Tuesday, June 25, 2013


I just returned from a 3 week vacation to Europe with my family--which explains the lack of new posts! But I wanted to share with you a short curated list of books I took with me. A vacation, to anywhere, is not complete without a short stack of books. (Yes, that picture is from when we saw Christ Church in Oxford, England . . . home of Harry Potter!)

I remember a few years ago I took Bel Canto on a beach-y vacation, and it turned out to be magical. There's something about reading a book in a specific, memorable place that endows it with magic and memories of its own. Looking back, I remember that book fondly, and the sunshine, flavor, and location that enhanced that captivating story. Has this ever happened to you? You read a book at a certain place or time and it takes on an special aura that it wouldn't have if you'd read it in all the normal places. I'd love to hear which books were like that for you . . . and here's a few this past month that achieved that magical status.

by Colum McCann
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've mentioned this one before here, and finally had some time to read it while away. The truly transatlantic feel of the book was an unintended but perfect match for our country-hopping trip, with longer stays in the UK. The stories, all connected by a family line of mothers & daughters in different time periods and places, conveyed a heavy sense of time that I also felt while touring some of the oldest and most historic places in Europe. I honestly could not have picked a better book where that was concerned! And if you're feeling a bit of wanderlust, or wanting to escape a bit, than this book is a good choice. The escape into McCann's absolutely breathtaking writing is worth it too--rhythmic and captivating, with phrases that you'll read over and over again, then hold in your mind for a while because they are just too good to let go of.

The story arc was admirable too, with a few fictionalized accounts of real people like Frederick Douglass. Alcock and Brown, and George Mitchell in the mix, all tied together with the matriarchal line beginning with Lily Duggan. It was amazing how through those stories--which for a good half of the book weren't even about the family, completed a whole picture. Storytelling at it's best. McCann's definitely a favorite.

by Jessica Brody
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I brought this book along because I thought it would be a good balance to the other one; a little light-hearted, fast paced YA complements a vacation well.

While the premise of this book--a girl who had lost all memory and record of who she was, finds it again through a love interest and some snappy action scenes--wasn't anything really fresh, it was the twists in the middle and the end of the book that brought it into more exciting and fun territory.

The fast paced action scenes that threw the plot for a couple of unexpected twists were the best parts. You're wondering how it's possible that a girl could survive a plane crash, not be on the passenger manifesto, and not remember anything about anything. Give it few pages and a few action sequences, and you'll be be slightly breathless and wondering something completely different.

While it touches on deep issues such as what it means to be human, it doesn't have a while lot of depth or complexity to it. It's more of a lighter read, which can be good or not enough. So when it gets down to it: not fresh, but still exciting and fun. Fans of The Adoration of Jenna Fox, or Cinder.

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