Despite the fact that I didn't get quite as much pool time this month as I would've liked (only 4 days over 2 weekend), I still managed to get some good reading done. It certainly helped that the last day of the month was rainy, so I could just switch my poolside reading indoors. I finished 6 books at 2,191 pages.
The Light in the Ruins by Chris Bohjalian (305 pages). Another author I've always enjoyed. This one was different than his typical novel, it just as enjoyable. In 1955, Francesca Rosita is the last of her immediate family to die. Her husband and two children were killed in 1944 during WWII. But she's the first of her extended family to be murdered and have her heart removed from her chest. At first, the murder seems, while clearly vindictive, aimed solely at Francesca. But when her mother in law, Beatrice, is also killed in the same way, detectives Serafina and Paulo quickly realize someone has a vendetta against the surviving Rositas. Serafina remembers her connection to the Rosita family- she was a young partisan during the war and their property saved her life. The story told during 1944 is so horrific- the atrocities the Rositas had already faced were devastating. But who hates them so much that they won't simply leave them alone with their memories and their suffering? Serafina rushes to learn the truth before the entire family is wiped out. I couldn't put it down. I finished it in two days (yes, it's pool time again!)
The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain (522 pages). In 1977, 16 year old CeeCee falls head over heels in love with 22 year old Tim Gleason. When Tim asks her to help him and his brother kidnap the governor's wife so that their sister's death sentence can be commuted, she agrees. But their "well-laid" plans completely fall apart when the wife dies, leaving behind a newborn baby girl. A baby girl that CeeCee I now solely responsible for. She starts a new life, with a new name. But running through the back of her mind at all times is, will she get caught. When Tim is eventually charged with, and convicted of, the murder of the governor's wife, CeeCee has to decide whether to let him take the fall for her or tell the truth about what happened that night. It was a GREAT novel!! I finished it in 10 days.
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (359 pages). Sarah Grimke is 11 years old when her parents "gift" her with her own ladies' maid, Hetty (aka Handful). Even at a young age, Sarah knows she's different than other girls and even different than her family. She hates slavery and everything it stands for. She has ambitions and desires. Eventually, she realizes that she doesn't fit into Charleston society and makes her way to Philadelphia. There, she becomes a Quaker. And eventually her younger sister Nina joins her. Together, they become famous (and infamous) abolitionists. Meanwhile, Handful is facing her own battles. She has never allowed herself to be a slave in her own mind and she is willing to do whatever it takes to free her body from slavery as well. The two women remain friends and confidantes, no matter the distance. I had NO idea that Sarah Grimke was a real person until I picked up this novel. She was one of the first famous abolitionists. Literally, she paved the way for many of the famous abolitionists who came later. She spoke out for rights for slaves AND for women. She was quite a woman! I finished it in 3 days (hurrah for pool time!)
Jane Slayre by Charlotte Bronte & Sherri Browning Erwin (391 pages). Yep, this book was exactly what the title implied- a combination of Jane Eyre and a vampire slayer. As Jane Eyre is a great favorite of mine, I thought this would be fun. And it was! The Reeds are vampyres, the Lowood Institution creates zombies, the first Mrs Rochester is a werewolf, and Jane herself, as her last name implies, is a Slayre. It runs in her blood. The writing was very true to Bronte (honestly, Erwin simply changed a few things to make it a monster novel). Not everyone likes this type of novel. But if you do like a classic novel with a vampire twist, this one's great. As good as Pride & Prejudice & Zombies or The Last American Vampire, in my opinion! I finished it in 6 days.
The Status of All Things by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke (292 pages). I wanted a little classic chick lit. And this one was GREAT! Kate is 35, about to get married and has a slight Facebook addiction. She spends a little too much time crafting the perfect picture and status every time she posts. She obsesses about her Facebook friends' lives and how her own measures up. At her rehearsal dinner, her fiancé Max decides to tell her that he cannot marry her. Because he is in love with her coworker and good friend. Kate is justifiably devastated. But when she goes on Facebook to bemoan her situation, she realizes that her status updates become true. When given the opportunity to go back and change everything, can you really change it? For a chick lit book, this one really made me think. No one's Facebook status is a full picture of their life. And have we become so dependent on technology that we have forgotten how to interact with actual people? Expect more in person interaction from me after reading this. I can't promise there will be less Facebooking though. I finished it in 6 days.
The Killing Tree by Rachel Keener (322 pages). Mercy Heron has never left Crooked Top Mountain. And even though she has dreams, deep down she knows she never will. Her overly religious grandfather and slightly eccentric grandmother have raised her since her young mother died giving birth to her under a tree. The summer after she graduates from high school, everything changes. Mercy meets Trout, a mater migrant who opens her heart to the world. As Mercy becomes more aware of herself and her family, she becomes more of the woman she was always meant to be. I enjoyed it, even though there were some parts I found myself a little confused by. I finished it in 4 days. Because I had to (there were only 4 days left in the month!)