Books

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Giulia's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)

[Kitchens of the Great Midwest] by J Ryan Stradal
- I really enjoyed this book! I picked it up on a trip to Portland a while back and finally got around to reading it. It tells the story of Eva Thorvald, a chef. It talks about her upbringing and then each chapter is told from the point of view of another character whose life somehow intertwines with Eva's. Some recipes are included, and all of them were mouth-watering. Eva's life was not always easy and the people that she meets help to tell her story. 4 stars because I wish Stradal had ended it better. It didn't seem to come to a close - as I was finishing it, I was hoping there was at least one more chapter. Great read though.
*****
[Heartburn] by Nora Ephron
- This book made me laugh and cry. I enjoyed reading it and hearing Rachel's story. She tells the tale of how she discovered her husband cheating on her while she was 7 months pregnant. It is written very well and I loved reading the recipes - I plan to make some soon. A fun and easy read!
*****
- I was intrigued to read about the life of a postman. The story was interesting. Bilodo is a postman in Montreal and becomes fascinated by one particular exchange he sees. He ends up communicating with the other person as he assumes the identity of another. It was an interesting read, albeit slow start. I enjoyed it, and it definitely makes you think twice about your postman!
*****
[China Dolls] by Lisa See
- This book has been on my list for a while and I finally got around to reading it (thank you public library). I loved that it was set in San Francisco because I knew a lot of the places they mentioned. The story follows three girls, Grace, Helen, and Ruby as they navigate America/San Francisco in the 1930s/1940s. They become dancers for a club and their story is real. It was interesting to read their story of immigration and I was completely fascinated. Some parts were a bit slow, but nothing that didn't keep my interest.
*****
- Noel recommended this book to me and I'm so happy she did. I read it while I was cruising in Alaska and could not put it down. Henrietta Lacks was the fist person whose DNA we were able to clone. The book tells her story and weaves in stories that her children told Skloot. I loved reading it because my parents work in the field, so I was able to talk to them about it, especially because they have worked with her cells (or a mutation of her cells). Definitely recommend this book.
*****
[The Fixer-Upper] by Mary Kay Andrews
- This was a darling and predictable read. Dempsey is a lobbyist working in DC when her boss ends up being accused of bribery in a scandal that becomes known as Hoddergate. She flees to small-town Guthrie, Georgia where her father has an old house for her to fix up (hence the title). It is your predictable chic-flick of a book, but I loved it. Andrews describes everything in such detail that I feel I am with Dempsey as she remodels this house. There is obviously a love connection that happens and Hoddergate continues to unfold throughout the book. A fun and quick read for summer!
*****
[The Casual Vacancy]  by J.K. Rowling
- This book was weird. I don't know how else to describe it. It follows the lives of 5 different couples that live in Pagford, England. One of their Parish Council (think City Council Member) Members passes away and multiple people want his spot. There are multiple perspectives, but the plot and storyline are just weird. I'm not one to abandon a book, but this was one that I debated abandoning multiple times.
*****
[The Heir] by Paul Robertson
- I started this book SOO long ago, but realized I didn't get very far. I picked it back up (three pages in mind you) and read it very quickly. It turned out to be more of a murder/mystery book but I was fascinated. I enjoyed the lavish details Robertson included and the plot was great. The story follows Jason Bower as he inherits his father's position at his company. Jason uncovers many things that his father worked hard to keep covered. It was a quick read and very enjoyable.
*****
[Heaven is Here] by Stephanie Nielsen
- I have been following Stephanie's blog for quite some time and figured I should read her book. It was available at my local library, so I checked it out. It was a very quick read for me because I do know the story - her and her husband were involved in a large plane crash in 2008. They both survived and this book tells her story. While they are devout members of the Mormon church, I am not, and I truly did enjoy her book. She is an excellent writer and her story brought tears to my eyes. A great read.
*****
[The Essential 55] by Ron Clark
- This book was recommended to me by a fellow teacher. It was definitely a fun and interesting read. I enjoyed hearing different perspectives on classroom management and made note of some to try next year. The book is geared towards upper grades, although some strategies could be used in the primary grades. 
*****
[While We Were Watching Downton Abbey] by Wendy Wax
- If books could be chick flicks, this would be one of them. It was a darling story of three strangers who all get together in their condo's lounge room on Sundays to watch Downton Abbey. I love that it was set in Atlanta and that it revolved around Downton. The book chronicles their lives and how they become close friends. It was a very sweet book and a very enjoyable read! It made me want to get a group of friends together to watch the show again!
*****
[The Wedding Dress] by Rachel Hauck
- This was one of those cheap Kindle books so I bought it. I looked at the reviews and was worried it would be very Christian-y, but it really wasn't. It was a hopeless romantic story about Charlotte who comes across a like-new wedding dress in a trunk she buys at an auction. The story goes between past and present telling the story of the dress. I thought it was a darling story and I read it very quickly.
*****
[The Nightingale] by Kristin Hannah
- I saw this book on many to-read lists and knew that I needed to get my hands on it. It was another book set in WWII, but this one was set in a small town in France. This book was also from the perspective of two sisters during the war. One sister became a part of the Resistance and the other sister stayed at home and allowed German soldiers to billet there. It was wonderfully written and I couldn't put it down. The story also goes between present-day and the past and because they are sisters, they don't tell you which sister is the one being featured in the present-day. A wonderful book that I highly recommend!
*****
- This is the first of Gladwell's books that I have read. It was a compilation of his articles that he had written for the New Yorker magazine. Some were very interesting as he gave multiple perspectives and related the overall topic to things that were currently happening and/or events that had happened in the past. It was a little slow for me at times, but overall a good read.
*****
[The Kite Runner] by Khaled Hosseini
- I don't even know where to begin with this book. It was given to me by a friend a few years back and I finally decided to read it. Oh my goodness it is amazing. I could not put it down and I felt like I was in Afghanistan. It follows Amir and his father as they seek refuge in America during the 1960s as Afghanistan is going to war. Amir and his father both have pasts that they are running away from and as the book unfolds, we learn more about each of them. This book pulled at my heartstrings and I was in tears as I was reading it. It was written so well and the story is so beautiful and heart-wrenching, I was not able to put it down. If you haven't already read the book, get it soon!
*****
[E' Tutta Vita] by Fabio Volo
- I enjoyed the reality that this book brought. It follows one man, Nicola, through a few years of his life. He isn't sure what he wants, but he is forced to choose the life that he leads. It was very realisti in the emotions that he had and that Volo chose to share with us. I am a fan of Volo's work, so I enjoyed this book.
*****
[The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry] by Gabrielle Zevin
- I really enjoyed this book! There were some multiple twists that the author threw in but I still enjoyed it. The book follows Fikry as his life is filled with twists and turns. I didn't realize how much I cared for him as a character until I was almost done with the book. Zevin makes his character seem unlikeable, but then I realized he was more like an onion. The more I read, the more I liked him. His character was very well developed. It was really well written and a fun read.
*****
[The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty] by Vendela Vida]
- This was a very interesting book. For starters, it was written in second person (you). You go here, you do this. It was kind of trippy because I felt what the main character was feeling. This was great because the author did a great job hooking the reader. I truly felt like I was in the book and needed to find out what happened to me next! I liked the story and even the different perspective. The ending was odd and it took me a while to figure out that there are two stories happening (one present one past). There are no chapters, which was also different. However, I did enjoy the book and would definitely recommend!
*****
[Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore] by Robin Sloan
This was one of the most fun books I've read recently! I wasn't too sure about it when I started, but as I kept reading, I couldn't put it town. Clay starts working in a 24-hour bookstore and it is not a normal bookstore, to say the least. The book turns almost into a mystery but in the modern world. It was such a fun read and I would recommend to everyone!
*****
[The Royal We] by Heather Cocks
I loved this book! It was a classic take on the Prince and Me and at times, was a rollercoaster of emotions. I laughed, I cried, I cringed. I was hoping to get to the end and there be a movie made. The author does a wonderful job of keeping the suspense and taking you through Bex's life as she crosses paths with the Royal Family. It was an easy and fun read, definite recommend to all!
*****
[China Rich Girlfriend] by Kevin Kwan
- This is Kwan's second book that I've read and I loved it. I could have kept on reading more and more about Nick and Rachel. The characters were so well developed from his first book, Crazy Rich Asians, that there was little he had to do now, other than create a new story. His word choice is so descriptive, I felt like I was traveling through Asia with every scene. The designers and labels he mentions are top notch and the sidenotes are perfect. I hope he writes another book!
*****
[The Rocks] by Peter Nichols
- This book was recommended in People Magazine recently as a great summer beach book. Knowing I was heading to the beach this summer, I had to get it. The Rocks describes the crossed paths of Luc and Aegina who are both connected to Mallorca. Luc because his mother owns a hotel there and Aegina because her mother was from there and her father lives there. Their lives become intertwined over and over, but not in the way one thinks. Nichols keeps you guessing throughout the entire book as to what their connection ends up being. My only dislike about the book was the timeline. It started in the present, went to the past starting with the most recent, and then ending with the present again. It was a little confusing keeping track of it and knowing what would happen in the future. However, it was good because it kept me wondering about what had happened.
*****
[All the Light We Cannot See] by Anthony Doerr
- This is one of my favorite books that I've read this year. It tells the story of Marie-Laure who lives in Paris with her father during the German invasion in the 1940s. Her story is told parallel with Werner's, who is an orphan that is obsessed with radios and thinks he has found a way out of being enlisted by fixing the radio of a high-ranking official. Doerr writes with such clarity that I was truly transported into France and Germany. I cried with Marie-Laure and was frightened with Werner. They became my friends, and to me, that is a sign of a truly great author. I highly recommend the book!
*****
[Plane Insanity] by Elliott Hester
- I love reading books written by flight attendants or hoteliers about stories from the "inside." I find them truly fascinating. Hester is a flight attendant who has seen it all, like many flight attendants, I imagine. The book is filled with his personal experiences as well as news articles pertaining to similar stories. I read the book in two days and was sad when it ended. A quick read, especially if you are a frequent traveler.
*****
[The Lavender Garden] by Lucina Riley
- Similar to The Plum Tree, Riley takes us into two similar worlds years apart. It is set in WWII and in present day in France and England. Constance (WWII) is supposed to be helping with the war effort; Emilie (present-day) is inquiring about her past and the past of her new husband. Both come to discover new things as they embark on their journeys. I really enjoyed reading it and found myself thinking about the characters even when I wasn't reading the book. Riley does a great job of describing what is happening and I did choke up towards the end.
*****
[The Plum Tree] by Ellen Marie Wiseman
- As with many books lately, it took me a while to get into this, but then I couldn't put it down. The story follows Christine as her and her family survive Germany during the Nazi invasion. Her family is not Jewish and they, fortunately survive. Christine's love, Isaac, and his family have a tragic story. The story is very well written and I'll be honest, there were definitely times I teared up. I truly enjoyed this book and the story it told about Christine and Isaac.
*****
[Crazy Rich Asians] by Kevin Kwan
- This book caught my eye at Barnes and Noble one day. I immediately looked to see if my library had it and they did. I read it in about 2 weeks. It tells the story of Rachel and Nick. They live in New York and are traveling to Singapore for the summer for Nick's best friend's wedding. Rachel doesn't know that Nick is heir to a large family fortune and while in Singapore things begin to unravel. His parents and family friends don't approve of Rachel. It is a very fun read and keeps you going right until the last page. When I finished it, I wanted more! I hope that there is a sequel soon!
*****
[Wild] by Cheryl Strayed
- With the movie coming out, I wanted to read the book first (am I the only one who does this?). The book was good. It took me a little bit to get into it, but I enjoyed the storytelling aspect of it. Strayed writes with such vividness that I felt like I was on the Pacific Crest Trail with her. She also does many flashbacks of her earlier life as she reflects on her life during her hike. Towards the end, I couldn't put it down and was very engaged in the story. I am excited to see the movie.
*****
[Heads in Beds] by Jacob Tomsky
- Another book that I saw at Barnes and Noble and had to read immediately! I am learning how to borrow e-books from the library and this was one of the first ones. The experience of borrowing and returning the book was really easy and because I only had it for 21 days, I read the book quickly. I worked in hotels for about 3 years and this book intrigued me. It was such a fun read because I could definitely relate to Tomsky and his experiences working in hotels. It is a fun read even if you have never worked in hotels because it gives you a behind the scenes view of what actually happens.
*****
[Seating Arrangements] by Maggie Shipstead
- I had seen this book at Barnes and Noble and put it on my "To Read" list. It was a super quick read and a total summer read. I read it in the dead of winter, but it was wonderful nonetheless! Winn Van Meter appears to have a wonderful life: loving wife, two daughters, one of whom is getting married. They are up at their Lake House in Connecticut and things begin to unravel. It was a really fun book to read with quite a few twists.
*****
[Home: A Memoir of My Early Years] by Julie Andrews
- When I think of Julie Andrews, I often think of Mary Poppins  or The Sound of Music. Her autobiography talks about her life as a child and early adult up until Walt Disney cast her in Mary Poppins. It was a lovely read and truly fascinating. She is a wonderful author and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about her life prior to when she made her feature film debut.
*****
[The Year of Living Biblically] by A.J. Jacobs
- I have previously read another of Jacobs' books, The Know-It-All and truly enjoyed it. Teaching religion this year, I was intrigued at the title of this book. It was a fun read and very informational. He breaks apart the Bible and lives his life (for a year) as Biblically as possible. He makes good points and it was a fascinating take on the Bible.
*****
[The Hundred Foot Journey] by Richard Morais
- This book was so good! It describes the life of Hassan, an Indian chef who lives in France and how he learns French cuisine from the chef who lives and works across the street. It was a great read and I could not put it down! The descriptions of the food items are mouth-watering as are the descriptions of the places in France. Can't wait to see the movie!
*****
[Con te Fino Alla Fine del Mondo] by Nicolas Barreau
- My aunt gave me this book to read and it was a good pick. A quick story about Jean-Luc who owns and runs an art gallery in Paris. One morning, he wakes up to find a love letter in his mailbox signed by La Principessa. The book follows him throughout as he tries to discover who is writing him letters. He writes her back and they continue this back and forth of letters until he finally discovers who it is. A quick read, but a pleasant one!
*****
[La Strada Verso Casa] by Fabio Volo
- My aunt and cousin gave me this book for Christmas and I felt that reading it in Italy was appropriate. I've read many of Fabio Volo's books and this one was very similar. The story follows two brothers who, at the beginning, rarely speak. Then, their father gets sick, and they reconnect. It goes back and forth with the narrator and goes back in time explaining certain events. It was a very easy read and if you like the genre and author, a good choice.
*****
[The Fault in our Stars] by John Green
- After having multiple people recommend this book to me, I decided to read it. I finished it in one day - I simply could not put it down! The story is about a girl, Hazel, who has cancer. She goes to Support Group and meets some friends there, notably Isaac and Gus. The book follows her throughout one year detailing her struggles and successes. I'm pretty sure I had tears in my eyes the entire time I was reading the book. It was written very well and is a great story. Be prepared to cry though!
*****
[The Story of the Trapp Family Singers] by Maria von Trapp
- I have always loved The Sound of Music and when I saw this book, I knew I would like it! The first part of the book is what the movie is based on. The rest of the book details the lives of the von Trapp's after they left Austria. It was a fascinating read and I learned so much about the family. I had no idea they had a huge lodge in Vermont! It was written by Maria and written very well. It was quite a fun and easy read and towards the end, I couldn't put it down!
*****
[Beautiful Ruins] by Jess Walter
- This book has been on my "to read" list for quite some time. I finally purchased the book and just now got around to reading it. It was  fun read and I got through it in no time! Similar to the other books that I've been reading lately, this one also had a lot of jumping back and forth in time and between characters. It is the story of this American actress who ends up in Porto Vergogna at the hotel of Pasquale. She then leaves and they never see each other again until years later. Meanwhile, the actress was someone who had been linked with many famous Hollywood people and so the story follows some of the Hollywood characters. You slowly start seeing all the connections and where the stories all intertwine. The descriptions of the cities that Walter paints are spectacular and having been to that region in Italy (Cinque Terre), I could picture everything as he was describing it. A great read and I can see why it is still atop the Bestseller's lists.
*****
[The Girl Who Came Home] by Hazel Gaynor
- I am fascinated by everything that has to do with the Titanic. This book was a very quick read for me because I was so interested in the topic. It was a little difficult to follow at times, but that was because I didn't pay too much attention, I just wanted to keep reading! It goes between present day and the Titanic, but also goes between different points of view and people. It mainly follows one girl who is on the Titanic by chance with a group of 14 other people. She meets multiple people along her journey and she is one of the lucky ones who survives. I really flung the book interesting and it was a fun read for me.
*****
[Love, Julie] by Christine Bush
- I found this book on the Kindle and wanted to read it because it was about a teacher in Montana. Julie was an heiress in New York who was cheated out of her inheritance from her greedy uncle. She runs away to Montana to take a teaching job in the one-room schoolhouse. The book talks about her time in Montana and about how she uses her wits to outsmart her uncle. It wasn't written entirely well, but it was an easy read. 
*****
[The Orchid House] by Lucinda Riley
- This book went back and forth between years quite a bit, telling stories about the past and then linking them to the future. I truly enjoyed this book and the detailed stories it told. The book tells the story of the groundskeeper at a house in England. He had an obsession with orchids and was able to grow them so well in a place that doesn't usually have orchids. The story intertwines with the lives of those that lived in the main house. Riley does a great job of telling multiple stories from multiple points of view without getting the reader confused. I really enjoyed this book and will probably read more of Riley's books. 
*****
[Tales of the City] by Armistead Maupin
- This was such a fun read! Having lived in San Francisco for a hot second, it was fun reading about the city back in the 70s. The characters are ecclectic and the story just begged to be read and finished! Maupin has a few books in this series and I plan to read them all! It mostly follows one girl, Mary Ann Singleton, and her life in San Francisco, her work, friends, and loves as she starts fresh. A really fun read for anyone, but especially for those that live/have lived in SF!
*****
[Castle Cay] by Lee Hanson
- My mom had this on her Kindle and I just needed a super quick and light read. It was good and provided just what I needed after a long and tedious Pride and Prejudice. The book follows Julie O'Hara as she investigates the death of a close friend. Castle Cay, an island in the Bahamas, proves to be a mystery the entire story. It was relatively predictable of a story, but nevertheless, a fun and entertaining read. 
*****
[Pride and Prejudice] by Jane Austen
- As a child, I never read this book and I have always wanted to read it. It was a good story, despite it taking me over 3 months to finish. The plot follows the Bennett sisters as they are married off into the world. Again, the story is very good and I am happy to have read it, but it was a long read for me! 
*****
[Shopping, Seduction, and Mr. Selfridge] by Lindy Woodhead
- Like many people, I fell in love with Downton Abbey. After that aired on PBS, the next Masterpiece Classic was about Selfridge's, a large department store in London. This book describes the life of Harry Gordon Selfridge and how he created his store. He was one of the first to use store windows to display products, allow customers to come in just to look, and allow customers to touch the merchandise they were considering buying among many other firsts. The book is very well written and I truly enjoyed reading about his life. Now, I just have to wait for the next season of the show! 
*****
[The Second Amendment #1] by John Matthews
- I grabbed this quick read from my mom's Kindle selection. It was entertaining. The story follows multiple people as their lives entwine due to this bombing that occurs. The characters are those that are affected by the bomb, the bomber, and the FBI/CIA/Secret Service/Etc. It was a good read, nothing really very interesting and not quite my genre, but I still enjoyed it! 
*****
[The Wander Year] by Mike McIntyre
- This was a Kindle Recommends book and it was so good!!! I love reading about other people's travels and this book was no exception. Mike and his girlfriend Andrea quit their jobs and travel around the world for a year. The book is written as a compilation of articles that he wrote for the Times and gives lots of tips, tricks, and what not to do. It was extremely entertaining and I now want to read his other book about how he traveled across America penniless.
*****
[Trouble in Mudbug] by Jane Deleon
- My mom had this on her Kindle so I read it after she was finished. It was a fun book to read and a really easy read. Maryse's mother-in-law just passed away and comes back to settle an old score. Only a  few people can see her/hear her so the antics are pretty fun. Maryse has to help Helena figure out who killed her and why, the whole time, trying not to get killed herself. It's a fun read and very easy to read. 
*****
[The Great Gatsby] by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- I read this book back in high school but with it coming out in theaters next week, I wanted to re-read it. It was just as good as I remembered. Nick moves into a house next-door to Jay Gatsby. The book takes you through his one and only summer in Long Island as he drifts in and out of Gatsby's life. I don't want to give away too much, but if you haven't read it yet, read it soon! 
*****
[Home to Italy] by Peter Pezzelli
- The first book I read on my Kindle. An extremely easy read about Peppi who travels back to his hometown in Italy after his wife passes away. Reminds me of all of the time I spent in Italy and makes me want to go back! Pezzelli vividly describes the places that Peppi visits, the food he eats, and his daily life in Villa San Giuseppe. A fun read! 
*****
[The Dinner] by Herman Koch
- OMG THIS BOOK WAS SO GOOD!!!! No, but really. I read it in less than 24 hours. I was obsessed. It's about these two brothers who each have a son and their sons do something horrible. The brothers get together for dinner and the book takes you through their conversation at dinner. Complete with mouth-watering descriptions of each plate (along with some pinkies), the book draws you in. I could have kept reading it, had it been longer! SO SO SO good, a definite recommend to anyone (but make sure you have the stomach for it)! 
*****
[Appuntamento al Cupcake Cafe'] by Jenny Colgan
- This book was given to me at Christmas and once I finished reading my other books, I immediately started this one. Once I got into it, I couldn't put it down! It was a darling read and I really enjoyed it. It's about this woman, Issy, who is always baking lots of yummy things, especially cupcakes. When her job lets her go, she decides to open her own cafe'. It isn't easy at first, but she sticks it through, and it all works out in the end. I really liked the book and I noticed on the website, that there's even a sequel that I'll have to get my hands on! 
*****
[I'd Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had] by Tony Danza
- I was hooked on this book based upon it being about teaching/education. It follows Danza in the year that he taught at an inner-city high school in Philadelphia. The book was entertaining and much of what he experienced applies also to elementary/middle schools. It was reassuring, to a certain extent, to read about someone else's first year teaching. It really made me think about some of the things that I am up against/will have to work through in the coming months. Overall, a really easy read, entertaining, and a definite recommend! 
*****
[Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet] by Jamie Ford
- I'll admit it took me a while to get into this book. Too many things going on and I just was lazy. But, once I started reading it, I was hooked! The book is set in the past (1942) and in the present (1986) in Seattle. It is the story of a young Chinese boy who begins attending an all-white school. He thinks he is the only Asian at the school until one day, Keiko arrives. Keiko is Japanese, but they become friends despite Henry's fathers' wishes. The story is truly amazing and it's a part of history that I never knew about - relocation camps in the west. 
*****
[Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow] by Juliet Grey
- The second in Grey's Marie Antoinette series, this one did not disappoint. While her first book was focused more upon Marie Antoinette's ascension to the throne, this book focused more on her day to day life as the Queen of France. Grey's vivid use of words painted a picture in my mind of the grounds of Versailles and the life of the King and Queen. A third book is expected this summer. 
*****
[The American Heiress] by Daisy Goodwin
- This is a book that's been on my to read list for a while and when I saw it at Costco I had to grab it. It did not disappoint. Similar to the Philippa Gregory books, this book is set in the 1890s in England. It follows Cora Cash as she finds a husband with a title and becomes a Duchess. The book was truly captivating and the last 200 pages I think I read in a few hours because I just had to keep going! (Book 13/12 for 2012)
*****
[Boozehound] by Jason Wilson
- I grabbed this one because this blog recommended it. Molly, who writes the blog, also wrote a book called A Homemade Life which is amazing and has great recipes, tips, and is just fun to read! Therefore, when I saw that it was on her Amazon store, I bought it. I really enjoyed reading this book. It gave me lots of insight into common spirits and their story while also introducing me to less common spirits that I now want to try. (Book 12/12 for 2012)
*****
[Rules of Civility] by Amor Towles
- I picked up this book based upon a recommendation from a friend and was not disappointed. The previous book that I had been reading was in Italian and I just wasn't into it. It isn't like me to just stop half way into a book, but I was getting nowhere and wanted to be reading. This book was so amusing and I read it very fast! The story is set in 1930s New York and follows two friends through a year and all of their adventures. I really enjoyed the book and the story and got to know a different New York than you generally hear about. (Book 11/12 for 2012)
*****
[Snobs] by Julian Fellowes
- I grabbed this book from Barnes and Noble right before I left thinking it would be similar to the Philippa Gregory books. While it took me a few chapters to get into the book and understand the format (I couldn't figure out the speaker), I truly enjoyed the book and read the second half in about a day. It is a story about the English upper-class and follows Edith, the wife of an Earl. While it it based on actual events from the life of the author, the people are not real. I really liked the book and the genre and would recommend it to those that also enjoy the same genre. (Book 10/12 for 2012)
*****
[My Life in France] by Julia Child and Alex Prud'homme
- I have previously read other books about Julia Child and loved them and this one was very similar. It was much more personal as it contained her diary, essentially, from the four years that Julia s[ent in France. It was fun to read about her take on how she became so famous and the path that she took. It was also fun to read about the different shops and sights that she saw. This was an easy read and I would definitely recommend it for anyone that enjoys Julia Child or that is going to France/knows France. (Book 9/12 for 2012)
*****
[Mad Dash] by Patricia Gaffney
- I got this book for free from the library when they were clearing out older inventory so I didn't have very high expectations. The book was a quick read and had I not grabbed it for free, probably would not have read it. Plot is about this woman who is a photographer who decides she needs a change and so she retreats to her cabin in the woods for a week. Book is written diary-esque style in the sense that there are different sections baed upon whose voice we are reading (protagonists', her husband's, daughter's, etc.). An easy summer read. (Book 8/12 for 2012)
*****
[The Freedom Writers Diary] with Erin Gruwell
- A-MA-ZING!!! Truly an amazing book! I have never cried while reading a book until this one. The story is about this teacher, Erin Gruwell who is hired to teach a freshman English class in a high school in Long Beach. This class is the "reject" class that no one else wants to teach. She transforms them, and herself, into a larger cause. The book are the diaries of the students, excerpts from their lives. Just an amazing book that makes you see things in a new light. A HUGE recommend for anyone, but especially for teachers! (Book 7/12 for 2012)
*****
[The Portofino PTA] by Gerald Green
- I found this book at the library when they were giving away books. It is about a family from Long Island that moves to Italy for a few years and their experiences. I really enjoyed it. Green writes very well and it was a very easy and entertaining read. The book is old (1962), but some of the things that he describes in his experiences are still very relevant today. (Book 6/12 for 2012)
*****
[The Wednesday Wars] by Gary D. Schmidt
- Started reading this book because the teacher I was working with was reading it to her class. Read it in a few days. An easy read and well suited as a read aloud in the upper grades. A very enjoyable book about a kid, Holling Hoodhood, that lives in Long Island during the 1960s. He is in constant battle with his teacher, Mrs. Baker who has him read Shakespeare. Very well written and just a fun summer read! (Book 5/12 for 2012)
*****
[Becoming Marie Antoinette] by Juliet Grey
- This is one of my favorite genres to read - historial fiction. Similar to Philippa Gregory's series on the Tudors, Grey takes you into the life of Marie Antoinette and her ascension to the throne. The details and words capture you and I became enthralled in the book. She is coming out with a second book (this is the first in a trilogy) and I can't wait to dive into that book later this summer. This book, similar to Gregory's, are based on real facts with some of the relationships/characters being made-up. A fabulous book for those that like the genre. (Book 4/12 for 2012)
*****
[The Hunger Games] by Suzanne Collins
- My friend Cady had this book and I borrowed it to see what all the sensation is about. After the first few chapters, I got really into it! Now, I can't wait to see the movie! I also want to read the sequels because I really enjoyed it! It is a fun story and interesting as well because there is no world as we know it, it's all this new country, Panem. Very well written and a quick read! (Book 3/12 for 2012)
*****
[Miss Julia Delivers the Goods] by Ann B. Ross
- I have been reading the Miss Julia series for as long as I can remember. My mom gave me this book for my birthday or Christmas and I finally got around to reading it. The book is an easy read although it took me forever to get through it because of one thing or another. It is a fun read and it set in the South so I can easily picture the setting. This one is about Hazel Marie and her predicament. Not one of my favorites in the series, but still very eventful and fun! (Book 2/12 for 2012)
*****
[Big Girl] by Danielle Steel
- I grabbed this in the Austin airport because I wanted a quick read. I finished it in two days. It was ok, seems like a lot of Steel's books are similar. But I enjoyed it. It was entertaining and it was a fun break from the craziness that has been this past week or so. There are a few other of her books that I'd like to read. (Book 1/12 for 2012)
*****
[Le amiche del venerdi' sera] by Kate Jacobs
- My cousin gave me this book and so far I like it. It is also in English, The Friday Night Knitting Club. FINALLY finished this book. I don't know why it took me so long to finish it. It was an easy read and a fun read. There was somewhat of a twist at the end/didn't think something would happen and it did so that threw me for a loop. Overall, I liked the book and would recommend it to be read. Maybe though, it's a summer read.
*****
[Every Day in Tuscany] by Frances Mayes
- My parents gave me this book for my birthday. I enjoyed it although it seemed to take me forever to read! Make sure you read Under the Tuscan Sun first so that you know the author and what she talks about. Basically, this book goes through a year that Mayes spends in Italy. From the everyday tasks of cooking and cleaning to the way of life in Italy/Cortona. It was a fun read and she even includes some great recipes. A great read if you like the author!
*****
[Cercasi Amore Disperatamente] by Federica Bosco
- This was a really difficult book for me to read. Not because it was in Italian, but just plot/story. It ended up being the life of this girl as told to random people as she's in a bank that is in the middle of being robbed. I didn't figure that out until the end, nor did I know her name. There were come comical situations, but overall, it wasn't my favorite book. I finished it because I don't like to not finish books. Now, I'm going to take a break from the Italian books and read something in English then back in Italian! 
*****
[Mi Piaci Da Morire]
[L'amore Non Fa Per Me]
[L'amore Mi Perseguita] by Federica Bosco
- These are three books all by the same author and all in Italian. My cousin gave them to me as a morale  booster and so far it's working-ish. They are totally easy reads and very entertaining. They follow Monica, an Italian who lives in New York and her life. It starts with her working in New York but working on a book and trying to publish it. Then she meets someone and falls in love and moves to be with him (sounds familiar). Then they break up and she moves back to New York. Along the way lots of unexpected surprises with her friends and family. It's an entertaining trilogy and just the light read I needed!
*****
[The White Queen] by Philippa Gregory
- A favorite author of mine and I had to get this one since I hadn't read it yet. It turns out though, that the main character, Elizabeth Woodville, appears in Anne Easter Smith's Daughter of York (see below), so I knew a little background. However, since it was two different authors, their takes were different. The book follows Elizabeth Woodville through her life from when she marries King Edward in secret until later when her children are grown. It was truly fascinating to me because all the scandal that occurred in those times with the royals and how they all lived. I wish that I could have seen what it was like because I'm sure it was just fascinating! The book, as expected, was fabulous. Plus, this had a little witchcraft in it which made it even more fun. The time frame is just before the Tudor reign in England which was extremely fascinating. There are other books in this series so now I'll have to see what I read next of Gregory's. Whatever it is, I'm sure it will be great!
*****
[A Homemade Life] by Molly Wizenberg
- Immediately I felt drawn to this book. It is about a food blogger who turns her story into a book. I am just about 15 pages in, but I already feel like I wil use this book forever (tons of recipes!). Also, there is a quote that starts the book, "You know, we eat better at home than most people do in restaurants," that I have heard in my family as well. Finished the book on the way to Italy. SO GOOD. I definitely related to just about everything Wizenberg wrote. She seems very similar to me with regards to food and family. Plus, a lot of the recipes she included sound heavenly! I can't wait to start cooking!
*****
[44 Charles Street] by Danielle Steele
- A super quick read (3 days) and by the last 100 pages, I read those in one night! I couldn't put the book down. The book follows Francesca, recently separated from her boyfriend of 5 years and her quest to keep her house and her art gallery. She finds roommates to live in her house and the book follows them through their ups and downs. I could definitely picture everything that was going on in the book because the descriptions were so vivid.
*****
[The Devil in the Junior League] by Linda Francis Lee
- This was another summer read. Took me a little bit longer to get into it than I thought, but still enjoyed it. The timing of me reading that book worked out well because while I was reading it, I went and saw the movie, The Help, which was amazing. This book takes place in Texas where the women all belong to this Junior League. The book describes one of their lives when things don't go quite as planned. It's a fun read and gives you a different perspective on life!
*****
[Brilliant] by Marne Davis Kellogg
- Also LOVE this book. The female lead, Kick, works for an auction house in London but has a side job. That side job is a high end jewelry thief. Book ended with a nice little twist that had I not been paying attention in the beginning, it wouldn't make sense, so if you read it, pay attention! Overall, loved the book and already have the next one on hold at the library! The book is well written and funny and like Gore's book, can't wait to read the rest in the series!
*****
[Sammy's Hill] by Kristin Gore
- Read this book in 2 days. It was that good. I loved it! After having read some relatively intense books, I thought I'd take a trip to the library and grab some easy reads. I loved this and I hoped there's a sequel and just saw on Wikipedia that there is. But truly, I loved this book. Gore was witty and funny and educational all at the same time. There was a lovely twist that truly made the entire book that much better. When I wasn't reading the book, I was thinking about it. Can't wait to read the next one!
*****
[Daughter of York] by Anne Easter Smith
- The time period is a little different than what I am used to reading, but it is still extremely fascinating. Honestly, the first few chapters, I wasn't into it, but then, I didn't want to put it down! Smith definitely captivated me and my attention and I can't wait to read her next book. Like Gregory's books, I was able to picture the entire scenery and vast palaces! I was imagining the book as a movie and I had all the details. The lavish dresses and gowns. It was honestly a wonderful book!
*****
[Earthly Joys] by Phlippa Gregory
- I picked this book up from Borders because it was closing here in San Francisco. As I started to read it, it took me a while to get into the book. I never lost faith because of my love for Gregory's writing. Sure enough, it did not disappoint. This particular book follows the gardner to the lords in England during the Tudor/Stuart rules. John Tradescant is the main character. I did not like him at first, but after about 100 pages in, I began to truly enjoy his character. Gregory paints such a vivid picture with her words, that I could realistically picture everything that was going on. In the end, I read the last 200 pages in about a day and a half because I was totally absorbed in the book and the characters. Would definitely recommend to anyone who enjoys this genre.
*****
[Sunday's at Tiffany's] by James Patterson
- Just started reading this book. I first started reading Patterson with the Alex Cross series of books where she is a detective and works with her groups of friends to solve crimes. Since those books, I've read a few here and there and this is the first one in a while that I'm reading. What I love about his books is that they are all easy reads. This was a good read. A nice night bridge from Hedgehog to my new book (see below). It reminded me of the Time Traveler's Wife because of the back and forth that occurs, but overall I enjoyed it! Plus, I love anything that has to do with Tiffany's!
*****
[The Elegance of the Hedgehog] by Muriel Barbery
- This book took me a few chapters to get into, but now I am really enjoying it. It's a fun read about Parisian life and the lifestyles of the wealthy. Just finished reading the book and the last 50 pages really read fast for me. The ending wasn't what I expected at all, but it was a nice twist. Overall, truly enjoyed the book, and now want to read Barbery's other book, Gourmet Rhapsody.
*****
[360 Degrees Longitude] by John Higham
- I really enjoyed this book because it is an adventure around the world. A family of four takes a year off work (parents) and school (two young children) to travel around the world. The children are then home-schooled by their parents as they travel and they have the greatest adventures. A really great book that's well-written and entertaining. Makes me want to travel all over!
*****
[Boleyn Series] by Philippa Gregory
- I LOVE this author and this series that she has written about the Boleyn's. It was such a fascinating time of history and one of my favorites. The books are written extremely well and you don't want to put the book down because you just want to know what happens.
*****
[An Embarrassment of Mangoes and The Spice Necklace] by Ann Vanderhoof
- Not only is this book set in the Caribbean, but there's tons of recipes as well! Picked this book because it is about a couple who sail from Canada to the Caribbean and then hang out in the islands for a few years. Filled with recipes from the isles, this is an excellent book.
*****
[The Happiness Project] by Gretchen Rubin
- I enjoyed this quick read because it gave me ideas of things I can do to be happier in life. It was a quick read and entertaining as well. A good summer book.
*****
[The Help] by Kathryn Stockett
- I loved this book. It talks about the South (where I grew up) and is just written extremely well. It is a quick read because the first few pages just make you want to keep reading it. Definitely recommend for everyone!
*****

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