Book List for a Friend

A friend of mine, I’ll call her A, mentioned she wanted to get back into reading and I said I would make her a suggestion list of books to read. Below is what I have so far and I would love to hear recommendations for other books to add to the list. A said her favorite books to read where ones with a lot of action and one of her favorite authors is Janet Evanovich, I’ve read nothing by Evanovich. If anyone out there has read Evanovich and can suggest some books that are similar or any books in general that I can pass on to A,I’d be very appreciative. Thanks!

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Looking for Alaska by John Green

The Chocolate Wars by Robert Cormier

Tangerine by Edward Bloor

Breakfast for Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

Light in August by William Faulkner

Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia

The Diviners by Libba Bray

  1. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

The Cider House Rules by John Irving

Inferno by Dan Brown

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

The Hangman’s Daugher by Oliver Potzsch

Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Running with Scissors

Murder at the Breakers (Gilded Newport Mysteries) by Alyssa Maxwell

Fatal Affair by Marie Force

Ruby Red (The Ruby Red Trilogy) by Kerstin Gier

casual summer dayShorts / TopSunglassesBracelet 1Bracelet 2Sandals

I’m not really a “summer” person. When I say summer person, what I mean is, I really do not like hot weather. I hate feeling like I can’t cool off and no matter what, when it’s summer, I can’t cool off. My husband and I will go to the pool to relax and attempt to escape the heat, but mostly during the summer, I stay indoors until about 6:00pm when it starts to cool down. Only then will I venture outside.

In addition to the heat, I’m not really a shorts person either and shorts are completely necessary for summer. I know, I know, I’m crazy, but I just don’t feel like I can find the right length and fit. I find that shorts are either too short and too tight in the leg hole, or too long and too loose. J. Crew has been pretty good to me when it comes to shorts. My personal favorite is the 4” chino shorts. However, that being said, I just can’t get enough of these orange Hibiscus shorts. Even though they are a 3” inseam, these shorts sit lower on the hips which give them that little extra length to make them, what I think, is more appropriate. Also, the shorts are 100% cotton with a little bit of stretch, making them easy to wear without fear of the stretching out too much and turning your look into a loose hanging mess. Even though the shorts are 100% cotton, to me they feel like there is a bit of linen, which would explain why they are still a great weight even in 95 degree weather.

Now, this top I paired with the shorts I bought as soon as it came in. I loved this little tee the minute I saw it. I’m a huge sucker for navy, and while I had a hard time deciding which color to buy (available in black, navy, and cream) I stuck with what I love and picked navy. What sold me on this tee are the Swiss dot sleeves. I love that this little detail can take an everyday tee and make it a little dressier. It’s perfect to go with nicer shorts or skirts when you need to be just a bit above casual, but still want to be comfy. The tee is really easy to care for as well, which is an added bonus.

I hope everyone is staying cool out there. July can be a scorcher.

We Were Liars By E. Lockheart

I started reading We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. Just the first few pages have me hooked. Here’s an excerpt. Try as you might, you are going to want to read this book.

 

That June, summer fifteen, Dad announced he was leaving and departed two days later. He told my mother he wasn’t a Sinclair, and couldn’t try to be one, any longer. He couldn’t smile, couldn’t lie, couldn’t be part of that beautiful family in those beautiful houses.

Couldn’t. Couldn’t. Wouldn’t.

He had hired moving vans already. He’d rented a house, too. My father put a last suitcase into the backseat of the Mercedes (he was leaving Mummy with only the Saab), and started the engine.

Then he pulled out a handgun and shot me in the chest. I was standing on the lawn and I fell. The bullet hole opened wide and my heart rolled out of my rib cage and down into a flower bed. Blood gushed rhythmically from my open wound, then from my eyes, my ears, my mouth. It tasted like salt and failure. The bright red shame of being unloved soaked the grass in front of our house, the bricks of the path, the steps to the porch. My heart spasmed among the peonies like a trout.

Mummy snapped. She said to get hold of myself.

Be normal, now, she said.Because you are. Because you can be. Don’t cause a scene, she told me. Breathe and sit up.I did what she asked.She was all I had left.Mummy and I tilted our square chins high as Dad drove down the hill.

“Patiently” Waiting for Saturday

I cannot wait for Saturday! John and I are taking a day trip to the J. Crew Clearance center and store in Lynchburg, VA!!!! I haven’t been to the clearance center since I picked up my wedding dress with my mom back in September. I was in the process of losing weight in September, so I didn’t actually purchase much stuff for myself seeing as I wanted to drop 3 sizes and didn’t want to invest in clothes in sizes I wouldn’t (hopefully) be wearing too much longer. Since September I’ve lost 25lbs and I’ve been itching to go back. The clearance center, kind of like retail J. Crew lately, is hit and miss; I’ll go and want everything or go and find nothing. The best advice I have for someone going to the J. Crew Clearance center is to go with an open mind and not looking for a specific item, general is ok, as in “I want a dress”. The items at the clearance center are random and one never knows what will and will not be there. That being said, I do have quit a long list of stuff I hope is there. I’ve had my eye on more than a few things online and in stores, and while I’m not opposed to buying them in the store, I’d rather get them a little cheaper at the clearance center. I mean, who wouldn’t? Check out a “few” of the things I’m hoping to find on Saturday by clicking HERE. Anyone else have their eye on some fun summer items?

One more thing, J. Crew’s pre-fall line is coming out on Monday and I can’t wait to see it. I know of one pair of shoes that may just have to find a home in my closet. Fall is my absolute favorite season, not just for the weather, but for the clothes and colors as well. My love of fall clothes can really put a hole in my wallet around September and October.

 

 

A Review of The Search for Anne Perry and the Details of the Parker/Hulme Murder

CaptureI recently read The Search for Anne Perry by Joanne Drayton and I must say I was very disappointed. I have loved reading Anne Perry books since I was in high school and regularly pre-order her new books, however, this book was just awful.

First, let me explain what the book is about. When Anne Perry was 15 years old, she along with her best friend Pauline Parker murdered Pauline’s mother, Honorah. The book was supposed to be an authorized literary biography of Anne Perry which drew parallels between Anne’s life and her writing, and explained/examined Anne’s miscarriages of justice, her secret and what happened on that fateful day as well as the events leading up to the murder. Instead, I found a majority of the book to be summaries of Anne’s books with only snippets of the trial, Anne’s relationship with Pauline, and the after math. I feel that 125 pages of the 334 pages of book are summaries and details of how happy Anne was when her books were well received, completely unnecessary. Drayton over emphasized Anne’s long list of published books and instead downplayed this major event in Anne’s life, which was to be the crux of the book. I realize Anne hid this terrible act for 40 some years before it was discovered, but an opportunity to really get into the mind of 15 year old Anne and how it shaped her life and writing was terribly missed.

So, here is the murder, the trial, prison, and life after in a nutshell.

Anne and Pauline:

Anne Perry was born Juliet Hulme, to finically well off and highly educated parents. Anne’s father, Henry Hulme, was a physicist who was appointed rector of the University of Canterbury in Christchurch when Anne was around 13-14 years old. Anne suffered from tuberculosis and was often sent by her parents to the Bahamas to live with family and recuperate. Anne felt abandoned by her parents and did not develop a close bond with them early in her life. As Anne recovered, she returned to live with her parents and younger brother in Christchurch, New Zealand. Anne’s father, while loving and supportive, was often working and her mother was very liberal in raising Anne, believing Anne should be allowed to make her own choices and set her own rules. Anne had no real friends growing up and had a difficult time adjusting in school whenever her family moved. Finally, Anne’s family placed her in the private school Christchurch Girl’s High School. Anne had always excelled academically and was immediately placed in advanced level classes. It was here that she met Pauline Parker.

Pauline and Anne’s early childhood was very similar. Pauline came from a working class family and suffered from Osteomyelitis as a girl and was often left out by other children. Pauline could not by physically active like other children, thus she felt alone and depressed. Later, during the trial, it was discovered Pauline’s parents were not actually married. Her father was married to another woman and had another family that he had abandoned for Pauline’s mother, Honorah. This fact brought even more shame and embarrassment to the family and Pauline. Later, during the trial, it was discovered Pauline’s parents were not actually married. Her father was married to another woman and had another family that he had abandoned for Pauline’s mother, Honorah. This fact brought even more shame and embarrassment to the family and Pauline. Like Anne, Pauline was academically gifted and excelled in school. Anne and Pauline bonded over their illnesses that precluded them from childhood activities, their intelligence, and for each, their first friendship which proved to be very powerful.

Neither of the girls had experienced friendships before. This lack of previous friendships may have caused them to view their friendship as more important than other relationships that have or would exist. As the girls’ bond became stronger, they developed their own shared beliefs which included, a rejection of Christianity where they created and worshipped their own saints (mostly movie stars and singers), wrote their own fiction and then lived it, developed a parallel dimension called The Fourth World (their version of Heaven), and ultimately devised a plan to runaway to Hollywood together to have their stories published and then turned into films. As their friendship developed and intensified, Pauline and Anne’s parents began to fear the girls’ relationship was unhealthy and homosexual, a fact Anne Perry denies even to this day. About half a year before the murder Anne’s parents were going to do a small tour for her father’s work. Anne fell ill, a relapse in her Tuberculosis, and could not accompany them. Instead of canceling the tour or having her mother stay home with Anne, they sent her to stay with Pauline’s family for the weeks while they and her brother were gone. Despite being with her best friend, this act left Anne feeling, yet again, abandoned by her family and alone pushing Anne closer to Pauline. Several months after Anne’s parents returned, Anne discovered her mother was having an affair with another man, Bill Perry, and her parents were separating. Anne was devastated as was Pauline who had come to view the Hulmes as her parents as well. During this time the girls were also unaware that the Hulmes and Parker were collaborating in an effort to separate the girls. Both of the girls’ parents felt the relationship was very unhealthy and homosexual (during this period in time, homosexuality was thought to be a mental illness) and they needed to intervene for the safety of the girls. The decision was made that after Anne’s parents divorced, Anne would go to live with her father in South Africa. Pauline would obviously stay with her parents in New Zealand.

 

When Pauline and Anne found out about their impending separation Pauline grew frantic. . Of the four parents, Pauline’s mother, Honorah was most concerned about the friendship and often kept Pauline and Anne from seeing each other; particularly when Pauline lost a large amount of weight forgoing eating to instead write fiction stories to share with Anne. The girls attempted to persuade Pauline’s mother to allow Pauline to live with Anne and her father in South Africa, but Honorah ultimately refused, thus sealing her fate. In Pauline’s panicked mind she decided that if her mother were no longer alive then she would be allowed to live with Anne in South Africa. Pauline told Anne the only way for them to stay together was to kill her mother. Anne agreed to help. Pauline, an avid journal keeper, kept daily updates on their plan. Something that would later come back to haunt the girls and help convict them of murder.

The Murder:

On June 22, 1954 with Anne’s impending move, Honorah decided to spend some time with Pauline and take her out to lunch. Pauline asked if Anne might come along, to which her mother agreed since she knew Anne would be leaving soon. Pauline and Anne decided that on this day they would kill Honorah. The pair determined Anne would pretend to drop something and when Honorah bent to pick it up they would hit her in the head. Before they left for lunch Pauline stuffed a brick inside of a sock and hid it in her purse.

The three had lunch and then went for a walk in Victoria Park, where Anne and Pauline put their plan into action. Once the three were deep into the park Anne walked ahead and dropped part of her brooch. Pauline, with her mother and behind Anne, pointed out something on the ground. When Honorah bent over to see what it was Pauline hit Honorah in the head with a brick inside a sock. The two teens mistakenly thought the weight of the brick alone would be enough to kill Honorah, but they were wrong. Pauline, later in a confession to the police stated, “I killed my mother. Had made up my mind to do it some days before. I don’t know how many times I hit her; a great many, I imagine.” Reports vary on how many times Honorah was bludgeoned; accounts vary from 17-45 times. Pauline and Anne later stated that once Pauline had hit Honorah and they saw her lying on the ground bleeding, they knew they had to kill her, there was no turning back. Anne took the sock from Pauline and hit Honorah. Pauline then took the sock back and hit her mother in the head many more times.

After the girls had killed Honorah they ran back to the shop, where they had just eaten an hour before, screaming that Pauline’s mother was injured. The two were hysterical and covered in blood. They told the owner Pauline’s mother had fallen and hit her head and the two, in an effort to try and move her and get her to help claim they dropped her several times because she was too heavy for them. Two men went to look for Honorah while the shop owner called the police and Anne’s father.

Immediately the police knew this was no accident and suspected foul play. There was no evidence anywhere of a fall or anything Honorah could have even fallen on. The police interviewed the two girls separately at Anne’s home. Anne’s parents sat with her during her interview, but Pauline’s father was absent, at the hospital, and her mother dead. During her first confession Pauline took all the blame claiming Anne knew nothing of what was to happen and since she was walking ahead of her and her mother, Anne did not know Pauline had even struck her mother. After two different confessions from both Anne and Pauline the girls caved and confessed to the murder and their involvement. Both were arrested on June 23 and charged with murder.

The Trial:

Pauline’s diary was relied heavily on by the prosecution. The diary had an entry for almost every day and painted a picture of an obsessive relationship between the girls as well as Pauline’s complete hatred for her mother. Almost the entire diary was entered into evidence, but it was used mostly against Pauline who was after all the author. In her diary Pauline calls Anne, Deborah.

“February 23th, 1954: Why could not Mother die? Dozens, thousands of people are dying. Why not Mother, and Father too? Life is very hard.”
“April 28th: Anger against Mother boiling inside me as she is the main obstacle in my path. Suddenly, means of ridding myself of the obstacle occur to me. If she were to die…”
“June 20th: Deborah and I talked for some time. Afterwards, we discussed our plans for moidering Mother and made them clear. But peculiarly enough, I have no qualms of conscience. Or is it peculiar? We are so made.”
(The term “moider” had apparently been acquired by the pair in reading crime fiction. It is the Brooklyn pronunciation of the word “murder”.)
“June 21st: Deborah rang and we decided to use a brick in a stocking rather than a sandbag. Mother has fallen in with plans beautifully. Feel quite keyed up.”
“June 22nd: I felt very excited last night and sort of nightbefore-Christmas, but I did ‘not have pleasant dreams. I am about to rise.”
And the top of the page for June 22nd was headed in printed letters: “The Day of the Happy Event.”

The girls sat in the docket on either side of the wardress and kept their heads down for most of the trial. One report stated the girls at times had their heads bowed almost to their knees. Neither girl took the stand and let their attorneys do most of the arguing. The girls were seen by numerous doctors from both the prosecution and the defense to determine if they were sane. Both were found to be sane. Anne later stated she loathed her attorneys for attempting to claim she was insane. Anne admits the relationship was obsessive, but she was never insane and it was never homosexual. Anne states she had a misplaced since of loyalty to Pauline and the isolation of their friendship had clouded her better and reasonably judgment. Anne and Pauline’s attorneys argued the two were not only insane but also suffered from paranoia, and needed help, not prison time.

Both girls were found guilty of murder. Normally the penalty for murder is death, but the girls’ young age saved them from the noose. Instead they were remanded to imprisonment during Her Majesty’s pleasure. This means that there was no set end to the girls’ sentence. They would remain in prison as long as the court saw fit; potentially their whole lives.

After the sentencing, the courts became concerned about separating the girls. There were only two places they could go, the only decision to make was who would go where. Pauline stayed where she was, a more modern prison, while Anne was sent to Mt Eden women’s prison in Auckland. Mt. Eden can best be described as hell on earth. Mt. Eden was basically a medieval prison, there was no AC or heat, and the women slept on straw mattresses and were give 5 or 6 blankets to keep warm in the winter. There was no toilet so the women used chamber pots. Executions were no longer allowed to be public, so all were carried out in the court yard here. Anne witnessed several hangings, all of which she says she’d like to forget. The women were forced to work all day. One of the chores was in the laundry room washing everything by hand in large barrels and using turn crank dryers to wring out the water. The water logged sheets made the laundry insanely heavy. The work was physically draining, and Anne who had suffered from Tuberculosis since a baby was not in the best health to perform the work to begin with. The lack of AC and the crippling work in addition to Anne’s illness caused her to have breathing and exhaustion problems and soon after arriving she began fainting from the work and was sent to the medical ward. After recovering Anne was excused from hard labor and instead spent her days in the sewing room sewing clothes for prisoners. Anne was the only child prisoner there. The idea was to have the girls’ alternate prisons every few years to keep them separate and to keep things fair. Pauline never spent time at Mt. Eden.

After a few years, I believe 3 or 4, Anne was sent to the modern prison where Pauline was. While Pauline had attempted to keep in touch with Anne, the prison never delivered her letters to Anne, Anne had completely written Pauline off. Anne acknowledged she had done something terrible and needed to pay. Anne also said she had helped Pauline out of confused loyalty, her better judgment had been clouded and she thought it best to never speak to Pauline again. After several years of not hearing from Anne, Pauline too seemed to let the friendship go. Several prison officials, and outside influential government officials took special interest in Anne and her brilliance and arranged for her to be privately taught while in prison. Anne easily passed her A levels and University entrance test. Pauline too continued her education through the mail and passed University entrance test. Both girls were described as model prisoners.

5 years after the two girls were found guilty they were told they were going to be released from prison. It was arranged that the two would be released 2 weeks apart and the media would not be told to give them some time to get a head start and leave New Zealand. Each was allowed to choose a new name to live by. It was another 10 years before Anne would change her name from her protective name to Anne Perry (Perry taken for Bill Perry who her mother married shortly after Anne was sent to prison) and begin writing novels. After many rejections from publishers stating her writing and character development was brilliant but she lacked a good plot, Bill Perry suggested they take place during the Victoria era. Anne loved the idea and in 1979 Perry’s first book The Carter Street Hangman was published, widely accepted and she has not looked back. To date, Anne has sold more than 26 million books and published more than 50 novels. Anne has several series, Thomas and Charlotte Pitt, William and Hester Monk, The World War I, Christmas Stories (a short book is released every year at Christmas), Timepiece series (YAL) and several other books.

Peter Jackson’s movie Heavenly Creatures exposed Anne’s secret that she had kept for so long. When reporters began calling Anne’s publishers to let them know they would be publishing articles exposing Anne’s past life, Anne’s publishers’ begged reporters not to reveal that Juliet Hulme was Anne Perry, but the reporters refused saying the public had a right to know. Anne and Pauline’s crime was well documented throughout the papers during their trial, it was by no means a “secret” or unknown case, their new identities and lives they had received and built since their release were still a secret. Anne was terrified that with the release of the movie she her publishers would drop her, book sales would stop, she would lose her friends, her newly mended relationship with her mother and family, and all she held dear. Luckily for Anne, her true friends stood by her and recognizing she was 15 at the time and was now a much different and wiser person. She had paid for her part in the crime so the past was the past. Drayton’s book was supposed to tell Anne’s side, the hardships and fear she faced when Heavenly Creatures premiered, yet Drayton glossed over this. I know the book was authorized by Perry so much she probably didn’t want discussed. But, at this point with her identity pretty well known, take the opportunity to really push your side and not hide or have the book written so vaguely people wonder, but what else?

I rate this book, 1 out of 5 stars.

The Last Two Weeks + Some Books

The last two weeks have been pretty rough and I’m glad they are now in the past. Between having to quickly move out, live in an extended stay for a few days, and being thrown off our monthly budget because of the move, John and I were more than ready to put June behind us. My sweet hubby and I are finally moved into our new place, and other than still waiting to get our deposit back from our old place, things are starting to get back to normal. Last weekend my dad and sister came to Greensboro to help John and I move. Then this past weekend my mom came for a visit to help us clean, organize, and go shopping with me. No complaints. Friday night my mom, John, and I just hung out and did a little catching up and gave her the grand tour of our new place. Then on Saturday my mom and I did a little shopping, which included me getting this amazing dress from Brooks Brothers and this crazy neon skirt from J. Crew. I’m not really a neon person, but for some reason I just felt I had to have this skirt. While my mom and I were out doing our thing, John hung up most of our 8 million pictures, framed art, and various diplomas and awards around the house. We have two random boxes of stuff left to find homes for and a handful of pictures left to hang, but otherwise it’s pretty much home and I know I couldn’t be happier. The stress of moving and floating around was really starting to get to me. I like to have plans and know what is going to happen and then have a back up plan. These last two weeks lacked structure, a schedule, and back up plans so I was not a happy camper.

Other random happenings:

–       I started The House I Loved by Tatiana De Rosnay on Sunday night. I loved De Rosnay’s other books Sarah’s Key and A Secret Kept, so I’m hoping this one is just as good. So far all her books have taken place in France and seem to be very historically, politically, and culturally accurate, which, for me, is always a bonus.

–       I finished Searching for Anne Perry on Friday and was disappointed. I will give a full review on this book in another post. There is a second book on this event involving Anne Perry that I anticipate reading and I really hope that book is much better.

–       Last weekend I read Clockwork Prince and loved it. I won’t lie; I stayed up late to finish the book Saturday night, all 434 pages of it. That’s right, read in one sitting. I was so happy to see Cassandra Clare had developed the characters of Charlotte and Henry more and loved that the two had a heavier prescience in the second book. I also LOVED chapter 18 when Charlotte and Henry have their big talk and realize they have both always loved each other. Again, I’ll write a book review on this at a later point. I do need to order the final book in the trilogy Clockwork Princess, which from poking around on the internet I happen to know Charlotte and Henry are again prominent throughout. What a great literary couple.

–       I’m obsessed with Good Reads and find myself spending more time than I should on the site searching for books. I hate when my to read pile drops below 10 books. For some reason that gives me small panic attack. #bookworm #nerd #Ispendtoomuchmoneyonbooks

–       Finally, John and I are going to a wedding in Atlanta the last weekend in August and I’m kind of excited about it. I think I’m most excited to get out of Greensboro for a bit, plus I love staying in hotels. The reception is being held at this beautiful venue called Summerour Studio. Isn’t it gorgeous?

I know it is Monday, but try to have a great day anyways.

10 random facts about myself for no reason at all…

10 random facts about me in no particular order:

  1. I really like stale Cheetos and stale Oreos
  2. I have a really hard time deciding on just one book as my favorite because I love so many, but a few that first come to mind when asked “what’s your favorite book?” are The Odyssey, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Cider House Rules, anything by Anne Perry and Tom Wolfe, Looking for Alaska, and many, many more
  3. I always like the idea of really long hair. But whenever I try to grow mine out past mid bicep ( I can’t think of a better visual point) I get annoyed and cut it.
  4. Sometimes I want brown hair, then realize I don’t want brown hair and I really do like my blond hair.
  5. My favorite trilogy right now is Infernal Devices, I’m obsessed with Henry and Charlotte Branwell and the books in general.
  6. I miss being in undergrad and seeing my friends, Emilie, Hilary, Brian, and Melanie almost every day.
  7. Some of the best friends I have ever made (outside of undergrad) I met when I worked at the J. Crew in RVA. I really miss working there with all of them. We all still talk and a few were even in my wedding and the rest came to the wedding which made my wedding that much more special.
  8. I want to adopt a blind cat, preferably a black one, but I’m not picky
  9. I really love the name/pet name/nickname Lottie; it makes me wish my name was Charlotte so I could be called Lottie.
  10. My favorite flavor is pomegranate