Jul 162014
 

My book club recently met for a lovely summer dinner, potluck style. The host grilled up some chicken and beef kebobs, had fresh watermelon and a green salad. I made a caprese salad (fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, black olives, cherry tomatoes and salami with balsamic and oil). There was a potato salad and an amazing orzo salad. There was even homemade Syrah. Everything was so tasty! One person made watermelon cupcakes–like they actually tasted like watermelon bubble gum. It was kind of crazy.

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watermelon

My friend’s house was a lovely oasis. She’s clearly worked really hard on her garden. Her house is on an acre and there’s trees and beautiful pathways winding through the garden. It was absolutely gorgeous! They even have wild peacocks roaming around their neighborhood!

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How crazy is that? Her cute cats were meandering around the yard while we chatted about our book.

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Unfortunately the book we read for the month was NOT my favorite. I hated it and actually couldn’t finish reading it. We chose “Silas Marner” by George Eliot. I like a lot of the Classics–Oscar Wilde is one of my favorite authors and Wuthering Heights is in my top 5 list. However, Silas Marner was so hard to read. It was a combination of writing style and format (humongous, long paragraphs that were often pages long, and dialogue that didn’t seem to move the story forward in any way). Despite not liking the book we still found topics to talk about for three hours!

Here are some good books I’ve read lately:

1. Dead Scared by SJ Bolton

This is the second book in the Lacey Flint series. The series takes place in London and I love the characters. This second book was even better than the first and the story premise was chilling! My only complaint was that I hated the last chapter and how it left off. I felt like it needed another chapter to wrap things up and explain a few things!

2. Lost by SJ Bolton

This is the third book in the Lacey Flint series and while I hated how the 2nd book ended, this book picked up where it left off and explained a little bit of what I felt was missing in the other one. It kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time!

Lost

3. Second Watch by JA Jance

I’m always wary of books that have flashbacks or several timelines going on at once. It’s rarely done well and just feels forced or clunky. This wasn’t the case. The flow was nice and it never felt awkward. I was equally interested in all three time periods that were telling the story. The mystery unfolded in a nice way. Good book!

4. Blood Harvest by SJ Bolton

I’m currently catching up on all her books. This one is probably one of my favorites of her books. The books that aren’t part of the Lacey Flint series are stand-alone books and usually take place on English/Welsh Moors. There is nothing creepier for a setting. It makes me think of Wuthering Heights; but it’s still a great setting for creating anxiety and dread in a horror book. This book in particular was VERY VERY dark. The last few chapters were so gripping and so crazy I couldn’t put the book down.

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5. An Available Man by Hilma Wolitzer

This book is about Edward, recently widowed, dealing with the grief and trying to move on. Despite the topic, it wasn’t a depressing book at all. The general mood was of sadness, but in a healing way. His adult step-kids decide after a year and a half that he needs to meet someone new so they put out a personal ad for him. The book is about his journey to find out who he is without his wife, coming to terms with the grief and meeting new people. It was such a charming, uplifting book and I was 100% satisfied with the story and the characters! Loved it!

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I hope you enjoy some of these books I’ve recommended. Several were good, fun “summer” reads.

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May 212014
 

I added a new page to the blog for Book Reviews. I read so much and figured it was a good idea to make a page for it! I’ve read a bunch of REALLY great books lately. This post will be somewhat long so I can include all my favorites:

1. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

I’d seen many people rave about this book but didn’t feel the drive to rush out and read it for some reason. I read the short description and it seemed formulaic and predictable. I could already guess each plot point. And yet, I loved every minute of this book. It was like I was immediately enveloped into this world with these characters and I didn’t want to leave.

Me-Before-You-Cover
I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone that hasn’t read it but it will be an emotional rollercoaster. There were so many moments of joy and happiness and then several moments of pure sadness. I loved the characters, I wanted a happy ending, I didn’t want the book to end and yet I couldn’t stop reading it. I stayed up late to read it. I read it on my lunch break at work and cried in my cubicle. I really want to see this book made into a movie. This is a book that will stay with me for a very, very long time.

2. The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths

Another great story with Ruth Galloway! Loved this book, the story was compelling and kept me guessing til the end. I also liked that they brought other characters out into the foreground. This is one of my new favorite series. I am impatiently awaiting the next book!

OUTCAST DEAD HARDBACK COVER VISUAL

3. The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett

I liked this book a lot. The story was told in several different time periods–which is rarely done well but this book did it very well. I was intrigued in each “story line”. I wanted to keep reading it; I really like the characters. I loved how the story unfolded and you didn’t really know all the answers until the very end.

4. The Dark Monk by Oliver Potzch

This is the sequel to the Hangman’s Daughter, which was a really good book. I liked this installment and the characters as much as the first book. It is a period piece and according to the afterward, based on the author’s family history. There were moments that needed some editing and paring down, but overall I liked it and will read the third one.

5. The Silent Wife by ASA Harrison

This book was excellent but not “Better than Gone Girl” like the jacket says. There were so many layers in this book it’s hard to know where to start, and I don’t want to give it away. The “silent wife” took on many guises and in the end she was still silent. Again, don’t want to give it away. I wish I could say I felt disturbed by the ending–in a way I guess I do, but I also feel vindicated and also sad.

6. Stolen Remains by Christine Trent

The second book in the series was just as good as the first one. I was instantly in that time period. I loved the Victorian references, and Queen Victoria is back as well–kooky as ever. It was a good mystery story that had me guessing to the end!

7.  The Blood Detective by Dan Waddell

I really really liked this book! It was a good murder mystery and it blended genealogy, which I found fascinating. It was an interesting twist on the story of genealogy. The characters were well-developed and I liked the main characters a lot. Well done!

8. Under Your Skin by Sabine Durrant

Clear your schedule–you are going to want to read this book in one sitting! I HATED putting this book down to sleep and go to work. ;) It sucked me in immediately and I couldn’t quit reading. The author’s writing style is very different than what I’m used to. The sentences are short and halting but after a few chapters it seems normal and you get used to it. This book will stress you out!

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I hope you guys check out some of these books. Several make my “best books of 2014″ list! Have you read anything great lately?

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