Monday, August 1, 2011

July 2011

After a reasonably temperate June, the great heat dome of 2011 spread across the country and into New England. As temperatures flirted with 100 degrees and the humidity sat consistently in the unbearable zone, reading was the one true relief. Here's what accompanied glass after glass of iced coffee in July.

Folly Beach by Dorothea Benton Frank
4/5 Fiction Scale
Format:  Hardcover
Source:  Library
I was swept away with this mix of the historical story of Dorothy and DuBose Heyward, Porgy House, the production of Porgy & Bess, George Gershwin, and the Charleston Literary Renaissance and the current day story of Cate Cooper and how she puts her life back together after a series of life-changing events and comes to write Folly Beach, a play based on Dorothy and DuBose.
First line: Dorothy: I married an actual renaissance man.

Wild Man Creek by Robyn Carr
3.5/5 Romance Scale
Format:  eBook
Source:  Library via Overdrive
This visit to Virgin River for the story of Colin Riordan and Jillian Matlock has me up to date with this series by Robyn Carr. A good man with physical and emotional damage and a career driven woman with some legal baggage find love and happiness in an old Victorian home as she grows vegetables and he paints pictures. As always, the destination is known, and it's the trip that keeps you reading.
First line:  Jillian Matlock was a natural in the business world and her ability to anticipate surprises and challenges was legendary.

One Night Is Never Enough by Anne Mallory
2/5 Romance Scale
Format:  eBook
Source:  Barnes & Noble
The July 2011 selection for the Barnes and Noble (Burlington, MA) Romance Readers. Regency is not my favorite historical period, and this book about a young woman of the Ton being won in a card game by a Regency rake (not of the Ton) did nothing to change my opinion.
First line:  She needed to slow down.

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch
4/5 Non-fiction Scale
Format:  Hardcover
Source:  Library
Nina Sankovitch sets a plan to read a book a day for a year all in an effort to assuage the sadness and guilt (the guilt of the living) that overwhelmed her following the death of her sister. This book could easily have devolved into "I read [insert title]", "Then I read [insert title]"; but in the hands of this skillful memoirist, you are taken on a beautiful journey of books, reading, and how "words are alive and literature becomes an escape, not from, but into living."
First line:  In September 2008 my husband, Jack, and I went away for a weekend, leaving our four kids in the care of my parents.

One Summer by David Baldacci
3/5 Fiction Scale
Format:  Hardcover
Source:  Library
Heartbreak, loss, love, a family's renewal. A good story for reading on a summer afternoon.
First line:  Jack Armstrong sat up in the secondhand hospital bed that had been wedged into a corner of the den in his home in Cleveland.

Rituals of the Season by Margaret Maron
4/5 Mystery scale
Format:  Hardcover
Source:  Library
Margaret Maron's Deborah Knott series is one I've been wanting to get started on for some time. While browsing the library mystery shelves recently, Rituals of the Season jumped into my hands and begged me to just start reading. Dealing with the murder of a friend and colleague of many of the town's residents, this book was an excellent introduction to this popular series. I'm going to read forward from here and catch up on the backlist when I see them on the shelves.
First line:  The white sedan was later than expected, so late that the driver of the nondescript car parked on the shoulder was beginning to wonder if something had already happened to her.

Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister
4.5/5 Fiction Scale
Format:  Hardcover
Source:  Barnes & Noble
The web of friendship and understanding untangles and strengthens in this gem of exquisite writing.
First line:  Life came back slowly, Kate realized.
Epigraph:  Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? --Mary Oliver

Heat Wave by Nancy Thayer
3/5 Fiction Scale
Format:  Hardcover
Source:  Library
Carley Winsted rebuilds her life and family after the unexpected death of her husband (not a spoiler--it's on the bookcover flap). Very appropriate to read Heat Wave as the legendary heat dome of 2011 dominated July in New England.
First line:  Some days recently, Carley Winsted had experienced moments of actual happiness, when her heart gave her a break.

The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes
4.5/5 Fiction Scale
Format:  Hardcover
Source:  Library
This is an artfully drawn story of Julia Stirling and what was before and what happened after the fateful events of the early 1960s. Features one of my favorite themes, but to tell you which would be a spoiler.
First line:  October 1960 - "She's waking up."

A Creed in Stone Creek by Linda Lael Miller
3/5 Romance Scale
Format:  eBook
Source:  Barnes & Noble
August selection for Barnes and Noble (Burlington, MA) Romance Readers. First in a trilogy about the Creed men, one further series extension of the McKettricks, Stone Creek, Montana Creeds books--about 26 in all. This may be why explaining the who's who of the secondary characters seemed so tedious. The main story about Melissa O'Ballivan and Steven Creed was ok. The real star of the book was Steven's adopted son, Matt. Of course, there was a loveable dog involved as well.
First line:  Some instinct--or maybe just a stir of a breeze--awakened Steven Creed; he sat up in bed, took a fraction of a moment to orient himself to unfamiliar surroundings.

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair, Joy for Beginners, and The Last Letter from Your Lover hit the reading high notes in July. One Night Is Never Enough was one night too many.

First up in August: Burnt Mountain by Anne Rivers Siddons.


Les said...

Adding Last Letter from your Lover to my list!

Glad you enjoyed Bauermeister's latest! I hope she's busy writing another, don't you?

I tried to read One Summer (Baldacci), but gave up after several chapters. Too predictable and sappy for my taste.

Nan said...

Very funny ending 'one night too many.' :<)

I haven't yet written about the books but my summer reading has been inspired by you!

I am quite interested in the Tolstoy book. It's a fascinating idea - one I've never read about before. I will look into the Joy book since I've read other praise for it. And perhaps Folly Beach.

And I might give the little chart a try. I've found it hard to keep up with book reports this summer and am pondering the thought of doing a monthly post, and if I do, then I'd like to use it. If I do, I shall give full credit to you!

Marcia said...

Les ~ One Summer--it was a hot afternoon, the ceiling fan was on high, iced coffee within reach, it was a very short book....

Nan ~ I decided on the monthly summary approach after finding myself not posting anything about what I was reading. You'd think that being retired would give me the time and energy to write better/longer recaps of the books I read, but I'd much rather be reading than writing/tweaking my thoughts. :)