Around the Internet

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Check out these five great stories from around the web.

  1. A look at why the now-classic novel about Socs and Greasers still matters, 50 years later.
  2. The book purists of the world are (probably not so silently) rejoicing about the decline of e-book sales. Me included.
  3. Hollywood’s most sought-after trio–DiCaprio, De Niro and Scorsese–have their eye on the newest true crime tale to grip the nation. Fingers crossed they can work their magic.
  4. The book industry and the tech industry converged this week to discuss the the state (and future) of the publishing union.
  5. A captivating look at the title this bookseller puts into the hands of every patron who comes into her shop.

A Trip Down Memory Lane

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I read a blog post the other day entitled “10 Expert Tips for Raising a Reader,” and while I’m nowhere near popping out little humans of my own, it got me thinking about my own experiences with reading as a child. And since I was going down memory lane, I figured I’d go ahead and invite you along. Because we all have to embrace our geekiness at some point.

I don’t really remember being read to as a little kid, but I do know the story my mom tells about how my complete Virgo-ness appeared at an early age. My mom was usually in charge of reading my bedtime stories, which were all Disney-related (because, of course). One night, for whatever reason, she couldn’t read me my precious story, so she sent my dad in there instead. And ever the impatient man, he decided that I was little, I wouldn’t know if he skipped a few pages every once in awhile to get to the end quicker. But, while I might not have been able to read, I did know the order of the illustrations and I could recognize when something just wasn’t right. So I called him out on it, made him start over again and scarred him for life.

One of the stories I do remember specifically reading was the story of Stellaluna, the little bat that could. Man, I loved that book. I couldn’t tell you the storyline without looking at a synopsis of the story first, but I can tell you that the illustrations were beautiful and Stellaluna was just the cutest little bat in the night’s sky. Which tells me that I made my mom read me that story A LOT if I remember the illustrations that vividly. And that mom was a trooper. She had to read stories to both me and my sister separately because I’m a brat who couldn’t/can’t share. So she did. And on more than one occasion she fell asleep mid-word. And I’d have to wake her up to keep going because, like I said, I was a brat. I could pretend like I’ve changed since my bratty days and I wouldn’t still do the same thing, but I’m fairly certain that would not be the truth. Win some, lose some.

I remember the Christmas my grandmother gave me an inscribed copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I think it just said “I’ve heard great things about this book, so wanted you to check it out. Merry Christmas! Love, Grandma and Grandpa,” but I can’t be 100 percent positive of that. What I do know is that it started a 1) obsession with the world of HP and 2) a tradition of inscribed books at Christmas time (which you know I loved). They were generally books that she liked or ones that her friends had recommended to her for a kid my age, but those books became some of my favorite gifts because books are so personal and she took the time to share a little of herself with me through them. And that’s a pretty cool thing for a 10 year old.

Probably the most vivid of my “childhood reading” memories is finishing the final book of the Harry Potter series. The book came out the summer after I graduated high school and before I started college, which I thought was so poetic because Harry and I would be moving on at the same time. I remember getting near the end and saying, chapter after chapter, that I was going put the book down and finish in the morning. Of course that didn’t happen. Instead, I stayed up until 7 o’clock in the morning to finish it. It was just one of those moments where you had been with these characters for almost 10 years and it was all coming to an end. It was emotional and stressful and exhausting, but exhilarating and exciting. Everything book reading is supposed to be. And the perfect final stamp for a childhood full of the love of books.

Around the Internet

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Check out these five great stories from around the web.

  1. HarperCollins is celebrating its 200th birthday this year and this timeline of the evolution of the publisher over the last 200 years is breathtaking.
  2. Check out the books that made this year’s BookExpo Editor’s Buzz panel and get a jump-start on the titles that are supposed to make a splash in 2017.
  3. These seven weird and wonderful words you should be using are a word lover’s dream.
  4. A newly released F. Scott Fitzgerald short story shows that the public’s view of publishing hasn’t change much over the last hundred years.
  5. This Icelandic publisher has a very unique business strategy that includes full moons and book burning.

Review Time: Lilac Girls

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Lilac Girls is yet another story about the atrocities of Hitler’s Germany in World War II, but it’s one of the most compelling ones I’ve ever read (and I’ve read my fair share of WWII-centered novels). The story follows three women, Caroline, Kasia and Herta, through their very, very different experiences before, during and after the war.

Caroline Ferriday is a moderately wealthy, middle-aged woman living in New York and working tireless to help the people of France as Hitler’s power starts to gain traction in Europe.

Kasia Kuzmerick is a young Polish girl who got caught up in the communications underground, captured and sent to Hitler’s only female concentration camp, Ravensbruck.

Herta Oberhauser is an intelligent German woman whose dreams and aspirations of becoming a doctor and supporting her family got horribly twisted when she answered an ad for a government medical position.

As the conflicts boil over and the war starts raging, the women’s lives are irreversibly linked. Herta, or Dr. Oberhauser as she’s called at Ravensbruck, is the concentration camp’s head “doctor,” performing ghastly operations and experiments on the women of the camp. Kasia and a number of other Polish women were the unlucky subjects of Dr. Oberhauser’s experiments, forced to endure surgery upon horrible surgery in the name of “science.” These women, the women that Dr. Oberhauser experimented on, were given the nickname in Ravensbruck of “the Rabbits” because, among other things, the surgeries hindered their ability to walk, their gait now resembling something more similar to a bunny’s hop than a human stride. Eventually, long after the war ended, Caroline made it her mission to gather the resources to help the Rabbits, organizing medical procedures for them in America that would help eliminate the physical pain they’d been carrying around for so many years.

So that’s the gist of the story. And when I say that’s a very, VERY basic overview, I mean it. This story was so interwoven, so delicately sewed together, that there’s really no way to eloquently summarize it. I’d need a few hours (and a few glasses of wine) to even begin. This story… This story is incredible. It pulls at your heartstrings in ways that you don’t want it to and it opens your eyes to how remarkably different each person’s version of the war can be. And to how quickly everything can change.

It’s not a light read and it’s not always a fun read, but it’s an important read. I’d recommend this one a hundred times over. So go check it out. And when you’re done (and your heart has had a chance to recover), pick up The Nightingale and lose yourself all over again.

Grade:★★★★★

Review Time: Pretty Baby

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So here we are again. Another month of radio silence from me. March Madness bled into large-scale work events which bled into wedding season which bled into Opening Day which made for a very hectic few weeks for this girl. So after a brief (albeit necessary) hiatus, we’re back to our regularly scheduled programming. And since we haven’t gone over March’s must reads yet, I figured that would be a good place to jump back into it. So let’s do it. First up: Mary Kubica’s sophomore novel, Pretty Baby.

Heidi Wood is a compassionate and dynamic woman with what can only be described as a massively bleeding heart. She works for a non-profit and spends her days trying to better the world for those she knows and those she doesn’t. Which is why when she spots a dirty and bruised-looking young woman on the “El” platform, she can’t shake her from her mind’s eye. When the young woman’s presence on the platform becomes a pattern, Heidi can no longer pretend she doesn’t want to help. After a few attempts, Heidi is able to convince the young girl to join her for a meal in a nearby diner, essentially changing the course of both of their lives.

Willow Greer is 18, alone and hungry. She has a new baby who she doesn’t know how to care for and she has no one to turn to to answer the questions she so desperately needs answered. When Heidi shows up with her open arms, Willow is cautious but optionless, so she takes Heidi up on her offer for food and shelter. Willow and her baby, Ruby, end up in Heidi’s husband’s office, barricading themselves in every chance they get. The questions start swirling almost immediately — from Chris (Heidi’s husband) asking if they really know the girl whom they’ve let into their lives, from Heidi asking if that really could be blood on Willow’s undershirt and from Willow asking if the help is worth the danger.

Similar to The Good Girl and Don’t You Cry, Kubica uses various voices and a non-linear timeline to tell the interwoven story of Willow and Heidi’s relationship. And it just works. Heidi brings optimism and sunshine (at first), Chris brings caution and questions and Willow brings danger and they all work together to form the basis of a fantastic story that shows that you never really know what’s going on in someone else’s mind. And again, another Kubica ending that I did NOT see coming.

Mary Kubica is three-for-three in my books.

Grade:★★★★☆

 

Around the Internet

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Check out these five great stories from around the web.

  1. The Obamas are each writing a memoir and, judging by their post-presidential vacation photos, are going to have a lot of fun doing it.
  2. The war between novels vs. short stories is still raging (maybe a bit of an exaggeration?). But this list of interconnected short story collections showcases 10 story packages that help to bridge the gap between the Novel Greasers and the Short Story Socs.
  3. A glimpse into how (what might be) the most fashionable bookseller on the planet started selling books of their own. Dream big, kids.
  4. If you’re ever at a loss for what to read next, make sure you check out The Skimm’s Pinterest page, Skimm Reads. We go to them for our news, so why not for our books, too?
  5. HarperCollins has added a book recommendation AI interface to two of their Facebook pages. Just send them a message with some books you liked in the past and they’ll recommend new titles for you. Technology, FTW.

To Read: March Edition

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It’s March. Which means March Madness. Which means my boyfriend will be glued to the television for an insane amount of time watching college kids play with basketballs. Which means that I will have SO MUCH TIME for book reading this month. Which means I’m doing my happy dance over here.

And this month I’ve got some books that I’ve been really looking forward to cracking open. Another from my new favorite Mary Kubica. Another from my other new favorite Lisa Gardner. And another World War II saga. Because I can’t get enough of any of those. And also because the library finally decided they would loan each of them to me after a stupid long time. Po-tate-oh, po-taht-oh. Let’s get to it.

Pretty Baby: Heidi Wood spots a seemingly homeless girl and her infant daughter on Chicago’s “El” and can’t shake them from her mind. She works to befriend the girl, but what she learns as their relationship grows could put her and her family in danger. Mystery and intrigue, FTW.

Lilac Girls: This story follows three girls from three very different walks of life as they navigate through Hitler’s tumultuous Germany. The ad copy for the book likens it to The Nightengale, another WWII-era novel that I think I’ve decided is my favorite book of all time. So, I’m a little excited about this one, to say the very least.

Fear Nothing: It’s taken me almost 11 weeks to get this 8th installment of the D.D. Warren series and I’m beyond excited to break into it. A new serial killer is roaming around Boston and it’s up to D.D. to make sense of everything. But, as per usual, the obstacles are stacked against her and it isn’t going to be easy. I can’t wait to see you soon, D.D.!

Happy reading!