Fourth of July Reads

Betty BoopHappy Independence Day!

Got your three day weekend all ready for barbecues, fireworks, and festivities?

I never like to be without a good read for a few hours beside the pool so I thought I’d set you up with some barn-burners for your Fourth of July weekend.

11/22/63, by Stephen King. A little bit science fiction, a little bit history and no one does a rewrite of the Kennedy assassination better than Stephen King.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith.A classic of American literature, the story of a young girl coming of age in Brooklyn at the turn of the Century, celebrating America as the melting pot of nations, the brass ring for a world of immigrants. Interestingly, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn became very popular during WWII when it was sent to American servicemen overseas in paperback.

Netherland, by Joseph O’Neill. Post 9-11, an immigrant to New York stumbles upon the vibrant New York subculture of cricket, where he revisits his lost childhood and, thanks to a friendship with a charismatic and charming Trinidadian begins to reconnect with his life and his adopted country.

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. If it’s not the “Great American Novel,” it’s close. If mockingbird originalyou haven’t read To Kill A Mockingbird, it’s time to read it. If you have read it, it’s always a good time to read it again and remember.

Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trial ’72, by Hunter S. Thompson. A classic of political and gonzo journalism. A compilation of the articles Thompson wrote for Rolling Stone while covering the reelection campaign of Richard M. Nixon.

woodford braveWoodford Brave, by Marcia Thornton Jones. This young adult novel focuses on 11-year-old Corey who feels a responsibility to live up to his family’s legacy of “bravery” while his father is off serving in WWII. Woodford Brave is a deeply satisfying novel of summer and friendship, but also explores what it means to be a son, a friend, a neighbor—and truly brave.

The Global War on Morris, by Steve Israel. Israel is a U.S. Congressman and wrote this novel about a lonely slub, a secret government surveillance program, and baseball. Perfect political satire.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain. Another nominee for the “Great American novel.” A boy, a friend, and a river adventure.

GatsbyThe Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The most “American” of all American novels, The Great Gatsby is a struggle, a revelation, a love affair with all that America wants to be, tells itself it is, with success and failure.

The Martian, by Andy Weir. American ingenuity, plus some international help, saves astronaut stranded on Mars.

Happy Fourth of July and Happy Reading!

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Summer Reading List 2016

victorian vacay

No books, but I bet they are out of camera view. These chicks look like readers don’t they?

Hi friends! Are you ready to take that beach trip/plane ride/long drive? I know you want to be ready with a book … or five. It’s about that time of year when I try to provide some reading suggestions for you.

My definition of a great vacation read is a book I can fall into. Sitting at the pool or on the beach, the sun on my toes and wind blowing my hair but in my mind’s eye I’m standing on a London street, or in the kitchen of a New York restaurant. A book I can absorb and be absorbed into for a day or two, lingering my thoughts around its characters for a few hours each night, pondering their actions, motivations, why he or she said that.


sweetbitterSweetBitter 
by Stephanie Danler fits the bill. This book is all buzzy and for good reason. Ms. Danler writes with authority the tale of Tess’ first year in New York City, finding work in the “best restaurant” in Manhattan, finding love and lust with the hottest guy, doing the worst kinds of things to her body. I fell into the story hungrily, wanting the life, the tastes, the experiences, the knowledge, the flavors, even the bitter, Tess had.

modern loversModern Lovers by Emma Straub. The adults in Modern Lovers used to be cool –  real cool –  rock band cool. But now that they are approaching 50, and their children are dating, or hooking up, or are just hanging out together having sex in public places, the adults find they aren’t quite so cool anymore. Most of all, not in the eyes of their kids. Read my full review here: https://daeandwrite.wordpress.com/2016/06/08/modern-lovers-emma-straub/

These next two books center around a grand old house and the secrets it holds. Both travel between two times period and in each, a modern mystery is resolved by an examination of the past. I was quite absorbed by each.

lake house bookJune The Lake House by Kate Morton. A British estate, a missing child, WWI and a modern detective suspended by the force for caring too much about her work. https://daeandwrite.wordpress.com/2016/01/17/family-secrets-the-lake-house-by-kate-morton/ 

June by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore. An Ohio mansion, a mysterious child, movie stars and a modern photographer in hiding from the world and grieving for her grandmother.

the nestThe Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney. The Plumb siblings, (Leo, Jack, Bea and Melody) have been waiting. Waiting for years. Counting their egg well before it hatched on Melody’s fortieth birthday. Ignoring the concerns, counseling, and skepticism of friends, family, and lovers in a mutual, bull-headed reliance on the largesse that is to come. Frankly, none of them deserve their father’s well-planned beneficence. https://daeandwrite.wordpress.com/2016/05/04/the-nest-by-cynthia-daprix-sweeney/

And I haven’t read these yet, but they are going on my vacation with me:

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley. “On a foggy summer night, eleven people–ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter–depart Martha’s Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs–the painter–and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family.” from Amazon

Night Garden by Carrie Mullins. “Alienated from her affluent parents in a small Kentucky college town, Marie is drawn into an exotic, ultimately life-threatening world. The dramatic story unfolds in a sequence of vivid scenes, each of which is its own immediate story, carried by the author’s taut, measured prose. When tragedy strikes her family, Marie runs away and settles in with a wild, entrepreneurial and criminal family in a neighboring county, a world away from her safe and privileged upbringing. She substitutes the Owens family for her own, until their criminal ventures threaten her own life.” From Amazon

Sport of Kings by C.E. Morgan. “Hellsmouth, an indomitable Thoroughbred with the blood of Triple Crown winners in her veins, runs for the glory of the Forge family, one of Kentucky’s oldest and most powerful dynasties. Henry Forge has partnered with his daughter, Henrietta, in an endeavor of raw obsession: to breed the next superhorse, the next Secretariat. But when Allmon Shaughnessy, an ambitious young black man, comes to work on their farm, the violence of the Forges’ history and the exigencies of appetite are brought starkly into view. Entangled in fear, prejudice, and lust, the three tether their personal dreams of glory to the speed and grace of Hellsmouth.” from Amazon

sport of kings            night garden  before the fall

I’d love to hear what you are reading! Sent me a note, a review, a recipe that you’d like to share. And Happy Reading!

vacay read

Kennedyesque: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

leadkennedy2

Welcome to the beautiful Sinclair family.

No one is a criminal.

No one is an addict.

No one is a failure.

The Sinclairs are athletic, tall and handsome. We are old-money Democrats. Our smiles are wide, our chins are square and our tennis serves are aggressive.

. . . We are Sinclairs.

No one is needy.

No one is wrong.

We live, at least in the summertime, on a private island off the coast of Massachusetts.

Perhaps that is all you need to know.

kennedys_gallery_04Perhaps it is not all we need to know. After that first page of We Were Liars (reprinted mostly above), I was definitely intrigued. Now, was I more intrigued in the story of the Sinclairs or in my hope that this would be about the Kennedys?

But it isn’t about the Kennedys.  It is about the three daughters of Tipper and Harris Sinclair. It is about Beechmont Island. It is about the children of the three daughters of Harris Sinclair and it is specifically about three of Harris’ grandchildren, plus one friend, who become their own small community: Cadence, Johnny, Mirren and Gat. “The family calls us four The Liars, and we probably deserve it. We are all nearly the same age, and we all have birthdays in the fall. Most years on the island, we’ve been trouble.

This is one of the “young adult” novels that somehow cross over to reach into adult land, maybe because it won the Goodreads

Totally gratuitous and off-topic photo of John F. Kennedy Jr. on the beach just because he was the best

Totally gratuitous and off-topic photo of John F. Kennedy Jr. on the beach just because he was the best

 Young Adult Choice award for 2014 and was on a host of bestseller lists. My book club just finished reading it for our meeting tonight. It’s a zippy read and once Cadence loses her memory due to an unexplained on-island incident during her 15th summer, the pages turn faster. What caused the memory loss? Why have Mirren, Johnny and Gat, her first love, abandoned her? Why have Harris’ three daughters, who rivaled Lear’s in terms of grasping and bitchiness, become tender and gentle toward one another? Why has Harris torn down the grand family manse of Clairmont and installed a monastic modern temple?

Apparently, E. Lockhart was inspired by Gone Girl to write We Were Liars. That implies a surprise ending. An ending which I will not give away. I will say, it wasn’t all that shocking. The book’s cover asks readers if they are asked about the ending to “just lie.” So perhaps I should say it was all that shocking?

It was fine. It was an easy book to read. But truthfully, no lying, if I were to recommend a summer read that reminds me of the Kennedys, I’d recommend Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead. Or Dominic Dunne’s A Season in Purgatory. Or Joyce Carol Oates’ Black Water. Even Stephen King’s 11/22/63. All really good reads inspired by the Kennedys.

MENU

New England Clam Chowder:  https://daeandwrite.wordpress.com/2014/04/20/the-past-and-future-of-nao-a-tale-for-the-time-being-by-ruth-ozeki/

S’mores Dip: instead of making regular s’mores, put chocolate in a ceramic dish and cover it with marshmallows. Bake until the marshmallows puff and brown and then serve with graham crackers to dip.

Our lovely hostess at book club served the following, summery menu:

Deviled Shrimp

Guacamole with blue corn chips

Green bean and potato salad

Crab cakes with tomato jam

Slow roasted tomato with mozzarella and basil

MUSIC

This novel seems like it would be set in the 40s or 50s, but it’s modern day. Nevertheless . . . I would play some classic, old school music: Cole Porter’s soundtrack for High Society, the Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra musical adaptation of The Philadelphia Story set in Newport, R.I.

MOVIE CASTING

It looks like We Were Liars has been sold to be made into a movie.

Harris Sinclair:  Tom Wilkinson

Tipper Sinclair:  Blythe Danner

Penny: Kate Hudson

Bess: Reese Witherspoon

Carrie:  MIchelle Pfeiffer

Cadence:  Chloe Grace Moretz

Mirren:  Dakota Fanning

Johnny:  Chord Overstreet

Gat:  Suraj Sharma

Happy Reading!

Summer Reads 2015

dog_driving_carHeaded Out for A Little Fun in the Sun?  Want to take the perfect book(s) with you?

I thought I might be able to help.  All of these are in paperback, because I find it much more difficult to haul 5-8 hardbound books.  Any of the below books would be divine at the beach or the pool, on the campground or in the air.  I often try to match my reading to my destination, hoping to add a little insider info to my trip.  Just a tip.

Happy Vacating!

In Euphoria, Lily King’s intoxicating trek into the exotic locale of Papua, New Guinea, three anthropologists (Australian, euphoriaAmerican and British) find themselves far from home.  King’s anthropologists are simulacrums of Margaret Mead, her husband Reo Fortune and her future husband, Gregory Bateson.

Originally reviewed:  https://daeandwrite.wordpress.com/2015/01/17/love-in-the-time-of-malaria-euphoria-by-lily-king/

f_doerr_allthelight_fAnthony Doerr’s gorgeous novel won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize.  All The Light We Cannot See encompasses WW2 within an examination of the lives and worlds of two teenagers:  Marie-Laure LeBlanc, a blind French girl, and Werner Pfenning, a German whiz-kid desperate to live the coal mine fate of his home town of Essen.   Written mostly in the present tense, with recurring flashbacks throughout both children’s lives, All The Light progresses inevitably to their meeting during the siege of St.-Malo, France, in August of 1944.

Originally reviewed:  https://daeandwrite.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/all-the-light-we-cannot-see-by-anthony-doerr/

the secret place

Tana French has become one of my obsessions.  She publishes a new book, I must have it in hard back and begin reading immediately.  In the Woods, her first novel, remains my favorite of her five books; however, all are excellent.  Her most recent, The Secret Place, is my second favorite.  These are page-turning, mystery novels set in Ireland with a cast of realistic, driven and haunted characters.

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Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter.  On the rugged, Mediterranean coast of Italy, a land of five towns clings stunningly to the edge of the cliffs;  accessible only by boat, offering fresh seafood pulled daily from the Ligurian sea by men whose families have done the same for centuries and a hiding place from the modern world, the Cinque Terre seems just the place for Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor to have sought refuge during the filming of Cleopatra in Rome.  In Jess Walter’s sumptuous novel Beautiful Ruins, they do just this.  And the tale of the IT couple’s visit to Porto Vergogna, a lonely innkeeper, a starlet, star-crossed lovers, a wannabe screenwriter (whose big concept is “Donner!,” a movie about the Donner party,) a nauseating Hollywood producer and fifty years of frustrated confusion make the novel one of my top five reads.

Originally reviewed:  https://daeandwrite.wordpress.com/2014/08/17/simply-beautiful-beautiful-ruins-by-jess-walter/

VacationersA New York family brings a large set of first world problems to Mallorca, where even more challenges await:  a Spanish tutor both mom and daughter have the hots for, a retired Spanish tennis stud and lots of gorgeous food and descriptions and you have The Vacationers by Emma Straub.  https://daeandwrite.wordpress.com/2014/08/29/the-vacationers-by-emma-straub/

Other books that would make great traveling companions:  The 19th Wife, by David Ebershoff (Utah); Boy, Snow, Bird (Maine); Where’d You Go Bernadette, by Maria Semple (Seattle); The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion; The Perfume Collector, by Kathleen Tessaro (Paris), Dominance, by Will Lavender.

I’d love to hear what you’re reading!

Seaside Resort in the South of France 1927 by Paul Klee 1879-1940