Monday, June 30, 2014

That Summer by Lauren Willig

Another great summer read to add to the list!  This is a dual narrative, alternating between present day and 1849, weaving the story of Julia and Imogen.  Julia, after inheriting her great-aunt's house, finds a hidden painting.   This painting, and art in general, become a secondary character throughout the story.  Julia feels compelled to find out who painted the picture, why it was hidden and what was the inspiration behind it.  Imogen, living in a marriage that lacks intimacy and love, during a time when women had very few options, develops a relationship with an artist as he is painting her portrait.  The reader is swept along Julia's discoveries and Imogen's love affair.  This is beautifully written, suspenseful, heartbreaking, and just wonderful. 

From Booklist

When Julia inherits her great-aunt’s house in Herne Hill, outside London, it’s a good time for her to take a break from New York, where she has no work or romantic ties. Returning to England, however, brings up suppressed memories of her dead mother and childhood, and while sorting through the home’s myriad belongings, Julia uncovers a mysterious painting that not only played a significant role in her family’s story but also in art history. We learn that Julia’s ancestor, Imogen, came to Herne Hill as a young bride in 1849 and became trapped in a passionless, childless marriage. When her husband hires a young artist to paint her portrait, he and Julia have an ill-fated affair. Popular novelist Willig (The Passion of the Purple Plumeria, 2013) weaves together Julia’s and Imogen’s stories and further enriches the tale with details about the Pre-Raphaelite movement, gleaned from Julia’s involvement with Nicholas, an enigmatic antiques dealer. Willig’s latest is a smart blend of historical romance and contemporary self-discovery story. --Aleksandra Walker


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Goodnight June by Sarah Jio

To me, Goodnight June, is a perfect summer read.  It has great characters, an interesting story, light romance, and a happy ending...summer perfection.  The fact that the setting is a children's bookstore, well that is just icing on the cake....or sprinkles on the ice cream.  

The story gives a fictionalized account of how the famous children's author, Margaret Wise Brown, was inspired to write Goodnight Moon.   It is interspersed with letters between Margaret and June's Aunt Ruby.  Ultimately this is an love story to books and bookstores and family.  I absolutely loved it...and it also intensified my dream to one day own my own bookstore...maybe that's *my* next chapter.

"Sometimes I think of my life as a great big story.  Each silly thing I do is a new paragraph.  And each morning I turn to the next chapter...Whenever you're down on your luck, when things aren't going the way you like, remember that you are the author of your own can be a beautiful story or a sad tragic one.  You get to pick."  (pg 97)

From Booklist

At 35, June Anderson is a hard-charging financier, the youngest vice president ever at her international bank, with her own Manhattan apartment—and an anxiety disorder and dangerously high blood pressure. Then her beloved great-aunt, Ruby Crain, bequeaths to her Bluebird Books, the children’s bookstore in Seattle that was an important part of June’s childhood. Skilled at foreclosing on small, failing businesses, June plans to sell the store to a developer. But then she follows a trail of letters hidden in books and learns that Ruby was a dear friend of ­author Margaret Wise Brown and inspired the longtime best-seller Goodnight Moon. This discovery, along with a budding friendship with the restaurateur next door, makes June vow to fight to keep the financially fragile bookstore. In unwinding a feel-good plot with a certain amount of predictability, Jio also provides some final twists as she reveals family discord in June’s life and long-held secrets in Ruby’s. This eminently readable novel with particular appeal for fans of children’s literature is a tribute to family and forgiveness. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Landlines by Rainbow Rowell

Rainbow Rowell is one of my favorite authors...Eleanor & Park is on my top ten reads of all time...and I when I met her and started gushing about her books, she hugged me...yeah its a forever kinda love.  And with every favorite author, you approach the latest book with so much excitement and a tiny bit of fear...please don't let me down, please...and well, she didn't. 

Now I love young adult literature, and not just because I am a teen librarian.  There is some really amazing stuff being written for this age group (E&  But sometimes I like to see myself in characters, to be able to relate to the characters with the present day me, not the me of *cough* twenty five years ago. 

Landlines tells the story of Georgie and her husband Neal.  They have been together for years and find themselves in that place in marriage, the we have kids to worry about place; we have careers to worry about place;  we have a house to worry about place; we definitely don't have time to worry about the marriage place...anyone married over 10 years can relate.  I love that she threw in a touch of magical old landline phone that can talk to a past version of her husband...oh what I could do with that...

It goes without saying that I love Rainbow's's why:

You don't know when your twenty-three.
You don't know what it really means to crawl into someone else's life and stay there.  You can't see all the ways you're going to get tangled, how you're going to bond skin to skin.  How the idea of separating will feel in five years, in ten - in fifteen.  When Georgie thought about divorce now, she imagined lying side by side with Neal on two operating tables while a team of doctors tried to unthread their vascular system.
She didn't know at twenty-three.

Read this won't be disappointed....except for the fact that it comes out in July.

Book Description via Amazon

From New York Times bestselling author of Eleanor & Park and Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell, comes a hilarious, heart-wrenching take on love, marriage, and magic phones.

Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply—but that almost seems beside the point now.
Maybe that was always beside the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her—Neal is always a little upset with Georgie—but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts. . . .

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

Monday, June 2, 2014

10% Happier: How I tamed the voice in my head, reduced stress without losing my edge, and found self-help that actually works - A true story by Dan Harris

I am not typically a self-help reader, no judgment, I just find myself bored after two pages.  I decided to give this book a try after hearing an interview with Dan Harris on the radio...what really hooked me was when he announced what he wanted to title the book:  The Voice in my Head Is an Asshole.  Yup, I'm in.  Yes this is a book about meditating and mindfulness and such, but it is also a memoir of sorts about his career in broadcast news.  I loved it...he is funny and self deprecating and I *may* have a small crush on him now.  This is the least "self-helpy" book out there, but it actually makes a lot of sense.

Book Description via Amazon

Nightline anchor Dan Harris embarks on an unexpected, hilarious, and deeply skeptical odyssey through the strange worlds of spirituality and self-help, and discovers a way to get happier that is truly achievable.
After having a nationally televised panic attack on Good Morning America, Dan Harris knew he had to make some changes. A lifelong nonbeliever, he found himself on a bizarre adventure, involving a disgraced pastor, a mysterious self-help guru, and a gaggle of brain scientists. Eventually, Harris realized that the source of his problems was the very thing he always thought was his greatest asset: the incessant, insatiable voice in his head, which had both propelled him through the ranks of a hyper-competitive business and also led him to make the profoundly stupid decisions that provoked his on-air freak-out.
We all have a voice in our head. It’s what has us losing our temper unnecessarily, checking our email compulsively, eating when we’re not hungry, and fixating on the past and the future at the expense of the present. Most of us would assume we’re stuck with this voice – that there’s nothing we can do to rein it in – but Harris stumbled upon an effective way to do just that. It’s a far cry from the miracle cures peddled by the self-help swamis he met; instead, it’s something he always assumed to be either impossible or useless: meditation. After learning about research that suggests meditation can do everything from lower your blood pressure to essentially rewire your brain, Harris took a deep dive into the underreported world of CEOs, scientists, and even marines who are now using it for increased calm, focus, and happiness.
10% Happier takes readers on a ride from the outer reaches of neuroscience to the inner sanctum of network news to the bizarre fringes of America’s spiritual scene, and leaves them with a takeaway that could actually change their lives.