Monday, May 16, 2011

What Are You Reading?

Meet my friend Robin, whose blog Readimg With Robin answers that question.

“What are you reading?” This, I hear by way of greeting the way some people are asked how they are doing.” After many years of hosting WHJJ’s Reading With Robin show I have learned to be armed with titles for when I’m out and about. As I likely won’t be running into all of you –here’s a list of what I’d answer if were to do so.  All are authors I have interviewed on Reading With Robin and many of the podcasts are available on The first few are debut novels –a double treat as surely there are many others to follow!

The Kitchen Daughter1. Jael McHenry The Kitchen Daughter – debut!
Family recipes and a well told story add up to a delicious treat of a debut novel!! This book asks the question –what does it mean to be normal? Ginny, the heroine is an asperger’s-afflicted woman who has led a sheltered life. When her parents die suddenly –right at the beginning of the novel, she is left to forge a new life for herself. Her well meaning sister, Amanda, attempts to take over but Ginny is strong-willed and has her own ideas for how she wants to live.
Ginny comforts herself by cooking and soon learns that the dishes she prepares can conjure spirits. The ghosts, including her grandmother, leave clues about possible family secrets, THE KITCHEN DAUGHTER will have you taking out your own family recipes and thinking about those who still cook beside us.
BEST FOR- fan of women’s fiction with a magical twist
YOU’LL LOVE THIS IF YOU LOVED The Love Goddess’ Cooking School by Melissa Senate

Up from the Blue: A Novel2. Susan Henderson –Up From The Blue  –debut! I love family drama and Up From The Blue is packed with lots of it! This coming of age story centers on Tillie who has a vivid imagination. At times the book is  heart breaking, as books that center on a manic-depressive character tend to be, especially when it’s the mother. Mara mysteriously disappears after the family’s move out of state and Tillie has questions and isn’t getting any answers. She thinks she has discovered her mother’s whereabouts and winds up with more secrets than she bargained for!
Best For –literary fiction reader
You’ll love this if you loved -Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue

The Weird Sisters3. Eleanor brown –The Weird Sisters –debut!
One of the many things I so enjoyed about The Weird Sisters is that it’s a real book lover’s book.  Three sisters who speak as one entity narrate the story. It’s yet another interesting layer to this book about the Andreas sister who are the daughters of an English professor whose specialty is Shakespeare. Loosely based on the three witches of Mac Beth and includes many fascinating passages about the way these family members interact with both each other and their books. We see the sibling rivalry at its best when the three sisters return to their family home to help take care of their ill mother. Who says you can’t go home?
Best For – women’s fiction reader and Shakespeare lover
You’ll love this if you loved The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathleen Schine

Skipping a Beat: A Novel4.Sarah Pekkanen –Skipping a Beat
When a book begins with a lovely protagonist who seems to have it all we know we are in for a treat as her downfall is surely to follow. Julie is a 30ish party planner married to her high school sweetheart and living in a gorgeous home in D.C. Life takes over and the marriage isn’t what it once was and priorities have shifted. All at once things take a turn when Julie’s husband, Michael,suffers a heart attack and he has time to rethink the path he has been on.
When I first began Skipping a Beat I expected a light and entertaining read. While most definitely entertaining, I was surprised at how deeply I felt about the characters and was quite moved by the ending. I only read reviews after I’ve read the book and was glad to see that others echoed my sentiments. Sarah Pekannen did a great job at keeping the story moving in a direction that you might not
Best for –someone looking for a more serious type of chick lit
You’ll love this if you loved –In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner

5.Elizabeth Berg –the veteran author on my list is like running into a dear friend. You’re always happy to see her! I have read just about every one of Elizabeth’s novels and I am never disappointed. This latest centers around a couple that knew it was a bad idea to marry yet they go through with it anyway. Meet John and Irene –of course they wind up divorced, which isn’t giving anything away. The couple reunites years later to support their daughter who has had something terrible happen to her.  Spending time together under the same roof the questions are bound to come up and will old feelings be revived? As with all of Elizabeth’s books there is both humor as well as some difficult truths with the spotlight dead on. 
Best for –lover of women’s literary fiction
You’ll love this if you loved –The Stuff That Never Happened by Maddie Dawson

The Other Life6. Ellen Meister –The Other Life –while not a debut it’s a departure from Ellen’s earlier work so it’s a debut to me! What would you do if you had the ability to go back and forth between lives? Where would you ultimately choose to stay? Quinn Braverman is happily living in a long island suburb with her loving family –husband, Lewis, and their son, Isaac. In the basement of their home there is a portal to another life in which Quinn didn’t choose Lewis over her then shock-jock boyfriend, Eugene. She is able to go back and forth between lives but as she does, the trips leave her more and more exhausted and even a bit frantic with each return. She has questions and she needs answers if she is to move on with life. Either one.
Best for –women’s fiction with magical twist
You’ll love this if you loved –The Third Angel by Alice Hoffman

Best Staged Plans7. Claire Cook – Best Staged Plans  – It wouldn’t be summer without Claire! (comes out june 1)

Always entertaining –like taking your girlfriend out for coffee and laughing so hard the coffee is cold long before you get to it! With such favorites as Must Love Dogs, Seven Year Switch, Life’s a Beach to her credit, one of the things I come to expect and always enjoy about a Cook-book are the extras she tosses to her audience. In Best Staged Plans we meet Sandy Sullivan who is an expert at transforming cluttered rooms into attractive houses ready for sale. Often easier to revamp someone else’s, Sandy’s life is also in need of a re-staging. Sandy takes her act on the road with a job staging a boutique hotel in Atlanta. A tangled situation as Sandy’s best friend’s boyfriend is the owner and Sandy winds up learning more than she’d like about him. We always recognize the characters in Claire’s books as they are drawn so lovingly and carefully you’d swear they were people you knew. Heartfelt and funny –describing both Claire and her novels!
Best for – someone looking for fun beach read
You’ll love this if you loved –The Island by Elin Hilderbrand

Look out for summer picks –coming soon!!

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