Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Reading Roundup - September 2016

My dear fellow book-lovers... I have some exciting news! One of my oldest and bestest friends, Megan Westfield, is having her first book published this month! It's called Lessons in Gravity. The main character, April Stephens, is doing an internship to finish up her UCLA film degree as an assistant for a documentary about rock-climbing, and of course she falls for the daredevil star Josh Knox.


I am so  impressed with the dedication and tenacity with which Megan has pursued her goal of becoming a published author. I'm sure most of us say we'd like to write a book, but she has been tirelessly working towards this goal for years. I read an early draft of this book during my maternity leave with Swede in 2013, and I'm super excited to read the final version coming out on October 23rd. All you NetGalley folks should check it out now!

OK, Moving on... Here's what I read in September:


1) The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. 3/5 stars. At age 65, with only the clothes on his back and "yachting shoes" on his feet, Harold Fry spontaneously embarks on a walk across England south to north to see a former colleague and friend who is dying of cancer. The book is the story of his journey as he meets many different people and reflects at length on the regrets of his past. Let's just say that I hope I have more fond memories at age 65 than Harold does.



2) The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown. 3/5 stars. This book goes back and forth between Madeleine in the present day (actually 1999 which I keep having to remind myself is almost 20 years ago!) and the journal that her grandmother Margie wrote during a summer in Paris in the 1920s. Both women are struggling with the lives they feel trapped into by the expectations of family and society. I enjoyed the chapters set in Paris, but I found it a little unrealistic that in this day and age you wouldn't realize there was another option than being a decorative society wife. Madeleine is so shocked to find out that there are people, living right in her town, with jobs! Imagine that.



3) A Fine Imitation by Amber Brock. 4/5 stars. This book has a similar theme. It's set at Vassar College in 1913 and in New York City in 1923. The main character, Vera Bellington, has the "perfect" life. She is the quintessential decorative society wife, living in an ivory tower apartment with her distant husband, going through the motions but feeling empty and unfulfilled. Enter a handsome and mysterious French artist who arrives to paint a mural in the elite apartment building's subterranean pool. I liked the characters more in this one than in The Light of Paris, and the conflict seemed more believable. 



4) Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger. 4/5 stars. This is the coming-of-age story of thirteen-year-old Frank Drum during the summer of 1961, when death in many forms haunts the small Minnesota town where Frank lives with "his Methodist minister father, his passionate, artistic mother, Juilliard-bound older sister, and wise-beyond-his years kid brother." I really enjoyed this one. It's a little slow-paced but in a good way, and reminded me a little bit of one of my all-time favorite books, Peace Like a River, by Leif Enger. [Which, by the way, is where Swede's nickname came from!]

That's all! Im linking up as usual with Steph and Jana for Show Us Your Books. What was the best book you read this month?

42 comments:

  1. Congrats to your friend!

    That first one reminds me of The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared. The last one sounds kind of intriguing.

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    1. Harold Fry did kinda remind me of The 100 Year Old Man. Not as zany though. No elephants. :-)

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  2. I adored Ordinary Grace.

    Adding A Fine Imitation to my list...and Peace Like a River because I love the title.

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    1. I hope you like them both. I might try Krueger's mystery series since I liked Ordinary Grace so much - Have you read any?

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  3. So exciting for your friend on her book release! I really enjoy books set in the 20s, so I just added A Fine Imitation to my list!

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  4. How awesome for your friend! Ordinary Grace sounds really good. Adding it to my TBR.

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    1. I am so excited for her! :-)
      Hope you like Ordinary Grace.

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  5. Love your suggestions. I just finished the Girl on the Train finally! It was pretty good and felt great to finally finish a book ha

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    1. Are you going to see the movie? I always feel compelled to see the movie if I've read the book but will wait for DVD.

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  6. I really hope to read Peace Like a River soon. I've heard it mentioned several times on the What Should I Read Next podcast. Congratulations to your friend Megan! I just requested the book on Netgalley!!

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    1. I'm adding Peace Like a River to Goodreads as well. Hope you enjoy Lessons in Gravity!

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    2. I hope you both like Peace like a River! I'll try not to feel bad if you don't even though it is my most favorite book ever. ;-)

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    3. Megan, I just finished Lessons in Gravity! I really, really enjoyed it! Great chemistry between the characters and very interesting setting. Makes me want to visit Yosemite and jump in a lake. :) I enjoyed the mother's psychological point of view too :) I'm going to review it on Goodreads and my blog this month :)

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    4. Heather, I am so excited to hear that you enjoyed Lessons in Gravity! Let me know if you need any materials like graphics, excerpts, etc, for your blog post and be sure to ping me over on Twitter (or here, or off my website) when you post and I'll share around. Yosemite is well worth the trip! Early fall is my personal favorite. And Tenaya Lake up in Tuolumne Meadows doesn't require a rock climb to get to...just drive up and park and you can have your own Flying Sheep Lake experience. :)

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  7. Congrats to your friend on publishing a book! What an accomplishment, and it sounds like something I'd love, so I need to check it out! I love books that go back and forth between years, so A Fine Imitation and The Light of Paris sound like books I'd love!

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    1. I think you will like them! I enjoyed the 1920s section best in both, but I've always been a little obsessed with the 1920's. :-)

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  8. congrats to your friend! that book sounds awesome, i requested it from netgalley - hopefully i like it :) A Fine Imitation sounds good, added it to my list!

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  9. Congrats to your friend! How exciting! And cool that you know her...and will get to review an advance copy I'm assuming ;)

    I read Harold Fry years ago for a book club and quite enjoyed it, although the minute details escape me now. I did find the whole journey and bit far fetched (that is A LOT of walking lol). I haven't felt inclined to pick up the sequel though.

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    1. Yes, Kelly could have had an advance copy, but my publisher only released eARCs and she's a paper-book kind of girl. ;)

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    2. What she said. :-) I'm holding out for the paper copy.
      I don't think I'll be reading the Harold Fry sequel either.

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  10. O wow, congrats to your friend! As a journalist myself I always hoped to publish a book but of course life gets in the way, right? Kudos to your friend for sticking to it! What a good friend you are to help promote her book!

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    1. Oh, man, life definitely gets in the way. I think you need a touch of insanity to get it done. I only managed because I was writing during vanpool rides to work and using other odd bits of time that would crop up here and there. And it took a VERY long time from start to finish.

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  11. Ordinary Grace sounds really interesting!

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    1. I loved it! Let me know what you think it you read it.

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  12. Congratulations to Megan on her first book! That is an ENORMOUS accomplishment. It is so competitive and so difficult so she should be super proud of herself!

    A Fine Imitation sounds very intriguing! Adding it to my list...

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    1. Thanks! (The name of main character in the book that follows Lessons in Gravity--which I am finishing up drafting this week--is Emily.)

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  13. Peace Like a River sounds intriguing. I added that one.
    I went to high school with a girl named Amber Brock. I wonder if she's a published writer like your friend..... and if she's the same Amber Brock that wrote A Fine Imitation. Doubt it, but that would make a fun story.

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    1. Ha, That would be crazy if it's the same Amber Brock! (Looks like she's from South Carolina so probably not).
      Hope you like Peace Like a River!

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  14. Thanks for sharing about Lessons in Gravity and if anyone here ends up reading it, be sure to look for Kelly in the back! She has some excellent novel ideas up her sleeve. and hopefully someday they'll make it from brain to page. Like after the wee ones decide to let their parents sleep a little longer at night. :)

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  15. Congrats to your friend. So cool when people can make a real book happen. I'm always impressed by that talent.

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    1. Not that she's not talented but I'm impressed by her persistence! She has never given up for YEARS and it's finally paid off.

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  16. Ordinary Grace sounds perfect for this time of year.

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    1. Yes! It is a perfect cozy-at-home-while-the-weather-gets-back book.

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  17. I will definitely be adding some of these to my list! My mom told me about The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. Sounds interesting but a little depressing!

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    1. That is the perfect description of Harold Fry. Interesting but a little depressing. My favorites last month were A Fine Imitation and Ordinary Grace.

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  18. Peace Like a River is on my TBR pile. Maybe I'll get to read it this winter. Pam

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    1. I hope you like it! (Don't tell me if you don't!) One of my very favorite books ever.

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  19. Oh I was wondering where the name Swede came from! I am looking into it on goodreads now! Also A Fine Imitation sounds really interesting. So cool that your friend has written a book, I always admire people who are able to do that! :) XO - Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

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    1. I've been thinking about eliminating online shopping in 2017 and trying to write a book with all the time it'll free up...
      I hope you like either book if you end up reading them!

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