Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Honeymoon Reads

When people ask for stories about my recent honeymoon, I don't know what to say. We did a lot of sleeping, drinking and hanging out by the pool or on the beach.

During this time I did a ton of reading. Rob surprised me with a Kindle a couple of weeks before the wedding so I could have it on the honeymoon. It was truly the perfect gift! So light and portable. Not to mention I could update my reading list to match my mood. I was able to finally read authors and books that I've been meaning to read for months or even years.

Since reading was my primary honeymoon activity, I thought I'd share with you all a list of what I read and my thoughts on each read. (As you can tell from my comments like "the author is really good" I should clearly write for the NY Times and you all are getting this content free. Lucky ducks)

I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella
Back in college, I got into the Shopoholic series on spring break. It was the perfect beach read. Since then I've kept up with her books, and I've Got Your Number is her latest release. I wanted to kick off vacation with something light and fun, and this didn't disappoint.

In the book, the main character Poppy has lost her engagement ring during a hotel fire drill. During the confusion, her cell phone is stolen. Poppy then finds a cell phone in the trash, and she decides to take it so the hotel can reach her if they find her ring. The phone's owner Sam is not happy about this. Events unravel as Poppy and Sam's lives become intertwined through messages, emails and phone calls.

I'll admit it was definitely a fluffy read. It was pretty predictable, but in typical Kinsella fashion, the quirky protagonist is endearing even when her actions are ridiculous. If you're looking for a cute chick lit read, then this is a good pick in my opinion. On a side note, I would opt for a hard copy over the Kindle for this one. Kinsella uses a lot of footnotes which are quick little jokes in a book, but a lot of work when you have to scroll and click and link in the Kindle.

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
I have no idea why I never read Sedaris earlier. I've heard good things, and I love memoirs personal essays with a bit of snark. Augusten Burroughs' and Chelsea Handler's essay style books are some of my favorites. So I figured vacation was as good of a time as any to read some of Sedaris' book.

In Me Talk Pretty One Day, Sedaris tells tales of growing up in North Carolina, learning French, and life with 6 brothers and sisters.

I can't say I loved this book as much as I thought I would. The book is divided into two parts, the first half is mostly focused on his childhood and other bits of his life, and the second half focuses more on his life in France. I think the second half definitely worked more for me than the first. It just felt more cohesive. While this book may not be a favorite of mine, I am willing to read Sedaris again.

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
The Kitchen House is about Lavinia, a white Irish girl who is orphaned at 7 years old and works as an indentured servant on a plantation. She lives and works with the slaves in the kitchen house. The book alternates between the point of view of Lavinia and Belle, a slave who is the master's illegitimate daughter. The book follows the lives of these two women and the worlds that divide them and the relationships that bond them.

I loved this book. I thought Grissom's use of the double narration was the perfect way to enlighten the reader. The young Lavinia is naive and optimistic, and adults often shelter her from the griefs that plague the slaves' lives. While Belle's chapters are much shorter, she is blunt and able to provide the reader with more insight. The two balance the story and prevent things from being too heavy or handled too lightly. I wondered about some of the historical accuracies, but if you're just looking for an engaging story with memorable characters, then this is a great read!

The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks
Again, I'd never read a Nicholas Sparks book, though I had seen plenty of movies based on his books! I figured it'd be a good beach read, and after The Kitchen House I was in the mood for something a little less intense.

Logan Thibault is a US Marine in Iraq. On a run, he finds a photo of a girl. After a series of nearly fatal encounters, it is declared that this photo is Thibault's good luck charm. He returns back to the United States, and he decided to find the woman in the photo. His quest brings him to Hamilton, NC to Beth, a single mother. As he begins a relationship with the woman and her son, Thibault keeps his story a secret, as he befriends Beth and her family and animosity grows between Thibault and her ex-husband.

I liked this book, and it was the type of book I was looking to read at that moment. Definitely has the same feel as the Sparks movies. With the exception of The Notebook, most of his movies have the same sort of feel. They follow a formula, and I don't think this is any different. I know they're making a movie of this book, and I can totally see that. The couple's romance is quite touching, and the leading man says and does the perfect things at the perfect time.  The relationship grows until some twist threatens to tear them apart.  That being said, I think Sparks did a great job with Thibault's past and the current story line. I also loved Beth's grandmother, who is known for her strange comparisons. There's not a ton of substance to it, but it hit the spot.

Defending Jacob: A Novel by William Landay
This is one of the many reasons I love the Kindle. I had never heard of this book, but it was recommended to me in the Kindle shop after I read The Kitchen House. It was on the New York Times Best Seller list, and it had a high rating, so I decided to download it. I have to admit, I'm not a huge fan of the cover, and having never heard of it before, probably would not have picked it up in a book store. This is exactly why they say NOT to judge a book by its cover.

A Massachusetts assistant district attorney's life goes astray when his teenage son is accused of murdering his classmate. The story follows ADA Andy Barber and his family as they deal with the accusation and the consequences that follow.

I am probably biased as I really enjoy when books are set in Boston or the area. The main characters live in Newton, which added an extra level of enjoyment. That being said, I thought this story was really well done. As the reader I felt torn as Andy discovers troubling secrets about his son, and I felt divided as the drama threatens his marriage. The narrative jumps between a court transcript of Andy's testimony and his internal memory of events. The book had a touch of suspense, interesting characters, and I thought realistically showed how even an accusation of one person can change an entire family's life. While the subject matter was a bit hard to read at times, I definitely recommend this book.

The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz
After being an accomplished pastry chef and cookbook author for almost 20 years, Lebovitz decides to move to Paris, a city known as a culinary and cultural mecca. Each chapter ends with some recipes.

I've been in love with Paris since I visited in 8th grade. It was interesting hearing about so many different aspects about life in Paris. From fashion to the supermarket to etiquette, I definitely feel like Lebovitz does a great job of showcasing the differences between French and American lives like his experience with the French healthcare system and his alarm at having to administer his own iv. The recipes were one of my favorite additions. They range from chickpea crepes to chocolate mousse and blended iced coffee and apple tart. My one wish would be that we could have learned more about Lebovitz's personal life, but c'est la vie.

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
A woman responds to a wealthy man's ad for a reliable life, but she has a plan to kill him, inherit his wealth and take care of the man she really loves. She doesn't anticipate falling in love with him, but he too has a plan of his own.

This book was interesting. The constant sexual references made it skewed a bit on the trashy romance side, but the web of deception gives it a bit of a thriller feel. This book surprised me multiple times. I never really liked any of the characters, which made this difficult to get through. I picked this book because I'd heard several good reviews, but this was mostly a miss for me.

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