Books that Came My Way in December

December was a busy month, as it was for most people. We had lots of basketball games, concerts, and Christmas things to prepare for, along with our jobs. That meant I didn’t get a lot of reading done. But, my mailbox was busy preparing for all the great books coming out in 2015. I’m still behind in my reading, but know there are some great book reviews coming soon! As always, if I am choosing to read a book, then be sure that I truly think it is worthy of my time. Of course, some books just find their way to my mailbox without my previous knowledge. I am only going to spend time reading and reviewing books that I enjoy. If I’m not feeling it, I’m going to put it aside. I can’t get to all these great books that come my way, but at least I can tell you about them here and I hope to review them just as soon as I can! 
If you would like to purchase any of these books, 
clicking on the photo of the book will take you directly to Amazon.  
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Books for Review

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins
Publisher: Riverhead
To Be Published: January 13, 2015
When I first heard about this book, I was instantly intrigued. Then it showed up in my mailbox. I’m anxious to find out the mystery behind this story!
To everyone else in this carriage I must look normal; I’m doing exactly what they do: commuting to work, making appointments, ticking things off lists.

Just goes to show.

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and every evening. Every day she passes the same Victorian terraces, stops at the same signal, and sees the same couple, breakfasting on their roof terrace. Jason and Jess seem so happy together. 

Then one day Rachel sees something she shouldn’t have seen, and soon after, Jess disappears. Suddenly Rachel is chasing the truth and unable to trust anyone. Not even herself.

A SISTER TO HONOR by Lucy Ferriss
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Published: January 6, 2015
I’m always interested in stories where I can learn about other cultures, even if they are fiction. I like how this one is about a sister and brother. Watch for my review next week.
Afia Satar is studious, modest, and devout. The young daughter of a landholding family in northern Pakistan, Afia has enrolled in an American college with the dream of returning to her country as a doctor. But when a photo surfaces online of Afia holding hands with an American boy, she is suddenly no longer safe—even from the family that cherishes her.
 
Rising sports star Shahid Satar has been entrusted by his family to watch over Afia in this strange New England landscape. He has sworn to protect his beloved sister from the dangerous customs of America, from its loose morals and easy virtue. Shahid was the one who convinced their parents to allow her to come to the United States. He never imagined he’d be ordered to cleanse the stain of her shame…
THE SAME SKY by Amanda Eyre Ward
Publisher: Ballantine Books
To Be Published: January 20, 2015
When I first heard about this book, I saw that readers who loved THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS and ORPHAN TRAIN will love this book. Those are two of my favorite books so I had to give this a look. I think this is going to be an important book and one that will make me think.  Watch for this review later in the month.
In this heartrending and poignant novel, award-winning author Amanda Eyre Ward tells the story of Alice Conroe, a forty year old Texas barbecue owner who has the perfect life, except she and her husband long for a child. Unable to conceive, she’s trying desperately to adopt but her destiny is quickly altered by a young woman she’s never met.

Fearless thirteen-year-old Carla Trujilio is being raised by her grandmother in Honduras along with her four year old twin brothers. Her mother is sending money home from Texas where she’s trying to make a better life for her family, but she only has enough to bring one son to her. When Carla’s grandmother dies, Carla decides to take her fate into her own hands and embarks on a dangerous journey across the border with Junior, the twin left behind.

Two powerful journeys intersecting at a pivotal moment in time: Alice and Carla’s lives will be forever and profoundly changed. Heartbreaking, emotional, and arresting, this novel is about finding the courage to trail blaze your own path in life with faith, hope and love, no matter the struggle or the tragedy.
MR. FOX by Helen Oyeyemi
Publisher: Riverhead
Published: November 6, 2012
This came to me through Book Riot. I’m definitely intrigued by the synopis. 
Fairy-tale romances end with a wedding, and the fairy tales don’t get complicated. In this book, the celebrated writer Mr. Fox can’t stop himself from killing off the heroines of his novels, and neither can his wife, Daphne. It’s not until Mary, his muse, comes to life and transforms him from author into subject that his story begins to unfold differently.

Mary challenges Mr. Fox to join her in stories of their own devising; and in different times and places, the two of them seek each other, find each other, thwart each other, and try to stay together, even when the roles they inhabit seem to forbid it. Their adventures twist the fairy tale into nine variations, exploding and teasing conventions of genre and romance, and each iteration explores the fears that come with accepting a lifelong bond. Meanwhile, Daphne becomes convinced that her husband is having an affair, and finds her way into Mary and Mr. Fox’s game. And so Mr. Fox is offered a choice: Will it be a life with the girl of his dreams, or a life with an all-too-real woman who delights him more than he cares to admit?

The extraordinarily gifted Helen Oyeyemi has written a love story like no other. Mr. Fox is a magical book, endlessly inventive, as witty and charming as it is profound in its truths about how we learn to be with one another.
COMPLETE DO-IT-YOURSELF MANUAL by Editors of Family Handyman
Publisher: Reader’s Digest
Published: October 7, 2014
I will be giving away a copy of this book next week along with my review. Stay tuned! 
The bestselling, most comprehensive guide to home improvements has been revised and updated once again since it’s revision in 2005. Over 10 million copies of READER’S DIGEST COMPLETE DO-IT-YOURSELF MANUAL have been sold since it’s original publication in 1973. In 2005, the manual got bigger and better than ever, when The Family Handyman and Reader’s Digest joined forces and completely revised, updated, rewrote, and redesigned this home improvement classic. Now in 2014, The Family Handyman has once again updated and revised this do-it-yourself classic to make it relevant to today’s homeowners and DIYers.. 

Written in a style of text that addresses readers in a very accessible, conversational tone for easy, user-friendly assistance with every do-it-yourself task. All instructions and materials have been updated to address current codes (electrical, plumbing and building), and revised to indicate the very latest in materials, tools, and technology.
MS MARVEL Volume 1: No Normal by Marvel Comics
Publisher: Marvel
Published: October 28, 2014
This came from Book Riot. I don’t typically read comics, but I think I will like it. 
Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City — until she’s suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm! When Kamala discovers the dangers of her newfound powers, she unlocks a secret behind them, as well. Is Kamala ready to wield these immense new gifts? Or will the weight of the legacy before her be too much to bear? Kamala has no idea, either. But she’s comin’ for you, New York! 
WHEN I GROW UP I WANT TO BE….IN THE U.S. ARMY: Jake Learns About the U.S. Army by Wigu Publishing
Publisher: Wigu Publishing
Published: October 2, 2014
I have already read and reviewed this book, and I gave the first copy to our library. This copy is going to my great-nephew. You can see my review, HERE.
WHEN I GROW UP I WANT TO BE….A VETERINARIAN: Sophia’s Dream Comes True by Wigu Publishing
Publisher: Wigu Publishing
Published: November 29, 2014
Sofia wants to care for all the animals in the world. But Mom does not think Sofia is ready for the responsibility of even one pet. Ready or not, when a hungry and sick-looking cat appears at the family’s back doorstep, Sofia takes action. When Sofia is found feeding the cat, Mom gives in and agrees that a trip to the vet will tell them if the cat is healthy and not someone’s lost pet. As the veterinarian introduces Sofia and readers to the important and wide-ranging work of animal doctors, Sofia learns how she might help all kinds of animals, including a little stray cat!


Bookish Winnings

ERGO HOLD STAND
I won this thanks to BookClubCookBook.comIf you have a tablet or phone this is a great product to have. It also works great with books. I’ll be reviewing this product soon.  
THE 13th GIFT: A True Story of a Christmas Miracle by Joanne Huist Smith
Publisher: Harmony
Published: October 28, 2014
I won this book thanks to Bookreporter.com. All the reviews I have seen share that it is a wonderful story. I may have to save it to read next Christmas. I love that it is a true story of people coming together after a tragedy in the true meaning of friendship. 

After the unexpected death of her husband, Joanne Huist Smith had no idea how she would keep herself together and be strong for her three children–especially with the holiday season approaching. But 12 days before Christmas, presents begin appearing on her doorstep with notes from their “True Friends.” As the Smiths came together to solve the mystery of who the gifts were from, they began to thaw out from their grief and come together again as a family. This true story about the power of random acts of kindness will warm the heart, a beautiful reminder of the miracles of Christmas and the gift of family during the holiday season.  
SNOWMAN’S STORY by Will Hillenbrand
Published: Two Lions
Publisher: November 18, 2014
I love wordless picture books (think GOOD DOG, CARL) and I’m anxious to check this one out. This was a win from Booking Mama
One wintry day, a hat lands on the head of a newly made snowman and brings him to life. Hiding inside the hat is a rabbit, who listens to the snowman read a story to some animal friends. When the snowman falls asleep, the rabbit hops away with the book. But the snowman isn’t about to let his story—or the mischievous rabbit—get away. The chase is on! Filled with charm and fun, this wordless picture book from a beloved illustrator lets kids tell their own version of the story, even as they delight in the action-filled pages.

Books I Purchased

THE ROSIE EFFECT (Don Tillman #2) by Graeme Simsion
Publisher: Simon & Schuster 
Published: December 30, 2014
I have had THE ROSIE PROJECT on my Kindle for awhile and have heard great things about the book.  When I saw this one come out with a discount coupon, I snagged it quick. I’ve already loaned it to a friend who loved it. 
THE ROSIE PROJECT WAS COMPLETE BUT I WAS UNPREPARED FOR THE ROSIE EFFECT.
GREETINGS. My name is Don Tillman. I am forty-one years old. I have been married to Rosie Jarman, world’s most perfect woman, for ten months and ten days.

Marriage added significant complexity to my life. When we relocated to New York City, Rosie brought three maximum-size suitcases. We abandoned the Standardised Meal System and agreed that sex should not be scheduled in advance.

Then Rosie told me we had ‘something to celebrate’, and I was faced with a challenge even greater than finding a partner.

I have attempted to follow traditional protocols and have sourced advice from all six of my friends, plus a therapist and the internet.

The result has been a web of deceit. I am now in danger of prosecution, deportation and professional disgrace. 

And of losing Rosie forever.
DEEP DOWN DARK: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle that Set Them Free by Hector Tobar
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Published: October 7, 2014
This book was recommended to me by my friend, Tammy.  I remember this new story and was riveted to the news like many other people. It’s one I hope to get to soon. 
When the San Jos mine collapsed outside of Copiap, Chile, in August 2010, it trapped thirty-three miners beneath thousands of feet of rock for a record-breaking sixty-nine days. Across the globe, we sat riveted to television and computer screens as journalists flocked to the Atacama desert. While we saw what transpired above ground during the grueling and protracted rescue, the story of the miners experiences below the earths surface and the lives that led them there hasn’t been heard until now. In this master work of a Pulitzer Prizewinning journalist, Hector Tobar gains exclusive access to the miners and their stories. The result is a miraculous and emotionally textured account of the thirty-three men who came to think of the San Jos mine as a kind of coffin, as a cave inflicting constant and thundering aural torment, and as a church where they sought redemption through prayer while the world watched from above. It offers an understanding of the families and personal histories that brought all 33 to the mine, and the mystical and spiritual elements that surrounded working in such a dangerous place.
THE CORTLANDT BOYS by Laura Vanderkam
eBook Only
Publisher: Laura Vanderkam Books
Published: December 18, 2014
I’m a huge fan of Vanderkam and her writing about time and the best way to use the time we have in each day. I’ve been following her process of writing her first novel and it is finally available as an eBook. It’s premise sounds like it could be taken from our community as well and I can’t wait to read it. 
A small town high school basketball team wins the Pennsylvania state championship with an improbable last second three point shot. The Cortlandt Cavaliers celebrate their unlikely victory, but good fortune changes the boys’ worlds in unpredictable ways. This story revisits the characters 10 and 20 years later as the ramifications of their youthful success play out over the course of their lives, forever linking them and the people around them to this little town that has its ways of not quite letting you go.
YELLOW STAR by Jennifer Roy
Publisher: Two Lions
Published: April 1, 2006
This has been on my to-read list for awhile.  When I saw it was a Kindle Deal around Christmas, I snagged it. I really enjoy reading stories set during the Holocaust, especially true ones. 
The niece of Syvia Perlmutter, one of only twelve child survivors of the Lodz ghetto in Poland, shares her aunt’s experiences of the Holocaust in free verse that relates the courage and heartbreak she lived during a time of terrible circumstances. 
THE FARM by Tom Rob Smith
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Published: June 3, 2014
I had heard about this book and read several reviews. It was a Kindle Deal around Christmas, so I snagged it because the premise is so interesting. 
If you refuse to believe me, I will no longer consider you my son.

Daniel believed that his parents were enjoying a peaceful retirement on a remote farm in Sweden. But with a single phone call, everything changes.

Your mother…she’s not well, his father tells him. She’s been imagining things – terrible, terrible things. She’s had a psychotic breakdown, and been committed to a mental hospital.

Before Daniel can board a plane to Sweden, his mother calls: Everything that man has told you is a lie. I’m not mad… I need the police… Meet me at Heathrow.

Caught between his parents, and unsure of who to believe or trust, Daniel becomes his mother’s unwilling judge and jury as she tells him an urgent tale of secrets, of lies, of a crime and a conspiracy that implicates his own father. 

O LITTLE TOWN: A Novel by Don Reid
eBook Only
Publisher: David C Cook
Published: October 1, 2008
This was also a Kindle Deal around Christmas and one that sounded like it was my type of book. I may save this one to read next Christmas as well.
Christmas, 1958: Elvis is on the radio, Ike is in the White House, the Lord is in his holy temple . but there is no peace in Mt. Jefferson.

In a small town where everybody seems to know everybody, there are still a few secrets. Three families find they are connected in ways they never suspected: an angry teen, a dying man, a lonely wife, a daughter in trouble . just ordinary people, muddling their way through ordinary challenges. Illness. Marriage. Bad decisions. Friendship. Faith. Forgiveness.

Spanning three generations, O Little Town is a tender tale of love and redemption . and a lonely gravesite where roses mysteriously appear every Christmas. It will touch your heart.
COMING CLEAN: A Memoir by Kimberly Rae Miller
Publisher: New Harvest
Published: May 20, 2014
This has been on my list to-read and when I saw it was a Kindle Deal, I snagged it. I’m currently reading it and Wow! Just Wow! It’s fascinating. If you need motivation to clean and reduce the clutter in your home, this book will do it! Stay tuned for a review soon!
A stunning memoir about a childhood spent growing up in a family of extreme hoarders and hiding squalor behind the veneer of a perfect family. Kim Miller is an immaculately put-together woman with a great career, a loving boyfriend, and a beautifully tidy apartment in Brooklyn. You would never guess that she spent her childhood hiding behind the closed doors of her family’s idyllic Long Island house, navigating between teetering stacks of aging newspaper, broken computers, and boxes upon boxes of unused junk festering in every room—the product of her father’s painful and unending struggle with hoarding. In this coming-of-age story, Kim brings to life her experience of growing up in a rat-infested home, concealing her father’s shameful secret from friends for years, and of the emotional burden that ultimately led to an attempt to take her own life. And in beautiful prose, Miller sheds light on her complicated yet loving relationship with her parents that has thrived in spite of the odds. Coming Clean is a story about recognizing where we come from and the relationships that define us—and about finding peace in the homes we make for ourselves.


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