reading list

Books #53

Sorry it’s been awhile! Honestly, I’ve been struggling to read lately. With the pandemic and everything in the news, it’s hard to focus. I used to read 2 or 3 books a week but lately, I’m lucky if I finish one book a week now. But nonetheless, here are some suggestions for you:

#1 The Demon in the Freezer by Richard Preston

This book is a terrifying read. It’s about anthrax, smallpox and weaponizing viruses. I did not know a ton about smallpox or anthrax before reading this book. I had a basic knowledge of it but reading this book was really eye-opening and absolutely terrifying. Yes, they “eradicated” smallpox….but….apparently the US and Russia still have some on hand, JUST IN CASE, to make biological weapons.

Don’t read this book if you freak out easily! It’s so scary!

#2 The Janes (Alice Vega Book #2) by Louisa Luna

This was a strong follow up to the first book in the series. In this one, Alice and Cap are in San Diego working “under the table” with a task force (DEA and local PD) that found two bodies of young girls. The story is about human trafficking.

The book is good and the story kept me guessing. It felt a little long at times and I’m not sure if it needed some editing, or if it was just the flow of the story, but there were a few times where it felt exceptionally long. Other than that, I liked the story and the characters.

#3 Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

Edward is 12 years old when he loses his whole family. They are flying to LA from New York for his mom to start a new job. His mom is in first class, he’s sitting with his older brother and dad. When the plane crashes. Everyone on the plane but Edward dies. The book is about grief, healing, learning to rebuild your life after tragedy and to find your way after your life is so radically changed.

The book is about a tragedy and it’s sad, but it’s not a depressing read. It’s hopeful and sweet at times. It’s also a coming-of-age type of story as it follows Edward from age 12 to 18. I enjoyed the book and liked the unique way the story was written.

#4 The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim DeFede

This was a really good story and uplifting. It was a story I never knew about, too! In all of the 9-11 books and articles I’ve read, somehow I missed this gem.

“Thirty-eight planes landed there on September 11, depositing 6,595 passengers and crew members in a town whose population is barely 10,000… They placed their lives on hold for a group of strangers and asked for nothing in return. They affirmed the basic goodness of man at a time when it was easy to doubt such humanity still existed.”

Amidst the horrors of that day and the aftermath, here was a small Canadian village that dropped everything to take care of these stranded people.

“The volunteers at the fraternal organization had made a point of cooking something special for the passengers on their first night with them and had prepared a roast-beef banquet. Rather than serving the meal buffet style, the volunteers insisted on each of the 154 passengers taking their seats and being waited on as if they were in a restaurant.”

It was a really positive message.

#5 The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

I liked this book. My only complaint is that it was really long.

It takes place during WWI and then after WWII. Eve is a young spy during WWI for England. She’s in German-occupied France, working in a restaurant as a waitress. But no one knows she speaks German, too, so she eavesdrops and passes on important messages to the resistance as part of the “Alice Network” for England.

Then fast forward years later, Eve is an old woman, and she meets Charlie, an American girl in London looking for her missing cousin. They band together. The story is well written and the characters are multi-dimensional. I felt like Charlie’s cousin’s story line was the weak link and the rest of the story was more interesting, but overall I enjoyed the book and was fascinated that it was based on some true history.

#6 A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight

I thought this book was really excellent! It definitely had a “Big Little Lies” vibe to it. Rich, private school, a murder, a trial, secrets coming out… It was well written and kept me guessing and kept me reading. It was a page turner for sure! And I liked the ending.

Happy Reading!

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Books #48

My goal for 2019 was 165 books and I just reached that goal!

I’ve read some good ones lately! I also had a FLOOD of library books all come available at the same time, of course, so it was hard to get through everything. But here are some favorites:

#1 A Season to Lie (Detective Gemma Monroe #2) by Emily Littlejohn

Really strong sequel. I enjoyed this mystery a lot. Gemma is back, a new mother, and trying to fit back into work after maternity leave. She gets a big case–a famous author is murdered. I didn’t guess who the doer was until almost the end, so I liked the surprise. There were lots of twists and turns and red herrings. The characters showed some growth, too, and seemed a little more fleshed out.

#2 The Birth House by Ami McKay

I really enjoyed this book! It was a fascinating read and I loved the characters.

It takes place in the early 1900’s in a remote Canadian community in Nova Scotia. Dora is a teenager and is befriended by the town midwife, Miss B, who takes her under her wing and teachers her how to “catch babies.”

“Miss B. never asks for payment from those who come to her. She says a true traiteur never does. Grandmothers who still believe in her ways and thankful new mothers leave coffee tins, heavy with coins that have been collected after Sunday service. In season, families bring baskets of potatoes, carrots, cabbage and anything else she might need to get by.”

It’s a fascinating time period because it’s a clash of two worlds. The old world, where women went to the midwife for everyone, and the new “shiny birthing center” built by an insurance company and run by a man. This is also the time of “twilight birth” being touted as the BEST way to give birth! Chloroform and ether! Yay!

““The latest methods of obstetrics—chloroform, ether, chloral, opium, morphine, the use of forceps—these things can make birthing the joyful experience it was meant to be. I can even administer Twilight Sleep if desired.” “

There was so much history and interesting stuff in this book and it was a real joy to read. The book was well written and a fast read.

“If women lose the right to say where and how they birth their children, then they will have lost something that’s as dear to life as breathing. I’m tired of being afraid.”

#3 Old Bones (Nora Kelly) by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

So good! Nora Kelly is “back”–she was first introduced in one of my FAVORITE books (Thunderhead) so it looks like they are making a series out of her. In this book, Nora is approached by a historian who has knowledge of a secret third camp from the Donner Party in the Sierra Nevadas. Together they convince her boss at the Museum to put together a team to search for it.

The book is really well written. You get sucked into the story immediately and it’s exciting and faced paced. Felt like an Indian Jones movie, with a little twist of horror. Loved the ending!

#4 Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

Laurel Mack is a 50-something mother of three who never really got over the fact that her 15 year old daughter, Ellie, disappeared 10 years ago. It destroyed her, destroyed her marriage, fractured her relationship with her other two kids. Now she’s trying to piece together her life and move on. She starts by dating a handsome stranger, Floyd, whom she meets in a cafe.

But as the buzz of new happiness starts to dissipate, Laurel starts to question some things about Floyd and his 9 year old daughter, Poppy.

So the book was good. It kept me reading long after I should have put the book down. The writing and the dialogue was good. The atmosphere created was good. The plot points were obvious and predictable and unrealistic, but I still liked the book a lot so it kept me reading.

#5 The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

Wow! This book blew me away. It was so so good. The author expertly created a vibe of creepiness that never wavered throughout the book. The creepy, remote house in the middle of nowhere in Scotland. Creepy kids. A house that is super high tech where you’re constantly feeling watched…All the elements were there.

Rowan takes a job as a live-in nanny in remote Scotland. The parents are rich architects and away a lot. Rowan is kind of thrown into the mix immediately and strange things start happening in this weird house, where there’s a history of “ghosts” and hauntings and there’s a poison garden on the grounds. Everything about the place and the kids and the situation has Rowan on edge. In the end, a child ends up dead. (Thankfully, it’s not described in detail, so don’t let that aspect deter you from reading the book like it almost did me.) The ending had several twists and turns that were surprising.

#6 The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg

I found this book enduring and sweet and heartwarming. Arthur is an 80-something year old man who visits his wife in the cemetery every day for lunch. He’s lonely. Maddy is a teenager who is also lonely and visit her mom in the cemetery. They become unlikely friends. The book was reminiscent of Catherine Hyde Ryan books. I enjoyed it.

Happy Reading!

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