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#41 - #59

#41 An Offer You Can’t Refuse

#42 I Remember You

#43 The Feast Nearby

#44 The Hollow

#45 Lord & Lady Spy

#46 The Boys Next Door

#47 Endless Summer

#48 The Spice Necklace

#49 Going Home

#50 Falling in Love with English Boys

#51 Persuade Me

#52 Feeling Sorry for Celia

#53 The Year of Secret Assignments

#54 Time Off for Happiness

#55 Dating the Rebel Tycoon

#56 To Wed the Wicked Earl

#57 The Hunger Games

#58 Catching Fire

#59 Mockingjay

#32 - #40

#32 Heaven to Betsy by Maud Hart Lovelace

#33 Betsy in Spite of Herself by Maud Hart Lovelace

#34 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

#35 The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson

#36 Home to Woefield by Susan Juby

#37 The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure

#38 Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter

#39 Mermaid by Carolyn Turgeon

#40 Her Best Friend’s Wedding by Abby Gaines

I've been reading a lot of escapist fiction lately--I think it's my way of dealing with all the distressing news lately. Whether it's impending worldwide financial disaster or people who want to hurt as many other people as they can, there really hasn't been a lot of great news lately. So I turn to young adult fiction or romance or fairy tale retellings to take my mind off this crazy, sad world I live in.

Of the nine books listed, my favorite was Uncommon Criminals. It's the sequel to Heist Society and it fulfilled my need for a "teenagers doing impossible things" story. I enjoyed the Lovelace books but I think I may have read them too late in life for them to be as beloved as the L.M. Montgomery books or Laura Ingalls Wilder. Her Best Friend's Wedding was just a good, fun romance which I wish was fifty pages longer. I loved the interaction between the heroine and the hero.

Reading update: books #2-#31

Obviously, I haven't updated this journal in a while. No particular reason, I just needed take a break from LiveJournal (I haven't updated my personal journal in a while either). But I do like to keep track of my book reading and what follows is a list of the things I've read since January. If anyone has any questions or want to make any comments on any of the books I've read, feel free.

Books 2-31Collapse )

Comments on some books on the list:

Anna and the French Kiss which is a young adult romance and absolutely adorable. The companion novel come out in, I think, September.

The P.B. Ryan books which is a series of mysteries set in Gilded Age Boston featuring governess Nell Sweeney and her investigative partner, Dr. Will Hewitt. Highly recommended for anyone who likes their mysteries with a dash of romance.

Ruby Red is the first in a young adult trilogy featuring time traveling teenagers. I found it intriguing. It was orignally written in German and I thought some of the sentence structure a little awkward but I'm attibuting that to the difficulties in translating from one language to the next. My only disappointment is that the next book doesn't come out until next year.

The FitzOsbornes in Exile is the second book in the Montmaray series and follows the FitzOsbornes through 1927 to the very cusp of World War II. Whereas the first book was about crumbling castles and poverty, this one is drawing roomings and bureaucracy as the family tries to make the world take notice of what the happened in Montmaray. I look forward to the final book in the trilogy which is to cover the family during World War II.

#1 Want to Know a Secret?

#1 Want to Know a Secret?

Author: Sue Moorcroft

This is the first title I've read from a small publisher called Choc Lit Publishing. Based on my enjoyment of this book, I look forward to the other books from this publisher. Bonus: They all have gorgeous covers even thought I can only enjoy them from my computer since I bought the books in ebook form.

When Diane Jenner's husband Gareth is badly injured in a helicopter crash, she does not expect to discover Gareth has found his long-lost father and sister or that his paternal family is immensely wealthy. The fact Gareth kept this a secret from her for years forces her to face certain truths about her husband and her marriage. Gareth grew up poor, the oldest son in a single-parent household, while Diane comes from a far more affluent family. Over the years, Gareth has come to resent the way Diane's family treated him and the final straw comes when Diane refuses to contest her father's will. The Jenner marriage manages to survive on inertia rather than love and affection.

Diane's new brother-in-law, James, is very different from her husband. James is the rock in his family, the one who keeps his wife and youngest daughter from falling apart. As James and Diane deal with the fallout from the crash and the new additions to their respective families, they find themselves attracted to each other. Diane is torn between acting on her attraction and her determination to do the right thing even if she's not sure what the right thing is.

The main reason I enjoyed this novel is the character of Diane. I found myself rooting for her to succeed in her business and find personal happiness. James is a good man who has his moments of selfishness but given the burdens of his family, I could understand why he wanted to grab his chance at happiness. Overall, this was a good, satisfying read.

#45-#67

Just for the record.

#45 Nothing But Ghosts by Beth Kephart
#46 Carney’s House Party by Maud Hart Lovelace
#47 A Tale of Two Families by Dodie Smith
#48 The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
#49 Dark Road to Darjeeling by Deanna Raybourn
#50 Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson
#51 Bobby the Brave (Sometimes) by Lisa Yee
#52 Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen
#53 All Clear by Connie Willis
#54 Heist Society by Ally Carter
#55 Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith
#56-59 Gallagher Girls 1-4 by Ally Carter
#60 The Italians Suitable Wife by Lucy Monroe
#61 The Kiss Test by Shannon McKelden
#62 Bachelor Boss by Christie Ridgway
#63 The Italian’s Rags-to-Riches Wife by Julia James
#64 Cordero’s Forced Bride by Kate Walker
#65 The Year She Fell by Alicia Rasley
#66 Safe Harbor by Judith Arnold
#67 Whose Baby? By Janice Kay Johnson

#44 Through Charley's Door

#44 Through Charley's Door

Author: Emily Kimbrough

This memoir picks up where Our Hearts Were Young and Gay leaves off. Emily Kimbrough and Cornelia Otis Skinner are back from Europe and onto the next step of their lives. While Cornelia finds success on the stage, Emily does not. With her mother dropping not-so-subtle hints about how women should be financially independent, Emily gets a job at Marshall Field & Company as a copywriter for its bi-monthy magazine, Fashions of the Hour. This is a chronicle of Emily's time working for Marshall Field as it is a look at the company itself.

As a memoir, this was neither as funny as Our Hearts Were Young and Gay nor was it as introspective as I felt it could have been. Kimbrough was among the first wave of women to have a career in a non-traditional realm and while she provides some details on how being a part of the workforce affected her friendships with friends who did not work, I wish she had gone more into how earning their own salaries affected her and her co-workers. Did being financially independent lead to even more freedom? Kimbrough continued to live with her parents after she started working for Marshall Field and there is a wonderful story where her supervisor tasks Kimbrough with finding out whether a female co-worker is pregnant and, more importantly, whether she is married. It's the deeper look into the career of these early working women that I really wanted to know and I don't feel as if I really got it here.

I was fascinated by the details Kimbrough provided about Marshall Field in the 1920s. I had no idea that Marshall Field had once had a book department or that its head buyer had been so influential in publishing. Marcella Hahner was the first bookseller to ask a writer to appear before the public and sign books and other booksellers based their book orders on what Marshall Field's ordered. Marshall Field encouraged its employees to be proactive and welcomed ideas from the bottom rung. Its philosophy was that all their employees had a right to fail (and face the appropriate consequences)--if you had an idea and believed in it, the company would allow you to implement it. Marshall Field was a unique and innovative company in its time and there is a fascinating story there. I'm sure someone has written a book about the history of the company. If not, they should.

#43 My Single Friend

#43 My Single Friend

Author: Jane Costello

Lucy and Henry have been best friends ever since their primary school days. Now they're in their thirties, roommates, and still best friends. While both have achieved professional success, neither have much luck in love. Lucy never seems to be able to make it past the first date and Henry can't even get a date. Lucy and her friends offer to give Henry a makeover--if he didn't look as if his mother dressed him (she still buys his clothes) Henry may have better luck with women. The makeover is a success. Women are throwing themselves at Henry and Lucy does not understand why she does not like this at all.

I really liked Henry. Other than his clothing, he was an ideal roommate and best friend. The flaw here is Lucy. She was likeable, smart, and competent in her job but that just made her dating shennigans all the more frustrating. Lucy is so desperate for a boyfriend that she has a tendency to lie exaggerate about her interests in order to secure a second date. To Lucy's credit, once she realizes what feelings regarding Henry truly are she tries to act honorably and comes across a lot better. Overall, this was a good read.

#42 The Invisible Bridge

#42 The Invisible Bridge

Author: Julie Orringer

In the autumn of 1937, Andras Levi sets off for Paris to study architecture. Despite the poverty of being a scholarship student and the political turmoil caused by an increasingly aggressive Hitler, Andras loves his school, Paris, and his friends. He eventually meets Claire Morgenstern and falls in love. It is not an easy relationship for Claire is a woman with a past and a resentful daughter slightly younger than Andras. But love perseveres and Claire and Andras are engaged by the spring of 1939. Then Hitler invades Poland and Andras, a Jew, finds himself back in Hungary. Thankfully, Claire travels with him to Hungary where they marry shortly before Andras is sent off to help the war effort as a laborer.

This is such a beautiful book about love, hope, and the will to survive. This is an epic story which doesn't read like an epic. It's not about the movers and shakers, but that of a talented common man who finds himself having to live through one of the darkest, most tragic eras of history.

#40 The Uncommon Reader & #41 Illyria

#40 The Uncommon Reader

Author: Alan Bennett

Although Bennett is best known as the writer of The History Boys and The Madness of King George III, he also writes novels or, in case of The Uncommon Reader, novellas. The uncommon reader of the title is Queen Elizabeth II. While walking her dogs on the palace grounds, she comes across a bookmobile. She checks out a book out of politeness--her dogs truly are incorrigble--and soon discovers she really likes to read. The queen's new hobby beings to cause problems. She's late for appointments, she no longer follows the prescribed topics of conversation when meeting heads of state or commoners, and the palace household finds it unsettling. What will all this book reading lead to?

I found this a funny and cute read. A part of me wishes it were longer. I want to know what happens after the book ends but I also don't know how much longer Bennett could have sustained the joke without the story becoming strained.

#41 Illyria

Author: Elizabeth Hand

Ronan and Madeline Tierney are first cousins, the offspring of identical twin brothers, and the descendants of an acclaimed actress. They are the youngest members of their respective families and share the same birthday. They have been soulmates for all fourteen years of their lives. They are also in love. This novella (yes, another one!) follows their relationship through the year they both discover their love for the theater and each other.

Normally, I don't read incestous love stories but Hand is very good at describing the nature of Ronan and Madeline's relationship without being explicit. There's more to this novella than a doomed first love--it's also about theater and art and what one is willing to give up to achieve a dream.

#39 The Star of Kazan

#39 The Star of Kazan

Author: Eva Ibbotson

There's something beautifully old-fashioned about this book by Eva Ibbotson. She does not mine any new territory here--a plucky orphan with stalwart friends triumphs over the people who threaten her way of lfe--but Ibbotson does it wonderfully. Annika, a foundling discovered in a church by her guardian Ellie, lives in Vienna in a house with three absent-minded professors. Although Annika loves Ellie, Sigrid, and the professors, she still fantasizes of the mother who abandoned her. One day, Annika's dream comes true. Frau Edeltraut von Tannenburg arrives at the house eager to reclaim her long lost daughter. Annika is soon whisked away to the von Tannenburg's family estate, Spittal, where the reality does not match what she's been told. What is wrong with Spittal? And what does this have to do with Annika?

Ibbotson's early childhood was spent in Vienna and this is obviously a fairy tale version of the city. It's a glimpse of Vienna before the world wars when music filled the air, the Emperor still ruled, and sellers on the street sold sweets and flowers. It's a magical city as seen through a child's eyes and while it may not necessarily be accurate, it does not mean it's untrue.

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big book pile by hyacinthgirl36
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A Room Without a Book is a Room Without a Soul

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