Monday, June 18, 2018

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell, 277 pages

Oh, this is a well written, but sad, story.  Esme Lennox is a high strung young woman from a good family.  She does not conform easily to her parents wishes.  It is sometime in the early 1930s in Scotland and "difficult" women could be locked away in a mental institution for really no reason at all, with no prospect of release.

The story involves three women: Esme, her older sister Kitty, and Iris, the granddaughter of Kitty.  Sixty-one years after Esme is locked away and forgotten by her family her grandniece Iris learns of her existence, when she is told to come pick her up.  The story of what really happened all those years ago unfolds slowly, and through the voices of Esme and Kitty, who now has Alzheimer's disease.  I haven't decided if this book had a happy ending, or not.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Real Michael Swann by Bryan Reardon, 352 Pages

This was a fast-paced thriller, and hit a nerve with me and what we're currently dealing with in society today. This story seemed like something that could really happen, which was terrifying to me. 

Michael and Julia Swann are loving parents, who would do anything for their two boys. Julia, a stay-at-home mom, is waiting for Michael to get home from a job interview and calls him to find out when he's due to arrive home. When their call suddenly drops, and Julia is unable to reach him again, she can't help but have a bad feeling in her stomach. Trying to distract herself, she sits down to watch a baseball game with her sons, but it ends up being interrupted by breaking news- a bomb has been detonated at the subway station Michael was last at. Julia frantically begins the search for Michael, but finds out that the situation has somehow gotten even worse, and Michael is now the prime suspect of the bombing. Determined to get to the bottom of things and trusting no one, Julia goes to great lengths to not only find Michael, but to prove his innocence. 

Alternate Side by Anna Quindlen, 304 pages

The novel is set in a tight-knit, upper class neighborhood in modern day New York City.  The neighborhood has beautiful old houses and coveted parking.  The people living in the houses are all white, while the people working in the houses are not. 

From the outside it is an idyllic neighborhood.  However, when a handyman is brutally attacked, cracks begin to appear.  So much so, that a seemingly perfectly happy middle-aged couple, Nora and Charlie Nolan, might end up losing their marriage. 

Not my favorite Anna Quindlen book, perhaps because it is very much a love story to New York City, a place I've only visited a few times.  However, any Anna Quindlen book is worth reading, in my opinion.

I Found You by Lisa Jewell, 342 page

Fabulous summer read that is set mostly on the coast of England, in the little coastal town of Ridinghouse Bay.

A man is seen sitting for a day on a rainy beach in Ridinghouse Bay and it turns out he has no idea who he is.  Meanwhile, in London, a young newlywed is frantic because her husband is missing . . .

Sound like a great set up to a fast paced mystery adventure?  Yep, it is.  Enjoy the ride.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris, 336 Pages

THIS. BOOK. WAS. SO. GOOD!!!!! This is definitely a contender for my favorite book of the year. I couldn't put it down and was honestly sad that I finished it so quickly!

The Angel's are seemingly the perfect couple. Jack, a successful lawyer, and Grace, the doting housewife, seem to have it all- a perfect house used for lavish dinner parties, lots of money, and true love. But digging deeper, there's something "off" about them. Grace is never anywhere without Jack, doesn't answer the phone, and is constantly cancelling plans at the last minute that don't involve Jack. In this case, Grace's fairy tale lifestyle really is too good to be true. 

Monday, June 11, 2018

Bachelor Nation by Amy Kaufman, 320 Pages

While I found some of the information in this book interesting, I honestly found a lot of it appalling. I understand that the contestants sign up for the show, and "know what they're in for", I don't believe that they sign up with the intention of being publicly humiliated and manipulated by the producers and overall production company. Many interviews from past and current employees of both The Bachelor and Bachelorette franchise painted the production company in such a horrible light, and openly talked horribly about the "cast". Most of the book discusses how producers often manipulate cast members into drinking and then corner them for a one-on-one "in the moment" interview to get what they need for ratings. Like I said, I know that these are consenting adults, and maybe I'm naive for watching the show and thinking the behind-the-scenes wasn't that bad. I'm not a huge fan of The Bachelor or Bachelorette, and I'm especially not now. 

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Don't Trust Me by Joss Stirling, 400 Pages

I didn't love this book. It had the potential to be fantastic, but the author wrote such an unlikeable character (in my opinion) that I struggled to finish it. I will say, I didn't see the ending coming, which helped with my overall opinion of the book, but this is not one that I would recommend to patrons. The main character suffers from ADHD, and I don't feel like they painted her or her mental illness in a good light. 

Jessica and Michael return from an unfortunately bad vacation with their relationship on the verge of crumbling. Jessica returns to work only to no trace of the company, as if it never existed. This doesn't help her situation with Michael, who didn't believe her job was real in the first place, instead chalking it up to another one of her fantasies he swears she comes up with. To make matters worse, their apartment is ransacked, and the only thing's stolen are items that belong to Michael's late-wife, Emma. All signs point to Jessica, and he quickly places the blame on her. But, things quickly take a turn for the worse when Jessica finds a dead body, and things begin to unravel around her. 

Monday, June 4, 2018

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell, 356 Pages

This was another fast-paced thriller that I enjoyed. I did find it pretty predictable in some aspects, but it didn't ruin the book for me. 

Ten years ago, Laurel Mack's life was turning upside down when her 15 year old daughter, Ellie, went missing. Laurel's life has basically been at a standstill since, never giving up hope that Ellie will some day come home. Her marriage imploded due to the stress of losing their daughter, and Laurel has been alone ever since, until she meets Floyd in a cafe. They are soon inseparable and taking major steps in their relationship, which includes meeting Floyd's daughter Poppy, who is shockingly similar to Laurel's missing daughter at that age. Now Laurel is forced to face the past again, and unanswered questions she long ago buried are back at the surface. 

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Hardcore Twenty-four by Janet Evanovich, 320 page

I think I've read everything Janet Evanovich has published since the first Stephanie Plum book "One for the Money."

We're now on book 24 in the series and not much has changed in Stephanie's life.  Since about book eight, I typically read and then complain that it wasn't that good.  Guess what?  I liked this one.

The same formula and all the regular zany characters are here but I enjoyed this one more than most.  Thanks Janet.

Artemis by Andy Weir, 305 pages

I am a huge fan of Andy Weir's first book, "The Martian" and was excited to get the chance to listen to his second book, "Artemis."

Artemis is the name of a colony on the moon.  It's a great place to visit but can be an uncomfortable place to live if you are not a gazillionaire and main character Jazz Bashara is doing pretty much anything she can to make some serious cash.  And that gets her in serious trouble.

I enjoyed this sci-fi action romp adventure, but had to mostly ignore lots of technical information that literally went in one ear and out the other.  I ultimately liked this book, but had to make myself stick with it at first knowing I'd get to parts I could comprehend and enjoy.

Mairzy Doats by Glory Fagan, 206 pages

"Mairzy Doats" is a semi-autobiographical fiction book written by local author and librarian Glory Fagan.  It begins from the perspective of a character who has been dead for 20 years but is still around.  She is reflecting back on her life and a good bit of it was spent in St. Joseph.  I got a little thrill every time a St. Joseph location was mentioned and I knew exactly where it was or is.

This is a really delightful read.  I was a little worried about it, because I had no idea how to pronounce the title.  Don't worry, fair reader.  Even before the story starts we learn the title is from a novelty song written in the 40s and to pronounce it "mares eat oats."  Ahh, that allowed me to sit back and enjoy the story about Dazy who lived life fully and with love.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Listen to your heart by Kasie West, 329 pages

I have adored this author ever since I received one of her books in a book box last year. Lucky for me she tends to publish 2 books a year. This particular book is a cute, quick, summer read. I may have snorted at one point in this book. It has some hilarious scenes. I applaud the author for not going with the stereotypical story line that she could have with this book but instead does an interesting spin on it. It's hard to describe without giving spoilers. This is definitely the teen equivalent of a beach read. With a lake setting it made me wish I lived on the lake. 

The Punishment She Deserves by Elizabeth George, 692 pages

Elizabeth George gives us another enigmatic title and fabulous story to go along with it in the 20th installment of her Inspector Lynley series set in England.

Does the title refer to Sergeant Barbara Havers, whose job is on the line?  Could it be her boss, Isabelle Ardery, who continues to struggle with addiction?  Or is it one of the many women in the seemingly quiet little historic town of Ludlow where Havers and Ardery are sent to follow-up on the apparent suicide of a church man while in police custody?

Read or listen to this great mystery and then lets talk.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy, 336 Pages

This was a very fast paced, suspenseful read. I found a lot of the main characters extremely irritating, but it was a great read and I didn't see the ending coming at all, which is always a plus! This also was a good read for me, because there were a lot of stigmas that society puts on new mothers, such as shaming them for formula feeding as opposed to breastfeeding, the lack of maternity leave in the US, etc. 

The May Mothers are a group of mom's who all gave birth in the month of May. They meet a couple times a week to discuss the anxiety, fears, and happiness that come with being a new mom, all in the refuge of women who completely understand. One of the mom's suggests they meet at a bar on July 4th, insisting on a much needed, baby-free night for all the mother's. Things are going great, until they discover that one of the babies has gone missing from his crib. Everyone's lives are flipped upside down, especially the oddly-reserved Winnie, who's son Midas was the one who was taken. Secrets are revealed and a few of the mother's are forced to deal with things they had hoped would stay hidden in the past, all in hopes that Baby Midas will be found safe. 

Saturday, May 26, 2018

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, 346 pages

This was a fast paced, twisty thriller, that I really enjoyed! I've tried to type up a brief recap multiple times, but there are so many twists and turns in this book that I'm worried I'm going to give away something I shouldn't. All I will say is, anything you assume you have figured out is probably wrong. READ THIS BOOK! 

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch, 320 pages

I always enjoy armchair traveling...especially to a country that I can't wait to re-visit (it's probably changed a little since I was there 14 years ago). I also have a soft spot for Ireland because I'm 18.5% Irish. Addie is visiting Ireland for her aunt's destination wedding (wish I had a relative that would get married in a foreign country and pay for my travels). She's also trying to get over a broken heart. The boy behind her broken heart caused a riff between her and her favorite brother, Ian. They're supposed to go Italy to visit Addie's best friend who recently moved there but her brother makes his own plans. Addie can't let her brother out of her sight (due to a punishment given by her mother) so she's forced to tag along on her brother's secret road trip across Ireland while trying to convince her mom they're both in Italy. Besides the amazing descriptions of the Irish countryside and road trip antics you keep reading because Addie and her brother both hint at there's more to her break up than she's admitted.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Witch Doesn't Burn in This One by Amanda Lovelace, 208 pages

I was anxious to read this because I really enjoyed Lovelace's other book, "The Princess Saves Herself in This One". I didn't love this one as much as that one, unfortunately. I didn't find the poetry in this collection as relateable to my personal life, but still found it beautiful, nonetheless! I definitely recommend anyone who is new to poetry to pick up something by Amanda Lovelace.

Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh, 400 Pages

I really enjoyed this book. I attempted to read something by Mackintosh a while back, and only got a few chapters in before I gave up due to boredom. I was nervous that this would be a similar situation, but I couldn't put this one down!

It has been one year since Anna's mother and father both committed suicide. She was completely blindsided, which has made coping with the incident even harder. Now attempting to move on with her life, Anna has a new baby and a seemingly perfect relationship with the baby's father. Her world is once again rocked, when a note arrives at her home, making her question the circumstances surrounding her parent's deaths. What she doesn't realize is, trying to get to the bottom of this puzzle is going to put everyone around her, including herself, in danger. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street by Lindsay Currie 295 pages

This is a great story to hand to a kid who likes mysteries, especially with some spookiness, and 'new kid' books.  Tessa has had to move from sunny Florida to very grey Chicago.  She wants to be happy for her parents, whose talents garnered them awesome new opportunities, but she's having trouble adjusting to a new environment, trying to make friends, and - oh, yeah - she's pretty sure her new house is haunted.  This is a fun little mystery with just enough spooky for a young audience. 

Where There's a Will: a Nero Wolfe Mystery by Rex Stout 258 pages

I love revisiting these books.  This one is not just an intriguing mystery, but a fun character study, too.
When strong, influential sisters, April, May and June call on Wolfe, he prepares himself for the worst.  After all, he does not play well with women.  Their main complaint is that their bother's will is bizarre.  He left his sisters a piece of fruit each, an oddly small amount to his wife and a whopping $700,000 to his mistress.  Something sure doesn't seem right in all of it.  The sisters don't care about money, they all have plenty of their own.  However, there were some legacies that were promised and it seems unlikely that their brother would have completely ignored them.  This was a tricky one that even got Wolfe not only out of his chair, but out of the house!  Read by Michael Prichard, it was a treat as always.

Over My Dead Body by Rex Stout 293 pages

When a Balkan beauty gets in trouble over some missing diamonds, to whom can she turn but the world-famous Nero Wolfe?  Especially since she claims to be Wolfe's long lost daughter!  The stakes are suddenly raised when a student at this woman's fencing school ends up dead after a 'pointed' lesson.  As Wolfe and his sidekick, Archie, thrust and parry into a tangle of documents, identities and international intrigue, another student body turns up, expertly skewered through the heart.  Is Wolfe's long lost daughter the black sheep of the family, a hot-blooded mistress of murder? This is gumshoe detective fun at its best and well worth listening to again.
Another fantastic Nero Wolfe mystery read by Michael Prichard, but I've yet to meet one I didn't love!

I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara, 352 Pages

I. Loved. This. Book. I will loudly and proudly admit that I am not fond of non-fiction. I love a good, juicy biography, but overall, I struggle with the genre. This book had so much buzz around it, and I read about it in a Library Journal at work, so I thought I would give it a try. This book sucked me in from page one and was one of those "Do Not Read After Dark" kind of books. Michelle McNamara was an extremely talented and intelligent woman, who devoted most of her life trying to figure out the details of these horrific crimes. I'm extremely saddened that she passed away before she was able to complete the book and see the impact it had on the investigation. I've been recommending this one to everyone I know, and will continue to do so for the unforeseeable future.

Some Buried Caesar by Rex Stout 274 pages

It is a well established fact that Nero Wolfe seldom leaves his house, and almost never for work.  So when a murder occurs while he and Archie Goodwin are visiting a fair, he's aggravated, to say the least.  If he wants to get back home to his favorite chair, he'll just have to solve the murder.  As always, the characters of Nero and Archie are vivid and fun.  This installment of the series is also the introduction of Lily Rowen, who gives Archie an opportunity to show just how witty he can be.  I listened to this read by Michael Prichard, who captures Archie's voice to perfection. 

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian, 368 Pages

The Flight Attendant was a new release that I had been anxiously waiting to read. I enjoyed it, but didn't love it. I found the main character EXTREMELY unlikeable. I almost gave up on the book due to how much I disliked her, honestly. But I'm glad I stuck it out until the end, because WOW, I didn't see that coming!

Flight Attendant Cassandra Bowden is a hot mess. Very rarely is she not drunk, and usually makes terrible life choices during her drunken moments. One of those mistakes: meeting a passenger on one of her flights, and waking up, extremely hungover in his hotel room the next morning. The only thing that makes this mistake a tad different than her "usual"? When she wakes up next to the man, she finds him brutally murdered. Cassie panics and flees the scene, afraid to call the police because she is alone in a foreign country. She realizes she did the wrong thing by fleeing, and attempts to cover it up by lying. One lie after another, Cassie takes the situation from bad to worse. She is questioning everyone-even herself. Did she kill this man? And if she didn't, who did?

Monday, May 7, 2018

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany, 434 Pages

I'm going to start off by mentioning that I just jumped on the Harry Potter bandwagon this year. (I know, I KNOW!!!) I was SERIOUSLY missing out, and read the entire series in about a month, loving every minute of it. I was hesitant to read this one because 1. It's not by J. K. Rowling, and 2. Basically everyone I know told me it was horrible. I finally gave it a try because I was missing Harry Potter so much, and I'm honestly glad I did. I really enjoyed reading about the original characters in their adult years, and it brought back the same feelings that the series gave me. 

Monday, April 30, 2018

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf, 221 Pages

I've never been huge into Graphic Novels, but I've been really trying to broaden my horizons so I can be a better asset in the reader's advisory department of this job! I have to say, I really enjoyed this! It was a fast read (which I loved for the reading challenge I set for myself,) and it was absolutely creepy! It is actually based off of true events, as the author was friends with serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer in high school. It almost (ALMOST!!!) makes you sympathize with Dahmer a little bit, hearing how rough his last years of "normalcy" were. I definitely recommend this to any true crime lovers out there!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Broken Ones by Sarah A. Denzil, 284 Pages

This was a short, fast paced read that I really enjoyed. It genuinely creeped me out, and I had a hard time reading it at night after everyone went to bed. 

Sophie knows she is being watched. She has plenty of "suspects", including the man she recently met online, her ill mother or maybe the nurse who takes care of her mother. She even begins to question if her mother is actually sick. She is forced to face her dark, extremely abusive past in order to uncover what is actually happening around her. And some of the stuff she finds out will change her life forever. 

Strange Weather by Joe Hill, 432 Pages

Strange Weather is a collection of four short novels that mostly fall in the horror/thriller genre. The author is Joe Hill, who is actually Stephen King's son! I found their writing pretty similar, and I enjoyed this book. I will say... I found the novel "Loaded" difficult to read, but the rest of them were okay. Overall, I would recommend this one to patron's that are interested in the horror genre, and are fans of King!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The Last Halloween by Abby Howard 448 pages

Oh, man, this is an awesome book!  I love the artwork and the story.  This started as a web comic that got published as a glorious book I can hold in my hands.  It makes me so happy.  Young Mona has a big problem, primarily a giant monster that calls on her Halloween night.  This leads her to run for help, but she finds more kids...who turn out to be monsters, also.  Well, things aren't looking great, especially since Mona gets tagged to try to stop humanity from being destroyed by monsters since the entity that was keeping it all in balance has disappeared.  This has a great energy and the white on black illustration is just gorgeous.  I can't recommend this more highly!

Ahimsa by Supriya Kelkar 307 pages

To carry on with my India fiction for children, I read Ahimsa.  This takes place during one of the most brutal, but fascinating periods of time in India's history.  I've read several other stories set around the time that Pakistan was established as a separate country from India, but they were always for an adult audience.  This book was set before the split, when India was still under British rule and tensions were running high.  It follows a young girl, Anjali, as her family joins the peaceful resistance started by Gandhi.  If you're interested in historical fiction, I highly recommend this one.  Ahimsa means peace, and this book gently reminds us that one voice can have a huge impact. 

Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani 161 pages

I love graphic novels.  I'm not a fast reader, but graphic novels let me feel like I am.  I also love India.  I love historical fiction about India, I love Indian art, music, Hindiphile the right word?  Anyway, this was a really cool book for a younger audience to just be introduced to not only some cool Indian terms and a visual (if cartoon-y) trip to India, but also a glimpse of what one child's life as an Indian-American might be like.  Ultimately, I love the feeling of 'it's okay to be who you are, that's as awesome as it gets' that the book conveys.  So much story can be told in pictures and I think Chanani did a beautiful job capturing the color and warmth, and sometimes frenetic energy of India.  The pashmina being an integral instrument to tell different parts of the story was a cool touch, because the use of color to transport the reader was so clever.  I really liked this book!

Too Many Cooks: a Nero Wolfe Mystery by Rex Stout 179 pages

Not much can get Nero Wolfe out of the only chair that will fit him or his daily routine, but when he is to be the guest speaker for a group of gourmands, he can hardly say no.  Traveling by train with ever-entertaining Archie Goodwin is only the start of the fun.  Of course, there has to be a murder to go and spoil the whole thing.  Don't worry, though, Wolfe will figure out a way to make it all work to his advantage...that's what geniuses do.  This is one of my favorite Nero Wolfe mysteries.  It is very funny, but it is set in a time and area where racial tensions were high.  Some language is certainly offensive, but characteristic of its time and the characters who use it. 

I listened to the audiobook read by Michael Prichard, who did a spectacular job capturing Archie's voice, as always.

Ruby and Olivia by Rachel Hawkins 240 pages

When Olivia takes the fall for a crime her twin sister committed, she knows she has to live with the punishment she shouldn't have been given.  Spending her summer cleaning a creepy old house that has a tree growing right up through its center is bad enough, but she has to serve time with an old enemy, too.  This book had just the right amount of creepiness, while not making that the main story.  I loved Ruby and Olivia, they were both believable and the fact that each chapter was told from the other girl's perspective was a great way to be able to connect with them both.  This is a fun, quick read to hand to someone who likes realistic stories with just a touch of supernatural intrigue. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur, 204 Pages

I finished this one today, and I'm glad I read it. This was another one that I didn't love, but it was beautiful, nonetheless. This poetry by Kaur was definitely more sad than The Sun and Her Flowers,  but it is so neat to read as the author goes through her healing process. 

"We are all born so beautiful. The greatest tragedy is being convinced we are not."

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter, 396 Pages

Let me start off with a warning: this book is extremely dark and disturbing. I love psychological thrillers/horror, all that stuff... but this was a tough one to get through. 
That being said, I absolutely loved this book. I was reading this constantly, and when I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about it. Karin Slaughter has quickly taken over as my favorite author in this genre. 

Sisters Claire and Lydia haven't spoken in over a decade, and are living completely opposite lives with one thing in common; both are still absolutely devastated about the disappearance of their older sister that took place over 20 years ago. Lydia is a struggling single mom and recovering drug addict. Claire is the typical "trophy wife", living an "ask and you shall receive" life. They are reunited when Claire's husband is brutally murdered. The sister's are forced to put their differences aside when they have to work together and dive into their past to help uncover some extremely painful, shocking truths. 

The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur, 256 Pages

I read this one in another attempt to give poetry a chance. I've seen and heard so much about Kaur and her work, so I was anxious to read this one, especially after enjoying the last book of poetry I read so much. Unfortunately, this one fell flat for me. I didn't dislike it, but it didn't feel quite as relateable as the last book I read. I did bookmark a few poems that were absolutely beautiful, but overall, this one just didn't do it for me. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes, 391 pages

  I listened to an unabridged audio book version read by Emily Woo Zeller and enjoyed the experience.
  The novel spun a fictional tale of current and past events and characters resulting from the actual Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 (when the U.S. Federal Government prohibited Chinese workers from entering the country and around which time people of Chinese descent in the Western U.S. were treated with hatred and even massacred). Being a Midwestern caucasion person from a different era, I had never heard of the legislation, and I had not known of the post-Civil War violence experienced by Chinese immigrants in the U.S. before I encountered this story. Guess I’m not surprised, but I am disgusted that people were hurt by such racial hatred.
  The story is worth listening to. In it, you will meet Mei Lein, a young woman born in Seattle to Chinese immigrants before the Chinese Exclusion Act and Inara Erickson, a recent graduate who inherits Orcas Island property a ferry ride from Seattle in the present time. Their stories are told separately but certainly intertwine. You’ll get a dose of mystery as Inara searches to learn about Mei Lein’s life in addition to a little romance and the adventure of remodeling an old house for new purposes.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Princess Saves Herself In This One by Amanda Lovelace, 156 Pages

I will admit- I've never been a big fan of poetry. I think the cause of this is all the "classic" poetry I was forced to read in high school. This just put a bad taste in my mouth for the genre all together, so I've avoided it ever since... until now. I've been seeing lots of buzz around this book, and then I assisted with a poetry display at my branch, which convinced me to give it a go. I'M SO GLAD I DID! This poet writes about love, loss, femininity and so many other topics, in extremely relatable context. The emotion is pouring out of the pages as you read it, and I really can't recommend it enough. 

In a Cottage In a Wood by Cass Green, 320 Pages

I received an Advanced Copy of this book a few months ago, but I've been attempting to get some books off my "To-Read List" for a while, so it's been actively collecting dust on my bookshelf. I finally got it last weekend because I didn't have anything else at home to read, and I'm glad I finally did! This book gets to the point rather quickly, and then keeps the excitement coming. 

Neve, to put it simply, is a mess. She recently lost her boyfriend, is working at a dead-end job, and moved in with her sister and her family. Walking home after making some iffy decisions, she encounters a mysterious woman on the bridge. The woman introduces herself as Isabelle, and after handing Neve an envelope, she jumps off the bridge. Neve's life quickly gets worse, and she is surprised when she is told that Isabelle left her a cottage in her will. Neve sees this as a blessing in disguise, and potentially a turning point in her wreck of a life. The only problem is, once she arrives to the cottage, this isn't a blessing in disguise, and could potentially be a nightmare. The cottage is run down, has bars on the window, and is holding very sinister secrets that are going to turn her life upside down. 

The Sword of the Lady by S.M. Stirling, 496 pages

  After finishing this book, I’m officially mad at the author of this series, and I may or may not get beyond my frustration enough to continue to the next book.
  I’m mad because when I start a series, I trust that the author can be a reliable guide who knows where he/she is going and that I will return from the adventure I’ve stepped into. Right now, I have no faith that the author will ever provide sufficient closure.
  The Sword of the Lady is the seventh book in S.M. Stirling’s Emberverse series, all of which I’ve read in addition to a companion set of three books (that stopped with no closure) that share the same starting point but that branch out in a different time dimension than the series that The Sword of The Lady plays out in.
  I’ve clearly enjoyed the books or I wouldn’t have now read ten of them over the last five years. The beginning premise of both series stem from one incident called "The Change," one day in 1998, when unexpectedly, immediately, and simultaneously, the entire world loses power. All electrical and fossil-fuel powered engines cease functioning and gunpowder stops working. Chaos and death ensue, eventually followed by emerging new societies of survivors.
  The Sword of the Lady takes place in 2022, twenty-four years after the change, focusing on a specific group of first generation young adults who have existed only in their post-apocalyptic areas of what used to be the United States.
  It appears that at least another seven books have already been written to follow this book, and another is due to be released in the fall of 2018. I don’t know . . . I like the story . . . I like the characters . . . But at the moment, I’ve completely lost patience because I have no intention of being lost in one fictional series for the remainder of my life. I think I’ll stop reading, hope the books eventually reach a satisfactory conclusion and are turned into a TV series that I can binge watch some year on Netflix to better use the real life I’ve been granted.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, 518 pages

  I’ve read the book and seen the movie and hope to do both again one day after enough time has passed for me to forget.
  This story certainly doesn’t glorify time travel; rather, the time travel happens because Henry has a Chrono-Impairment, a disease, that he lives his life in spite of. Only his body goes through time . . . which means no clothes, jewelry or anything else that he might wish to take goes with him. He has no control over the time period within the span of his natural life that he will jump naked (and often vomiting) to and no warning about what age he will next be. Whatever age he finds himself, he is unaware of what life will be like for him as he ages, even if he has been older during some previous time jump.
  The time jumps that make up this book center around the out-of-chronological-time relationship of a husband and wife. Clare meets Henry when she is 6 and he is 36. They marry when she is 22 and he is 30. Henry meets Clare when when she is 40 and he is 28. Clare lives her life in a regular order, never knowing when she'll next run into Henry or what age he'll be when she does. Sometimes they run into each other when only one of them knows who the other is because they have not yet met. 
  No big surprise: the timeline of the story is pretty jumbled, but no more jumbled than the lives of Henry and Clare. 
  Clever. Interesting. Fun. Bittersweet. And not as difficult to follow as it sounds!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Kings of the Earth by Jon Clinch, 393 pages

  This is the story of three Proctor brothers outside a small New York town, from 1932 to 1990.
   For the most part, their world consists of the tiny home they were born in, each other, and their piece of rural property. None of them is gifted with intelligence, and one of them is intellectually and emotionally challenged to a greater extent than are the other two. The story begins when they have reached old age. One of them dies in bed overnight, and the other two are investigated for murder.
  The story pieces itself together through short chapters. Each chapter is narrated by a voice of someone who has known the Proctor boys in different ways over the years. As the book progresses, the narrators share different tidbits out of chronological order as memories tend to come to a person when trying to make sense of the present. In the days following Vernon's (the oldest brother's) death, the narrative voices share insight into understanding men who, for the most part, have not wanted to be known.  
  As someone who was raised in the country, rural folks’ extreme desire for privacy and independence is no surprise to me. The book challenged me to consider (not for the first time) if it might be best to leave families alone or if society has an obligation to help, stepping uninvited and unwanted into intentionally isolated households, imposing society’s culture. The answer may seem simple enough at first thought but can be complex and heart-wrenching when the people in question become real.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney, 262 Pages

This was a fantastic, quick read. There were multiple twists that I had to re-read a couple times to completely comprehend what was happening. My jaw basically hit the floor more than once during the last few chapters!

Amber Reynolds wakes up without any knowledge of where she is. She hears the voices of everyone around her, and quickly realizes she is in a hospital, in a coma, and unsure of how she got there. She is almost certain that her husband is at fault. The story alternates between the week leading up to her accident, the present, and a series of journals written 20 years ago. In her current state, Amber is an extremely unreliable narrator and makes it very hard to determine what is the truth, and what is a lie. 

Saturday, March 31, 2018

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus, 358 Pages

I was pleasantly surprised with this one. I kind of lost my love for YA for a while, but I think that this book reignited it for me. Bonus points for the fact that it reminded me of a modern day Breakfast Club.

Five students find themselves in detention due to something that none of them actually did. Shortly after detention begins, Simon winds up dead. The police quickly discover a gossip blog written by Simon that was on the verge of being published, exposing the deepest secrets of the remaining 4 students from detention. Due to this, they are now the prime suspects of Simon's murder. Four students who had basically no interaction until now are forced to work together to not only clear their names, but also figure out how this could have happened, when they know there was no other person in the room. 

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Same Kind of Different as me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore, 96 pages

  This book worked well as an audio book, and the readers (Dan Butler and Barry Scott) were fabulous.
  I jumped into this one knowing nothing about it. I didn’t even look at the title or have a clue what kind of literature it was before listening to it. I just took the piece as the words came. The main characters/narrators are Ron Hall and Denver Moore, so my mind went reeling in new directions when the recording ended too soon for me with the spoken footnote that the book was written by Ron Hall and Denver Moore.
  I was sucked into Denver’s story from the first words. His childhood story painted a picture of Louisiana sharecropping in the South during the 30's and 40's that brought new, much appreciated insights to me. I liked Denver from the beginning even though he doesn’t necessarily seem to think he is more than, I believe he says, "No one telling anyone who will listen about someone everyone should know."
  Ron and Debra Hall met Denver when he was homeless and friendless in Texas after they each had lives full of experiences to share with each other. I’m glad they became friends and shared their combined stories for me to hear.
  This double autobiography is heart-warming, heart-wrenching, and potentially life-changing. My only complaint is that it's too short; I’m still checking to see if I accidentally lost the last half of the book.
  I see online that a movie version of the story was released in October of 2017.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna, 304 Pages

This was a hard one for me to get through, for whatever reason. It wasn't a terrible book or anything, I just didn't get into it as much as I would have liked! The ending turned out fine, though. 

Jamie is a single mother to two girls, 10 year old Kylie and 8 year old Bailey. She takes them to a local department store, and tells them to stay in the car while she runs in and picks up a gift for a birthday party. Upon returning to the car, every mother's biggest fear is happening- the girls are gone. Realizing that the local police don't have any leads, Jamie's family hires a tough as nails private investigator named Alice Vega. Vega teams up with local PI and former cop, Max Chaplan. With multiple suspects, the pair begins eliminating them one-by-one. The clock is ticking and stress is building as they both fight to find the girls. 

Monday, March 26, 2018

No Turning Back by Tiffany Snow, 426 pages

I hadn't heard of this somewhat local author until she came to speak at a book club that I attend in the Kansas City area. When she found out that I am a librarian she offered to send us some of her books. She donated this entire series plus the follow up series. I read the first book in the series in one sitting. I could not put it down. If there were enough hours in the day I'd probably read the entire series only stopping for food and bathroom breaks. It's a mix of suspense and romance. Fans of Janet Evanovich will like this series. I have a prediction about a character in this series but I cannot wait to keep reading to see if I'm right. Check back with me in a week or so...enough time to read her next 7 books.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Kepler’s Witch: An Astronomer's Discovery of Cosmic Order Amid Religious War, Political Intrigue, and the Heresy Trial of His Mother by James A. Connor, 402 pages

  I read this book immediately after reading Galileo’s Daughter to round out my understanding of the times and world re-centering observations of two mathematicians whose work inspired each other during the early 17th Century.
  Johannes Kepler was a devout German Lutheran whose free-thinking, stubborn and conceited ways got him ex-communicated from the Lutheran church but respected (albeit with little pay and exiled from the country by the Catholic church) as a court expert. As the title alludes to, his intelligent hard-headedness likely came from his mother who was tried as a witch in spite of opportunities to apologize and potentially remove herself from harm. His mother, in spite of the book title, is a fairly minor character in this account.
  The biography was written well and kept my interest as the pages of Kepler’s life unfolded. I would have liked a little more straight chronology rather than the time-jumping and doubling back done by the narration, but perhaps the repetition required by the non-linear narration made me notice and better remember some of the more important aspects of Kepler’s influence on our understanding of cosmic order today.
  I’m glad I took the time to read and learn.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Galileo’s Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith and Love by Dava Sobel--420 pages

  I thought that, perhaps, reading a historical fiction account of Galileo’s daughter might be a not-too-dull way to trick myself into learning about a world-view-changing 17th Century scientist.
  I’m smarter now than I when I made the commitment to open to the first page if only because I know how wrong my initial impressions and lack of enthusiasm about this book were. First of all, Galileo considered himself to be a mathematician. Secondly, this book is non-fiction. Thirdly, the title is a ruse; the book is totally a biography of Galileo in which his daughter is but a character.
  Galileo lived in Italy, and I really like Italy and peeking into the religious/political landscape of different time periods. And best of all, I read through the book quickly, with excitement, frustration, anger, and fear based on what my now favorite mathematician was going through . Before reading this book, I had no idea how much Galileo Galilei happened upon, observed, and understood in ways no one else ever had. And I had no idea how difficult it was for him to make sure that the truth he saw didn’t die with him.
  My husband will not have to read this book because I couldn’t keep it to myself. Without his even asking, I gave him thorough and energetic reports of pretty much every chapter. Lucky man!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Chasing Light: Michelle Obama Through the Lens of a White House Photographer by Amanda Lucidon, 222 pages

"Chasing Light" is a collection of photographs taken by Amanda Lucidon while she was the White House photographer assigned to Mrs. Obama.

It is a wonderful glimpse into the public life of an American First Lady.  It not only contains lots of photographs, but also some behind-the-scenes stories from Ms. Lucidon.

Aah, those were the days!