Cover Snapshot of Read Books

Sara's bookshelf: read

Crazy Little Thing
A Kiss at Midnight
The Disenchanted Widow
Hollywood Wives - The New Generation
There Goes the Bride
Table for Five
Do Not Disturb
The Husband's Secret
The Ugly Duchess
Help for the Haunted
The Power Trip
The Haunting of Maddy Clare
Summer At Willow Lake
Every Crooked Nanny
The Mystery Woman
The Woodcutter
How to Be an American Housewife

Sara's favorite books »

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

E-Reader Free Sample Addiction

This year I had trouble choosing a book for my book club and I turned to my Kindle to download some free book samples to help me make my choice. I found several book snippets that sounded as though they had promise only to let me down once I started reading. I went through countless samples, reading chapter after chapter in search of that next great book club find… to no avail. And after each sample disappointment, I would go back to the kindle store in search of another free sample. I soon realized that I am a Try-A-Sample Addict! Oh the savvy book marketers – they make sure those first chapters are engaging with spark but they haven’t followed through to ensure the fire continues through the middle to the conclusion.

Books that I explored for my book club included Earls at The Supremes All You can Eat (perhaps I love the authors story better than the book). I really wanted to like this Southern novel but the sample did not speak to me. I also sampled The Pilgrimage of Harold Frye which was a little serious for my taste. And so I continued to download MORE samples…

“Try a Sample” tried for my Book Club:
  • A Hundred Summers,
  • Whistling Past the Graveyard,
  • The Scent of Rain and Lightning,
  • Tell the Wolves I’m Home,
  • The Drowning House,
  • Fin & Lady,
  • Beautiful Day,
  • From the Kitchen of Half Truth,
  • The Golem and the Jinni,
  • The Engagements,
  • The Witch of Little Italy

Yep, confirmed, a Try-A-Sample Addict! I did actually purchase and read a few of the books that I tried. Although, sadly, I believe that all this try before you buy took my book club choosing mojo away. Which leaves me wondering, are the Try a Samples a hindrance or a value add to the book reading experience? What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Book Club Romance - The Apple Orchard

refreshing, easy, sweet

I love hosting book club, but this year choosing a book was a real struggle. I knew we had a pretty serious July book in The Light Between Oceans. How do you find a book that is on the lighter side, but still has enough meat to stay interesting and lead to a good discussion? Wow, so hard. I ended up selecting a Romance, The Apple Orchard by Susan Wiggs.

Tess is a modern Indiana Jones, dedicating her life to researching, finding, and returning stolen war treasures. Unfortunately, Tess is lonely, she doesn’t have a family; her life is her work. That is until the sexy Dominic walks into her office and turns her world upside down by telling her that she has family – a sister and a grandfather, both are living in Sonoma.

The story of Tess’s grandfather is by far the greatest story. As a teen in World War II, the Nazis took Magnus’s family away, he never saw them again. Soon he becomes a resistance fighter, saving many children from the death camps. Eventually he and his new bride settle in California, starting an Apple Orchard and thus the saga begins…

There are stories past and present and plenty of recipes - The Apple Orchard is a delightful choice for book club when you need something from the lighter side.

The Apple Orchard Book Club

What to Serve:
Any recipes from the book (Danish Apple Pie) &
Sonoma wine, a cheese platter, fruit (apples and grapes), bread, chocolates, apple dessert

Book club idea:
Trivia with an Apple Prize. Or: I found book conversation starters (for book clubs) online. Questions such as “If you could be any character in a book who would you be?” I printed out the book-related questions and then had each person select a question from a jar at the beginning of the night. I tagged one question and that person won the “prize”. The prize can be a bottle of Sonoma wine, or a fun Apple scented candle.

Enjoy the caramel apple topping,

- Sara

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Pack Your Bags with Summer Beach Reads

Sunscreen swimsuit and beach reads--all a girl needs for summer

The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye
I do love a good mystery, and a recent Edgar Award winner might satisfy that craving… perhaps. I have a seen this novel everywhere, and it has good reviews, my hopes are high.

Thriller/Suspense Category
Now You See Her by James Patterson
I always like to bring a Patterson to the beach. Patterson is the go to author for short snappy thrilling chapters and quick reads. He writes easily and the pace is fast, often chapter endings are cliffhangers so the reader has to push through for more, to get more detail, more information. When he’s good, he’s very very good and when his characters are bad, he’s better. While I enjoy the Alex Cross series, I find that I truly like the stand alone novels that Patterson writes, these are the must read beach thrillers

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
This is one of those much written about books, one which I hope does not disappoint. For me, the good news is that this book recently became available in paperback (still a favorite). This was an NPR favorite, an Audible and NYT Book favorite for 2012.

Chick Lit
Nowhere But Home by Liza Palmer
Everyone needs a light and funny beach chick lit; I am hoping this is the one. Anyone who knows me knows that I have a weakness for Southern Contemporary fiction. Completely irrelevant, but my husband would love this, the author was Emmy nominated for her writing on VH1s Pop Up video.

Wildcards—books that I am bringing along and may read on vacation…
Other books that I am bringing along include The Orchardist and an Inquiry into Love and Death and Daddy’s Gone A Hunting.

What will be going into your beach bag this summer?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

An Unfinished Book

an assortment of books set aside mid-read

I have a few stacks of to read books beside my bed – I do love my books. The good news is there are many books to read, the bad news is that many have been set aside mid-read.

My set aside /unfinished mid-read list is chock full of well intentions and intellectual or classic books like

The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Anna Karenina, The Imperfectionists, Girl in Hyacinth Blue, Brave New World

And books that I’d read or heard about that couldn’t keep my interest

The Magicians, Black Water Rising, The Girl Below

And series or authors whom I have read previously but that I just cannot get into again

Like Clobbered by Camembert (I enjoyed the first book in this series), The Diva Digs the Dirt, The House at Riverton

What do you do with a book that just doesn’t hold your attention? Do you keep reading and hope that it gets better? Or do you put it aside, to maybe finish later? I used to feel that I had to finish each and every book—even the rotten ones. But now, I don’t want to waste the time.
 Meanwhile the set aside pile is growing….


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Chiaroscuro Reading

books that fall into the light and dark spectrums

Thus far this year, I have been vacillating between dark and light themed books, a chiaroscuro of book reading. Between the dark and light, I have found a few that I can recommend…

On the light side

Julie and Romeo by Jeanne Ray
Inspired by Romeo and Juliet, this is a complex love story wherein the main characters could be the Grandparents of the original characters. This is a modern take with a new twist. The Cacciamani and Roseman families have always hated each other, for as long as they have lived and yet no one remembers why or how the infighting started. In their sixties, Romeo and Julie meet up and discover that they want to pursue a relationship—in spite of their children’s intense displeasure.

A Walk in the Park by Jill Mansell
In true British chic lit style, the older more mature Laura moves back to her hometown, eighteen years after she’s left. Laura has ensured that her old high school flame, Flynn will be out of town so she has nothing to worry about, there will be no chance run ins. Of course, plans change and their surprise meeting rekindles something…

Village Books by Craig McLay
 was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. Written from the perspective of a young male bookstore worker this was a light fun surprise, very reminiscent of Nick Hornby.  The young man writes his co-workers and accounts of their issues so well, truly a satire of life told from a young man’s perspective.

On the dark side

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
This is categorized in Young Adult, but I can highly recommend this book for any adult book club. The story follows two young English girls working for the British government in World War II, one of whom has been captured by the enemy.

The Fate of Mercy Alban by Wendy Webb
I really enjoyed this Gothic tale—it is a bit Rebecca and a bit murder mystery. Returning back to the family mansion after her Mother’s death, Grace realizes that there is someone or something in her mother’s house and whatever it is, it is deadly. Grace not only has to worry about her life, she must also worry over her daughter and the mansion staff. Soon she will learn the Pandora’s box of secrets which her mother took to the grave with her. The story is well written and smartly paced, as a mystery fan, I quite liked it.

Shiver by Maggie Stievater
This is also a Young Adult book, one that I have seen featured prominently in many bookstores. The story follows Grace as a somewhat neglected teenager. She gets herself to school and   pretty much runs her own life while her obtuse and uninvolved parents ignore her. Grace is particularly fascinated by the wolves in the woods behind her house, especially the one with the yellow eyes.

Do you have a preference or will you also fall into chiaroscuro?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Twelve of 2012 - A Year of Book Club Reads

Flit With Lit Book Club's 2012 Reads:

  • Gone Girl
  • The Flight of Gemma Hardy
  • Mama Does Time
  • The Shoemaker's Wife
  • The Language of Flowers
  • The Bird Sisters
  • Bond Girl
  • Peach Keeper
  • Loving Frank
  • Sister
  • The Hunger Games
  • Irresistible Henry House

Reviewing my virtual book club reads from 2012 led to this post in which I wanted to get a snapshot of past book club hits and misses.

My biggest 2012 book disappointment was The Peach Keeper. I typically love Sarah Addison Allen as an author who focuses on magical realism. I adored our book club years ago when we read her The Sugar Queen—a mysterious and intriguing story. Sadly, The Peach Keeper fell flat, it was almost like an outline of a good story that was not developed, not fleshed out enough—I wanted more depth and I was not alone in that desire. What authors need to realize, is that some members of book club only read 11 books a year—those chosen by the book club—and while I recognize that is a small focus area, that is the sweet spot.

Another book disappointment was Mama Does Time, which is a cozy mystery that was auto recommended to me by Goodreads. I am always thrilled to find a new great author, but the Mama mystery was not fast enough, and  it was too formulaic--I wont be continuing the series. Cozy mysteries are a good choice after a long or serious book. Some of my favorite cozy mystery writers include Cleo Coyle, M.C. Beaton, and Sarah Graves.

The unanimous favorite of Best Book Club Book for 2012 was The Language of Flowers, a rare and beautiful book. This book features a young girl aging out of the foster care system, her only skill knowing the meaning behind flowers. Learning the meaning behind flowers was fascinating, you may never look at Peonies the same way again. I highly recommend that you select this book for your next book club! See my review at

Other books that will lead to great discussions include:
The Flight of Gemma Hardy

The Bird Sisters 

Here’s to finding some great reads in 2013, what is your book club reading?