We are three sisters united in our search for the divine - in food, libation, literature, art, and nature. This blog will capture the true, sometimes decadent, at times humorous, and every so often transcendent adventures of the Salvation Sisters.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Great Summer Reads from the Salvation Sisters

by Michelle
   Sometimes I wonder if a more effective list would be to offer the names of all the books I have read or listened to over the past couple of years that I did not like or would not recommend for one reason or another. 'Tis better to focus on the positive rather than the negative, don't you agree? So, without further ado here are books, in no particular order, that we sisters highly recommend just in time for your summer vacation.

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
by Helen Simonson
Random House ©2010
Audiobook Narrated by Peter Altschuler
   This is a book that Linda listened to and then highly recommended to me. I planned to download it from Audible, but I was caught at an airport with nothing to read (horror of horrors), and purchased it at LAX when I happily spotted it at the news stand. The tale is cheery and will put a smile upon your face. In a word: delightful.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer
Dial Press ©2009
Audiobook Narrated by: Paul Baymer, Susan Dewidan, Roselyn landor, John Lee, Juliet Mills
    At the time, my twelve year old daughter and I listened to the audiobook on a road trip from Arizona to Northern California to visit my sister, Linda. Featuring five narrators, the audiobook is an absolute joy to listen to. Each character is vibrantly brought to life and the engaging story is a fictional account of the events that occurred on Guernsey Island during the German Occupation in World War II.
Dublin Murder Squad Series:
In The Woods (Penguin ©2008) Audiobook Narrated by Steven Crossley
The Likeness (Penguin ©2009) Audiobook Narrated by Heather O'Neill
Faithful Place (Penguin ©2011) Audiobook Narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds
Broken Harbor (Viking ©2012)
by Tana French
   Damn, Tana French can write. Lovely, fine prose. The common thread between the books is the Dublin Murder Squad, some characters do cross over into the subsequent novels, so it is important to read the novels in order to avoid spoilers. The novels are not crime novels that you would typically find in the genre. While the novels are technically mysteries, I found myself more involved with the character development and entering the psyches of the Murder Squad's investigators.

Royal Thai Detective Novels:
Bangkok 8 (Vintage Books ©2003) Audiobook Narrated by Paul Boehmer 
Bangkok Tattoo (Vintage Books ©2006) Audiobook Narrated by Paul Boehmer
Bangkok Haunts (Vintage Books ©2007) Audiobook Narrated by Glen MCready
The Godfather of Kathmandu (Vintage Books ©2010) Audiobook Narrated by Stephen Hogan
by John Burdett
   The son of an American GI and a Thai prostitute, devout Buddhist and ganja smoking Royal Thai Police Detective, Sonchai Jitplecheep navigates the underbelly of Bangkok solving crimes all the while striving to balance his karma. The nuanced observations by the author regarding the sex trade, drug trafficing, politics, corruption and east versus west perspectives on all topics is quite captivating and thought provoking. I bet you'll be hooked by the second chapter, farang!
by Gregory David Roberts
St. Martin's Griffin ©2005
Audiobook Narrated by Humphrey Bower
   Check-out the author's website, specifically the author's facts page. I had quite a bit of fun reading (with exagerated emotion) the author's bullet point biography - about a yardstick long - to my family one night over dinner. The book is loosely autobiographical, so you'll get the idea fairly quickly how things will surely go down over the course of the story. Rumor has it that Johnny Depp was committed to star in the film. The project was shelved last year, but perhaps it will be rekindled. We can only hope because it seems like a perfect role for Mr. Depp, in all the best non-Tim Burton ways.

Prodigal Summer (Harper Perennial ©2001)
The Lacuna (Harper ©2009)
by Barbara Kingsolver
   A favorite author of we three sisters. Barbara Kingsolver narrates her own books, which worked well with Prodigal Summer, but took a little getting used to in The Lacuna, a book which includes Frida Kahlo as a primary character. I was gobsmacked upon discovering Ms. Kingsolver had the courage to write dialogue for the revered artist. Thankfully, she succeeded.
Jitterbug Perfume (Bantam ©1990)
Half Asleep In Frogs Pajamas (Bantam ©1995)
Skinny Legs And All (Bantam ©1995)
Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates (Bantam ©2001) Audiobook Narrated by Keith Szarabajka
Villa Incognito (Bantam ©2003) Audiobook Narrated by Barret Whitener
... and more by Tom Robbins
   Welcome to the wacky, wonderful, mind-blowing world of Tom Robbins. No one, and I mean no one, writes like Tom Robbins, except, of course, Tom Robbins. Controversial, philosophical, funny as hell. Highly quotable. Tom Robbins loves women, and women love Tom Robbins. Especially the Salvation Sisters.

The Sixteen Pleasures
by Robert Hellenga
Delta ©1995
   Don't let the title fool you, the book is not fodder for those that desire titillating subject matter. More than a few general public reviewers posting on Amazon seemed to be a tad disgruntled by that fact. If, by chance, you are headed to Florence, Italy read this book before you go. If you are not planning a trip to Florence also known as Firenze... well, you'll be jonsing to go by the end of the story. Immediately follow reading this novel by watching A Room With A View and you'll be booking flights.

The Mists of Avalon
by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Ballentine Books ©1982
Audiobook Narrated by Davina Porter
   The story of the Arthurian Legend of Camelot told through the feminine perspective.

The Help
by Kathryn Stockett
Penguin ©2009
Audiobook Narrated  by Jenna Lamia, Bahni Turpin, Octavia Spencer, Cassandra Campbell
   Most folks by now have read the book and seen the film. Although I enjoyed the film, the book is better. That is pretty much always the case, n'est-ce pas? The vocal performances by the four narrators is superb. My daughter, a young teenager at the time we listened to this book, was just as enthralled as I with the engrossing tale of friendship and burgeoning civil rights movement during the year 1962 in Mississippi.
Riding in the car with young adults:

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce Mysteries)
... and more by Alan Bradley
Bantam ©2010
Narrated by: Jayne Entwistle
   A great listen with a tweener in the car. My daughter and I had hours of fun listening to this audiobook while driving to and from school. The book encouraged me to refer to the kitchen as my  my sanctum santorum until someone informed me, I think it was Juliette, that the urban dictionary might help bring me up to date on the the latter day definition. I am now barred from asking people about his or her sanctum santorum. Foiled again.

Bloody Jack (Hartcourt Children's Books ©2002)
Curse of the Blue Tattoo (Hartcourt Children's Books ©2004)
Under the Jolly Roger (Hartcourt Children's Books ©2005)
... and more by L.A. Meyer
Narrated by Katherine Kellgren
   Follow the high-seas adventures of London-born and subsequently orphaned Mary "Jacky" Faber. Katherine Kellgren's spirited narration (and I do mean spirited) has inspired my daughter to perform lively impersonations of Jacky, and sometimes in the most unlikely of places, which always makes me belly laugh.

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, and The Heroes of Olympus series)
... and many, many more by Rick Riordan
Hyperion ©2005
   Perseus "Percy" Jackson, son of Poseidon, is the protagonist of this popular series that both boys and girls will enjoy. As usual, the book is soooooo much better than the film.

The Harry Potter Series
by J.K. Rowling
Arthur A. Levine Books ©1997-2007
Narrated by Jim Dale
   I posit that the best way to experience the publishing phenomen known as Harry Potter is to have Jim Dale read each novel to you. Fabulous. My family and I have listened to each book more than once. And naturally, boys and girls of all ages love to hear the spectacular tale unfold of the boy wizard that attends Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
In the Kitchen:

Blood, Bones and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef
by Gabrielle Hamilton
Random House ©2011
   I admired this book for Ms. Hamilton's unflinching honesty about herself. She's a talented writer. If the whole food thing doesn't work out (snicker), she will have an ever hungry writing career to feed.

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
by Anthony Bourdain
Co Prsa ©2000
Narrated by Anthony Bourdain
   The book that made Anthony Bourdain a household name. We sisters are fan girls.
Mourad: New Moroccan is a great read and Mourad is my new chef crush.


  1. I shared my copy of Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridien with an elderly lady. She put it down after a couple chapters saying it was to violent. In turn she gave me a copy of The Mists of Avalon. It made Cormac's book look like a nursery rhyme but I read every word of it. Wasn't easy but I refused to give up.

  2. Nice list! Since I have already read and enjoyed several of the books here, I'm encouraged to try some of the ones I haven't read yet since we seem to have similar taste. I completely agree that the best way to experience Harry Potter is through Jim Dale's narration - he's the best! (I must confess however that I had to struggle to get through The Mists of Avalon.) Have you read anything by Lousie Penny yet?

  3. I have not read Louise Penny, so based on your recommendation I went straight to Audible and downloaded the first book in the series "Still Life". It will be my next listen after finishing "Ready Player One". I am happy to have my next choice ready to go, so thank you for leaving a comment!


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