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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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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Why I love The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman

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Photo Credit: Goodreads

It’s no secret that I adore The Life List. I had such a good feeling about this book from the beginning- and then the first few pages sucked me in. I cried. I laughed. I loved.  I loved so much that I picked this as October Book Lovers Unite selection. I love so much that I tell anyone to read this book.

Why do I love this book so much? That’s complicated. And yet, kind of simple.

 

While I may not have had an actual, honest to goodness written life list like Brett, I had dreams. Some were simple. Some were silly. Some were dreams that I just assumed would happen as they were more like rite of passages. Some were dreams that upon later in life I’m glad they did not work out!

 

Dreams and plans are good. In fact, necessary. Without a dream, life is not worth living. For me, over the years some dreams have panned out- I’m college-educated, I’ve had some great opportunities. I’ve had some experiences in life that made me feel so alive, so sparkly and wonderful. I’ve also made mistakes. I’ve been too scared at times to take chances. I’ve regretted things.

With Brett, I felt such a kinship. Similar age range, similar education backgrounds- living a good life- just not the life that we’d planned, dreamed about.  Is my life terrible? No, in fact it’s pretty wonderful. However, I do wonder about the unknown.

When I was 14, I dreamed of going to Harvard. This was before I understood things of how much college would cost or the fact that while I was an A+ student at my school- transcript was not going to be quite as impressive as other students who went to more prestigious high schools. I dreamed it because I wanted it. And because, for a long time, no one ever told me I couldn’t.

 

One day, I hope to find that little girl who dreamed of going to Harvard- who felt brave enough to say she had a dream- even if it seemed impossible. Thanks to Brett and her creator Lori Nelson Spielman, I might be a step closer to finding that girl.

 

 

 

Book Lovers Unite Week 2 Discussion Questions: The Life List

 

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This is Week 2 questions for The Life List! Why am I posting these on Tuesday instead of a Friday? Yours truly forgot to post them last Friday in her rush to pack for vacation over the weekend- so I’m truly sorry!

In light of this, Week 3 Questions will be posted Friday Oct 25th and Final/Overall Thoughts of Book will be posted Thurs Oct 31st.

Week 1 questions are here for you ease of finding them!

 

Week 2 Questions:

1. Andrew decides to help Brett with her Life List. Why? Is this his way of showing Brett that he is the man for her- her rock?

 

2. Brett and Carrie- at this point in the book, can you understand why they drifted apart? Should Carrie hold a grudge? What would you do if you were Carrie?

 

3. Brett thinks she is pregnant. And this thought fills her with joy. How is Brett’s reaction different from an average single woman’s reaction at this possibility?

 

4. Brett’s father- can they begin a relationship? Has too much time passed? Does too much time ever pass for parent/child relationships?

Literary Friday ya’ll….

It’s Friday- what’s your weekend plans?

 

1. Deep South Mag and their #literaryfriday: Fannie Flagg, Vampire Books, Lee Smith, book festival news and so much more!

 

2. #giveaways this week include:

Always With a Book is giving away the latest Laura Childs book, Gilt Trip!

Book-Alicious Mama is giving away Grounded by Angela Correll!

Traveling With T is giving away Strangled by Silk by Barbara Jean Coast!

 

3.  Traveling With T was visited this week by Angela Correll- her debut novel, Grounded, was released this week! Read the Interview or Author Spotlight about Angela for more information!

 

4. Reviews posted this week on Traveling With T: Grounded by Angela Correll, Wedding Belles by Beth Albright,                The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty & Rose Harbor in Bloom by Debbie Macomber.

 

5. Book Lovers Unite is reading The Life List for October! Here is Week 1 questions!

 

6. Another AWESOME blogger: Helen at My Novel Opinion!

 

7. Yesterday, I posted a blog post that I had written- A Million and 1 ways to be a Blogger. In it, I consider things that bloggers think about- but mainly, the question is “Am I Blogging Right?” Is there a right or wrong way to blog? I don’t know- but I’m loving hearing what others are thinking!

 

8. Bloggers Recommend just posted their October newsletter: 26 Must Reads for October 2013. Check it out and find you a read!

 

9. My #fridayreads The Last Winter of Dani Lancing by P.D. Viner. At first it was hard to get into- but I hit a groove the other night. Let’s hope that continues!

 

10. October 10th come chat with Literary New England and myself- it’s a combo chat between Literary New England and She Reads- we’ll be discussing The Movement of Stars by Amy Brill. There will be giveaways! 8pmEST #LNEChat

Book Lovers Unite Week 1 Discussion Questions: The Life List

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It’s time! It’s here! All October long we will be discussing The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman- a fantastic debut novel that is heartwarming and made of wonderful!

This is Week 1 of the discussion- here is the Reading Schedule! Need to know more about Lori Nelson Spielman? Read the  interview and author spotlight that was featured on Traveling With T over the summer!

Questions for Week 1:

1. Did you ever make a “life list” for yourself? If so (and if you feel like sharing) what were some of the things on the list?

2. When The Life List begins, we know that Brett has lost her mother. Brett is filled with grief and sadness- but does have to smile a bit that her mother has taken some steps to make this day easier (the champagne and the journal for later). Would you read the journal today or wait?

3. “Who’s going to boost my confidence now that my mom’s gone?”- Brett, pg 7. Is this a normal mother-daughter relationship? Or an extra-special relationship?

4. Is it cruel or loving what Elizabeth has in mind for Brett to receive her inheritance?

5. Brett’s friends try to think of ways that Brett can technically complete the list- is this what Elizabeth was thinking when she stipulated the list in her will?

6. Why is Brett so hesitant to contact Carrie?

7. Elizabeth asks “Where did she go, that fearless, self-assured girl who loved to entertain?” Why is Elizabeth so worried about this? People change- so why can’t Elizabeth accept this is not part of Brett’s personality anymore?

8. Elizabeth gives Brett a deadline as to when to finish the goals. Why? Should the deadline be negotiable? Shouldn’t Brett have time to grieve?

9. Brett loves Andrew.  Can she cross the “falling in love” off her life list?

 

* These are just some questions to get you thinking- feel free to answer all or just some! If you have a question ask- just don’t ask about anything that did not happen between pages 1-96 #nospoilersplease!

 

Reading Schedule for The Life List: October Book Lovers Unite selection

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Here is the reading schedule for October Book Lover Unite selection, The Life List!

 

October 4th (Week 1) Pages 1-96 (read through ch 9)

 

October 11th (Week 2) Pages 97 (Ch 10)- 213 (read through Ch 20)

 

October 18th (Week 3) Pages 214 (ch 21)- 331 (end of book)

 

October 25th (Week 4) Overview and final thoughts

 

Lori WILL BE participating with us- as soon as I have those details finalized- I’ll let you know.

The Life List moves very fast- once the story unfolds and the reader begins to see what is happening, it’s a pretty fast read. Week 2 and Week 3 have more pages to read- but, don’t stress. Take your time and enjoy the book- each week’s questions will be posted on Friday and will be ready for discussion when you are ready!

 

Need more info about The Life List– visit my sign-up post!

Literary Friday ya’ll…..

It’s Friday! What are your plans for the weekend?

 

1. Deep South Mag and their #literaryfriday: Flannery O’Connor and money, James Franco and “As I Lay Dying”, Gatsby Companion Reading List, Top 10 references to Faulkner in Pop Culture and much more!

 

2. Book-Alicious Mama has posted Week 3 Questions for Astor Place Vintage, our September Book Lovers Unite selection.  Join in the fun ( it’s a great book!) Don’t forget, Book Lovers Unite fans- we’ll be back at Traveling With T in October for The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman!

 

3. Bookmagnet’s Fall for These October Titles is filled with interesting sounding books! Two have caught my attention even before she posted her list- The Last Winter of Dani Lancing by P.D. Viner and Bridget Jones Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding.

 

4. Another AWESOME blogger- Rhiannon @ Ivory Owl Reviews! See Rhiannon’s #literaryconfessions for 2 #literarygiants she cannot stand!

 

5. Reviews posted this week on Traveling With T: A Seaside Christmas by Sherryl Woods, The Stranger You Know by Andrea Kane,  and The Funeral Dress by Susan Gregg Gilmore.

 

6. My #fridayreads: The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty ( from Sept 30-Oct 6th, come discuss at She Reads!), Wedding Belles by Beth Albright, and  Grounded by Angela Correll (look for my review and interview next week with Angela Correll!)

 

Happy Reading!