8 Books to Read this Summer

I almost threw the towel in on this list. Not because there weren’t enough books that I felt worthy of recommendation, but because there is possibly even too many books out there that would make for perfect summer reads! But somehow I muddled through and narrowed it to eight. This list is comprised of my ideal kind of lazy summer day book, yours may of course differ – so feel free to drop your book recommendations in the comments below. Also, join me here on goodreads for more book reviews and to keep track of your favorite reads!

8 Books to Read This Summer NYC Talon

Remnant Chronicles: The Beauty of Darkness

The Beauty of Darkness

The Beauty of Darkness is the third and final book of The Remnant Chronicles series by Mary E. Pearson and it is not to be missed! Full of intrigue, romance, suspense, and action – this YA series featuring the ultimate heroine and a thoroughly engaging story-line will keep you glued to the page. This last installment releases on August 2nd, so you’re sure to have a great book to finish summer vacation with. Preorder here.

Shining Sea

The Shining Sea by Mimi Cross

Looking for a quick fantasy read with some Twilight undertones? Shining Sea by Mimi Cross definitely deserves its spot among beach reads with its mix of mystery, fantasy, and family drama. Here’s the goodreads synopsis:

“Seventeen-year-old Arion Rush has always played the obedient sidekick to her older sister’s flashy femme fatale—until a mysterious boating accident leaves Lilah a silent, traumatized stranger. As her sister awaits medical treatment with their mother, Arion and her father head to his hometown in Maine to prepare a new life for them all. Surrounded by the vast Atlantic, she finds solace in songwriting, her only solid ground.

Unexpectedly, Arion blossoms in the tiny coastal town. Friends flock to her, and Logan Delaine, a volatile heartthrob, seems downright smitten. But it’s Bo Summers—a solitary surfer, as alluring as he is aloof—that Arion can’t shake. Meanwhile, Lilah’s worsening condition, a string of local fatalities, and Arion’s own recent brushes with death seem ominously linked…to Bo’s otherworldly family. As Arion’s feelings for Bo intensify and his affections turn possessive, she must make a choice. How will Arion learn to listen to her own voice when Bo’s siren song won’t stop ringing in her ears?” Read The NYC Talon full review here.

A Court of Mist and Fury

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sara J Maas

The second book to Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses, A Court of Mist and Fury resumes with Feyre after her harrowing experience freeing the Fae from Amarantha’s evil clutches under the mountain. You definitely need to have read ACOTAR prior to this, but you won’t regret it, you’ll find yourself zooming through all 640 pages of this book in no time. This story is amazing. Read more here.

Food Whore: A Novel of Dining and Deceit

Food Whore by Jessica Thom

Sort of like The Devil Wears Prada, but for the food scene, Food Whore by Jessica Tom is one of my favorite summer reads. “Full of wit and mouth-watering cuisines, Jessica Tom’s debut novel offers a clever insider take on the rarefied world of New York City’s dining scene in the tradition of The Devil Wears Prada meets Kitchen Confidential.” Pick it up here.

One Paris Summer

One Paris Summer by Denise Swank

For teens, One Paris Summer by Denise Grover Swank, is a recipe for a great summer read. Sophie Brooks and her brother are sent to spend a summer in Paris with their father who had suddenly abandoned them a year earlier. Now he’s about to remarry and we watch Sophie as she struggles with feelings of betrayal, loyalty, love, her dreams of becoming a pianist, and of course an evil stepsister. The summer she dreaded soon promises to become the best summer of her life. Pick up this classic YA contemporary on amazon here.

Forever Doon

Forever Doon

The final book to Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon’s Doon series has us feeling bittersweet – we don’t want to say goodbye! Forever Doon picks up where we left off – with the Brig o’ Doon destroyed and the portal fragmented, Doon’s forces are divided and isolated in different dimensions. Can Vee, Jamie, Kenna, Duncan, and Doonians (both old and new) pull together and save their kingdom or will the witch of Doon destroy them forever? I loved this fun YA series and have to say this final book gave me chills! Pre-order for the August 2nd release date here.

The Books That Changed My Life: Reflections by 100 Authors, Actors, Musicians, and Other Remarkable People

The Books that Changed My Life

A book for book lovers and writers, this collection by Bethanne Patrick features one hundred of today’s most prominent literary and cultural icons talking about the books that hold a special place in their hearts, that changed their life, why they love them, and their passion with readers everywhere. Regan Arts has teamed up with literary charity 826National, which will receive a portion of the books proceeds to provide students ages 6-18 with opportunities to explore their creativity and improve their writing skills, find out more here.

Strangers on a Bridge: The Case of Colonel Abel and Francis Gary Powers

Strangers on a Bridge

Contrary to popular belief (a.k.a. my sister), I do not exclusively read YA. I’m also an ardent fan of historical non-fiction. If you’ve seen Bridge of Spies starring Tom Hanks, you’ll know a little bit about the 1962 exchange that occurred on Glienicke Bridge. Take a more in-depth and riveting look with an insider account from James B. Donovan himself, who was appointed to defend Abel. I’ve saved the best for last, although it’s at the bottom of this write-up it’s actually at the top of my to-read list. Pick it up here.

For more great content about summer, please be sure to check out these awesome posts written by my fellow Chosen Chix bloggers:

Cookbook Review: The Quick Six Fix by Stuart O’Keefe

I used to have a massive collection of cookbooks, some that I had since I was a kid. Most of them were rarely used, but I did have my favorites. Books like an old creased copy of The Joy of Cooking, a buttered and battered Cookie Cookbook, and an old retro collection of chocolate recipes that were given to me as a gift years ago. Unfortunately, most of them were damaged during a bad leak a couple of years ago and had to be disposed of. It was kind of bittersweet because so many of them had been on our shelves since I was a kid, but it also provided me with an opportunity to find cookbooks that I would actually use. I’m too busy to worked on tiered cakes and exotic dessert recipes. So a more practical addition like The Quick Six Fix by Stuart O’Keefe, which focuses on no-fuss meals, is a definitely the sort of staple cookbook most people like me should have in their arsenal.

The Quick Six Fix Review

In The Quick Six Fix, features dozens of delicious recipes for breakfast, salads, soups, pasta, fish, chicken, pork, beef, sides, and desserts that will get you in and out of the kitchen in thirty minutes or less. Each requires no more than 6 key ingredients, 6 minutes of prep work, and 6 minutes of clean up. Since most of my cooking typically involves a ridiculous amount of mess, time, and quite a few ingredients (hence the mess), I was really excited to take this cookbook for a test run.

Stuart O'Keefe Cookbook

There are so many great recipes in this book, but I really loved how Chef Stuart includes recipes for meal components like Lime Avocado Dressing, Asian Dressing from up the Street, and Mustard Herb Dressing. Having these sort of at the ready, makes meal prep even more simpler. I had quite a few favorite recipes – like the Kale , Fingerling, Potato, and Bacon Salad. Because of the simplicity of the recipes, switching out for substitutes and personalizing recipes is incredibly easy. Like for that salad I switched out spinach for most of the kale. Another must-try recipe is the Chicken and Rice Miso Soup. Chef Stuart was first introduced to miso soup when he moved to California, and he’s been hooked since – which is another thing I love about this book, that you get a little bit of background with every recipe.

Lemony Artichoke Spaghetti Recipe Review

So the most recent recipe that I whipped up with this book was the Lemony Artichoke Spaghetti. Inspired by his trip to Seattle’s Pike Place Market, I have to say I loved this pasta. I’m a massive fan of marinated artichokes and this pasta felt very reminiscent of my favorite picatta which also has a ton of artichoke quarters. I also added scallops here, as I just happen to have some fresh scallops on hand (it happens, rarely, but it does occur, haha!).

The Quick Six Fix Pasta Recipe Review

I definitely recommend checking out The Quick Six Fix, especially if you or someone you know loves to cook at home and struggles with making time for it, or even someone who is relatively new to home cooking. More info here.

Book Review: The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill

At first I hated this book. I could not connect with the main character, Liza, who I felt was way too uptight and controlling. I was tempted to put the book down (or in this case, my Kindle) but I didn’t and I’m actually pretty darn glad that I finished it. The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill stars Liza Sanders, a drum major who has just found out her band is losing funding. Armed with her clipboard and baton, she finds Destiny – a luxury cruise liner hosting a Spring break talent show complete with a $25,000 prize. Throw in an old friend (a.k.a. new flame), the school jock, and an ex-bestie/current arch nemesis and you’ve got a recipe for YA Contemporary gold.

Kindle-Book-Review-The-Trouble-with-Destiny

You see, when I was in my senior year of high school I finally took Musical Theater, the only art credit that would fit into my perfectly crafted schedule where I attempted to spend the least amount of time in school, little knowing that I would be selected as Stage Manager for our Winter performance. If you don’t know what a Stage Manager is, they’re basically that person that does everything – they have to make sure that everything and everyone has what they need, is where they need to be, and doing what they’re supposed to be doing. I was one of the only senior’s in a sea of freshman, given the burden of stage managing as well as having to perform “Can You Hear the People Sing” from Les Miserables. Suffice it to say it was one of those terrible, horrible experiences that you sort of chuckle about years later, but also still feel weirdly bitter about. In the middle of running around moving people and props on stage I had a classmate open the stage door on my finger, ripping my fingernail up and backwards off of my nail bed exactly one act before I was supposed to perform. The pain in combination with angry stress left me crying angry tears. I still remember going on to perform and hearing my musical theater teacher whisper from the front row “sing LOUDER Krista”. I don’t think anyone could have given a more genuine French revolution-inspired (pardon me, June rebellion) performance.

The-Trouble-with-Destiny-Review

This tale of woe has a point (I promise), you see while I initially abhorred Liza’s over-controlling personality I began to understand her. I could identify with stress and pressure and feeling like you’re the only person who can see “the big picture”. I can identify with giving yourself over to stress in such a manner as you do and say things you instantly regret. For people who are natural born leaders, like I believe Liza is, there is a struggle with trying to get people on the same level of motivation when they are not as invested. Which is why I loved that the story ended the way it did.

Of course, there were some parts that I just couldn’t even – like when she got in trouble with her band teacher. I get how in terms of moving the story along that would be a quick way to get Liza out of leading the band, however, I just didn’t like how it was written, I didn’t like that that was what ended up happening. I also didn’t like her antagonistic relationship with Russ throughout most of the book – I liked Russ instantly, as a reader you know he’s the good guy so every time Liza is mean or just plain rude to Russ it makes you sort of kinda hate her. I went to a city school where I feel like cliques weren’t as big of a deal as they might be elsewhere, so I’m not sure if this sort of resentment has any root in reality but I wasn’t a fan of the sports team-hating on Liza’s part – it felt a little too cliché. Also, the ending is really rushed – like the author is tying up all these loose ends that have been floating around – Liza’s relationship with Demi gets a quick and unrealistic ending, which brings me to the conclusion of this lengthy review…

I realized while writing my review that the issues that I had with the story were all mainly issues with the tendency of the writing to be unrealistic. I mean, would you really do what Liza does? Would anyone? And then it hit me – this book is a literary chick flick for the younger set – does anyone bump into a billionaire in the street, end up interviewing with them, solve their corporate issues with your knowledge of shopping, and magically fall in love? Not often. In the same way no one would really raise enough money for a luxury cruise ship excursion with the entire band in the middle of being defunded, and casually compete to win $25k in between buffet bars, jacuzzi’s, and romantic entanglements? Probably not. But we love these stories just the same, which is why I can gladly give The Trouble with Destiny a tidy recommendation.

Pick up your copy of The Trouble with Destiny here!

Title: The Trouble with Destiny
Author: Lauren Morrill
Pages: 272
Genre: Young Adult, Teens, Fiction, Contemporary
Publisher: Random House, Delacorte Press

*I received a digital copy for review via the NetGalley, find more of my reviews and talk books with me on goodreads!

Book Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Two weeks ago I went on YA reading rampage. Well, not really. But I did finish three books in a span of three days, and one of those books was Uprooted by Naomi Novik (the others were the first two books of The Remnant Chronicles series). The blurb for Uprooted promised to be an intriguing, if not dark, retelling of Beauty and the Beast. It’s only until recently that I’ve become a fan of BATB, as a kid I never really liked it because it was my older sister’s favorite Disney movie and as rascally younger siblings do, I didn’t want to like everything that my sister liked. Of course now when she asks if we should watch Beauty and the Beast, I’m always game!

Kindle Book Review Uprooted

But back to the book, while this is modeled generally off of the framework of BATB, it’s not really a retelling. It’s more just inspired by BATB – sure we have a “beast” character, a Belle, and even a sort of Gaston, but the stakes are much higher here than in Belle’s little village and the curse in this story is a dark and dangerous woods that is a legitimate threat to life in the entire kingdom.

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”
 
Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.
 
Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.
 
The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.
 
But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

As far as main characters go, I really adored Agnieszka. She was spunky and honest, brave but in a realistic way. I’m not a big fan of leads being surprised that they have some hidden strength that no one else has – girls that are “just normal” but find out that they’re in fact princesses, have epic ninja skills, or are secretly another being entirely – but when we find out that Agnieszka is unique in her own right, it’s so well written that we don’t feel that this makes Agnieszka no longer relatable. She doesn’t become this awesome, cool heroine who is impossible to emulate because you don’t have a similarly tragic past that’s murky with mystery and deadly family secrets (I’m looking at you dystopian fiction). She’s still this normal girl, who is struggling with a life and future that she never anticipated – i.e. spending ten years with the “Dragon”, a mysterious and grumpy/rude but generally helpful wizard.

This story was packed with so much great stuff, I honestly don’t know where to begin, and really party of me just wants you to stop right now and pick up a copy yourself. So if you haven’t read it, I recommend you stop here. If you have then continue –

us-uprooted1

So I loved the idea and the character of the ‘Dragon’, but I wish that there was more development where he was concerned. I don’t know, I felt it was like a gun on the mantelpiece – there is so much more potential for story here! I am demanding a sequel Naomi!

The whole premise of having a forest that is pretty much alive with deadly forces is so enchanting, and I loved how the author doesn’t leave flagrant plot holes and does not overwhelm you with useless information. I do wish that there was more interaction between the Dragon and Agnieszka – their relationship goes from 0 to 60 in a matter of a few scenes, and I honestly don’t think she was prepared to get into bed with the Dragon when she did. In fact I wish she hadn’t – partly because I would’ve recommended this book to younger readers (like my younger sister) if this scene hadn’t been included. I love Agnieszka’s relationship with Kasia, but I also feel that there is so much more that could be done/said with both of their characters.

I get that this is one of those do you or don’t you book reviews – but the reality is is that I loved this book, but on the other hand I can understand people who are not as enamored with it as I am. For instance, I love lyrical and descriptive writing – my imagination can fill in the scenes with all the suspense and drama required – but some people prefer it to be written out for them and there’s nothing wrong with that. I do sincerely hope that Naomi writes a sequel, as the book really just scratched the surface of iceberg of potential this world she wrote has.

Pick up your kindle copy of Uprooted here!

Title: Uprooted
Author: Naomi Novik
Pages: 448
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Del Rey, Ballantine Books, Random House

8 Books to Pre-Order In Time for the Fall

The summer of 2015 has already given us a plethora of good reads as well as another Harper Lee book to add to our shelves with Go Set a Watchman, and the fall literary lineup promises to be no less exciting! Check out these highly anticipated books, and pre-order them before they fly off the shelves. Here are 8 books you’ll want to be reading this fall, long after the back to school rush and way into the holidays:

Books to Pre-Order in Time for the Fall 2015 | read more at nyctalon.com

My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life

My Kitchen Year

For those of you who are fans of food, recipes, food writing or just plain good writing. In this book Ruth Reichl, arguably one of food’s greatest storytellers and former editor in chief for Gourmet magazine, shares how food – and in this case, cooking – helped her cope with the folding of the aforementioned magazine back in 2009. The book contains 136 recipes, pre-order on amazon here, or see the book’s page on RandomHouse.com. The book goes on sale September 29th.

Shades of Doon (A Doon Novel)

Shades of Doon

The highly anticipated third installment of the YA fantasy Doon series by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon is slated to release on September 1st. Shades of Doon continues the story of Veronica and Mackenna (and subsequently Jamie and Duncan) as the girls find themselves thrust out of the idyllic kingdom of Doon and back into their old lives. I personally can’t recommend this series enough and can’t wait to get my hands on Shades of Doon! Preorder on amazon here, or check out the book’s page here.

Lost Ocean: An Inky Adventure and Coloring Book

Lost Ocean by Johanna Basford

While technically a coloring book and not a book book, Lost Ocean: An Inky Adventure is the latest in the best selling series of adult coloring books by Johanna Basford and is definitely one worth picking up. Both entertaining and relaxing, Johanna’s previous release Secret Garden has purportedly sold over 2 million copies worldwide! Preorder it here on amazon, it hits shelves on October 27th.

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles)

Winter The Lunar Chronicles

The concluding book of the Lunar Chronicles, if you haven’t yet read this hit series you’ll want to start with Cinder and work your way here. Will Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters? This sci-fi fantasy is sure to be a perfect accompaniment to your favorite pumpkin spice latte and softest knit sweater! Set to hit shelves on November 10th, preorder it here.

The Nerdy Nummies Cookbook: Sweet Treats for the Geek in All of Us

Nerdy Nummies

The long awaited cookbook from YouTube star and creator of our favorite Nerdy Nummies, Rosanna Pansino shares her favorite geeky recipes! Sure to satisfy the nerdiest sweet tooth with recipes like Apple Pi Pie and the Periodic Table of Cupcakes – this cookbook is perfect for gifting or keeping all to yourself. The Nerdy Nummies Cookbooks hits shelves on November 3rd, preorder it here!

Why Not Me?

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

As a fan of Mindy, her Project, and her last book – we can’t wait to get our hands on Why Not Me?, a collection of essays that are sure to be both hilarious and insightful. Apparently Mindy tackles hard hitting topics like seeking new friendships in lonely places, attempting to be the first person in history to lose weight without any behavior modification whatsoever (we can totally relate). The book releases on September 15th, preorder here.

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book 1: The Sword of Summer

Magnus Chase

Rick Riordan has a new series, ‘nuff said. But seriously, fans of Riordans bestselling Percy Jackson and the Olympians are sure to love this adventure in Norse mythology with the story of Magnus, a troubled kid from Boston who finds out from an estranged uncle that he happens to be the son of a Norse god. Magnus is plunged into an adventure the might just cost him his life, preorder it here, it hits shelves on October 6th.

The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science

The Food Lab

As Serious Eats’s culinary nerd-in-residence, J. Kenji López-Alt focuses on the science behind beloved American dishes, delving into the interactions between heat, energy, and molecules that create great food. If you’re a fan of Serious Eat’s, food-science (or that Alton Brown show, Good Eat’s), food, recipes, and amazing photography, then you’ll want to get your hands on this cookbook. The Food Lab releases on September 21st, preorder here.

What’s On My Kindle: Cinder – Book One of the Lunar Chronicles

I had heard so many good things about Cinder on blogs and vlogs that naturally I chose it as my form of procrastination the week before finals (yep, shudder in yer boots – finals). Unfortunately I just couldn’t get into the beginning. I don’t know if I was restless from doing so much academic reading, but try as I might I couldn’t connect with the story. I normally am not a massive sci-fi fan – aside from Dr.Who – aliens and robots don’t appeal to me as a reader (or viewer). But finally, finally, the week after the finals I sort of fell into it and I couldn’t put it down.

Cinder-Lunar-Chronicles-Review

Basically, Cinder, which is book #1 of the Lunar Chronicles, is about Linh Cinder – a female cyborg mechanic who can boast both an evil stepmother and stepsister (the other sister is meant to be good). There’s also a prince, an evil queen, and an old pumpkin car waiting to become an enchanted mode of transportation. Well, sort of. Here’s the Goodread’s synopsis:

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Doesn’t that sound like a good read?! Alright, I actually didn’t think much of the blurb either – but there were so many reviews saying that the book was great that I just had to read it. It’s like peer pressure for book lovers.

Cinder

Anyways, Cinder takes off towards the middle of the book – and there is a certain part where you realize who Cinder is – which is way before she figures it out – and then everything following that will basically have you on the edge of your seat because suddenly everything gets way more intense. As for Cinder herself, as a character I thought she was alright. She has the basics for a great female character – she’s sarcastic, feisty, even a little comedic but she’s also really slow on the uptake and really self-deprecating, which is great for who and where she is during this book but boy am I ready to see who she matures into for the following books (Scarlet, Cress, and Winter).

As a leading male character, I was not overly thrilled with Prince Kai. But to be fair we haven’t really had time to see him develop as a character. I felt like he gave in to Levana so easily, and after being so promising at the beginning of the story he just seemed to quit too fast towards the end. I know, I know, he’s in a no-win situation but I feel like I’d have to side with Captain Kirk on this one – I just don’t believe in a no-win situation. Queen Levana makes all evil stepmothers (including Cinder’s) pale in comparison – she’s cruel, evil, plays terrible mind games, and is pretty much just the Dolores Umbridge of the story. The story ends sort of on a frustrating cliff-hanger – and trust me, it’s not at all like the classic fairy tale (in a good way!).

All in all, I can’t wait to read the next books in the series. I don’t think I’ll pick up the next two until the third one comes out – I’m the sort who prefers to have them all in hand rather than having to wait. If I had to star this, I’d give it 3.75 stars – if you like fantasy or sci-fi then you will love this one!

Pick it up from Amazon for your Kindle here!

Title: Cinder: Book One of the Lunar Chronicles
Author: Marissa Meyer
Pages: 448 pages
Genre: Fiction, YA – Teen, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Macmillan Publishers, Square Fish

What’s On My Kindle: Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella

I’ve been a fan of Sophie Kinsella since my sister gave me a copy of her first Shopaholic books back in middle school. This particular book of Kinsella’s was recommended by Natasha Polis of YouTube book vlogging fame – you can find her channel, Tashapolis, here (she’s pretty awesome)! “Can You Keep a Secret?” is a story about Emma Corrigan, Emma is a typical 20-something who just happens to have a fear of flying. It’s this fear of flying combined with some bad turbulence that leads her to spill all her secrets to the guy sitting next to her on the plane. Only it turns out that that guy who now knows all her secrets also is the head of the company that she works for!

Can-You-Keep-a-Secret-Kindle-Review

I immediately fell into the story in the worst sort of way. You know how it is – where you’re grinning at the page like an idiot and you can’t hear someone call your name even though they’ve said it like three times. I mean, I’d like to consider myself a pretty smart reader, I’m familiar with le Carre, I’ve dallied with Shakespeare, I’ve even read literary essays, and have had a subscription to Businessweek since I was fourteen – so what if I’ve never read Proust and can’t ever bring myself to start finish Anna Karenina – the point is I can’t even be bothered with things like literary devices or the impossibility of the plot when reading “Can You Keep a Secret?”. I never worry about things like world hunger or the greater implications of our main characters’ life decisions. Or that the chances of getting a complimentary upgrade on a flight are even crazier than the chances of meeting (and falling in love with) a self-made millionaire. Really – that doesn’t happen in the real world. But Kinsella sure makes me wish it did! She knows her reader, and she gets that sometimes we need a fairly large dose of wish-fulfillment.

Can-You-Keep-a-Secret-Book

I loved the character of Emma, I felt like she was generally just a sweet person and I really sort of resented the other characters who, I felt, took advantage of her personality (ehem, her family, her coworkers, *cough* maybe even Jack). I loved the plot, I mean Kinsella books function as literary cotton candy – they don’t necessarily have great nutritional value but they do have plenty of sentimental value, and summer just wouldn’t be complete without it. I laughed, I got misty-eyed, and at the end I felt unsatisfied and ardently hoped for a sequel. So basically, if you’re looking for a sweet story that has loads of humor and the perfect amount of drama – get your hands on Sophie Kinsella’s “Can You Keep A Secret?”!

You can pick it up from amazon, here!

Title: Can You Keep a Secret?
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Pages: 400 pages
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Random House, Delta Press

What’s On My Kindle: The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

It’s been such a long time since I’ve been able to pick up a piece of fiction and finish it. If the book doesn’t suck me in within a few pages, chances are I won’t keep to it. In addition to my literary pickiness I’ve recently been in sort of a fiction reading slump – nothing has really sparked my interest. At least that was the case until this weekend, where I finally got around to opening The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley – a book I had downloaded onto my Kindle ages ago, but hadn’t really felt up to reading.

The-Winter-Sea-Kindle-Review

Here’s the description/blurb from amazon:

“History has all but forgotten…In the spring of 1708, an invading Jacobite fleet of French and Scottish soldiers nearly succeeded in landing the exiled James Stewart in Scotland to reclaim his crown.

Now, Carrie McClelland hopes to turn that story into her next bestselling novel. Settling herself in the shadow of Slains Castle, she creates a heroine named for one of her own ancestors and starts to write.

But when she discovers her novel is more fact than fiction, Carrie wonders if she might be dealing with ancestral memory, making her the only living person who knows the truth-the ultimate betrayal-that happened all those years ago, and that knowledge comes very close to destroying her…”

Basically, the book centers around Carrie – a writer who is working on a novel about the 1708 attempt to return James Stewart to Scotland and the throne. Carrie’s writing becomes almost entirely based on the memories she seems to have inherited from her ancestor, Sophia – now the main character and heroine of her tale. I’m not going to spoil it all for you, but if you’re in a reading slump this is one of those really great I-stayed-up-all-night-reading books.

The-Winter-Sea

The history woven through the tale ensures that this tale is not purely a romantic novel, giving depth to the story and kindling an interest in the reader (at least this reader) to do a little research of her own into the time period where our main character is meant to exist. The writing of the characters and detail of the setting just make this an entirely engaging story.

Personally, as a reader, I’m not the biggest fan of time travel nor am I the biggest fan of parallel storylines. But it was written in such a way that I became just as invested in Carrie’s life as I was in Sophia’s. And despite the plot twist (at hello, 72% of the way through) I hung on and was rewarded with a satisfying – if not unsatisfying in the way all good books are – ending.

Although there were a few bumps, it still rates for me as a great book, one that pulled me out of a reading slump and one I have happily added to my collection! Find it here on amazon.

*SPOILERS*: If you haven’t read the book, then read no further! This next bit is for readers who have already read The Winter Sea and wouldn’t mind commiserating over it.

First off, I loved the dynamic between Stuart, Graham, Jimmy and Carrie. They read so well to me! It was easy to picture and sympathize with all four of them. Also, I loved that Kearsley wasn’t so heavy handed with the romance – which would have cheapened the book in my opinion.

I also really love Sophia’s interaction with most of the other characters. I especially loved the character of the Countess, and wish that there was more development or storyline featuring her. She came across as such a strong female character, I definitely could see her having a story of her own.

What I Didn’t Love:

Her leaving Anna behind. I mean after she “meets” (and I say that so as not to spoil anyone who hasn’t read the book and has scrolled down too far) McClelland, I get why they ditch Anna – but prior to that, I just don’t get it. In fact after her and McClelland make their plans I still don’t get it – that decision feels far more selfish to me then what I’m guessing the author intended – which leads me to my second point…

What is with the implied incest there at the end??? So weird, so just NO. It really detracted from the book for me. Up unto that point I would’ve even been up for an epilogue – more story to tell me what happened to Sophia – but instead I was like “ew! what!? why? why would you just drop that in there and run?!”. Also, I could’ve done with more interaction between Carrie and Graham and wouldn’t have minded if she ditched the genetic memory storyline altogether – it was unnecessary, as I reader I had already suspended disbelief the second I found out the character was having memories from hundreds of years ago.

Have you read The Winter Sea? What are your thoughts on this book??? Let me know in the comments!