Saturday, July 31, 2010

Table of Contents: Commencement

Commencement (Vintage Contemporaries)Author: J Courtney Sullivan
Publisher/Year: Knopf, 2009
Synopsis: Assigned to the same dorm their first year at Smith College, Celia, Bree, Sally, and April couldn’t have less in common. Celia, a lapsed Catholic, arrives with her grandmother’s rosary beads in hand and a bottle of vodka in her suitcase; beautiful Bree pines for the fiancĂ© she left behind in Savannah; Sally, pristinely dressed in Lilly Pulitzer, is reeling from the loss of her mother; and April, a radical, redheaded feminist wearing a “Riot: Don’t Diet” T-shirt, wants a room transfer immediately.

Together they experience the ecstatic highs and painful lows of early adulthood: Celia’s trust in men is demolished in one terrible evening, Bree falls in love with someone she could never bring home to her traditional family, Sally seeks solace in her English professor, and April realizes that, for the first time in her life, she has friends she can actually confide in.

When they reunite for Sally’s wedding four years after graduation, their friendships have changed, but they remain fiercely devoted to one another. Schooled in the ideals of feminism, they have to figure out how it applies to their real lives in matters of love, work, family, and sex. For Celia, Bree, and Sally, this means grappling with one-night stands, maiden names, and parental disapproval—along with occasional loneliness and heartbreak. But for April, whose activism has become her life’s work, it means something far more dangerous.

What Others Have To Say

The New York Times
"[the] undertow of denial and avoidance is unfortunate in a novel with so much verve, making it feel overly tame, as if Sullivan wants to soothe and reassure her characters rather than letting them face the truths"

Entertainment Weekly
"...the author manages to find that sweet spot between Serious Literature and chick lit."

Author Interview

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Table of Contents: The Nobodies Album

The Nobodies AlbumAuthor: Carolyn Parkhurst
Publisher/Year: Doubleday, 2010
Synopsis: Best-selling novelist Octavia Frost has just finished her latest novel, an experimental work that contains the last chapters of all her previous books, which she has rewritten with the purpose of hiding their emotional truth. Then she learns that her rock-star son, Milo, has been charged with murdering his girlfriend. Mother and son have been estranged for four years, ever since Milo picked up one of his mother’s books and read this sentence: “They were exactly the wrong two to die.” He recognized it as a reference to the tragic accident that took the lives of his father and sister when he was just nine, and he has refused to speak to his mother ever since. Now the two reunite under the stress of his arrest, which has drawn hordes of paparazzi as well as high-priced legal counsel. As Olivia seeks to gain Milo’s forgiveness and the investigation into the murder of his girlfriend reveals surprising information, the narrative cuts away to excerpts from Olivia’s new book, adding layers of emotional complexity to the story of their family life.

What Others Have To Say

The New York Times
"Ms. Parkhurst becomes so involved in creating parallels and coincidences that her once-suspenseful story begins to come unstrung"

Entertainment Weekly
"low-key, introspective murder-mystery narrative, offering a pinhole glimpse into the mind of a fascinating woman for whom life and fiction are stitched tightly together."

The A.V. Club
"Parkhurst questions whether any story is ever over, and who has the power to reopen it"

The Washington Post
"the book succeeds in probing nuanced issues of guilt and innocence through an intricate collage of memories and musings"

Monday, July 26, 2010

Line By Line: Jonathan Tropper, This Is Where I Leave You

This Is Where I Leave You: A Novel"And even if you didn't fall in love in the eighties, in your mind it will feel like the eighties, all innocent and airbrushed, with bright colors and shoulder pads and Pat Benetar or the Cure on the soundtrack."

"Phillip is the Paul McCartney of our family: better-looking than the rest of us, always facing a different direction in pictures, and occasionally rumored to be dead."

"We all start out so damn sure, thinking we've got the world on a string. If we ever stopped to think about the infinite number of ways we could be undone, we'd never leave our bedrooms."

"You never know when it will be the last time you'll see your father, or kiss your wife, or play with your little brother, but there's always a last time. If you could remember every last time, you'd never stop grieving."

When we reach the end of the page, and the last "amen" has been said, I'm sorry that' it's over. I could stay up here a while longer. And as we step down to make our way back to the pews, a quick survey of the sadness in my family's wet eyes tells me that I'm not the only one who feels that way. I don't feel any closer to my father than I did before, but for a moment there I was comforted, and that's more than I expected."

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Table of Contents: Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: A Flavia de Luce MysteryAuthor: Alan Bradley
Publisher/Year: Delacorte Press, 2009
Synopsis: The summer of 1950 hasn’t offered up anything out of the ordinary for eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce: bicycle explorations around the village, keeping tabs on her neighbours, relentless battles with her older sisters, Ophelia and Daphne, and brewing up poisonous concoctions while plotting revenge in their home’s abandoned Victorian chemistry lab, which Flavia has claimed for her own.

But then a series of mysterious events gets Flavia’s attention: A dead bird is found on the doormat, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. A mysterious late-night visitor argues with her aloof father, Colonel de Luce, behind closed doors. And in the early morning Flavia finds a red-headed stranger lying in the cucumber patch and watches him take his dying breath. For Flavia, the summer begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw: “I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn’t. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.”

What Others Have To Say

The Quill and Quire
"Bradley succeeds in making Flavia’s passion for chemistry believable, but the first part of the book creaks a bit, and the cliff-hangers at the end of each chapter are overdone."

Entertainment Weekly
"...disappointment creeps in only when you sense the plot tilting toward its final scenes."

"A wickedly clever story, a dead true and original voice, and an English country house in the summer: Alexander McCall Smith meets Sir Arthur Conan Doyle."
— Laurie R. King, New York Times bestselling author of The Game

Reading Guide

Friday, July 23, 2010

Adaptation: Confessions of a Shopaholic

Book in the Books

Hi again everyone!

Wow - June flew by and so has July. Taking a full term graduate course in 6 weeks is mind-numbing but also quite exhilarating. I now only have my final project to complete and then I can stick a fork in this degree. I took a little extra time to relax and get reoriented to having free time after the course finished, so took longer than expected to get back to the blog. But I am back now and ready to go!

I have a serious backlog of books to get through and thoughts on some feature items, so will be busy busy busy indulging my two favorite passions - reading and writing. Thanks for sticking with me through the crazy days of summer!