I'm an admitted book worm... I can never get enough of reading! Here is a run-down of books I've read and loved - I'm leaving out the books I've read and didn't love... life is short! I included brief thoughts on each book, but I'm no book reviewer, often my words don't match my deep feelings for each of these books.
(keep in mind this list will update often... so check back!)
The Starboard Sea: A Novel
... this book is in the "prep/boarding school genre" - a genre which I haven't read from before. In general this book experience was a new one for me. Reading about teenage boys. Some of it I found alarming and sad and the other parts were deeply moving. This book completely sucked me in, while leaving me undecided about how I felt about it. Overall I found this to be a very good read, but I'm 50/50 on if I enjoyed it or found value in the story.
The Great Gatsby
... revisited this classic before the movie came out. Had to do it!
Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed
... I had read one of this author's essays on Huff Post via Facebook. If you are a mom you have likely read her "Carpe Diem" essay. Which I loved. Otherwise I had never read Glennon's blog. This book in my opinion was fantastic. I realize it may not be for everyone but for me, it was pitch perfect and much needed. As a fellow mom she pushes aside perfectionism and lives her life in raw and real terms. It was a refreshing read and one that I will likely go back to again and again.
Shopping, Seduction & Mr. Selfridge
... I was intrigued by the PBS show based on this book and wanted to read the author's version (since then I have heard that the PBS show didn't get great reviews, but I still haven't watched it). I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It was not exactly historical fiction, but more of a historical play by play of Mr. Selfridge and the world he lived in. The author did a fantastic job of researching the world around Mr. Selfridge and his life and accomplishments. It was also a fascinating look at the history of shopping as we know it these days. I recommend this if you love shopping and history!
Gone Girl: A Novel
... this was a book-club book and I was actually a little nervous to read it. I was a touch scared off by the "psychological thriller" genre. But it was actually a great read... fast, creepy in the best and weirdest ways and thought provoking. It was a great book club read to discuss and theorize about. I definitely recommend this book!
Beautiful Ruins: A Novel
... this book got great reviews as a new release and I will say that I liked, but not loved it. The story was brilliantly written, I will give the author that. He swept many times, places and genres or writing styles in the writing of this book to make a surprisingly cohesive story from such a large expanse of time and story lines. BUT, and this is a huge but, the transitions seemed so jarring to me that it wasn't an enjoyable read. It almost read like twenty short stories instead of one novel. If you like to read a little each night you may enjoy this story telling style. I like to read for hours on end so for me it felt fragmented and hard to stay with.
The Devil in the Junior League
... I really enjoy a good "chick lit" read now and then. And this filled the bill for me while on vacation. It was funny and entertaining and I loved the main characters. Plus, who doesn't love a scandalous read, apparently the National Junior League home office banned this book! Saucy! I would love to see a sequel to this book someday.
... (the hard cover edition is not listed on Amazon, not sure why, but the paperback comes out next month) I loved the writing style of this book. The entire story happens over 3 days and what I enjoy about such a compact time is that you get a feel for each nook and cranny of the story while the author also offers a lot of deep character involvement. It takes place on the East Coast where a family is marrying off their eldest daughter. The weekend is full of family drama, friend drama and life in general. A few of the characters weren't appealing to me at all, but many of them I couldn't stop thinking about after I set the book down. I love the emotion of "missing" a character once I read a book. This is a great summer read!
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel
... this book was "meh" for me. I read it while being sick so I couldn't do anything to deep or involved and so it worked for that. I think sometimes writers fall in the trap of trying to write about the complexities of our current culture (google, facebook, etc) and it falls flat for me story-wise. But I loved that this was a sort of simplified "DaVinci's Code" type book. Also, it's a book about books - which is a win in my "book".
A Happy Marriage: A Novel
... this is another book club read and whoa - this book is, well, I don't even know how to describe this book. It's an emotional roller coaster that you will love and hate equally (at least I did) but I just felt like it was a necessary read for all of humanity (I know, that sounds super dramatic). It was moving and sad and a raw and honest look at marriage. Our book club had a fantastic discussion on this book! (also check out the NPR website for interviews with the author)
The Night Circus
... yes, I've read it twice. It was even better the second time... is that possible? If you haven't picked up this book yet you should. It's available in paperback now and I think that while it is a little dark, it's also delightful. This is a circus that I want to visit!
The Importance of Being Kennedy: A Novel
... I picked this book up on a whim, and wow am I glad I did. Stories of the Kennedy's always have a certain appeal and this one is an absolute page turner. Written from the point of view of the nanny for Joe and Rose Kennedy and their nine children it is a fascinating look into the Kennedy "machine" and the heartache the family endured throughout it's history. I'm very curious to read additional books by this author and highly recommend this very intriguing book!
Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A Novel
... okay, this book is quirky to the max. I didn't know if I would like it, but it's one of the most fun and funny books I have read in a while. I strongly (more than I should admit) related to Bernadette: her quirks, her madness, her love for her daughter and her need to create to stay sane. Also, her house (albeit run-down) sounded like a place I would love to live! Pick this up for your next beach vacation or snowy weekend in and you will laugh and go on a fun and lighthearted adventure!
Grace: A Memoir
... as a blogger I almost feel it is blasphemous to not love and completely fawn over this book. But as a seasoned reader (one that loves memoirs as well) I found this book hard to love. It was very scattered and seemed like a lot of name dropping. While Grace's life is no doubt very interesting... I found that she had a hard time portraying that on paper. The upside? It's a gorgeous coffee table book. I will also add that I loved all the photos it included... it was fun to hear her talk about certain photoshoots and then see how they turned out.
The Light Between Oceans: A Novel
... this was our latest book club selection and I had it on my "to read" list, so I was excited for it. This was my Christmas break read and I loved it. The story was enthralling and adventurous, I really loved the lighthouse setting. And the end was heartbreaking, but you almost knew it would be. I highly recommend this book. It would be a fantastic beach or vacation read!
Tigers in Red Weather: A Novel
... oh boy, this may be the first bad review I give on my blog of a book. Let me just say that for the most part I really loved this book. But I hated the ending and I hated how the story ended up. I found it to be creepy and disturbing. One thing I always say is that a book can be amazing even without the sex, drugs and general distasteful things. I stick to that and unfortunately have to raise the red flag here and say that I don't recommend this book at all. It's a shame because it was really well written with great character development (except for the one character) and a great ability to pull you into the story. Boo.
The Secret Keeper: A Novel
... I went straight from one Kate Morton book to another and really enjoyed this one as well. If you read reviews of this book a lot of people say they "guessed" the secret early on. Duh, I totally didn't. But I guess it made for a better reading adventure. You really can't go wrong with Kate Morton or this book... a little bit of history, a little bit of mystery. Another great read!
The Distant Hours
... I was just introduced to Kate Morton's books and this is the first book of hers I read. I have heard it is not her "best" but I really enjoyed it. Her story lines keep you guessing and since I love historical fiction they quickly become favorites. She effortlessly weaves together stories of past and present and this was a great read!
The Winter Sea
...didn't finish! I still need to get this from the library because it was a good one!
These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (P.S.)
... another book club book that I really enjoyed. I had actually started this book and then put it down about a year ago. But I was happy I picked it back up again for book club. It takes place in the Arizona territories and follows a family settling there. The story line moves quickly with a "journal" style of writing and the amazing recounting of settling the West. The narrator Sarah Prine is quite funny as well and I just loved the one liners the book was laced with. While it had a slow start I definitely recommend this book as not only very entertaining but a fascinating piece of American history.
Bruno, Chief of Police: A Novel of the French Countryside
... this was a book club selection and is a mystery, which I rarely read. This book was such a treat! I love the story line of a mystery (though I rarely read them, they make for great page turners!) and was set in France with sweeping views and delicious eats. The book is the first in a trilogy and I will look forward to reading the subsequent novels someday.
The Shadow Queen: A Novel of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor
... I really liked this book in general, although some plot lines I will say were long and tedious (mostly in the middle). If you are into English royalty and historical novels you will like this read for it's portrayal of both. I love tying books into other books I have read so if you watched "The King's Speech
" or read "Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch
" (both I recommend) then you will love the interesting back story into how/why Queen Elizabeth ever took the throne. Think abdication, infidelity and intrigue!
... a fascinating story about Hemingway's time in Key West. If you loved "The Paris Wife" you will love this book... set on a different contintent but with the same beguiling Ernest Hemingway. I found it to be a quick and fun read and really loved the characters.
Beginner's Greek: A Novel
... usually I pick up a book on a recommendation or because I like an author, I had no knowledge of this book or it's author before picking it up. I have to say it was a "delightful" read. The book reads a little like a movie script and has a rom-com-kind-of-unbelievable story line. But I loved every minute of it. I loved each character (even when they weren't lovable) and really truly didn't want the book to end. I really recommend this... it was a really entertaining read!
The Year of Magical Thinking
... I had heard a lot of recommendations on this book recently and liked it. I will say that I have little experience with the grief the author portrays, so I also read it very naively. It was a profound and sad and honest experience with death and grief and was for me an educational experience.
Gold: A Novel... I honestly didn't know if I would like this book but I was pleasantly surprised. After reading Little Bee: A Novel, by the same author I had braced myself for a tragic ending (of which there wasn't really one) and so found this book to be a satisfying emotional ride. The characters were well developed (if not a little boring) and the detail paid to the intricacies of professional biking (or really any sport) made the book interesting and thought provoking.
Angela's Ashes: A Memoir... I picked this up on a whim recently at the library knowing that it was a classic and wondering why I never read it! As far as memoirs go this was vivid and engaging and definitely had it's page turner moments. I will say though that the sad and depressing story just seemed to get more sad and more depressing and parts of the book felt like the same chapter written over and over again. Overall I would recommend this book as a classic... it truly is an eye opening book and an amazing account of life in Ireland at the time. (just indulge in some chick-lit afterwards to refresh yourself!)
Below Stairs: The Classic Kitchen Maid's Memoir That Inspired "Upstairs, Downstairs" and "Downton Abbey"
... a memoir of a house maid during that inspired Downton Abbey (seriously I will read anything if it purports to be "like" Downton Abbey). This was a book club choice and a really quick and simple read. There wasn't a lot of depth of characters or plots but it was a good honest look at the life of a house maid.
Mrs. Kennedy and Me: An Intimate Memoir
... this was a riveting memoir by the personal protection agent for Jackie Kennedy during her time as the first lady. It was a very engaging story and the story as told by Clint Hill had me so hooked. His descriptions of times and places were so simple yet vivid that I truly felt like I was there. We all know the ending to this story - the day that Mrs. Kennedy ended her time as first lady... and yet the story seemed fresh and new - and even more sad. I highly recommend this book!
The House at Tyneford: A Novel
... this was advertised somewhere as a book to read if you loved Downton Abbey (which I DID love!). And sure enough, this book was a really great read. The story had some interesting twists and turns (some would say they were predictable)... but I thought it was a fun historical novel with pieces of romance and adventure weaved in.
These Days Are Ours ... In some ways I really, really loved this book. In other ways it left me vastly unsatisfied. Post 9-11 this book is written from the point of view of a recent college grad that grew up in the lap of luxury in NYC. I loved the character development of the main character, but a lot of the characters weren't always very likable. I do recommend this book... but treat it like an entertaining sitcom, perhaps not a life changing literary experience.
The American Heiress: A Novel... Between the Royal Wedding and Downton Abbey we (me) all seem to be clamoring for more and more English royalty. This book followed an young American lady that moves to England and marries a Duke. The book has great characters and development and a bit of a fairy tale feel to it as well. I really enjoyed the story and pace of this book!
The Art of Hearing Heartbeats
... I randomly picked this book up at the library and then proceeded to read this whole book in like two days. It was a rare treat and a story that seemed so unlike others I have read. Sad and happy and a page turner all at the same time. I really highly recommend this book! Also, it has a gorgeous cover - so yes, you can judge this book by it's cover!
This Burns My Heart: A Novel
... LOVED this book. It's hard to say why exactly... an endless romance, a hard working woman making the right choices but not always the easy choices, and a story of resilience. Also, I think I loved it because I didn't know what to expect.
Southern Charm: A Novel
... this book was given to me by Simon & Schuster to review. In general I love reading books about the South, fashion, New York City and girls going after what they want in life. This book was all of those things and more. It's the perfect beach read and while this book would definitely be described as chick-lit - it's the most delightful of chick-lit out there. Be sure to pack this in your beach bag this summer!
The Book Thief
... I had heard from multiple people that this book was an absolute must read. And I agree. At first it's tricky to understand the narrator-style writing... but once you get into the book the chapters and pages just fly. Even though it's a nearly 400 page book I read it very quickly. The main character, Liesel, still floats through my mind like she is a living, breathing person. I loved her so much.
... this was a "classic" book selection for my book club. It's classic American literature in short story/novella form. It's a quick and interesting read (we all agreed it's a page turner!) that makes you stop and think and the characters develop quickly and stick with you. We all enjoyed this book, but couldn't figure out what Edith Warton was trying to express with this story... have you read it? I would love to know your thoughts!
Bond Girl: A Novel
... this was perfect light reading that I was in the mood for recently. But at the heart of it, I really enjoyed this book. Along the lines of Nanny Diaries and The Devil Wears Prada this was a funny and candid look at life on Wall Street. The main character was endearing and I love that she worked hard and followed her dreams (cheesy, I know) and I really love how the story wrapped up in the end. I definitely recommend this book!
The Lucky One
... there is not much I can say about this book that you probably can't already infer if you have seen a Nicholas Sparks movie or read one of his books. But in general, I often enjoy his romantic/drama stories. This one was no exception. Perfect for a beach read.
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
... I recently joined a book club and this is the first book I will have read with this group. I don't think I would have read this book on my own, it's very intense. But it was quite the page turner - I read the entire 400 pages in less than week - and it has a very redeeming ending. I felt like this was a piece of WWII history that I wasn't aware of previously and I do think it's important to know the costs of our freedom today. Overall, despite my initial thoughts on it... I would highly recommend it.
Falling Together... Marisa de los Santos books are the perfect balance between good literature and chic lit. They have a little fluff, but not much and always intriguing characters and well woven words. I have read all of her books and loved them and this was no exception. I loved the maturation and development of these characters as well as their likability.
Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting... this book completely rocked my parenting world. For a lot of reasons, but one because I realized how much I relate to the "french" model of parenting and how much I really have to learn from them. This book was a complete game-changer for me as a mom and I wished I could have read it years ago. It also (for our family) held the number one golden bullet for getting my kids to eat good dinners and for that I am eternally grateful. (as in, my kids hardly ate dinner two weeks ago and now they eat anything I put in front of them - yep, pretty amazing!)
Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky
... I really, really loved this book. I loved the portrayal of Coco Chanel (realizing some others may not) as a strong woman that went after what she wanted. While the book moved slow in a few spots (the beginning and about 75% through) it was a complete joy to read.
MWF Seeking BFF
... This was one of the best books I've ever read (and hopefully life changing as well). It is a fun and hilarious peek into one woman's search for a new best friend. But more than that it's about friendship in general and the importance of it in our lives. I highly, highly recommend it!
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?... In general I don't really enjoy these "I'm a celebrity so I wrote a book" books. Same goes for the Tina Fey book (Bossypants). I just like more sweeping drama and intense character development. This was cute and funny though.
My Week With Marilyn
... loved this book, the first half more so than the second half (you'll see why when you read the book). I always find true stories like this to be a little sad/tragic and this book is no different, but regardless it was a great read and so very interesting!
Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard
... this book got great reviews, although a few pages in I didn't know if I could stomach the heartache and neglect that the author had endured in her lifetime. But after setting it down for a few days, I couldn't stay away from it and the ending will have you in tears and so proud of human kind. It is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
meets The Glass Castle: A Memoir
(two of my all time favorite books!). I highly, highly recommend.
Cranberry Queen... a gift from a friend so I didn't know what to expect... but it's a heartwarming story about finding yourself and grief. A perfect beach or break read!
Loving Frank... I had heard a lot of hype about this book. It's the story of Frank Lloyd Wright and his mistress Mamah Borthwick. It was an interesting but very tragic story. But despite the ending I loved the themes that the story discussed like women's rights and Chicago and of course, Wright's place in history as 'America's Architect'. I would highly recommend - just prepare yourself for a heart wrenching ending.
The Reliable Wife
... I loved and hated this book. Part of me felt like it was predictable and unnecessarily 'steamy'. The other part of me loved the author's words and the story he painted. I would recommend this book but just wish it could have avoided the sex/drugs/violence/desperation a bit. I think a great story can be told without all that.
The Giver... an interesting book about an imaginary society that stretches your idea of society in general. A short and quick read.
Clara and Mr. Tiffany: A Novel... a fabulous book that takes place in early 1900's in New York City. Women working for Mr. Tiffany's glass company offers a unique view of the creative force behind the famed stained glass and mosaic pieces. It's also an inspiring tale of chasing your dreams, following your heart and living life to it's fullest. I loved every page of this book!
The Night Circus... amazing. I don't know what else to say. Read this!
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother... a controversial book about one mother's choices in parenting style. I enjoyed the unique perspective of this book - it was 'don't take no for an answer', persevere at all costs and be true only to yourself. While I don't agree with all of the author's theories on parenting, I enjoyed and admired the unapologetic voice.
Rules of Civility: A Novel... a page turner with deep character development (my favorite attribute of a book) and an inside look at the glitz and glamour of New York City in it's hey day. I hope this book becomes a movie. This was one of my favorite reads of the year!
Outliers: The Story of Success... a non-fiction book on the statistics behind success and successful people. Intriguing and thought provoking.
The Paris Wife: A Novel... an intriguing look at the life of Ernest Hemingway and his marriage to his wife Hadely. This book was an interesting peek into the lives of authors that are now considered American classics. The book contains lots of name dropping and travel as well as the troubled lives that sometimes creatives live.
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt: A Novel... this book is part The Help and part Ya-Ya Sisterhood. A fun and quick read about a girl coming into her own in the South. It was a simple and sweet read.
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet... residents in wartime Seattle suffer persecution. This was a heart warming story about a boy after the history of his father. It was also a really great love story.
Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything... if you eat food and you are a woman - you need to read this. A fascinating look at how we view ourselves, our eating habits and our God. This is a book you can read again and again. LOVED this book.
Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes... fun memoir slash cook book. A young gal moves to Paris to follow a boy and begins to cook and call Paris home.
One Day (Vintage Contemporaries)... this book is now a movie. I absolutely loved the wandering story line that covered several years of two friends turned lovers.
Never Let Me Go... a unique and almost disturbing (although it's not) book about life, love and choices... I don't want to give away the premise of this story. This is also a movie and a good one!
American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare: The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee... I'm obsessed with historical fiction. This one was about a pair of sisters that were vaudeville performers. Set during an oft-forgetten time period - I enjoyed this book while it did feel a little slow moving at times.
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story... if you are human you need to read this. End of story. A fantastic book about creating your own life story.
Lit: A Memoir (P.S.)... a woman's memoir of her struggle with alcoholism. This book gave me a new-found respect for the disease that so many American's face. Truly an eye-opening book.
Little Bee: A Novel... a moving and riveting story. If you've heard anything about this book you have probably heard that it has a sad/bad ending. While that is true, it's also a great read.
The Glass Castle: A Memoir... a memoir from the author of Half Broke Horses. Both are stunningly written books about fascinating lives. There really aren't words to describe these amazing stories.
2010 and before... I'll work on updating soon!