Posts Tagged ‘Book Review’



Winter weather has made its way to the UK.  Combine the cold with short days and it makes me what to cuddle up to a good book with a cup of hot chocolate.  I joined a book club here in London and, so far, I’ve read two of their selections: In the Garden of the Beasts (Erik Larson) and Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn).  Both are books I wouldn’t have picked up on my own and that’s one reason for belonging to a club~ gets me out of my comfort zone.

The Garden of the Beasts (non-fiction) is a fascinating account of the newly appointed US Ambassador to Germany in 1933.  As much as I’ve read/studied about World War II, I found this book to be a fresh perspective of a mild-mannered college professor who became Ambassador by default and his rather wild, promiscuous and ambitious daughter.  It was impossible for me to read it without a deep sense of foreboding ~ not unlike watching the movie “Titanic” or “Dances with Wolves.”   Hindsight affords us the knowledge of what happens in the end and, as we all know, it’s not a happily ever after even for the survivors/victors.

Gone Girl (fiction) is currently #8 on the New York Times best sellers list. It’s a quick read with lots of twists and turns.  I found it difficult to like the characters and it was even more disconcerting because I found them to be deeply flawed but surprisingly realistic.  I’ve known people who are like Nick, Amy, the parents, etc.  Not to the extent they’re portrayed in the book but muted variations.  What kept me most interested though is the fast-paced, sharp and tense writing style. The story alternates 1st person between the Nick, the husband and Amy, the wife.  I don’t want to say much about the storyline because just describing it might give away too much.

Next month’s book selection is the classic: To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee).  I read it in the dark ages High School ~ great book, great story but I’m not sure I want to re-read it now.  May skip next month’s meeting and move onto the February selection which is Bringing Up the Bodies (Hilary Mantel).  I’m half way through her first book Wolf Hall and it’s fabulous!

Yesterday, the book club luncheon included a “book exchange”, and since I was the last to pick, I stole away with The Days and Nights of London Now ~ as Told by Those Who Love It, Hate It, Live It, Left It and Long For It LONDONERS (Craig Taylor).  It definitely wins the prize for longest titled book I’ll be reading this year.  I was very excited about the book until I read the author is Canadian.  For some reason, I assumed a book with that lofty London title would surely be written (compiled) by a Londoner.

The book I took to be exchanged was The Ambassador’s Suitcase (Matthew Parris) which my friend Leslie ended up with whichs works out well. We can trade books after we’ve read our own books. Originally, I ordered the action packed novel One Rough Man (Brad Taylor) to take to the book exchange. I wrote a review on it last year here. Unfortunately, it didn’t make it in time so I decided to do this book giveaway.   Also, my copy of Gone Girl is in pristine condition and it’s not a book I’m likely to re-read so I’m giving that away as well.

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:  Please leave a comment beginning with “The best book I’ve read in a long time is…”   Also, if you want to be considered for one specific book, please write either One Rough Man or Gone Girl.  Otherwise,  I’ll put your name in for both.  It will be possible for one person to win both books.  The winner will be chosen by my daughter, Logan who will pull a name from a hat for One Rough Man and then she’ll draw a name from the other “hat” with those who want to be in the running for Gone Girl.  I know, I can’t get any more “low tech” than that but it’s more fun this way.   Deadline to leave a comment will be Sunday, 9 December 2012 at midnight (GMT/London time).  We’ll choose names on Monday, 10 December.  FYI both are hardcover books which I’ll mail to you if you win.

Good Luck!!

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Barefoot and Other Summer Reading

So far this summer, I’ve read the following:

Love Walked In, by Marisa de los Santos. It’s an interesting story of love and how, when you date (marry) someone, you get all those family & friends connections. In other words, baggage or some sort of complication comes with almost everyone. It’s an easy read with references to classic movies which has made me want to rent a few of the movies mentioned such as: The Philadelphia Story, Love Affair and Libeled Lady.

What I didn’t like about the book was the ending. Too neat, too convenient. Don’t get me wrong, I love a happy ending but, not at the expense of being realistic. Life is messy and to wrap it up in a neat little package complete with a bow is boring. I won’t give examples because that would be too much of a spoiler. I would recommend this because the story is a good one but, be forewarned, the ending is lukewarm.

Barefoot by Elin Hilderbrand: LOVED it!! 

This was one of the books I won from Books on the Brain and Hatchett Books. I read it while on vacation at the beach and, since the story took place “at the beach”, it was a good choice. The story takes place in Nantucket, which *surprise*, I’ve never been, too. The author did a fabulous job describing the island and I felt like I could get around Nantucket just from her wonderful descriptions. Nantucket is now on the list of places I’d like to visit while we’re living so close.  That’s the type of travel I like ~ no jet lag!

Back to the book ~ it got my attention from the first chapter. And why wouldn’t it ~ we’re introduced to the three main characters and their emotional issues all at once since they arrive on the island together. And we’re talking some big issues. I almost put the book down when I found out one of the women is battling cancer. It’s such a scary subject to me and having lived through my dad’s unsuccessful battle with cancer, I didn’t know if I wanted to even think about it while on vacation. But, I was too invested in the story line by then so I kept on reading. I could relate to all three women: I’ve seen aspects of them in my friends and in myself as well. Who doesn’t know someone desperately trying to get pregnant? Or who is ill? or who is in an unhappy marriage? It’s a very relatable story.

I’m not a “lay out and read at the beach” kind of gal. I’m either swimming, walking the beach, snorkeling, etc. But when Favorite Man and Favorite Girl were fast asleep, I’d be reading into the late night. I was able to finish the book before leaving the island.

One of the recurring things in the book was “finding sand in your shoes” and so, when I was packing to leave St. John, I was not too careful in getting the sand out of our things. It’s been nice to find a little sand in my shoes now that I’m back home. It brings back good memories.

The book was a gift from the blogosphere and, if it’s not too tacky, I’d like to pass it forward to someone else to enjoy.  I’m going to have a giveaway so leave a comment and I’ll put your name in the hat. Literally, I’ll take all the names, put them in a hat and let FG pull a winner. It’s in good shape, but be forewarned, it might have a little Caribbean sand in it.

The drawing will be on 21 August so please leave a comment before midnight on 20 August. Thanks!

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