Books #20

It’s that time of year…dark, rainy, cold weather that makes you just want to snuggle up with a good book. Well, this post is for you! Book recommendations galore.

1 ) Down A Dark Road (Kate Burkholder #9) by Linda Castillo

The newest book in the series and it was a good one. Kate is back as the Chief. She receives word that a childhood friend who was sent to prison for killing his wife, has escaped. She goes to the house where his kids are living now, just in case, and is ambushed by Joseph. She’s taken hostage in the house. But it’s not your typical hostage situation. He claims he didn’t kill his wife and was framed. Sure, typical of prisoners–but Kate is let go and has a nagging feeling that things don’t add up.

So the book is about Kate re-opening the investigation and finding things that aren’t quite right about the investigation. The book is about friendship, corrupt cops and Kate doing her due diligence. It was a fast read!

 

2 ) The Last Place You Look (Roxane Weary #1) by Kristen Lepionka

What a really good read! I was pleasantly surprised by how great this book was (and I read it in about a day and a half! Could not stop reading). I can’t wait for book #2!

Roxane is a private detective. Her cop father died a few months ago and her life is falling apart a bit. But she gets a case that intrigues. Brad, an African American poet, is about to be executed for brutally murdering his girlfriend’s parents. And maybe the girlfriend? She disappeared the same night as the murders, never found. But Brad’s sister insists he’s innocent and wants Roxane to prove it before it’s too late. She starts to uncover things that made it unlikely that Brad is the murderer, but will she solve the crime in time to save him? (And the ending was not expected!)

The story was well-crafted. The characters were really well written and they felt real to me. I really liked Roxane, who was smart and witty. The author wrote about a bisexual woman in a real and respectful way, too, even though that wasn’t what the book was about. It just flowed well and made the character well-rounded. Roxane is also an alcoholic, which was a bummer for the book because you REALLY want her to fix her life and be successful.

3 ) Glass Houses (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #13) by Louise Penny

Another book in the series that does not disappoint!

This one was a different type of storytelling, a slight departure from her usual style. In this book, there is a murder in Three Pines that Armand and Jean-Guy investigate but the story is told in a unique way: the story unfolds through testimony in the murder trial (never revealing who was on trial for the murder), then instead of bogging down the story with testimony to tell the whole story, they flashback to describe what happened in Three Pines. On top of that, there is also a major, clandestine, investigation going on about drugs being run through the border by Three Pines.

The story is unique and riveting and because there are so many threads and so much double-speak you really have to pay attention. The ending was a surprise and left off for the next book in the series to continue what happens to the main characters we love, but it wasn’t a frustrating ending, it felt very satisfying. Another well done book!

 

4 ) Something Like Happy by Eva Woods

This was a delightful, tear-jerker, sweet, enduring book. The main character, Annie, is stuck. Her life sucks. Her jobs sucks. She’s divorced and some other tragedies in her past are keeping her stuck in this cycle of self-pity and depression. She’s at the hospital visiting her mom, who has Alzheimer’s, when she runs into Polly–this vibrant, colorful, full of life and energy woman who also happens to be dying of cancer.

Polly kind of forces Annie into a friendship and in the next 80 days or so they spend most of their time together kind of ticking things off Polly’s “Bucket List”. But Polly has ulterior motives–she wants her last gift to Annie and the people in her life to be for them to realize how much time they have and they should be happy and do things that MAKE them happy.

It’s really an uplifting book that makes you reconsider things in your own life.

5 ) There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather: A Scandinavian Mom’s Secret for Raising Healthy, Resilient, and Confident Kids) by Linda Akeson McGurk

I enjoyed this book. It’s about a Scandinavian mom living in Indiana with her two small daughters and how she moves back to Sweden for 6 months to care for an ailing family member. She brings her daughters with her and they get to go to school in Sweden and experience the culture.

The book is a fascinating read about the differences between the Scandinavian countries and America.

“As my daughter’s pediatrician puts it: A generation ago, there were maybe one or two overweight or obese children in a class of twenty. Today, being overweight is so common that the normal kids sometimes are the ones that stand out. Our expectations have changed: Overweight is the new normal. [pg 21]”

It’s really sad how little kids play outside. I see it even in my own neighborhood. When I first moved there, there were tons of kids on the street. But there aren’t that many anymore. Some have grown up but I feel like a lot of the kids just don’t even come outside anymore. It’s always slightly startling when you DO see kids!

“When I ask Kristoffer, a Swedish father of two young children, what he expects his children to learn between now and when they start formal schooling at age six, his answer is swift and affirmative: ‘I expect them to be children. Soon enough they’ll be in school and they’ll get the rest there. [pg 89]”

The difference in Sweden was striking. The kids are all very active and play outside a lot. No matter what the weather! The motto is to have good clothes! Who cares about the weather? The author described an outdoor birthday party in the middle of winter where all the kids invited showed up in snow pants and they spent all afternoon outside sledding and then had roasted hot dogs for a meal. The kids were ecstatic–and I doubt you’d see that here. You definitely wouldn’t see that in Portland!

“If my son wants to play soccer he can, but I’ll never make him. It has to come from him, and it will when he’s ready for it. Not everybody likes team sports, and if he doesn’t we’ll have to find something that’s a better fit. [pg 97]”

I could really relate to that approach. When I was a kid, I was forced to do piano lessons, soccer, gymnastics…a lot of stuff that wasn’t my personality. I hated it all. I hated being on display. I hated team sports. I was afraid of heights so gymnastics was awful but…I loved swimming. That was the thing that I wanted to do.

The kids in Sweden also go to “forest” school. I actually have a friend who’s daughter goes to something sort of similar here in Portland and I find it fascinating and so cool! The kids spend tons of time outside, they have gardens and grow fruits and vegetables that they eat and learn how to prepare the food. I think that’s amazing and I definitely want to do that with my kid.

“Children who spend a lot of time in nature have stronger hands, arms and legs and significantly better balance than children who rarely get to move freely in natural areas. In nature children use and exercise all the different muscle groups. [pg 101]”

We are so happy that Logan loves going outside. Since he was only a few months old he’s been out with us hiking! And now that he’s mobile, we are taking him on little “hikes” in the forests and parks in our city. He can “hike” on a trail and explore–pick up pinecones and sticks and smell the fresh air and he feels independent. It’s amazing watching him in the woods. 🙂

“…she doesn’t scold them for getting just about every square inch of their clothes and bodies dirty, including the lining of their nostrils. I’m not surprised. Messy, wild play is seen as a perfectly natural, even cherished, part of childhood in Scandinavia, and the way I was raised, muddy hands, piles of filthy clothes, and wet boots were almost considered badges of honor, a testament to a day filed with adventure, new experiences and lots of trial and error. [pg 145]”

I SO want that for Logan! I just need to get over my clean OCD/germphobia… 😉

“…risky play is nature’s way for children to teach themselves emotional resilience and learn how to manage and overcome their fears. [pg 189]”

The book was a fast read and it was really interesting. The author didn’t bog it down with too much facts/research/data but sprinkled that in throughout very nicely. She also had tips for ideas and stuff to try with your own kids. Definitely recommend!

6 ) Come Away With Me by Karma Brown

Wow. What a heavy book. I had mixed emotions about it as I was reading it but it pulled the whole story together at the end. The story is about Tegan, a mid-twenties woman who just got married and is about 6 months pregnant when her and her husband Gabe are in a horrific car crash right before Christmas.

Tegan loses the baby and is swallowed up by her grief. She is barely holding on to reality, choosing to stay in bed grieving instead. Everyone in her life is trying to help her.

“It’s amazing how one-dimensional my grief is. I am only capable of feeling numb. Even the pain, which used to be so sharp, has gone dull.”

Gabe and Tegan had a jar of “bucket list” type of trips and activities they wanted to do. So they decided to go to Thailand, Italy and Maui. The hope is that the trips shake Tegan out of her grief.

“If I want to make this work, I have to spend less time focusing on everything I lost that night and more time figuring out how to live without it.”

Tegan has a lot of anger towards Gabe because he was the one driving the car that night. It seems like she will never be able to let it go and forgive him and I thought, “Hmm I guess this is a book about divorce, too” but there is a twist at the end and the book is really about grief, how the mind heals and redemption.

“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.”

Like I said, it’s a very heavy book. This author writes about grief very well. The pain is palpable–and that might be too much for some readers to handle. But overall the book was very well done.

7 ) Say Nothing by Brad Parks

Scott Sampson is a judge. The book starts with a bang when he realizes his six year old twins have been kidnapped. Where are there? Who took them? Who can they trust? Judge Sampson is forced to comply with the kidnapper’s demands, making certain judgments on trials he’s in, all in hopes of having his kids returned safely.

The book had many suspects, lots of suspense, lots of ups and downs. At the heart of the story it was about power and revenge and about parents trying to save their kids. The book is well written and full of tension, and not just regarding the kidnapping! The story hits the ground running and never lets up. The ending was really good, too. .

Happy Reading!

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4 Responses

  1. Hi Lisa – nothing to do with your books post (I’m still so impressed you are finding the time to read with a baby and a full time job – I’m reading about 5 books a year at this point)…
    We just booked a trip to Austin next summer I know you’ve been several times – would love to hear any thoughts on things to do and restaurants. I definitely want to try Franklin’s but it looks like they had a fire and they’re closed – hopefully they’ll reopen next summer. If you have a chance to write – my email is beth@sher.com. Thanks so much!

  2. Thanks for another list of good reads, Lisa! I am waiting on my 2nd Louise Penny book from the library, because I liked the first one on audio, and they only have 1 copy – can you believe it? I did just finish Middlesex – thanks for the recommendation way back when. It was not at all what I expected, even after reading your review, but I did just love it. What a great story!

    1. I got my mom into the Louise Penny books, too! So glad other people are trying them. I really love the series.
      As for Middlesex, it was not what I expected either. It was a pleasant surprise and so fascinating. Glad you liked it!

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