What Shall I Read This Summer?

Summer Reading

The weather was so warm last week that it got me thinking about summer and what I’d be reading on those long, hot days. I LOVE a good reading list and summer reading lists have a very special place in my heart. When I was in grade school, I hung out at the library every summer. Call it cheap daycare, but I really got into those summer reading programs and blew through them in no time at all.

Sometimes I’d hunker down in a reading cubby right there in the children’s section and hang with my book stash. Other times I’d venture into the main reading room and read with the adults. I always felt so grown up when I did that. But now? There’s work and chores like cleaning, shopping and laundry. Fun killers, if you ask me. Last year, I tried to participate in an adult summer reading program through the local library but their website had issues and just wasn’t fun to update. No, my days of lounging at the library are pretty non-existent.

That doesn’t mean that the fun is totally gone though.

This year, I am not going to come up with an actual list. Mostly, because I have a hard time sticking to it. This year, I am toying with the idea of selecting a chunkster and reading it slowly over the summer. I want a a memorable book. Preferably one that I can be proud to “put behind me” so to speak. I will be reading other books too. I mean, I have a review list “this” long so I can’t avoid that but it would be nice to say that during the Summer of ’14 I read [insert title here].

If you could recommend one chunkster to me, what would it be and why? Also, I guess it doesn’t have to be a chunkster but if it is, then that’s a bonus. I figure that in the process, we will be creating a list for everyone to enjoy.

Titles to exclude: A Suitable Boy, The Goldfinch, Moby Dick, The Fountainhead (I am reading or have read these)


Summer? What Summer?

I know that summer is not over just yet, but it feels like it to me. We didn’t get to take a vacation this year and I’m sure that has a lot to do with it. It’s made me a bit blue and well…rather crabby but I’m trying to rise above it.

Last week we did the back-to-school clothes shopping and although The Boy is pretty easy, The Girl is anything but! She is very particular with sizing. It has to fit just so and so we tend to get into it while in the dressing room. I don’t think that her jeans need to be painted on but apparently I am un-cool and don’t know.  Oh and the shoes!! How many shoes do kids need??? BOTH of my kids have really large feet and they just keep growing and now with cross country for The Boy, I have running shoes to invest in as well. I need a second job just to pay for these shoes!

And during all of this, my husband who was walking behind me stepped on the heel of my shoe (flat tire) and broke my shoe while we were shopping. Who does that??? I had to buy shoes for myself while my shoe was just dangling off of my foot. I felt like an idiot. Of course, the shoes I bought have given me nothing but blisters all week. That’s what happens when you buy shoes out of desperation. You get the shaft.

The good note?

All of this fall shopping has made me anxious for fall. I love fall. Warm sweaters, candles, the holiday drink menu at Starbucks. I love it all. So although I sort of skipped over summer, I am looking forward to fall and my son’s first year in high school!

Book Stack

What about reading?

As for reading, my summer list never really looked much like a summer reading list anyway but I’ve read five out of the original nine listed and a bunch of other books in between.

This stack that you see above? This is what happens to be staring me in the face at the moment. Two of those books are for tours and I have checked Divergent out four times and still haven’t gotten to it! It’s due next week, with holds, so if I don’t read it this weekend, I will once again be turning it in.

Right now, I am halfway through Gone Girl and wondering where the WOW is. Well, I might be a little further along than that but I keep waiting for the WOW that everyone talks about. I am also reading Norwegian Wood. I am nearly done with it. It’s definitely one of Murakami’s quieter novels. I am enjoying it for its peaceful simplicity.

Not much going on this weekend. I’d like to just watch a bunch of movies and read and maybe grill something but other than that, I don’t plan on doing much. Sounds just fine to me. Do you think it will happen?

Review: Jaws

By Peter Benchley
(Random House, Hardcover, 9781400064564, Originally published 1974, 320pp.)

The Short of It:

Nearly 40 years old and it STILL gives me goosebumps!

The Rest of It:

Last year or the year before, my student assistant told me that she had never heard of JAWS. I was rambling on about movies and when she said that, I stopped mid-sentence, looked the movie up on Netflix and gave her orders to see that weekend.

Did she listen? No. But, it was at that moment that I remembered the book. I had not read the book before and thought it might make a good summer read and boy, did it! As perfect as a book about a man-eating shark can be! The story takes place right before the July 4th holiday, in a small beach community called Amity. The presence of a shark, made evident by the aftermath left behind, forces city officials to close the beach during one of the busiest weekends of the summer. As you can imagine, most of the revenue for such a small town comes from tourists visiting for the summer so the closure of the beach is a big to-do and not a move favored by everyone. As the town digs in to find this shark, a rag-tag group is hastily formed and off they go, in search of the Great White.

The book is actually really, really good. I hate mass marketed copies of anything but if you have a copy lying around, I urge you to dig it out. The pacing is perfect, the tension is just right and there is just enough of a back story to keep you interested.

JAWS - The Movie

That said, there are some major differences between the book and the movie and those differences involve main characters. I won’t go into them because I want you to experience the book for yourself. A friend of mine said that the book is all about the shark but I disagree. We get to know the human characters quite well from the book, whereas in the movie… we are only given a tiny bit of their personal lives.

Still, it was the perfect summer read and even though the movie was different in some ways, I still consider it one of the best movies ever and it’s 35 years old!! So, with July 4th just around the corner, I dare you to take a dip!

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

My 2012 Summer Reading List

The Bird Saviors

In One Person

The Dog Stars

Disturbing the Peace
Norwegian Wood

There But For The
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
For me, summer starts Memorial Day weekend and guess what? We are already there! Hard to believe, but it’s true. This summer, my list is all over the place. I never use these lists as a hard and fast rule for anything because I am easily influenced by Net Galley, Edelweiss, other book blogs and what shows up on the “New Books” shelf at my local library. However, these are the books that I hope to read this summer. Not your typical beach fare but I like the heavier stuff anyway and I have always, always wanted to read Jaws. I plan to read that one while sitting on the beach, slathered in Coppertone with the book in one hand and a tuna fish sandwich in the other.

Each cover links to Indiebound in case you want to know more about the book.

What’s on your list?

Disclosure: The post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Summer Reading 2011 or…If I read these books this summer, I’ll be happy.

Summer Reading 2011

The Redbreast by Jo Nesbø
Model Home by Eric Puchner
The Fates Will Find Their Way by Hannah Pittard
The Hand That Trembles by Kjell Eriksson
Child Wonder by Roy Jacobsen
The Upright Piano Player by David Abbott
Duma Key by Stephen King
Nemesis by Jo Nesbø

There will be other books, because I have a bunch that I agreed to review, but these are the books that I really want to read over the summer. Summer is not summer without a King book in there somewhere, and I’m surprised that I haven’t read Duma Key already. It’s a chunkster. If you’ve read it, let me know if you liked it.

I also had to fit Nesbø in there (surprise!). Because I love him so much, I decided to slip a second book into the mix. You know, because I am his #1 fan and all.

For me, summer is a time to delve into the books that I’ve been wanting to read for awhile. Some might be a bit heavy or dark, but I like heavy and dark. I know some people skip the list making, but creating the list gives me something to look forward to.

What are you looking forward to reading this summer?

Review: The Gin & Chowder Club

The Gin & Chowder Club

The Gin & Chowder Club
By Nan Rossiter
(Kensington Publishing Corporation, Paperback, 9780758246677, June 2011, 281pp.)

The Short of It:

Looking at this gorgeous cover you might dismiss it as pure chick-lit, but let me tell you… this one is different. With a male protagonist, a Cape Cod setting, and the tight bond between two families, this one is a winner.

The Rest of It:

The Coleman and Shepherd families have known each other for quite some time. Each year, they head to Cape Cod where they are neighbors for the summer. Samuel and Sarah Coleman have been busy raising their two sons, Asa and Issac, whereas Nate Shepherd has weathered some heartache with the loss of his first wife. However, his second marriage to a much younger woman has brought him happiness and the entire Coleman family is happy for them both. Their time together is spent enjoying gin and tonics and clam chowder and they all look forward to this special time together.

The story is set in th early 60’s and this particular summer happens to be the last summer before Asa goes off to college.  The Colemans worry whether their son is ready to embark on such an adventure, and admittedly, Asa has some doubts of his own, but he has no idea how complicated life really is until he finds himself drawn to Noelle, Nate’s younger wife.

At its heart, this is most certainly a love story, but it’s also a story of about trust, betrayal, friendship and the ability to forgive. Rossiter does an amazing job of describing the angst…the yearning and the horrible guilt that results from Asa and Noelle’s relationship. There is a taunting, teasing quality to it, but also a good dose of remorse. These are good people being tested. That’s how I felt while reading it.

There are other things that won me over. The decision to set the story in the early 60’s, was an excellent choice. It had a completely different feel because of it and gave the story the tenderness it required. Think about it, a story like this set in the present day would be filled with gadgets and cell phone conversations and texts between the two of them. The magic would have been lost. 

Additionally, there are references to two of my favorite books of all-time. To Kill a Mockingbird is often mentioned in books, so although I was pleased to see it here, I wasn’t surprised by it. However, I gasped out loud at the mention of A Separate Peace because it’s one of my faves and has been since I read it in college. I love it when an author can reference another book within her own story, and have it mean something.

I knew this book would be a pleasant read but I didn’t expect it to raise so many questions. This would be a wonderful book club book because there is just so much to consider. The reading guide that is included in my copy,  asks some really tough questions and the message from the author, which includes a story about a cardinal (poor bird!), will  prove to you that authors can find ideas just about anywhere.

You might buy the book for the cover but read it for the story.

Source: Sent to my by the author. Thanks Nan for signing my book!

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Review: The Violets of March

The Violets of March

The Violets of March
By Sarah Jio
(Plume, Paperback, 9780452297036, April 2011, 304pp.)

The Short of It:

Thoroughly charming.

The Rest of It:

After her husband leaves her for another woman, Emily decides to spend a month on Bainbridge Island, visiting her Aunt Bee whom she hasn’t seen in quite some time. Being on the island is like a restorative tonic. She settles in immediately and thinks back to happier times. When things were less complicated and well…simple. 

One night, unable to sleep, she opens her nightstand and finds a red velvet diary. The love story inside reads like a novel so she’s not sure if what she is reading is a true story, and if it is…who are these people? Emily, a successful writer by trade, is completely taken with the writing and finds herself eagerly turning the pages whenever she can sneak a moment away from her Aunt. What she doesn’t know, is that the diary holds a family secret that could change her life forever.

The Violets of March is a good mix of setting, story and characters. The setting, gorgeous Bainbridge Island, is hard to ignore. While reading this book, I could smell the ocean, feel the breeze, etc. The story was a little meatier than I expected which I thoroughly enjoyed. There’s nothing like a good family secret to really keep you guessing. I also found the characters to be quite charming. Emily is very likable and I immediately wanted the best for her. Her Aunt Bee was interesting and complex and the friendships on the island are wrought with tension, but realistically so.

To sum it up, I had a hard time putting it down and I’ve already mentioned the book to a few of my friends. Pull up a beach chair, grab a refreshing drink and read it this summer.

This is Sarah Jio’s first book, but her next book, The Bungalow, comes out next year. Click here is you want to see the cover! It’s gorgeous!

Source: Sent to me by the author.

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