The Sunday Salon – August 26, 2012

August 26, 2012

Good morning and welcome to The Sunday Salon where readers share all things bookish. Since my last Sunday Salon post on August 12th a lot has happened in my life. I said good-bye to my kitty, Maia on August 13th. I left for a week’s visit with family in New Hampshire on August 15th and had just barely left California when the Ponderosa Fire broke out near my home. For several days I worried, held my breath and obsessively checked the status of the fire as it grew to nearly 30,000 acres and at one point threatened 3,500 homes in my small town and surrounding communities. My in-laws (who live 8 miles away from us) were evacuated and stayed at our home with my husband for four days. I am so grateful for the thousands of firefighters who managed to get this fire under control (it is due to be fully contained by tomorrow). At one point the flames were up to 300 feet high. And I am so sad for those who lost their homes (64 homes were destroyed at last count) and their property or businesses. I arrived back in California yesterday – happy to see my husband and my fur babies again. This morning I woke up glad to see blue skies and the dark green of the trees, grateful for everything I have and for the people in my life. Sometimes it takes nearly losing it all to realize how much we have…

I have also read several really wonderful books since my last Sunday Salon post. I toured The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce for TLC Book Tours on August 15th (please note that the giveaway for that book has now closed). I loved this novel of a simple man’s journey across England and through his life. This is a deeply moving book which has been long-listed for the Booker Prize this year…and I think we will see this one on the short list for that award. After I read and reviewed it, I managed to read several other reviews. I have yet to see a negative comment about this amazing debut. If you get a chance to pick up a copy, I highly recommend it!

I also finished another book for a TLC Book Tours (this one will post on Tuesday, August 28th) which was truly wonderful. The World We Found by Thrity Umrigar is a beautiful story about women’s friendships and the challenges of women in India. Here is another novel getting rave reviews which are well-deserved. I want to tell you more about the book, but you will have to wait for my review on Tuesday. You can catch other TLC Book Tour posts about this novel (as well as other books by this author) by visiting the tour page and following the links.

Because I was traveling, I next turned to some suspense-thrillers as I find these types of books easy to read. I finished two books in this genre:

Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes explores the darkness of obsessive love, obsessive-compulsive disorder and PTSD (read my review). I found the book slow to start, but was rewarded for my perseverance by a fast-paced ending that held my attention. The novel is written in the first person in a nonlinear style which took a little getting used to. I liked how Haynes revealed the background of the protagonist, but felt like she could have gotten to the climax a little faster. This is Haynes’ first novel and I have a feeling we will be seeing more from this author in the future.

And When She Was Good by Laura Lippman was terrific (read my review). I adore Lippman’s writing and this is her best novel to date, in my opinion. One of the things Lippman does that elevates her work, is to spend the time to fully develop her complex characters. So much of the thriller genre focuses more on plot than character – but Lippman does both well and the reader is rewarded with a satisfying read that lingers after the final page. After reading this novel, I am reminded that I need to read some of Lippman’s previous books which I’ve missed.

I started my current read on the airplane coming back from New Hampshire – and am a third of the way through it. The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich has been on my TBR pile for a long time. Now, I am wondering why it took me so long to get to it! Erdrich is a consummate story-teller and this novel is superb. I love the multi-generational characters with their unique voices. And in The Plague of Doves, Erdrich adds the element of mystery to her story with an unsolved murder connecting the characters. I think I’ll be finishing this one by mid-week – so watch for my review towards the end of the week.

I hope you had a good week of reading and that this week will be a great one for you!


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    • Laura on August 26, 2012 at 08:46

    Welcome home, Wendy. I think you can be “forgiven” for a late post after what you’ve been through!

  1. I’m glad the fires were contained…the fires always freak me out a bit, since I have family in Southern California.

    I got the new Laura Lippman book this week…and it’s true that she does well at both character development and plots. I can’t wait to read this one.

    I enjoy Erdrich’s books, too.


  2. I’m thankful to hear the fire is under control now. To have one so close had to be incredibly frightening.

  3. I am so glad that the fire has been contained and that your home – and your in-laws’ home – are both safe.

  4. So glad your home is safe, and that you have a renewed sense of gratitude in your hear! 🙂

    • Melanie on August 27, 2012 at 05:11

    I’ve got to pull out my copy of Plauge of Doves. I recently read Round House, which was excellent, but I didn’t know PoD was a connected book. I forget how much I love Erdrich when I haven’t read a book in awhile. Glad all is ok in your world.

  5. I am glad that you are safe, and that your home isn’t damaged. It is so sad when these fires break out, because they often destroy many homes and businesses, and it must be such a hard thing to lose everything. I see that you read Harold Fry, and that makes me happy because it seems like all the bloggers loved it. I have it and can’t wait to read it!

  6. I’m so pleased to hear that the fire danger is over and you are back home. I can’t imagine 300ft flames. Scary stuff. Glad it is all over.

  7. I’m so glad to hear that you and your family made it through the fire unscathed but so sorry to hear that so many lost their homes. These wildfires are so horrible and they seem to happen more and more these days. Take care…

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