This is my monthly roundup of books that were added to my shelves in the last month. I also share an update with you on other things going on in my life.
Marching band and cross country (HS and college) have ended. The musical just finished this last weekend. “Catch Me If You Can” was so much fun! If you haven’t seen the movie or read the book, I highly recommend it. It is really an amazing true story. Our son was Detective Branton and as the cool detective, the role fits him well! We have enjoyed a bit of a lull until basketball season and wrestling (our daughter cheers) starts up. The indoor track season isn’t too far away for our college son with his first meet in December. I am looking forward to many concerts during this holiday season for all our kids as it’s my favorite music of the year.
I have actually found some time to read or listen to books in the last month. I’ve read some really good ones lately! You can see all my recent book reviews by clicking, HERE. Or you can stay up to date with my monthly Quick Lit Roundup.
Currently Reading: THE WATER DIVINER AND OTHER STORIES, THE CLOCKMAKER’S DAUGHTER (both for review and a bit behind schedule)
Currently Listening: I just finished a long audiobook so I am catching up on podcasts.
Up Next: THE BOOK THIEF (I’ll be reading along with our daughter since she is reading it for school)
If you would like to purchase any of the books in this post, click on the photo or title of the book to be directly taken to the product on 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.
A SPARK OF LIGHT
By: Jodi Picoult
Published: October 2, 2018
Jodi Picoult is a “must read” author for me and the last few years, her new book has come out the same week as my birthday. So, I treat myself to a birthday gift whenever she has a new book out. I haven’t had the chance to crack the cover, but it’s usually a Christmas break treat for me! She always gives me a lot to think about on a controversial topic. This book, especially.
The warm fall day starts like any other at the Center—a women’s reproductive health services clinic—its staff offering care to anyone who passes through its doors. Then, in late morning, a desperate and distraught gunman bursts in and opens fire, taking all inside hostage.
After rushing to the scene, Hugh McElroy, a police hostage negotiator, sets up a perimeter and begins making a plan to communicate with the gunman. As his phone vibrates with incoming text messages he glances at it and, to his horror, finds out that his fifteen-year-old daughter, Wren, is inside the clinic.
But Wren is not alone. She will share the next and tensest few hours of her young life with a cast of unforgettable characters: A nurse who calms her own panic in order to save the life of a wounded woman. A doctor who does his work not in spite of his faith but because of it, and who will find that faith tested as never before. A pro-life protester disguised as a patient, who now stands in the crosshairs of the same rage she herself has felt. A young woman who has come to terminate her pregnancy. And the disturbed individual himself, vowing to be heard.
Told in a daring and enthralling narrative structure that counts backward through the hours of the standoff, this is a story that traces its way back to what brought each of these very different individuals to the same place on this fateful day.
Jodi Picoult—one of the most fearless writers of our time—tackles a complicated issue in this gripping and nuanced novel. How do we balance the rights of pregnant women with the rights of the unborn they carry? What does it mean to be a good parent? A Spark of Light will inspire debate, conversation . . . and, hopefully, understanding.
THE FORBIDDEN DOOR
A Jane Hawk Novel
By: Dean Koontz
Published: September 11, 2018
I’m not really a Dean Koontz fan and doubt I’ll read his newest book. They are just a bit too far on the action and suspense spectrum for me. This was an unsolicited book and I’ll pass it on to my library where I know we have lots of Koontz readers.
When this relentless rogue FBI agent comes knocking, her adversaries will have to answer—with their lives—in the latest thrilling Jane Hawk novel by the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Silent Corner.
“We’re rewriting the play, and the play is this country, the world, the future. We break Jane’s heart, we’ll also break her will.”
She was one of the FBI’s top agents until she became the nation’s most-wanted fugitive. Now Jane Hawk may be all that stands between a free nation and its enslavement by a powerful secret society’s terrifying mind-control technology. She couldn’t save her husband, or the others whose lives have been destroyed, but equipped with superior tactical and survival skills—and the fury born of a broken heart and a hunger for justice—Jane has struck major blows against the insidious cabal.
But Jane’s enemies are about to hit back hard. If their best operatives can’t outrun her, they mean to bring her running to them, using her five-year-old son as bait. Jane knows there’s no underestimating their capabilities, but she must battle her way back across the country to the remote shelter where her boy is safely hidden . . . for now.
As she moves resolutely forward, new threats begin to emerge: a growing number of brain-altered victims driven hopelessly, violently insane. With the madness spreading like a virus, the war between Jane and her enemies will become a fight for all their lives—against the lethal terror unleashed from behind the forbidden door.
SOLD ON A MONDAY
By: Kristina McMorris
Published: August 28, 2018
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
I first read Kristina McMorris in GRAND CENTRAL: POSTWAR STORIES OF LOVE AND WAR and have been wanting to read more of her novels. Her newest is based on a true story and so I’m sure it will be excellent. I bought two as part of a buy two books get one free promotion to give the other as a Christmas gift.
2 CHILDREN FOR SALE
The scrawled sign, peddling young siblings on a farmhouse porch, captures the desperation sweeping the country in 1931. It’s an era of breadlines, bank runs, and impossible choices.
For struggling reporter Ellis Reed, the gut-wrenching scene evokes memories of his family’s dark past. He snaps a photograph of the children, not meant for publication. But when the image leads to his big break, the consequences are devastating in ways he never imagined.
Haunted by secrets of her own, secretary Lillian Palmer sees more in the picture than a good story and is soon drawn into the fray. Together, the two set out to right a wrongdoing and mend a fractured family, at the risk of everything they value.
Inspired by an actual newspaper photo that stunned readers across the nation, this touching novel explores the tale within the frame and behind the lens—a journey of ambition, love, and the far-reaching effects of our actions.
ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE
By: Anthony Doerr
Published: May 6, 2014
This has been on my list ever since it came out. I’m a fan of Doerr’s writing and this one sounds like it is exactly what I would like to read. It got it as part of the buy 2 get one free promotion. So, it makes it a good purchase!
From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the stunningly beautiful instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.
Marie-Laure lives in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them, they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.
In a mining town in Germany, Werner Pfennig, an orphan, grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.
GOOD ME BAD ME
By: Ali Land
Published: September 5, 2017
Publisher: Flatiron Books
This is the Target Book Club choice for the month. I haven’t heard of it, but after reading the synopsis it sounds like it might be a bit too intense for me, so I may give it as a Christmas gift to my niece who likes these types of books.
Good Me Bad Me is dark, compelling, voice-driven psychological suspense by debut author Ali Land.
How far does the apple really fall from the tree?
Milly’s mother is a serial killer. Though Milly loves her mother, the only way to make her stop is to turn her into the police. Milly is given a fresh start: a new identity, a home with an affluent foster family, and a spot at an exclusive private school.
But Milly has secrets, and life at her new home becomes complicated. As her mother’s trial looms, with Milly as the star witness, Milly starts to wonder how much of her is nature, how much of her is nurture, and whether she is doomed to turn out like her mother after all.
When tensions rise and Milly feels trapped by her shiny new life, she has to decide: Will she be good? Or is she bad? She is, after all, her mother’s daughter.
THE LOLA QUARTET
By: Emily St. John Mandel
Published: May 1, 2012
Publisher: Unbridled Books
Format: Library ebook
I heard Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy rave about this one and the synopsis intrigued me. I added it to my library holds and it came up quite quickly. It was a good read, but depressing.
Gavin Sasaki is a promising young journalist in New York City until he’s fired in disgrace following a series of unforgivable lapses in his work. It’s early 2009, and the world has gone dark very quickly; the economic collapse has turned an era that magazine headlines once heralded as the second gilded age into something that more closely resembles the Great Depression. The last thing Gavin wants to do is return to his hometown of Sebastian, Florida, but he’s drifting toward bankruptcy and is in no position to refuse when he’s offered a job by his sister, Eilo, a real estate broker who deals in foreclosed homes.
Eilo recently paid a visit to a home that had a ten-year-old child in it, a child who looks very much like Gavin and who has the same last name as Gavin’s high school girlfriend Anna, whom Gavin last saw a decade ago. Gavin—a former jazz musician, a reluctant broker of foreclosed properties, obsessed with film noir and private detectives—begins his own private investigation in an effort to track down Anna and their apparent daughter who have been on the run all these years from a drug dealer from whom Anna stole $121,000.
THE SHORT AND TRAGIC LIFE OF ROBERT PEACE
A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League
By: Jeff Hobbs
Published: September 23, 2014
Format: Library Audiobook
I saw my fellow book-blogger friend Bermuda Onion recommend this and it was available in my library audiobooks. It’s a long listen at over 13 hours, and I just finished it. I’m still trying to decide how I felt about this one, but I am glad I read it.
Robert Peace was born outside Newark in a ghetto known as “Illtown.” His unwed mother worked long hours in a kitchen. His charismatic father was later convicted of a double murder. Peace’s intellectual brilliance and hard-won determination earned him a full scholarship to Yale University. At college, while majoring in molecular biophysics and biochemistry, he straddled the world of academia and the world of the street, never revealing his full self in either place. Upon graduation from Yale, he went home to teach at the Catholic high school he’d attended, slid into the drug trade, and was brutally murdered at age thirty.
THE PRAYER BOX
Carolina Heirlooms #1
By: Lisa Wingate
Published: September 1, 2013
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishing
Format: Library Paperback
This was my book club choice for the month. My friend chose it because she loved BEFORE WE WERE YOURS, the most recent book by Wingate. This one wasn’t a popular one for us, but I did enjoy it mostly because I think it was a palate cleanser for me after reading two depressing stories.
When Iola Anne Poole, an old-timer on Hatteras Island, passes away in her bed at ninety-one, the struggling young mother in her rental cottage, Tandi Jo Reese, finds herself charged with the task of cleaning out Iola’s rambling Victorian house. Running from a messy, dangerous past, Tandi never expects to find more than a temporary hiding place within Iola’s walls, but everything changes with the discovery of eighty-one carefully decorated prayer boxes, one for each year, spanning from Iola’s youth to her last days. Hidden in the boxes is the story of a lifetime, written on random bits of paper–the hopes and wishes, fears and thoughts of an unassuming but complex woman passing through the seasons of an extraordinary, unsung life filled with journeys of faith, observations on love, and one final lesson that could change everything for Tandi.
TALKING AS FAST AS I CAN
From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between)
By: Lauren Graham
Narrated by: Lauren Graham
Published: November 29, 2016
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Format: Library Audiobook
I highly recommend this one on Audio with the caveat that you may want to also go to your local bookstore or library and peruse the photos included in the book after reading. Graham reads this and it is a delight!
In Talking as Fast as I Can, Lauren Graham hits pause for a moment and looks back on her life, sharing laugh-out-loud stories about growing up, starting out as an actress, and, years later, sitting in her trailer on the Parenthood set and asking herself, “Did you, um, make it?” She opens up about the challenges of being single in Hollywood (“Strangers were worried about me; that’s how long I was single!”), the time she was asked to audition her butt for a role, and her experience being a judge on Project Runway (“It’s like I had a fashion-induced blackout”).
In “What It Was Like, Part One,” Graham sits down for an epic Gilmore Girls marathon and reflects on being cast as the fast-talking Lorelai Gilmore. The essay “What It Was Like, Part Two” reveals how it felt to pick up the role again nine years later, and what doing so has meant to her.
Some more things you will learn about Lauren: She once tried to go vegan just to bond with Ellen DeGeneres, she’s aware that meeting guys at awards shows has its pitfalls (“If you’re meeting someone for the first time after three hours of hair, makeup, and styling, you’ve already set the bar too high”), and she’s a card-carrying REI shopper (“My bungee cords now earn points!”).
Including photos and excerpts from the diary Graham kept during the filming of the recent Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, this book is like a cozy night in, catching up with your best friend, laughing and swapping stories, and—of course—talking as fast as you can.
WHOLE30 SLOW COOKER
150 Totally Compliant Prep and Go Recipes for Your Whole30 with Instant Pot Recipes
By: Melissa Hartwig
Published: October 23, 2018
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
I did Whole30 two years ago during the month of November. Yes, Thanksgiving was rough! I saw good results, but it was hard and very time-consuming. I would like to incorporate more of the recipes into my regular cycle of meals. I did Whole30 with my cousin so I got this new cookbook to give to her for Christmas and that way I can copy some of the recipes out of it first! ?
Since 2009, millions of people have transformed their lives with the Whole30. Now, co-creator Melissa Hartwig is making it even easier to achieve Whole30 success with delicious slow cooker recipes that turn ingredients into delicious, hearty meals while you’re out and about. This follow-up to the best-selling The Whole30 Cookbook is packed with 150 recipes designed to get you out of the kitchen fast, so you can enjoy all the benefits of your Whole30-inspired lifestyle. The Whole30 Slow Cooker features delicious, no-fuss dinners that cook while you work; roasts that transform into tacos, salads, and soups, for easy meals throughout the week; and satisfying one-pot meals that make prep and cleanup a breeze. These creative meals use whole-food ingredients found in any supermarket, and as an added bonus, feature recipes and directions for making your meals Instant Pot-friendly!
THE BURN ZONE
By: Renee Linnell
Published: October 9, 2018
Publisher: She Writes Press
This one sounds extremely intriguing!
After seven years of faithfully following her spiritual teacher, Renee Linnell finally realized she was in a cult and had been severely brainwashed. But how did that happen to someone like her? She had graduated magna cum laude with a double degree. She had traveled to nearly fifty countries alone before she turned thirty-five. She was a surf model and a professional Argentine tango dancer. She had started five different companies and had an MBA from NYU. How could someone like her end up brainwashed and in a cult?
The Burn Zone is an exploration of how we give up our power―how what started out as a need to heal from the loss of her parents and to understand the big questions in life could leave a young woman fighting for her sanity and her sense of self. In the years following her departure from the cult, Linnell struggled to reclaim herself, to stand in her truth, and to rebuild her life. And eventually, after battling depression and isolation, she found a way to come out the other side stronger than ever. Part inspirational story, part cautionary tale, this is a memoir for spiritual seekers and those who feel lost in a world that makes them feel less than perfect.
LIZZY AND THE GOOD LUCK GIRL
By: Susan Lubner
Published: November 6, 2018
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Of course, I have to read a book that involves a cat! Plus, I think it sounds like a great juvenile fiction/YA novel.
Living in the small town of East Thumb, Maine, upstairs from her family’s diner, twelve-year-old Lizzy Sherman searches for signs to guide her and perhaps guarantee her a bump-free path through life. She pays attention to the clouds in the sky, the ice cubes in her water, the heart-shaped puddle of the juice her friend spilled. If only she can figure out what the signs are trying to tell her, she’ll know what to do next.
When Lizzy and her best friend go searching for a stray cat and find a runaway girl instead, they want to help. And when Lizzy notices a tiny four-leaf clover tattooed on the girl’s hand, she knows it’s a sign. Lizzy hides the girl inside her bedroom closet, convinced the girl will be able to protect Lizzy’s family from tragedy. But signs can be tricky, and what the girl has to offer may be more valuable that luck.
A Monk, a Pilgrim, and the Purpose of Life
By: August Turak
Published: October 21, 2018
Publisher: Clovercroft Publishing
A good choice for Christmastime reading. It looks like a children’s book. The illustrations are quite beautiful, but there are a lot of words on the pages, so it would have to be an older child. It would make a good family gift for Christmas.
Recipient of the prestigious Templeton Prize, Brother John is the true story of a meaningful encounter between a man going through a mid-life crisis and an umbrella-wielding Trappist monk. This magical encounter on Christmas Eve eventually leads the author, and us all, to the redemptive power of an authentically purposeful life. Uplifting, deeply moving, and set in the magnificent Trappist monastery of Mepkin Abbey, Brother John is dramatically brought to life by over twenty full-color paintings by Glenn Harrington, a multiple award-winning artist. Brother John’s inspirational message takes place at Christmastime, and its inspirational message and rich illustrations are sure to bring the reader back again and again throughout the year.
HENRY IS KIND
A Story of Mindfulness
By: Linda Ryden
Illustrated by: Shearry Malone
Published: September 4, 2018
Publisher: Tilbury House Publishers
I love having these kinds of books in my Sub bag for reading at the elementary schools. I’ve even had a situation similar to this in subbing when a child couldn’t come up with something kind he did and got upset. It’s a great message!
Ms. Snowden and her class practice sending kind thoughts to the people they love, and they launch a class Kindness Project. There is only one
problem: Henry can’t think of one kind thing he has done. Declaring that kindness is stupid, he stomps to the classroom door on the verge of tears, but his classmates save the day by reminding him of the kind things he has done for each of them.
By: Britta Teckentrup
Published: October 2, 2018
Publisher: Prestel Publishing
I loved Teckentrup’s book BIRDS AND THEIR FEATHERS and was thrilled to check out her newest book.
Oskar the raven is back, and this time the beloved young bird is finding out all the things he can do.
Britta Teckentrup has established herself as one of the most popular children’s book authors today. Her vibrant,collage-based illustrations have made her books a favorite in homes, schools, and libraries. And her character, Oskar, based on her family cat of the same name, is the perfect companion for young readers. This new book sends a simple, positive message that will empower kids to claim their own accomplishments. Tie a shoe? Brush their teeth? Wash their dishes? Bounce a ball? If Oskar can do it, they can too. Fans of Oskar’s adventures will be thrilled to discover their friend is back with a new story. And readers meeting Oskar for the first time will discover a delightful, relatable character who makes them feel good about themselves and the world around them.
DOG SCIENCE UNLEASHED
Fun Activities to Do with Your Canine Companion
By: Jodi Wheeler-Toppen
Photographs by: Matthew Rakola
Published: August 7, 2018
Publisher: National Geographic Kids
I love these kinds of National Geographic books and this one would make a great Christmas gift for someone on your list with a dog.
Learn about science with the most faithful lab partner you’ll ever have — your dog! Discover how your canine companion thinks, moves, drinks, stays warm, gets clean, cools off, and more.
Have fun with 22 safe and pup-friendly activities that let you work alongside your dog to discover what makes him tick. Learn to take your dog’s pulse and find out how much blood is pumping through his body. Find out if your dog hears things you can’t by making a dog whistle. What colors can your dog see? Is he color-blind? Each activity is paired with step-by-step instructions, clear and interesting scientific explanations, and cool photographs shot specifically for this book. Hands-on activities and fun information for budding scientists prompt further learning and offer a behind-the-scenes look at the current canine research. When you are finished with the book you’ll have a vet-worthy profile of the best canine companion on the planet–yours!
This book is part of the National Geographic Kids Hands-on Science line which makes science fun and accessible.
Wild and Wacky Challenges for the Genius Engineer in You
By: Joan Marie Galat
Published: March 13, 2018
Publisher: National Geographic Kids
I love the wacky scenarios and creative thinking that this book inspires. Another great Christmas gift idea!
From the first wheel to the International Space Station, the miracles of engineering are all around us. Think cars, bridges, skyscrapers, and yes – even bubble wrap! Engineers dream up new ideas and bring them to life while figuring out creative solutions to problems they encounter along the way. But how do they do it? Find out in Solve This!
In this fun book, kids are confronted with wacky scenarios like this one: You’re playing with your little sister when a vulture swoops down and grabs her favorite teddy bear. Mid-flight, the vulture realizes it doesn’t care for the taste of fake fur and drops it to the ground. But now the plushie is on the other side of a raging river. How do you stop your sister from crying, stay safe, and save the day? Each challenge invites kids to think creatively to problem solve. Then they can see how different National Geographic explorers tackled the challenge. One of the big lessons? There’s often more than one solution!
TO THE MOON AND BACK
My Apollo 11 Adventure
A Pop-Up Book
By: Buzz Aldrin with Marianne J. Dyson
Paper Engineering: Bruce Foster
Published: October 16. 2018
Publisher: National Geographic
This book is awesome! I’ve just given it a quick picture-walk (using one of my elementary terms when introducing new books to kids) and the pop-ups are incredible. If you have a space fan on your list, buy this book now!
In celebration of the Apollo 11 Mission’s 50th Anniversary, experience the awe and excitement of humankind’s first steps on the moon! In this pop-up adventure, readers follow astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s story as he encounters the “magnificent desolation” of Earth’s only satellite firsthand.
Including Buzz Aldrin’s firsthand accounts of the mission, historical context, images, and personal perspectives.
SMITHSONIAN EXPLORATION STATION: HUMAN BODY
By: Ruth Strother
Published: November 6, 2018
Publisher: Silver Dolphin Books
This would make an awesome gift for a science fan or a classroom teacher.
Discover what makes your blood pump and your muscles stretch in this hands-on learning experience! With fascinating facts, full-color photographs, a plastic model skeleton, and 25 fact cards, Smithsonian Exploration Station: Human Body is a fun, engaging way to learn about the inner workings of the complex systems that make the human body.
Includes a 56-page fact book, 30 stickers, 1 plastic model skeleton (13 pieces), and 25 fact cards.
SMITHSONIAN EXPLORATION STATION: WORLD ATLAS
By: John Farndon
Published: November 6, 2018
Publisher: Silver Dolphin Books
Another great gift idea for the future world traveler or classroom teacher!
Go on a globetrotting adventure with the Smithsonian!
Head off on a globetrotting adventure in this interactive atlas! Learn about the diverse cultures, customs, wildlife, and natural beauty that form our world through informative text and full-color photograph. Children will love the hands-on aspect to learning as they blow up their inflatable globe and build the cardstock models of some of the wonders of the world. Smithsonian Exploration Station: World Atlas is the perfect way to engage kids in the amazing world around them!
Includes a 56-page fact book, 30 stickers, 1 inflatable globe, and 3 cardstock models to assemble: the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal, and a Mayan pyramid.
To see all the posts featuring new books on my shelves, click HERE.
So many books, so little time!
Posted Under Ali Land, Anthony Doerr, audiobook, August Turak, Britta Teckentrup, Buzz Aldrin, Children's books, Christian, Dean Koontz, Emily St. John Mandel, fiction, Jeff Hobbs, Joan Marie Galat, Jodi Picoult, Jodi Wheeler-Toppen, John Farndon, Kristina McMorris, Lauren Graham, Linda Ryden, Lisa Wingate, Melissa Hartwig, memoir, middle-grade, National Geographic, New on the Stack, non-fiction, Renee Linnell, Ruth Strother, Susan Lubner, Whole30
Your kids keep you busy but it sounds like a great busy.
The National Geographic books are always great. I hope The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace is as good on audio as it was in print.