Truly, Madly, Guilty

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I don’t know about you, but when a book knows something I don’t, and refuses to tell me what it is, it drives me crazy. So crazy that I just keep reading until I can’t keep my eyes open any longer. The fact that I chose to read another Liane Moriarty book during finals week probably wasn’t the smartest decision, but there really isn’t any stopping once I start. This book is what I consider “un-putdownable.” For obvious reasons.

Erika and Clementine have been best friends for over 20 years. They’ve shared a childhood, family vacations, boyfriends and they are in tune with one another and the way each other should be regarded and dealt with. The two of them are very different, and while there is the old saying of opposites attracting, these two can be more like oil and water.

Erika, daughter of a hoarder, spends her days with numbers and calculated assessments. She appreciates organization and lists, and does not understand how other people do not. She is married and she and her husband live a quiet and scheduled life in the suburbs. 

Clementine is an accomplished cellist who spends her days rehearsing and playing house with her husband and two little girls. She likes adventure and spontaneity, and considers herself easy going, until Erika is involved.

Fast-forward to one day when Erika and Clementine, along with their husbands and kids are invited to a barbecue. The events leading up to and what takes place after are the only clues you have for the longest time but are what make this book so readable. Scenes that the author dangles in front of you asking question after question: Was it a crime that had been committed? Did someone cheat on their spouse and get caught? Did someone have an admission of guilt? All these questions and more are what will keep you up late finishing this page turner. Thrown in for good measure, is the next door neighbor who has a slight anger problem, and the girls mothers’ who share animosity and resentment toward one another. 

All details adding up to one juicy story that you’ve never heard before.

 

In the Unlikely Event

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It’s been almost 20 years since Judy Blume has charmed readers with a book, and this one did not disappoint! She wrote a book called, It’s Not The End of the World, which was written by Blume in 1972 that shares a few parallels within this new book. Both deal with divorce and children who do not want their parents to divorce among other things.

In the Unlikely Event, takes place in New Jersey in 1951. The story’s main protagonist is Miri Ammerman, who has been raised by her single mother, Rusty, in addition to sharing living space with her grandmother and uncle (whom Miri adores). Miri is a 15 year old girl who writes for the school paper, spends as much time as possible with her best friend Natalie and has possibly found her first love.
But things quickly start diminishing when the town of Elizabeth, New Jersey is hit with disaster…. and another and another. Miri and her mother are there to witness the first disaster and from there Miri feels like her own world is imploding.

Told primarily by Miri, this story explores how people face tragedy and live to see another day. In between Miri’s point of view, there are snippets from other characters within the book- all of whom relate in one way or another to the Ammerman’s, and the disasters. By doing this, Blume is able to explore several hot topics, including grown children’s relationships, different nationalities, and religions.

Helping readers to view all sides of a story, rather than the typical one-sided view, Blume is able to bring out the best and worst in characters, highlighting their goodness and their flaws. Blume has not lost her touch since her last novel which came out in 1998, fans of her’s will flock to this book like so many of her others 🙂

The Same Sky

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For our February meeting, my book club is reading “The Same Sky,” by Amanda Eyre Ward. I am a procrastinator when it comes to being told what to read and so while I am the founder, I am also usually the last one to read a book. So when two of the ladies told me they had already started this book and that I should prepare to be sad/shaken I went ahead and dove in. And they were absolutely right.

I read this book in 24 hours. Because I could not stop reading. Every single page called my name.

This book is told from the perspective of Carla a young Honduran girl who is the only 6 years old when the story starts, and that of Alice a lady from Texas who is married and helps run a family restaurant.
Carla lives with her mother and twin brothers and their grandma, until her mom saves enough money to make it to the U.S. she leaves her children behind, sending money whenever she can. The kids are raised in filth and poverty, gangs are in every neighborhood and many children do not go to school, instead they spend their days at the dump sorting trash and their nights many turn to the drug resistol, which is an ingredient in glue to numb the pain of going without food. Carla is determined to get to the United States to be with her mother, so much so that she’ll do anything to survive and anything to make it out.
Then there is Alice. She and her husband Jake are in their early 40’s and are unable to have a baby. Despite past health issues the couple tried for years, even going for IVF and a surrogate with no positive outcomes. The couple tried to adopt but that came with complications as well. Lost and unsure of where her life is headed, Alice visits her sister in Colorado who has problems of her own, and finally turns to her husband for guidance on where to go from here.
These two characters, strong and sure in their own right, have to face their demons every day. Taking what life throws at them and refusing to accept it, refusing to settle causes them to rise from the ashes. And just where do their paths cross? You’ll have to read to find out. But I guarantee you, this book will stay with you for a long time after you put it down.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette

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Wow, two posts in one month, I am ecstatic about this 🙂 And you should know, with the exception of summer this’ll probably be the only time it happens!

“Where’d You Go, Bernadette,” is a book I can guarantee I’ll reread sometime. And that doesn’t happen often. Full of laughter, suspicion, and subtle suspense, Semple does a great job of making you hate and simultaneously love a character.

This story is written almost entirely in e-mails and letters which a person could think to be confusing, but instead what the style does is plot out the authors story, while allowing the readers imagination to free flow and create their own imagery. I found the book to be an easy but compelling read, with writing that reminded me of one of my favorite books “The Boy Next Door,” by Meg Cabot in 2002, which was also a book written entirely in e-mail. Come to think of it, “You’ve Got Mail,” is on my favorite movie list as well and it certainly focuses on emails as well.

So here is the synopsis, Bernadette Fox is a brilliant woman- architect, winner of a MacArthur grant, mother to Bee, and wife to Elgin. But Bernadette has some baggage. Ok a LOT of baggage. She does not handle reality in a way that most can, and chooses to live a somewhat alternative lifestyle.In a town and school district where others demand participation and community, Bernadette Fox  is her own person, fighting against the norm and what’s socially acceptable. But she puts her personal feelings aside when her daughter requests a trip to Antarctica in return for her perfect grades and acceptance into top schools. This trip is enough to put Bernadette over the edge, but she’ll do anything for Bee- whether others believe her or not.

A story that grazes on differences and how to accept them, “Where’d You Go, Bernadette,” is an excellent example of finding yourself. A fun, but telling read, I cannot recommend it enough!

 

The Husband’s Secret

And just like that, an entire month has flown by and I haven’t posted anything! Whoops. That’s what travel and Christmas do I suppose. All right, let’s jump right in, I have just finished (literally, just now) another Liane Moriarty book, and AGAIN I was not able to put it down.

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I think Moriarty may be my new favorite author. She says in her acknowledgements that at one time she only had a handful of readers in the U.S.– let’s hope that this is changing for the better, because each time I pick up one of her books I cannot stop reading. She has this formula for knowing her characters strengths and weaknesses and uses this as a way to suck in readers leaving them shocked and breathless. Each of her books, has a storyline that leads you to ask yourself hard questions, in “What Alice Forgot,” it was what would you change about your life if you went back 10 years?,” in “Big Little Lies,” it was a question of the lies we tell ourselves to get through our day, and now with “The Husband’s Secret,” we have to ask ourselves “What is my breaking point?,” and “To what lengths will I go in order to keep my life the way I like it?”

Three women, Rachel, Cecilia and Tess have things in common they could never have thought possible. A murder, looming divorce and loneliness all twist together in this spellbinding tale of things unseen being brought to light. And just what will they do now that such travesties are exposed?  A story that tells of pain and sadness, the newness of a lover, and a feeling of contempt towards another human being. These women are all hit in the face, so to speak, of facts within their lives they never knew, and this book tells of their undoing and of their rebuilding.

Moriarty is talented in taking ordinary people and relating them to her audience in a way that makes the story linger for days, months, even years after reading. So many times you have a book on your shelf and you may remember a vague detail and probably remember liking it, but with a Moriarty book you can pick it off your shelf and give a full synopsis to a friend without even glancing at the back cover. Her books are unforgettable, and I cannot recommend them enough.

Dust Fairy Tales: Absolutely Aggie

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Oh my word, do I love reading great kids books! The magical world of the Dust Fairy Tales, was recently introduced to me and I fell in love. A book that was cute, rhyming AND uplifting…. this one is a home-run! Michelle Eastman conquered a major feat with this one, because what some people don’t understand, is just how hard it is to write a children’s book that carries a positive message, without being preachy or sounding like an after school special. There is a fine line. What Eastman puts out in her Absolutely Aggie, is a message of belonging. To be and become the person you were created to be. Kids face hard truths each day, they get up, get on a bus or carpool head to school where parents aren’t there to protect them from bullying, crass language, and situations where they aren’t seeing themselves in the best light.

Absolutely Aggie is a young dust fairy who just wants to belong, but no matter how hard she tries she fails. She’s not dressed well, her hair is unruly and her socks don’t stay up. The other fairies don’t see her as fitting in at all with her loud bagpipes either. So Aggie becomes a bit of a loner, until a new friend comes along. What happens next? You’ll just have to read to find out!

If you’re looking for a fun, rhyming story that will uplift a child and help them to believe in their abilities, then this is a great story. Dust Fairy Tales is beautifully illustrated with a powerful message that will raise spirits and inspire kindness. A sweet story with a big heart, you won’t want to pass this one up!

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(A picture of Michelle Eastman reading to her son:) )

Sarah’s Key

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Are you the type of person who does something when they’re good and ready? Do you have to be asked several times before you’ll complete a task? Or how about, even though you know someone has your best interest at heart, it’s hard to take their suggestion…. Well it’s absolutely the type of person I am. Really. And my mother in law gave me this book last Christmas to read (she’s a big reader like me, and we like the same books mostly), and it has taken me all the way through November to read it. And you know what? I should have read it when she first gave it to me. It’s that good.

I was warned by a few people on the sadness of it, especially with the Holocaust being the prime focus, I mean, I couldn’t finish Schindler’s List, and I won’t watch The Book Thief-though I did finish that book. It’s a tough pill to swallow. But I am a big believer on history repeating itself if we don’t learn from it, so I gave the book a chance. And it broke my heart.

Sarah’s Key is the devastating story of a young girl who tries to protect her little brother the night of July 16, 1942 when the Parisian police force, went into several neighborhoods and arrested Jewish families, just for being Jewish. Unfolding over the course of 70 years, Sarah’s Key, will teach you about love, loss and grief in ways unimaginable. Detailing the treatment of Jews in the concentration camps, and the pieces left scattered from their unfortunate history, Sarah’s Key will leave you in tears.

This book is a must read for anyone who believes in learning from the past. Sarah’s Key has heart and the ability to show what will happen if we don’t, as a united people, stand up for minorities and ourselves. This story serves best on a rainy day with a box of tissues and a comfy couch because once you start, it is impossible to put down.