15 Books to Read in 2015!

Happy Tuesday everyone! How’s that holiday hangover treating ya?  Hopefully everyone had a relaxing and stress-free Christmas. Max and I were lucky enough to be able to spend the holiday with both of our families, Christmas Eve with mine and Christmas Day with his, fancy, I know.  I was kinda sorta bummed that we didn’t have any snow, but I’m not going to lie and say I was upset about the 50 degree weather, it was amazing! Suck it California. Er well, I’m sure they had warmer weather than Chicago but I’m over it. Besides, tomorrow is new years eve, where the hell did that come from?

Anyway, with the new year in less than 48 hours, I’ve been putting together my list of books to read in 2015. I set a goal to read 20 books last year and I pretty much failed. I read 12. I was pretty good about reading in the beginning of the year, but then as soon as August hit, I tapped out. I could just punch myself because I really wanted to hit that goal but life kind of took over. But lucky for me, there’s a whole new year ahead that I can use to try and surpass what I hit this year. So below, check out my 15 books to read in 2015.

And just in case you’re a “one genre” kind of reader, fear not! This list has got memoirs, fiction, thrillers, history AND Amy Poehler, she gets her own genre because she’s amazing. Some of these are older and some aren’t even out yet, but I’m willing to bet they’re all going to end up on some best seller lists if they haven’t already. I say this because I think I can see the future. But I also haven’t read any of these yet, so maybe don’t judge too hard if they bomb…let’s see how this plays out.

15 Books To Read In 2015! - Champagne and Chambray

A Deadly Wandering by Matt Richtel – A brilliant, narrative-driven exploration of technology’s vast influence on the human mind and society, dramatically told through the lens of a tragic “texting-while-driving” car crash that claimed the lives of two rocket scientists in 2006. – Good Reads

 The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins – This thriller isn’t even on shelves yet (mid-January I believe) but it’s already drawing comparisons to Gone Girl and the Silent Wife, which by the way, I actually hated. But hopefully they just mean it involves murderous bitches and some seriously messed up shit.

 Yes Please by Amy Poehler – It’s a book written by Amy Poehler, what else do you need?

Brain On Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan – A memoir of a 20-something New York Post journalist who developed an autoimmune disease and literally lost her mind. Yep, like, for real, that can apparently happen. Watch out.

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – This has been on my list for awhile and I haven’t been able to get to it yet, so I’m going to make sure it happens this year. I love a good WWII historical fiction book, I just can’t help myself! Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. Ten years in the writing, All the Light We Cannot See is his most ambitious and dazzling work.  – Good Reads

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart – Ok, this is what it says in the description on Good Reads. Read it. And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE. So, I’m obviously going to read it NOW, how can you not?! It’s Young Adult, but sometimes I feel like a young adult so it’s ok. Plus the Wall Street Journal said that it appeals to the older crowd too!

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng – I like books that start out with Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet . . . This is a story about a murder in a Chinese American girl living in rural Ohio in the 70’s.

The Martian by Andy Weir – I wouldn’t normally be into this but Max is really into space so I figure I’d read it and learn a few things to impress him? Plus it’s getting great reviews and it’s becoming a movie with Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain.  ‘Apollo 13 meets Cast Away in this grippingly detailed, brilliantly ingenious man-vs-nature survival thriller, set on the surface of Mars.’ – Good Reads

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult – I’ve read a lot of Picoult’s books and I’ve only been disappointed once, so I’ll of course be picking up her new novel. It’s got mixed reviews on Goodreads, but it believe there are elephants involved, and I love elephants, so I’m giving it a shot!

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill –  A portrait of a marriage. It is also a beguiling rumination on the mysteries of intimacy, trust, faith, knowledge, and the condition of universal shipwreck that unites us all. -Good Reads

The Disaster Artist by Greg Sestero – Recommended to me by a friend (thanks Christer, maybe I’ll let this review be your guest post!), this book was written with the help of an actor who played in the “greatest worst movie ever”, if that makes any sense. I’ve watched the movie that this book is about and now I’m dying to read the book and get the behind the scenes of this amazingly terrible film. Also, James and Dave Franco are making a movie based on the book. So, yeah.

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent – I’m not normally one for history earlier than WWII, but this inspired-on-a-true-story following the final days of a young lady accused of two brutal murders in 1829 Iceland, seems too gripping to pass up.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt – This is an earlier novel from author of the aclaimed best-seller The Goldfinch, so I figure it’s probably worth picking up. I actually did pick it up almost 10 years ago and started it but never made it past the first 100 pages. I’ve still got my copy and I’m going to revive it this year.

People I Want to Punch in the Throat by Jen Mann – I picked this mainly for the title and the cupcake on the cover. It’s apparently written by a pretty witty blogger, so I’m gonna give it a shot even though I think the intended audience was suburban moms, of which I am neither. Livin’ on the edge over here!

The Son by Jo Nesbo – ‘An electrifying stand-alone novel set amid Oslo’s hierarchy of corruption, from which one very unusual young man is about to propel himself into a mission of brutal revenge.’ – Good Reads (Also my favorite crime writer, so I know this will be a good one!)

Let me know down in the comments if you’ve got your own list of books to read in 2015 – anything that I’ve got on mine? Have you read any of my picks already? Give me your thoughts so I can adjust my list accordingly, there’s always room for changes! I left spots for five others that will most definitely gain popularity in the new year too. I think my first book is definitely going to be Brain on Fire, if it’s anything like I’ve heard, I’ll have my first of the year finished in the first week. Overachievin’ like a boss!

L

My Summer Reading and Some Goodreads

6 Reads for Summer | champagneandchambrayc.om

Goodreads

So for all you book lovers out there (or kindle lovers), there’s a site that you should know about. It’s called Goodreads. It’s basically Facebook for bookworms. You make a profile and catalog the books you’ve read, the books you’re reading and the books you’d like to read. You can write and read reviews, as well as join book clubs. They’ve got a system similar to Netflix in that it takes the books you’ve read and the ratings you’ve given them (1-5 stars) and spits out other books that you may enjoy. I love it. I think what I’d love more would be if more of my friends would adopt it, because then I can see what THEY think of a book I’m interested in reading. Stranger reviews are all well and good, but if you don’t know that person’s personality, it’s hard to know whether you would agree or disagree with their take on the story or characters. Regardless, it’s awesome in itself. Here’s a great article from The Atlantic if you want a bit more of a backstory on how Goodreads came to be.

Another fun thing about the site is that you can set up challenges. This year I set a goal of reading 20 books by Dec 31. Currently I’m on book number nine and the site has very politely informed me that I’m two books behind schedule. Go figure. I’m not worried though because I tend to whip through books when I’m on vacation, so I’ll catch up whenever said vacation occurs. But now I want to share the next few books on my summer reading list. Oh ps, if you want to see some past book selections check out this post and this post.

Summer Reading

2014 Summer Reading | champagneandchambray.com

Wild by Cheryl Strayed | Currently reading this one, and I’m not too far into to it yet, but it’s a memoir about a woman who trekked the Pacific Crest Trail all by her lonesome. It’s gotten rave reviews all over the place, and was a Readers Choice winner back in 2012. Yes, I’m a little late to the party on this one, but that’s the great thing about books, they never go out of style!

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty | This actually probably won’t be next on the list because it doesn’t actually release until July 29th, but it’s on my list because I read The Husbands Secret last year on vacation and quite enjoyed it, and based on the very few critic reviews at this point, it’s even better. Murder mystery, yes please. Unfortunately,  I imagine it will be a little less scandalous than Gone Girl, but who knows!

Paper Towns by John Green | Ok, I’m going to be honest here and people are probably going to get all huffy with me, but whatever. I really didn’t see what was so great about his more recent novel, The Fault in Our Stars. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s because you live under a rock. It’s a YA love story that has taken America by storm, and I honestly DO NOT UNDERSTAND. Sure, it was a good book, but it didn’t move me like other books have. It all just seemed very expected. And I know, it’s about kids with cancer falling in love, but like, I can’t just get all weepy because of that, the book just wasn’t that great and I’ll say it, it was somewhat boring. But alas, I’m going to give John Green another shot. A friend of mine whose favorite author is John Green said she’d suggested Paper Towns and Finding Alaska way before she’d suggest The Fault in Our Stars. I’m trusting you here Erica! It’s categorized as YA, but as most people have come to find, a lot of young adult books are perfectly readable as an actual adult. Or as close to that as I am.

The Silver Star by Jeanette Walls | One of my favorite books to date is The Glass Castle, a memoir by Jeanette Walls that describes her crazy, and often heartwrenching childhood being raised by an alcoholic father and a bipolar mother. It made me laugh and it made me cry and it was just perfect. She also wrote another memoir, Half Broke Horses, which I have yet to read. But The Silver Star is a novel about two sisters who must also deal with absent parents. I loved TGC so much that I’ve gotta give this a shot.

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes | I just finished Jojo’s last book, Me Before You and the more I think about it the more I realize how much I really did love it. One Plus One is apparently also an opposites-attract tale, and I can’t wait to read it. The thing that I found interesting about the last book was that because the author is British, so is everything else in the book. It’s fun to get a look at how they live over there, always drinking tea and a little out of touch.

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr | This list wouldn’t be complete without a WWII novel. I just love ’em so much, because while most are fiction, it’s not hard to believe that these stories were possible. It’s fun to be transported to another place and time that really did occur, and I know that may sound strange, seeing as it was a terrible time in this world’s history, but it’s also just so interesting and easy to connect with something you know was real. This novel has taken 10 years in the making, so I don’t expect anything but amazingness. A story of a blind French girl meeting a German boy during the war and trying to make it through.

What books do you have on your summer reading list? I’ve love to hear em, and if you’re on Goodreads, let’s be friends! And if you’re not on there already, sign up!

L

Book Review: City of Thieves


Over the weekend I finished up the latest book I’d been reading called City of Thieves. I have this thing about books about WWII, I love ’em. I feel like that makes me weird or something, but then I think about all the other people that love them and I feel better about it. This book, written in 2008 by David Beinoff, takes a bit of a different view on the situation though. Quick fun fact though, Beinoff is married to Amanda Peet. I love Amanda Peet, I feel like she’s totally underrated, but I dig her!

The narrator of the story is Lev, a 16 or 17 year old (still unclear to me, probably wasn’t paying close enough attention, or he just lied about it so many times I can’t remember what the real age was) Soviet Jew living in Leningrad during the Nazi blockade. After getting caught trying to steal a knife off the body of a dead german trooper, he and a Red Army deserted named Kolya are given a near impossible task from a secret army colonial. His daughter is getting married and with a wedding their must be a wedding cake. Problem was, getting your hands on eggs in Leningrad at this time was about as easy as finding a cronut. Near impossible! 

The tale goes on to follow them on their life-saving mission over the next five days. The people they run into, the trouble they come across, the sad situations they find themselves in is all incredibly interesting and sometimes funny, but the best part of the book for me was the relationship that the two unlikely partners form. Lev is a virgin and very uneducated about anything having to do with woman. Kolya is that exact opposite, and takes it upon himself to teach Lev the lady ropes. Their back and forth banter had my laughing out loud on more occasions that not. Kolya doesn’t seem to ever be worried about their impending death should they not succeed in their search. Lev is worried! They meet plenty of new characters along the way, some that you wish stuck around a little longer, and some that you wished you’d never met!

 It’s an interesting juxtaposition, taking an incredibly serious subject and twisting it in a way that makes you smile. Again, this made me feel strange inside, I’m laughing about something that happened during this dark time in history? This isn’t ok, I don’t understand, I’m so unclear about how I should be feeling right now! But if you’re looking for a book that is historically accurate, darkly funny but still a feel-good-in-a-weird-way story, give this one a try.

L

Lauren’s Book Picks

Is it Friday yet? Is it July yet? This whole spending freeze is killing me and it’s only the 6th day of the month. Am I really expecting to not buy ANY clothes all of June? This is going to be rrrruff. I’ve basically just been lusting over everything I see on blogs and Pinterest and silently crying and closing my laptop. But I know I’ll appreciate it when I look at my checking account in a couple weeks and I actually have money! Yay for money! 

As promised, I’ve put together a couple of my favorite reads for you to check out. I highly recommend all of these, and hope you can find the time to get lost in at least one of them this summer. 

Let me start off by saying this book is long as shit. Like seriously, I think it might be longer than the Bible but it’s definitely worth every page. Based on the true story of the author’s life (with some embellishments), the book takes place in Bombay, or present day Mumbai, where a convicted bank robber/drug addict escapes an Australian prison and flees the country. From there we follow his life. Falling in and out of love, selling drugs and passports, working as a Bollywood producer, living in the slums as the acting doctor, to fighting in wars. I can’t begin to tell you how incredibly interesting this man’s life was. The characters are developed so well it’s like you know them. I cried a few times and laughed a few more. Wonderful book if you have a lot of time on your hands. 


2. The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
I commented on this one in yesterdays post. I just recently read this while I was in Cabo in March and couldn’t put it down. The first snow has fallen and a woman goes missing. Soon there after we find more and more women missing and turning up dead. Harry Hole is on the case. Again, very well developed characters that keep you flipping the pages to know what the hell is going on because there are definitely enough twists to make you wonder if you’re still following the storyline properly! If you liked Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, definitely pick up this book.

3.The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
Hello tearjerker. So when I first heard that the book was narrated by a dog, I was skeptical, obviously. But as soon as I started and got used to it, I loved it. Enzo tells us the story of his owner Denny, a racecar driver, and his family. We see it through different eyes, get a different perspective on his story. Incredibly funny, I found myself laughing out loud more than a couple times, that crazy Enzo! But I also found myself silently weeping to myself, so just beware this is a tear jerker for sure, especially if you love dogs. I think that every dog owner should read this book too, makes you wonder what those guys really think about us! 

4. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
I know that everyone and their mother has probably read this one, but in case you haven’t, do it. I think I was one of the earlier people to read this and I literally had to stop myself multiple times from trying to talk about it with people that were still on Part 1 or hadn’t even started it yet. Basically, Gillian Flynn is a genius. Or a psycho. One of the two. Read this book, I don’t even want to tell you anything else about it. 

5. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
I read this book probably three years ago and I think I want to read it again because I don’t remember a ton from it besides that I flew threw it because it was so good. It’s another story based on the authors upbringing with some pretty whacky parents. It definitely made my appreciate my own parents a lot more, I can tell you that much. I mean, they were basically nomads, throwing their kids in the car and moving to the next down without missing a beat. The mother had mental issues to some degree and the father was an alcoholic. How the kids dealt with and conquered was really amazing and made you want to cry and cheer at the same time. Half Broke Horses is the follow up to this one, I still haven’t gotten to it but it’s on my list. 

6. White Girl Problems by Babe Walker
This book is a quick and hilarious read. I was dying laughing throughout the entire thing. I’d bring it to the gym with me and read on the treadmill and would have to jump onto the sides because I’d be laughing to hard to actually run. Babe Walker is a funny, witty bitch who just wants to tell everyone how awesome she is. And after reading the book, I agree with her, even though I shouldn’t. I mean this is her actual twitter description “I’m Babe Walker. I wrote a book. It’s about me. Buy it here.” And homegirl’s got like 810,000 twitter followers. Like, for real, she’s fucking funny. She loves smoothies and hates her mom.  If you want some light reading and a good ab workout from laughing too hard, this is your book.

xo.

Summer Reading 2013

With summer right around the corner, I wanted to make sure that my Kindle was stocked and ready to go. I’m not one to stick to one type of book, I really can get into all sorts of different genres sans science fiction. I do not consider Hunger Games or Harry Potter science fiction, for the record. So I downloaded a couple different types of books that should hopefully get me through the summer. I haven’t started any of these yet so I can’t really give too much info besides what Amazon tells me. I could just rewrite the descriptions and hope you didn’t notice but even three years out of college I know that’s basically still plagiarism. So I’ll just link you and you can read for yourself. 

I will tell you this though – The Redeemer is the most recent release in Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole novels. Stop right there, I know what you’re thinking. The books are translated from Norwegian and it’s actually pronounced Hooley, so your mind can exit the gutter now. Anyway, they’re basically just as riveting as Steig Larsson’s trilogy except without the boring stuff like four straight pages of what Lisbeth Salander ordered from IKEA. Which in turn meant, I literally could not put down the last book, The Snowman. Twist after turn, there is never a lag. Now that The Redeemer has just been published (at least in America, it may have been around elsewhere for awhile based on review dates) I know that’s probably the first one I’ll be diving into.

1. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
2. The Redeemer by Jo Nesbo
3. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
4. City of Thieves by David Benioff
5. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me by Mindy Kaling
6. Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris


check back tomorrow and I’ll give you a couple of reading recommendations on books that I’ve read myself and loved. PS – It’s a good list! 

xo.