Over on the old blog, I tried to keep up with monthly book updates. Let’s just say after about March, they no longer happened. The goal, eventually, is to have monthly book updates. But for now, below are my favorite reads from this year so far. If you’re ever curious about what I’m reading, check out the Books Read – 2015 list. I track everything I read there.
Without further ado, my top books from January – August 2015
The Book of Life
Synopsis (From Goodreads): After traveling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches–with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.
Verdict: I was hooked on this trilogy from the moment I read the first chapter of the first book. And this book did not disappoint. It wrapped up the trilogy in a lovely way, and I was sad to see it end. I wish (and hope) she would write more books. Not for this particular trilogy, but more stories. She’s an amazing storyteller. I want this trilogy made into a movie. Seriously, I loved it. And I’m not one to enjoy supernatural-type books. It’s incredible. If you don’t mind putting the time into it (each book is a minimum of 500 pages), then read them. You won’t be disappointed.
Synopsis (from Goodreads): One day, at the age of thirty-one, Susan Richards realized that she was an alcoholic. She wrote it down in her journal, struck by the fact that it had taken nine years of waking up hung-over to name her illness. What had changed? Susan had a new horse, a spirited Morgan named Georgia, and, as she says: “It had something to do with Georgia. It had something to do with making a commitment as enormous as caring for a horse that might live as my companion for the next forty years. It had something to do with love.” Every day begins with a morning ride.This is a memoir about the power of animals to carry us through the toughest times of our lives—about the importance of constancy, the beauty of quiet, steadfast love, the way loving a good (and sometimes bad!) animal can keep you going. It’s a wonderful story for Susan’s (and Georgia’s) fans, and for anyone who has ever loved an animal enough to keep on living.
Verdict: Despite loving horses, I don’t read many horse-related books. However, when I saw this one, I knew I needed to read it. I know the healing power of a bond with a horse. I could relate to Susan. Not in terms of abuse and alcoholism, but with that unbreakable bond. I really enjoyed this book, and whether you’ve been around horses or not, you will too. It’s more about their relationship than about horses. And if you’re an animal lover, you’ll relate.
Where’d You Go Bernadette
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic. To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence—creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.
Verdict: If you’re looking for a fun, quirky, and quick read, check this book out. It’s a different look at mental illness and how it can affect a person and a family. I really enjoyed the characters and getting to know each of them.
Synopsis (from Goodreads): For over a decade, Jenna Metcalf obsesses on her vanished mom Alice. Jenna searches online rereads journals of the scientist who studied grief among elephants. Two unlikely allies are Serenity Jones, psychic for missing people who doubt her gift, and Virgil Stanhope, jaded PI who originally investigated cases of Alice and her colleague. Hard questions and answers.
Verdict: I’m a big Jodi Picoult fan. I have since high school when I first read one of her novels (in case you’re wondering, it was Second Glance). This one did not disappoint. Perhaps I enjoyed it more because I work in a field where I’m surrounded by spirituality, mediums, and so on, but this book really struck a chord with me and I couldn’t put it down. It was a bit different for a Picoult story, but a good one none the less
Life in Motion
Synopsis from Goodreads: As the only African American soloist dancing with the prestigious American Ballet Theatre, Misty Copeland has made history. But when she first placed her hands on the barre at an after-school community center, no one expected the undersized, anxious thirteen-year-old to become a ground-breaking ballerina.
Verdict: I enjoyed every moment of this book. How she became a ballerina, where she came from, her struggles, her triumphs, and everything in between. I don’t want to say too much without giving away much of the book since it’s a biography, but it’s a great read. And talk about a role model. Not just for African-American women and girls, but for women and girls of all races. She had a dream, and a talent and she pursued it. Even if you’re not a dancer, check out this book. It will leave you inspired, and perhaps even googling videos of Misty Copeland’s ballets. I know I did.
The Good Girl
Synopsis (from Goodreads): One night, Mia Dennett enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn’t show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. At first, Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia’s life. When Colin decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota instead of delivering her to his employers, Mia’s mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them. But no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family’s world to shatter.
Verdict: I had been in a bit of reading slump right before reading this book. The books I had been reading hadn’t been giving me that “excited, don’t want to put it down” kind of feeling that I crave when I’m reading. Thankfully, this book gave me exactly what I was looking for. I never saw the twists and turns coming. I devoured nearly 3/4 of it while on a flight to Las Vegas, and couldn’t wait to pick it back up again on the flight home (not a lot of time to read on that trip). It’s fantastic, thrilling and will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Synopsis (from Goodreads): The women of the Waverley family — whether they like it or not — are heirs to an unusual legacy, one that grows in a fenced plot behind their Queen Anne home on Pendland Street in Bascom, North Carolina. There, an apple tree bearing the fruit of magical properties looms over a garden filled with herbs and edible flowers that possess the power to affect in curious ways anyone who eats them.
Verdict: Sarah Addison Allen is one of my favorite authors. I have loved every single book I have read by her. Each one is so incredibly different. I loved the premise of this one; using herbs and flowers that can heal, tell the future, and so forth. But the family story was really what grabbed me. If you haven’t read anything by her, I highly recommend this particular, although anything by her is guaranteed to wonderful. I can’t wait to read the sequel to this, First Frost. It’s already waiting for me on my Nook.
The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls
Synopsis (from Goodreads): It is 1930, the midst of the Great Depression. After her mysterious role in a family tragedy, passionate, strong-willed Thea Atwell, age fifteen, has been cast out of her Florida home, exiled to an equestrienne boarding school for Southern debutantes. High in the Blue Ridge Mountains, with its complex social strata ordered by money, beauty, and girls’ friendships, the Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls is a far remove from the free-roaming, dreamlike childhood Thea shared with her twin brother on their family’s citrus farm—a world now partially shattered. As Thea grapples with her responsibility for the events of the past year that led her here, she finds herself enmeshed in a new order, one that will change her sense of what is possible for herself, her family, her country.
Verdict: When I discovered this book, the description sounded interesting, and since it was inexpensive, I figured I’d give it a try. I was pleasantly surprised. I love historical fiction and I could picture every aspect of this book. I loved seeing Thea grow into the person she became and how she overcame the family tragedy that brought her to the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s an amazing story and one that won’t disappoint.
Synopsis (from Goodreads): It’s the summer of 1979, and a dry, hot, northern California school vacation stretches ahead for Rachel and her younger sister Patty-the daughters a larger-than-life, irresistibly handsome and chronically unfaithful detective father who loves to make women happy, and the mother whose heart he broke. Left to their own devices, the inseparable sisters spend their days studying record jackets, concocting elaborate fantasies about the life of the mysterious neighbor who moves in down the street and playing dangerous games on the mountain that rises up behind their house. When young women start showing up dead on the mountain, the girls’ father is charged with finding the man responsible, known as The Sunset Strangler. Seeing her father’s life slowly unravel when he fails to stop the murders, Rachel embarks on her most dangerous game yet: setting herself up as bait to catch the killer, with consequences that will destroy her father’s career and alter the lives of everyone she loves.
Verdict: Have you read or watched Labor Day? If not, you should. It was the first book I read by Joyce Maynard. And I fell in love with her writing. When I heard her latest book was due out, I couldn’t wait. And I was just as pleased as when I read Labor Day. The book is advertised as more of a mystery when it’s not. It does have thriller elements, but overall it’s just a good story about a family, their police officer family and how their lives unravel as their father is put in charge of finding a notorious serial killer in their town.
The Bone Season
Synopsis (From Goodreads): The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people’s minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing. It is raining the day her life changes forever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped, Paige is transported to Oxford – a city kept secret for two hundred years, controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. Paige is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite with mysterious motives. He is her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die.
Verdict: I had heard about this book via NetGalley, when the second in the series was getting ready for release, and it sounded interesting. I ended up purchasing it down the road when it was set up as a Nook Deal. I didn’t know what to expect, but I am happy to say, it was incredible. It reminded me a bit of The Hunger Games, but a supernatural version. Paige is a strong female character and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next for her in the sequel, The Mime Order.
Find a book that interests you? Beginning in October, I will be recapping what I read the month before.
Happy long weekend!
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