Sunday Salon – June 5, 2011

June 5, 2011

8:30 AM

Good morning and welcome to this week’s edition of Sunday Salon. I missed last week, and so I have a little catching up to do. Before I start talking books, however, let me just tell you that this weather is more like February than June. We’ve had cold, cold rain (and even a little snow), hail, and dark skies for weeks now…and so this morning when I woke up and saw blue skies and a little sunshine, I was thrilled. Despite this morning’s reprieve from the rain, the forecast is for more rain through Tuesday…and then we are supposed to drop directly into summer with temps up to 90 degrees for the latter part of the week. Just weird.

Enough about the weather.

I have read several books since my last Sunday Salon post and thought I would re-cap those before talking about my current read.

I was disappointed by The London Train by Tess Hadley (read my review). This was a book I was so looking forward to as it was long listed for The Orange Prize for Fiction. But the pace was excruciatingly slow and the characters mostly unlikable. I slogged through the book because I was touring it, otherwise, I might have given up on it (although the second half was definitely better than the first). Not everyone agrees with me, so if you are interested in the book, please check out other bloggers’ reviews which you can find either by doing a blog search here, or going to the TLC Tour page for the book.

Next up in the stacks was Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda which I really enjoyed (read my review). Set in India, the novel is about the divide between the wealthy and the poor, mother and daughter relationships, adoption, and women’s issues. Gowda’s writing is authentic and she managed to address difficult issues without being overly predictable. I don’t think I have seen a bad review of this one out in blog-land…so if you are looking for a good summer read, this might be the right choice.

I loved The Season of Second Chances by Diane Meier (read my review) and was very surprised when I started reading reviews of the book (I avoid reading reviews about any book until I have read it myself and crafted my own review). Apparently this novel is either loved or hated – it has really split the readers over at Library Thing. Personally, I thought the book was very funny and insightful, and it does what a lot of women’s fiction does not do…it focuses on women who are approaching fifty and re-evaluating their lives. Perhaps that is one reason it resonated so strongly with me! At any rate, I thoroughly enjoyed Meier’s writing and I hope she is working on her next book.

The Last Time I Saw Paris by Lynn Sheene also made me gush (read my review). Looking at the cover of this book, one might think this is straight forward historical romance…and although there is some steamy sex scenes, the book is deeper than all of that. There is a lot of suspense, the characters are well drawn and the setting is great (occupied Paris during WWII). I zipped through this book and read late into the night – always a good sign! This is a debut novel, and my guess is that it will mark Sheene as an author to watch. I know that I would pick up another book by her in an instant!

Keeping with the WWII theme, my current read is Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. I am reading it for a Yahoo book discussion over at Bookies Too, but it was on my to-read list long before the group decided to read it. This book has gotten a lot of attention – it was named on Publishers Weekly list of Best Books of 2010, was an LA Times Book Prize finalist, and was named an Amazon Best Book of the Month. It has gotten universally rave reviews all over the place. This book is non fiction and tells the story of Louis Zamperini who was an amazing runner (he competed in the Berlin Olympics for the 5000) and became a bombardier during WWII where his plane crashed into the Pacific. I’m only about 100 pages into this 400+ page book, but I am loving it so far. Have you read this one yet? I never read Seabiscuit, also by this author, but now I just may have to pick up a copy of that book.

In other book related news, I have a giveaway going on right now for Love At Absolute Zero by Chris Meeks – the contest is open internationally through June 13th. If you want to enter, go to this post and leave me a comment.

Also, as part of The Armchair BEA I posted a series of Book Buzz articles about the books which are coming out for the remainder of the year which I am excited about. Follow the links below to read these posts:

Finally, for those of you who participated in The Armchair BEA and won one of the books which I was offering  – I mailed those books out on Friday and you should get them by the end of the week if the post office does what they say they will!

The rest of today I will be quilting, reading, and cooking a whole chicken in the crock pot for dinner tonight. If the sun holds, I plan on going for a walk with Kip and Raven later. What about you? What is on YOUR list of things to do today? Whatever you are up to, I hope at some point it involves a great book!

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  1. I think that The Season of Second Chances sounds like something I would love…so I will add it to my list.

    Secret Daughter has also grabbed my attention.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts….we’ve had weird weather in my part of the state, too. Rainy days, etc. Bleh….


  2. I am crazy about Unbroken. It’s the kind of book that I can’t help urging everyone I meet to read.

    That said, you will now probably be somewhat disappointed by it. How can it possibly live up to this hype?!

    At the bidding of my younger son, I attempted this week to write about something other than books on my Sunday Salon. Here’s my post. I hope you will stop by and ask my son (politely, of course) to mind his own business!

  3. I think the rain moved down here for the weekend. We’ve sure been having some odd weather this year, although I guess I shouldn’t complain about the rain since we need it.

    The Season of Second Chances sounds really good…guess I shouldn’t have walked right by it at the bookstore yesterday.

    • Amy on June 5, 2011 at 14:21

    I am almost finished with The London Train and I, too, am disappointed. I thought it was going to be different and the fact that I didn’t find much worth liking in the main characters was a real problem for me. I’m really interested to read positive reviews because I have only read opinions similar to my own! I’m glad you’re enjoying Unbroken. I have read great things about this book, too.

    Your Sunday sounds nice and relaxing! That’s about the speed of mine, too…just some reading and writing here and playing with the cats!

    • Megan on June 5, 2011 at 14:24

    The weather really has been wild this year. Seems like the week before I went to BEA, it was cold and rainy like the very end of winter, but by the time I got back it was hot like mid-August. It’s hard to keep up!

  4. We got home from Virginia today and now I’m trying to catch up with stuff around the house. I hope to get in a little reading time before I head to bed this evening.

  5. I haven’t read any of the things that are in this! You’ve definitely given me some things to look for though :]

    • JoAnn on June 5, 2011 at 19:26

    I’m listening to Unbroken now – starting chapter 11 and loving it! The Season of Second Chances is in my tbr pile and I hope to read it this summer. Have a great week, Wendy.

    • Laura on June 5, 2011 at 20:54

    Looking at your Armchair BEA post got me very excited about some upcoming releases (although am currently on a book buying freeze). I read Sea Biscuit in college for a class and I really thought I would like it, but did.

    I think everyone talked about the weather a little bit i their posts this week.

    Here is my Sunday Salon

    • Wendy on June 6, 2011 at 09:47

    Laurel: Sorry to hear you are also experiencing bad weather – where the heck is our spring?!??! I hope you’ll enjoy both Secret Daughter and Season of Second Chances!

    Deb: Will stop by your post soon 🙂 I am loving Unbroken – last night I stayed up until almost midnight and read 100 pages!

    Jill: This has to be the coldest, wettest spring that California has seen in awhile! Oh, I hope you read Meier’s book…would love to read your thoughts 🙂

    Amy: Sorry to hear The London Train also disappointed you…:( I am loving Unbroken, however! Hope you had a great Sunday!

    Megan: I agree – I guess that saying “If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute” would apply this year!

    Kathy: Hope you found some reading time!

    S.Leighanne: Glad to add to your wish list 🙂

    JoAnn: Season of Second Chances would be a terrific “beach” read…glad to hear you are also loving Unbroken.

    Laura: Glad you enjoyed my Book Buzz series…I should be on a book buying freeze too – but I have no impulse control *laughs*

    • Flo on June 6, 2011 at 10:19

    “Secret daughter” is already on my list * relief * & my library has bought it (in french) so I hope the book will be available on the shelves in about … six months ? :S

    I ordered “The season of second chances” last wednesday & I should have it at the end of the week ! Maybe will I read it forthwith, now I am in a “read in english” trend (it could not last :D)

  6. I asked for Unbroken for Christmas, received it, and haven’t gotten anywhere near reading it yet (par for the course lately). But I’d definitely recommend reading Seabiscuit; I am not the slightest bit into horse racing and I LOVED that book.

    • Wendy on June 13, 2011 at 06:45

    Flo: Hope you’ll enjoy it!

    Florinda: It is SO good – and I will take your recommendation re: Seabiscuit…I avoided it because I could care less about horse racing – but, sounds like that is not a requirement to like the book 🙂

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