The Sunday Salon: Closing the Books on Summer Edition

Like most people, I think of Labor Day as being the end of summer – regardless of what the calendar says. Betty and Boo have been back in school for almost a week now. Occasionally, I need to put on a sweatshirt in the morning. I’m planning a vegetarian beef stew for dinner tonight. And, of significant importance in this house, a new football season is upon us. (Go Steegles! Once again, my loyalties are divided somewhere in the vicinity of a bar in State College. I love Pittsburgh, I love the Steelers, but I just can’t abandon my Philly girl roots. I can’t help it.) 
It is time, then, to close the books on the Summer of 2012.
Quite frankly, I’m ready. This was, in my view, The Lost Summer. Completely unmemorable, save for last weekend’s visit to Ohio and a week-long visit in July from the grandparents. It’s going down as the summer of a tough job hunt that’s still in progress (there’s something particularly depressing about filing one’s unemployment claim on Labor Day weekend), a summer camp experience for the kids that could have been better, and the summer where we all realized how much we missed (and therefore craved) our annual vacation at my aunt and uncle’s beach house, which we went without this year. 
My summer escape, then, was found in the usual places: in reading, and in the novel writing. From Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend, I read 19 books – probably the most summertime reading since I was a teenager lounging around a swim club that’s no longer there.  And this summer, I wrote. Not quite as much as I’d hoped, but there’s more on paper than there was at the beginning of June. 
Among the books I finished the summer with was The Middle Place, by Kelly Corrigan, which was fantastic. I absolutely loved this memoir. And then (this is where this Internet thing gets all kinds of cool) the very next night after I finished this, Kelly herself discovered my review of her book Lift and posted it to her Facebook page, which I didn’t realize until I noticed all kinds of hits on the blog coming from that post via Facebook. So now, we are Friends. Just like that. Coolest thing ever. I’ll have a review of this one soon. 
When I was in something like the 5th or 6th grade, I was fascinated by the whole saga with Wallis Simpson and Edward giving up the throne for her. I wrote a research paper on it and all. To my tween self (we weren’t called tweens back in the early ’80s, but you know what I mean), abdicating the throne was, in my mind, THE most romantic thing imaginable. I mean, I sure as hell couldn’t picture any of the guys I had a crush on in middle school doing any such thing, hence, the whole deal has always held this sort of romantic Disney-ified mystique in my mind. 
Which is why I was intrigued to read Abdication by Juliet Nicolson. (That, and because I don’t read anywhere near enough historical fiction and I’d like to remedy that.) Just look at that cover; it’s gorgeous, isn’t it?

Alas, I wound up abdicating this book last night, at page 54. Several reviewers on Goodreads mentioned that this is more about several peripheral (fictitious?) people in the lives of Wallis and Edward, rather than Wallis and Edward themselves. I wouldn’t have minded that – I mean, that’s kind of the whole POINT of historical fiction as I understand it, right? – except that these new folks weren’t holding my attention. I just kept waiting for something to happen. And … it didn’t. And the Goodreaders indicated that it wouldn’t, and so … abdication.

And with that … we’re into the autumn season, with two exciting things happening that I wanted to be sure to mention, in case you were unawares.

1. Over at Stainless Steel Droppings, Carl is once again hosting his annual R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril, which is not a reading challenge, per se, but rather “a participatory event wherein we the people spend however little, or much, time we want over the months of September and October imbibing all things ghastly and ghostly.” This is not my typical reading fare, but I cannot resist this. Henceforth, I have two books lined up for this Labor Day weekend that fit the bill quite nicely.

Since I loved Gone Girl (review here), I’m looking forward to reading Gillian Flynn’s second novel, Dark Places. 

My second book for the week is this.

Steampunk: Poe! Here’s the description (could this be any more perfect for R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril?) 

If you combined clockwork gears, parasols, and air balloons with Edgar Allan Poe, what would you get? Steampunk: Poe! This is the first collection ever of Poe stories illustrated with the influence of steampunk. Running Press Teens has selected some of the most popular, thrilling, and memorable stories and poems by the classic 19th century American writer whose literary talent continues to open the mind to countless interpretations.

Every Poe story and poems is fully illustrated with steampunk-inspired art—from 1920s aviation gear to elaborate musical instruments—creating a fresh perspective on his work containing bizarre characters of madmen and mystery. Just in time for Halloween, Steampunk: Poe is the perfect classic horror choice with a haunting steampunk twist!

And the second happening …

2. Book Blogger Appreciation Week returns September 10-14 and, after much to-do in recent years about awards or no awards, the structure and activities for 2012 are very much “back to basics”. I think this will be a refreshing change and a great step in bringing the book blogging community closer together. Amy (at My Friend Amy) and those who volunteer to help her with BBAW do a tremendous job in organizing what has always been a tremendous week, so if you’re a book blogger or just looking for some interesting book blogs, you should definitely check out what BBAW is all about. (Even if you’re brand new. Four years ago, Book Blogger Appreciation Week was my introduction to this crazy world of book blogs – and I haven’t looked back since.)

All right. I’ve kept you from your Labor Day weekend long enough. Run along, kids. Go. Enjoy. Soak up what remains of this summer whilest you can. 

copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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