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My favorite Summer Books

BOOKS & MOVIES, EXTRASKim & Chloe
books to read

It's official: we are finally completely and totally moved into our new home! Moving definitely has its ups & downs and one of the brightest upsides, born out of necessity during my many seemingly endless weeks of being internet-free (a downside for me) has been rediscovering my love of reading, in actual book form. I've forgotten how absolutely addicted to books I had been... and how exciting it is to discover a new author. Just in case you're still looking for good summer books or beach reads, these are a few that have kept me up late into the night, wide awake in the middle of the night, and up in the wee hours of the morning. (If you saw the circles under my eyes, you'd know I was not exaggerating.) the interestings copy

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

From Amazon: "An Amazon Best Book of the Month, April 2013: This knowing, generous and slyly sly new novel follows a group of teenagers who meet at a summer camp for artsy teens in 1974 and survive as friends through the competitions and realities of growing up. How these five circle each other, come together and break apart, makes for plenty of hilarious scenes and plenty of heartbreaking ones, too. A compelling coming of age story about five privileged kids, this is also a pitch-perfect tale about a particular generation and the era that spawned it. --Sara Nelson"

Although it's been called "genius" by the Chicago Tribune and "wonderful" by Vanity Fair, my superlatives are more along the line of sleep-wrecking, thought-provoking and and discussion-inducing. I truly want to drop everything I have to do and start reading again... since I'm only on page 142/469, so I shouldn't be reviewing at all yet - but I can tell you I've woken up twice over the past 3 nights at 3 in the morning just to read what happens next, which is odd since it's not an action-filled book and each chapter doesn't end with a cliff-hanger. But the writer's style keeps my interest since the timeframe jumps from decade to decade and hints are given about what happens to characters. I will definitely be reading more of Meg Wolitzer's books.

summer readingThe Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro

From The Boston Globe: “An engaging tale about art, cupidity, and a Faustian bargain . . . Shapiro convincingly depicts the rarefied art world that lionizes a chosen few and ignores the talented, scrabbling outsiders on the fringe. Shapiro is adept, too, at showing the white-hot heat of an artist engaged in creating a painting. She knows art history, painting techniques, and how forgers have managed through the centuries to dupe buyers into paying for fakes . . . Inventive and entertaining.”

The Goldfinch revived my love of art, but The Art Forger sealed it. It's a mystery wrapped up in a love story wrapped up in an art lesson. Again, I had to know what happened next, and any story that can keep me on my toes is a book that I will recommend.

 

Reconstructing Amelia Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

From Amazon: "...Kate's in the middle of the biggest meeting of her career when she gets the telephone call from... her daughter’s exclusive private school in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Amelia has been suspended, effective immediately, and Kate must come get her daughter—now. But Kate’s stress over leaving work quickly turns to panic when she arrives at the school and finds it surrounded by police officers, fire trucks, and an ambulance. By then it’s already too late for Amelia. And for Kate.

An academic overachiever despondent over getting caught cheating has jumped to her death. At least that’s the story Grace Hall tells Kate. And clouded as she is by her guilt and grief, it is the one she forces herself to believe. Until she gets an anonymous text: She didn’t jump. Reconstructing Amelia is about secret first loves, old friendships, and an all-girls club steeped in tradition. But, most of all, it’s the story of how far a mother will go to vindicate the memory of a daughter whose life she couldn’t save."

Having teens, I thought I needed to read this book. Do I really know my kids as well as I think I do? Could there be a "school life" that I know nothing about? It was a good book that made me want to keep an open avenue of communication with my kids and wonder about being a teen today.

Crazy-Rich-Asians Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

From People: "There's rich, there's filthy rich, and then there's crazy rich . . . A Pride and Prejudice-like send-up about an heir bringing his Chinese-American girlfriend home to meet his ancestor-obsessed family, the book hilariously skewers imperial splendor and the conniving antics of the Asians jet set."

Another book that's been on my reading list forever that I finally got around to reading! I loved it for the education about a culture I don't know about. It was a fun read.

 

 

 

 

On my bedside table to read next are The Heist by Daniel Silva and Flash Boys by Michael Lewis (a little yin & yang!) and at the rate I'm plowing through The Interestings, I'll be reading at least one of them this weekend.

What book recommendations do you have?

xo ~kim

 

 

 

Festive Christmas Movies

BOOKS & MOVIES, EXTRASKim & Chloe
Christmas Movies

Our Christmas tradition is a bit off-kilter since involves Will Ferrell and bb guns, but that's how our family rolls. We  have a Christmas tradition of watching silly Christmas movies and quoting lines from them out loud. All day long. Truth be told, we probably quote them all month long. And when there's a smelly basement or the mood strikes and we're on an escalator, in an elevator, or in the Lincoln Tunnel (or even just thinking of it) you might catch us quoting "Elf." It's an obsession, but since there are 4 of us in the family, we can't all be crazy… can we? What are your favorite Christmas movies and traditions?

festive christmas movies

 

 

 

 

Orphan Train: Author Interview with Christina Baker Kline

BOOKS & MOVIES, EXTRASKim & Chloe

Orphan Train

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing the author of a my new favorite book - the one I can't stop talking about, or thinking about - Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. Interviewing her was such a cool experience and I learned so much about her, the book (what inspired her to write it!), and the life of a best-selling author.

A little background about the book from the Booklist review of The Orphan Train:

A long journey from home and the struggle to find it again form the heart of the intertwined stories that make up this moving novel. Foster teen Molly is performing community-service work for elderly widow Vivian, and as they go through Vivian’s cluttered attic, they discover that their lives have much in common. When Vivian was a girl, she was taken to a new life on an orphan train. These trains carried children to adoptive families for 75 years, from the mid-nineteenth century to the start of the Great Depression. Novelist Kline (Bird in Hand, 2009) brings Vivian’s hardscrabble existence in ­Depression-era Minnesota to stunning life. Molly’s present-day story in Maine seems to pale in comparison, but as we listen to the two characters talk, we find grace and power in both of these seemingly disparate lives. Although the girls are vulnerable, left to the whims of strangers, they show courage and resourcefulness. Kline illuminates a largely hidden chapter of American history, while portraying the coming-of-age of two resilient young women. --Bridget Thoreson

Orphan Train Interview

When you were in high school did you enjoy writing? Yes, I loved writing, but I wrote more poetry. I actually never finished a story until I got to college. I tended to write more poetry. Studying poetry in college helped me to become a novelist, and become more aware of language as I am writing.

Did you enjoy doing research in high school for projects or papers? In high school I liked learning things, but I was never one of those people who would disappear because of it. I used the research to get inspired for the writing part. I typically research until I have a strong sense of the story and have a good plan, and then start writing and then go back and fill in the gaps.

Because Orphan Train has so much history in it, how long did it take you to research and plan for the novel? It took around three years to research, write, and revise it. I actually learned about the story a decade ago because my husband’s grandfather was an orphan on a train and he was featured in an article on orphan trains, and that was how I first heard about them.

I read on your website that you used to be a personal chef, caterer, and cook. How did you transition from that to being a novelist? I did that in college and in grad school. I had already been cooking at a summer camp in Maine and then I worked as a private chef for a writer and his wife in Martha’s Vineyard after my junior year in college. I also worked as a caterer in grad school and I have always been really interested in cooking. Writing novels is the thing that I love the most and my other interests have supported. It’s easy to get caught up in other things and not leave enough time for your writing. I also love being out in the world and interacting with other people, and I like having multiple things going on at once.

What was your dream job when you were in high school? I wanted to be either a book editor or magazine editor and I still think it would be a really fun job. I do love what I’m doing, but I still do edit for other magazine and books.

Do you have any advice for someone that wants to become a writer? One thing I would say is to be sure that you have skills and develop skills that you actually like. I have been able to teach and edit, so I have the qualifications that I need to do other types of work. You need to make sure you have something else as well, because you can’t count on always making a living out of it since there are great years and others that are harder to make money. Sometimes writers say you shouldn’t get a job in the same field and that you should do something like waitressing, but I would much rather have a job in this field, like working with other writers. I find that so much fun.

Where do you get inspiration from for your characters and books themselves? From everywhere. When I’m working on a novel anything can work itself in, like dinner party conversations. I can fill the book with anything I want. If I overhear something at Starbucks it could go in.

What is your favorite book that you’ve ever read? I have a bunch, a number of them are 19th century books, I love Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary. I also really love Virginia Woolf, but I read everything, a lot of contemporary books. I want to know what the other books on the top lists are like.

Do you have friends that are also writing or that you’ve met through writing? Yes, in fact I was just talking to one on Facebook. I do. I have a lot of writer friends. I really love that aspect and it’s really important to be a part of a community.

Thank you so much, Mrs. Kline, for taking time in your busy schedule to talk to me! I can't begin to tell you how much I enjoyed the Orphan Train, and if you would like to see more reviews on the book, check them out here.

Have you read Orphan Train? What’s your all time favorite book?