Forgotten Treasure: The Book You Should Be Reading

I don’t know exactly if I would call this forgotten treasure, because it is really quiet new, has only been out for a couple of weeks, but “The Report” by Jessica Francis Kane is a largely undiscovered (at least by book bloggers) treasure. It does seem to be getting great reviews in traditional media, but I haven’t seen (m)any reviews other than mine on book blogs.

“The Report” is the story of Britain’s worst civilian disaster during World War II, The Bethnal Green incident, and the subsequent government investigation and report. You may think that a government investigation and report sounds like a total snoozefest, and I would understand that, but I promise you, but it is not. Seriously, this is a fantastic and absolutely engaging work of very realistic historical fiction. It is actually fairly amazing how engaged Kane gets her reader, considering she has such a large cast of characters, but she does it.

“The Report” is published by Graywolf Press, a very cool small press. If you’ve thought about spending more time reading books by small presses, this is a good place to start. Or if you just like well-written fiction that is evocative of time and place, this is a must-read.

Recommended Audiobooks – Audiobook Week Discussion

If you wrote a post on this or any of my other discussion topics today, Friday June 25th, please leave your link in the Mr. Linky before midnight Central time (US) and you will be eligible to win a prize.

I know that I’m the one who picked this question, but I still think it is a very difficult one!

For people who were new to audiobooks, I would probably recommend “The Help,” because I think that is a fantastic introduction to audiobooks. The multi-voiced cast is fabulous, and I think their narration really adds to the story. I’d also definitely recommend the “Harry Potter” audios as a good way to ease into audiobooks. I listened to and loved the Jim Dale versions, but I know people are crazy about the Stephen Fry versions as well.

For those already acquainted with audiobooks, I would recommend the following audios that I have loved:

  • “America, America” by Ethan Canin, narrated by Robertson Dean
  • “The Thirteenth Tale” by Diane Setterfeld, narrated by Ruthie Henshall and Lynn Redgrave
  • “So Cold the River” by Michael Kortya, narrated by Robert Petkoff
  • “Paper Towns” by John Green, narrated by Dan John Miller
  • “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” by Helen Simonson, narrated by Peter Altschuler
  • “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot, narrated by Cassandra Campbell and Bahni Turpin
  • “Bad Things Happen” by Harry Dolan, narrated by Erik Davies
  • “When You Are Engulfed in Flames” by David Sedaris, narrated by David Sedaris


  • “The Little Stranger” by Sarah Waters, narrated by Simon Vance

I’m also loving “Feed” by Mira Grant right now, which is narrated by Paula Christensen and Jesse Bernstein, but I guess I can’t recommend it for sure until I finish.

What audiobooks do you recommend? I’m always happy to add to my wishlist!

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Hot Summer Reading

Earlier this week, I highlighted my most anticipated books from BEA, but most of those unfortunately aren’t out until fall. Luckily, I also have a whole lot of books I’m excited about reading this summer!

Although I have a wide variety of genres I am looking forward to reading this summer, I am really looking forward to my ‘summer’ books. I’m not sure I could precisely describe a ‘summer’ book, but they are often fun, something that will keep you turning pages at the beach or keep your mind off of oppressive heat and humidity – books that lend themselves well to a glass of iced tea, a margarita, or chilled white wine.

Without further ado, my most anticipated ‘summer’ reads from among the books I’ll be reading in the next few months (in publication order):

Diamond Ruby by Joseph Wallace – Touchstone, May 4, 2010, paperback

About the book: In the 1920s, Ruby Thomas becomes responsible for her two young nieces and most find a way to care for them. Her fastball seems to be the answer to the conundrum, and she is eventually signed with the Brooklyn Typhoons. Her worries aren’t over, though.

Why I’m looking forward to it: “Diamond Ruby” has been getting great reviews, and Joe seems like an incredibly nice guy. Plus, I’ve heard it described as ‘fun girl power.’

Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson – Grand Central Publishing, June 8, 2010, hardcover

About the book: Rose Mae Lolly is a formerly-strong woman who has allowed herself to be subjugated by her husband, until she’s told that her husband will kill her unless she kills him first. Next thing she knows, Rose Mae is running for her life and uncovering long-hidden family secrets.

Why I’m looking forward to it: Although I haven’t read Joshilyn Jackson’s previous books, I have heard fantastic things about them. I’m looking forward to this story of a woman rediscovering her own strength.

29: A Novel by Adena Halpern – Touchstone, June 15, 2010, paperback

About the book: Seventy-five year-old Ellie Jerome feels that she has more in common with her twenty-nine year-old granddaughter than with her fifty-something daughter. She has always done her best to stay young so, when confronted with a cake full of birthday candles, she wishes she could be 29 again, with unexpected consequences.

Why I’m looking forward to it: I love this sort of concept, it tends to make for a really fun read, at least from time to time.

The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst – Doubleday, June 15, 2010, hardcover

About the book: Octavia Frost is both a mother and a novelist, but has perhaps been more successful as a novelist. When her son Milo is arrested for murder, it is Octavia’s books that will provide the clues as to what went wrong.

Why I’m looking forward to it: I read Carolyn Parkhursts two previous books, The Dogs of Babel and Lost and Found back in the days before I started blogging about books, and really enjoyed them – particularly The Dogs of Babel. Parkhurst is an original, inventive author and I’m looking forward to seeing what she does with this story.

The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais – Scribner, July 6, 2010, hardcover

About the book: When tragedy strikes the Haji family, they are forced to leave their restaurant in Mumbai and eat their way around the world, finally landing in the small village of Lumiere, France. When the family opens a small, inexpensive Indian restaurant, they inadvertently begin a culinary war with their famous gourmand neighbor.

Why I’m looking forward to it: This promises to be a literary romp through plates and plates of delicious-sounding food. This book may be hazardous to fitting into your swimsuit, but it sounds DELICIOUS.

Still Missing by Chevy Stevens – St. Martin’s Press, July 6, 2010, hardcover

About the book: Annie O’Sullivan was simply trying to sell a house when she was abducted. “Still Missing” intertwines the story of of Annie’s captivity with that of her escape and the police’s search for her abductor.

Why I’m looking forward to it: I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about this book, pages and pages of buzz! Plus, a good, literary thriller is always a fun summer read. By the way, I’ll have a giveaway for THREE copies the book in a couple of weeks.

Finny by Justin Kramon – Random House Trade Paperbacks, July 13, 2010, paperback

About the book: Finny Short is a 14 year-old misfit being sent off to boarding school by her ultra-conservative parents. It is there she will meet Judith, an heiress and one of the main influences in her young life.

Why I’m looking forward to it: Well, for one thing, I received a personal recommendation for this book, which always goes a long way. Other than that, it sounds quirky and fun, a great summer read.

The Stuff That Never Happened by Maddie Dawson – Shaye Areheart Books, August 3, 2010, hardcover

About the book: Although Annabelle McKay is happily married and has been for twenty-six years, she still fantasizes about another man every day. When circumstances throw that man back into her path, she must decide which man possess her heart: her husband or her fantasy.

Why I’m looking forward to it: I think that everyone at some time wonders ‘what if,’ even if they don’t go so far as to have a consistent fantasy about someone who is not their spouse. The universality of this feeling often makes for a good novel, and I’m hearing very promising early buzz about this one.

The Life You’ve Imagined by Kristina Riggle – Avon A, August 17, 2010, paperback

About the book: Four women find themselves thrown together back in their hometown of Haven facing death, abandonment, addiction of a family member, and memories of the people they once were and are forced to ask whether they are living the life they imagined they would.

Why I’m looking forward to it: I loved Kristina Riggle’s debut book, Real Life and Liars. Loved, loved, loved it. It even made my ‘Best of 2009’ list, so I have high hopes for this, her sophomore attempt. Plus, if done correctly (as I suspect it is!), this story has the potential to be one that refuses to be put down. If I were only able to read ONE book from this list this summer, this would be it.

What hot summer reads are on YOUR list?

(Some or all of these books may have been provided to me for review)

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My Massive “No BEA? Books Anyway!” Haul

So a few days ago, some other bloggers and I decided we need to recreate the book portion of BEA.  This idea transformed into “No BEA? Books Anyway!”  The idea is to take some of the money we’re saving by NOT being at BEA and take it to support authors, publishers, and booksellers, as well as promoting some books we’re very excited about.  I got REALLY into the spirit of the event today.  I went to Half Price Books, Barnes & Nobles, and Borders, since I had giftcards to all 3 stores.  I ended up spending my giftcards plus some (although at HPB I only went $1.04 over my giftcard amount).  I ended up buying way more than I planned, because Borders was having a bargain blow-out sale, all books with blue stickers were $1.00.  Barnes and Nobles had some good books on super sale too.  I didn’t buy books just for myself, though, I bought them for the whole family, including our little baby who is coming any day now.

For starters, the books I bought for hubby:


That would be:
There Are No Children Here by Alex Kotlowitz
The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell
Einstein by Walter Isaacson 

He’s been looking at “Einstein” since it came out and it was $10 in hardback!  He has also been wanting “The Tipping Point” recently and since he’s not a huge reader, I jump to buy books that he wants, because that means he’ll read them.

Then there are the books for/because of baby:

img_0010   img_0009

What we have here:
Ruth and Naomi by Jean Marzollo
Daniel and the Lions’ Den by Jean Marzollo
Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld
The Mixed-Up Chameleon by Eric Carle
Spot Goes to School by Eric Hill
Where’s Spot by Eric Hill
The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle
On Noah’s Ark by Jan Brett
Baby Nose to Baby Toes by Vicky Ceelen
Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron 

Finally, the way too many books I bought for myself.  You’ll notice that I have “Einstein” in this pile too, that’s because a) I wasn’t paying attention, and b) I want to read it too.


So other than “Einstein,” what we have here is:

Left pile:
The Book of Air and Shadows by Michael Gruber
In the Company of Courtesans by Sarah Dunant
Abraham by Bruce Feiler
1421: The Year China Discovered America by Gavin Menzies
 Sex With Kings by Eleanor Herman

Right pile:
Roanoke by Margarent Lawrence
The World Before Her by Deborah Weisgall
Speak by Laurie Halse Andersen
Sala’s Gift by Ann Kirschner
The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan
Mistress of the Art of Death by Arianna Franklin
Forever Lily by Beth Nonte Russell
Rome 1960 by David Maraniss
A Voyage Long and Strange by Tony Horowitz
Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie 

Here are the books about which I’m most excited.  Both of them have gotten a lot of buzz:

duck-rabbit    burnt-shadows


Did you buy anything for “No BEA? Books Anyway!”?  If so, go and leave your link in the Mr. Linky on the original post.  If buying books isn’t in the cards this weekend, you can still participate by highlighting some of the books you are most excited about right now.

May Reading Wrap-Up

I read 14 books in May. I likely would have read more, had it not been for the reading ennui I experienced near the beginning of the month and the resulting theme read of some long books. If I hadn’t had two four-hour plane rides and a fair amount of time in airports and on public transit, I probably wouldn’t have attained 14. It didn’t hurt that both “Monique and the Mango Rains” and “Someday My Prince Will Come” were so engaging that I read them each in basically one sitting.

Of these books, two were read for ReaderViews, three (well, 2.5) for a theme read on Dracula/vampires, one was provided by Literary Ventures Fund, one was read for book club, one for LibraryThing Early Reviewers, one for a LibraryThing group read, two ‘just because,’ and three were sent to me for review.

Note: The titles of the books link to my reviews.

My Reading Wrap-Up for May

Fiction (Novels)

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova – Buy on Amazon

Dracula by Bram Stoker – Buy on Amazon

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – Buy on Amazon

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson – Buy on Amazon

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides – Buy on Amazon

Fiction (Short Stories)

Politics Noir edited by Gary Phillips – Buy on Amazon

Historical Fiction

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff – Buy on Amazon

The Aviary Gate by Katie Hickman – Buy on Amazon


Someday My Prince Will Come by Jerramy Fine – Buy on Amazon

Monique and the Mango Rains by Kris Holloway – Buy on Amazon

Have I Got A Guy for You! edited by Alix Strauss – Buy on Amazon

Storm Over Morocco by Frank Romano – Buy on Amazon


Kings and Queens of England: A Tourist Guide by Jane Murray

Vlad the Impaler by M.J. Trow – Buy on Amazon

Top Pick for the Month

Monique and the Mango Rains cover

“Monique and the Mango Rains,” by Kris Holloway, is the story of Kris’ time in the Peace Corps in Mali, particularly her interaction with Monique Dembele, Kris’ host and the village midwife. Monique was an amazing woman and this is a well written, amazing story. David Ebershoff’s “The 19th Wife,” Andrew Davidson’s “The Gargoyle,” and Jerramy Fine’s “Someday My Prince Will Come” were in a close three-way tie for second place with “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Middlesex” not far behind (man, I read some fantastic books this month!), but there was such power in Holloway’s story, that I was compelled to choose it for the top honor. The only thing that could have made this book better was if it was three times as long.

Reminder: There is still time to get in on the contest! All of these books (and any others I have reviewed) are up for grabs!