Book Review: Goodnight June

Why I picked it: I will read almost anything written by author Sarah Jio, her stories are simply readable.

Goodnight June Publishes May 27 - a must read!

Synopsis: Goodnight Moon is an adored childhood classic, but its real origins are lost to history. In Goodnight June, Sarah Jio offers a suspenseful and heartfelt take on how the "great green room" might have come to be.

June Andersen is professionally successful, but her personal life is marred by unhappiness. Unexpectedly, she is called to settle her great-aunt Ruby’s estate and determine the fate of Bluebird Books, the children’s bookstore Ruby founded in the 1940s. Amidst the store’s papers, June stumbles upon letters between her great-aunt and the late Margaret Wise Brown—and steps into the pages of American literature

Quick Take: Goodnight June is the first book I have read in a long time that I read in a day or two.  I know what to expect from Sarah Jio, a well written story that's absorbing and pulls me from life for a few days.  She has a talent for weaving a current day story with the past.

What did I love about this book? The backdrop is a much loved children's bookstore, filled with first editions. June inherits but doesn't have time for the store, she's planning to close/sell the building until her Aunt sends June on a treasure hunt that uncover family secrets, including letters with the author of the much loved book Goodnight Moon.  While her family history begins to unfold, she realizes that her life in NYC may not be perfect and is forced to make decisions regarding her future.

Recommend for book clubs? Absolutely

Speaking of book clubs, the Manic Mommies Book Club met with Sarah in 2011, to discuss The Violets of March, click here to listen to our discussion.

Rating: 4.5 stars
Source: Review Copy (NetGalley)

Book Review: On The Island



Why I Picked it: I accepted reading a book for review, for an author who was new to me... after doing a little research I wanted to read this book.

Synopsis: When thirty-year-old English teacher Anna Emerson is offered a job tutoring T.J. Callahan at his family's summer rental in the Maldives, she accepts without hesitation; a working vacation on a tropical island trumps the library any day.

Anna and T.J. are en route to join T.J.'s family when the pilot of their seaplane suffers a fatal heart attack and crash-lands in the Indian Ocean. Adrift in shark-infested waters, their life jackets keep them afloat until they make it to the shore of an uninhabited island. Now Anna and T.J. just want to survive and they must work together to obtain water, food, fire, and shelter.

Their basic needs might be met but as the days turn to weeks, and then months, the castaways encounter plenty of other obstacles, including violent tropical storms, the many dangers lurking in the sea, and the possibility that T.J.'s cancer could return. As T.J. celebrates yet another birthday on the island, Anna begins to wonder if the biggest challenge of all might be living with a boy who is gradually becoming a man.


Quick Take: I read this book a month ago and can't seem to shake it from my memory. The story had me captivated from page one, from the plane crash to the daily life struggles on the island.  Imagine living every day with fear of the other dying and being left alone, wondering if you will eat today, consider your daily hygiene, its survival at its core.

Now for the twist, dare I say it's written for women... it's readable and tugs at your heart.  There's an emotional creep factor in that the boy develops a crush on his teacher (in the most natural way imagined), mix in a longing for human comfort and years of snuggling for heat, emotions get in the way.  Time turns a boy into a man, a teacher into a woman.  

I want everyone to read this book, so I can talk about it! Recommend for book club? Absolutely! It's an easy read, with a LOT to discuss. 

Rating: 4 stars
Source: Review Copy

Book Review: Covet

Why I picked it: I was offered this book to read for review but had no idea that I would gain a new 'must read' author out of the deal.  Having read two books written by Tracey Garvis Graves, I connect to her writing, it's effortless and emotional.

Synopsis: What if the life you wanted, and the woman you fell in love with, belonged to someone else?

Downsized during the recession and out of work for a year, Chris copes by retreating to a dark place where no one can reach him, not even Claire. When he's offered a position that will keep him away from home four nights a week, he dismisses Claire's concern that time apart could be the one thing their fragile union can't weather. Their suburban life may look idyllic on the outside, but Claire has never felt so disconnected from Chris, or so lonely.

Local police officer Daniel Rush used to have it all, but now he goes home to an empty house every night. He pulls Claire over during a routine traffic stop, and they run into each other again at the 4th of July parade. When Claire is hired to do some graphic design work for the police department, her friendship with Daniel grows, and soon they're spending hours together.

Claire loves the way Daniel makes her feel, and the way his face lights up when she walks into the room. Daniel knows that Claire's marital status means their relationship will never be anything other than platonic. But it doesn't take long before Claire and Daniel are in way over their heads, and skating close to the line that Claire has sworn she'll never cross.

Quick take:

Rating: 4 stars
Source: review copy

Books I can't wait to read!

Friends,  Just a quick update, I'm off on an unplanned business trip for a few days... below are two books I can't wait to read, and the book I'm reading this week.

I am listening to Life After Life while driving about ten hours for a business trip. At the half point, I'm sorry to say not much has happened.  That's okay, I have a feeling it's going to have a strong finish!  My hopes are high since it did win the reader's choice for 2013 on goodreads.

Have you read it?  Did you love it?

I will be back on Thursday - in the meantime... please tell me what are you reading this week!
~xoxo


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Life After Life: On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born, the third child of a wealthy English banker and his wife. Sadly, she dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in any number of ways. Clearly history (and Kate Atkinson) have plans for her: In Ursula rests nothing less than the fate of civilization.



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The Arsonist: pub Jun 24, 

From the best-selling author of While I Was Gone and The Senator's Wife, a superb new novel about a family and a community tested when an arsonist begins setting fire to the homes of the summer people in a small New England town.

Troubled by the feeling that she belongs nowhere after working in East Africa for 15 years, Frankie Rowley has come home-home to the small New Hampshire town of Pomeroy and the farmhouse where her family has always summered. On her first night back, a house up the road burns to the ground. Is it an accident, or arson? Over the weeks that follow, as Frankie comes to recognize her father's slow failing and her mother's desperation, another house burns, and then another, always the homes of summer people. These frightening events, and the deep social fault lines that open in the town as a result, are observed and reported on by Bud Jacobs, a former political journalist, who has bought the local paper and moved to Pomeroy in an attempt to find a kind of home himself. As this compelling book unfolds, as Bud and Frankie begin an unexpected, passionate affair, arson upends a trusting small community where people have never before bothered to lock their doors; and Frankie and Bud bring wholly different perspectives to the questions of who truly owns the land, who belongs in the town, and how, or even whether, newcomers can make a real home there.

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Save the Date: Have you read it? The plot sounds fun and quirky yet goodread reviewer either love or hate this one.  

Synopsis: Weddings. They’re fun, festive, and joyful, and at a time when people marry later in life—and sometimes not at all—they offer endless opportunities to reexamine love and what we want for ourselves, regardless of whether or not our aim is a walk down the aisle. In Save the Date, Jen Doll charts the course of her own perennial wedding guesthood, from the ceremony of distant family members when she was eight to the recent nuptials of a new boyfriend’s friends.

There’s the first trip home for a childhood pal’s big day, in which she learns that her first love has eloped to Hawaii. There’s the destination wedding attended with little baggage beyond a suitcase of strappy sandals and summery party dresses. Regrettably, there is a series of celebrations that mean the end to a valued friendship. There’s also the wedding that offers all the promise of new love.

Wedding experiences come in as varied an assortment as the gowns at any bridal shop, and Doll turns a keen eye to each, delivering a heartfelt exploration of contemporary relationships. Funny, honest, and affecting, Save the Date is a fresh and spirited look at the many ways in which we connect to one another.


Book Review: Waking the Buddha

Why I picked it: The book cover and title grabbed my attention.

Synopsis: Is there more to Buddhism than sitting in silent meditation? Is modern Buddhism relevant to the problems of daily life? Does it empower individuals to transform their lives?

Waking the Buddha tells the story of the Soka Gakkai International, the largest, most dynamic Buddhist movement in the world today—and one that is waking up and shaking up Buddhism so it can truly work in ordinary people’s lives.

Readers will be inspired by the struggles and triumphs of the three founding presidents— These three men dared to revolutionize Buddhism by restoring it to its true purpose: to help people transform their lives and the world they live in. The result is a uniquely relevant form of Buddhism—one that “just makes sense” to the modern mind and is ready to meet the challenges of a global age.

Quick Take: I'm not sure what to say about this book, it read more like a thesis/research paper and wasn't at all what I expected.  I have several books on Buddhism, lifestyle, yoga... they all have a quiet feel to them.  This book was hard to read, mostly because I was expecting something completely different. 

The only review I found on goodreads was a DNF: I found it difficult to read and to follow. I got to about half and then gave up

Have you read this book?  Did I miss something? I didn't love it, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy it.

Rating: 2 stars
Source: Review Copy (NetGalley)

Books I can't wait to read

I'm so excited to read the books I'm sharing with you today.

One of my favorite, must read, authors are publishing this summer, Thrity Umrigar.  Like many, The Space Between Us remains at the top of my life list of favorites.  The Story Hour sounds promising, a twist on a common theme I'm reading this year.

The other two books below are new discoveries for me...  The cast of characters in Cutting Teeth reminds me of Little Children by Tom Perrotta.  The Vacationers is a book that grabs my attention; a family drama (I'm not sure why, but I just love these books).

I'm expecting a better than average reading summer; I would say 'I can feel it' but I'm seeing it.  So many great authors publishing, and new discoveries with so much potential. Do you have any books you are patiently waiting to read this summer?
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The Story Hour (pub date, Aug 19): An experienced psychologist, Maggie carefully maintains emotional distance from her patients. But when she meets a young Indian woman who tried to kill herself, her professional detachment disintegrates. Cut off from her family in India, Lakshmi is desperately lonely and trapped in a loveless marriage to a domineering man who limits her world to their small restaurant and grocery store.

Moved by her plight, Maggie treats Lakshmi in her home office for free, quickly realizing that the despondent woman doesn’t need a shrink; she needs a friend. Determined to empower Lakshmi as a woman who feels valued in her own right, Maggie abandons protocol, and soon doctor and patient have become close friends.

But while their relationship is deeply affectionate, it is also warped by conflicting expectations. When Maggie and Lakshmi open up and share long-buried secrets, the revelations will jeopardize their close bond, shake their faith in each other, and force them to confront painful choices.


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Cutting Teeth (pub date, May 13) Taking place one late-summer weekend as a group of thirty-something couples gather at a shabby beach house on Long Island, their young children in tow.

Including a neurotic hostess terrified by internet rumors that something big and bad is going to happen in New York City that week; stay-at-home dad Rip, grappling with the reality that his careerist wife will likely deny him a second child, forcing him to disrupt the life he loves; Allie, one half of a two-mom family, and an ambitious artist, facing her ambivalence toward family life; Tiffany, comfortable with her amazing body but not so comfortable in the upper-middle class world the other characters were born into; and Leigh, a blue blood secretly facing financial ruin and dependent on Tenzin, the magical Tibetan nanny everyone else covets. These tensions build, burn, and collide over the course of the weekend, culminating in a scene in which the ultimate rule of the group is broken.


Cutting Teeth captures the complex dilemmas of early mid-life—the vicissitudes of friendship, of romantic and familial love, and of sex. It confronts class tension, status hunger, and the unease of being in possession of life's greatest bounty while still wondering, is this as good as it gets? And, perhaps most of all, Julia Fierro’s thought-provoking debut explores the all-consuming love we feel for those we need most, and the sacrifice and self-compromise that underpins that love.
 

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The Vacationers (pub date, May 29): For the Posts, a two-week trip to the Balearic island of Mallorca with their extended family and friends is a celebration: Franny and Jim are observing their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, and their daughter, Sylvia, has graduated from high school. The sunlit island, its mountains and beaches, its tapas and tennis courts, also promise an escape from the tensions simmering at home in Manhattan. But all does not go according to plan: over the course of the vacation, secrets come to light, old and new humiliations are experienced, childhood rivalries resurface, and ancient wounds are exacerbated.

This is a story of the sides of ourselves that we choose to show and those we try to conceal, of the ways we tear each other down and build each other up again, and the bonds that ultimately hold us together. With wry humor and tremendous heart, Emma Straub delivers a richly satisfying story of a family in the midst of a maelstrom of change, emerging irrevocably altered yet whole.

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