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!

A Recipe for the Perfect Reading Spot

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Let’s have a quick chat about something very, very personal. No, not your true hair color or how often you actually eat the ice cream straight out of the carton. Something even more personal than that — your “reading spot.” I’ve always had a “spot,” from the horribly uncomfortable butterfly chair I had as a child to the less private but infinitely more comfortable couch I have now. Having a “spot” is a crucial part of being a bookworm. It’s a place that’s yours and yours alone, where you can settle into your next romance novel or mammoth biography and lose a few hours of time. It’s also a place that’s allowed to be messy because it’s your spot and you can leave whatever you want there. Or maybe that’s just my spot.. Regardless of where (or what) your spot is, there are a few key ingredients to making it the best spot in the whole house. And don’t feel bad if you don’t feel like inviting other people into your spot. Tell them to go get their own.

Curl up in a chair

If you’re lucky enough to have some extra space in your living quarters for a dedicated reading chair, then color me jealous. A comfy reading chair is a perfect backbone for your reading spot. It can be a well-loved family heirloom or a new-fangled thing from Ikea. But whatever you do, make sure it’s not a canvas butterfly chair. My back still hasn’t recovered from that ergonomic nightmare. And if you don’t have space for a separate chair, don’t fret. I don’t either. Instead, I have a cushion on my couch (a la Sheldon Cooper) that it mine for reading time. It’s a corner cushion of our sectional couch that I can bury myself in and LET. ME. TELL. YOU. It’s so good. Except sometimes it’s too good and it’s hard to stay awake. 

Build some bookshelves

The other crucial aspect of any perfect spot is a place to put all of your reading material. Because what is a reading spot without reading material? Build some shelves into the wall if you have that option. Get a basic bookshelf from Target if you don’t. Or, if you’re extra tight for space, make some book stacks on a small table or window sill. I actually have and utilize all three of these storage options in my apartment and I love them all. Mix and match to your heart’s delight. You can play fast and loose with the rules here as long as your reading material ends up with a home.

Pile on the pillows

Throw pillows are an easy and relatively cheap way to boost the cozy factor of your reading spot. They can be used as butt cushions, back cushions, head cushions… Whatever body part you need cushioned, throw pillows are your answer. Throw some on your chair or put a few on a wide windowsill. Pillows will make your spot that much more comfy, wherever your spot happens to be. And bonus points if you can find cool patterns or colors that give your spot its own unique vibe to set it apart from the rest of the room.

Bring on the blankets

Pillows are nice, but blankets are where the cozy is made. Find yourself a spot blanket and let it live there full-time. That way, when you finally  have a few moments to spend in your spot, you don’t have to waste any of those precious minutes on tracking down your cozy ingredients. What makes a perfect spot blanket? Mine is fluffy but on the thinner side and HUGE so that I can wrap myself in it, use it as a pillow, fold it onto itself when it’s extra cold outside… The opportunities with my spot blanket are endless and yours should be too.

Add some accessories

What more could your spot use? Whatever you can think of! Maybe you’re a huge magazine collector and your spot could use a fun magazine caddy. Or maybe your spot isn’t located by a window so you need some cool lights to brighten up the space. Perhaps you like to bring your coffee (or, um, wine) into your spot, so you need some funky coasters. Your spot is your spot, so make it what you want it to be. And then get to reading!

photo credit: 1, 2, 3

Around the Internet

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Check out these five great stories from around the web.

  1. We’re always looking for something new to read. Or is that just me? Let these five apps make narrowing down on the perfect selection that much easier. But it still probably won’t be easy.
  2. SO. HUGE NEWS. Hollywood’s Best Man, the one and only Tom Hanks, is publishing a collection of short stories (due in October) that I have no doubt will be as life-changing as Philadelphia. Or The Terminal. Yes, Tom. Yes.
  3. Diversity is a hot topic these days–and rightfully so. Check out these seven articles about diversity in the publishing industry and take some time learn a little bit more about your neighbor, won’t you?
  4. This company is combining AR and VR with children’s books at the results look AWESOME. Kids these days, huh?
  5. Take a look at this take about where books are headed next. Because the world is a-changing and bookworms worldwide have to keep up or risk being left in the dust.