprio's production company and Brad Pitt's. (Brad Pitt's won). Am I going to see the movie version? Possibly. I like to read the book first because there are no spoilers that way. Of course some movies change the endings, add characters, change characters... But that's another post altogether! Do you like reading the book for or doesn't matter to you?

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion... R is a young man with an existential crisis--he is a zombie. He shuffles through an America destroyed by war, social collapse, and the mindless hunger of his undead comrades, but he craves something more than blood and brains. He can speak just a few grunted syllables, but his inner life is deep, full of wonder and longing. He has no memories, noidentity, and no pulse, but he has dreams. After experiencing a teenage boy's memories while consuming his brain, R makes an unexpected choice that begins a tense, awkward, and stragely sweet relationship with the victim's human girlfriend. Julie is a blast of color in the otherwise dreary and gray landscape that surrounds R. His decision to protect her will transform not only R, but his fellow Dead, and perhaps their whole lifeless world.

Warm Bodies proves that not all Zombies are bad! This sounds funny, heartbreaking, and touching. A doomed romance that you just may be rooting for anyway.  Just the first lines of the book made me feel empathy for "R", our Zombie with a heart (not a blood pumping one of course)...

"I AM DEAD, but it’s not so bad. I’ve learned to live with it. I’m sorry I can’t properly introduce myself, but I don’t have a name anymore. Hardly any of us do. We lose them like car keys, forget them like anniversaries. Mine might have started with an “R”, but that’s all I have now. It’s funny because back when I was alive, I was always forgetting other people’s names. My friend “M” says the irony of being a zombie is that everything is funny, but you can’t smile, because your lips have rotted off."

Warm Bodies has gotten a lot of great reviews! (It's also coming out on the big screen). This is currently in my eReader, so you can expect a review coming. I'm crossing my fingers that it's going to be as good as my first impressions have me believe. Part of those first impressions were Isaac Marion's writing, which I found refreshing. This past year, Isaac also published the prequel to Warm Bodies called The New Hunger. Seems that this is a short novella and only available digitally. I'll be trying Warm Bodies first though.

The 5th Wave by Rich Yancey... After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one. Now, it's the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth's last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie's only hope for rescuing her brother--or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

This book has gotten so much hype prior to its publication and is making the rounds with lots of great reviews. It's a YA novel that's been called a cross between The Passage and Ender's Game. It's aliens and Zombies and looks to be the start of a great series! This has dystopian written all over it, and some of the words used to describe it are exhilarating, gripping, and breathtaking. This is on my nightstand waiting for its turn and I just hope that it's all that it's said to be. 

 As I was researching "Zombie Fiction", I came across another series called The Zombie Chronicles (Apocalypse Infection Unleashed Series) by Chrissy Peebles. Here's the description from Amazon... Val was bitten by a zombie and now she’s scheduled for lethal injection. Breaking all the rules, eighteen year old, Dean Walters snags an experimental serum. But it can’t be tested until Val turns into a zombie: something authorities won’t allow. Her execution is scheduled to happen before transformation is complete, giving Dean only hours to break her out. When their helicopter crashes straight into the heart of Zombie Land, his rescue mission becomes a fight for survival…and giving up on Val is NOT an option.

I read the first few sample pages and thought the writing was good. AND you can download this for Kindle for FREE right now! So what do you have to lose?! It's always nice when the author releases the first book in a series for free. I think it's a win win situation for both the author and the reader. I get to discover a new author and see if I enjoy her writing, and the author possibly gets a new reader who'll be buying more of his/her books.  Looks like there are 5 books in the series right now, and the books seems to have gotten really good reviews. 

P.S. If you would like to try a great zombie graphic novel series, The Waking Dead by Robert Kirkman is a great choice. A great story and wonderful graphics. I love a good graphic novel, but I need one that has great artwork and this fits the bill. You may be familiar with the television series which is based on these books. The Walking Dead, Book 1 encompasses the first 12 issues of the series and would be a great place to start. 

So, are you going to try a bit of Zombie fiction? Have you read any that you'd like to share? And what do you think of all these books to movies? Good thing or bad?

Thanks for stopping by! I love to hear what you're reading (Zombie or no zombie!), so share what you're reading week has been like!

Happy reading... Suzanne

P.S. Tomorrow is Monday, and I have a great Memoir monday ready to post! It's out of this world... 

Friday, June 21, 2013

First Lines...

"It is not uncommon, when one is young, to think that life is simple. In my case, I reasoned it would require little besides discipline and effort. If I labored well, worshipped, confessed, and shunned all carnal desire, my soul would find sure and brilliant its path to Zion. And if I held faith as the brightest star in my firmament - and thus the easiest by which to chart my course- the universe would fall into order. Order, after all, means everything to a Shaker, and a Shaker is what I am. 
But if we are to be sincere, then we know that we are not made for perfection..."
The Visionist by Rachel Urquhart coming Jan. 2014 from Little Brown & Co.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Sunday Salon... Happy Father's Day! And Great Books from BEA 2013!

 Happy Father's Day! Welcome to today's Sunday Salon! Imagine a virtual library, filled with bloggers far and wide, all talking about what's going on in the world of books... that is what The Sunday Salon is all about!

BEA, or Book Expo America, if the premier event for us readers! It is the "largest publishing event in North America", and it gives us access to what's coming from our favorite publishers and authors. It's so much more than that though. It gives us bloggers the opportunity to touch base with the community, meet other bloggers, meet the book publicists we love to work with and a whole lot more! This year I wasn't able to attend, but it didn't stop me from learning about some of the great books coming out this year. In fact, if you own a eReader, you can download a great preview, with excerpts, of some of the books the publishers are highlighting this year with Book Buzz 2013 Fall/Winter (Kindle) and Book Buzz 2013 Spring/Summer (Nook). Last Sunday Salon I promised I'd highlight some of the books I'm looking forward to, so... Here they are...

The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan... Moving between the dazzling world of courtesans in turn of the century Shanghai, a remote Chinese mountain village, and the rough-hewn streets of nineteenth-century San Francisco, Amy Tan's sweeping new novel maps the lives of three generations of women connected by blood and history - and the mystery of an evocative painting known as "The Valley of Amazement." Violet is one of the most celebrated courtesans in Shanghai, a beautiful and intelligent woman who has honed her ability to become any man's fantasy since her start as a "Virgin Courtesan" at the age of twelve. Half-Chinese and half-American, she moves effortlessly between the East and the West. But her talents belie her private struggle to understand who she really is and her search for a home in the world. Abandoned by her mother, Lucia, and uncertain of her father's identity, Violet's quest to truly love and be loved will set her on a path fraught with danger and complexity - and the loss of her own daughter.

I just love Amy Tan and her ability to effortlessly weave a tale that spans decades without losing a beat.  I also love stories that bring generations of women together, where we can see their differences and yet their strong connections that bind them no matter what. This book sounds like it's going to be a wonderful read and have all those qualities I enjoy. This has a publishing date of November 2013 from Ecco! Read more about it at Amy Tan's website!

We Are Water by Wally Lamb... After 27 years of marriage and three children, Anna Oh—wife, mother, outsider artist—has fallen in love with Viveca, the wealthy Manhattan art dealer who orchestrated her success. They plan to wed in the Oh family’s hometown of Three Rivers in Connecticut. But the wedding provokes some very mixed reactions and opens a Pandora’s Box of toxic secrets—dark and painful truths that have festered below the surface of the Ohs’ lives. We Are Water is a layered portrait of marriage, family, and the inexorable need for understanding and connection, told in the alternating voices of the Ohs. With humor and compassion, Wally Lamb brilliantly captures the essence of human experience and the ways in which we search for love and meaning in our lives.

Ever since reading The Hour I First Believed, I have loved Wally Lamb! His characters have such depth and his stories are so absorbing. He really knows how to write about what we feel deep in our hearts, and I have no doubt that We Are Water will be one of those great reads. We'll have to wait until Oct. 2013 for this one. Published by Harper Collins.

 On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee... In a future, long-declining America, society is strictly stratified by class. Long-abandoned urban neighborhoods have been repurposed as highwalled, self-contained labor colonies. And the members of the labor class—descendants of those brought over en masse many years earlier from environmentally ruined provincial China—find purpose and identity in their work to provide pristine produce and fish to the small, elite, satellite charter villages that ring the labor settlement.

In this world lives Fan, a female fish-tank diver, who leaves her home in the B-Mor settlement (once known as Baltimore), when the man she loves mysteriously disappears. Fan’s journey to find him takes her out of the safety of B-Mor, through the anarchic Open Counties, where crime is rampant with scant governmental oversight, and to a faraway charter village, in a quest that will soon become legend to those she left behind.

OK, I love dystopian fiction. This has alternate world/future world written all over it and we have the benefit of a very gifted storyteller and writer- Chang-Rae Lee. When I read The Surrendered, I knew Chang-Rae Lee would be one of my favorite authors, and so I am really looking forward to his newest book coming out January 2014 from Riverhead.

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill... Victoria McQueen has a secret gift for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions. On her Raleigh Tuff Burner bike, she makes her way to a rickety covered bridge that, within moments, takes her wherever she needs to go, whether it’s across Massachusetts or across the country.

Charles Talent Manx has a way with children. He likes to take them for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the NOS4A2 vanity plate. With his old car, he can slip right out of the everyday world, and onto the hidden roads that transport them to an astonishing – and terrifying – playground of amusements he calls “Christmasland.”

Then, one day, Vic goes looking for trouble—and finds Manx. That was a lifetime ago. Now Vic, the only kid to ever escape Manx’s unmitigated evil, is all grown up and desperate to forget. But Charlie Manx never stopped thinking about Victoria McQueen. He’s on the road again and he’s picked up a new passenger: Vic’s own son.

I love a good thriller and I know this is going to meet the bill. Joe Hill is a master of suspense with some great books behind him to prove it. I just love the title of the book too! I can just picture that license plate driving along a dark and curvy road. Published by William Morrow (an imprint of Harper Collins) and this one you don't have to wait for... it's available now!

The Affairs of Others by Amy Grace Loyd... Five years after her young husband’s death, Celia Cassill has moved from one Brooklyn neighborhood to another, but she has not moved on. The owner of a small apartment building, she has chosen her tenants for their ability to respect one another’s privacy. Celia believes in boundaries, solitude, that she has a right to her ghosts. She is determined to live a life at a remove from the chaos and competition of modern life. Everything changes with the arrival of a new tenant, Hope, a dazzling woman of a certain age on the run from her husband’s recent betrayal. When Hope begins a torrid and noisy affair, and another tenant mysteriously disappears, the carefully constructed walls of Celia’s world are soon tested and the sanctity of her building is shattered—through violence and sex, in turns tender and dark. Ultimately, Celia and her tenants are forced to abandon their separate spaces for a far more intimate one, leading to a surprising conclusion and the promise of genuine joy.

Doesn't this just sound delicious?! Mysterious, a sprinkling of suspense and a bit dark... This is the debut novel of Amy Grace Loyd and it has gotten some great praise for her writing. I haven't had the pleasure to sample this yet, but it is on my wish list! The Affairs of Others will be published the end of August by Picador.

Hopefully these books have whetted your appetite! The next few months are going to be great fun for us readers, so many wonderful books to crack the spines on! There have been some great books in the mail this week too! A special thank you to all the authors and publishers who sent these along to me! First, Author Mingmei Yip sent me an ARC of her newest book, The Nine Fold Heaven! Think of a beautiful seductress, ex-spy, and nightclub singer trying to reunite with her lover and baby, which all takes place with the backdrop of Shanghai. I love Mingmei Yip's writing, and expecially her characters. I started reading this right out of the post and am really enjoying it! Published by Kensington Books, this will be out June 25th! The Visionist by Rachel Urquhart, "where 15 yr. old Polly Kimball, sets fire to the family farm, killing her abusive father" and finds shelter in a Shaker community where things are not going to remain quiet very long. Keep a look out for my review! Thank you Little Brown and Co. for sending this along. Gabrielle at Picador sent along a couple of fun memoirs for me to read! Paris, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down by Rosecrans Baldwin is all about how some things just don't quite meet our expectations. After a job offer in Paris, the city of Baldwin's dreams, he packs up and moves and finds out that the reality isn't quite what the dream was. With touches of humor and insight, along with some great writing, we go along for the ride. And she also send an interesting "memoir" by Sheila Heti entitled How Should a Person Be? where Sheila asks herself and explores the question of self. How do we determine who we should be? Do we really have control over? It's been called boldly original, funny and deeply intelligent, and I look forward to finding out for myself what Sheila is all about!

 What's on your reading plate this week?! And what are you looking forward to reading the next few months?! Share your reading picks right here, so we can discover more great books!

Happy reading.... Suzanne

Monday, June 10, 2013

Memoir Monday

I have read a lot of memoirs. I started Memoir Monday not because of my love of memoirs, but because they were so prolific. I look back on all those posts and think about some of the wonderful books I've read... the stories that leave an imprint, stories you just can't forget. And then there are the not so wonderful books. Memoirs that seem long and tedious, maybe the person's life doesn't resinate with me, maybe the writing didn't pull me in. Everyone has a story, but is that story book worthy? And what sets those memoirs apart that seem to linger long after you've turned the last page? The answer to that last question may lie in Handling The Truth On the Writing of Memoir by Beth Kephart. It just screams READ ME... 

Kirkus Review, who gave it a starred review, writes that Handling The Truth, "is not only about "the making of memoir and its consequences," but also "its privileges and pleasures." Though firmly rooted in personal experience, memoir is not an exercise in narcissism. As Kephart shows through examples from writers such as Michael Ondaatje and Annie Dillard, it is a process by which "memoirists open themselves up to self-discovery and make themselves vulnerable...  In the process of self-discovery—and like the Penn students from whose work she quotes liberally throughout—memoirists must also learn to ask the right questions about the past and about life itself."

Beth Kephart is a writer in her own right, and teaches creative nonfiction. Handling The Truth On the Writing of Memoir sounds like a perfect read for anyone who enjoys memoirs; to get a look at the process that can make those gems that stand out. Maybe her book can even help you tell your story! 

HANDLING THE TRUTH On Writing of Memoir by Beth Kephart will be out August 6th, 2013 and is published by Gotham, a division of Penguin.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Sunday Salon and Books with Buzz!

Welcome to the Sunday Salon! It's the time of the week to kick back and relax, grab a cup of java and talk books... It's been a while since you've read a Sunday Salon here, but don't worry, I've been reading and finding some great books and we're going to share them all starting today!

First, let's look at two new novels at the top of my reading list...

And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini, from the authors website...Afghanistan, 1952. Abdullah and his sister Pari live with their fatherand stepmother in the small village of Shadbagh. Their father, Saboor, is constantly in search of work and they struggle together through poverty and brutal winters.

To Abdullah, Pari – as beautiful and sweet-natured as the fairy for which she was named – is everything. More like a parent than a brother, Abdullah will do anything for her, even trading his only pair of shoes for a feather for her treasured collection. Each night they sleep together in their cot, their heads touching, their limbs tangled.

One day the siblings journey across the desert to Kabul with their father. Pari and Abdullah have no sense of the fate that awaits them there, for the event which unfolds will tear their lives apart; sometimes a finger must be cut to save the hand.

Crossing generations and continents, moving from Kabul, to Paris, to San Francisco, to the Greek island of Tinos, with profound wisdom, depth, insight and compassion, Khaled Hosseini writes about the bonds that define us and shape our lives, the ways in which we help our loved ones in need, how the choices we make resonate through history and how we are often surprised by the people closest to us.

It's been six years since Khaled Hosseini has given us a gift of his writing, and his newest offering has gotten so much positive praise and hype that I have to read it and I can only hope that it lives up to the wonderful writing I experienced in The Kite Runner. A friend of mine just told me that she thinks it's better than The Kite Runner. Published by Penguin Group, this book available right now at your local bookstore. This book is also Kindle Ready! AND Nook Ready!

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls: A Novel by Anton DiSclafani... From the publisher: It is 1930, the midst of the Great Depression. After her mysterious role in a family tragedy, passionate, strong-willed Thea Atwell, age fifteen, has been cast out of her Florida home, exiled to an equestrienne boarding school for Southern debutantes. High in the Blue Ridge Mountains, with its complex social strata ordered by money, beauty, and girls’ friendships, the Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls is far removed from the free-roaming, dreamlike childhood Thea shared with her twin brother on their family’s citrus farm—a world now partially shattered. As Thea grapples with her responsibility for the events of the past year that led her here, she finds herself enmeshed in a new order, one that will change her sense of what is possible for herself, her family, her country.

Weaving provocatively between home and school, the narrative powerfully unfurls the true story behind Thea’s expulsion from her family, but it isn’t long before the mystery of her past is rivaled by the question of how it will shape her future. Part scandalous love story, part heartbreaking family drama, The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls is an immersive, transporting page-turner—a vivid, propulsive novel about sex, love, family, money, class, home, and horses, all set against the ominous threat of the Depression—and the major debut of an important new writer.

I just love these "coming-of-age" novels. (Now that I think about it, I'll have to write a post on some of the great books that come to mind!) The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls sounds like the perfect summer read. Scandalous, mysterious, plenty of drama, with a strong flawed female protagonist that may both pull at our hearts and infuriate us. I've heard mixed reviews, but the majority opinion is, that this is the "IT" novel of the summer. It is on my wish list! Published by Riverhead Books, an imprint of Penguin, it went on sale June 4th and is available at your local bookstore! This book is Kindle Ready! And Nook Ready too!

IN other bookish news... BEA, BookExpo America wrapped up June 1st with a great look, maybe a tease since I wasn't able to attend this year, at some great authors with new books and some great books from authors we are just getting to know. Next week we'll look at a few of the top choices from BEA, and boy am I excited!!

eReaders are all the rage. Lots of reading choices out there. Amazon has announced it's going to offer the KindleDX again. Its' 9.7inch E-Ink display is at a premium price of $299. Is there a market for the KindleDX with the price of full color tablets at almost the same price?

Reviews coming soon... My World Book Night book choice was The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster with illustrations by Jules Feiffer. What a fun book. A chapter book for young readers, which celebrated its' 50th anniversary not too long ago, is a children's book with hidden delight for us older folks. If you like words (and what reader doesn't) you will love this book! I Also read a great novel set in the Vietanam era that centers around 2 brothers. The Turtle Warrior by Mary Relindes Ellis is set in a rural town in Wisconsin and will be pulling at your heartstrings. Overwhelmingly sad at some points, the story just wraps itself around you pulling you in. One of the best books I've read in a long time. AND I also read two great graphic novels recently- Sailor Twain by Mark Siegel, a great YA novel that mixes folklore and history with great fiction and The Mail Order Bride by Mark Kalesniko, which is definitely an ADULT graphic novel. The drawings are beautiful, the story funny and yet poignant. I can't wait to tell you about that one!

How was your week?! What great books are on your nightstand? Share your reading! I always love to hear about a good book!

Happy reading... Suzanne

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