Book A Month Club: September

I read 2 good books this month!  Two authors whose books never disappoint was just what I needed.  I love all of Dan Brown’s books (The DaVinci Code, Angels and Demons, The Lost Symbol, Digital Fortress) and would recommend them all.   They are page turners with likable main characters and a good amount of research.  I love coming away from a quick, fun read feeling like I learned something! And Jennifer Weiner, who wrote In Her Shoes and many others, writes a great rainy day novel.  Her books are girly and quick and just what you need when you’re missing spending time with your girlfriends 🙂

When a new NASA satellite spots evidence of an astonishingly rare object buried deep in the Arctic ice, the floundering space agency proclaims a much-needed victory…a victory that has profound implications for U.S. space policy and the impending presidential election. With the Oval Office in the balance, the President dispatches White House Intelligence analyst Rachel Sexton to the Milne Ice Shelf to verify the authenticity of the find. Accompanied by a team of experts, including the charismatic academic Michael Tolland, Rachel uncovers the unthinkable: evidence of scientific trickery — a bold deception that threatens to plunge the world into controversy. But before Rachel can contact the President, she and Michael are attacked by a deadly team of assassins controlled by a mysterious power broker who will stop at nothing to hide the truth. Fleeing for their lives in an environment as desolate as it is lethal, their only hope for survival is to find out who is behind this masterful ploy. The truth, they will learn, is the most shocking deception of all. In his most thrilling novel to date, bestselling author Dan Brown transports readers from the ultrasecret National Reconnaissance Office to the towering ice shelves of the Arctic Circle, and back again to the hallways of power inside the West Wing. Heralded for masterfully intermingling science, history, and politics in his critically acclaimed thriller Angels & Demons, Brown has crafted another novel in which nothing is as it seems — and behind every corner is a stunning surprise. Deception Point is pulse-pounding fiction at its best.

Addie Downs and Valerie Adler will be best friends forever. That’s what Addie believes after Valerie moves across the street when they’re both nine years old. But in the wake of betrayal during their teenage years, Val is swept into the popular crowd, while mousy, sullen Addie becomes her school’s scapegoat. Flash-forward fifteen years. Valerie Adler has found a measure of fame and fortune working as the weathergirl at the local TV station. Addie Downs lives alone in her parents’ house in their small hometown of Pleasant Ridge, Illinois, caring for a troubled brother and trying to meet Prince Charming on the Internet. She’s just returned from Bad Date #6 when she opens her door to find her long-gone best friend standing there, a terrified look on her face and blood on the sleeve of her coat. “Something horrible has happened,” Val tells Addie, “and you’re the only one who can help.” Best Friends Forever is a grand, hilarious, edge-of-your-seat adventure; a story about betrayal and loyalty, family history and small-town secrets. It’s about living through tragedy, finding love where you least expect it, and the ties that keep best friends together.

Book A Month Club: August

Got some good books under my belt this month!  Thanks so much Lyn for the recommendations and for letting me borrow these two!

Alice and I have a special bond through ‘Practical Magic’ ( 😉 Roche). I don’t know if it is my obsession with that story that has her set apart in my mind as one of the ‘greats’, but I always enjoy her books!  I think what I am drawn to is the way she develops her characters.   I love that she reveals characters on so many levels and allows them to unfold throughout the story.  She is realistic as she shows their actions (no matter how extremely cruel or noble or seemingly unwarranted) and how those things affect their place in society, but she also shows us that it is their experiences, their past, and the condition of their individual hearts that truly drives them.  She illustrates beautifully that everyone has a story that has brought them to the here and now and that along the way, we are sometimes blessed to meet people willing to ‘forge the fire’ in order to truly understand us.  I believe this in life and love reading her stories!  Though they are usually pretty dark and sometimes hard to get through, I always leave with feelings of gratitude for the few in my life who have taken the journey into my heart to know me.  She also writes with a bit of a mystic undertone and it just really speaks my love language… (there’s the Harry Potter fanatic coming out again)!  I don’t know if this was my favorite Hoffman novel, but I liked it and I think that has been true for all of her novels I have read in the past.

The second Steig Larsson novel is AWESOME!  I liked “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” but I LOVED “The Girl Who Played With Fire”!  I wasn’t in a huge hurry to read the second novel and now after reading it I am not in a hurry to read the 3rd.  Mostly because, one, I don’ t think it could be as good as the second and two, it is the LAST ONE!  Oh how I hate it when I get to follow characters though multiple stories and then it ends… but, aside from my weird friendships with fictitious characters, I absolutely love when I find a series that I really enjoy.  The characters are unpredictable and unique, the story is interesting and and there is a ton of action.  This novel made me excited to share it (probably in movie form) with Kurt- that means it was pretty good 🙂  Anyone read “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest”?  What did you think?

Alice Hoffman’s new novel, The Story Sisters, charts the lives of three sisters–Elv, Claire, and Meg. Each has a fate she must meet alone: one on a country road, one in the streets of Paris, and one in the corridors of her own imagination. Inhabiting their world are a charismatic man who cannot tell the truth, a neighbor who is not who he appears to be, a clumsy boy in Paris who falls in love and stays there, a detective who finds his heart’s desire, and a demon who will not let go.
What does a mother do when one of her children goes astray? How does she save one daughter without sacrificing the others? How deep can love go, and how far can it take you? These are the questions this luminous novel asks.
At once a coming-of-age tale, a family saga, and a love story of erotic longing, The Story Sisters sifts through the miraculous and the mundane as the girls become women and their choices haunt them, change them and, finally, redeem them. It confirms Alice Hoffman’s reputation as “a writer whose keen ear for the measure struck by the beat of the human heart is unparalleled” (The Chicago Tribune).

Mikael Blomkvist, crusading journalist and publisher of the magazine Millennium, has decided to run a story that will expose an extensive sex trafficking operation between Eastern Europe and Sweden, implicating well-known and highly placed members of Swedish society, business, and government. But he has no idea just how explosive the story will be until, on the eve of publication, the two investigating reporters are murdered. And even more shocking for Blomkvist: the fingerprints found on the murder weapon belong to Lisbeth Salander–the troubled, wise-beyond-her-years genius hacker who came to his aid in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and who now becomes the focus and fierce heart of The Girl Who Played with Fire. As Blomkvist, alone in his belief in Salander’s innocence, plunges into an investigation of the slayings, Salander herself is drawn into a murderous hunt in which she is the prey, and which compels her to revisit her dark past in an effort to settle with it once and for all.

Book A Month Club: July

The Magicians by Lev Grossman… Loved it!

I seriously had no idea what I was in for when I purchased this book.  I walked into Borders, walked around aimlessly for nearly an hour and then ran across a poster that said something to the effect of, “Are you an adult Harry Potter fan?”. I pretty much picked up the book beneath it and walked up to the register 🙂  This book is nothing like Harry Potter… but it did not disappoint.  It hit some of my favorite book qualifications:  a hint of fantasy (disguised in a story that could almost be real), a dark and twisty quality (something illustrating depth in the characters and their lives), a clever writing style, a pretty cool twist and open ending (that allows me to entertain some hope that there will be a sequel or two)!  Though this book took me forever to read(mostly due to my current life place) when I finished the last page I was excited and immediately tried to think of someone who would enjoy it that I could offer it to.

Mixing the magic of beloved children’s fantasy classics (from Narnia and Oz to Harry Potter and Earthsea) with the sex, excess, angst, and anticlimax of life in college and beyond, Lev Grossman’s Magicians reimagines modern-day fantasy for grownups. Quentin Coldwater lives in a state of perpetual melancholy, privately obsessed with his childhood books about the enchanted land of Fillory. When he’s admitted to the surreptitious Brakebills Academy for an education in magic, Quentin finds mastering spells is tedious (and love is even more fraught). He also discovers his power has thrilling potential–though it’s unclear what he should do with it once he’s moved with his new magician cohorts to New York City. Then they discover the magical land of Fillory is real and launch an expedition to use their powers to set things right in the kingdom–which, naturally, turns out to be a much murkier proposition than expected. The Magicians breathes life into a cast of characters you want to know–if the people you want to know are charismatic, brilliant, complex, flawed magicians–and does what Quentin claims books never really manage to do: “get you out, really out, of where you were and into somewhere better. ” Or if not better, at least a heck of a lot more interesting. –Mari Malcolm

Book A Month Club: June

Does this count???

Guess I was right about June- there just weren’t enough moments that lent themselves to reading over sleeping:-)  Here’s hoping for more restful nights and daytime reading in July.  I think our beach vacation might give me the jump start I need!  I’ve started a really good book, The Magicians by Lev Grossman, hopefully I’ll have a review for you in July!  Don’t give up on me… and keep passing along any interesting titles you’ve enjoyed lately!

Book A Month Club: May

I started this month with a book passed on by my favorite reading buddy, thanks Roche!  I had fair warning that it was going to be “dark and twisty” but it was also wonderfully insightful.  This is a memoir written in both in remembrance of the authors sister and to enlighten the world on the horrors of domestic abuse.  I was drawn in immediately and though it was really sad and tough to grasp (how someone could let this happen) it was very eye-opening and I’m glad that I read it.  If you like memoirs, check it out!

As the month went on and my due date drew nearer I found that my ability to focus on reading and the content of what I was reading really started to suffer.  In a time when I needed the comfort of an old friend, I turned to one of my fictitious besties… Harry Potter 🙂  I thought that as I approached the final weeks of this pregnancy it was only fitting that I re-read (I won’t even tell you for which time) the 7th Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  I knew that I would not be disappointed and that I could count on all of my old buddies to entertain me!  If you haven’t embarked on the Harry Potter journey I am sorry— you are missing out!  This month wrapped up perfectly, I finished the book on May 31 and we welcomed baby #2 on June 1st!  I am interested to see how the “Book A Month Club” holds up in June!

In April 2002, Janine Latus’s youngest sister, Amy, wrote a note and taped it to the inside of her desk drawer. “Today Ron Ball and I are romantically involved,” it read, “but I fear I have placed myself at risk in a variety of ways. Based on his criminal past, writing this out just seems like the smart thing to do. If I am missing or dead this obviously has not protected me…”

That same spring Janine Latus was struggling to leave her marriage — a marriage to a handsome and successful man. A marriage others emulated. A marriage in which she felt she could do nothing right and everything wrong. A marriage in which she felt afraid, controlled, inadequate, and trapped.

Ten weeks later, Janine Latus had left her marriage. She was on a business trip to the East Coast, savoring her freedom, attending a work conference, when she received a call from her sister Jane asking if she’d heard from Amy. Immediately, Janine’s blood ran cold. Amy was missing.

Helicopters went up and search dogs went out. Coworkers and neighbors and family members plastered missing posters with Amy’s picture across the county. It took more than two weeks to find Amy’s body, wrapped in a tarpaulin and buried at a building site. It took nearly two years before her killer, her former boyfriend Ron Ball, was sentenced for her murder.

Amy died in silent fear and pain. Haunted by this, Janine Latus turned her journalistic eye inward. How, she wondered, did two seemingly well-adjusted, successful women end up in strings of physically or emotionally abusive relationships with men? If I Am Missing or Dead is a heart-wrenching journey of discovery as Janine Latus traces the roots of her own — and her sister’s — victimization with unflinching candor. This beautifully written memoir will move readers from the first to the last page. At once a confession, a call to break the cycle of abuse, and a deeply felt love letter to her baby sister, Amy Lynne Latus, If I Am Missing or Dead is an unforgettable read.

Readers beware. The brilliant, breathtaking conclusion to J.K. Rowling’s spellbinding series is not for the faint of heart–such revelations, battles, and betrayals await in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that no fan will make it to the end unscathed. Luckily, Rowling has prepped loyal readers for the end of her series by doling out increasingly dark and dangerous tales of magic and mystery, shot through with lessons about honor and contempt, love and loss, and right and wrong. Fear not, you will find no spoilers in our review–to tell the plot would ruin the journey, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is an odyssey the likes of which Rowling’s fans have not yet seen, and are not likely to forget. But we would be remiss if we did not offer one small suggestion before you embark on your final adventure with Harry–bring plenty of tissues.

The heart of Book 7 is a hero’s mission–not just in Harry’s quest for the Horcruxes, but in his journey from boy to man–and Harry faces more danger than that found in all six books combined, from the direct threat of the Death Eaters and you-know-who, to the subtle perils of losing faith in himself. Attentive readers would do well to remember Dumbledore’s warning about making the choice between “what is right and what is easy,” and know that Rowling applies the same difficult principle to the conclusion of her series. While fans will find the answers to hotly speculated questions about Dumbledore, Snape, and you-know-who, it is a testament to Rowling’s skill as a storyteller that even the most astute and careful reader will be taken by surprise.

A spectacular finish to a phenomenal series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is a bittersweet read for fans. The journey is hard, filled with events both tragic and triumphant, the battlefield littered with the bodies of the dearest and despised, but the final chapter is as brilliant and blinding as a phoenix’s flame, and fans and skeptics alike will emerge from the confines of the story with full but heavy hearts, giddy and grateful for the experience. –Daphne Durham

Just doing my daily devotional…

…in the tub 🙂

Ava told me, “I need to bring my book in the bath.”

Me: “Why can’t you just read it after?”

Ava: “Just like you do.”

Couldn’t argue with that, I LOVE my bath-time reading!

Book a Month Club: April

And, I’m slowing down… Only got through two books this month but they were both great! On one hand I had never read anything by Nicholas Evans before and on the other I have read everything by Jodi Picoult.  I was equally impressed.

The Smoke Jumper was a book that ended up having a far larger time line and emotional draw than the description blurb led on.  Though sometimes this can be annoying, I was so glad that the story kept going.  I liked the characters and wanted to see where their lives took them.  This would probably be classified in my beach read section, but with just enough depth in the chatacters and topics to let you feel like you didn’t waste your time on something completely mindless.

House Rules definitely exceeded my expectations.  Sometimes when you read the same author every time they release a new book they start to get a little bit predictable or even repetitive- not the case here.  For those of you who haven’t discovered Picoult, you should.  A few of my favorites are My Sister’s Keeper and The Tenth Circle, though their are very few if any that I wasn’t crazy about.  The thing about her books is that along with a story that just sucks you in from page one, you get something of an education.  Each book has a central controversial or misunderstood topic that she expands upon from the perspective of various characters throughout her story.  Her books always leave you feeling better informed and a little bit wiser.  Every time I read one I find myself wanting to share her insights and trivia with  anyone who happens to be in the room while I read.  This book was no exception and I left it with a more thorough understanding of Asperger’s Syndrome and a new found empathy for those with this diagnosis and their families.

His name is Connor Ford and he falls like an angel of mercy from the sky, braving the flames to save the woman he loves but knows he cannot have. For Julia Bishop is the partner of his best friend and fellow "smoke jumper," Ed Tully. Julia loves them both--until a fiery tragedy on Montana's Snake Mountain forces her to choose between them, and burns a brand on all their hearts. In the wake of the fire, Connor embarks on a harrowing journey to the edge of human experience, traveling the world's worst wars and disasters to take photographs that find him fame but never happiness. Reckless of a life he no longer wants, again and again he dares death to take him, until another fateful day on another continent, he must walk through fire once more...

HOUSE RULES is about Jacob Hunt, a teenage boy with Asperger’s Syndrome. He’s hopeless at reading social cues or expressing himself well to others, and like many kids with AS, Jacob has a special focus on one subject – in his case, forensic analysis. He’s always showing up at crime scenes, thanks to the police scanner he keeps in his room, and telling the cops what they need to do…and he’s usually right. But then one day his tutor is found dead, and the police come to question him. All of the hallmark behaviors of Asperger’s – not looking someone in the eye, stimulatory tics and twitches, inappropriate affect – can look a heck of a lot like guilt to law enforcement personnel -- and suddenly, Jacob finds himself accused of murder. HOUSE RULES looks at what it means to be different in our society, how autism affects a family, and how our legal system works well for people who communicate a certain way – but lousy for those who don’t.