Book Review: Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

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3 disco balls

Published: October 3, 2017 by Scribner
Length: Hardcover, 438 pages
Category: Historical Fiction
National Book Award Nominee for Fiction (2017), Women’s Prize for Fiction Nominee for Longlist (2018), Andrew Carnegie Medal for Fiction (2018), Walter Scott Prize Nominee (2018), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Historical Fiction (2017)

I alternated back and forth between reading the hardcover and listening to the audio (which had 3 narrators). I liked to do that with books so I can optimize my reading time, especially when I have book club deadlines!

I liked the story, but at the 70% mark it just became okay to me. It wasn’t terrible, but I wasn’t moved in any way by it. The author did a good job of capturing the different dynamics within families, communities and the workplace (whether that workplace was legit or not). I always find the sign of the times of historical fiction fascinating. Read More »

Audiobook Review: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith #HSReadingRedo

5_DiscoBalls

5 disco balls

Published: August 12, 2005 by HarperAudio (book first published 1943)
Narrator: Kate Burton
Length: 14 hours 55 minutes
Category: Classics, Historical Fiction, Young Adult, Coming of Age

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was Book 7 out of 8 on my September Reading Challenge High School Reading Redo list. As we approach the new month, I am proud to report I did most of my homework and only need to read the Cliff Notes or watch the movie of one unread book (The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck). 😉

Set in Brooklyn in the early 1900s, we fall in love with the Nolan family; whom are poverty stricken but resourceful. Francie Nolan became one of my favorite literary characters.

Goodreads Synopsis: 4.25 average rating
The beloved American classic about a young girl’s coming-of-age at the turn of the century, Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident. The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the daily experiences of the unforgettable Nolans are raw with honesty and tenderly threaded with family connectedness — in a work of literary art that brilliantly captures a unique time and place as well as incredibly rich moments of universal experience.

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Saturday Spotlight: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Introducing Saturday Nite Reader’s weekly meme: Saturday Spotlight! Each Saturday I will spotlight a book I have read or am currently reading; and, of course what I think is special about it. I invite you to participate as well! Just link back to my weekly post and don’t forget to add your spotlight link in the comment section for all to see. Happy Sharing! XO, Nikki

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This Week:
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Published: August 3, 2017 by Apollo (first published February 7, 2017 by Grand Central Publishing)
Category: Historical Fiction, Cultural
National Book Award Finalist for Fiction (2017); Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Historical Fiction (2017); Reading Women Award for Fiction (2017); Litsy Award for Historical Fiction (2017)

img_1275While in Paris, I had to visit the famous Shakespeare and Company bookstore. There were so many books to choose from and I wasn’t sure which one I was going to buy: I wish I could have purchased more than one but I already overpacked my suitcase. Being in Europe and seeing the different book covers was burning a hole in my pocket; that darn suitcase saved my bank account.

While browsing I picked up this version of Pachinko and thought it was absolutely stunning. After that, the choice was easy. I mean just look at it and that inside cover, woah.

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Saturday Spotlight: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Introducing Saturday Nite Reader’s weekly meme: Saturday Spotlight! Each Saturday I will spotlight a book I have read or am currently reading; and, of course what I think is special about it. I invite you to participate as well! Just link back to my weekly post and don’t forget to add your spotlight link in the comment section for all to see. Happy Sharing! XO, Nikki

img_9728This Week:
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Published: May 22, 2007 by Riverhead
Category: Historical Fiction
British Book Award for Best Read of the Year (2008); Book Sense of the Year Award for Adult Fiction (2008); California Book Award for Fiction (Silver) (2007); Exclusive Books Boeke Prize Nominee (2007); Lincoln Award Nominee (2011)

My Future Mother-in-Law would gift me this book during one of my first trips to meet her. Once I started it, I could not put it down. I do remember it was right before dinner and the polite house guest in me (plus someone newly introduced to the family) should have been helping, but I couldn’t step away from this book. My husband (then boyfriend) called me in for dinner, but my future MIL responded along the lines of: leave her alone and let her finish, the book is that good. Thanks Mom 😉 

A Thousand Splendid Suns is the first book I recommend to anyone when asked to recommend my favorite book: I don’t even have to think about it, I just spit it out (not literally, don’t worry).Read More »

Book Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

5_DiscoBalls

5 disco balls

Published: June 13, 2017 by Atria Books
Category: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Contemporary, Romance, LGBT

You know the saying about potato chips “bet you can’t eat just one!”? Well, don’t eat potato chips while reading this book. For starters potato chip grease gets on the pages, which is a pet peeve of mine. But, more importantly you will not be able to stop reading chapter after chapter and your stomach can’t handle all those chips. This can definitely be a one sitting book read.If you are looking for a book to start your summer off right: this here is your jam!

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Book Review: The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

Published: February 27, 2011 by Ballantine Books
Category: Historical Fiction

I struggled rating this one properly. First, it was beautifully written and if I were just rating that it would have gotten at least 4 disco balls. Second, I despised Ernest Hemingway and Pauline Pfeiffer. If Ernest was a fictional character I wouldn’t have wanted to give this story my time. Not that I did even knowing he was in fact ‘real’, I thought I owed it to Hadley to finish.

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St. Patrick’s Day Giveaway

Win your very own Saturday Nite Reader starter kit!

GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED! OUR WINNER IS: @readingwhilevegan!

img_0816Enter my Instagram giveaway for your chance to win the newly released paperback of The Heart’s Invisible Furies by Irish novelist John Boyne. My favorite read of 2017!

You got the good book, now all you need is the comfy pj’s (in this case its socks!) and wine (in this case a wine glass for your favorite reading mode beverage). Giveaway winner will be announced on my Instagram stories at noon EST on St. Patrick’s Day (Saturday, March 17th).Read More »

Book Review: Bachelor Girl by Kim Van Alkemade

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4 disco balls

Expected publication: March 6, 2018 by Touchstone
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble
Category: Historical Fiction

Another great book cover, wouldn’t you agree?

I started reading Bachelor Girl on my trip home from vacation. After reading a little over 2 hours during my flight home I noticed I only got 13% of the way through. 1) Either I am a very slow reader, or 2) this is a long one. I am going to go with #2: the paperback is 416 pages (kindle is listed at 432).

I enjoyed this read and didn’t mind the length, its just not one of those you can plow through in two days. If you could, well then I change my initial answer to #1 – I am a slow reader.

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Goodreads Monday: An Elephant in the Garden by Michael Morpurgo

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren’s Page Turners. To take part, you simply choose a random book from your TBR and show it off. Don’t forget to check out Lauren’s Goodreads Monday blog post to share your Monday selections.

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An Elephant in the Garden
by Michael Morpurgo
Published: October 25, 2011 by Feiwel & Friends (first published 2009)
Purchase: Amazon or Barnes & Noble

Goodreads Synopsis:

With Lizzie’s father fighting in World War II, her mother takes on the job of a zoo keeper to provide for her family. Lizzie, her mother, and her eight-year-old brother Karli have become especially attached to an orphaned elephant named Marlene. The bombing of Dresden is imminent and soon, so the zoo director explains that as a precautionary measure all the animals must be destroyed so that they’re not running wild through the city. Lizzie’s mother persuades the director to allow Marlene, the elephant, to come stay in the family’s garden.

As predicted, Dresden is bombed, and the family, including Marlene, is forced from the city. Lizzie and her family aren’t alone. Thousands of Dresden residents are fleeing to find somewhere safe to stay. Lizzie’s mother has to find a different route out of the city to keep the elephant and the children safe from harm. Once they reach the abandoned home of their relatives, they come across Peter, a Canadian navigator who, by putting himself at risk of capture to save the family, gains their trust.

This unlikely grouping of family, elephant, and enemy turned ally come together beautifully to illustrate the importance of love, resolve, and hope.

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Audiobook Review & Narrator Interview: Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark T. Sullivan

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4 disco balls

Published: May 1, 2017 by Brillance Audio, Narrated by Will Damron
Purchase: Audible  Amazon Kindle unlimited  Barnes & Noble$9.29 for the audio
Category: Historical Fiction

Beneath a Scarlet Sky, by Mark T. Sullivan, was inspired by the real life story of WWII hero, Pino Lella. This book was 10 years in the making for author, Mark T. Sullivan, whom met Pino by chance and knew he wanted to tell his story. It is a work of fiction, but has been rumored to be about 90% true.

First things first, this audiobook is a commitment. It is 17 hours long! About 25% way through I upped the speed to 1.25x and it cut a few hours off, phew. I am terribly bad at paying attention to audiobooks, but I do find I am most engaged in listening and not being distracted by everything around me (look a squirrel!) when I am taking a long drive. During a long weekend I went to visit friends in CT (about a 2 hour drive) so it was a perfect time to dive into Pino’s story.Read More »

Book Review: Song of a Captive Bird by Jasmin Darznik

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3.5 disco balls

Expected publication: February 13, 2018 by Ballantine Books
Pre-order: Amazon, Barnes & Noble
Category: Historical Fiction, Cultural

In Song of a Captive Bird (a beautiful and perfect title), author Jasmin Darznik is the voice for Iranian poet, Forugh Farrokhzad. Forugh – an influential poet of the 20th century – was notorious for rebelling against cultural norms, especially in her work.

Forugh’s accomplishments come at the expense of her reputation and family life. In her thirty-two years she has been through so much pain; all she wanted was to be loved for who she was. Darznik captures that and uses her own words to bring that love to Forugh. Read More »