Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Current Lineup


After a 4+ month stint of barely cracking open up a book, I’m finally getting back into reading mode. When creating my reading lineup, there were two things on my mind: holding on the end of summer & embracing the transition into fall.
I just contradicted myself… 
Oh boy, this post is going to be a doozy. 

HOLDING ONTO SUMMER
I’m not ready to give up my “beach reads” just yet. There are still a few weeks left of summer,d and I plan to take advantage of every second of it. I’m one of those people who can’t read a book that is set in the summertime when it’s the dead of winter and vice-versa. I prefer my seasons to match up because I think it makes the images more vivid in my mind. I rounded up a few series that has been on my bookshelves for years: The L.A. Candy Series, The Au Pairs, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. I think it’s time to give them a good dusting off and crack open the spine.
EMBRACING THE TRANSITION INTO FALL
As seasons shift, I always find myself interested in stories that deal with change. The idea of being curled up inside with a blanket and a cup of tea while the leaves outside begin to turn colors brings me such comfort, especially when I’m reading about someone in a dangerous situation. That sense of comfort always helps me tackle the toughest of subject matters like the effects of war, which is a core part of All the Light We Cannot See and Between Shades of Gray. 
THE LINEUP:
01| Skinny Dipping – Melissa de la Cruz (not pictured because I’m currently reading it): Not-so-poor-anymore Eliza has traded babysitting for velvet-rope-sitting. And Jacqui, in an odd twist, is doing all the babysitting because Mara’s up every night doing her best second-rate party girl impression at the hot club where Eliza works. At first, it’s annoying, but the new au pair, Philippe, is sexy and French — but off-limits to Jacqui, who claims she’s sworn off guys.
02| LA Candy – Lauren Conrad: Los Angeles is all about the sweet life: hot clubs, cute guys, designer…everything. Nineteen-year-old Jane Roberts can’t wait to start living it up. She may be in L.A. for an internship, but Jane plans to play as hard as she works, and has enlisted her BFF Scarlett to join in the fun. When Jane and Scarlett are approached by a producer who wants them to be on his new series, a “reality version of Sex and the City,” they can hardly believe their luck. Their own show? Yes, please!
03| Catching Jordan – Miranda Kenneally: What girl doesn’t want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn’t just surrounded by hot guys, though-she leads them as the captain and quarterback of her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys and that’s just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university. But everything she’s ever worked for is threatened when Ty Green moves to her school. Not only is he an amazing QB, but he’s also amazingly hot. And for the first time, Jordan’s feeling vulnerable. Can she keep her head in the game while her heart’s on the line?
04| The Sisterhood of The Traveling Pants – Ann Brashares: Carmen got the jeans at a thrift shop. They didn’t look all that great: they were worn, dirty, and speckled with bleach. On the night before she and her friends part for the summer, Carmen decides to toss them. But Tibby says they’re great. She’d love to have them. Lena and Bridget also think they’re fabulous. Lena decides that they should all try them on. Whoever they fit best will get them. Nobody knows why, but the pants fit everyone perfectly. Even Carmen (who never thinks she looks good in anything) thinks she looks good in the pants. Over a few bags of cheese puffs, they decide to form a sisterhood and take the vow of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants . . . the next morning, they say good-bye. And then the journey of the pants — and the most memorable summer of their lives — begins.
05| Chopsticks – Jessica Anthony, Rodrigo Corral (Illustrator): After her mother died, Glory retreated into herself and her music. Her single father raised her as a piano prodigy, with a rigid schedule and the goal of playing sold-out shows across the globe. Now, as a teenager, Glory has disappeared. As we flash back to the events leading up to her disappearance, we see a girl on the precipice of disaster. Brilliant and lonely, Glory is drawn to an artistic new boy, Frank, who moves in next door. The farther she falls, the deeper she spirals into madness. Before long, Glory is unable to play anything but the song “Chopsticks.”But nothing is what it seems, and Glory’s reality is not reality at all. In this stunningly moving novel told in photographs, pictures, and words, it’s up to the reader to decide what is real, what is imagined, and what has been madness all along….
06| Beautiful Ruins – Jess Walter: The story begins in 1962. On a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper, chest-deep in daydreams, looks out over the incandescent waters of the Ligurian Sea and spies an apparition: a tall, thin woman, a vision in white, approaching him on a boat. She is an actress, he soon learns, an American starlet, and she is dying. And the story begins again today, half a world away, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio’s back lot—searching for the mysterious woman he last saw at his hotel decades earlier.
07| Spelldown – Karon Luddy: Thirteen-year-old Karlene Bridges is the best speller in her family, her hometown, and maybe even all of Shirley County, South Carolina. The trouble is, every time she makes it to the final round of a spelling bee, she chokes. But when Mrs. Harrison, the new Latin teacher, offers to coach her, Karlene’s spelling jinx miraculously disappears. The year 1969 is turning out to be her best ever, especially since she develops a surprising crush on her best friend, Billy Ray.But as soon as Karlene aims to compete in the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D. C., her father’s drinking begins to spell trouble. How is a girl supposed to hold her family together, savor her first kiss, and become the best speller in America “before” the end of eighth grade?
08| The Time of My Life – Cecelia Ahern: Lucy Silchester has an appointment with her life – and she’s going to have to keep it. Lying on Lucy Silchester’s carpet one day when she returns from work is a gold envelope. Inside is an invitation – to a meeting with Life. Her life. It turns out she’s been ignoring it and it needs to meet with her face to face. It sounds peculiar, but Lucy’s read about this in a magazine. Anyway, she can’t make the date: she’s much too busy despising her job, skipping out on her friends and avoiding her family. But Lucy’s life isn’t what it seems. Some of the choices she’s made – and stories she’s told – aren’t what they seem either. From the moment she meets the man who introduces himself as her life, her stubborn half-truths are going to be revealed in all their glory – unless Lucy learns to tell the truth about what really matters to her.
09| All The Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr: Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.
In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.
10| Between Shades of Gray – Ruta Sepetys: Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.
Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously–and at great risk–documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives.

(All book summaries via Goodreads)

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