The Sunday Salon

Sunday has arrived!! Here’s hoping that you all have a relaxing day.

My week has been crazy and I haven’t been able to do much reading.  Oh, I have tried to wind down with a book at bedtime, but I find myself nodding off after 10 pages or so.  I did get a solid hour of reading in at my daughter’s gymnastics practice this week, but beyond that I haven’t had a good chunk of time to sit with a book and get lost in it.  Maybe today.

 I’m posting a couple pics from our vacation to Pennsylvania.  My kids have been bored and grumpy this week since we got back to our routine because they haven’t had a gaggle of kids around to traipse through the woods with, a thunderstorm to get caught in, or a lake to jump in.  My youngest daughter’s sad comment this week was, “There’s too much cement in California, Mom.”  She has a point.  

The books keep arriving at the door even if I haven’t had much time to read them.  This was my haul this week from UPS, FedEx, and the mailman:  

The Heartbreak Diet: A Story of Family, Fidelity, and Starting Over by Thorina Rose from Chronicle Books.  It’s a hardcover graphic novel (my first) that I requested from an ad in Shelf Awareness back in May.  I wanted to see what all the fuss was about with graphic novels.  I’ll let you know.

Netochka Nezvanova by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, a Penguin Classic that I requested months ago. This is a slim volume and apparently I have 6 weeks to read it or the Book Police will be after me.

Inglorious by Joanna Kavenna from Picador and LibraryThing’s early reviewers program.  This one came out a year ago but was just recently released in paperback.

The Septembers of Shiraz by Dalia Sofer from Harper Perennial and Every Day I Write the Book Blog.  This is the July online book club selection over at EDIWTB.

Queen of the Road by Doreen Orion- two copies- one from the author and one from the publisher, Broadway Books- so I will be giving one away!  This book is everywhere right now-and since one of my favorite people loved it, I am really excited to read it!  Watch for the giveaway post later today or tomorrow.

The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner from Ballantine Books and Dorothy Thompson at Pump Up Your Book Promotion.  I will be doing a virtual book tour stop for this one in August.

The Safety of Secrets by DeLaune Michel from Over the River Publications- the 2nd copy I’ve received from them, so I’ll be giving it away!  Look for the giveaway post Tuesday.  We also may have a Q & A from the author if I could just finish the book and get a few questions to her!  That is my goal for today.

And finally- an unbound galley of The Forbidden Daughter by Shobhan Bantwal from the author (coming out in August) that arrived in a ripped and bent thin white envelope.  Apparently they ran out of ARCs but even though the envelope was a mess, the galley is in good shape (one munched corner, but beyond that it’s ok).  I don’t recall requesting this, but I guess I did.  I’ve never received a book this way and it will be a challenge to read it like this, but hopefully it will be worth it!

I just noticed that the two covers I added to this post show only half of the woman’s face.  Huh.  Weird.  I thought I was being all random with the covers but they are oddly one-eyed and similar.  Maybe the other eye is on the spine.  I’ll have to check.

Well, I guess I better go read now!!  The kids are still sleeping so I might be able to string two sentences together before being interrupted.

If you’re like me and need to find more time for reading, check out these tips from Books on the Nightstand.  Have a great week!  ~Lisa

Review: The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen is the magical follow up to 2007’s Garden Spells (reviewed HERE). It’s sweet but not sappy, nutty but not ‘chock full of nuts’. It’s like the perfect dessert.

Josey Cirrini, sheltered rich girl in a North Carolina resort town, lives alone with her overbearing mother and a housekeeper. At 27 she has no friends, no social life, and is busy doing her mother’s bidding in an effort to atone for the horrible way she behaved as a child. Everyone in town knows who she is because her late father built the ski resort that lifted the town out of poverty. She is secretly in love with the mailman and meets him on the porch each day but does nothing more than say hello. She’s living a small little life, driving her elderly mother to her various appointments and social events, and living for the moments alone when she can indulge her massive sweet tooth and gorge on mallomars or oatmeal pies from the secret stash in her closet.

Enter Della Lee, one of the eccentric townfolk who is a bit rough around the edges. She shows up one morning in Josey’s closet and won’t budge. Della Lee threatens to make Josey’s secret public, so Josey begrudgingly allows her to stay. Della Lee takes up residence in the closet and soon she is nudging Josey out into the world to make friends and have a life.

As in Garden Spells, magical things are happening all over town. One character, Chloe, Josey’s first real friend, has an interesting relationship with books. They appear out of nowhere and are the exact books she needs at the moment they appear. One rather persistent book, Finding Forgiveness, makes its first appearance on page 36 and continues to appear throughout the story.

“She accepted it from then on. Books liked her. Books wanted to look after her.

She slowly picked the book up from the apartment floor. It was titled Finding Forgiveness.

She stared at it a long time, a feeling bubbling inside her. It took a few moments for her to realize it was anger. Books were good for a story or to teach a card trick or two, but what were they really? Just paper and string and glue. They evoked emotions and that was why people felt a connection with them. But they had no emotions themselves. They didn’t know betrayal. They didn’t know hurt.

What in the hell did they know about forgiveness?”

The Sugar Queen is a bit predictable, but I can overlook that because it has something to say about relationships and forgiveness, and it says it in a rather beguiling way. Like the perfect dessert, the book has a satisfying ending. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys magical realism.

Sarah Addison Allen’s website can be found HERE. You can find discussion questions HERE.

I received The Sugar Queen through Library Thing’s Early Reviewer program. I’ll be passing this one on to Softdrink at the newly named Fizzy Thoughts blog (formerly Blond Mementos) who originally turned me on to Garden Spells.

You can read Julie’s review from Girls Just Reading HERE.

Tuesday Thingers and a Singer

From our host The Boston Bibliophile:  So the question this week is- how many books do you have cataloged in your LibraryThing account? How do you decide what to include- everything you have, everything you’ve read- and are there things you leave off?

I only have 116 books in my LT account right now, but I’ve only started adding them in the last couple months. They are books I either own or I’ve read very recently, and I have many more to add.  I pass on many books I’ve read to friends and I donate a lot of books to my local library.  My kids give a lot of their books away too, but for some reason we get far more than we give.  The kids have received bags of books from neighbors with older kids and friends with older siblings. Some people are just book magnets, I suppose, and my girls and I have powerful magnetic fields!  Or maybe it’s just good book karma- what goes around comes around.  Oooo, that reminds me of that Justin Timberlake song I just added to my iPod.  Here’s JT doing his thing- enjoy!  I know I will!

  

The Sunday Salon: Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day weekend is here, but it seems strange to say Happy Memorial Day when it’s such a somber holiday. Still, for most people it’s 3 days off, enough time to get away, relax, recharge, and that is certainly something to be happy about.  But in between barbeques and whatever fun stuff you have planned, I hope you’ll take time to think about the brave men and women who paid the ultimate price for our freedom.  Patti from Displaced Beach Bums wrote a lovely Memorial Day post about remembering that speaks to the true meaning of the holiday. 

It’s been an exciting reading week for me.  One of the highlights was an email from Meg Waite Clayton, author of the new novel, The Wednesday Sisters.  Turns out she’s a fellow LibraryThing early reviewer, and graciously agreed to write a guest post for Books on the Brain about her very own book club.  I can’t wait to read her thoughts!  I haven’t read her book yet, but I’ve heard great things, and my bud Trish from Hey, Lady! offered to send it to me.  It’s good to have friends. 

I was also thrilled to discover I’d snagged another LT early reviewer book, The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen.  I loved her earlier novel Garden Spells, reviewed HERE, so I can’t wait to read this one to see how it compares. 

A box arrived on my doorstep Thursday from the Literary Ventures Fund.  I’d requested a book from them, and to my surprise they sent me not one but FIVE books!  I started one of them yesterday called The Fires by Alan Cheuse.  It’s actually two novellas in one book.  I’m flying through it and should have a review up by Tuesday.

I am going to have to take a speed reading class to keep up with all these books!!  Although skimming and reading superfast really isn’t my style, because I find I don’t retain as much when I try to read faster.  Slow and methodical, that’s me.  Anyone else like that?

What are you doing this weekend?  We saw Indiana Jones yesterday and went to eat at Red Robin with my parents. The kids had a friend sleep over, and my oldest has another sleepover party to attend tonight.  I pulled weeds and planted some green beans yesterday.  Thankfully it wasn’t too hot and I was able to get it all done.  My husband will continue painting his office today.  He’s been at it since Friday and is in his own little world.  Me?  I’m reading..

Have a great week!