Bookish Tuesday

Favorite Pages in My Book Journal

So I’ve decided to mix it up a bit in order to keep myself accountable for regular posts and moved Bookish Friday to Tuesday and made it, therefore, Bookish Tuesday! My book journal is pretty epic. As an avid reader, I’ve collected many book journals over the years and have now create my own, based on my favorite topics from all the previous book journals I’ve had. The Table of Contents for the current incarnation is a separate page located here under Bookish Lists, Reviews & How-To’s.

Books That Made Me Cry

The best books are the ones that make you feel. And while most of us don’t love to be brought to tears of sadness in our every day lives, some of the best books as the ones that made use shed many tears. Highlights include: The Nightingale, The Montmaray Journals, and most other WWII novels among others.

Signed Books I’ve Read

I love to go meet authors and hear their stories about how their books came to be. The best part is when I’ve read the book before meeting the author and already love it, but I also love being intrigued by an author and then reading their book and loving it! I’ve decided to include the book pictures below, but for my favorite author encounters, they can be found here and here.

Literary Crushes & Book Boyfriends

Yes, I’m happily married. Yes, I still get excited about a great fictional man. Favorites include: Rhys in A Court of Mist & Fury by Sarah J. Maas, Henry in Royally Matched by Emma Chase, and Hideo in Warcross by Marie Lu

Biography, Non-Fiction

Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret by Craig Brown

I’ve always had a certain fascination with Britain’s royal family, ever since Princess Diana died. When The Crown started airing, I was watching from the beginning, and, like most, discovered what a volatile character Princess Margaret was. So, as per usual when it comes to books, when our publisher rep for Macmillan told me there would be ARCs for this book, I begged her for one immediately!

Synopsis

She made John Lennon blush and left Marlon Brando tongue-tied. She iced out Princess Diana and humiliated Elizabeth Taylor. Andy Warhol photographed her. Gore Vidal revered her. Francis Bacon heckled her. Peter Sellers was madly in love with her. For Pablo Picasso, she was the object of sexual fantasy.

Princess Margaret aroused passion and indignation in equal measure. To her friends, she was witty and regal. To her enemies, she was rude and demanding. In her 1950s heyday, when she was seen as one of the most glamorous and desirable women int eh world, her scandalous behavior made headlines. But by the time of her death in 2002, she had come to personify disappointment. One friend said he had never known an unhappier woman. The tale of Princess Margaret is Cinderella in verse: hope dashed, happiness mislaid, life mishandled.

Such an enigmatic and divisive figure demands a reckoning that is far from the usual fare. Combining interviews, parodies, dreams, parallel lives, diaries, announcements, lists, catalogues, and essays, Craig Brown’s Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret is a kaleidoscopic experiment in biography and a mediation on fame and art, snobbery and deference, bohemia and high society.

Review

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Princess Margaret could, at her best, be described as lacking direction, and at worst, a terrible human being. It is also worth remembering that Vanessa Kirby, the wonderful actress who portrays Margaret on The Crown, is not actually Princess Margaret which I had to remind myself of repeatedly.

The woeful tale of Princess Margaret, as I’ve taken to calling it, is, as some have described, Cinderella in reverse. I disagree. Cinderella, regardless of her circumstances, was still charming and delightful. Which some people seemed to have thought of Princess Margaret, but doesn’t seem to be the prevailing impression of her. However, what one’s personal opinions of the Princess, and whether we should really judge a woman who grew up in a very different era in a very different circumstance than 99.999999999% of the world’s population, is a discussion for a different day. Today, I will try to focus on the book itself, and less on my judgemental opinions of its subject.

Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret is just that, 99 short vignettes about her life, of which about 90 are true and 9 are hypotheticals – tales of what Margaret’s life would have been had she made a different decision at key, often romantic, points in her life – i.e. married Peter Townsend, been seduced by Picasso, etc. The vignettes are snarky and satirical, which, once I Googled who Craig Brown was in British society, made a great deal more sense than they had before I did a little digging into the author’s background.

The best analogy I have to Ninety-Nine Glimpses is that of a train/carwreck. It’s terrible, but you just can’t help but stare. Or in this case, turn the pages. Brown covers every bit of her life from the tales of the little princesses’ governess/nanny Crawfie to her later years and the burning of the letters towards the end of her life. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be a Queen’s little sister, of which history has given us very few, Ninety-Nine Glimpses is a book for the ages.

Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

Edition: Hardcover • $28.00 • 9780374906047 • 432 pages • originally published in the UK September 2017, published in the US August 2018 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux • average Goodreads rating 3.73 out of 5 • read in August 2018

Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret on Goodreads

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Memoir/Autobiography, Non-Fiction

Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham

To say that I am a Gilmore Girls fan may be a bit of an understatement. I am a basic white (elder – according to Iliza Shlesinger) millennial young woman, therefore I love Gilmore Girls. It’s basic logic. However, as I wasn’t a huge fan of Graham’s fiction (Someday, Someday, Maybe) it took my sister over a year to convince me to actually read her memoir.

Synopsis

In Talking as Fast as I Can, Lauren Graham hits pause for a moment and looks back on her life, sharing laugh-out-loud stories about growing up, starting out as an actress, and, years later, sitting in her trailer on the Parenthood set and asking herself, “Did you, um, make it?” She opens up about the challenges of being single in Hollywood, the time she was asked to audition her butt for a role, and her experience being a judge on Project Runway.

In “What It Was Like, Part One,” Graham sits down for an epic Gilmore Girls marathon and reflects on being cast as the fast-talking Lorelai Gilmore. The essay “What It Was Like, Part Two” reveals how it felt to pick up the role again nine years later, and what doing so has meant to her.

Some more things you will learn about Lauren: She once tried to go vegan just to bond with Ellen DeGeneres, she’s aware that meeting guys at awards shows has its pitfalls, and she’s a card-carrying REI shopper. Including photos and excerpts from the diary Graham kept during the filming of the recent Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, this book is like a cozy night in, catching up with your best friend, laughing and swapping stories, and—of course—talking as fast as you can.

Review

I find the best way to “read” celebrity/prominent people’s memoirs is to listen to the audiobook. Oftentimes the person in question reads the book themselves, as is the case not only with this book, but also with Who Thought This was a Good IdeaI Hate Everyone Except YouWhy Not Me?, and all of Anthony Bourdain‘s works, or at least those are the ones I have listened to. The other side of celebrity memoirs, which Lauren Graham actually points out, is the idea that the celebrity clearly didn’t write the book themselves. Of those mentioned above, I can guarantee at least two were self-written, one admittedly co-written and the other, who really knows?

Then I start thinking to myself, well, do they only have a book deal because they’re a celebrity? Most likely. Does being a person of interest increase public interest in their lives? Yes (whether this is good or bad is not the topic of debate here, but an interesting one to be sure). Lauren Graham is certainly a good writer. And her essay collection here is entertaining and delightful. She approaches her life honestly and with contemplation, particularly in why the character of Lorelai Gilmore has always had such a precious place in her heart.

As a long time fan, I was delighted when the revival of the show was announced, however, I was extremely disappointed. Lauren, naturally, loved stepping back into the role and, as the book, and therefore stories, were written and published before the series was available for viewing and as she was a large part of it, it would make sense that her opinion differs from that of the public. However, her stories were good, and her emotional investment in the series certainly contributed to our continuing love of it in 2018 (despite the revival – we’ll pretend that never happened.)

My only gripe, is that she continually referenced the photos in the book, while reading the audiobook. Can’t very well look up the page in the book while listening to it while driving, now can I? And for those who don’t have the physical copy and just the audiobook? Not going to work out so well.

Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

Edition: Paperback • $16.00 • 9780425285190 • 240 pages • originally published November 2016, this edition published October 2017 by Ballantine Books • average Goodreads rating 3.99 out of 5 stars • read in August 2018

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Talking As Fast As I Can

Bookish Tuesday

A Book Buyer’s Top Picks for Fall

In my role as assistant manager/adult book buyer at an independent bookstore, I get to meet with sales reps from all the big publishing houses, as well as a number of smaller ones. Below are the books that they, and I, are most excited for this fall!

1. The Kennedy Debutante by Kerri Maher

Kennedy Debutante

Publisher: Berkley Books, a division of Penguin Random House
Pub Date: October 2, 2018
Format & Price: Hardcover, $28 list price
Genre: Historical Fiction, main character was a real person

I have been enamored with Kick Kennedy’s life for a number of years – I’ve read biographies of her, fiction where she is featured, and now she’s getting her very own historical fiction interpretation. It’s mostly the love story of her early twenties, but also paints a vivid portrait of World War II England and Washington D. C. Well known historical figures make cameos throughout the book, including the rest of the Kennedy clan!

2. Becoming by Michelle Obama

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Publisher: Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House
Pub Date: November 13, 2018
Format & Price: Hardcover, $32.50 list price
Genre: Memoir/Autobiography

She was in the White House for 8 years and is an overall inspiring woman. This book is definitely close to the top of my Christmas wish list and will be a gift that I give to most of the women in my family. Regardless of how you feel about her husband’s politics and policies, Michelle’s approval rating hardly wavered.

3. My Squirrel Days by Ellie Kemper

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Publisher: Scribner Book Company, a division of Simon & Schuster
Pub Date: October 9, 2018
Format & Price: Hardcover, $26 list price
Genre: Memoir/Autobiography

I, like most other female millennials, fell in love with Ellie Kemper of the adorably lovable and naive Kimmy Schmidt. And if you’ve never watched The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, you’ve probably seen her in The Office. I can’t wait to hear what stories she has to tell about her life. They’re sure to make me laugh!

4. The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

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Publisher: Harper, a division of Harper Collins
Pub Date: September 11, 2018
Format & Price: Hardcover, $28.99 list price
Genre: Historical Fiction/Magical Realism

When I tell you that this book was everywhere in the UK, it was in the front windows of just about every bookstore my sister and I happened upon in June. The advance copy is still sitting on my shelf at home, but I will get to it soon, hopefully before it’s actual release date here in the States! I always enjoy a good book with some magic thrown in and The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock seems like it would be right up my alley!

5. Winter in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand

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Publisher: Little Brown & Company, a division of Hachette Book Group
Pub Date: October 9, 2018
Format & Price: Hardcover, $28 list price
Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction

After Lisa Scottoline, Elin Hilderbrand is our bestselling local author. But Sarah, I thought she lived in Nantucket? You’re right, she does. But she grew up in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, where our store is located, and her mother is a regular customer and we do an event with her in some way shape or form each time a new book of hers is released. And for the fact that I’ve met her a half dozen times, I’ve never read one of her books so I figure now is the time to start!

What books are you looking forward to most this fall?

Bookish Tuesday

UK Bookstores

Bookish Friday is once again coming to you on a Saturday. I’m sorry. When Laura and I first started planning my visit last month to London (and Edinburgh, and the English Countryside), we decided to squeeze in as many bookstore visits as possible. As the manager of an Indie store, we tried very hard not to visit a Waterstones, but admittedly slipped up (we didn’t know Hatchards was owned by them…) Here’s a review of the ones we visited, all of which we loved!

1. Blackwell’s

We visited two Blackwell’s, one in Edinburgh, and the flagship in Oxford. A very well established, family owned chain, there was hardly a thing we couldn’t find here. Favorite part? The mystery books (not the genre, but books wrapped in brown paper pictured below).

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2. Daunt Books

The most Instagrammable of all the bookstores in London, Daunt is arranged geographically and includes not only travel books for all parts of the world, but literature from those places as well! A really cool store to browse.

Daunt Books2

3. Foyles

Foyles’ flagship store on Charing Cross Road in London is five floors, has an epically hipster cafe, and is the shop where I found one of our regular customer’s books on the shelf, along with all of Anthony Bourdain’s books that were all going through reprints here in the states.

 

4. Hatchards

The oldest bookstore in London deserved a visit, especially after Anthony Horowitz visited the bookstore I work at and told me it was his favorite in London. Downside, we learned it was owned by their chain, Waterstones, which was a bit of a letdown.

 

Memoir/Autobiography, Non-Fiction

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

Oddly enough, Kitchen Confidential was not the first Bourdain I read, but the last, despite it being the entire reason that the world knows his name. I put it off, thinking that they way it was described was not in line with the Tony I had come to know and respect through his various television programs and world travels. But I was wrong. So wrong.

Synopsis

After twenty-five years of ‘sex, drugs, bad behavior and haute cuisine’, chef and novelist Anthony Bourdain decides to tell all. From his first oyster in the Gironde to his lowly position as a dishwasher in a honky-tonk fish restaurant in Provincetown, from the kitchen of the Rainbow Room atop the Rockefeller Center to drug dealers in East Village, from Tokyo to Paris and back to New York again, Bourdain’s tales of the kitchen are as passionate as they are unpredictable, as shocking as they are funny.

Review

By sheer happenstance, my husband and I spent June 8th on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Tony’s home of many years (when he wasn’t traveling, which was rare). We were going to a concert in Brooklyn that night and decided to go the Met (Metropolitan Museum of Art) for the day. As we were driving to our “local” train station in NJ in rush hour traffic from our home west of Philadelphia, we listened to NPR, as we always do. And around 8AM, as we sat in Trenton traffic, we turned the volume up because we couldn’t believe what we had heard. Tony died. By his own hand. To my husband and I, this was unthinkable. We’d been watching No Reservations since we’d started dating. Our relationship had two television constants, Top Gear and Tony.

As we made our way into the city on NJ Transit as we’ve done countless times before, I took my usual news junkie status to a new level. My hero, he was gone. Gone without explanation. The BBC, CNN, NBC, ABC, NPR, no one had anything else to report except that which we already knew. He was gone. I texted my boss at the bookstore straight away and begged him to put the books in stock out on display with the staff pick blurbs I’d written for them ages ago. Medium Raw, my favorite summer read, Appetites, the only cookbook I cook out of, and, though I hadn’t read it, obviously we needed to order in Kitchen Confidential ASAP. Then I started dreading the fact that I’d be meeting with our publisher rep at the start of the week, the rep who handled his imprint for Harper Collins. I couldn’t bring myself to think straight.

I looked up whether or not we could get a reservation for a mid-afternoon meal at Les Halles, only to discover it had closed. Only months ago, we could have gone and didn’t. I kicked myself for it. When we walked past it later in the day, I saw the remembrances people had left. It inspired my first post two days later, Dear Tony. I debated whether or not I could bring myself to watch Parts Unknown anymore and when it turned out to be too tear-inducing, I decided to read the one book of his I didn’t want to, Kitchen Confidential.

I was afraid I wouldn’t like it. I was afraid it would talk too much about drug use and that I didn’t really want to read about, I’ve dealt with it enough in my family. I was afraid that the Tony writing was different than the Tony we’d come to know and love. And then, I decided to be brave and listen to him read it. I was on my way to London to visit my sister when I finally gave in. I still didn’t even own a copy of it. But after only five minutes, I realized I had nothing to worry about – Tony was still Tony – already a master storyteller, already with three novels to his name, already well on his way to not becoming, but staying himself, and then revealing that self to the world. And when I found a special edition of the book with all his notes and handwritten margin doodles at a bookshop in London, well, I had to have it.

Kitchen Confidential is, for anyone who has gotten to know Anthony Bourdain through his various shows, thoroughly him. The story isn’t linear or chronological (his never are, even Parts Unknown), and he is very open and honest about his periods of dishonesty and chef-poaching, honest about his privileged upbringing and squandering it, honest about the world of the professional kitchen. Honest and candid about his life and how he got to where he is, and the result, for anyone who, like me, had watched for years and never read, is heartbreaking.

Because in reading now, for the first time, it is impossible to disassociate the book with the end. It is impossible to ignore the fact that we will never have another Bourdain masterpiece. Impossible to forget that he’s no longer here to tell us stories on Sunday night. Impossible to understand how things went this way. Because as much as I wish I had known him, I didn’t. I didn’t know, I don’t know, what led him to do what he did. But I can read his works, reread, rewatch, and hope, beyond hope, that he has changed the world for the better.

Rating: 9 out of 10 stars (Medium Raw is still my favorite)

Edition: Paperback • £10.99/$16.99 • 9781408845042 (UK)/9780060899226 (US) • 352 pages • originally published May 2000 by Bloomsbury • average Goodreads rating 4.02 out of 5 • read in July 2018

Kitchen Confidential on Goodreads

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Get the UK Edition of Kitchen Confidential (pictured below)

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Bookish Tuesday, Non-Fiction

Favorite Nonfiction

As I’m currently listening to Kitchen Confidential and crying randomly about how the world is worse off without Anthony Bourdain’s storytelling, I’ve been thinking more and more about the nonfiction that has touched my heart just as much as works of fiction.

1. Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain

My first Bourdain. Like your first cocktail or boyfriend or first trip abroad or first food that you really, truly loved, you never forget your first Bourdain.

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2. #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso

Need some inspiration? Decided it’s time to make a change in your life? Pick #Girlboss, Sophia does not disappoint.

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3. The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich

Thought you knew a lot about World War II? Think again. The stories these women share are absolutely incredible and many will shake you to the core.

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4. Dead Wake by Erik Larson

Dead Wake was the book that first made me realize that I can read nonfiction and like it. He epitomizes the phrase “novelistic nonfiction.”

Dead Wake

5. Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik

One cannot call oneself a feminist without having read about the greatness that is Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Notorious RBG

Non-Fiction, Travel

Everyday Adventures by Lonely Planet

I love fun travel books, especially ones that are easy enough to explore or implement close to home. This one in particular caught my eye as I have a little elephant, Ellie, traveling companion who joins me on not only big overseas adventures, but also close to home adventures and I always need pictures for her Instagram account! (@adventuresofellietheelephant). *This book comes out this coming Tuesday, July 17th*

Synopsis

Weave a little wonder into daily life with these fun and challenging activities – and experience your local area in a whole new way. Invite friends on a social adventure, follow your senses to somewhere new and embark on a cultural odyssey. Lonely Planet shows you how to embrace the traveler spirit and discover a new side to where you live.

Review

If asked my hometown, I usually tell people it is Carlisle, PA. If asked where I grew up? Gettysburg. If asked where I went to college, Pittsburgh, where I live now, Phoenixville, all in Pennsylvania. So I generally consider my state to be my hometown to explore. I have great loyalty for my state, particularly the southeastern corner where I live now.

When we first moved to Gettysburg, a BIG tourist town (major battle of the Civil War, led to 1 million + tourists every summer), my mom used to make us play tourist on the weekends and we (my sister and I) hated it. If I had to go back to Gettysburg and do the suggestions in this book, I’d still hate it. So I took Ellie the Elephant off on an adventure around Phoenixville, our current home of the past 6 years.

Ellie and I did adventures #3 Fly By Night, #8 Memory Lane, #23 Plastic Challenge, #27 Counter Tourism, #32 Movie Magic, and #43 Alternating Travel. In addition to the challenges mentioned, we gave into the Stars Hollow-y nature of Phoenixville and attended the local festivals that we usually avoid like the plague. We learned a lot about the town, and I learned a lot about myself and how I experience different places.

All in all, it was an enjoyable, interactive adventure book, but there were definitely adventures that were not quite applicable towards small town life – the book skews pretty significantly urban.

Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

Edition: Paperback • $17.99 • 9781787013582 • 208 pages • published July 2018 by Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet’s Website

Everyday Adventures on Goodreads

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Everyday Adventures

Bookish Tuesday

Favorite Beach Reads

Since I’m at the beach, I figured I should do a beach reads post! I tend to gravitate towards YA fantasy for quick reads (my goal is always a book a day and I usually get it) and books that I know I’ll love. (All pictures taken at a beach)

1. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

A fun heist set in a winter climate is the perfect book to chill you off on a hot day in the sun!

2. Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain

You can never go wrong with Tony in any season, but especially worth a read this summer.

3. Everland by Wendy Spinale

A fun Peter Pan inspires dystopian fantasy, Everland is readable in a single sitting.

4. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

One always needs an SJ Maas book for the beach!

5. Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo is always a favorite.

Contemporary, Fiction, New Adult

Hey Ladies! by Michelle Markowitz & Caroline Moss

I asked the publisher for a copy of Hey Ladies! because it seemed like a book I could really relate to – the lead up to my wedding was filled with many email chains.

Synopsis

Hey Ladies! is a laugh-out-loud read that follows a fictitious but all too familiar group of eight 20- and 30-something female friends for one year of their lives. Told through a series of email chains, text messages, and illustrations, this book takes you along for the roller coaster ride of holiday celebrations, book clubs, summer house rentals, wedding showers, Instagram stalking, brunches, breakups, and, of course, all the inside jokes and harsh truths that only best friends share.

Review

Let me say that I am the target audience for this book. I am the exact same age as the character, a newlywed, literally, this book was written for me. And yet, I absolutely, unabashedly hated it with just about every fiber of my book loving soul. The crap these women pulled is akin to that of women in their early 20s. It rang eerily similar to my experiences as a bridesmaid at 21 and 22. And I’m no longer friends with the brides of those weddings because of behaviors they exhibited that were oddly similar to those of the characters in this book. Women approaching 30 don’t have time for that crap in our lives – we cultivated and culled our friend lost years ago to eliminate the toxicity of such relationships. It’s not realistic.

You can tell me I’m not a trustafundarian in NYC but I can promise you my sister-in-law is, as are a decent number of my friends and they would certainly no longer be friends with these women. Not a single one of the characters is sympathetic or relatable to the modern millennial woman. I read the whole book because I was hoping, against hope, that maybe, just maybe, we would see some semblance of character growth, but alas, it was not to be.

Last but not least, I’m personally sick of gimmicky books – books written entirely in Gen Z (not millennial) language makes me a bit nuts. Stop with the overuse of acronyms and short handed language. If someone writes a book about my generation, whether the be members of it or not, I expect some semblance of relatable characters. This book fails on that count.

Rating: 5 out of 10 stars

Edition: Paperback • $16.99 • 9781419729133 • 272 pages • published May 2018 by Abrams Image • average Goodreads rating 3.47 out of 5 stars • read in July 2018

Hey Ladies! Website

Hey Ladies! on Goodreads

Get a Copy of Hey Ladies!