Lovelies, it's that time again: book reviews! I never thought I would love writing little blurbs as much as I do, but it's so much fun for me to be thinking about what I'm going to write as I'm reading these books. This group of books just happens to be the most recently read books on my list, but they're also a good mix of light hearted, heavy, deep, and funny. I promise there's something here for everyone!
Have you read a good book lately? Please share in the comments, tweet me, or come be my friend on Good Reads!
PS. Here's my list of 25 Must Read Summertime Books and 15 Books to Curl Up With By the Fire This Winter.
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell: Set in a time where email is new, cell phones aren't common, and flannel is in, Attachments is what I would call a romantic-comedy book. You delve into the email exchange between two best friends at their office, and as you learn about their lives, the IT man, who is supposed to be monitoring their exchanges ends up falling for one of them. It's a lively, funny, and sweet story which ultimately is about finding yourself and growing up.
Vaclav and Lena by Haley Tanner: This romantic story is a short book which packs a huge punch. Set in Brooklyn, it follows the story of two Russian immigrant children who form a bond larger than life. As time passes, and life gets in the way, as teens, they figure out what they mean to each other, and how they can save each other from the crazy world of school, adults, and "bad things." There were moments that this story broke my heart, and moments were it totally lifted my spirit. It's a story about love in all forms; love of your parents, love of your past, and love which never leaves your soul.
Those We Love Most by Lee Woodruff: I'm going to be honest, I tend to shy away from books about anything bad happening to children. However, Lee Woodruff approaches the subject of the tragedy with such grace that you can't help but want to know how the family suffers and survives. I'm a huge fan of the show Parenthood, so any book which follows a whole family's emotions and series of events always reels me in. In this case, we follow how the immediate family deals with the death of their son, as well as how the grandparents, uncles, aunts, and friends are affected. As you read this novel, bits and pieces of life before the tragedy are revealed, and you feel like at the end that you really know these people and their stories. It's a sad story, but a story about growth, family, and sticking together.
Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead: Man, I loved this book. I read this at my in-laws over Christmas and devoured it within 24 hours. The book focuses on the upcoming wedding of one of two daughters of Winn Van Meter; Winn is the central character of the book, and all the other wedding guests float their own stories around him. It's set on a small island off New England, and you really feel as though you are an invited guest on the dramatic wackiness that ensues over the course of the weekend. The characters are deep, yet funny and real (some very bad decisions are made!). The story doesn't drag once, and I can promise at some point in the book you feel happiness, sadness, and anger toward every single one of the characters. This is a great vacation read, airplane read, or a snuggle when it's raining read. It will keep you captivated the entire time. (PS. If you have any relationship to the WASP culture, as I did (hi, private school), than you'll feel akin to this book and it's 'weird' customs!)
The Arrivals by Meg Mitchell Moore: This was another book that I just fell head over heels for. Set in Vermont, the story follows an older couple whose life is flipped upside down when all of their adult children (and grandchildren) arrive unexpectedly in the summertime. It's a heartwarming story about a family in which all the members grow and learn on their own, and as a family. The writing style was beautiful, so easy to read, and real. I really thought these people were coming to life before my eyes. There's no tragedy in this story, no giant dramatic moment...it's simply just the banalities of life, the little things...but they were captured so perfectly, so well, it's almost as if they were photographed with words.
Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple: I love books with a slight twist; so, when I realized that this novel was more of a dossier of information about a mystery, it became even that much more fun to read. What would you do if your eccentric mother simply vanished from thin air? Bee, a high school girl who happens to march to the beat of her own drum, starts compiling a folder of all of the information she can find. As she compiles the information, we see it too, so we're solving the mystery with her. On top of that, we see what her life with her father is like, and how she is coping with such a loss. It's a fun, quick, and yet deep read. It's not the most philosophical of novels, but it's a great book if you want to get lost in words and also use your brain a little to help Bee find her mother.
A Lotus Grows in the Mud by Goldie Hawn: You all know by now I am a huge memoir fan; I'm also a huge Goldie Hawn fan. This memoir was one of the best I've ever read; not just because Goldie is such a well-lived person with a deep, rich personality, but because she's the most optimistic, hopeful, and strong woman. If you're looking for a great memoir, that isn't blah, and keeps the story of a powerful woman moving, this is it. She doesn't abide by rules, she makes her own, and that rings loud and clear in her memoir.
Talking with My Mouth Full: My Life as a Professional Eater by Gail Simmons: Continuing on the strong woman memoirs, I'm also a huge Top Chef fan, so when I came across Gail Simmons' memoir at the library, I snatched it up! Reading this memoir was like hanging out with Gail, eating chocolate scones and sharing life stories. She's totally open, honest, real, and a person that I would consider a friend (to be blatantly honest, I'm a total dork, and now when I watch Top Chef, I have a soft spot in my heart for her as I would a real life friend!). She covers everything you'd want to read about: who she is, love, family, and of course her life in food-writing, cooking, Top Chef, and her love of both Canada and New York. To put it simply, she's a cool chick who hasn't been adulterated by celebrity and cooks up a great memoir.
Prairie Tale: A Memoir by Melissa Gilbert: After reading Alison Arngrim's memoir, I decided I needed to hear Laura's Little House on the Prairie Tale. Melissa Gilbert has had quite the life; I really enjoyed reading all about her time on Little House, her acting career, her family issues, and her growing up. I did feel like there was a twinge of anger in her voice at times in the book (more specifically, when she talks about her son wanting to live with his father--uh, you were gone a lot of the time!), but she is honest about her struggles and it makes for a good read.
Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt: I read this directly after reading The Family Fang, for some reason the two books are forever intertwined in my head and heart. They're both about family issues, but obviously, are very different. Tell The Wolves I'm Home is about a young girl dealing with the after math of the death of her favorite family member from AIDS, when AIDS was first on the scene. It's a beautiful, heartbreaking story about growing up in the family you're in. (I also did this with Memento and Requiem for a Dream--we watched them back to back in psychology class and forever they are intertwined as one movie in my head).
The Circus in Winter by Cathy Day: What a fantastic and fresh read this was! It's a novel which focuses around a small town in Indiana which becomes the winter quarters for a traveling circus. The stories in the book (sort of like short stories) follow all the members of the circus throughout almost a a whole decade. I love, love, love books where all the characters are intertwined somehow, so this quickly became a favorite read for me!
In the past people have asked me, "well, what books didn't you like?" So here it goes...books I couldn't finish, for one reason or another:
NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children: Eh, I was excited for this one, but it was dull writing and I couldn't get into it.
Hoda: How I Survived War Zones, Bad Hair, Cancer, and Kathie Lee: I really wanted to like this, but it became very repetitive of her war stories over and over; it's not that I don't mind reading about her time as a journalist in war, but there's got to be more to life than that. I just wasn't excited about it and stopped half way.
The Weird Sisters: I thought this would be a great family drama book, but after a while the weird Shakespearean quotes randomly strewn about, as well as the fact that I felt like it was going no where made me stop reading.
The Final Confession of Mabel Stark: I am a huge fan of "old circus" books (you'll see on my next book review, there's more coming!), and this book started off strong, but to be honest, there was one very odd sex scene which almost made me nauseous and I couldn't keep reading after that.
Here's the Story: Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding My True Voice: Again, I was looking forward to this book, but the writing was really slow and boring.