Monday, January 6, 2014

Books I'm Excited to Read in 2014

My To-Read list is long and ever growing.  I have numerous books waiting to be reviewed as well as numerous books I have purchased and are waiting to be read.  The following books are the ones that I am most excited about. As always, the Amazon links will take you to my affiliate page and if you make a purchase I will get a few cents back without you spending a penny more for the item.


TRACKS - I was contacted by the author to read this book.  It sounds similar to WILD by Cheryl Strayed and is coming out in a movie on March 6, 2014.

A must for fans of Cheryl Strayed's WILD, and a cult classic in its own right, Tracks is the brilliantly written and frequently hilarious account of a young woman's odyssey through the deserts of Australia, with no one but her dog and four camels as companions. Davidson emerges as a heroine who combines extraordinary courage with exquisite sensitivity. One map.



THE BOOK THIEF - I've been wanting to read this book for awhile.  With the movie out now, I want to read the book before seeing the movie.

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement. 

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.





SWEETEST HALLELUJAH - This is one I purchased for my own enjoyment.  My friend, Tammy, says I need to read it.  

An unforgettable story of two courageous women brought together by one extraordinary little girl. 

Betty Jewel Hughes was once the hottest black jazz singer in Memphis. But when she finds herself pregnant and alone, she gives up her dream of being a star to raise her beautiful daughter, Billie, in Shakerag, Mississippi. Now, ten years later, in 1955, Betty Jewel is dying of cancer and looking for someone to care for Billie when she's gone. With no one she can count on, Betty Jewel does the unthinkable: she takes out a want ad seeking a loving mother for her daughter. 

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, recently widowed Cassie Malone is an outspoken housewife insulated by her wealth and privileged white society. Working part-time at a newspaper, she is drawn to Betty Jewel through her mysterious ad. With racial tension in the South brewing, the women forge a bond as deep as it is forbidden. But neither woman could have imagined the gifts they would find in each other, and in the sweet young girl they both love with all their hearts. Deeply moving and richly evocative, The Sweetest Hallelujah is a remarkable tale about finding hope in a time of turmoil, and about the transcendent and transformative power of friendship.



WAKE - A review book that comes out in February. I think it sounds like a fascinating novel.

Wake: 1) Emerge or cause to emerge from sleep 2) Ritual for the dead 3) Consequence or aftermath.

Hettie, a dance instructress at the Palais, lives at home with her mother and her brother, mute and lost after his return from the war. One night, at work, she meets a wealthy, educated man and has reason to think he is as smitten with her as she is with him. Still there is something distracted about him, something she cannot reach...Evelyn works at the Pensions Exchange through which thousands of men have claimed benefits from wounds or debilitating distress. Embittered by her own loss, more and more estranged from her posh parents, she looks for solace in her adored brother who has not been the same since he returned from the front...Ada is beset by visions of her son on every street, convinced he is still alive. Helpless, her loving husband of 25 years has withdrawn from her. Then one day a young man appears at her door with notions to peddle, like hundreds of out of work veterans. But when he shows signs of being seriously disturbed-she recognizes the symptoms of "shell shock"-and utters the name of her son she is jolted to the core...

The lives of these three women are braided together, their stories gathering tremendous power as the ties that bind them become clear, and the body of the unknown soldier moves closer and closer to its final resting place.



FALLEN BEAUTY - A review book that comes out in March.  History and drama make for an intriguing story and this one I'm sure will not disappoint.

Upstate New York, 1928. Laura Kelley and the man she loves sneak away from their judgmental town to attend a performance of the scandalous Ziegfeld Follies. But the dark consequences of their night of daring and delight reach far into the future.…

That same evening, Bohemian poet Edna St. Vincent Millay and her indulgent husband hold a wild party in their remote mountain estate, hoping to inspire her muse. Millay declares her wish for a new lover who will take her to unparalleled heights of passion and poetry, but for the first time, the man who responds will not bend completely to her will.…

Two years later, Laura, an unwed seamstress struggling to support her daughter, and Millay, a woman fighting the passage of time, work together secretly to create costumes for Millay’s next grand tour. As their complex, often uneasy friendship develops amid growing local condemnation, each woman is forced to confront what it means to be a fallen woman…and to decide for herself what price she is willing to pay to live a full life.



THE OTHER TYPIST - One that has been on my shelf and received  rave reviews last year.

New York City, 1924: the height of Prohibition and the whole city swims in bathtub gin.

Rose Baker is an orphaned young woman working for her bread as a typist in a police precinct on the lower East Side. Every day Rose transcribes the confessions of the gangsters and murderers that pass through the precinct. While she may disapprove of the details, she prides herself on typing up the goriest of crimes without batting an eyelid.

But when the captivating Odalie begins work at the precinct Rose finds herself falling under the new typist's spell. As do her bosses, the buttoned up Lieutenant Detective and the fatherly Sergeant. As the two girls' friendship blossoms and they flit between the sparkling underworld of speakeasies by night, and their work at the precinct by day, it is not long before Rose's fascination for her new colleague turns to obsession.

But just who is the real Odalie, and how far will Rose go to find out?





WHAT THE MOST SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE DO BEFORE BREAKFAST - I've been a follower of Laura Vanderkam's blog and am anxious to actually read one of her books.  My husband read 168 HOURS: YOU HAVE MORE TIME THAN YOU THINK and got some great tips from it.

Mornings are a madcap time for many of us. We wake up in a haze—often after hitting snooze a few times. Then we rush around to get ready and out the door so we can officially start the day. Before we know it, hours have slipped by without us accomplishing anything beyond downing a cup of coffee, dashing off a few emails, and dishing with our coworkers around the water cooler. By the time the workday wraps up, we’re so exhausted and defeated that any motivation to accomplish something in the evening has vanished.

But according to time management expert Laura Vanderkam, mornings hold the key to taking control of our schedules. If we use them wisely, we can build habits that will allow us to lead happier, more productive lives.

Drawing on real-life anecdotes and scientific research that shows why the early hours of the day are so important, Vanderkam reveals how successful people use mornings to help them accomplish things that are often impossible to take care of later in the day. While many of us are still in bed, these folks are scoring daily victories to improve their health, careers, and personal lives without sacrificing their sanity. For instance, former PepsiCo chairman and CEO Steve Reinemund would rise at 5:00 a.m., run four miles, pray, and eat breakfast with his family before heading to work to run a Fortune 500 company.

What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast is a fun, practical guide that will inspire you to rethink your morning routine and jump-start your life before the day has even begun.



THE SISTER SEASON - A review book I'm really looking forward to. As one of three sisters, I'm always interested in sister stories and this one sounds right up my alley.

From an award-winning young adult author comes a touching women’s fiction debut featuring three sisters who discover that coming home for the holidays isn’t as easy as it seems…
Sometimes coming home for the holidays isn’t as easy as it seems….

It’s December 21, and the Yancey sisters have been called home. When the girls were young, holidays at their family farm meant a tinsel-garnished tree, the scent of simmering food, and laughter ringing through the house. But as the years unfolded, family bonds fractured, and the three sisters scattered and settled into separate lives. Until now. The Yancey sisters are coming to spend the holidays with their mother. They’re also coming to bury their father.

Claire, the youngest, a free spirit who journeyed to California, returns first. Then comes Julia, the eldest, a college professor with a teenage son of her own. And finally there’s Maya, the middle child, who works so hard to be the perfect mother and wife. 

During the sisters’ week together, old conflicts surface, new secrets emerge, and the limits and definitions of family are tested. And as the longest night of the year slips by and brightening days beckon, the sisters will have to answer one question: When you’re a sister, aren’t you a sister forever?



THE LIFE LIST - A review book I have heard great things about and am anxious to read. Both my friend, Tammy, and my sister, Elaine, read it and said it was a must read.

In this utterly charming debut — one woman sets out to complete her old list of childhood goals, and finds that her lifelong dreams lead her down a path she never expects.

1. Go to Paris
2. Perform live, on a super big stage
3. Have a baby, maybe two
4. Fall in love 

Brett Bohlinger has forgotten all about the list of life goals she’d written as a naïve teenager. In fact, at thirty-four, Brett seems to have it all—a plum job at her family’s multimillion-dollar company and a spacious loft with her irresistibly handsome boyfriend. But when her beloved mother, Elizabeth, dies, Brett’s world is turned upside down. Rather than simply naming her daughter the new CEO of Bohlinger Cosmetics, Elizabeth’s will comes with one big stipulation: Brett must fulfill the list of childhood dreams she made so long ago. 

Grief-stricken, Brett can barely make sense of her mother’s decision. Some of her old hopes seem impossible. How can she possibly have a relationship with a father who died seven years ago? Other dreams (Be an awesome teacher!) would require her to reinvent her entire future. For each goal attempted, her mother has left behind a bittersweet letter, offering words of wisdom, warmth, and—just when Brett needs it—tough love. 

As Brett struggles to complete her abandoned life list, one thing becomes clear: Sometimes life’s sweetest gifts can be found in the most unexpected places.




THE DINNER - I hope to choose this for our book club. It isn't my usual type of book but the premise is so intriguing, it is like a car accident, you can't turn away from it.

Over one meal, two families struggle with the hardest decision of their lives. On an Amsterdam summer evening, two couples are united by their sons, aged 15, their horrific joint deed. Behind banal polite discourse in a restaurant, knives are sharpened, friendship disintegrates. How far will adults go to protect those they love?



DEFENDING JACOB - From what I hear, once you start this one, you will read it all the way through.  I looking for a good snow day to dive into this one!

Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than twenty years. He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom, and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: His fourteen-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student.

Every parental instinct Andy has rallies to protect his boy. Jacob insists that he is innocent, and Andy believes him. Andy must. He’s his father. But as damning facts and shocking revelations surface, as a marriage threatens to crumble and the trial intensifies, as the crisis reveals how little a father knows about his son, Andy will face a trial of his own—between loyalty and justice, between truth and allegation, between a past he’s tried to bury and a future he cannot conceive.

Award-winning author William Landay has written the consummate novel of an embattled family in crisis—a suspenseful, character-driven mystery that is also a spellbinding tale of guilt, betrayal, and the terrifying speed at which our lives can spin out of control.



AT MY GRANDMOTHER'S TABLE - I love cookbooks and especially ones that tell a story and remind me of my childhood.  I want to curl up and savor over the pages and dream up meals using the recipes.

What would you give for an afternoon in your grandmother's kitchen?

Leaning over the countertop, you watched as she added the flour just a little at a time to the bowl of her old, yellow Sunbeam stand mixer. To her, cooking may have been as second nature as setting the table. To you, it seemed almost like magic the way she skillfully put things together to create the mouthwatering meals and one-of-a-kind desserts you enjoyed at her table. Likely, it's her culinary delights that have set the bar for everything you've eaten since. And let's face it, her pan fried pork chops and home-baked banana bread make anyone else's versions pale in comparison. If you find yourself wishing for just a little more time in your grandmother's kitchen complete with her stories and the memories of the comforting favorites she lovingly made for you you're sure to embrace this celebration of grandmother's cooking. She'd be proud!



ROXY'S RECIPES - My husband gave me this cookbook for Christmas.  It is a fundraiser for Roxanne Russell Roundtree, a mom diagnosed with ALS.  All of the recipes in the book are quintessential "family recipes" and ones I am looking forward to trying out. For more on Roxanne and her family or to order your own cookbook, check out http://www.roxanneroundtreecookbook.org/.


SIX SISTERS STUFF- I've followed their blog for awhile now and every single recipe I have tried is simple and delicious and perfect for our busy family.  I am anxious to read through it and try out some of their ideas.

Cook, craft, and create with recipes, projects, and ideas from the blog SixSistersStuff.com. Camille, Kristen, Elyse, Stephanie, Lauren, and Kendra are six sisters who share their easy, affordable recipes and crafts in this collection of family favorites. These pages contain more than 90 tried-and-true recipes that use ingredients commonly found in your pantry, with easy-to-follow instructions and photographs of each dish. Charming do-it-yourself projects, such as stained Mason Jars and a Ruffles and Yarn Wreath, are fun to create and require little time or money. Suggestions for indoor activities for kids, healthy snack ideas, or an inexpensive night out are among the many lists included in the book.




DANCING SHOES - We gave this to our daughter for Christmas.  I've been wanting to check out this series of books since I watched YOU'VE GOT MAIL for the first time.  I'm looking forward to reading this with our daughter and then checking out the other shoe books.

Aunt Cora is determined to turn two orphans, perky Hilary and sullen Rachel, into members of her dance troupe. But Rachel wants to keep Hilary from being one of Wintle’s Little Wonders—is it selfishness or something else? Misunderstandings and a spoiled cousin come together for a tale full of high drama. Originally published in 1957.

All of these books and dozens of others are patiently waiting on my shelves to be read.  I'm looking forward to a year of learning, crying, laughing, and experiencing wonderful stories and then, of course, sharing them with you. 

1 comment:

Lori Spielman said...

Love your list, Stacie. Happy reading!