Saturday, September 15, 2012
Landay does a great job of presenting the reader with just enough information - but not the whole picture. He also tells the story in a way that introduces both court transcripts and the broken voice of the father. All of this together makes for a horrifying and compelling read that I couldn't quit reading. What would you do if Jacob was your son?
Saturday, July 21, 2012
By the time part three unfolds, I was convinced I should get wife of the year. The journey author Gillian Flynn takes us on is terrifying and riveting. I could not put this book down. When I finally finished it, I recommended it to everyone I knew, including my book club, because I needed to talk about it with some other ladies. I-N-T-E-N-S-E!
Here's the gist:
Katie and Elijah are Amish. They are looking forward to Rumspringa - a time when they are allowed to leave their community to see and experience the outside world. It's a time to measure your choices and decide if the Amish life is what you want. Katie wants to see a movie, have a coca cola, and do some things she hasn't been allowed to do.
Before she gets her chance, however, a contagion sweeps the world. Since the Amish are cut off from communication with the world at large, the news has to trickle in slowly. By the time it does, 2/3 of the population has been wiped out with the contagion still at large.
The contagion causes a mutation that is likened to a spider-vampire, and it spreads from victim to victim - if you aren't torn apart by these blood thirsty mutants.
The Elders of this Amish community decide to shut their gates and preserve their faith - no one in, no one out. This seems to keep the contagion at bay, but separates some family members, causing discord. One afternoon, Katie finds a man tangled in the barbed wire of the gate. Going against the word of the Elders, Katie moves him to the barn and nurses him back to health, something that will change her life forever.
This novel is intense, a real page turner. It is an eerie setting, and imagining the isolationism of the community sets the stage for a good horror novel. If I were using it in my library, I would say that it would be an interesting springboard for a religious discussion about the role of faith and a belief system.
Thursday, May 10, 2012
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Just finished reading this nonfiction piece for book club - could not put it down. I fully expected to not like it because I was so skeptical of Stephanie Madoff Mack's story. I'm still kind of skeptical, but now I also just feel bad about the whole thing.
This goes through Stephanie meeting her husband, Mark Madoff, falling in love, having a family, being rich and peaceful - and then having the bottom drop out. Mark, upon finding out about his father's business wrongdoings, turns him over to the authorities. From there, their lives are put on hold as things are sorted out. They have to deal with public fall out, anger, media, lawsuits. Stephanie points out that her husband ran the legitimate end of the Madoff business and had no idea about Bernie's ponzi scheme. However, I'm still not sure about all of that.
About 70% of the way through the book, Mark, no longer able to deal with the pressure, commits suicide, leaving Stephanie and two very young children to cope with what is left.
The family dynamics throughout are rocky and uncomfortable (though Stephanie and Mark seem normal enough). Once the Madoff scheme is unveiled, it goes to drama town quickly. And there are a lot of relationships to deal with in this book - none of them are easy. Makes me happy for my own family and our non-scandalous savings accounts/investments.
I started this book around 12am while Jason was traveling and finished it around 2:30. It's a quick read. I kept saying - I'll stop at the next chapter - but the chapters were so interesting I didn't want to put it down. Truthfully, I had no interest in the family before reading this, I still don't; it's a riveting look at sociology. Read it!
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
The year is 1867. Jett Gallatin, age seventeen, has one mission: find her missing twin brother. Posing as a gunslinger, Jett pretends to be a man in order to travel freely while on her quest. While having a drink at a saloon in a small Texas town, Jett comes face to face with a hoard of the undead. She narrowly escapes the zombies, but is able to flee with the help of her trusty steed. Her exodus from town leads her directly to some unlikely allies: a scout for the U.S.Army, White Fox, and a liberated woman inventor/investigator/scientist, Honoria Gibbons. Gibbons doesn’t believe Jett’s story about the undead, it is not scientifically possible. There has to be a logical explanation. Using White Fox’s tracking skills, they find that the hoard returned to a local ranch, Jerusalem’s Wall. All three begin different aspects of investigation: Gibbons finds out about how Jerusalem’s Wall has been acquiring large tracts of land. Gibbons also finds something suspicious in the town’s drinking supplies. Jett and White Fox investigate the farm itself and find that the leader of the sect, Brother Shepherd, claims to be able to raise the dead. Using their combined talents, they have to figure out how to stop Brother Shepherd and his zombies before it is too late.
Dora is a proper young English woman who has discovered
something scandalous about her past: Sherlock Holmes
is her biological father.
When Dora's cousin, Adelaide, seeks out Holmes to help
her with a blackmail issue, Dora, a budding sleuth herself,
jumps at the chance to travel to the city to meet the great detective.
Upon arrival at Holmes' door, however, Dora finds that
Sherlock Holmes is dead.
She is bereft, but after a few fiery words with Homes' apprentice,
Peter Cartwright, she is able to recover.
Adelaide still needs help and uses the services of another
detective, one that Peter Cartwright has recommended.
Through some unintentional snooping, Dora finds herself
embroiled in a kidnapping case. She decides to go undercover
in order to help Peter, but also,
to get to the bottom of Adelaide's predicament - the two cases
are tied together.
Dora uses her skills to piece together the truth behind the mysteries,
but not before putting herself in danger.
She, of course, prevails and solves the case.
She and Peter have a romantic thing that starts up,
but the author leaves untied ends, perhaps hinting at a sequel?
Violins of Autumn begins with British trained spy Adele paratrooping into occupied France during World War II. She links up with the French Resistance and begins her work, deconstructing the German stronghold in France. Adele and her spy pal, Denise, end up saving a downed pilot and getting him safely into the city of Paris. They are separated for awhile and have to find their own way of getting established in Paris, but are eventually drawn back together. Moving from city to countryside, they find themselves involved in one precarious situation after another, anxiously awaiting the code words that will signal the start of D-Day. Eventually, Adele is captured, tortured, and starved, but gives up no information that will help the Germans. After months and months in captivity, her friends are able to rescue her and return her to safety. Not long after, the Allied powers retake France and all is well; a nice tidy package with a happy ending. With tidbits of accurate historical information peppered among her harrowing tale, readers will be drawn into the intense situations in which Adele repeatedly finds herself.
One of my sister's good friends recommend that I read this book at the exact same time that my cousin recommended it.
Two recommendations and lots of media hype = something I had to look into.
Christian Grey is into some kinky bedroom business. He always has been. He even has a contract for all future love interests to read and consent to before getting down to brass tacks (or whatever other tricks he has up his red-room sleeve...).
When Christian meets Anastasia, he immediately hopes to make her a conquest. However, negotiations and other matters take them further down the relationship course than he's ever been.
Fifty Shades of Grey is book one of a trilogy and I will say that I picked up book one on a Monday and finished the set by Thursday. The premise didn't seem too outlandish or preposterous. It even sparked up a few conversations (and I do mean conversations) between me and my husband about relationships.
Definitely worth the read. I hear, too, that the movie rights have been purchased. I don't know how on earth they would make this into a movie, but...it will be something to keep an eye on in the future.
I imagined the Kennedy's to have a great marriage and to be such a shining beacon, kind of the like the Camelot allegory they created. Turns out that their White House was something far different. Smith's patchwork of memos and biographical information from primary sources shows the Kennedy's more as petulant teenagers than leaders of the country. JFK's drug use, womanizing, and alcohol consumption left me wondering how he was able to run the country at all. Sheesh! It was disappointing to see the unvarnished Kennedys, but also interesting. We always look back at things with nostalgia and yet, I suppose the world is no different today than it was back in the 60s, STDs and all...
The usual rotation of night-night reading goes: Punk Farm, Llama Llama Red Pajama, Are You My Mother, etc...and we have been stuck on some semblance of that line up for AGES.
I decided it was time to spruce up W's bedside table with some Easter/Springtime reading, and it has worked so far! Here is an annotated look at what we are reading.
Dewdney, Anna. Llama Llama Nighty-Night. 2012. .12pp. $5.99 hc. Penguin Young Readers Group. 9780670013272.
In traditional Llama Llama fashion and rhyme scheme, we run down the list of night night chores before falling into bed with one final "nighty-night" from mama. I like this abbreviated version of the Llama tale (12 pages!), with all of the same colorful cuteness.
Hills, Tad. Duck and Goose: Here Comes the Easter Bunny. 2012. .18pp. $6.99 hc. Random House, Inc. 9780375972808.
If you like Duck and Goose tales, this one is cute. Duck and Goose find out that the Easter Bunny is on the way and they want to hide in order to catch him...but all of their hiding places are lacking imagination. Thistle gives them a great disguise, but they end up falling asleep and missing the Bunny all together. Luckily, the Easter Bunny still leaves lots of fun eggs to help Duck and Goose celebrate.
Katz, Karen. Where Are Baby's Easter Eggs? 2008. .12pp. $7.99 hc. Simon and Schuster, Inc. 9781416949244.
It is baby's first Easter egg hunt, and she looks all over the yard trying to uncover those eggs! She finds an Easter basket, some chicks and bunnies, a few jelly beans, a bonnet, and finally, the eggs. This is a lift-a-flap book, which makes the search for the eggs more entertaining. Eggs are different colored foil, very bright and cheerful, but not easy to destruct.
Loupy, Christophe and Eve Tharlet. Hugs and Kisses. .2001. 12pp. $6.95 hc. North South Books. 9780735820197.
Hugs (the puppy) wants to know more about kisses, so he enlists the help of the farm animals to show him. Each page has a textured patch to touch, which keeps the book interactive for your little squirt.
Magsamen, Sandra. Peek-a-Book, I Love You. .2009. 10pp. $7.99 hc. Little Brown & Company. 9780316003896.
These lift a flap books really keep W interested in the story. "What's under there?" he wants to know! Who is hiding all over the house? My favorite things, including YOU baby. Very cute and easy to read.
Magsamen, Sanda. Peep, Peep, I Love You. .2012. 10pp. $7.99 hc. Little Brown & Company. 9780316070065.
What animals are on the farm? These mamas and babies tell you all about it - but the favorite baby is still...YOU! The lift a flap tabs in this book contain animal sounds. Fun.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
So Brave, Young, and Handsome was awesome in a quiet and understated way. Our main character, Becket, is having writer's block. His first novel was an overnight success; since then, despite writing 1,000 words per day, nothing is happening. One morning, Becket spies a man paddling down river in a boat - something that changes his life forever.
This tale meanders, in no hurry to arrive at it's final destination. However, it takes us to some neat places and introduces us to some people who are interesting "characters". I loved this book: the feel of the old west, characters who believe in honor, quests. All of it was rolled up into a great little story.
Thursday, February 9, 2012
I finished this book earlier today and it has been on my mind ever since; it is a very compelling story about the emergence of AIDS in the 80s and one rural doctor who was in charge of treatment in small town Tennessee.
Dr. Abraham Verghese's circumstances have taken him on a circuitous route that lead him to Johnson City, Tennessee. He is an infectious disease doctor, so he is the first doctor to be involved in the AIDS cases that are arising. In the beginning, it is a handful of people. By the time he leaves his post in Tennessee, the numbers are staggering.
Dr. Verghese relays the stories of his patients in vignettes that are powerful and stunning. He gets involved with each case personally and since AIDS has the same sad end, it begins to take a toll on Verghese and his relationships.
I couldn't put this book down, despite being over 400 pages. It was a quick read, one that had me teared up then laughing - what a group of characters, all dealing with extraordinary circumstances.
Friday, February 3, 2012
Dana has always known she is the second family - the illegitimate one. She and her mother have lived an okay life, but they've scraped by from time to time. Dana has her father's love, but not his time..and she knows that her father's other daughter will always come first. It's kind of a hard lesson, but something that has always been the case. She is the secret.
That's a lesson that will mess with your head.
Chaurisse and her mother have no idea about her father's second family. No idea. Her mother runs a beauty shop. Chaurisse has always been given whatever she wants. She isn't spoiled, but she has it pretty good. She has a loving family, two parents, and an uncle that care about her a great deal. She has never doubted herself.
When Dana and Chaurisse's lives overlap, nothing good can come of the circumstance.
Someone is going to get hurt.
I was drawn into the story quickly. Easy to read and compelling, Jones did a good idea of setting up sympathetic characters.The relationships are authentic, but I can't imagine how you get drawn into this type of situation. Worth the read.
Now...I'm going to check Jason's phone and email. :)
Her newest novel, When She Woke, is an interesting concept. A modern day Scarlet Letter, our main character, Hannah Payne has gotten involved with a famous minister...who is married. But when convicted of a crime in her society, your skin is dyed a color indicating your crime level.
Hannah, a very sweet girl who has lived a sheltered life, has just woken up - her skin is red. Everyone knows her shame. How will she adapt to a society that has such obvious hostility towards her? Especially since she wouldn't name her lover.
Jordan has some subplots that are pretty complicated, rivaling Hannah's story - but it is interesting to think about what would happen in a society like this.
As a funny side note, a portion of the story takes place in Lakewood. Haha!
The Fault in Our Stars is no different, beautifully written and touching. Hazel has terminal cancer. This we know from the start. She is on an experimental drug that has slowed down the growth of her cancer, but she is in a bad way. Hazel doesn't really want to get involved with people - she wants to hurt as few people as possible when she dies.
When she meets Augustus, her resolve starts to ebb. They meet in a cancer group held in a local church, but Gus is a cancer survivor. He is fast talking and charming and she falls for him quickly. It is mutual, and they start a romance that is quirky.
Time is running out, though, for Hazel and Gus...and like other John Green novels, the end is guaranteed to make you cry, make you appreciate the people you love, and most of all, appreciate such good writing.
Definitely read this one.
In frustration, Theresa decides to run away. She doesn't get very far before she totals her car and has to call Adrian to pick her up...which turns out to be the best thing that could have happened for their marriage. After that, he is more receptive to Theresa. Things change.
But what is interesting about this novel is like on the apple orchard: the people that generationally work the orchar, the making of hybrid apple trees, how difficult it is to go organic, how easy it is to use pesticides. The use of pesticides was really eye opening; people who drove to the orchard to have fresh apples had no idea what they were eating - they thought they were getting nature's best directly from the source. Fascinating.
The novel is based on Theresa's own experiences, which gave it authenticity. Lots of food for thought.
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Nothing makes you feel happier about your family than reading about someone else's dysfunctional family..and this family is doozy!
Alice is the matriarch. But she isn't lovable or grandmotherly. She is prickly.
Alice's family has been coming to the beach for years. At first it was a happy affair, cousins and family piled up for a summer stay in their cozy beach shack. But things have evolved over the years, things like dislike and summer schedules. The family mostly still returns to the beach house, but in shifts - never over lapping.
This summer, however, things will be different.
Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan.
Author Emily Wilson is heartbroken. While struggling through a divorce, she receives an invitation to her ex-husband's wedding. Awful circumstances. So when her Great Aunt Bee calls her back to Bainbridge Island for a few weeks, Emily has nothing to lose. She heads back to a spot that she had much fondness for during childhood, thinking she will both write and heal herself.
While settling in one night, Emily finds a red velvet diary in her bedside table, one that has an intriguing story. She cautiously chooses not to ask her Aunt about it. The story is both heartbreaking and fascinating, a story that has roots in Bainbridge Island and touches everyone that Aunt Bee knows.
This is a story that will pull you in and intrigue you...until you get to the end. I liked the writing and I liked the idea of the plot, but I couldn't help but feel the author pulled a big trick on her readers by obscuring the truth about her characters.
After reading and loving Rules of Civility, History of a Pleasure Seeker was recommended. Author Richard Mason gives us a glimpse of Amsterdam in the early 1900s through the eyes of Piet Barol. Piet is a shameless social climber. After living a modest life with his father on a college campus, Piet longs to have the finer things in his life. He takes the lessons that he has learned from the affluent college students and applies to be a tutor.
The Vermeulen-Sickerts are rich and powerful, but their son, Egbert, has a mix of agoraphobia and schizophrenia. He battles monsters daily that keep him inside and force him to follow a rigid schedule, denying himself any real pleasure in life. They hire Piet, hoping to break Egbert out of his shell.
Piet ensconces himself both with the family and with the household staff, enjoying the experiences of both worlds. He charms the Vermeulen-Sickerts sisters, he is taken into the confidences of Mr. Vermeulen-Sickerts. Eventually Piet cracks the code of Egbert's mind and as a reward, is given a large sum of money. As a result, he is finally able to buy his dream, only to find that nothing is what it seems.
This book was interesting and quick to read, but a little too sexual in nature for my comfort. :)
Our heroine, Katey, starts out as a poor girl sharing a room in a boarding house with her friend, Eve. Eve is glamorous in a way that Katey admires, but doesn't necessarily envy. One night when they're out at a jazz club, they meet a wealthy bachelor, Tinker. He is fun, young, and wealthy, and he treats the girls to several dates. Katey finds herself falling for Tinker when something happens that strains the fabric of the friendships between the three. Katey finds herself on the outside of what used to be a cozy triangle and decides it is time to make her way on her own in NYC.
Through some interesting circumstances in her career, Katey finds herself moving up in the world. She also finds herself in new social circles. She dates a few guys, trying to find someone that fits what she is looking for, several of them charming.
Tinker and Eve eventually have a falling out and separate, Tinker finds his way back to Katey and they have a relationship, but it is a shadow of the way things could have been and Katey knows it. Katey has grown into herself over time, however, and she finds that Tinker's affections neither control or determine her course.
It is such a fascinating story and I loved the way that Amor Towles made me feel like I was one of Katey's friends, enjoying the martinis and jazz clubs of NYC. It was a dazzling novel.