Happy New Year to all of you! We are in the frozen tundra here in Iowa with a fresh 5″ of snow and wind chills have been as cold as -40 degrees. I am quite happy to stay inside and catch up on my reading. I have some great books to tell you about that I received for review, purchased, and took from my dad’s bookshelf. I can’t wait to get back to reading and start off 2018 with a fabulous book!
Currently Reading: GRANTED
Currently Listening: HELLO MORNINGS
STILL Reading: HOW TO MANAGE YOUR HOME WITHOUT LOSING YOUR MIND, GRACE, NOT PERFECTION
Up Next: JUST BETWEEN US
If you would like to purchase any of the books in this post, clicking the photo or title of the book will take you directly to Amazon. If you choose to purchase the book I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting me.
JUST BETWEEN US
By: Rebecca Drake
Published: January 9, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s’ Press
This is my First Book of 2018. I should have it finished soon, so watch for a review in the next week or two.
Four suburban mothers and friends conspire to cover up a deadly crime in this heart-stopping novel of suspense in the tradition of Lisa Scottoline and Lisa Unger.
Alison, Julie, Sarah, Heather. Four friends living the suburban ideal. Their jobs are steady, their kids are healthy. They’re as beautiful as their houses. But each of them has a dirty little secret, and hidden behind the veneer of their perfect lives is a crime and a mystery that will consume them all.
Everything starts to unravel when Alison spots a nasty bruise on Heather’s wrist. She shares her suspicions with Julie and Sarah, compelling all three to investigate what looks like an increasingly violent marriage. As mysterious injuries and erratic behavior mount, Heather can no longer deny the abuse, but she refuses to leave her husband. Desperate to save her, Alison and the others dread the phone call telling them that she’s been killed. But when that call finally comes, it’s not Heather who’s dead. In a moment they’ll come to regret, the women must decide what lengths they’ll go to in order to help a friend.
Just Between Us is a thrilling glimpse into the underbelly of suburbia, where not all neighbors can be trusted, and even the closest friends keep dangerous secrets. You never really know what goes on in another person’s mind, or in their marriage.
THE FRENCH GIRL
By: Lexie Elliott
Published: February 20, 2018
Another thriller involving friendships that sounds so good.
They were six university students from Oxford–friends and sometimes more than friends–spending an idyllic week together in a French farmhouse. It was supposed to be the perfect summer getaway–until they met Severine, the girl next door.
For Kate Channing, Severine was an unwelcome presence, her inscrutable beauty undermining the close-knit group’s loyalties amid the already simmering tensions. And after a huge altercation on the last night of the holiday, Kate knew nothing would ever be the same. There are some things you can’t forgive, and there are some people you can’t forget, like Severine, who was never seen again.
Now, a decade later, the case is reopened when Severine’s body is found in the well behind the farmhouse. Questioned along with her friends, Kate stands to lose everything she’s worked so hard to achieve as suspicion mounts around her. Desperate to resolve her own shifting memories and fearful she will be forever bound to the woman whose presence still haunts her, Kate finds herself buried under layers of deception with no one to set her free.
AS BRIGHT AS HEAVEN
By: Susan Meissner
Published: February 6, 2018
I’m already a fan of Meissner’s books so this was an easy one to agree to read. I haven’t read much about the Spanish Flu epidemic so I’m anxious to read this one.
In 1918, Philadelphia was a city teeming with promise. Even as its young men went off to fight in the Great War, there were opportunities for a fresh start on its cobblestone streets. Into this bustling town, came Pauline Bright and her husband, filled with hope that they could now give their three daughters—Evelyn, Maggie, and Willa—a chance at a better life.
But just months after they arrive, the Spanish Flu reaches the shores of America. As the pandemic claims more than twelve thousand victims in their adopted city, they find their lives left with a world that looks nothing like the one they knew. But even as they lose loved ones, they take in a baby orphaned by the disease who becomes their single source of hope. Amidst the tragedy and challenges, they learn what they cannot live without—and what they are willing to do about it.
Stories of Life, Death, and Surviving
By: Julia Samuel
Published: January 16, 2018
From working in Hospice several years ago to suffering my own losses, grief is a powerful emotion that affects everyone differently. For those who are grieving, sometimes it’s comforting to know that others have come through it.
In Grief Works we hear stories from those who have experienced great love and great loss – and survived. Stories that explain how grief unmasks our greatest fears, strips away our layers of protection and reveals our innermost selves.
Julia Samuel, a grief psychotherapist, has spent twenty-five years working with the bereaved and understanding the full repercussions of loss. This deeply affecting book is full of psychological insights on how grief, if approached correctly, can heal us. Through elegant, moving stories, we learn how we can stop feeling awkward and uncertain about death, and not shy away from talking honestly with family and friends.
This extraordinary book shows us how to live and learn from great loss.
BEFORE AND AGAIN
By: Barbara Delinsky
Published: June 26, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
This one doesn’t come out until this summer, but I’m thrilled to have the chance to read Delinsky’s newest book.
Mackenzie Cooper took her eyes off the road for just a moment but the resulting collision was enough to rob her not only of her beloved daughter but ultimately of her marriage, family, and friends―and thanks to the nonstop media coverage, even her privacy. Now she lives in Vermont under the name Maggie Reid, in a small house with her cats and dog. She’s thankful for the new friends she’s made―though she can’t risk telling them too much. And she takes satisfaction in working as a makeup artist at the luxurious local spa, helping clients hide the visible outward signs of their weariness, illnesses, and injuries. Covering up scars is a skill she has mastered.
Her only goal is to stay under the radar and make it through her remaining probation. But she isn’t the only one in this peaceful town with secrets. When a friend’s teenage son is thrust into the national spotlight, accused of hacking a powerful man’s Twitter account, Maggie is torn between pulling away and protecting herself―or stepping into the glare to be at their side. As the stunning truth behind their case is slowly revealed, Maggie’s own carefully constructed story begins to unravel as well. She knows all too well that what we need from each other in this difficult world is comfort. But to provide it, sometimes we need to travel far outside our comfort zones.
SALT TO THE SEA
By: Ruth Sepetys
Published: February 2, 2016
Publisher: Philomel Books
Yet another WWII story that has gotten rave reviews. I purchased this at our Scholastic Book Fair at school. I feel like I am ALWAYS learning something new about WWII and this is another horror that I hadn’t heard about before.
Based on “the forgotten tragedy that was six times deadlier than the Titanic.”–Time
Winter 1945. WWII. Four refugees. Four stories.
Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies, war. As thousands desperately flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom. But not all promises can be kept…
World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, many with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer to safety.
Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people—adults and children alike—aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.
Told in alternating points of view and perfect for fans of Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize-winning All the Light We Cannot See, Erik Larson’s Dead Wake, and Elizabeth Wein’s Printz Honor Book Code Name Verity, this masterful work of historical fiction is inspired by the real-life tragedy that was the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff—the greatest maritime disaster in history. As she did in Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys unearths a shockingly little-known casualty of a gruesome war, and proves that humanity and love can prevail, even in the darkest of hours.
Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood
By: Lisa Damour, Ph.D.
Published: April 4, 2017
Our daughter turns thirteen this month and I felt like this was an important book for me to read. I remember how difficult the teenage years were for me and I want to be sure I support our daughter through all of the struggles and achievements ahead of her. It came highly recommended by Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy so that makes it a must-read for me.
In this sane, highly engaging, and informed guide for parents of daughters, Dr. Damour draws on decades of experience and the latest research to reveal the seven distinct—and absolutely normal—developmental transitions that turn girls into grown-ups, including Parting with Childhood, Contending with Adult Authority, Entering the Romantic World, and Caring for Herself. Providing realistic scenarios and welcome advice on how to engage daughters in smart, constructive ways, Untangled gives parents a broad framework for understanding their daughters while addressing their most common questions, including
• My thirteen-year-old rolls her eyes when I try to talk to her, and only does it more when I get angry with her about it. How should I respond?
• Do I tell my teen daughter that I’m checking her phone?
• My daughter suffers from test anxiety. What can I do to help her?
• Where’s the line between healthy eating and having an eating disorder?
• My teenage daughter wants to know why I’m against pot when it’s legal in some states. What should I say?
• My daughter’s friend is cutting herself. Do I call the girl’s mother to let her know?
Perhaps most important, Untangled helps mothers and fathers understand, connect, and grow with their daughters. When parents know what makes their daughter tick, they can embrace and enjoy the challenge of raising a healthy, happy young woman.
THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE
By: Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Published: May 31, 2016
Publisher: Puffin Books
I heard about this on the What Should I Read Next Podcast and then I spotted it at our Scholastic Book Fair so I snagged a copy.
An exceptionally moving story of triumph against all odds set during World War 2, from the acclaimed author of Jefferson’s Sons and for fans of Number the Stars.
Nine-year-old Ada has never left her one-room apartment. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada’s twisted foot to let her outside. So when her little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada doesn’t waste a minute—she sneaks out to join him.
So begins a new adventure of Ada, and for Susan Smith, the woman who is forced to take the two kids in. As Ada teaches herself to ride a pony, learns to read, and watches for German spies, she begins to trust Susan—and Susan begins to love Ada and Jamie. But in the end, will their bond be enough to hold them together through wartime? Or will Ada and her brother fall back into the cruel hands of their mother?
This masterful work of historical fiction is equal parts adventure and a moving tale of family and identity—a classic in the making.
TURTLES ALL THE WAY DOWN
By: John Green
Published: October 10, 2017
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
I also purchased this at our Scholastic Book Fair. Both my daughter and I want to read it.
Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.
Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.
In his long-awaited return, John Green, the acclaimed, award-winning author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship.
STOCK THE CROCK
By: Phyllis Good
Published: September 5, 2017
Publisher: Oxmoor House
This was also a Scholastic Book Fair purchase. I am already of fan of Phyllis Good’s cookbooks, with my favorite being her FIX IT AND FORGET IT series. We have numerous family favorites from those cookbooks and I am anxious to see what new recipes she has to offer. I love using my crock pot!
The ultimate resource for a new generation of slow-cooker fans from the New York Times bestselling author who has sold 12 million cookbooks!
Stock the Crock brings together the expertise of America’s most popular slow-cooker authority with a fresh collection of 100 essential, innovative, and easy-to-prepare recipes-each with variations allowing readers to customize the dish according to their dietary needs. You’ll find beloved classics, as well as dishes you might be surprised can be done successfully in a slow cooker. (Hello, slow-cooker creme brulee!) Whether you are looking to accommodate gluten-free, paleo, or vegetarian diets, or prefer slow-cooker meals perfectly sized for one or two people, this cookbook provides smart ideas, more than 100 recipe photos, and cooking hacks that will change the way you use your favorite fuss-free cooking appliance. Learn simple make-ahead tricks, convenient baking tips, and how to make two recipes at once using the same cooker, so you can simplify cooking and spend more time enjoying your family and friends around a wonderful, delicious meal.
THE PIONEER WOMAN COOKS: COME AND GET IT
Simple, Scrumptious Recipes for Crazy Busy Lives
By: Ree Drummond
Published: October 24, 2017
Publisher: William Morrow Cookbooks
Since I won a gift certificate to our Scholastic Book Fair, this was my freebie. I’ve been wanting a Pioneer Woman Cookbook, but have resisted because I can always go online and find recipes. But, I treated myself to her newest and can’t wait to try some of them on my family!
For home cooks, nothing beats spending a long, relaxing day preparing dinner for your family, savoring every flavorful step. But few of us really have the time to do that anymore, with school, sports, work, and appointments keeping us running and pulling us left and right. What busy home cooks REALLY need are FAST, EASY, and DOABLE solutions to solve the challenge of feeding their families quick, easy, wholesome food that tastes great day after day, week after week—without falling into a rut and relying on the same handful of meals.
Ree Drummond transforms taking it easy in the kitchen into an art, giving readers her very best make-it-happen strategies, pulled from her own non-stop life as a devoted wife, mother of four, food lover, and businesswoman. Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes for a Crazy Busy Life includes more than 125 of Ree’s best food solutions for making filling, nutritious meals with minimal fuss, for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
With a mix of flavors and dishes that will please everyone, Ree makes it easy to whip up delicious, simple, down-home recipes that go from stove to table in no time!
A Hide and Seek Book
By: Anders Arhoj
Published: September 5, 2017
Publisher: Chronicle Books
While placing an order on Chronicle’s website this Christmas, I saw this book and decided to get it to send as a gift to my nieces for Valentine’s or Easter. Our kids loved to read seek and find books as kids and this one is unique in that you read it front to back and back to front.
This book has eyes—and an irresistible cover! Kids will delight in this innovative seek-and-find picture book that may be read from front to back and from back to front! Two adorable characters embark on an over-the-top game of hide-and-seek through eleven richly detailed scenes, including a lively neighborhood, a bustling shop, an offbeat office space, a festive concert, and more. Open the book from the front to search for one of the characters. Then, open the book from the back to search for the other. It’s two hide-and-seek experiences in one book. As the characters move through each illustrated spread, their colors change, too, adding to the abundant fun.
By: Liz Nugent
Published: August 22, 2017
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
I’ve been on the waiting list for this one through our library. Then I received an email from Simon and Schuster to choose a free eBook from them. This was on their list!
In this “compelling, clever, and dark” (Heat magazine) thriller, a man’s shocking act of savagery stuns a local community–and the revelations that follow will keep you gripped until the very last page. This work of psychological suspense, a #1 bestseller in Ireland, is perfect for fans of Patricia Highsmith and Ruth Ware.
“I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.”
So begins Liz Nugent’s astonishing debut novel—a chilling, elegantly crafted, and psychologically astute exploration of the nature of evil.
Oliver Ryan, handsome, charismatic, and successful, has long been married to his devoted wife, Alice. Together they write and illustrate award-winning children’s books; their life together one of enviable privilege and ease—until, one evening after a delightful dinner, Oliver delivers a blow to Alice that renders her unconscious, and subsequently beats her into a coma.
In the aftermath of such an unthinkable event, as Alice hovers between life and death, the couple’s friends, neighbors, and acquaintances try to understand what could have driven Oliver to commit such a horrific act. As his story unfolds, layers are peeled away to reveal a life of shame, envy, deception, and masterful manipulation.
With its alternating points of view and deft prose, Unraveling Oliver is “a page-turning, one-sitting read from a brand new master of psychological suspense” (Sunday Independent) that details how an ordinary man can transform into a sociopath.
SIX STORIES: A THRILLER
By: Matt Wesolowski
Published: December 1, 2016
Publisher: Orenda Books
This was a Kindle Deal (and still is just $1.99 as of today). I am intrigued by the way the author reveals the story. I just hope it isn’t too scary for me! My cousin also purchased it, so hopefully we can read it and discuss it together!
The novel is constructed as a series of podcasts, in which an investigative journalist describes the circumstances around the death of a teenaged boy in an outward-bound centre, interviewing witnesses, suspects and people close to the incident. Their six accounts form the six stories of the title, creating a “chilling and compelling, page-turning thriller that also delves deep into notions of truth, perception and loyalty”.
HOW WE LEARN
The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why it Happens
By: Benedict Carey
Published: September 9, 2014
Publisher: Random House
This was also a Kindle Deal (and is still just $1.99 today) and came recommended by Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy. I love these kind of books.
From an early age, it is drilled into our heads: Restlessness, distraction, and ignorance are the enemies of success. We’re told that learning is all self-discipline, that we must confine ourselves to designated study areas, turn off the music, and maintain a strict ritual if we want to ace that test, memorize that presentation, or nail that piano recital.
But what if almost everything we were told about learning is wrong? And what if there was a way to achieve more with less effort?
In How We Learn, award-winning science reporter Benedict Carey sifts through decades of education research and landmark studies to uncover the truth about how our brains absorb and retain information. What he discovers is that, from the moment we are born, we are all learning quickly, efficiently, and automatically; but in our zeal to systematize the process we have ignored valuable, naturally enjoyable learning tools like forgetting, sleeping, and daydreaming. Is a dedicated desk in a quiet room really the best way to study? Can altering your routine improve your recall? Are there times when distraction is good? Is repetition necessary? Carey’s search for answers to these questions yields a wealth of strategies that make learning more a part of our everyday lives—and less of a chore.
By road testing many of the counterintuitive techniques described in this book, Carey shows how we can flex the neural muscles that make deep learning possible. Along the way he reveals why teachers should give final exams on the first day of class, why it’s wise to interleave subjects and concepts when learning any new skill, and when it’s smarter to stay up late prepping for that presentation than to rise early for one last cram session. And if this requires some suspension of disbelief, that’s because the research defies what we’ve been told, throughout our lives, about how best to learn.
The brain is not like a muscle, at least not in any straightforward sense. It is something else altogether, sensitive to mood, to timing, to circadian rhythms, as well as to location and environment. It doesn’t take orders well, to put it mildly. If the brain is a learning machine, then it is an eccentric one. InHow We Learn, Benedict Carey shows us how to exploit its quirks to our advantage.
THE GIRL WITH SEVEN NAMES
A North Korean Defector’s Story
By: Hyeonseo Lee
Published: July 2, 2015
Publisher: William Collins
A dear friend raved about this book to me and then shortly after it was part of the Kindle Daily Deal so I snagged it based on her recommendation.
An extraordinary insight into life under one of the world’s most ruthless and secretive dictatorships – and the story of one woman’s terrifying struggle to avoid capture/repatriation and guide her family to freedom.
As a child growing up in North Korea, Hyeonseo Lee was one of millions trapped by a secretive and brutal communist regime. Her home on the border with China gave her some exposure to the world beyond the confines of the Hermit Kingdom and, as the famine of the 1990s struck, she began to wonder, question and to realise that she had been brainwashed her entire life. Given the repression, poverty and starvation she witnessed surely her country could not be, as she had been told “the best on the planet”?
Aged seventeen, she decided to escape North Korea. She could not have imagined that it would be twelve years before she was reunited with her family.
She could not return, since rumours of her escape were spreading, and she and her family could incur the punishments of the government authorities – involving imprisonment, torture, and possible public execution. Hyeonseo instead remained in China and rapidly learned Chinese in an effort to adapt and survive. Twelve years and two lifetimes later, she would return to the North Korean border in a daring mission to spirit her mother and brother to South Korea, on one of the most arduous, costly and dangerous journeys imaginable.
This is the unique story not only of Hyeonseo’s escape from the darkness into the light, but also of her coming of age, education and the resolve she found to rebuild her life – not once, but twice – first in China, then in South Korea. Strong, brave and eloquent, this memoir is a triumph of her remarkable spirit.
EAST OF THE MOUNTAINS
By: David Guterson
Published: April 19, 1999
Publisher: Harcourt Brace and Company
This was one I had purchased for my dad several years ago. At Christmas he wanted us to take any books off his shelves that we were interested in reading. This is the author of Snow Falling on Cedars and so I am quite sure it will be a great read. My dad gave it a thumbs up!
It is mid-October, 1997, harvest time in the Columbia Basin of central Washington state, a rich apple- and pear-growing region. Ben Givens, recently widowed, is a retired heart surgeon, once admired for his steadiness of hand, his precision, his endurance. He has terminal colon cancer. While Ben does not readily accept defeat, he is determined to avoid suffering rather than engage it. And so, accompanied by his two hunting dogs, he sets out through the mythic American West-sage deserts, yawning canyons, dusty ranches, vast orchards-on his last hunt. The main issues for Ben as a doctor had been tactical and so it would be with his death. But he hadn’t considered the persuasiveness of memory-the promise he made to his wife Rachel, the love of his life, during World War II. Or life’s mystery. On his journey he meets a young couple who are “forever,” a drifter offering left-handed advice that might lessen the pain, a veterinarian with a touch only a heart surgeon would recognize, a rancher bent on destruction, a migrant worker who tests Ben’s ability to understand. And just when he thinks there is no turning back, nothing to lose that wasn’t lost, his power of intervention is called upon and his very identity tested. Full of humanity, passion, and moral honesty, East of the Mountains is a bold and beautiful novel of personal discovery.
JAMES HERRIOT’S CAT STORIES
By: James Herriot
Published: September 15, 1994
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
I think my dad has every James Herriot book on his shelf. He loved reading his stories and I remember reading several of them growing up as well. Since we are a cat family, I thought this would be a fun one to read and snagged it from his shelf.
Between these covers, teller and tales finally meet in a warm and joyful new collection that will bring delight to the hearts of readers the world over: James Herriot’s Cat Stories. Here are Buster, the kitten who arrived on Christmas; Alfred, the cat at the sweet shop; little Emily, who lived with the gentleman tramp; and Olly and Ginny, the kittens who charmed readers when they first appeared at the Herriots’ house in the worldwide bestseller Every Living Thing. And along with these come others, each story as memorable and heartwarming as the last, each told with that magical blend of gentle wit and human compassion that marks every word from James Herriot’s pen.
Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities, and Other Offbeat Stuff
By: Eric Jones, Dan Coffey, with Bert Thorkelson
Published: November 10, 2009
Publisher: Globe Pequot Press
This was another one we gave to my dad several years ago. When I flipped it open, it took me right to the Nativity Scene created by POWs in Algona, which is something I’d love to see.
Your round-trip ticket to the wildest, wackiest, most outrageous people, places, and things the Hawkeye State has to offer!
DAYS OF DESTRUCTION DAYS OF REVOLT
By: Christ Hedges and Joe Sacco
Published: April 8, 2014
Publisher: Nation Books
This was another book I gave my dad. Now that I read the synopsis, it sounds a bit depressing. But, I’ll at least give it a skim.
Two years ago, Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hedges and award-winning cartoonist and journalist Joe Sacco set out to take a look at the sacrifice zones, those areas in America that have been offered up for exploitation in the name of profit, progress, and technological advancement. They wanted to show in words and drawings what life looks like in places where the marketplace rules without constraints, where human beings and the natural world are used and then discarded to maximize profit. Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt is the searing account of their travels.
The book starts in the western plains, where Native Americans were sacrificed in the giddy race for land and empire. It moves to the old manufacturing centers and coal fields that fueled the industrial revolution, but now lie depleted and in decay. It follows the steady downward spiral of American labor into the nation’s produce fields and ends in Zuccotti Park where a new generation revolts against a corporate state that has handed to the young an economic, political, cultural and environmental catastrophe.
I’m linking up with THE DELIBERATE READER for her monthly feature NEW ON THE STACK. To see other bloggers’ new books from December, click HERE.
As always, be sure to let me know if you read any of these/ There are so many great books here, I can’t wait to get started on them!