Thursday, June 7, 2012

Beach time reading

While everyone is compiling their summer reading lists, I feel a like this is a little out of place for me to be doing.  It's always summer here (even if there are some storms and drizzles) and I'm continuing with summer courses, creating a lack of the usual school break.  So I decided I needed a list of beach reads, as those can be classified under any season here on the island, and thought I could share :).  Because maybe you're going to be hanging out a lot on the beach, too!

*summaries and photos taken from*

The heartwarming story of a young French girl, Etoile, who is raised in a world of prejudice and despair who becomes orphaned and is sent to live with her distant cousin, Giselle, and Giselle's partner, Jean. Embraced by Giselle, Jean, and their community of friends, Etoile discovers the true meaning of family, but their strength is put to the test when the state threathens to take her away

“I know. I know. No one says it but I know…” —from Signs of Life
Twenty-four-year-old Natalie Taylor was leading a charmed life. At the age of twenty four, she had a fulfilling job as a high school English teacher, a wonderful husband, a new house and a baby on the way.  Then, while visiting her sister, she gets the news that Josh has died in a freak accident.  Four months before the birth of her son, Natalie is leveled by loss.

What follows is an incredibly powerful emotional journey, as Natalie calls upon resources she didn’t even know she had in order to re-imagine and re-build a life for her and her son. In vivid and immediate detail, Natalie documents her life from the day of Josh’s death through the birth their son, Kai, as she struggles in her role as a new mother where everyone is watching her for signs of impending collapse.  With honesty, raw pain, and most surprising, a wicked sense of humor, Natalie recounts the agonies and unexpected joys of her new life.  There is the frustration of holidays, navigating the relationship with her in-laws, the comfort she finds and unlikely friendship she forges in support groups and the utterly breathtaking, but often overwhelming new motherhood.   When she returns to the classroom, she finds that little is more healing than the honesty and egocentricity of teenagers.

Drawing on lessons from beloved books like The Color Purple and The Catcher in the Rye and the talk shows she suddenly can’t get enough of, from the strength of her family and friends, and from a rich fantasy life—including a saucy fairy godmother who guides her grieving—Natalie embarks on the ultimate journey of self-discovery and realizes you can sometimes find the best in yourself during the worst life has to offer.  And she delivers these lessons, in way that feels like she’s right beside you in her bathrobe and with a glass of wine--the cool, funny girlfriend you love to stay up all night with.

Unforgettable and utterly absorbing, Signs of Life features a powerful, wholly original debut voice that will have you crying and laughing to the very last page.

A Victorian boarding school story, a Gothic mansion mystery, a gossipy romp about a clique of girlfriends, and a dark other-worldly fantasy--jumble them all together and you have this complicated and unusual first novel.
Sixteen-year-old Gemma has had an unconventional upbringing in India, until the day she foresees her mother's death in a black, swirling vision that turns out to be true. Sent back to England, she is enrolled at Spence, a girls' academy with a mysterious burned-out East Wing. There Gemma is snubbed by powerful Felicity, beautiful Pippa, and even her own dumpy roommate Ann, until she blackmails herself and Ann into the treacherous clique. Gemma is distressed to find that she has been followed from India by Kartik, a beautiful young man who warns her to fight off the visions. Nevertheless, they continue, and one night she is led by a child-spirit to find a diary that reveals the secrets of a mystical Order. The clique soon finds a way to accompany Gemma to the other-world realms of her visions "for a bit of fun" and to taste the power they will never have as Victorian wives, but they discover that the delights of the realms are overwhelmed by a menace they cannot control. Gemma is left with the knowledge that her role as the link between worlds leaves her with a mission to seek out the "others" and rebuild the Order. A Great and Terrible Beauty is an impressive first book in what should prove to be a fascinating trilogy.

As Beirut exploded with the bombs and violence of a ruthless civil war in the ’80s, a nine-year-old Salma Abdelnour and her family fled Lebanon to start a new life in the States. Ever since then— even as she built a thriving career as a food and travel writer in New York City—Salma has had a hunch that Beirut was still her home.  She kept dreaming of moving back—and finally decided to do it.

But could she resume her life in Beirut, so many years after her family moved away? Could she, or anyone for that matter, ever really go home again?

Jasmine and Fire is Salma’s poignant and humorous journey of try-ing to resettle in Beirut and fumbling through the new realities of life in one of the world’s most complex, legendary, ever-vibrant, ever- troubled cities. What’s more, in a year of roiling changes around the Middle East and the rise of the Arab Spring, Salma found herself in the midst of the turmoil, experiencing it all up close.

As she comes to grips with all the changes in her life—a love left behind in New York and new relationships blossoming in Beirut—Salma takes comfort in some of Lebanon’s enduring traditions, particularly its extraordinary food culture. Through the sights, sounds, and flavors of a city full of beauty, tragedy, despair, and hope, Salma slowly begins to reconnect with the place she’s longed for her entire life

Is there such thing as a Western Taoist? Benjamin Hoff says there is, and this Taoist's favorite food is honey. Through brilliant and witty dialogue with the beloved Pooh-bear and his companions, the author of this smash bestseller explains with ease and aplomb that rather than being a distant and mysterious concept, Taoism is as near and practical to us as our morning breakfast bowl. Romp through the enchanting world of Winnie-the-Pooh while soaking up invaluable lessons on simplicity and natural living.

A captivating novel about the woman who chaperoned an irreverent Louise Brooks to New York City in 1922, and the summer that would change them both. Only a few years before becoming a famous actress and an icon for her generation, a fifteen-year-old Louise Brooks leaves Wichita to make it big in New York. Much to her annoyance, she is accompanied by a thirty-six-year-old chaperone who is neither mother nor friend. Cora Carlisle is a complicated but traditional woman with her own reasons for making the trip. She has no idea what she's in for: Young Louise, already stunningly beautiful and sporting her famous blunt bangs and black bob, is known for her arrogance and her lack of respect for convention. Ultimately, the five weeks they spend together will change their lives forever. For Cora, New York holds the promise of discovery that might prove an answer to the question at the center of her being, and even as she does her best to watch over Louise in a strange and bustling city, she embarks on her own mission. And while what she finds isn't what she anticipated, it liberates her in a way she could not have imagined. Over the course of the summer, Cora's eyes are opened to the promise of the twentieth century and a new understanding of the possibilities for being fully alive.

Winner of the prestigious Whitbread Prize for best first novel and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for best writer under 35, this modern classic has sold 100,000 copies in the United States. The novel chronicles the life of a bright and rebellious orphan who is adopted into an Evangelical household in the dour, industrial Midlands. Her insistence on listening to the truths of her own heart and mind makes for an unforgettable chronicle of an eccentric, moving rite of passage into adulthood.

It is 1904. When Frederick and Jette must flee her disapproving mother, where better to go than America, the land of the new? Originally set to board a boat to New York, at the last minute, they take one destined for New Orleans instead ("What's the difference? They're both new"), and later find themselves, more by chance than by design, in the small town of Beatrice, Missouri. Not speaking a word of English, they embark on their new life together.
Beatrice is populated with unforgettable characters: a jazz trumpeter from the Big Easy who cooks a mean gumbo, a teenage boy trapped in the body of a giant, a pretty schoolteacher who helps the young men in town learn about a lot more than just music, a minister who believes he has witnessed the Second Coming of Christ, and a malevolent, bicycle-riding dwarf.
A Good American is narrated by Frederick and Jette's grandson, James, who, in telling his ancestors' story, comes to realize he doesn't know his own story at all. From bare-knuckle prizefighting and Prohibition to sweet barbershop harmonies, the Kennedy assassination, and beyond, James's family is caught up in the sweep of history. Each new generation discovers afresh what it means to be an American. And, in the process, Frederick and Jette's progeny sometimes discover more about themselves than they had bargained for.
Poignant, funny, and heartbreaking, A Good American is a novel about being an outsider-in your country, in your hometown, and sometimes even in your own family. It is a universal story about our search for home


  1. Oh, interesting Summer reads. I am going to check some of these out. Especially, "Signs of Life"

  2. You have completely inspired my summer reading list! Over half of your choices sound amazing!

  3. I'm so glad I was able to pass a few along that you might enjoy!

  4. A Great and Terrible Beauty is one of my favorite books EVER. I read it when we lived over on 3rd St., and when I finished, I ran to the library in a rain storm to get the sequels. :) I bet you'll love it.

  5. I thought it might have been from you! I now remember you telling me about it and it's been in my goodreads "to-read" list ever since. I think it's going to be next once I'm done with the Wolves of Mercy Falls series.

  6. Such a useful post, now I know what I will read next, I was in lack of inspiration. Now following your lovely blog, xoxo


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