Summer Reads! Rainy Day Books! Audio Book Give-away!

by Lian on July 13, 2012

You want books? You got books! Recommendations, Night Stand names and an Audio Book Give-away!  

Over the last few weeks, I’ve done some heavy reading, a lovely way to pass the time on vacation. I’ve also done some heavy book-buying, in airports, at regulation book stores, even public library book sales.  To top off my list,  I won one book on an author’s website! Here’s a list of what I’ve been reading and what’s in the on-deck circle for this summer. Plus, an Audio Book Give-away thanks to MacMillan Audio featuring titles by Jane Green and  Mary Kay Andrews!

Books I Read on  My  Summer Vacation

Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan  Just out in paperback! I never got to this one last summer, but was happy to dig into this family story told from 4 female character POVs. Sullivan wrote Commencement a few years back, a juicy fun read about 4 Smith graduates and a Satellite Sisters Best Beach Bag Books pick  in honor of my Smithee sister Julie. This time, Sullivan takes on an Irish Catholic family from Boston who lives revolve around each other and their summer house in Maine.  Maybe I liked this story because the writing is sharp and observant, crossing generations successfully and nailing the details when it really matters. Or maybe I liked it because I felt like Sullivan was writing about the Boston Cousins we never had–  one of the male characters was Class of ‘48 from Holy Cross ( like my dad, Class of ‘50) and she refers to the fact  that “Grandmother Dolan” had tree trunk legs that, sadly, her granddaughter had inherited. hahaha! Hmm. That sounds familiar! Satisfying.

Shout Her Lovely Name by Natalie Serber  In a short story mood? Then pick up this wonderful collection by Natalie Serber, a Portland, Oregon writer. The namesake story, Shout Her Lovely Name, is a mind-blowing, visceral take on a mother dealing with her daughter’s eating disorder. It’s a wow! I read it twice.  Other stories in the collection bring together more domestic scenes and relationships with depth and skill.  Loved this one.  I can’t recommend Shout Her Lovely Name  highly enough .

If Looks Could Kill by Kate White  An oldie but goodie! I found this at the Bend Public Library sidewalk sale for a buck, but enjoyed it like a million bucks! Kate White, the editor in chief of Cosmo was a guest on Satellite Sisters  few years back to talk about her Baily Weggins mystery series. She was there in the studio, fun and fab and I loved meeting her.  Her writing is sassy and contemporary with a good mystery baked in!  The one I read was her first effort from 2001, but a new Bailey Weggins book, So Pretty it Hurts, is out now. Yeah, Kate.

Wallflower in Bloom by Claire Cooke   This is the book I won, thanks to an author give-away! How great is that? Dancing with the Stars fans, this one’s for you. Claire Cooke always taps into cultural zeitgeists for her work ( Cupcake baking, home staging) and this new book is no exception. The younger sister of a self-help guru finds herself a last-minute replacement on DWTS, but the fun comes when she’s dealing with her crazy family. We can all relate. Thanks, Claire!

The Island by Elin Hilderbrand Another SS interview vet, turns out another rich read about Nantucket. Headed to an island vacation spot this summer? Then you’ll enjoy reading about the rich, famous and normal island dwellers. There is an excellent portrayal of a mother with an autistic son that will resonate will any parent in that position.  Solid effort. Available at airport bookstores everywhere!


Books I Bought on my Summer Vacation and will Read Next


Canada by Richard Ford  Richard Ford was my first full-blown literary crush. I read The Sportswriter  and then Rock Springs at age 22  while living in Jackson, Wyoming and fancying myself as a free spirit. I spent the next few years imagining myself as Mrs. Richard Ford. Okay, I’m over that now, but  I’m looking forward to digging into his new book Canada which is getting fantastic reviews. We are having some unusual rainy weather here and now that my son has come down with mono, I feel like I’ll be spending some time inside with my honey and Canada.

The Leftovers by Tom Perotta  I love Tom Perotta’s books.: Little Children; The Abstinence Teacher; Joe College.  He nails domestic life from a man’s point of view and always has something interesting to say about women, too. Thanks, Tom. His latest, now out in paperback, is The Leftovers which was named on all sorts of “Best Of”  lists for 2011.  Apparently it’s the suburbs with a touch of supernatural which sounds like something those of us who live in the suburbs could use!  I also confess to a litcrush on TP.

Audio Books Give-away!


Thanks to MacMillan Audio, I have two fantastic summer reads to send off to one lucky winner. Comment to win. Leave a comment below and if you feel really inspired, share what you’re reading right now!  One winner will be drawn at 12:00 pm PST on Friday July 20th, 2012. Winner will be contacted for address. Thanks, MacMillan Audio ! Up for grabs are:

Bestselling author Jane Green reads her own book Another Piece of my Heart . Love Jane’s work. She nails suburbia in her novels and this time she takes on step-motherhood. And, the courage to read your own book on tape astonishes me! Way to go, Jane

Spring Fever by women’s fiction fave Mary Kay Andrews   Oh, this one looks good and satisfying like all of Mary Kay Andrews’ previous bestsellers like Summer Rental and Savannah Breeze. This book features an ex-husband, a small town and a family cherry soda biz. Looks like a winner. Perfect for a road trip Down South.


Embracing my Chaos,


Related Post:

Ten Books to Read This Summer 2011

Best Beach Bag Books




Ellen Daniels July 20, 2012 at 7:42 AM

Just finished John Irving’s In One Person (love him!!) and will start Ahab’s Wife soon.

Ann in Huntsville July 20, 2012 at 6:54 AM

Thanks for the recommendations! My book club is talking about Wild by Cheryl Strayed next week. Some good take aways from it. Now I’ve started Ahab’s Wife at the recommendation of my mother-in-law. BTW, our book club can’t wait for your next book! We had so much fun reading and skyping with you for Helen!

Kathy E. July 19, 2012 at 12:03 PM

Lian, thanks for all the G-R-E-A-T book recommendations — and, of course, for your wonderful podcasts!! I recently read “In Search of the Rose Notes” by Emily Arsenault (copyright 2011). It is a good book for summertime reading. It’s what I would call a story book — not deep, but satisfying, nonetheless. It skips back and forth from present day to the time Nora, the main character, was in high school (about a 10-year period). It is not confusing at all though — the transitions are done nicely. Rose was a babysitter (a teenager who they knew from school as well) who disappeared on her way home from babysitting one night when Nora was 10 or 11. That info in not a spoiler — you know Rose is gone from the beginning — but why???? — but how???? You’ll have to read the book to find out! :-)

Laurie L. July 19, 2012 at 11:38 AM

Love the book recommendations and will going to the library with your list. Just finishing The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls and loved Tina Fey’ s Bossypants ( a one day read, couldn’ t put it down or stop laughing). Keep up the excellent podcasts!

Ellen Mann July 18, 2012 at 6:26 PM

I just finished Fifty Shades of Grey and
then started Pretty Little Liars book 1
by Sara Sheperd….I read Helen of
Pasadena the minute I could get my hands
on it….

Bek_Mac July 17, 2012 at 8:17 PM

Just finished Anna Quindlen’s “Every Last One.” Am currently reading “Safe Haven” by Nicholas Sparks. Next on my list is “The Dry Grass of August” by Anna Jean Mayhew. Thanks to your podcast a while back, I also picked up some books by Claire Cook…can’t believe I haven’t read anything by her yet! Thanks for the book recommendations Lian! I look forward to the list every summer!

LJMH July 17, 2012 at 3:40 PM

nothing like the summer to get me back in the reading mode. I just finished a great one – The Night Circus.

Chpdlivr July 17, 2012 at 2:41 PM

Thanks for the suggestions!

Judy Faust July 17, 2012 at 10:39 AM

Just started “The Forgotten Garden” looks like it will be a great summer read. Thanks for the suggestions. I’m always on the lookout for the next good book.

Cloud Mom July 17, 2012 at 5:05 AM

Thanks for all the recommendations! Each summer I choose at least one author and try to read a variety of their books. This summer I am reading Anne Lamott. I started with Bird by Bird a humorous insightful book for writers. Rosie was heartbreaking but a wonderful journey and now I am reading Joe Jones. Another insightful book I read this summer was House Rules by Jodi Picoult. The main character has autism. Jodi describes how routine and rules develop the relationships between this young man and his family and friends.

Cynthia July 16, 2012 at 4:57 PM

These do sound good. I am hitting some classics this summer. Right now I am reading “The Bell Jar.” It kind of reminds of me a girl version of “The Catcher in the Rye” which my daughter is reading for her HS summer reading list. Glad I don’t have to join her when she reads “1984.” Why do we torture HS sophomores so?!

Lynn in Plano July 16, 2012 at 12:40 PM

Currently reading Tina Fey’s Bossypants. Next up: Beautiful Ruins and Anna Quindlen’s new memoir.

MaryCatherine July 16, 2012 at 9:04 AM

Lian, thanks for all the great recommendations. I was just finishing my last book on my kindle when your “Summer Reads” arrived. I purchased “Maine” right away and I am already enjoying it! The author is so honest about her characters strengths and weaknesses. I look forward to trying some of your other suggestions too! Hope you have a wonderful summer and that your son feels better soon.

Rosie Patterson July 16, 2012 at 8:34 AM

Thanks for the book suggestions. I always like to hear what others have enjoyed (or not). I have just finished “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch for my book club and I read Elin Hilderbrand’s “The Island” while on vacation. I so enjoyed both books.

jamandanana July 16, 2012 at 7:00 AM

I’d like to recommend the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winespear. This series was on a book list recommended to people who are having withdrawal symptoms from the Downton Abbey television show.

zanna b. July 16, 2012 at 5:16 AM

Hi Lian,
I’m currently reading “Darby Stanford Thriller Series.” It was a freebie from pixel of ink. I had finished the hunger games books and have pages and pages of books waiting on the kindle. So anyway, I picked Darby. I will be putting your books on my list as well as chaos crew picks!

Pamela from Davis July 15, 2012 at 7:56 PM

I have a ridiculous commute and listen to all my reading these days. Currently reading “The Afterwife” as recommended by Liz. You guys are my best consumer testers. Bought the panini maker, Laura Mercier mineral makeup, several other book recommendations, the list goes on…

Judy July 15, 2012 at 4:51 PM

I read two books recently that I really liked, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson. The book is so well written and very sweet. Room by Emma Donoghue is very good, it is a bit disturbing and at a couple of points I was thinking, why am I reading this? But it is one of those books that really stays with you over time.

Last year Lian recommended The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus by Sonya Sones. I really liked that book, I read it right after Helen, both top picks I would say!

Carol July 15, 2012 at 6:25 AM

I’m catching up on the two most recent Mary Russell novels by Laurie R. King. Also reading — in small doses — “Enemies: a history of the FBI” by Tim Weiner. It’s fascinating.

Ma Schmidt July 14, 2012 at 4:59 PM

I’m loving “Wild” (yes, the Oprah pick) and getting ready to read “West of Here” — historical fiction from the North West….will keep you posted…..

Tina Breslin Fuchs July 14, 2012 at 3:12 PM

reading Anna Quindlan’s new book..”Lot’s of Candles,Plenty of Cake”..always love her writing bith fiction and nonfiction!

joanne July 14, 2012 at 7:33 AM

Hi Lian,
Don’t miss The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty and The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. Both great reads! I’m also looking forward to reading Canada…

Julie Willcott July 14, 2012 at 3:22 AM

I have recently read “Lot of Candles, Plenty of Cake” – great book for those of us getting older, moving kids off to college.

yvonne madvig July 13, 2012 at 7:53 PM

Hi Lian, Thanks for all the great recommendations. I’ll be checking my local library to see how many I can get. Would love to be a winner of an audio book as these are what I devour as I work as a courier 4 days a week. Back in the day, I had no need for audio books as I laughed my way through the work day listening to Satellite Sisters on my local radio station. Oh, the good old days!

gilles July 13, 2012 at 5:09 PM

Last summer I read the Hunger Games trilogy. On top of a problem dog, those books made me feel like I was living in Sarajevo. This summer the dog has calmed down, and I’m reading Peter and the Starcatchers. Much more relaxing. Thanks for the recommendations.

Nancy Surridge July 13, 2012 at 4:36 PM

I’m so glad to see Jane Green and Elin Hilderbrand on your list as I really love reading their work–especially in the summer. I just lent my pile of Jane Green books to a friend a couple of weeks ago and she’s already on the third one! I plan to download The Island onto my Kindle. Love Elin Hildebrand. She helps bring back many great summer memories from Nantucket vacations past. I also just finished Beachcombers by Nancy Thayer, another great Nantucket-based author. This summer I’m swamped with work obligations while starting up my new business, but I love to stay up late with a good book…looking forward to reading Maine…I’ve heard great things about it from friends. Thanks for a great list, Lian!

Teresa Smith July 13, 2012 at 4:14 PM

My paper read is Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris and I’ve got The Distant Hours by Kate Morton on my Kindle.

Kat Ward July 13, 2012 at 3:40 PM

Thanks for the recommendations. I just finished Anna Quindlen’s “Every Last One,” which was odd yet powerful. Am about to start her memoir, but may take a breather and check out J. Courtney Sullivan. Thanks for all your reading so you could pass suggestions to your readers!

Beth July 13, 2012 at 2:33 PM

I recently enjoyed Ann Lamott’s new book “Some Assembly Required” that she wrote with her son, Sam. All of her books are wonderful!!!

Sue in NJ July 13, 2012 at 2:09 PM

I second Cran’s recommendations of Nevada Barr’s works!!

DarcyO July 13, 2012 at 1:58 PM

Oh, just wanted to say I loved Helen of Pasadena, especially nubby sweater guy.

Jayne G. July 13, 2012 at 1:57 PM

I just finished the audio version of The Witness by Nora Roberts and loved it. Julia Whelan narrates it. The also narrates half of Gone Girl, and I’m about a quarter through that. I would love to listen to Piece of My Heart or Spring Fever; those ladies have never let me down. Have a great summer!

DarcyO July 13, 2012 at 1:57 PM

These sound great! Right now I’m listening to Little Bee by Chris Cleave on audio.

Cran July 13, 2012 at 1:41 PM

Yes, Gone Girl is a crazy, fast ride, for sure. It will keep you guessing. Also good: The Secrets of Mary Bowser by Lois Leveen (based on true Civil War tale) and for outdoorsy mysteries (and these have been around for a while): the series by Nevada Barr about a slightly hermit-like NPS Ranger named Anna Pigeon. Love these title exchanges!

danettebg July 13, 2012 at 12:49 PM

Thanks for suggestions. Would love some new summer reads
! Love your CC podcasts!

Barbara July 13, 2012 at 12:47 PM

Lian – great selection across a broad spectrum of interests and moods. I read WIRED by Daniel Wilson and still reading the sequel AMPED. Sci-Fi futuristic, thought-provoking on a few levels. Looking forward to working through your list Lian! I hope you can find a silver lining in Colin’s summer of no-fun.

Erin July 13, 2012 at 12:26 PM

Thanks for the great suggestions. I haven’t read any of these. I’m reading Unwind, by Neal Shusterman. It’s a young adult book that my 14 year old read, so I’m reading it to discuss with him. Topic is very unusual.

krlock July 13, 2012 at 12:21 PM

Thanks for all the great recommendations. I’m in the middle of Girl Gone (or is it Gone Girl, I always forget) on audiobook. After that I think Wallflower in Bloom sounds like a good pick for a fun summer read (and I’m a Dancing with the Stars fan too!)

Lisa July 13, 2012 at 11:50 AM

Oh great pics-will put on my ever growing list of books to read! I absolutley loved “amaryllis in blueberry” bt Christina Meldrum. Another great book was the Language of Flowers by vanessa Diffenbaugh.

Marge in Indiana July 13, 2012 at 11:47 AM

Just finished Wallflower in Bloom, fun read. Am slogging my way thru Ken Follett’s, World Without End, a good book but 1,014 pages is soooo long. I will check out some of your other recommendations!

Kathy in Atlanta July 13, 2012 at 11:22 AM

Lian, thank you for putting together this thoughtful list of reviews for us; that took a lot of work. Well wishes for your son.

Mary Treleven July 13, 2012 at 11:15 AM

Great recommendations. I’d love to be thrown into the contest. Thanks.

Sue in NJ July 13, 2012 at 11:15 AM

Thanks, Lian, for a wonderful list of recommendations. Think I’ll be searching for several of these on my next trip to the library. I did read “Maine” and “Commencement” last year and loved them both. While rehabbing my new knee last month I finally got to read “Bossy Pants” by Tina Fey. Would have loved to hear her read it but still funny and engaging while reading it myself (not out loud!). Just starting “The Poisonwood Bible” by Barbara Kingsolver. It came highly recommended and was a gift from my local library. Also thoroughly enjoyed “The Art of Maurice Sendak” by Tony Kushner. This is a gorgeous coffee-table-like book with insightful and touching commentary by Kushner. I was very moved. This is one I might hint for as a gift, because I am a great fan of Mr. Sendak and will miss his wit and art very much.

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