Ten Books for Summer Reading (five I'm looking forward to, and five I would recommend)

As I mentioned in my library haul post, I'm starting to plan for some summer reads. Since the unofficial start of the season is this weekend (!) I figured I'd throw my hat in the ring with the plethora of summer reading lists out there. For me, I like seeing novels recommended more than once before giving them a green light. There are quite a few new books I'm looking forward to, and in no particular order, here are five I would love to read this summer! (You can click on the cover image to shop the Amazon affiliate link.)

Books I'm looking forward to:

Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of Liane Moriarty. I've reviewed The Husband's Secret and Big Little Lies here and loved them, as well as What Alice Forgot, which I read prior to reviewing books. All are all fun, usually satirical, fast paced reads revolving around women with a major dilemma on their hands, giving the stories some emotional heft. This title seems meet those expectations!

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

It wouldn't be summer without a good YA story! This one is about the upheaval of a young girl who has to move to Los Angeles from Chicago to live with her stepmother and stepbrother when her father remarries. She get an anonymous email from someone offering to help her navigate her new intimidating prep school and mystery ensues. It sounds reminiscent of Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, which I loved.

The Assistants by Camille Perri

This novel, set in New York, is about an executive assistant who finds a glitch in the expense reports of her media mogul boss that could pay off her student loans: hi jinks ensues. I spent time in my 20s as a HR assistant around high powered executives and have some good friends that were executive assistants. It sounds sort of ridiculous and fun 'stick it to the man' kind of stuff, perfect for a quick summer read.

First Comes Love by Emily Giffin

This is one NetGalley I DID request and plan to read soon! I haven't read Giffin's novels in SO LONG. I enjoyed the Something Borrowed books back in the day, when I too was a singleton. This new story, about two sisters in their late thirties, should be fun - reading Giffin's take on my contemporaries again.

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

Thrillers are usually not my bag, BUT ensemble casts are! The description of this story in the aftermath of a plane crash called to me: "With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the crash and the back stories of the passengers and crew members-including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan-born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot-the mystery surrounding the tragedy heightens."

Since I can't speak for the quality of the aforementioned books, I have some favorites that I can definitively say would make for EXCELLENT summer fare. (If you are the type of person who is looking for something on the longer side/500+ pages for an extended vacation, I am jealous! And also, I'd check out these epic novels.) Again, Amazon affiliate links are in the image and I'll link my original reviews within the description!

Books I would recommend:

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I've been recommending this book for over four years now and I'm going to recommend it again! If you think this futuristic sci-fi tale is not for you, you might be wrong. It is delightful. And I take back my previous negative comments about a potential film now that Speilberg is on board as well as Simon Pegg, who I would watch read the phone book.

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

If you didn't get on this train last summer, get on it now. This fictional take on Will and Kate's romance is SO MUCH FUN. Also, if you're a KCLS member, I've seen many copies on the paperback picks shelves with a BONUS CHAPTER. I might have to pick it up just to read that one chapter...

The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

I know I just read this, but it is THE BOOK of the summer, perhaps the year. A hilarious, satirical and witty story of an ensemble cast, full of fantastic characters and heart.

Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

An oldie but a goodie, this story is reminiscent of a Liane Moriarty novel: a little bit chick lit with some heft about a woman dealing with an overzealous PTA, an AWOL husband and living in a new city (Seattle!). Even the sunglasses clad cover is perfect for summer.

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

This is another one from a few years back, a great warm weather cover, and also set to become a film. It's a sweeping, cinematic love story that bounces between present day and the early 60s on the set of Cleopatra with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. 

Happy reading! I'm certainly looking forward to this spot with my books...


Everyday Life and Menu Plan 5.22.16

I took a little hiatus from menu planning last week, since we were rather busy with birthday shenanigans at The Great Wolf Lodge!

Another fun trip was had by all, the Mai Tai's were delicious as ever, and I can't believe I've been doing this parenting gig for NINE YEARS.
Sadly our summer like weather went away, and we had our first rainy soccer game o'the season.
At least gloomy days are great for curling up with a good book. I'm getting a lot of reading in this month, and if you missed it, I shared my favorite epic novels last week!

This week...
As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie and Mommy Run Fast- be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!


The Stack - May Library Haul

Since summer break is just around the corner, I mostly have books from my library's 'Paperback Picks' shelf to keep on hand in June and July, as I can easily renew these books - if you live in KCLS land, I highly recommend grabbing books from the paperback picks section and other super user tactics. So, I picked up an Elin Hilderbrand for easy breezy reading, 'natch, and the first of the Neapolitan novels: My Brilliant Friend which seems like a good summer pick. I also grabbed H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald as it's been on my radar for months, Smile for my oldest (but I read it, too, and it's FANTASTIC), as well as a book club pick: The Wrath and The Dawn.

And new to the ebook queue:

The Girls by Emma Cline (a NetGalley ARC)
First Comes Love by Emily Giffin (a NetGalley ARC)
You by Caroline Kepnes
Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater (gotta catch up on this series so I can read the final book, The Raven King)
Golden Son by Pierce Brown

As well as the ones I've had ready for awhile:

I'm Glad About You by Theresa Rebeck
Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa
All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
The Love that Split the World by Emily Henry
The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
Happy Again by Jennifer E. Smith
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
Seveneves by Neal Stephenson (which just got recommended by Bill Gates, so maybe I'll move it up in the queue...)
Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

As always, I'm interested in any thoughts/if you've read the books on this list or others I should know about!

Also, how awesome is this wee patio at my local library?? 
I hardly ever peruse the shelves, usually hitting the area where holds are kept and, of course, the children's section. But I had time on my hands today and wandered the aisles and, lo, there was a patio! I must take advantage of this on a warmer day...


Epic Page Turning Novels (aka, Books I'd Want if Stranded on a Deserted Island)

The other day Megan over at Long Story Short shared her three must have books as part of a Stranded! link up with Mix and Match Family, and it got me thinking. Other than the obvious "how to survive in the wild" type books, there are two ways to look at this quandary: books that I consider important classics that are necessary to preserve, and those that will keep me endlessly entertained. In my mind, these are two totally separate lists and I went with the latter. If stranded on an island, I want a doorstop of a book that also manages to be an entertaining page turner. There are many authors that do beautiful and emotional long novels (Wally Lamb, John Irving, Richard Russo to name just a few), but I think that being stranded is already emotionally taxing. My methodology also included books that I don't read often, or haven't ever re-read. So, all of Harry Potter is off the list because I can pretty much revisit those stories in my head without seeing words on the page, having re-read them on my own and now with my kids. Lastly, they should not only span many pages, but great swaths of time, place and generations of great characters. Perfect for forgetting the details, thus making for a great re-read! 

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley 
This is one of my favorite books of all time and I haven't read it in over 15 years. This take on the legend of King Arthur from the women's point of view clocks in at nearly 900 pages, but is so engrossing and I remember being bummed when I finished it. There's much that's reminiscent of Game of Thrones - definitely worthwhile if you're a George RR Martin fan. 

The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
Maybe I'm dating myself, but I remember the miniseries being on when I was little and my mom loving the show and the book having a prominent place on our massive bookshelves. I finally read it when I was in college and wondered what took me so long to get on board with this sweeping family drama and story of forbidden love. It's a grand chick lit tome, just shy of 700 pages.

Last, but not least, (certainly not in page count at almost 1000!) is on many favorite novel lists - including Oprah's: The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.
This amazing story that weaves together the lives of so many great characters around the building of a fictional cathedral set in the Middle Ages. It was also a turned into a pretty great miniseries with a standout cast - where I first discovered I had FEELINGS about Eddie Redmayne, playing the beloved character Jack Jackson. But, if you haven't already, do yourself a favor and read it first - it'd be a great one to savor over the summer. As with all these novels, it'd probably be best to get the Kindle version for easier handling...

I'm pretty staunch in my belief that my to be read list is too long to re-read books, but now I'm tempted, thinking on these great stories. Any I'm missing? If you have a favorite brick of a book, I'd love to add it to my list!


Everyday Life and Menu Plan 5.8.16

It's that time of year again, when we celebrate the kiddos birthdays!

My youngest turned six last week 
and my oldest turns nine this week. We do presents and cake at home on their actual birthday and then a joint celebration dinner out for both. This year they were into the idea of getting to wear a sombrero, which was awesome.

And since it was such a lovely week, I emailed a handful of parents from each of the kids' classes to a little last minute park play date over the weekend and it turned out to be such a fun surprise. I told people not to worry about presents, just brought about two dozen mini store bought cupcakes and water bottles, and called it good. It was SO laid back that I forgot to even take a picture of when we sang happy birthday. But it was perfect and they were so funny whenever another friend showed up: MOM! It's so weird! JACKSON is here and wishing me a happy birthday - how did he know??? I think we may try to do this every year if the weather cooperates.
View on my long run this week to illustrate our weather lately. I also had a lovely Mother's Day, mostly spending time with my Kindle and enjoying my cards from the kids.
This one says, "I love my mom because she thinks about me and gives me hugs and kisses." Phonetic spelling is the best, especially 'finks' for 'thinks.' And the boy child's project was pretty cool this year:
Each card had a reason I am great: I help out at school, I make him laugh, I make Nutella waffles, and I am the BEST mom! Aw. It's the first time in three years that I haven't been celebrating at The Great Wolf Lodge. That's next week...

This week!

As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie and Mommy Run Fast- be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!


Books I Read in April

The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

This book was worth the hype! I haven't gleefully turned pages so quickly since reading Eligible. In fact, it there are many similarities to Eligible and other favorite satirical works like Where'd You Go Bernadette and Big Little Lies. The ensemble cast consists of the dysfunctional Plumb family as they descend into their worst selves when the family inheritance is depleted, thanks to the reckless elder brother Leo. After reading the description, I thought that this story would revolve mainly around Leo, yet the opposite seemed to be the case. I became intimately involved with every individual caught in his orbit (not just his siblings) and all of their personal struggles. The character development and intricate plotting made for a delightfully fun tale. It ends in a very tidy, and slightly far-fetched, manner: not a perfectly happy ending for everyone, but the right one.

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

My NetGalley review is here!

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Knowing that there was some sort of BIG PLOT SURPRISE kind of marred my experience of reading this book. It's basically a modern take on The Boy In the Plastic Bubble, with a twist! I enjoyed the achingly sweet and funny beginning, when Madeline (girl in 'bubble') discovers Olly (boy who moves in next door) and their interactions through the window and emails. As things came to a head, I knew what was going on, but it didn't dissuade my interest in seeing how things would shake out. All in all, I enjoyed the theme of what truly matters in life (to LIVE IT), even if it was a little on the cheesy side and hard to suspend my disbelief most of the time.

The Amulet Series by Kazu Kibuishi

I read the seven volumes currently available and wrote about my experience here

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This novel follows the lives of twin sisters (and their loves, their families) after they return from studying abroad at grad school in London to their native Nigeria in the 1960s. As they settle into their separate lives, civil war turns their world upside down. I didn't pick it up as much as I would have liked, since I'm partial to really plot driven stuff and, though unforgettable, the story seemed to meander a bit. Maybe it was the haunting subject material that kept me from furiously turning pages. I need to get some fluff in my life Everyone Brave and this book. Yet, learning about Biafran war in Nigera was fascinating stuff - a vivid and immersive experience.