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

the affair

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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Interview with Colette Freedman, author of The Affair

the affairColette Freedman, on Monday, revealed her #literarycrush and more. Today, she talks about The Affair, her next book and more!

 

Interview with Colette Freedman

Colette- what was the inspiration for The Affair?

I like telling stories about extraordinary events happening to ordinary people and affairs are extraordinary events happening to ordinary people.   There are extraordinary consequences to the participants of an affair when it is discovered; yet, the actual events of an affair are completely ordinary.  We all know people who have been involved in affairs or have survived an affair.  And an affair is about people – and people fascinate me.

How long did The Affair  take to write?

I did a lot of research first, but the actual writing took about one year.

Are any of the characters in The Affair based on people you know in real life? Or are they created from your imagination?

I think ever writer creates characters based off people they know, but in this book, I was very careful not to include anyone I knew.  Everyone in The Affair comes from my imagination.  However, I should add that my mother is fairly convinced that she is personified in many of my characters.  She is only half right!

If The Affair  was made into a movie- do you have a dream cast?

My dream cast changes weekly. I just saw the play version of the novel done in Italy and it made me rethink my casting options … although it’s pretty hard to go wrong with Colin Firth as Robert.

Colette, The Affair is a type of book that could be, in the wrong hands, boring. I’ll freely admit that at first I was worried about reading a he said/she said book. However, with the way you wrote about the wife, husband and the mistress- it made the topic understandable, interesting.  How hard was it to get the voice right for the characters in The Affair?

I think it’s important to tell stories from different character’s perspectives. Agreed, there are a lot of he said/she said stories. But the rarer story is the he said/she said/she said. I’ve met a lot of people involved in affairs and have listened to their differing perspectives of the same events. No one sees the same events in the same way.  We are all unreliable witnesses.  Once I had Kathy, the wife’s voice clear in my head, then Robert’s voice was fairly straightforward.  Stephanie, the mistress, was the most challenging because, in many ways she is Kathy.  The statistics show that men often have affairs with women who look like their wives (or their mothers!)

 

After writing The Affair and hearing people’s reactions to the book- is there anything you wished you had changed?

No, this is one of the few books I am really happy with and it came out more or less as I imagined it.  There are bits of rough writing I’d like to polish, but that’s true of every book.  As a writer, you always wish you had changed things as most of writing is rewriting; yet, I also know when it’s time to move on to the next project. Sometimes knowing when to put down the pen is as important as knowing when to pick it up.

What are you working on next, Colette? Can you give us any hints?

The sequel to The Affair called The Consequences. It takes place ten minutes after The Affair has ended. I’m also working on a novelization of my play Sister Cities.

 

 

*Special thanks to Colette Freedman for answering questions!

 

 

colette freedmanColette Freedman, author of The Affair, is a fan of book clubs, Colin Firth and people fascinate her! For more information on Colette, visit her website or Twitter page.

 

To read Traveling With T’s review of The Affair, visit HERE.

 

Author Spotlight: Colette Freedman

the affairColette Freedman, author of The Affair, stopped by Traveling With T to talk about her #literarycrush, #literaryconfessions, favorite books and more.

Author Spotlight: Colette Freedman

Colette, when you are not writing- what do you like to do with your time?

I love to cycle and am currently training for a triathlon, though I’m a bit nervous about the swimming part. I also love to read, travel and I am trying to learn to cook because my only current culinary skill is making Grilled Cheese Sandwiches.

Could you tell us who some of your favorite authors are?

Stephen Fry, Ann Patchett, Nick Hornby, Kazuo Ishiguro, Jackie Collins & Michael Scott.

Do you have any #literaryconfessions? 

Try as I might, I still can’t get past “Call me Ishmael.” (Sorry Herman Melville)

Do you have a #literarycrush? 

My literary crush is Atticus Finch. He is noble, honest, a good father and someone who stood up for what he believed no matter what the cost. And it didn’t hurt that the incredibly sexy Gregory Peck played him in the film.

What are some of the books you are looking forward to reading in 2013?

Lionel Shriver’s Big Brother and Stephen King’s Dr. Sleep…I loved The Shining and can’t wait for the sequel.

If you could be best friends with a character in a book- who would you pick? And why?

Tina Fey in BossyPants. Who DOESN’T want to be best friends with Tina Fey?!!! She is funny, smart, self deprecating, entertaining and loyal. Perfect qualities of a best friend.

What is your favorite “guilty pleasure” song?

It’s a toss up between Jefferson Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” and Adele’s “Someone Like You.”

*Special thanks to Colette Freedman for the author spotlight.

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Colette Freedman, author of The Affair, is hard at work on her second book (for a teaser about the title, come back on Wednesday to read Colette’s interview!) Need to know more about Colette? Check out her website or Twitter. Want to see how funny Colette can be? Read her post Colin Firth, Brad Pitt, and why I Love Book Clubs– it’s adorable and so funny!

To read Traveling With T’s review of The Affair, click HERE.

Thursday Mashup

It’s a lot of reading lists popping up, some e-books on sale, and some reviews…. It’s Mashup style!

 

Summer Reading Lists

3, count them 3, reading lists have popped up the last few days- and have mercy- they all have some great sounding books (and none of them are mentioning the same books! So no belly-aching saying “I don’t know what to read this summer” because book lovers- you are in for some treats!

Great Thoughts has posted their reading list with 20 books- The Best Books to Read on Memorial Day Weekend– and it’s got some great ones!

I’ve read and reviewed 2 that made the list: The Affair and The Other Typist.

And Reconstructing Amelia, the book we are reading at Traveling With T for the inaugural Book Lovers Unite Online Book Club also made Great Thoughts list! So pick the book up, join in on the fun at Traveling With T and let’s read! HERE is the reading schedule for Reconstructing Amelia!

Jen Lancaster has posted her (Early) Summer Reading List– and Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler made that list!

Deep South Magazine has posted a teaser of their Summer Reading List (the rest will be revealed in June). Of the 5 books, I own 3 and have read 2- so I must have good taste, right? 😉

My review of Topped Chef has been posted, I’ve read; but currently working on my review for Looking for Me (get the Kleenex folks!) and I have The Cherry Cola Book Club– but have not read (YET). I did meet Ashton Lee and HERE is my post about that memorable experience!

 

E-books on Sale:

Meg Waite Clayton’s The Wednesday Sisters is currently on sale for .99! 99 cents! That’s cheap! If you haven’t bought it, get it! If you have it in paperback, but have a Kindle or Nook- buy it for that just in case you get the hankering to read it again and you are on vacation or something. Got a book club? Consider being generous and buying everyone a copy so they can see what the fuss is about.  Got a family member graduating? Give them the gift of reading by getting them this e-book (bonus points for generous spirit if you buy them the e-reader device as well.)

 

Assignment today: Go check out the reading lists, grab that 99 cent e-book and report back what book you are excited to see make a reading list!

 

 

Wednesday Mashup…

Got A LOT to catch up on! Read on for articles you need to be reading, giveaways you should be entering, and more!

Articles You Should Be Reading:

1.Dana Bate, author of The Girls’ Guide to Love and Supper Clubs, has this to say about writing: Find Your Voice. It’s an article that asipring writers should read!

2. Randy Susan Meyers poses the question: Are Writers Badgering Readers?  It’s an interesting question, because in the land of social media- a person can promote their book till the cows come home- and it costs little to nothing. And does that help or hurt the writer? While Randy’s article takes a lot of other things in consideration- my thoughts on the social media aspect is this: I LIKE to see the author interact with fans, bloggers, and more on social media. It makes for a pleasant experience. I know that the bottom line of being an author is selling books. I get it. I don’t dislike you for wanting to make a living. In fact, as I’ve said before- authors are some of my favorite types of people.  There are some things I don’t like about social media for authors- but for the most part, it’s a good fit.  But remember- social media is not your personal platform for selling- if you think that, you’ve missed out on the “social” part of social media. And just like your mama taught you- if you see someone that has bought a book, or is talking positive about the book- a simple “thank you” goes a long way.

3. Wendy Francis writes about A Letter to the Author You’re About to Become– advice and more for people in the process of becoming an author.

4. The Affair by Colette Freedman was April’s #gr8books online book club discussion. And Colette was fun- letting the online book club know some future work she has planned, and talking extensively of the plot of The Affair. After the Twiiter chat, she wrote this blog post about it. Colin Firth, Brad Pitt and why I love book clubs is funny and a great summary of the amazing people who participate in the #gr8book chat.  As I read the article, I was touched to see that 2 of my comments that I made in the post was listed in the “Some of my favorite tweets from the discussion” section- I’ll let you guess which 2 sound like me 🙂

Giveaways:

1. Great New Books is giving away Priscille Sibley’s book, The Promise of Stardust.

2. Lilmommareader’s blog, Read Baby Read is giving away The Good Woman by Jane Porter.

3. Bookmagnet is giving away The Paradise Guest House by Ellen Sussman.

She Reads:

As you know, I’m a She Reads blogger, Twitter chat hoster, and online book club leader- so I like to make sure other readers are aware of what’s going on at She Reads. April’s book club pick is AND THEN I FOUND YOU by Patti Callahan Henry- it’s fiction; but based on the real life experience of her sister. Beautifully written, heart-tugging and so much more- it’s a book that begs to be read.

I’ll be hosting the Twitter chat with Patti Callahan Henry on April 29th from 2-3pmEST. Use #srchat to join in. There will be a giveaway- and you’ll need to be particpating in the chat to be considered for the giveaway. Hope to see you there!

But, wait, there’s more! Can’t make it to the Twitter chat? No problem! April 29th- May 6th will be the online book club discussion at shereads.org/forum. Come, talk, tell me what you loved about the book. Or what you didn’t like. The discussion will last all week- and I love to hear from readers!

1. Dear Reader: A Note from Patti Callahan Henry

2. Featured Recipe for AND THEN I FOUND YOU

3. Release Day and launch party for AND THEN I FOUND YOU

Looking for Spring Thrillers? She Reads has a list! Spring Thriller Round-up

 

 

 

Literary Friday ya’ll…

Friday. Pretty spring day. I’ve been enjoying my morning coffee while watching these 2 small brown birds make a nest near the breakfast nook area.  It’s a good day.

1. Deep South Mag and their #literaryfriday: A honor for Square Books, news about The Great Gatsby movie, and much more.

2. #giveaways: Luxury Reading is giving away a copy of Wendy Wax’s latest While We Were Downtown Abbey and She Reads is giving away a copy of The Promise of Stardust by Priscille Sibley.

3. Other She Reads news:

1. Books and Wine: A Pairing for The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow.

2. She Reads April Book Club Selection: And Then I Found You by Patti Callahan Henry

3. Book Review: Tapestry of Fortunes by Elizabeth Berg

4. A Room of Her Own: The Writing Space of Patti Callahan Henry

4. What is your #fridayreads? Mine is Going, Going, Ganache by Jenn McKinlay.

5. Books that I have read lately and really enjoyed:

1. The Affair by Colette Freedman

2. And Then I Found You by Patti Callahan Henry

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

4. Nickled and Dimed to Death: A Devereaux’s Dime Store Mystery by Denise Swanson

5. The Mermaid of Brooklyn by Amy Shearn

6. Life After Life by Jill McCorkle

6. Have you made your bucket list? What about your book-ish bucket list? Here’s mine: Traveling With T’s Book-ish Bucket List

 

Happy Reading 🙂

 

The Affair by Colette Freedman

This book will be April’s #gr8books book club discussion! Use #gr8books to join in on April 9th, 8-9pm CST.

Colette Freedman takes a subject (in this case, an affair) and instead of making it a very black and white, right and wrong, he said/she said book- she turns it into a book that that has lots of grey. Lots of things to debate. Makes each charatcer human, even relatable. This book could have been so boring- but with the ways she wrote the characters, situations and ending- boring would not even be in the top 50 words I’d use to describe. Find a group to read this book with and let the discussion fly!

Kathy and Robert Walker- married for 18 years, 2 teenage children. They have a nice house and things appear to be ok with them. The marriage is not as exciting as it once was, Kathy’s busy running a house and shuffling 2 teenage children to countless events, activities and just doing the day to day life of a wife and mother. Robert’s not around as much- he misses out on activities and family time because he’s always working- or is he? Kathy finds a name in Robert’s phone while looking for an address- and the name gives her chills- since it’s the same name of the woman she accused him of having an affair with years ago- an accusation that nearly destroyed their marriage.

It’s Kathy’s worst nightmare all over again- she’s afraid to know, but wants to know. And knows that she must have concrete proof this time if she does accuse Robert.  Taking place a few days before Christmas, the story is told from multiple viewpoints- and with each telling of the story- the reader begins to understand what each person is feeling. Is there a clear cut “bad” person? Yes and no, in my opinion. And that is what is so delicious about this book- the reader can identify with the characters.

Many times, the mistress is thought of as the “bad” person- the one who poached a person who was supposed to be untouchable. One of the themes of this book is the thought process of “a person can’t take something that did not want to be taken”- and for this book, it casts a lot of “grey” around the mistress. Is she a husband stealer or a woman who fell in love with a man who she thought was available? Should the wife take any blame for the affair? Is the husband really the one at fault?

Colette Freedman takes these type of questions and creates a book that will make a reader evaluate their thoughts on love, committment, and cheating.  Prepare to discuss with a group of friends- this book could lead to many interesting conversations.