Scandalous Strawberry Cake plus A PLACE AT THE TABLE news!

Wow. So, it’s been almost, so darn close, I mean like *thisclose* to a year when I almost, almost, almost said no to reviewing A PLACE AT THE TABLE. What?! Let me set the scene: I had been reviewing books for a few months and my pile was getting… what’s the word? CRAZY. Yes, crazy. So, when the email came to me about this book, by this author I had never heard of- I was like all “Do I have time?” I hemmed and hawwed for about 30 minutes. And then I decided that there was NO WAY I could say “No” to a book with great looking of a cover. It was physically impossible!

Photo Credit: Goodreads

Photo Credit: Goodreads

I mean could you say no to THIS cover? Nope, didn’t think so. Anyway, the cover intrigued me, the cover made me say yes- but the writing- my gosh, the writing (excuse me while I fangirl!) The story was wonderful. Sweet, Southern food, finding yourself and your place at the table- there is social issues and trials and tribulations- but Susan does a great job of combining it all to make one memorable book (read my full review here). Continue reading

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Weekend in Granbury, TX- a weekend filled with bookish delights

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A few weeks ago, it was time for Unofficial Booktopia. What is Unofficial Booktopia, you ask? Well, Unofficial Booktopia is a play on Official Booktopia (hosted by the fantastic Books on The Nightstand). How did it all start? A few of us met in Oxford, MS back in 2012- and we became fast friends- discussing books, going out for drinks, and just having a good time. After that weekend, we all stayed in touch through the power of social media and monthly phone chats. Unofficial Booktopia happened, though, because in 2013- none of the Booktopia sites were close for 2 of us to get to be able to attend (basically, it was a wing and a prayer kind of thing). So, one suggested- let’s get together in Jackson, MS (home to Lemuria Books). So we began the plan and it worked! We all managed to get together (and engage in some literary hijinks!) We had such a good time that Unofficial Booktopia was born- and this year, it was in Texas. Continue reading

Traveling With T’s Best Books of 2013

Best Books of 2013

It’s that time of the year- the time of year where numerous “Best Books” list are published. And so, it’s time for Traveling With T to publish a list- a list of the books I loved, some books that made me a better reader, and a few honorable mentions.

Best of 2013

The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman  

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Photo Credit: Goodreads

Lori Nelson Spielman’s debut is heartwarming, loving and and has some thought-provoking moments.  I cried, I laughed, I LOVED. Here is my review. This is 1 of the 2 hands down favorite books of Traveling With T. Read on for #2!

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

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Photo Credit: Goodreads

Kimberly McCreight’s debut, Reconstructing Amelia, was called 2013’s Gone Girl. While many books in the mystery/suspense was compared to Gone Girl- this one probably was most deserving. Dark. Twisty. Kate’s anguish over what happened to Amelia, realizing how she did not know her daughter- and wondering if past sins of hers played a role in Amelia’s death- of if the sin of not being there for Amelia in her time of need was why Amelia is gone. Each character- each section of the book- carefully crafted and wonderful. You, as a reader, might think you have it all figured out- but Kimberly takes twists and turns- and creates a story in unforgettable. Here is my review.

A Place at the Table by Susan Rebecca White

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Photo Credit: Goodreads

When I was emailed a request to review this book, I wasn’t familiar with Susan’s work. But, I had a good feeling from the description and the cover was beautiful. I’m glad I trusted my instincts- because this book is a Southern Lit treasure. Love, finding yourself, feeling nourished, and acceptance are themes of this book- and it truly is a gem. Here is my review.

W is for Wasted by Sue Grafton

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Photo Credit: Goodreads

I yearn for the latest Kinsey book well ahead of Sue Grafton’s 2 year publishing schedule. I curse the the day I discovered A is for Alibi and thought “Years and years of mass market paperback books will keep me busy for some time.”  It did not. Thus began the waiting game. Each year a Sue book is published- I’m so happy. Kinsey rocks as a character. Seriously. If you like a mystery- Sue Grafton is great.

The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan

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Photo Credit: Goodreads

My first J. Courtney Sullivan book was a treat. JCS weaves a story of fiction with some real-life truths about how “A Diamond is Forever” came about. Criss-crossing from 4 viewpoints, 4 different time frames- and how a diamond plays a role in all their lives. Here is my review.

Finding Colin Firth by Mia March

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Photo Credit: Goodreads

Mia March books just scream “SUMMER” to me. Light, funny- sometimes fluffy- I love to read a Mia book. Finding Colin Firth, her 2nd novel, tells the story of  3 women- women who are each dealing with troubles of their own. To add to the mix, a movie is being filmed- and rumor has it that Colin Firth is in town- which adds to the fun of the book.  Here is my review.

Hush Little Baby by Suzanne Redfearn

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Photo Credit: Goodreads

Thriller. Terrifying at times. Suzanne’s look into the dark side of a marriage is worth a read. Here is my review.

The Pieces We Keep by Kristina McMorris

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Photo Credit: Goodreads

A mother’s love. Love and trust in WWII. Secrets and betrayal. Grief. And much more. Kristina McMorris weaves 2 stories together to make 1 compelling book. Here is my review.

The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow by Rita Leganski

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Photo Credit: Amazon

Magical-realism. That phrase made me hesitant about reading this. But, I did. And I’m so glad. It was so much more than I expected. Don’t let the magical-realism label scare you! Here is my review.

The Funeral Dress by Susan Gregg Gilmore

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Photo Credit: Goodreads

Haunting and beautifully written. A Southern Lit tale that will stay with you far after the last page is turned. Here is my review.

A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams– Love, lust, betrayal. Secrets. And a hurricane. Here is my review.

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Photo Credit: Goodreads

honorable mentions for 2013

Books that def require a mention!

The Wrong Girl by Hank Phillippi Ryan

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Photo Credit: Goodreads

Enjoyable- very enjoyable! Here is my review.

You Knew Me When by Emily Liebert

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Photo Credit: Goodreads

Entertaining and enjoyable. A tale of friendship- the highs and lows. Here is my review.

Buried Leads by LynDee Walker

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Photo Credit: Henery Press

Smart. Funny. Nichelle is high-heel loving, Moscato-drinking, and funny as all get out reporter. Enjoyable read! Here is my review.

The Affair by Colette Freedman

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Photo Credit: Amazon

Normally an affair can be seen as pretty black and white issue. But Colette Freedman takes this topic- and paints in shades of grey. By the end, you’re not sure who is right or wrong! Here is my review.

The Longings of Wayward Girls by Karen Brown

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Photo Credit: Goodreads

A lie. A harmless lie. And a girl turns up missing. But, that is just a section of the story. Page turning- and you are never quite sure who is innocent or guilty. Here is my review.

What do you think? Find any books to read? Did I miss a book you thought was “Best of 2013” worthy? Tell me!

*This list is just my opinion. I fully realize that I may have over-looked a book that should be ranked. My apologies!

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Gift Ideas for Book Lovers (Part 2)

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This weekend, with the temps dipping down in the 40’s during the day- and even colder at night, the holiday visions danced even more in my head.

If they were dancing in your head as well- here are some more suggestions for books for the book lovers in your life!

To read part 1, visit here!

 

Women’s Fiction

Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman

looking for me

Photo Credit: Amazon

My first Beth Hoffman book- and boy was it a treat. Beth wrote a book that made me laugh and cry- and feel good and warm and fuzzy. Her main character, Teddi, was a character with flaws, and tons of potential. Teddi is also dealing with an incredible loss. She’s real and honest and lovable. Here is my review of Looking For Me.

 

Time Flies by Claire Cook

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Photo Credit: Amazon

High school reunions make some feel nostalgic, others feel nauseous. Claire Cook takes a rite of passage and spins a story that is funny- but sweet. Her character Melanie is dealing with a divorce- and finding out that life does not end- in fact, it may get better. Here is my review of Time Flies.

 

A Place at the Table by Susan Rebecca White

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Photo Credit: Amazon

Susan Rebecca White tells this story with such feeling and emotion. Her characters, the storylines- all worth reading. This story reminds people of what life and love is really about- and how we, as people, want to have someone in our corner- someone who sees the real us- and accepts us 100%. Here is my review of A Place At The Table.

 

The Art Forger by B.A. Shapirio

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Photo Credit: Amazon

Love, lust, betrayal….. and the art world. Fantastic story- a mystery, a story divided into 3 sections- and art. Claire is flawed- she’s made mistakes. She’s also paid for her mistakes by being blackballed in the art world. When she makes a deal with the devil- will Claire come out on top? Or even more of a pariah? Here is my review of The Art Forger.

 

Finding Colin Firth by Mia March

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Photo Credit: Amazon

Mia March’s 2nd book, Finding Colin Firth, is the same bubbly goodness that readers came to expect from her after Meryl Streep Movie Club. Plus, who doesn’t like Colin Firth? Highly recommended for readers who just want to be entertained! Here is my review of Finding Colin Firth.

 

NonFiction

 

Learning to Fly: An Uncommon Memoir of Human Flight, Unexpected Love, and One Amazing Dog by Steph Davis

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Photo Credit: Goodreads

The story of Steph Davis- the things she overcame to find happiness- all with a dog by her side and the notion to learn to be a skydiver- something that goes against her climber personality. Steph’s story is an interesting one- and one that is worth a read. Here is my review of Learning to Fly.

 

Gods of Mischief: My Undercover Vendetta to Take Down The Vagos Outlaw Motorcycle Gang by George Rowe

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Photo Credit: Goodreads

Tough. Gritty. Entertaining. Interesting. The insider look into a tough motorcycle gang is not a story for the soft-hearted. It’s tough at times- but overall, nonfiction lovers will enjoy. Here is my review of Gods of Mischief.

 

Romance

 

The Sassy Belles by Beth Albright

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Photo Credit: Goodreads

When Blake O’Hara Heart’s best friend forever, Vivi, gets herself into a bit of trouble- Blake is there to rescue her. And Blake learns plenty about life, love, and teaches the readers about the  power of friendship along the way! If you like your characters with lots of sass and fun- this is a book for you.  Here is my review of The Sassy Belles (along with my review of Wedding Belles and Sleigh Belles– the other 2 books in this fun trilogy.)

 

 

Thursday Mashup

 

Hey it’s Mashup time- I’ve been trying to get back to a regular Tues/Thurs Mashup day- but this week is so nutsy! Maybe next week!

#giveaways

1. Anita Loves Books is giving away Susan Rebecca White’s A PLACE AT THE TABLE. Go now to her blog to sign up to win. Do not pass go, do not collect 200 bucks- GO!

Here is my review of A PLACE AT THE TABLE and here is my Interview with Susan Rebecca White (just in case you need a teensy bit extra convincing!)

2. Read Love Blog is giving away Mia March’s FINDING COLIN FIRTH. YES! (If you don’t win there, come back here on July 22- you might just see a surprise up on the blog 😉

3. Read Baby Read (the oh so cute Mel) has been telling everyone to read FOREVER, INTERRUPTED. Go win a copy on her blog!

4. Traveling With T (that’s me!) is giving away 2 books this week- 1 #giveaway ends tonight 11:59pmEST: FINAL SENTENCE by Daryl Wood Gerber and the other, RECIPE FOR A HAPPY LIFE by Brenda Janowitz- ends Sunday, July 14th at 11:59pmEST!

5. Book-Alicious Mama is giving away two books this week as well- FINDING COLIN FIRTH and THE OUTCAST.

 

Fun Literary News

6. What Makes You Put Down a Book? is fun and informative!

7. Jessica Wakfield: Literary Fashion Icon posted on BookRiot this week- it’s hysterical (and provides some nostalgia for us Wakefield loving readers!)

8. Bookshelves Are the New Medicine Cabinets– do you judge people by their bookshelves? Should you? This post will make you laugh (and think about what your bookshelves are telling people!)

 

Blogger News

9. How to Pitch a Book Blogger has some great info!

10. Bloggers Who Are Made of AWESOME: Rebecca @ Love at First Book is the first in a series of posts by me (Traveling With T) showing some love to the blogs that I think are AWESOME!

 

Tweetchats

11. #100Summers Twitter chat happens tonight 9pmEST! Join in the fun with Beatriz Williams and other Twitter fans!

12. Have you been missing the She Reads Twitter chats? I know you have! We’ll be back July 18th 8pmEST. #srchat Come chat with Susanna Kearsley, author of THE FIREBIRD.  I’m recommending Twubs instead of Tweetchat!

 

 

 

 

Interview with Susan Rebecca White author of A Place At The Table

Susan Rebecca White, author of A Place At The Table, stopped by to answer a few questions.

a place at the tableIf you have not read A Place At The Table– go immediately to the nearest bookstore and buy it. Borrow it from library or a friend! Just get your hands on this book. Trust me.

 

Interview with Susan Rebecca White:

Susan, what was the inspiration for A PLACE AT THE TABLE?

Though A Place at the Table is a work of fiction, and neither Bobby Banks nor Alice Stone are stand-ins for Scott Peacock and Edna Lewis, the seeds of inspiration did indeed come from the friendship between Scott and Edna, dubbed “the odd couple of southern cooking.” Miss Lewis has now gone on to her glory, but back in the day she and Scott were great friends, despite the many outward differences between them, most notably race and age. Raised in a community of freed slaves in Virginia, Miss Lewis was over fifty years older than Scott, a young white boy who hailed from a tiny town in Alabama. The two bonded over cooking. Eventually they wrote a cookbook together, The Gift of Southern Cooking, which is a fantastic record of the South’s long and esteemed culinary tradition and heritage, the roots of which come from Africa.

My mom gave me a copy of The Gift of Southern Cooking when it was first published, and I fell in love both with the recipes and the story of Scott and Edna’s friendship. That was long before I ever thought I might write a novel inspired by the two of them. Instead I cooked nearly every recipe in the book, especially when I was living in San Francisco, far from my native South. I would make Scott and Edna’s roast duck stuffed with red rice or something simpler, cheese straws or preacher’s cookies. Doing so allowed me to be back in the South, at least while eating.

This is a long way of saying that while I had my own story to tell in this novel, I wanted to pay homage to Scott and Edna’s atypical and beautiful friendship, to shed light on the unexpected connections between us, rather than the things that keep us divided and suspicious of one another.

 

The characters of Alice and Bobby were inspired by the real life friendship of chefs Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock. Was Amelia or Kate inspired by any real life people? Or are they created from your imagination?

On some levels every single character I write about contains some element of me within them. I guess stating that is to admit that I have many flaws, because my characters are all far from perfect! When I was writing the character of Amelia I was living in the carriage house of my good friends Peter and Bruce, and spending a lot of time with their family, including their daughters Teagan and Olivia. I got to participate in the daily routines of life with young kids: the afternoon bike rides, the early dinners, the bath time rituals before getting to choose a treat for dessert, the stories read and songs sung before bed. I loved the gentle rhythm of family life (though my friend Peter would laugh at my use of the word “gentle” to describe getting his girls to bed—they often fight hard against the day ending.) My time with Teagan and Olivia really influenced my understanding of the type of mother Amelia was to her two girls. I wrote lots and lots of detailed scenes showing Amelia raising her kids, but I ended up cutting a lot of those scenes because while they were important for me to understand, they weren’t important to show the reader in order to carry the story forward. But having written about Amelia as a mother helped me to better know her as a woman. I guess what I’m trying to say is that my personal experience with my friends’ kids helped me build the character of Amelia.

As for Editor Kate, well she’s sort of my ideal. I’ve known a few women like Kate in my life, women who are utterly competent and forthright. Women who make it a point of pride to always keep their word, to be someone their friends and family can rely on.  This type of woman doesn’t let society define who she is—or at least she resists definition. For example, Kate doesn’t mind being traditional (she has prepared many dinners for her husband) but she also has no qualms breaking all types of boundaries in terms of the work she does and the space she makes for herself in the world. Through Kate I wrote a model of a woman I would one day like to be.

 

Have we, as readers, heard the last from Bobby, Amelia and others in A PLACE AT THE TABLE? Or are you open to revisiting those characters in a future book, perhaps?

Oh wow, I haven’t ever thought about writing a sequel to this book but I appreciate the question because it makes me think you want to read more! I would certainly be interested in knowing what happens to both Amelia and Bobby over the next fifteen years. I have a feeling that Bobby will settle down with another partner at some point. Maybe he’ll even become a dad. As for Amelia, I think her life will be much calmer than it was when she was with Cam. She’ll live lower on the hog but she’ll be happier, more content. The problem is that happy and content lives aren’t always the most interesting to write about. So I wouldn’t hold your breath for a sequel, but I can promise you that there will be another novel from me. I’m working on it now!

 

 

*Special thanks to Susan Rebecca White for answering the questions and to Al for her help as well.

 

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 Susan Rebecca White is working on her next novel. For more information on Susan, please visit her website.

 

 

* Traveling With T’s review of A Place At The Table can be found here.

Thursday Mashup

#giveaways, reviews, another place to buy books, and interviews.  Plus news for Book Lovers Unite Online Book Club.

#giveaways:

My blog (Traveling With T) is giving away The Guest House by Erika Marks. Ends Thursday night 11:59PMEST.

Book-alicious Mama is giving away A Hundred Summers.

Great New Books is giving away Sarah Jio’s latest The Last Camellia and Sarah Jio talks about Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

Joshilyn Jackson is giving away Susan Rebecca White’s latest, A Place at the Table.

Bermudaonion is giving away an autographed copy of Mary Kay Andrews Ladies’ Night.

Anita Loves Books is giving away THE YONAHLOSEE RIDING CAMP FOR GIRLS by Anton DiScalafani.

Read Alongs

Can’t find anyone to read and discuss A Hundred Summer by Beatriz Williams with? Let Literate Housewife save you. During month of July she’s leading a discussion. Check her blog out (all the details you need to know are there!)

Have you been reading with Book Lovers Unite Online Book Club? Our inaugural pick, Reconstructing Amelia, has been a blast. It’s not too late to join in- we still have 2 weeks left & I have a super-duper surprise lined up! So grab those copies of Reconstructing Amelia and join in!

Jen, my co-host, at Book-alicious Mama has picked the July book for Book Lovers United- The Painted Girls! Reading schedule and other info to be announced later.

Other Places To Buy Books

Crossroads Press! – You can purchase e-books (for multiple devices) and paperback books have a discount automatically applied. Right now, there are several e-books for 99 cents. Consider giving them a look- you might find something you like at a good price.

Interviews

Interview with Marybeth Whalen

Interview with Beth Albright

Reviews

Island Girls by Nancy Thayer

The Widow Waltz by Sally Koslow