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

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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.)

 

 

Finding Colin Firth by Mia March

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Happiness is a Mia March book (sorry Colin Firth’s fan club who contend that “Happiness is Colin Firth”)

3 women. A movie being filmed in town. Summer. And Colin Firth. Sounds like a summer to remember (and it is!) but how much does the charming Colin Firth play a role in the memories of the summer?

Gemma has been fired from her reporter job. Gemma is upset- being a reporter is like breathing to her- it’s just who she is. To her husband, though, this is good news. He’s ready to leave New York City and start life in a suburb with all the trimmings that goes with that life. Gemma knows two things: She’s not ready to give up her reporter life and she has a secret that will make life in the suburbs happen faster than she would be able to wrap her head around.

Bea is a young 20-ish girl. Finished with college, but employed as a short order cook- she’s taking time to grieve the loss of her mother before she moves on to a next plan. Until, she gets a letter from her deceased mother that explains Bea was adopted. Bea is unsure what to think of this- but knows she needs to at least see her birth mother before making a choice about what to do next.

Veronica- a great pie baker and lover of Colin Firth movies. She’s returned to Boothbay Harbor after leaving 22 years earlier, right after she placed her daughter with a new family. Veronica worries about what the town thinks of her- but tries to focus on being happy and making pies. She doesn’t know that her daughter is coming to Boothbay Harbor to see her.

Each of these three characters find themselves in Boothbay Harbor with their stories interweaving.  The summer teaches them all important things- they grow up, they find happiness, they learn lessons,  and enjoy Colin Firth movies!

Traveling With T’s Thoughts:

Pure fun. Love this book. Mia March does an excellent job with creating characters that the reader can care about, want these characters to find happiness, to learn important lessons. Boothbay Harbor is the best setting- it’s idyllic, laid-back feel makes the reader wish to be able to see the place (even though Mia does a great job at setting a visual description!) The Colin Firth movies, the relationships between the women- went hand in hand for a great summer read.

 

*Thanks to Mia March and Gallery Publishing for providing me with a review copy. The above thoughts and opinions are mine alone.

 

**Interview with Mia March and Author Spotlight: Mia March.

Author Spotlight: Mia March

finding coling firrth1Mia March was here Monday for an interview and a giveaway of her latest book, Finding Colin Firth. Today she is back for an Author Spotlight!

Read on to find out about Mia March!

 

Author Spotlight: Mia March

Mia, who are some of your favorite authors?

A: My favorite author is Elizabeth Berg. I love the way she writes studies of women in her elegant, honest voice. Other favorites are: Claire Cook, Ann Hood, Sarah Addison Allen, Jo-Ann Mapson, Helen Fielding, Allison Winn Scotch, Pam Houston, Ann Patchett. . . I could go on and on!

When you are not writing, what do you like to take part in?

A: I’m either writing, reading or at the movies! This past week I saw Man of Steel, Monsters University (with my son) and World War Z. Next up: Before Midnight, Arthur Newman (starring our Colin; I somehow missed this in the theater), and The Heat.

Mia- do you have any #literaryconfessions? 

A: I still haven’t read The Great Gatsby. I’ve tried many times over the course of my life. I get to a certain point early on and I stop. All the attention from the movie has made me want to sit down with it again.

What is your favorite movie of 2013?

So far, Monsters University. J Not brilliant like the original, but super cute.

Speaking of Meryl Streep, with Lauren Wesiberger recently releasing Revenge Wears Prada, do you hope that Meryl might reprise her role as Miranda Priestly if Revenge Wears Prada is made into a movie?

A: Yes! I LOVED The Devil Wears Prada. I saw a hilarious interview with Meryl Streep when she was asked if she’d reprise her role, and she said: “Sure, but I’d have to lose the f-ing weight.” Love her!

Do you have a #literarycrush? 

A: My literary crush is and has always been Gilbert Blythe from Anne of Green Gables. Such a good egg.

Mia- what is your vision of a perfect day?

A: A morning walk along the trails with my son and our sweet beagle, followed by black bean and veggie burritos for lunch and a couple of hours with a good book, then a few hours of writing. Finally, a movie, preferably starring my heartthrob, Colin Firth. Perfection.

 

*Special thanks to Mia March for this author spotlight!

 

Mia March can be found at Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter and her website. Tweet or Facebook her and tell her your thoughts on Finding Colin Firth. If you do the Goodreads thing, add Finding Colin Firth to your Want to Read list- or review it!

 

Interview with Mia March, author of Finding Colin Firth

 

finding coling firrth1Mia March, author Finding Colin Firth, stopped by Traveling With T to discuss Finding Colin Firth, who she’d cast into a movie version, and if she is going on a book tour!

I’m also lucky enough to have a giveaway of this book- a SIGNED copy! Hold on to your hats, ladies!

Check back on Wednesday for Author Spotlight on Mia March- we’ll learn her #literarycrush and #literaryconfessions!

 

Interview with Mia March

Mia, thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed.

 

A: Thank you for having me!

 

What was the inspiration for Finding Colin Firth?

A: Well, I’d say it started back in 1995, when I sat down to watch the BBC TV miniseries of Pride and Prejudice. When Colin Firth, as Mr. Darcy, first appeared on the screen, I thought to myself: Who IS that? I swooned for the six hours of the miniseries and he’s been my favorite actor ever since. But the inspiration came from A) having just watched The King’s Speech and B) my wandering around of my favorite towns here in Maine, Boothbay Harbor, picture-postcard summer tourist town, and wondering what it would be like if Colin Firth came to film a movie there. Suddenly I had three main characters all with very different reasons to want to find Colin Firth.

Mia, out of all the actors you could have chosen to feature in this book- what made you pick Colin Firth?  (Not that I’m complaining or anything- he plays quite the adorable man in Love Actually!)

A: To be honest, I didn’t pick him; the book chose him. He’s my favorite actor and has been for such a long time. He has a unique hold on women, I think. Yeah, George Clooney is gorgeous, and Ryan Gosling is hot, but Colin Firth has something special; women, especially myself, respond to his perceived integrity, despite having never met him! And yeah, he’s so good looking!

How long did it take to write Finding Colin Firth?

A: I thought about the characters for a few months before I started writing, as I always do. Once I started writing, I had a first draft in about five months. The revision took another few months. I do a lot of writing in my head!

How involved were you in the choosing of the cover for The Meryl Streep Movie Club and Finding Colin Firth? I’m a huge fan of book covers- and I adore both of them. Interesting and eye-catching.

A: Oh, thank you! I was involved in that my editor asked for my ideas. For Meryl, we all liked the concept of Maine and readers being invited into a living room. I love that popcorn bowl! For Colin, my brilliant agent came up with the idea. A man’s suit as the cover—with the idea that it’s Colin Firth himself. The minute she suggested it, I knew it was the cover, and everyone said yes!

Do you have a writing space? Or a writing routine?

A: I write when my soon to be 11 yr old son is either at school or camp. My routine doesn’t vary too much, mostly because I love my desk: a six foot tall mahogany secretary. It’s narrow without much room other than for my laptop and my chamomile tea and the little things that inspire me, like photos of my son and dog and a stack of inspiring books. So I write at home generally during the hours when my son is away. I’m a morning person, so up at dawn to walk the pooch, where I work out plot problems and think of ideas. Then I write until my son wakes up. Once he’s off on his day, I sit down and write for hours.

The Meryl Streep Movie Club was picked as a She Reads Book of the Month choice.  How, in your opinion, was that experience for a first time author?

A: It was magical! It brought the book to the attention of so many readers, and it was wonderful to have so many book bloggers readers the novel and writing about it. The whole experience was amazing. It was quite an honor that She Reads chose my novel! I love that site.

The Meryl Streep Movie Club and Finding Colin Firth sound like perfect summer movies. If either was made into a movie- do you have a dream cast in mind?

A: I do—and it’s amazing how quickly these actors came to mind out of so many. For my three main characters: Bea—Anna Sophia Robb. For Veronica—Jessica Chastain or Cate Blanchett. For Gemma: Isla Fisher. And Colin Firth will play himself in a cameo!

How did you create the characters in Finding Colin Firth? Do you have a favorite character?

I’ll admit that my favorite character, the one who came alive for me in a really deep-down way, was Veronica, the 38 year old diner waitress who bakes special elixir pies and is grappling with her painful past. It was Bea, the 22 year old who came first though: I started thinking about what it would be like to discover as an adult that you were adopted at birth when you never knew. And the characters stemmed from that concept. Before all of that, I had a small Maine town and the idea of Colin Firth coming to film a movie and how that would affect people. And everything just tied together and I started writing.

Will you be going on a book signing tour with Finding Colin Firth?

A: I’m doing a virtual tour and a few local-ish readings, staying close to him. I recently adopted a shelter dog (the cutest little beagle mix) and want to make sure she feels settled before I take off for extended time).

Mia- what are you working on next? Can you reveal any hints about your next book?

A: I’ve just started thinking about my next novel . . . all I can say at this early point is that it involves food!

 

 

*Special thanks to Mia March for agreeing to be interviewed!

 

mia marchMia March, author of Finding Colin Firth, can be found on Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook and her website. Mia is not only a reader- she’s also a huge movie fan (and she does watch movies other than the ones Colin Firth has a role in- although she does like those quite a bit!)

 

*Giveaway: To win a copy of Finding Colin Firth, tell me you favorite Colin Firth movie! Please include your email (you may use the AT and DOT). Giveaway will begin July 22nd and end July 29th at 11:59pmEST. Winner will be announced July 30th. Giveaway is open to US only (sorry!)

 

Thursday Mashup

Mashup, Mashup, Mashup!

 

1. Leah’s Thoughts is giving away a copy of The Outcast by Jolina Petersheim. Jolina is adorable on Twitter- she’s so excited about her novel!

 

2. Amy Sue Nathan is featuring Mia March today on her website (wonder what those 2 smart and wonderful women are talking about?!) Come find out and read Mia’s post: Author Mia March Edits As She Writes, Loves Women’s Fiction, And Celebrates Her Kinship With Authors

 

3. Book-Alicious Mama is still in Week 1 of discussing The Painted Girls! Come, join my adorable Book Lovers Unite co-host, and let’s chat about The Painted Girls!

 

4. Deep South Magazine is chatting with Susan Rebecca White, author of A PLACE AT THE TABLE, Fri, July 19th 2-3pm EST. Use #southernlit to join in! Can’t wait? Here is my interview with Susan Rebecca White!

 

5.  For more #giveaway information- check out my Wednesday Mashup!

 

 

 

Literary Friday ya’ll…..

It’s Friday- and have I got some book-ish news!

 

1. Deep South Magazine and their #literaryfriday: #giveaway of Dream With Little Angels  by Michael Hiebert ( a Deep South Mag Summer Reading List selection!) Other things: an essay by Amy Franklin-Willis (her latest book The Lost Saints of Tennessee is Southern Lit Lovers on Goodreads July read!) and a Tom Honea interview!

 

2. Anton Disclafani tells her 5 Firsts and Lasts to Chick Lit Is Not Dead. You might know Anton for this little debut novel that everyone has been raving about called The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls!

 

3. Great Thoughts has been posting weekly updates to their summer reading list- here is Week 4 and Week 5.

 

4. Itching for Books is giving Finding Colin Firth Mia March!

 

5. My #fridayreads is Time Flies by Claire Cook, The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan, and Book of Secrets by Elizabeth Joy Arnold.

 

6. For other #giveaways, check out Traveling With T’s Thursday Mashup

 

7. Check out Traveling With T next week- #giveaway of Three Good Things by Wendy Francis, interviews and more!