I did some good reading this month, both in terms of amount and quality. Honestly, not a bad book in the bunch. And a nice variety. Thriller, historical fiction, western, chick lit, YA. All in all, 8 books at 2,395 pages. Go me!
The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena (308 pages). At first glance, it was a strange combination of Truly, Madly, Guilty and Little Face (two books I’ve read already and really enjoyed). But it was actually very different. Anne and Marco left their 6 month old daughter at home to have dinner with their next door neighbors one night. They checked on her every thirty minutes. And had a monitor. But when they left dinner, the front door was open and Cora was gone. Without a trace of evidence. About halfway through the book, the kidnapper is revealed. But it’s not as simple as it appears, as everyone has secrets. Anne, Marco, the neighbors, Anne’s wealthy parents. The whole thing starts to go awry. And then, that ending! Suffice it to say, addictive read. I clearly read more than 50 pages a day because I didn’t want to put it down! I finished it in 4 days.
Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry (241 pages). Years ago, I bought the entire series that follows up The Giver. But I never got around to reading them so I decided to do just that. I wouldn’t go so far as to say this was a sequel though. So thank goodness it had been a while since I read The Giver (like I had to google the plot to remember it). Kira is crippled and orphaned in a society that doesn’t see value in either. When some of the women of her village take her before the Council of Guardians to ask for her death, Kira expects the worst. But the Guardians know about her gift, her artistry with tapestry. So she is brought into the Council Edifice to live and work. After befriending another artist, a young woodcarver named Thomas, she begins to learn some truths about the world she has always lived in. Her only other true friend, a young boy named Matt, helps her as well, by finding another village that exists past the Forest that surrounds them. I finished it in 3 days.
Messenger by Lois Lowry (169 pages). Book 3 in the series. Matty (yes, the same Matt from the previous book) has found a new home in a new village. He lives with the blind Seer in a village that appreciates differences and flaws. It’s a safe haven amongst the other villages. The Leader of the village, a man who arrived on a sled one winter day (hello Jonas from The Giver) has rules. But they are things like “no secrets” and a barter system and “everyone is special.” Matty happily spends his time in the village with Seer and going back to visit Kira, who happens to be Seer’s daughter. He even has a job- he’s the messenger for Leader. But selfishness and something else sinister start to invade their happy village. Something brought about when the Trademaster comes to town. And decisions are made that will affect not only the village, but the surrounding world. Matty learns that he too has a gift. And his gift is his greatest strength. The book was heartbreaking and so powerful. I finished it in 2 days.
Son by Lois Lowry (393 pages). The final book in the series. Claire is a Birth Mother in her village. When her first birthing goes wrong, she is sent to another job. Suddenly the contentment she’d always felt seems gone. Then, at that year’s Ceremony, a shocking event happened. Young Jonas is selected to be the Receiver (wait, did we just come full circle to The Giver?!). She also learns that her son survived the difficult birth. Yep, you guessed it- Baby Gabriel who escapes with Jonas! When Claire hears the alarm that Jonas and Gabe have escaped, she flees to a boat that’s from Elsewhere. And then wakes up in a new village with no memory of her prior life. When her memories start coming back, she decides it’s time to find her son. That’s when she meets Trademaster. And finds her way to the village where Gabe has been living with Jonas this whole time. Seriously, this series was phenomenal. Every once in a while, I read a YA book that makes me think and feel. And one that every child AND adult should read. This series was one of them. I finished it in 5 days.
Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella (345 pages). The 8th in the Shopaholic series. I decided to head back to a little mindless and fun chick lit. This one picks up where Shopaholic to the Stars left off, with Rebecca’s father and Suze’s husband off to Vegas to “right an old wrong.” Rebecca, Luke, their daughter Minnie, Suze, Alicia Bitch Longlegs, Rebecca’s Mom Jane and Jane’s best friend Janice are in aN RV, heading across the Southwest in search of their lost men. Turns out, there’s a big secret Rebecca’s dad has been hiding. For years. And nothing will stop Rebecca from fixing the problem, Ocean’s Eleven style! It was a lot of fun and an easy read. I finished it in 4 days.
The Hamilton Affair by Elizabeth Cobbs (424 pages). Yes, an old standby- historical fiction!! And historical fiction about my favorite musical (that I haven’t seen yet)? Double win. I had done some research on my own after becoming obsessed with Hamilton after hearing the musical. So I knew a lot about him. But reading anything bout him and his wife is fascinating to me. Cheating scandal aside, if I could find a love like the Hamiltons had, I would be ecstatic! Yes, he was very focused on starting our government (almost to the point of ignoring his family), but his love for Eliza never faltered. And her devotion to him for the last several decades of her life without him was astonishing. I finished it in 8 days.
The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold (291 pages). I picked this one because there were only 6 days left in the month, so I knew I had to pick something I could finish! Hey, I embrace my nerdiness. This one started with, wow. The very first chapter sets the events of the entire novel into motion, which isn’t something you see in every novel. It occurs over a 24 hour period. Helen Knightly is a middle aged woman. She’s given everything she has to everyone in her life- her children, her ex-husband, her father, but especially her emotionally and mentally ill mother. It all comes to a head one day. Helen makes an emotional decision. And holy crap- does it change everything!! It was eerie and haunting and soooo strange. I finished it in 2 days. I’m a hopeless nerd
True Grit by Charles Portis (224 pages). 4 days left in the month called for another short book to finish. Seeing as I did a bang up job of blowing through the previous one a leeeeetle faster than I thought I would. Just as enjoyable as the movie, maybe even more so. 14 year old Mattie Ross engages the services of US Marshall Rooster Cogburn and Texas Ranger LaBoeuf to help her track down the man who murdered her father in cold blood. For some reason, despite the fact that it’s a pretty basic story, it’s really really good! I finished it in 4 days.
This month's favorite read goes to (drum roll please)- The Giver series. It was amazing!! I seriously couldn’t pick just one favorite out of the three. They each just added to each other