Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Summer 2012 reading

Haven't been reading as much as I normally do. Starting up a new ecommerce business will do that to a person. I've also not had much patience for longer, oh-so-serious reads (not that I did before). Hence the number of books filed under "Chick Lit." Sorry guys.

As per usual, if you click on the title of the book, you will be taken to its Amazon page, where you can find out more about it and purchase it, if you so choose. (Me, I'm all about supporting my local library, even though I fully support an author's right to earn royalties. Okay, so I'm cheap. Sue me. Actually, please don't.)

Herewith, a sampling of the books I've read (so far) this summer. (To see previous book recommendations, click here -- or on the Book Nook label at the end of the post.)

Chick Lit

A Little Night Magic by Lucy March. If you enjoy magical realism, the books of Sarah Addison Allen (loved Garden Spells and The Sugar Queen), and/or books that involve food, you will likely enjoy A Little Night Magic. A story of "friendship, love, magic, and waffles," the book tells the story of a restless young woman working at a waffle house in upstate New York who finds out she has magical powers -- and that bad people are after her. A bit cliche, I know, but the writing isn't (too) bad. An easy, quick read, which those of you from upstate New York (hi EMM!) will relate to.

The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst. How could I not like a book written by a woman named Jennifer who writes about a woman who loves books and is a big-time Mets fan? A fun, romantic read (i.e., completely unrealistic), The Marriage Bargain tells the story of Alexa McKenzie, a devoted daughter, dog lover, Mets fan, and bookstore owner, who begrudgingly marries Nick Ryan, her best friend's big brother, who happens to be a billionaire architect, drop-dead gorgeous, and (of course) afraid of commitment -- purely for business reasons (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). But, of course, they wind up falling madly in love with each other. (Yeah, yeah, yeah, my eyes rolled when I read that -- and the book -- too, but it's not as bad as it sounds, or as painful as watching The Bachelorette. And the sex scenes weren't too shabby.)

The Next Always (Book One of the Inn Boonsboro Trilogy) by Nora Roberts. Believe it or not, I had never read any Nora Roberts before The Next Always -- and probably will not read another one after I finish her Inn Boonsboro Trilogy. (I am a sucker for trilogies, but I have my limits.) Also, in a case of pure coincidence, this book also features a bookstore owner who falls in love with an architect. I know! But instead of the Hudson Valley, The Next Always takes place in Maryland. The bookstore owner is hometown honey Clare, who got married to her high school boyfriend, a soldier, and returns home after he is killed in action overseas while she was pregnant with son number three. And our hero, while seemingly well off, is no billionaire playboy type but a hard-working architect/contractor, who is lovingly restoring a local landmark, turning it into a boutique inn with his two equally hard-working and hunky brothers. There is also a ghost, a sociopath, the restaurant owner with the heart of gold, and the three adorable urchins. Despite that description, I enjoyed the book, though a finalist for the Booker Award or a Pulitzer it is not.

Historical Fiction

Waiting for Sunrise by William Boyd. Early psychotherapy, the 1910s in Vienna, and what it meant to be an undercover operative during World War I, via the perspective of a young British actor who starts out his journey as a patient hoping to be cured of a problem of a sexual nature -- and winds up becoming an undercover agent for the British government. Full of mystery and intrigue, the novel is dark but not depressing -- and the prose and pacing will gather you in. (Note: I found the ending unsatisfactory, and frustrating, leaving too many unanswered questions and loose ends, but I still recommend the book.)


Grandad, There’s a Head on the Beach by Colin Cotterill. The follow up to his previous Jimm Juree Mystery, Killed at the Whim of a Hat, which I greatly enjoyed, Grandad, There's a Head on the Beach follows former crime reporter Jimm Juree as she, and I quote, "grapple[s] with her quirky family, a mysterious mother and daughter on the lam and the small matter of a head on the beach." If you enjoy a fun, quirky mystery with misheard song lyrics, I highly recommend Cotterill's latest.


Writing Movies for Fun and Profit: How We Made a Billion Dollars at the Box Office and You Can, Too! by Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon. You don't have to be an aspiring (or perspiring) screenwriter to enjoy this book. Though it helps if you enjoy watching movies, or ever sat in a theater wondering "How the heck did that awful story ever get greenlighted?!" Full of great insights, tips, and humor, Writing Movies for Fun and Profit is my new favorite book about screenwriting (and I read a few back in the day). Heck, I have no desire to write a script and I still found this book fascinating -- two insiders' look at how movies get made and how screenwriters get paid. Also, the spouse and I were huge fans of Thomas Lennon and Viva Variety back in the day.

The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece by Jonathan Harr. More proof that truth is often stranger than fiction. The Lost Painting tells the amazing story of how a lost Caravaggio masterpiece, "The Taking of Christ," was found after being thought lost. Full of mystery, intrigue, and Italy, The Lost Painting is a great detective story. And did I mention it's mainly set in Italy? Art history, Italy, and mystery buffs will enjoy this well-crafted book.

And sitting on my nightstand or on my "To Read" list: Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore, Mad Women by Jane Maas, That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsow by Anne Sebba, The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani, and Paris My Sweet by Amy Thomas.

Anything else I should add to my list (that isn't depressing as Hell)? Let me know via the Comment section. I also encourage you to leave a comment about books you think other readers of this blog would like (i.e., people who love books about dysfunctional families/people), even if you think I won't like them.


Also From Upstate Ahem said...

I will of course defer to EMM as the Upstater of Record for this blog, but in my experience we are more of a pancake house people, and that the waffle/pancake border roughly parallels the Mason-Dixon Line. Sure, you can order waffles at Perkins* but they look at you funny and write down your license plate number. Plus, no twin berry syrup for you.

*Or at least you could until this past May. Holy cow.

J. said...

@Ahem, I did not forget the fact that you are also an Upstater. (Go Bills! Unless they are playing the Jets.) I just had no idea you were a fan of a chick lit. Though thank you for answering a question that has been bugging me since reading A Little Night Magic, which is, Are there actually waffle houses in upstate New York? I always thought it was a Southern thing.

EMM said...

Thanks for the blog shout out!

I think it all depends on your definition of Upstate. Technically Rochester is Western NY and I'd say Pancakes over Waffles. Perkins was one of my favorites in high school & college for late/early snacks!

As for reading:

The Tigers Wife - can't remember the author. Strange, did not feel complete...a flashback/modern/mystical tale that tried to tie itself to the Jungle Book.

The Way the Crow Flies - Anne-Marie MacDonald. Am 200 pages into this 800 page book and am loving it. It is our current book club selection for Sept. Fictional story of a Canadian Air Force Family but there is a murder mystery that is true (have not read to that yet). Takes place in the 60's...

Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes - LOVED this, less than 200 pages, easy read. English prep-school drama that flashes forward.

50 Shades of Grey - DUMBEST BOOK EVER. Won't read the others. It was laughable. Read better "smut" in 7th grade.

A Visit From the Goon Squad - Jennifer Egan, quirky fun and engaging.

Am looking forward to the new Christopher Moore book, am a complete junkie for his books.