Monday, August 26, 2013

Some excellent books I've read this summer....

I killed this summer. I just chased it down and snapped it up in my teeth and shook it to death. There have been vacations, trips to the library, swimming lessons, sunburns, sand caught in terrible places. There have been plane rides and car trips, quiet days at home. I've had conferences and days doing nothing. I've had a high school reunion and a college one. I've had too much to eat, too much to drink and not enough time to get anything done. And through it all I've read some great books. I've read some clunkers too, but I prefer not to talk about the clunkers. This is what I've read on my summer vacation:

THE MIGHT HAVE BEEN by Joe Schuster. Joe is my favorite college professor and I gave this book to Adam, but he was taking too long to read it so before visiting Joe in St. Louis I cracked it open. For genre/romance fans - the beginning may be tough for you. The hero has lost his dream and he's sort of a floating entity. Not nice. Not particularly cruel - just extremely negligent. It takes a while to want to root for him. However the second part of the book - when our hero is managing a minor league team - it's amazing. AMAZING!!! It's rich rich rich in details - the baseball stuff sings. It just lifts off the page. Big recommend.

BEAUTIFUL RUINS - this was Esquire's book of the year last year and I have to agree. A few different timelines, a few different narrators, a love affair across continents, years and language. It's funny and sharp and heartbreaking.

DEEPER by Robin York aka Ruthie Knox - Ruthie sent me an advance copy of her upcoming New Adult. I have not been in love with the New Adult niche. I love angst as much as the next romance reader but perhaps I'm too old, or the heroines are too young - but none of the NA I've read has sunk in on any level. They've been forgettable. All of that is TOTALLY different with DEEPER. The heroine in the doesn't just get over the trauma done to her by an ex-boyfriend leaking dirty pictures of her on the internet - she grows up into a fierce woman. Perhaps this is what I've been looking for in NA - a teenager growing up into a woman through the course of a book. There's also a seriously seriously delicious hero - named West. Honestly. This book is fantastic!!!! It's out later this year - so keep an eye out for it.! There's no pre-order yet - otherwise I'd link to it!

The Orphan Master's Son this book won the Pulitzer last year and I'm on a tear to try to read more award winning literary books. We have a Pulitzer prize for literature - I feel like I should at least give them a shot. This book is breathtaking. It takes place in North Korea - and because I know little to nothing about North Korea the setting read as part sci-fi to me - which gave it sort of a Cloud Atlas feel to me, because the places the story went were handled so deftly. The romance, the espionage, the sea shanty - all of it. Utterly fascinating world-building. This is not a happy book - but it's funny and sharp. And epically sad. Loved it.

An Inquiry Into Love and Death

I read this book outside in broad daylight out on the Toronto Island. I was sitting next to this pier with a giant bell on it and every once in a while the bell would ring without anyone touching it. That combined with this incredibly creepy, gothic historical novel with a great romantic element freaked the crap out of me. This is really an amazing book. Simone handles all aspects of these books - the ghosts, the romance, the history, the pov, the setting - all of it with very sure hands.

A Woman Entangled I found the latest of Cecilia's books to be the most delicate and realistic. The hero and heroine have ambition that is not the usual romance kind of motivation. They want just a little bit more then what they have. A better job, a good marriage. They don't want revenge, or to save England - they just want a little bit more and I think because their motivations were so human, some people did not love this book as much as her others. I've seen reviews that said the hero was not heroic and I think it's because many readers have a hard time when a good guy hero acts on his own desires, his own wants. We're used to Alpha males doing this - going after what they want and damn everyone else. But a nice guy? This leads me to the next great book Courtney Milan's The Heiress Effect
I've read criticisms of this book too in much the same vein -- the hero was not heroic. I loved loved this book. The heroine was amazing, the writing as always was beautiful and I loved this hero. Same thing - he was not going to give up everything to help the heroine. He's not an alpha-hero, he's a quiet guy who wants just a little more, and he won't give it up for the heroine, n fact he's cruel to the heroine in an effort to get what he wants. I understood this and loved it.

So there you have it - my summer reading - how about you guys? Anything good?


Maureen McGowan said...

Great recommendations! I just read Simone St. James' first book. In two days at the beach. Awesome. Can't wait to dig into the next.

Unknown said...

A Woman Entangled sounds fantastic! I like romance novels don't follow the usual format :) My book recommendation has to be “Come Fly With Me” by author Judith Whitmore ( I like to read about a woman I can root for and that I want to fall in love and do something wonderful with her life. I don’t like “victims” or women who are portrayed weak or a bit dim. “Come Fly with Me” focuses on Kate, a beautiful, intelligent, go-getter who unfortunately, is stuck in a loveless one-sided marriage. Her husband is a workaholic and a cheater. Kate uses her love for flying as a means for escape and when she isn’t pouring her heart and soul into an organization she created for at risk youths she is in the air, escaping. Kate wants to become a certified jet pilot and trains under Rick (her soulmate!). The two face many obstacles and embark on quite the unexpected adventure. I grew to love these characters and their story. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a unique love story with a inspiring woman lead!

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