Thursday, September 26, 2013

Banned Books Week

Earlier today, I read an insightful post written by a colleague from the field of gifted education, Stephanie. In honor of Banned Books Week, she wrote about the power of books, bibliotherapy, and shared interesting links. 

Check out her post here:

Later in the day, thinking about the power of books, I was reminded of this quote by Anne Lamott, one of my favorite writers on writing...

 “For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.” 

My current bedside books

Today I am grateful for the amazing libraries I have access to today, and the libraries where I grew up. I read many books that were banned in some places, and I will never be the same for these books, whether it was The Giver or The Bell Jar or The Catcher in the Rye or some other book that continues to inspire me, as a writer, as a reader, as a person. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Eat, Pray, Love Author Elizabeth Gilbert's New Novel

I just read an article in Oprah's Book Club 2.0 online newsletter that I thought you would enjoy. It describes Elizabeth Gilbert's new novel, which is quite a departure from her two recent memoirs. As you may know, originally she wrote a collection of short stories Pilgrims, a novel Stern Men, and a non-fiction book The Last American Man,  before hitting it big with Eat, Pray, Love. 

Set in the Victorian Era of Darwin and Dickens, her new novel The Signature of All Things follows Alma, whose budding interest in moss takes her farther from her Pennsylvania farm than she ever thought possible. The article gives you a sneak peek into the novel, its inspiration, and Gilbert's rambling Victorian home in New Jersey, her gardens, and her "skybrary."

Fans were given the chance to vote for the book cover. Which one do you think they chose? Visit her website to find out. The new novel will be released in 6 days!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ghosts of Women Writers Mystery

The Butterfly Sister
by Amy Gail Hansen

I spotted this book at the airport. A great read for a plane trip!

Genre: Women's Fiction, Thriller

Review: This mystery is a fast-paced read. After receiving a lost suitcase, an English literature student returns to her alma mater in search of the truth about a missing friend. She must also face her troubled past, which involves the ghosts of her favorite women writers. Some of the plot twists toward the end were more contrived than surprising-- a late-introduced character plays a central role. Don't skip it though. 

I enjoyed reading the book in one day and enjoyed the plot thread about Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Plath, and Woolf, and both the New Orleans and women's college settings are evoked vividly.

Author website

Song to Read By: "Sylvia Plath" by Ryan Adams, live

For all of you literature lovers out there: Go back to the sources and read The Bell Jar, A Room of One's Own, and "The Yellow Wallpaper."

Epistolary Love Story

Letters from Skye
By Jessica Brockmole

Genre: Historical Fiction

Review: A nostalgic, cozy read. A novel told through letters.  Young Scottish poet Elspeth lives a quiet, isolated, peaceful yet happy existence on the Isle of Skye. Letters from her first fan, American college student Davey, turn into something more. Clandestine meetings in Edinburgh and London open the world up to Elspeth, who'd never left Skye. Everything you'd expect from wartime romance, heartbreak, etc. A bit slow two-thirds of the way through, but still worth reading if you liked The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.

Author website

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Night Film: The Best Thriller You'll Read this Year

Night Film
 by Marisha Pessl

Genre: Literary Thriller

Review: Reading this book was like diving down into deep, dark water. It takes a long time to swim back up. The surface seems far away, but eventually you reach the top.

Disgraced journalist Scott McGrath investigates enigmatic film director Stanislas Cordova, piecing together the last days of Ashley Cordova, along with sidekicks Hopper and Nora. The text is interspersed with articles, transcripts, screenshots, and other unconventional choices are made. As they search for the truth about Ashley, they encounter black magic, unreliable witnesses, and at last, The Peak. Night Film is an astonishing literary thriller.


Very cool author website

The book has an app and interactive content. NPR story about this.

Apparently there is going to be some content on her YouTube account as well.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Last Camellia

The Last Camellia
by Sarah Jio

Genre: Women's fiction

This is her best novel yet! I liked it better than two of her previous novels, so definitely, pick up this novel! As good as Violets of March! If you are missing Downton Abbey, this manor-set mystery with upstairs/downstairs drama will tide you over. 

Review:  Sarah Jio's latest novel is set at Livingston Manor, a fictional countryside estate in England, with a rare Camellia tree. In modern times, Addison and Rex visit the manor and begin to uncover a mystery involving Lady Anna, a Middlebury Pink camellia, and the housekeeper; in the meantime, the past is haunting Addison, creeping closer. 

In the 1940s, Flora, an American amateur botanist, finds her way to Livingston Manor. Hired as a flower thief, she acts as a nanny, where she falls in love with the family, and she, too, tries to solve the mystery surrounding Lady Anna.  Read it!

Song to Read by: "Snow Angel" from The Place Beyond the Pines soundtrack

Monday, September 9, 2013

Fault in Our set photos!

Earlier, I wrote a post about the excellent, sarcastic, sad yet funny novel The Fault in Our Stars. Nobody does biting, acerbic wit and captures the mind of intelligent teenagers like John Green. I am presenting at a conference in his home state of Indiana in November, so I was excited to find out that he is giving a talk there! Then, lo and behold, I found some pics posted by the author from the Fault in Our Stars movie set!

Shailene Woodley plays Hazel Grace

Ansel Elgort plays Augustus Wonders (both also star in Divergent)

Nat Wolff plays Isaac (he is the weird kid from Admission)

That's some of the most serious talent in young Hollywood right there! Looking forward to this movie.

No release date yet, later than summer 2014 predicts the buzz on the Net. Too bad, we will just have to wait for the trailer and re-read the book again.

Stunning promo pic...found on tumblr, do not know if it is official...

Friday, September 6, 2013

Catching Fire Soundtrack--Coldplay

Have you heard the newly released track from the Catching Fire film soundtrack? If you, like me, love Coldplay, love the Hunger Games trilogy, and can't wait to see Catching Fire in theaters, then check out this official lyric video for "Atlas" by Coldplay.


Pretty soon it will be time to re-read Catching Fire before the film hits theaters! 

Check out the trailer if you haven't seen it already! Or if you have, just watch it again :) 


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Way better than Twilight...

A Discovery of Witches
by Deborah Harkness

 This is the October selection for our book club!

Genre: Popular Fiction

Review: Diana is a witch who doesn't practice magic. Or at least that's what she thinks. During her year on sabbatical studying alchemy in Oxford, strange things begin to happen in the Bodleian library. A bewitched manuscript and lurking vampires and demons are just the start. Action, adventure, mystery, romance...this story has it all and turns everything you thought you knew about witches and vampires on its head. 

The next book in the trilogy is Shadow of Night. I am reading it right now. Review coming soon!

Author website

Info about the film adaptation
An award-winning playwright will write the script

Song to Read by: "Royals" by Lorde

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Descendants

 The Descendants
by Kaui Hart Hemmings

I just went to Kauai on my honeymoon (YAY!) When I returned home, I was so excited to read The Descendants, which is set on both Oahu and Kauai.

Genre: Literary Fiction

Review: "Paradise can go f*** itself," says the narrator of The Descendants as he sits beside his wife in a hospital room. Life continues outside while he counts down the days with his comatose wife and daughter Scottie. In this novel, the back-up parent must learn how to be a parent and compelling moments occur as he gets to know his two daughters, Scottie and Alex. Bizarre, dysfunctional, realistic family drama ensues set across the verdant backdrop of Hawaii. The descriptions of setting and relationships, as well as the growth of the main characters, all make for a satisfying, powerful read. 

 Interesting Fact: At the end, the book mentioned that this book was an extension of her short story "The Minor Wars" which was part of her previously published short story collection, House of Thieves.

Check out the movie trailer: I love reading the book then watching the movie and comparing.