Sunday Salon ~ June 29th, 2008

As I wait patiently (yeah right) for the July Book Blowout to start over at Blue Archipelago, I wanted to read something short.  I’m reading Elie Wiesel’s “NIGHT“.  I didn’t say I was reading anything light and short now did I. 
                                   Night (Oprah's Book Club)
My mother-in-law had left this book here for me to read after her and my father-in-law’s visit to Okinawa in 2006 and I am reading it now.  Like I have said before, I believe that books find you.  I think it is important to be reminded of the horrors of the past so as not to repeat them in the future.  The Holocost was a horrific hell and injustice against a people, religion and the world.  I am about half way through “NIGHT” and though I find it effecting my mind’s eye even when the book is waiting for me to pick it up again, I feel it important to be reading it and will be finishing it tomorrow. 

And The Book Giveaways Keep Coming!

Trish aka Hey Lady, Whatcha Readin’ ? is hosting a great book giveaway from Hachette Book Group USA!  Be sure to hop over to he GIVEAWAY POST to learn more and enter to win.  GOOD LUCK!  {You are not eligible to win through this site.}

You can win copies of these great titles:
The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston
The Preacher and the Presidents by Nancy Gibbs
Swine Not? by Jimmy Buffett
Miscarriage of Justice by Justice “Kip” Gayden
Trespassers Will Be Baptized by Elizabeth Hancock
He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not by Trish Ryan
A Summer Affair by Elin Hilderbrand
Barefoot by Elin Hilderbrand
Made in the U.S.A. by Billie Letts
Off Season by Anne Siddons
A Rose by the Door by Deborah Bedford
Remember Me by Deborah Bedford
Child 44 by Tom Smith
Close by Martina Cole

And The July/August Book Is…

                                   The Great Man

THE GREAT MAN by Kate Christensen winning with 64% of the vote!  Thank you to everyone who voted this time around.  Just to remind you what this PEN/Faulkner Award winning novel is about here is the summary:

THE GREAT MAN~ “Oscar Feldman, the renowned figurative painter, has passed away. As his obituary notes, Oscar is survived by his wife, Abigail, their son, Ethan, and his sister, the well-known abstract painter Maxine Feldman. What the obituary does not note, however, is that Oscar is also survived by his longtime mistress, Teddy St. Cloud, and their daughters.
As two biographers interview the women in an attempt to set the record straight, the open secret of his affair reaches a boiling point and a devastating skeleton threatens to come to light. From the acclaimed author of The Epicure’s Lament, a scintillating novel of secrets, love, and legacy in the New York art world.”

What did you vote for this time around?  Was it the winning title or another?  Will you read The Great Man after voting?  Will you read it if it even though it wasn’t the book you voted for?  What other challenges or book club selections will you be reading this summer?  Please let us know!

Today’s Favorite Song

With summer here, the music you hear from the speakers in “Big Kahuna” (my minivan) is light, fun and full of happy melodies.  My new favorite song is Sugarland’s new single “All I Want To Do”.  The first time I heard this song was on the ACM Awards last month and I wasn’t too keen on it but when I heard the studio version I LOVED it.  It’s catchy, fun, danceable and makes me sing along no matter what my mood.  I hope it does the same for you!

The Mother Load of Giveaways

                  

Jennifer over at Book Club Girl has told me about a great book giveaway from Harper Collins Publishers.  Be sure to either click on the red banner above or click HERE to check it out and and enter to win.  You are not eligible to win through this site! 
The winner will receive books by celebrated authors, including:

The Madonnas of Leningrad
The Alchemist
by Debra Dean
by Paulo Coelho
The Space Between Us
Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Thrity Umrigar
by Zora Neale Hurston
Run
Love Medicine
by Ann Patchett
by Louise Erdrich
The Yiddish Policemen’s Union
We Need to Talk About Kevin
by Michael Chabon
by Lionel Shriver
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
Wicked
by Barbara Kingsolver
by Gregory Maguire
One Hundred Years of Solitude
The Gravedigger’s Daughter
by Gabriel García Márquez
by Joyce Carol Oates

Friday Random iPod Ten ~ June 27, 2008

Happy Friday!  Here are the first ten songs my iPod chose when I hit Shuffle this afternoon.

Pale September ~ Fiona Apple’s Tidal
For The Last Time ~ Vince Gill’s Let’s Make Sure We Kiss Goodbye
Mud On The Tires ~ Brad Paisley’s Mud On The Tires
Oh Mother ~ Christina Aguilera’s Back To Basics
Nothing New ~ Ashlee Simpson’s Autobiography
Save Me ~ Aretha Franklin’s The Best of Aretha Franklin
Drops of Jupiter ~ Train’s Drops of Jupiter
Looking Over My Shoulder ~ Emerson Drive’s self titled cd
I Told You So ~ Keith Urban’s Love, Pain & The Whole Crazy Thing
The Reason ~ Celine Dion’s Let’s Talk About Love

Book Review ~ The Last Summer (of You & Me) by Ann Brashares

Summary taken from AnnBrashares.net ~ “In the town of Waterby on Fire Island, the rhythms and rituals of summer are sacrosanct: the ceremonial arrivals and departures by ferry; yacht club dinners with terrible food and breathtaking views; the virtual decree against shoes; and the generational parade of sandy, suntanned kids, running, swimming, squealing, and coming of age on the beach.
Seat against this vivid backdrop, The Last Summer (of You and Me) is the enchanting, heartrending story of a beach-community friendship triangle among three young adults for whom summer and this place have meant everything. Sister Riley and Alice, now in their twenties, have been returning to their parents’ modest beach house every summer for their entire lives. Petite, tenacious Riley is a tomboy and a lifeguard, always ready for a midnight swim, a gale-force sail, or a barefoot sprint down the beach. Beautiful Alice is lithe, gentle, a reader and a thinker, and worshipful of her older sister. And every summer growing up, in the big house that overshadowed their humble one, there was Paul, a friend as important to both girls as the place itself, who has now finally returned to the island after three years away. But his return marks a season of tremendous change, and when a simmering attraction, a serious illness, and a deep secret collide, the three friends are launched into an unfamiliar adult world, a world from which their summer haven can no longer protect them.”

                                              

“The Last Summer (of You & Me)” took me to Fire Island and Manhattan, NY while introducing me to three characters whose lives overlapped each others like that of an intricately tied knot on a docked boat.  A knot that keeps the boat tied to the shore though the current works to free it.  Riley and Alice are sisters who have a close relationship with each other and with Paul, the boy who grew up in the neighboring beach house on Fire Island.  To Riley, Paul is a kindred spirit who understands her and looks at the world in a similar way.  They spent their summers growing up challenging each other in many ways.  Both being fans of the great outdoors, they trained to be life guards together but only one ended up taking the test and living their dream.  They shared Riley’s little sister, Alice, and both took great care to watch out for her and include her as best they could in their tight knit friendship.  To Alice, Paul is the boy she always tried to impress but never felt she could.  She thought about him all year round and would day dream about what he was doing in his life.  Paul always had a special place in his heart for Alice over the years but as girls learn, had a funny way of showing his affection.  He would torture her with relentless teasing and badgering for every little thing she tried to do.  But through the apparent strain between them, a love had blossomed into something that neither was very prepared for. 

After three years of being away from Fire Island, Paul returns for a summer he’ll never forget.  Waiting in anticipation for his ferry to arrive Alice thinks of the Paul she has been caring around in her mind for those three years. 

“How often she did attempt to process his thoughts in her mind.  She took his opinions too seriously, remembered them long after she suspected he’d forgotten them.
It was one thing, trying to think his thoughts when hes close by, his words offering clues, corrections, and confirmations by the hour.  But three years of silence made for complex interpolations.  It made it harder, and in another way it made it easier.  She was freer with his thoughts.  She made them her own, thought them to her liking.”

As the summer creeps along, the excitement of newly discovered love between life long friends is special and arouses memories in my own mind.  Memories of a love lost in my mid-twenties with a guy who had been one of my best-est of best friends for six years.  The temptation of creating something greater out of a stable and strong friendship is risky.  It didn’t work for me but it just might work for the characters in this book. 

“He was.  He was finally here.  He was taken back by his own certainty, but he was certain now.  Enough for the two of them and for anyone else who might come along.  This was what he wanted.  Now that he’d decided it, the future could not come fast enough.  Beware the power of the converted, he thought. 
At the same time, he knew he was at the edge of a great and rare pleasure.  A pleasure you got only once in your life, and if you didn’t make the most of it, you were stupid.  He was weary of being stupid.”
 
“Here she was, here they were, after all this time.  It was the joy of joys.”  

There were moments I absolutely loved in “The Last Summer (of You & Me)”and there were times when I felt I had lost my attachment to the story but for the most part I enjoyed this “summer read”.  The summer of 2000 found me visiting friends in Queens, NY and going along with them for a night on Fire Island.  I don’t really remember much of it because we arrived at night on the ferry and hit the bars almost immediately.  I do remember the morning after and waiting at the dock for the ferry to take us back to Long Island though.  I hadn’t thought about that trip in years until reading this book.  It was a fun and magical feeling to be on an island with a ferry ride separating us from the shores of New York’s Long Island.  To know that the only ways of getting around was walking (for us at least) and the only way on or off this long, narrow stretch of sandy land was a chugging ferry or heaven forbid a helicopter was such a foreign concept to me being from the suburban Washington D.C. area.  I enjoyed revisiting Fire Island as well as Manhattan and seeing it from a new perspective while reading “The Last Summer (of You & Me)”. 

The characters are rich and alive in “The Last Summer (of You & Me)”.  The events, lovely and tragic, effect their lives in a real and life changing way.  It was easy for me to imagine that this summer, (heaven forbid the tragic side of the story from happening), some magic is happening to young hearts on Fire Island.  That the tragedies of the world aren’t stretching across the Great South Bay and affecting them in the ways that affect us who live in it everyday. 

{Rating ~ 4 out of 5}

Count Down

It’s almost noon on Friday here in Okinawa I am counting down the hours (almost twenty-four left) till the voting poll for the Planet Books July/August Book Club selection closes.  So far it seems like we will be reading Kate Christensen’s “The Great Man” but close on it’s tail is Elizabeth Noble’s “The Friendship Test”.  Be sure to get you votes in by clicking HERE to read over the nominated titles and vote.  The poll will close Friday at Midnight EST.

We also have two book giveaway contests going on here at Planet Books.  The first is Joshua Henkin’s novel “Matrimony” and the deadline to qualify is this Monday at Midnight EST.  Check out Mr. Henkin’s guest post HERE to check out the rules and enter to win the signed copy of “Matrimony”. 

The second book giveaway is “Mrs. Lieutenant” by Phyllis Zimbler Miller.  The deadline for this contest is July 4th at Midnight EST.  Please check out my review of this book HERE for further details and enter to win the signed copy of “Mrs. Lieutenant”.

I will be using Random.org to select the winners for these giveaways and posting the winner the day after each contest ends.  GOOD LUCK!!  These are great books and I enjoyed each one.

Booking Through Thursday ~ Definition

btt button 

What, in your opinion, is the definition of a “reader.” A person who indiscriminately reads everything in sight? A person who reads BOOKS? A person who reads, period, no matter what it is?  … Or, more specific? Like the specific person who’s reading something you wrote?

A “reader” is many things.  They read books of all kinds.  They are an author’s audience.  They love books and they pride themselves in what they have read.  I think that the Internet has created a different kind of reader all together.  There are people who get all of their information from web sites of all kinds, be it newspapers, magazines, e-books, or blogs.  That is also reading.  I guess that since I would categorize Internet readers within this definition I must also bring attention to the avid newspaper and magazine reader.  My husband’s uncle reads at least three newspapers, front to back, daily.  This takes time and is such a plethora of information it cannot be disregarded as not reading. 

So, in conclusion, a “reader” is someone who spends time daily reading and taking in information from some source, be it books, the Internet, newspapers or magazines. 

 

Blue Archipelago’s July Book Blowout

Clare over at Blue Archipelago is hosting her very first Book Blowout next month.  I’m looking forward to participating and have chosen to challenge myself to read eight books in July.  I am looking at a pretty open calendar in July so I think I can get this done. 

Are you challenging yourself to read a few more books than usual now that summer is here?  If so, what is on your list?  I’ll be reading “The Art of Racing In the Rain” by Garth Stein, “New Moon” by Stephenie Meyer, “Tender at the Bone” by Ruth Reichl, whichever book wins the Planet Books July/August Book Club Selection and a few others I haven’t decided on or purchased yet.