July 2, 2014

Books on Books on Books

I'm not a fan of a one book blog post. I personally think it's a waste of a read and skip em, but with summer pool time approaching, I thought I'd share a few books that I've enjoyed recently.

Hopefully, these can give you a few reads for you traveling
or pool lounging days ahead.

I'll Be Seeing You: Suzanne Hays & Loretta Nyhan
"I hope this letter gets to you quickly. We are always waiting, aren't we? Perhaps the greatest gift this war has given us is the anticipation..."

"It's January 1943 when Rita Vincenzo receives her first letter from Glory Whitehall. Glory is an effervescent young mother, impulsive and free as a bird. Rita is a sensible professor's wife with a love of gardening and a generous, old soul. Glory comes from New England society; Rita lives in Iowa, trying to make ends meet. They have nothing in common except one powerful bond: the men they love are fighting in a war a world away from home. 

Brought together by an unlikely twist of fate, Glory and Rita begin a remarkable correspondence. The friendship forged by their letters allows them to survive the loneliness and uncertainty of waiting on the home front, and gives them the courage to face the battles raging in their very own backyards. Connected across the country by the lifeline of the written word, each woman finds her life profoundly altered by the other’s unwavering support.

A collaboration of two authors whose own beautiful story mirrors that on the page, I’ll Be Seeing You is a deeply moving union of style and charm. Filled with unforgettable characters and grace, it is a timeless celebration of friendship and the strength and solidarity of women."

I ADORED this book. I can't remember why I chose it in the first place, but I am so glad I did. Anything WW2 intrigues me, so I had very high hopes for the book. Obviously it didn't disappoint. The entire book is a collection of letters between two women, who are randomly put together at two different support groups for women with husbands fighting in the war. Rita and Glory couldn't be more different, but they find a common bond with the war and begin an incredible friendship.

Life comes at both of them hard and they work together to try and figure things out. I can't imagine not being able to text or quickly call a friend in need. Their letters are poignant, heart breaking and so very real. I am so impressed by the two authors and their ability to bring the characters to life.

I also enjoyed the different war time recipes the book shared. It's honestly humbling, reading what the Greatest Generation went without, for the greater good of the war and the world. Those left back at home had to be extremely creative with the tight rationing at that time.

I don't see how anyone couldn't enjoy this book, but I know that some people might not. If you are WW2 buff, enjoy a good women's story on friendship or just want a good read, I highly suggest you pick this up, soon.


Second Honeymoon: James Patterson

"A walk down the aisle, a resort hotel, a drink on the beach...for these unlucky couples, the honeymoon's over.
A newlywed couple steps into the sauna in their deluxe honeymoon suite--and never steps out again. When another couple is killed while boarding their honeymoon flight to Rome, it becomes clear that someone is targeting honeymooners, and it's anyone's guess which happy couple is next on the list.

FBI Agent John O'Hara is deep into solving the case, while Special Agent Sarah Brubaker is hunting another ingenious serial killer, whose victims all have one chilling thing in common.

As wedding hysteria rises to a frightening new level, John and Sarah work ever more closely together in a frantic attempt to decipher the logic behind two rampages. SECOND HONEYMOON is James Patterson's most mesmerizing, most exciting, and most surprising thriller ever."

Fast paced, crazy turns and oh em goodness is the only way to describe this book. Patterson has you guessing from the moment you start and keeps you guessing the whole way through. I was thrown for a loop, more than one time, but everything made sense in the end.  I'd suggest this as travel or poolside read.


Austenland: Shannon Hale

"Jane Hayes is a seemingly normal young New Yorker, but she has a secret. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, is ruining her love life: no real man can compare. But when a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women, Jane's fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become realer than she ever could have imagined.

Decked out in empire-waist gowns, Jane struggles to master Regency etiquette and flirts with gardeners and gentlemen;or maybe even, she suspects, with the actors who are playing them. It's all a game, Jane knows. And yet the longer she stays, the more her insecurities seem to fall away, and the more she wonders: Is she about to kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?"

Babyspice recommended this book to me and it was a super cute, fun, easy read. I'm not a huge Jane Austen fan, just because I've never read any of her books. Blasphemous, I know. But, I'm a huge romantic and I've heard wonderful things about Mr. Darcy and Pride and Prejudice.

The story is cute, but predictable. I enjoyed the thought of going to a place back in time, but some of the restrictions made me happy I live in a more modern age. People finding love makes me happy, so watching Jane struggle to find her Mister Right was fun. If you're not a fan of romantic books, skip this one for sure.


American Wife: Curtis Sittenfeld
 "On what might become one of the most significant days in her husband’s presidency, Alice Blackwell considers the strange and unlikely path that has led her to the White House–and the repercussions of a life lived, as she puts it, “almost in opposition to itself.”

A kind, bookish only child born in the 1940s, Alice learned the virtues of politeness early on from her stolid parents and small Wisconsin hometown. But a tragic accident when she was seventeen shattered her identity and made her understand the fragility of life and the tenuousness of luck. So more than a decade later, when she met boisterous, charismatic Charlie Blackwell, she hardly gave him a second look: She was serious and thoughtful, and he would rather crack a joke than offer a real insight; he was the wealthy son of a bastion family of the Republican party, and she was a school librarian and registered Democrat. Comfortable in her quiet and unassuming life, she felt inured to his charms. And then, much to her surprise, Alice fell for Charlie.

As Alice learns to make her way amid the clannish energy and smug confidence of the Blackwell family, navigating the strange rituals of their country club and summer estate, she remains uneasy with her newfound good fortune. And when Charlie eventually becomes President, Alice is thrust into a position she did not seek–one of power and influence, privilege and responsibility. As Charlie’s tumultuous and controversial second term in the White House wears on, Alice must face contradictions years in the making: How can she both love and fundamentally disagree with her husband? How complicit has she been in the trajectory of her own life? What should she do when her private beliefs run against her public persona?"

I randomly picked up this book and almost set it down a chapter in, which would have been a huge bummer. This book provided me with an intriguing story, one that provided me with an interesting peek at the Presidency [as imagined], those that live the high life, and those that marry into the high life. 

I found the author did a great job in portraying Alice's struggle, without making her seem like a victim or ungrateful. It made me wonder what I would do in her position, mostly as a wife but also as a public figure. I will admit I did not enjoy the parallel that was dropped near the end of the book, to an actual President. I felt it turned the book into something it wasn't, trying to mix too much fiction with fact. Other than that misstep, I found myself moving through chapters at a quick pace, but also enjoying the story itself.


Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker: Jennifer Chiaverini

"In Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker, novelist Jennifer Chiaverini presents a stunning account of the friendship that blossomed between Mary Todd Lincoln and her seamstress, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Keckley, a former slave who gained her professional reputation in Washington, D.C. by outfitting the city’s elite. Keckley made history by sewing for First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln within the White House, a trusted witness to many private moments between the President and his wife, two of the most compelling figures in American history.

In March 1861, Mrs. Lincoln chose Keckley from among a number of applicants to be her personal “modiste,” responsible not only for creating the First Lady’s gowns, but also for dressing Mrs. Lincoln in the beautiful attire Keckley had fashioned. The relationship between the two women quickly evolved, as Keckley was drawn into the intimate life of the Lincoln family, supporting Mary Todd Lincoln in the loss of first her son, and then her husband to the assassination that stunned the nation and the world.

Keckley saved scraps from the dozens of gowns she made for Mrs. Lincoln, eventually piecing together a tribute known as the Mary Todd Lincoln Quilt. She also saved memories, which she fashioned into a book, Behind the Scenes: Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House. Upon its publication, Keckley’s memoir created a scandal that compelled Mary Todd Lincoln to sever all ties with her, but in the decades since, Keckley’s story has languished in the archives. In this impeccably researched, engrossing novel, Chiaverini brings history to life in rich, moving style

This book was recommended to me by a lady at church and I had been on the waiting list for a long time. It's become a pretty popular book, and I can totally see why. The author does a great job of introducing Keckley and really makes you feel for the dressmaker.

I personally had NO idea that Mrs. Lincoln was such a...umm...diva nor why she acted the way she did. Obviously, this book is historical FICTION, but by accounts I read later, on my own, some of her antics were well documented. Definitely give this one a try.  


Orphan Train: Christina Baker Kline

"A captivating story of two very different women who build an unexpected friendship: a 91-year-old woman with a hidden past as an orphan-train rider and the teenage girl whose own troubled adolescence leads her to seek answers to questions no one has ever thought to ask.

Nearly eighteen, Molly Ayer knows she has one last chance. Just months from "aging out" of the child welfare system, and close to being kicked out of her foster home, a community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping her out of juvie and worse.

Vivian Daly has lived a quiet life on the coast of Maine. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past. As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly discovers that she and Vivian aren't as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.

The closer Molly grows to Vivian, the more she discovers parallels to her own life. A Penobscot Indian, she, too, is an outsider being raised by strangers, and she, too, has unanswered questions about the past. As her emotional barriers begin to crumble, Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life - answers that will ultimately free them both.

Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of second chances, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are."

Wonderfully written and very well crafted, Orphan Train provides the reader with an extremely interesting story. One that I personally had NO IDEA was part of our history. Part of me thinks it was a genius idea but after reading some of the struggles the children faced it sounds like such a crap shoot. 

Vivian's character is the kind you root for, because you want to see her succeed. Molly's is a bit more of an eh "You keep bringing this on yourself girl", but you do feel for her in her unfortunate circumstances. I will say, it takes a chapter or two to understand the switching of eras, but it's not anything distracting.  Whether you are or aren't familiar with the Orphan Train concept, I'm pretty sure you'll be a big fan of this book.

[all pictures and teasers are from Goodreads.com]


  1. Thanks for the recommendations. I read Orphan Train as well and really enjoyed it.

  2. I will def. be reading that James Patterson book after I finish what I am reading now!

  3. So curious to read the book about Mrs. Lincoln now! I read American Wife too, and like you, wasn't too sure about the parallels. I heard that the book was based off Laura Bush, so I had a hard time believing some of it. Interesting read for sure, but definitely to be taken with a grain of salt.

  4. Thanks for the recommendations!! Personally, I love learning about new books.

    Best, Mree

  5. I needed some new reads, so thank you for the review, note to self, skip american wife. xoxo

  6. Love new recommendations, I will have to pick them up! Thanks for the reviews.

  7. Look at you being a reading machine!

  8. Orphan Train and Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker are on my list!

  9. i need to step away from the tv and take a book outside and read

  10. i loved austenland! but i am a huge austen fan lol. i enjoyed orphan train, it was fabulous learning everything but i thought it was kind of slow and just when i thought it was getting good it ended. not my fave, unfortunately. i love the idea of many books in one post! i was thinking of changing to that unless its a super amazing book that deserves its own post ;)

  11. James Pattersons is one of my all time favorites!

  12. james patterson is my fav author, try his murder club series.

    I will have to look at that orphan train one.


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