595725627_d5d52da87b_o100 Best Beach Books Ever! And I've actually read a lot of them, which gives me an odd sense of accomplishment (I hate reading those lists of "1000 books to read before you die!" only to discover I've read, like, four.)

Any favorites on YOUR beach list?

(the ones I've read are in bold - 51 in all!)

1. The Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
3. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
4. Bridget Jones's Diary, by Helen Fielding
5. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
6. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, by Rebecca Wells
7. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
8. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
9. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, by Fannie Flagg
10. The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver

11. The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
12. Life of Pi, by Yann Martel
13. The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan
14. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien
15. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
16. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
17. Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett
18. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
19. Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides
20. Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen

21. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
22. The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver
23. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith
24. The World According to Garp, by John Irving
25. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
26. The Prince of Tides, by Pat Conroy
27. Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel
28. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
29. The Accidental Tourist, by Anne Tyler
30. Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer

31. A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole
32. East of Eden, by John Steinbeck
33. The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant
34. Beach Music, by Pat Conroy
35. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
36. Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier
37. Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card
38. Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry
39. The Thorn Birds, by Colleen McCullough
40. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, by Michael Chabon

41. Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett
42. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
43. Interview with the Vampire, by Anne Rice
44. Cold Mountain, by Charles Frazier
45. Empire Falls, by Richard Russo
46. Under the Tuscan Sun, by Frances Mayes
47. The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas
48. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, by Tom Robbins
49. I Know This Much Is True, by Wally Lamb
50. Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie

51. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
52. The Stand, by Stephen King
53. She's Come Undone, by Wally Lamb
54. Dune, by Frank Herbert
55. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
56. Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
57. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
58. Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov
59. The Godfather, by Mario Puzo
60. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith

61. Animal Dreams, by Barbara Kingsolver
62. Jaws, by Peter Benchley
63. Good in Bed, by Jennifer Weiner
64. Angle of Repose, by Wallace Stegner
65. Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson
66. The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway
67. The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand
68. Breakfast of Champions, by Kurt Vonnegut
69. Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
70. The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler

71. The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
72. The Hunt for Red October, by Tom Clancy
73. Cold Sassy Tree, by Olive Ann Burns
74. The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
74. Bonfire of the Vanities, by Tom Wolfe [tie]
76. Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte
77. Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon
78. The Shell Seekers, by Rosamunde Pilcher
79. Prodigal Summer, by Barbara Kingsolver
80. Eye of the Needle, by Ken Follett

81. Cannery Row, by John Steinbeck
81. The Pilot's Wife, by Anita Shreve [tie]
83. All the Pretty Horses, by Cormac McCarthy
84. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson
85. The Little Prince, by Antoine De Saint-Exupery
86. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
87. One for the Money, by Janet Evanovich
88. Shogun, by James Clavell
89. Dracula, by Bram Stoker
90. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Milan Kundera

91. Presumed Innocent, by Scott Turow
92. Franny and Zooey, by J.D. Salinger
93. The Secret History, by Donna Tartt
94. Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris
95. Summer Sisters, by Judy Blume
96. The Shining, by Stephen King
97. How Stella Got Her Groove Back, by Terry McMillan
98. Lamb, by Christopher Moore
99. Sick Puppy, by Carl Hiaasen
100. Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson

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Here's my review from Crucial Pop about Lisa Scottoline's Look Again...


Last week was the American Library Association meeting in Chicago.

Picture, if you will, 30,000 librarians, thousands of vendors, the city of Chicago and more sessions, books, products and walking than you can shake a stick at…

And that still doesn't give you the scope of this annual conference.

I lugged home oodles of books, galleys and information from various vendors, and also had the pleasure of meeting several authors - but one of the highlights for me was meeting bestselling author Lisa Scottoline – a firecracker of a speaker and an effusive personality.

Scottoline gave an author talk, then spent ages autographing books and chatting with librarians, and was as complimentary of our profession as we were of hers.

Scottoline was also signing and giving away her most recent novel, Look Again, a stand-alone novel just released in April.

Journalist and working mother Ellen Gleeson is casually checking her mail one day when a simple white card jumps out at her: one of those "have you seen me?" cards featuring kidnapped children with age progressed photos to help find missing children.

And the child on the card looks exactly like her adopted son, Will.

Two years ago, while investigating a story for the newspaper where she works, Ellen fell in love with Will, a child in the hospital with a heart problem who was put up for adoption by his young, unwed mother. She legally adopted him, and they have been happy together ever since. But the more she ruminates on that card, the more the questions start to pop up in her mind, making her wonder about Will’s true past. As any investigative journalist would, Ellen begins to look further into Will's history...and uncovers secrets she never wanted to find.

This is a tightly written, fast-paced story, filled with Scottoline's trademark wit and vivacity, and once again set in Philadelphia (as are all her novels). Ellen is a likable protagonist, and the short chapters pull you further and further into the story, each one ending and forcing you to read just.one.more!

Scottoline has also written a series of novels revolving around Rosato & Associates, an all-female law firm in Philly, as well as several stand-alone novels, all of which feature strong female protagonists, snappy dialogue and fast paced action. Likewise, if you enjoy listening to audiobooks, you cannot do better than Scottoline’s novels, narrated by the incomparable Barbara Rosenblat (who has been likened to audiobooks the way Meryl Streep is to film).

Thanks for the author talk, the free novel, the autograph, and the hug, Lisa. You’re a rock star!


Catching up on my blogging today...can you tell? I've been felled by a couple of migraines this week, so I haven't been in front of the computer much. Still, I have been out and about a bit...

About half the APL staff headed up to see the Exhibits at the American Library Association conference in Chicago...

Hitting the Exhibits!

I got to meet Lisa Scottoline, and saw lots of nifty things on the exhibit floor, including a new book dispenser and Cat in the Hat!

Happy Birthday!

Me and the Cat

I also decided to take a whirlwind home trip last weekend to visit Dad, and to let him and Zoe have some bonding time. :-)

We hit the Farmer's Market (this is our haul!)...

Our Haul!

Took Zoe shopping in Nashville...

Nashville Ramble

And went to Brown County for lunch and a hike...

Brown County Bridge

I think puppy had a good time. :-)

Zoe's Bed

Benny and Shrimp by Katarina Mazetti

This novel, due out this week, is from Swedish author Mazetti about two middle aged people who meet on a park bench in a cemetery.

Told in alternating voiced, staccato paced chapters, this details the odd courtship and even odder relationship of Benny, a bachelor cow farmer who lives in a rambling farmhouse with his mum's crosstitch still on the walls. Shrimp is an uptight librarian with a "dentist's office" for a home and fully organized life. When these two collide, however, the sparks fly - the sexual tension and laughter just flows from them both.

But reality begins to set in as they struggle to find a future together, with neither willing to compromise their previously comfortable, mundane life.

This is a totally quirky, odd, charming little novel that I couldn't put down - the chapters keep you reading, and you root and root for these two "odd ducks" to get together. The ending is a bit of a cliffhanger, making me wonder if Mazetti is done telling the story of these two unique characters...

What a fun little novel! I loved it!


The Lace Makers of Glenmara by Heather Barbieri

This is one of those books you want to curl up with, not moving until the last page is turned.

Kate Robinson is a heartbroken 26-year old fashion designer who is running away from a broken engagement to Ireland, traveling hither and yon, until she unexpectedly arrives in Glenmara, a tiny village on the coast. There, she is taken in by Bernie, one of the "lace makers" of the village.

What follows is a charming story of Kate's rebirth into her own skin, as well as vignettes into the lives of the other "lace makers", who come under fire when they start combining their traditional lace with, well, ladies underthings. ;-)

Barbieri perfectly evokes the spirit of a small village - I could see the green fields, hear the waves, and perfectly picture the homes, the cups of tea, and the clacking of needles as lace is created by these talented women. What a great setting!

Of course, there is a touch (or two) of romance, a bit of scandal, and ultimately a happy ending, but the journey there is a lovely one.

Highly recommended!


The Divorce Party by Laura Dave

I'd not personally heard of divorce parties until this book (must not be a Midwestern thing!), but it sounded like an intriguing premise for a book...

The marriage of Gwyn and Thomas - rich, accomplished residents of Montauk - is dissolving, and rather than ending in bitterness, they are throwing a "divorce party" to celebrate the thirty-five years they were together before moving apart, planning a lavish event with all their friends and family to end things on a good note, rather than a negative one.

Running parallel to Gwyn's story is that of Maggie, her soon to be daughter-in-law, who is engaged to Gwyn's son Nate. But as Maggie is due to arrive in Montauk, she is blindsided by secrets that Nate has kept from her...

Told in alternating chapters from Gwyn and Maggie's points of view, this is actually a story full of depth and emotion, at times funny and at times sad, all tied into one memorable day in Montauk, but set into motion decades before.

From the cover, this may look like a typical chick lit title, but it truly is full of heart, depth, and tells a great story. Gwyn and Maggie are great and well developed protagonists, and the whole story was well written, engaging and easy to read.

Highly recommended!


Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner

It's no secret how much I love Jennifer Weiner's books, so I was eager to read her latest one, and as always, it's great. :-)

Addie Downs and Valerie Adler were best friends from the age of nine, but a rift in high school sent them in different directions. Addie, the overweight, shy girl, and Valerie, the gorgeous outgoing one find themselves far, far apart from each other, until an accident sends Valerie to Addie's home the night of their high school reunion, begging for help.

The story then alternates from the past to the present and back again, as the girls try to repair their friendship, fix the accident, fall in and out of love (in the past, and the present) and we discover the journeys the girls have taken since high school.

I so sympathized with Addie, a heartbreaking character who eventually blooms into herself, and even with Valerie, for all she endured quietly.

This is another great novel in the Weiner library!


Still Alice by Lisa Genova

My friend Nat read and recommended this book, so I picked it up when it finally returned to the library.

Talk about heartbreaking.

Alice Howland is a professor of psychology at Harvard, has three great children and a stable marriage, but when she begins to forget things, lose things, and then becomes disoriented only a mile from home, she consults the medical profession.

Only to find that, at fifty years old, she has early-onset Alzheimer's Disease.

What follows is Alice's heartbreaking descent into dementia, and is written from her point of view, making the read feel her frustration, her anger, her grasping for words. I found *myself* stressing out about the tests given to test Alice's mental capacity. She eventually gives herself a test on her Blackberry every day, promising her deteriorating self that when she cannot answer the questions on it, she was commit suicide.

This is a smartly written, educational and yes, sad, account of one woman's journey into the shadows...


Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

I was sent this title ages ago along with another book from a publisher, and it got buried amongst my piles of books (oops!). I recently unearthed it, and dove in...

Sarah is the daughter of a Jewish family living in Paris as World War II is heating up. One day, the authorities come to round up all Jews living in the area, and Sarah's brother hides in a closet out of fear. Sarah locks him in, and promises to return later to release him, pocketing the key. Her family were then part of the now famous (in France) Vél' d'Hiv' roundup, where Jews were then dispersed to concentration camps.

Running parallel to this story is that of modern-day journalist, Julia Jarmond, who seeks to find out more about the roundup, and discovers that Sarah's story is much closer to her than she thought.

This is a devastating, thought provoking, well written story, filled with suspense, sadness and ultimately, hope. I can see now why book discussion groups are snapping up this title.

A great addition to the scads of "Holocaust" fiction (and non fiction) on the shelves...


Time for another blast of mini-reviews - let's go! :-)

Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg

I listened to this latest title from prolific writer Berg - much like her others, it's a pleasant enough story, a quiet story that meanders and tumbles along towards the happy ending. And there's always a happy ending. :-)

Round Robin by Jennifer Chiaverini

Number two in the "Elm Creek Quilts" series, where we learn more about the other quilters in the group, and see the development of their new business venture. These books are like comfort food to me. :-)

Bound to Please by Lilli Feisty

Saw this on our new book shelf - scandalous! ;-) Of course, I had to read it - whoo, boy! Straight erotica, here.

Looking for Alaska by John Green

I had our book discussion group read this this month - though some of the "ladies" weren't keen on it, I still love it as much as I did the first time I read it.

A Guide to Taste, Quality and Style by Tim Gunn

One of the "memorial" books we bought for Mum, who loved Tim. A great, easy read on how to always look fabulous. Full of snarky humour and big words. Thanks, Tim! :-)

Growing Pains by Billie Piper

I've always wanted to know more about Piper (British actress who plays Rose Tyler on Dr. Who), so I ILLed her autobiography. Honest, interesting, and compulsively readable!


So, how are y'all? :-)

I seem to have taken a hiatus from the computer quite a bit in the last week or two in favor of reading, napping and catching up on things, which has been nice. So what else have I been up to?

Took the puppers for a SERIOUS haircut...

Pretty Girl

Caught some cool sunrises...


Saw my yellow lilies burst forth that Dad and I planted last fall in memory of Mum...


Finished my quilt squares for a memory quilt the "Quilting Ladies" are making in memory of our friend Mary (using her fabric stash)...


Babysat Carma, Zoe's sister, for a night for my friend Becca...

Sweetie Girl

Took Zoe on a hike through Harmonie State Park...

Harmonie Hike

Just what summer should be, no?

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Halfway to Heaven: My White-Knuckled - and Knuckleheaded - Quest for the Rocky Mountain High by Mark Obmascik

What is with me and mountaineering books, when I couldn't climb a big hill, much less a mountain?? ;-)

Mark is a journalist, who, on the enthusiasm of his son, climbs a "Fourteener" in the Rocky Mountains, and finds himself drawn to the mountaineering lifestyle (Fourteeners are Rocky Mountains higher than 14,000 feet). And so, he decides he's going to climb all 54 Fourteeners, one way or another - despite having no previous experience.

He drops weight, he goes on a lot of "man dates" (his wife refuses to let him climb alone so he has to find climbing buddies along the way), he summits and summits and summits...and all along tells his story, which is filled with laugh out loud moments, history of the peaks, and even a few tragedies he is touched by. Mark's style is breezy and approachable, and you totally feel like you are along for his hikes, and feel his terror, his celebration, and his triumph as he strives for his goal.

I really loved the writing, the scenery, and the company of this novel - I'm definitely going to seek out Mark's novel The Big Year next.

What a great read! Now, if only I had a mountain to climb in Indiana....;-)


Time for another round of mini book reviews of what I've been reading...and I've been reading...A LOT! Can't seem to keep up with my reviews, so let's flash our way through these, yes? :-)

Blue Heaven by C.J. Box

I've never read anything by Box, but the name comes up as a "if you like Coben/Patterson/Baldacci, you'll like", so I checked it out. Good mystery set in the wilds of Idaho with a lot of twists and turns - and pretty scenery!

The Widow's Season by Laura Brodie

"Sarah McConnell's husband had been dead three months when she saw him in the grocery store..." is the teaser on the back of this contemplative novel. I can't really tell you the plot, except to say you won't know until the very last page what story to believe...

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

This is the first in the "Moral Instruments" trilogy, written for young adults. What a fantastic fantasy novel! Demons, vampires, love triangles, mystery, suspense and more fill this well-written, totally engrossing novel! Sexy, dark, dangerous - I can't wait for the next book in the series (I've put a hold on it for as soon as it's returned!)

Finger Lickin' Fifteen by Janet Evanovich

Book fifteen in the perennially popular Stephanie Plum series. The may be formulaic, but these novels are always fun - and funny! Lula witnesses a murder, Stephanie and Joe are on the outs, and Ranger needs help with a business problem...all this adds up for another fun romp through the Burg, with a few laugh out loud moments along the way!

Dead Lucky: Life After Death on Mount Everest by Lincoln Hall

In continuing my Mount Everest dorkdom, I had to read this memoir about Hall, who was left for dead near the summit of Mount Everest but who amazingly survived an entire night on the peak and was rescued the following morning. Pretty inspiring story with lots of Everest lore and information throughout.

All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris

The seventh book in the Sookie Stackhouse series - this time Sookie and Co. head to Illinois for a vampire convention where murder and mayhem inevitably abound. Good times!

Fields of Light by Joseph Hurka

I've had this book for ages, and have finally read it, about Hurka's father during the Communist occupation of Czechoslovakia, as well as World War II. Made me yearn to be back in Prague again, and to hear my grandfather's stories about his time in Prague. Very nice descriptive little book...

June Bug by Jess Lourey

This is the second title in the "Murder By Month Mysteries" series, and features intrepid librarian and journalist Mira James, on the hunt for a big honkin' diamond, a long ago mystery and touch of murder in Minnesota. Always fun!

Crouching Vampire, Hidden Fang by Katie MacAlister

Finally! The second half of the story of vampire Kristoff and his Beloved, Pia, which was begun in Zen and the Art of Vampires. Ties things up nicely, but with a lot of drama, sexy scenes and mystery along the way. Whew!

The French Gardener by Santa Montefiore

I admit, it was the cover that caught me, but I really enjoyed this novel - set at a rambling estate in Dorset with a garden that needs refurbishing - and magic. This details two marriages, two affairs, two endings...a descriptive, lovely, sad and happy, beautifully written novel. Perfect for a rainy day!

The Last Beach Bungalow by Jennie Nash

A woman celebrating her five years of remission from breast cancer finds herself fantasizing about a contest to win a beach bungalow, while trying to repair her marriage - and find herself. A short, spare, lovely novel.

Evermore by Alyson Noel

Looking for a new YA novel to recommend to lovers of Twilight? Look no further! First love, brooding boy, lost girl, good and evil - this novel has it all - and there are more novels to follow!

The Lover's Knot by Clare O'Donohue

A fresh take on cozy mysteries - Nell moves in with her grandmother to care for her after a fall and takes on helping at her quilt shop to heal her broken engagement. A fling, a quilting circle and a murder later, things are heating up for Nell...

Busy Woman Seeks Wife by Annie Sanders

Alex is too busy to care for her house, cook, or clean, so she advertises for a "wife" to care for all domestic things. What she doesn't count on is an out of work actor, Frankie, stepping into the role and what follows is a fun story with great supporting characters, a bit of a mystery, and a great take on role reversal. Fun!

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

Short, spare, very sad YA tale about Alice, who has spent the last five years with Ray, her abductor, who is waiting for her own demise as Ray seeks out another girl to kidnap. Haunting...

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

I had to read this to lead a book discussion - wouldn't have been my first choice. This is a (very) thinly veiled account of Laura Bush and her life with George, but with different names and a different state. Long, long, long (needs to be edited, big time!), sexually frank, but interesting for a book discussion - they had lots of things to say about it!

The Wedding Girl by Madeleine Wickham

Milly is ready to settle down with perfect Simon, and her mother is planning the wedding of the century...but it all goes horribly wrong when a secret from Milly's past catches up with her...this is a cute little book, filled with great secondary characters and with a lot of heart. Wickham also writes as Sophie Kinsella, the author of the "Shopaholic" books.

Fresh Disasters by Stuart Woods

I really enjoy listening to the "Stone Barrington" novels, and this one is no exception. Stone is giving a bitch of a case, complete with an idiot client, the mob, romance, a beheading and a lot of whiskey at Elaine's. These are great to listen to!

Whew! That's a lotta reviews!