A recent article from the Miami Herald.
Appropriate timing, I thought.
I tend to associate the summer months with summer reading. Remember in high school, when your English teacher would assign you a reading list and you dreaded the thought of all those classics? I forced myself to read Pride and Prejudice the summer before 11th grade. Now it’s one of my favorites. Go figure.
As I packed my bag for my family’s beach vacation last month, I knew that I had to bring a few books along. Here were my choices:
I also started this title, but haven’t managed to finish it quite yet. I already have a feeling it’s going to leave an impression:
My previous beach reads recommendations, here.
I once read that if you like an author, you should read books by authors they admire, since they probably have similar styles or language. Maybe it’s a method thing. I remembered that, and pointed this book out to my mom one day at Barnes & Noble. My birthday was the following week, and thus the book came home with us as an early gift. So that’s how I came to read While We Were Watching Downton Abbey. Plus, how can you say no to a book with Downton Abbey in the title?
Set in Atlanta, and not all about Downton Abbey…just enough to make you realize what an impact the British show has had on the American public. It’s sort of a coming-of-age story for adults. The four protagonists experience love lost and love found — truly finding themselves along the way.
Any recommendation of mine really can’t do this book justice. Just read it!
I’m usually one who makes every attempt to read a book before watching the movie adaptation. I caught on to the Harry Potter books late, but by the time they were four or five movies in I had finally caught up. I’m still torn on some Nicholas Sparks adaptations. Then again, I’m sure many people are. Let’s face it — most times the book is much better than the movie. Very few times do I leave a theater thinking the movie outdid the book.
Earlier this summer, I stumbled upon a Huffington Post article that recommends six “Books To Read Before You See The Movie This Summer.” Of course The Great Gatsby was at the top of the list. The other book to catch my attention was Austenland by Shannon Hale. Here’s the synopsis from the author’s website:
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.
As a “Janeite” of sorts, of course I had to read it. I requested the book from my library and read it while fighting off a summer cold. So maybe it was the cold medicine that hindered my judgement, but I wasn’t that impressed by Austenland. I feel like the characters weren’t fully developed, and protagonist Jane Hayes is more annoying than likeable. Needless to say, this is one time that I definitely hope the movie is better than the book. I guess I’ll find out…whenever I get around to catching it.
Here‘s my last post on book-to-movie adaptations.
What books did you make sure to read before going to watch the movie?
The Time Between
by Karen White
Published June 4, 2013
I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this, but I am a huge World War II nerd. In undergrad, my second major was in History, and I managed to take every WWII-related class offered by the History department. Allow me to select my own topic for a history paper and I will gladly hash out 10+ pages on some topic related to WWII. I can’t tell you why I’m so fascinated with that era in particular — it’s just something that has piqued my interest and scholarship for as long as I can remember.
But this is supposed to be a book review, right? Right. I return to familiar territory with this selection. Karen White’s new release, The Time Between, hit bookstores in June. I’m usually thrilled about any of her novels, but this was a book after my own heart. Why? Because the backstory of one of her protagonists is set in Hungary, 1944. A country allied with the Axis Powers but fighting the Nazi invasion. Some WWII history thrown into Karen’s Southern tale? Yes, please!
From the author’s website:
“Thirty-four-year-old Eleanor Murray is consumed by guilt for causing the accident that paralyzed her sister–and for falling in love with her sister’s husband. But when her boss offers her a part-time job caring for his elderly aunt, Helena, Eleanor accepts, hoping this good deed will help atone for her mistakes.
On Edisto Island, Eleanor bonds with Helena over their mutual love of music. Drawing the older woman out of her depression, Eleanor learns of her life with her sister in Hungary before and during World War II. She hears tales of passion and heartache, defiance and dangerous deception. And when the truth of Helena’s and her sister’s actions comes to light, Eleanor may finally allow herself to move past guilt and to embrace the song that lies deep in her heart…”
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Karen White creates magic with her storytelling. I hated putting this book down for even a minute. When I did, my mind would drift back to Eleanor and Helena, yearning to read the rest of their story. As I read the epilogue, my eyes filled with tears as I smiled (because yes, there is a happy ending) but I also knew I was saying goodbye to characters whose stories touched my heart. Yet even as closed the cover, I knew it wasn’t a complete goodbye. I’ll see Eleanor and Helena again soon. Because with a book this good, I can’t NOT reread it
The Tale of Halcyon Crane
by Wendy Webb
I’ve always been a sucker for a good ghost story. I’ve read them since elementary school. Finding a well-developed ghost story in modern fiction & literature proves difficult sometimes, though. Not the case with this title.
Webb’s heroine, Halcyon Crane, lived most her life as Hallie James–raised by her father after her mother’s tragic death. It isn’t until her father passes away and she receives a letter from an attorney that she learns her mother had been very much alive until recently. Halcyon returns to her mother’s home – on an island in the Great Lakes – and learns the truth about her past, as well as her haunting family history.
Part mystery, part drama and full gothic ghost story goodness, this debut novel from Wendy Webb makes for a thrilling page-turner. It’s a definite recommendation in my book.