What will I be doing for Halloween? Well, since I have no little ghosts or goblins to dress up and take Trick or Treating- I’ll probably be staying at home and reading- while holding the bucket of candy close to me- just in case, I have some visitors. For my Halloween reading, these are 6 books that might just make my night fun! Continue reading
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thriller. Terrifying at times. Suzanne’s look into the dark side of a marriage is worth a read. Here is my review.
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.
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.
Haunting and beautifully written. A Southern Lit tale that will stay with you far after the last page is turned. Here is my review.
Books that def require a mention!
Enjoyable- very enjoyable! Here is my review.
Entertaining and enjoyable. A tale of friendship- the highs and lows. Here is my review.
Smart. Funny. Nichelle is high-heel loving, Moscato-drinking, and funny as all get out reporter. Enjoyable read! Here is my review.
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.
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!
The holidays are fast approaching. I’ve got visions of a white Christmas dancing in my head (even though that is not likely), craving cups of hot chocolate topped with whipped cream and marshmallows while listening to Christmas music and decorating the tree.
Before the stockings are hung by the tree with care, before the cookies are left out for Santa, before the joyous rush of family members hanging out at the house, before I celebrate another successful holiday by enjoying a glass or 2 of wine- presents will have to be purchased. And this is where my list of book-ish delights comes in handy. Have a reader in your life? Perhaps you’ll find a book that you will like to buy!
Mystery and Suspense
The Wrong Girl by Hank Phillipi Ryan
My first Hank Phillipi Ryan book- and I’m so glad I read it! As a fan of Sue Grafton (and seriously Sue- nothing but love for you- but I NEED you to write faster- yet I dread as we come closer to the end of the alphabet.) That little side topic is my way of saying that Hank helped me in quest for a Sue fix. Jane Ryland won’t knock Kinsey Millhone out of my heart for the #1 spot- but Jane is almost as good. And that’s saying a lot. The Wrong Girl was twisty and turny- with a great mystery and some potential steamy romance. Here is my review of The Wrong Girl by Hank Phillippi Ryan- an excellent consideration for someone looking for mystery and suspense!
Never Tell by Alafair Burke
This was my first Alafair Burke- and after reading it- I’m all “Alafair-where have you been all my reading life?” Each time I thought I had the story figured out- Alafair zigged. Then she zagged. Then she twisted and turned. And kept me captivated. Highly recommend Never Tell by Alafair Burke! Here is my review of Never Tell.
W is for Wasted by Sue Grafton
As witnessed above, I LOVE Sue Grafton. I LOVE Kinsey (Sue’s Character). If you have enjoyed A-V- then W is another great book. Seriously. Just go get it. W is for Wasted is worth it.
If You Were Here by Alafair Burke
Another Alafair Burke book- and again- twist, turns, zig and zags! While I prefer Alafair’s Ellie Hatcher a bit more to McKenna- that’s just a personal preference. Both mysteries are top-notch and great reads! Put If You Were Here on your wish list! Here is my review of If You Were Here- intriguing and enjoyable.
Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
Oh. My. Gosh. I LOVED this book. Edge of my seat. Great storyline. How well do you know your child? Read this and prepare to wonder. This book will lead to a wonderful discussion amongst friends and book clubs. Reconstructing Amelia may very well be this year’s Gone Girl. Here is my review of Reconstructing Amelia.
I adore Cozy Mysteries. They are quick, fun and easy reads. They make me feel warm and fuzzy. The characters are fun and interesting. The settings are enjoyable- and the mystery is good.
Murder of a Stacked Librarian by Denise Swanson
Denise Swanson’s latest has Skye getting married- if the groom can get away from the police station long enough to exchange vows! If you’ve read Denise’s other books- you’ll enjoy this one. If not, start with Murder of a Small Town Honey. While each story stands on it’s own- there are some things that build along the series of the books- and to fully enjoy, you might want to be invested in the characters. Murder of a Small Town Librarian is a must have for cozy mystery fans! Here is my review of Murder of a Small Town Librarian.
Topped Chef (Key West Food Critic Mystery #3) by Lucy Burdette
I have fallen in love with Lucy Burdette’s main character, Hayley Snow. Cute, fun, gets her tarot cards read- how adorable she is! She’s a foodie- but not pretentious. Hayley is struggling a bit in the romance department (but aren’t we all?!) Topped Chef is a book to put on your list! Here is my review of Topped Chef.
The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow by Rita Leganski
Magical- realism. If you were like me- and those words kind of make you feel nervous about a book- put aside your worries. The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow is wonderful. The story, the setting- the amazing Bonaventure Arrow. Forgiveness and love are major themes of this story. Read. You won’t be sorry. The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow is a book that some readers might overlook- don’t do that! Here is my review of The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow.
The Guest House by Erika Marks
A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams
Love. Intrigue. Friendships. Family secrets. And a Aunt Julie that provides a humorous aspect to the story. This story is fantastic. A Hundred Summers is a book to read- no matter the time of the year. Here is my review of A Hundred Summers.
I’ll be posting a few more recommendations next week as well! Hopefully, you, my darling readers of Traveling With T, will find a book to buy for your book-ish friends and loved ones!
Kimberly McCreight’s Reconstructing Amelia was June’s inaugural pick for Book Lovers Unite- and boy, was it a great pick. A compelling read, a good storyline, and a book that lead to a great discussion- Reconstructing Amelia had something for everyone.
Kate is a lawyer at a firm in New York City. In the middle of a meeting about a case that could make her career- Grace Hall, Amelia’s school, calls Kate to tell her Amelia has been suspended immediately for cheating. Kate knows her daughter prides herself on academic achievements- so this news is surreal. As Kate heads to Grace Hall to get her daughter and find out what happened, Kate notices a crowd and a police presence at Grace Hall. Kate works through the crowd and then faces the most horrifying news a parent should have to face- Amelia is dead.
Grace Hall states that Amelia jumped to her death due to being caught cheating- but Kate can’t quite believe that. Then she gets a text that changes everything: She didn’t jump.
That text sends Kate on a mission to find out exactly what happened to her beautiful daughter and why Grace Hall is closing ranks. Kate learns all about Amelia’ social media life- and begins to realize that there were parts to Amelia’s life she had not clue about. Kate gets stonewalled in her many of her attempts, but a mother’s love is strong. And this mother is determined to find out what happened to Amelia.
What Kate finds out is shocking………..
Traveling With T’s Thoughts:
Compelling. Enjoyable. Dark and mysterious. Suspenseful. Reconstructing Amelia is highly discussable and should be read by parents everywhere. Perfect for book clubs. With themes of the TV show, Gossip Girl and the movie, The Skulls- this book has something for everyone- especially folks who like to read great stories.
Thanks to everyone who joined in with Book Lovers Unite! Each and every one of you helped make our online book club a success!
Today, for the last post, we have 2 different things to discuss- 1. Final thoughts on Reconstructing Amelia and 2. Thoughts for future Book Lovers Unite- what worked, what didn’t work, things of that nature.
Reconstructing Amelia Thoughts:
1. At the end of the book- how did you feel?
2. Did your opinion change about the book?
3. Would you recommend Reconstructing Amelia to others?
Book Lovers Unite Online Book Club
1. Did the weekly discussions work?
2. Did you feel rushed reading?
3. Did you feel you had too much downtime reading this?
4. Did you like getting to ask Kim questions? (NOTE: I can’t promise this kind of thing every time- however, I will try to have some author interaction with each book.)
5. Any general suggestions?
Again, thanks for joining in! Please remember that July’s Book Lovers Unite Online Book Club will be at Jen’s blog (Book-alicious Mama) and The Painted Girls will be the July pick. Judging from Jen’s posts- looks like July is going to be fun!
Have a wonderful weekend- and enjoy the upcoming 4th of July with friends and loved ones!
Traveling With T
Yesterday, I posted my interview with Kimberly McCreight. Today, it’s Author Spotlight time- we’ll find out some of Kim’s favorite things to do when she’s not writing, books she is looking forward to reading in 2013 and her #literaryconfessions.
Author Spotlight: Kimberly McCreight
Kimberly, when you are not writing- what do you like to do with your time?
I just completed my first triathlon a couple years ago. I have fantasies of doing a half Iron Man soon, a big challenge because I am a hopeless—read doggy-paddle—swimmer. I’m a huge baker too. Whenever I have time, I love making cookies and cakes. I also love modern art and theatre. Oh, and there is so much great TV right now. I love Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead.
Do you have any #literaryconfessions?
I fell asleep during the last two Shakespeare productions I saw. In my defense, I was very excited to see both, but was sorely sleep deprived because of work deadlines. Legitimate excuses notwithstanding, I‘m not sure that my beloved father-in-law—a huge Shakespeare buff—will ever look at me the same way again.
What are some of the books you are looking forward to reading in 2013?
The Execution of Noa P. Singleton by Elizabeth Silver, The Never List by Koethi Zan and Tampa by Alissa Nutting
*Thanks to Kimberly McCreight for answering these questions.
Other Reconstructing Amelia or Kimberly McCreight info you might be interested to read:
With this being Book Lovers Unite Online Book Club’s inaugural pick, I was beyond excited at the response we received from people in the group. But, even more, when the author agreed to an interview.
Kimberly McCreight Interview
Kimberly, Reconstructing Amelia has parts that remind me of Gossip Girl and a movie called The Skulls. Did either the TV show or the movie I mentioned have any influence in your writing process of Reconstructing Amelia?
No, neither did. I’ve never seen The Skulls and, though I did watch the first episode of Gossip Girl, I didn’t watch long enough to even realize that the voice over was a gossip blog. I found that out long after, when I was finished Reconstructing Amelia and an early reader mentioned it. But I would like to go back and watch Gossip Girl now. The fact that I didn’t keep watching wasn’t a reflection on the quality of the show, only that I had a colicky infant at the time.
How long did Reconstructing Amelia take to write?
It was about two years from the time I started it until the book was sold.
Are any of the characters in Reconstructing Amelia based on people you know in real life? Or are they created from your imagination?
None of the characters are based on people I know, though Adele, physically, is based on a very beautiful friend of mine. I pictured her when I was writing. But again, just the physical aspect. Unlike Adele, my friend is a very lovely person!
Social media plays a large role in Reconstructing Amelia. What do you think of social media? Do you have advice for parents who have teenagers about social media?
Social media is a wonderful way to connect if used properly and with good intent. But it’s a pretty frightening tool in the wrong hands. Particularly for teenagers who are still developing their decision making capabilities.
I consider myself a very liberal person and a forward thinking parent. I believe in allowing my children to be themselves. I believe in early sex talks and truthful answers to genuine questions. And I definitely believe that each family has to make their own decisions about what their values are with respect to social media. These are not one-size-fits-all solutions.
Personally, though, I will monitor my kids’ online activity heavily, but not secretly. In other words, I think it’s wrong to snoop, to give the illusion of privacy and violate it. But I don’t think teenagers have an inalienable right to online privacy. I have no doubt that there are experts that may disagree with me, and I certainly am not an expert. But I object to the message in our culture these days that there’s something wrong with us as parents—or wrong with our relationship with our kids—if we don’t trust them enough to set them loose online. I disagree. I do trust my kids. Totally. They are good kids with big hearts and great values. I just don’t trust the world.
And, I know, it’s easy for me to say I’ll watch them like a hawk. My kids are still little. They’re not yelling that they hate me because I don’t give them privacy. That’s why I’m writing it down here. To remind myself when the going gets tough.
What are you working on next, Kimberly? Can you give us any hints?
It’s another dark mystery from multiple points of view with a deep emotional center. And one of the characters from Reconstructing Amelia makes an appearance!
When people finish Reconstructing Amelia, what do you hope they take away from the reading experience?
First and foremost, I hope they find it an entertaining mystery. I also hope they ask themselves about the secrets that might be impacting their own lives, whether it’s the ones they are keeping or what their children are keeping from them. I also hope that its gets us all talking about the role of electronic media.
*Special Thanks to Kimberly McCreight for agreeing to the interview.
Kimberly McCreight, author of Reconstructing Amelia, is working on her next book. To find out more about Kim, visit her website and follow Kim on Twitter. If you loved reading Reconstructing Amelia, you’ll be happy to know that HBO has optioned the film rights- and Nicole Kidman is to play the role of Kate!
NOTE: There is the potential of spoilers.
Thank you, Kim, for taking time today to answer questions!
Questions for Kimberly McCreight:
1. Did you know from the very beginning who would hurt Amelia?
2. What is your all-time favorite book?
3. What kinds of books do you like to read?
4. Did you attend a prep school like Amelia’s or participate in any sororities?
5, Where did you get the idea for this story?
6. Is any of this story based on personal experience?
7. Did you have a target audience in mind when writing the book?
8. What are you currently reading?
9. If RA was turned into a movie who would you cast?
10. The ups and downs of family relationships is at the heart of RA. Was it easy or difficult to write about this?
11. Where do you write? Do you have any rituals?
12. What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
13. What is your advice for parents on how to deal with parenting in the digital age?
14. Any truth to what happens in RA? Was there an inspiration?
15. What is the best book you’ve recently read?
16. The cover of Reconstructing Amelia– is there significance to not really being able to see the girl’s face? Is she covering herself? Or possibly revealing herself bit by bit?
17. The school and police was quick to write off Amelia’s death as a suicide. Possibly did some of that quick conclusion come from a motive of wanting a quick answer so Kate would never get involved in the school and learn things?
18. Amelia’s downfall- what ultimately lead to that? Loving Dylan? Or being a good friend? Or does Kate not being truthful about Amelia’s father lead to her downfall?
19. Why did the principal target Amelia for the truth about the Magpies? Was it because of Amelia’s good girl reputation? Or because, unlike other parent’s, Kate was not involved in the school- therefore Kate would not be in his business like other parents?
20. The author of graceFULLY- how did you decide who that should be?
Thank you again, Kimberly McCreight! Answering our questions about Reconstructing Amelia is 100% appreciated! I think I can speak for everyone when I say how great Reconstructing Amelia was- and that we are anxiously awaiting another book!
Attention: Book Lovers Unite Online Book Club- it’s time to announce the surprise: Kimberly McCreight author of Reconstructing Amelia has agreed to answer questions for us! (I’ll pause for applause for a minute!)
Wed June 26th, there will be a blog post here on Traveling With T. It will be titled Kimberly McCreight Answers. Kim has graciously offered 2 hours of her time to answer questions that I’ll have posted in that blog post.
Because of her schedule- and because she graciously offered to help- all questions for her will be posted ahead of time. This will not be a chat. However, do stop by sometime that day (the 26th) and offer thanks (if you don’t mind).
Kim will be answering the questions from 2-4pm EST on the 26th- I’ll be here keeping an eye on the page- and I hope you stop in and tell her how much you enjoyed the book!
On this post, write the questions you wish to ask Kimberly McCreight. As this is public, let’s try to not be just too #spoilery if possible- but do ask questions you want to know.
You have from now till June 25- around 5pm EST to post your questions. I need time to get the questions posted myself.
In trying to not spoil the book for others, there will be a Spoiler Possible note attached to Wed’s blog post.
If you have any questions about how to do this- please direct a comment at me.
I hope ya’ll enjoy and I hope to see you around on the 26th 🙂
I Have 1 more little surprise that will be revealed today- so get ready for that!
June 28th- next Friday will be the last posting about Reconstructing Amelia in the Book Lovers Unite Online Book Club. Overall thoughts and feelings of the books will be discussed that week- I urge you to stop by and let me know how you felt about Reconstructing Amelia.
For today’s questions (Section 4 the last section of reading):
1. #nospoilers: Did anything that was revealed in the last section surprise you?
2. Amelia is accused of cheating at the first of the book. Knowing things we know- should the teacher have suspected anything? Did she suspect anything?
3. There’s a lot of guilt and blame to go around. Many people were acting with their own selfish intentions- instead of Amelia’s best intentions in mind. Is there anyone who does not need to take some blame? Amelia perhaps? Or does she even need to take blame for her part in this role- even though she def played the ultimate price?
4. What, ultimately lead to Amelia’s downfall? Loving Dylan or trying to be a good friend? #nospoilers, please.
5. What, if anything, should happen to Grace Hall? Note: I’ve always held the thought they were liable for at least some of this- But, should Kate sue them? Or should Kate concentrate on moving on & finding some peace?
6. Zadie/Dylan- we’ve talked for some time about their weird relationship. Now, when the book is closed, and you’ve had some time to think: Who actually is the worst person: Zadie because she’s upfront with her b*tchy attitude and hateful ways or Dylan, because she acts 1 way and is another (or perhaps because she really does not who she is- she only knows how to act when told how to act?)