Hey guys! Happy Thursday!!
Today, I’m popping in today to share some of my recent good reads. . .
The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House
A remarkable history with elements of both In the President’s Secret Service and The Butler, The Residence offers an intimate account of the service staff of the White House, from the Kennedys to the Obamas.
America’s First Families are unknowable in many ways. No one has insight into their true character like the people who serve their meals and make their beds every day. Full of stories and details by turns dramatic, humorous, and heartwarming, The Residence reveals daily life in the White House as it is really lived through the voices of the maids, butlers, cooks, florists, doormen, engineers, and others who tend to the needs of the President and First Family.
These dedicated professionals maintain the six-floor mansion’s 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, 28 fireplaces, three elevators, and eight staircases, and prepare everything from hors d’oeuvres for intimate gatherings to meals served at elaborate state dinners. Over the course of the day, they gather in the lower level’s basement kitchen to share stories, trade secrets, forge lifelong friendships, and sometimes even fall in love.
Combining incredible first-person anecdotes from extensive interviews with scores of White House staff members—many speaking for the first time—with archival research, Kate Andersen Brower tells their story. She reveals the intimacy between the First Family and the people who serve them, as well as tension that has shaken the staff over the decades. From the housekeeper and engineer who fell in love while serving President Reagan to Jackie Kennedy’s private moment of grief with a beloved staffer after her husband’s assassination to the tumultuous days surrounding President Nixon’s resignation and President Clinton’s impeachment battle, The Residence is full of surprising and moving details that illuminate day-to-day life at the White House.
My take: It was interesting to hear a different perspective on the White House, the presidents and their families that have lived there. It was strangely organized and seemed to jump around a lot from different people and times, it made the book seem choppy and not as cohesive as I would have liked. Overall, an interesting and fun read. My grade: B
All The Light We Cannot See
WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE
From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.
Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.
In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.
My take: This was a good read. A little slow in parts. I didn’t love the switching around from different persons perspectives and different points in time, but it got better the farther along in the book I read. It held my attention while I read it, but it isn’t a story that I’ll forever remember. . . even now when I am thinking about it, I am having a hard time remembering all the parts of the story. My grade: B.
The Silent Sister
Riley MacPherson has spent her entire life believing that her older sister Lisa committed suicide as a teenager. It was a belief that helped shape her own childhood and that of her brother. It shaped her view of her family and their dynamics. It influenced her entire life. Now, more than twenty years later, her father has passed away and she’s in New Bern, North Carolina, cleaning out his house when she finds evidence that what she has always believed is not the truth. Lisa is alive. Alive and living under a new identity. But why, exactly, was she on the run all those years ago? What secrets are being kept now, and what will happen if those secrets are revealed? As Riley works to uncover the truth, her discoveries will put into question everything she thought she knew about her family. Riley must decide what the past means for her present, and what she will do with her newfound reality. Told with Diane Chamberlain’s powerful prose and illumination into the human heart and soul, The Silent Sister is an evocative novel of love, loss, and the bonds among siblings.
My take: This book grabbed me right from the first couple of chapters. I listened to it on audio book and found myself sitting in the car after I had gotten home on more than one occasion to keep listening. . . And it had lots of crazy twists that I didn’t even see coming – the best kind! After the twists happened, the ending was somewhat predictable, but overall still a good and fun read. My grade: B+
In Reconstructing Amelia, the stunning debut novel from Kimberly McCreight, Kate’s in the middle of the biggest meeting of her career when she gets the telephone call from Grace Hall, her daughter’s exclusive private school in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Amelia has been suspended, effective immediately, and Kate must come get her daughter—now. But Kate’s stress over leaving work quickly turns to panic when she arrives at the school and finds it surrounded by police officers, fire trucks, and an ambulance. By then it’s already too late for Amelia. And for Kate.
An academic overachiever despondent over getting caught cheating has jumped to her death. At least that’s the story Grace Hall tells Kate. And clouded as she is by her guilt and grief, it is the one she forces herself to believe. Until she gets an anonymous text: She didn’t jump.
Reconstructing Amelia is about secret first loves, old friendships, and an all-girls club steeped in tradition. But, most of all, it’s the story of how far a mother will go to vindicate the memory of a daughter whose life she couldn’t save.
My take: This book sucked me in from the beginning but I was disappointed with the ending. No spoilers! It was a good read, but I’m not sure I would recommend it because of the ending. My grade: C
Just Between Us by Mario Lopez
With a star that rose from unforgettable child acting roles, such as A. C. Slater in Saved by the Bell, to the forefront of today’s entertainment media, Mario Lopez is nothing short of a pop culture sensation.
Now, as he turns forty, Mario looks back on his life with a newfound perspective and a humorous sensibility of how things have changed with age, divulging for the first time the endearing, surprising, and sometimes difficult experiences that shaped him into the loving father and husband he is today.
In Just Between Us, Mario shares a behind-the-scenes look into his successes and disappointments in the entertainment business and how his tight-knit family and long-standing values helped keep him grounded, no matter what.
With wit and candor, Mario reveals his most intimate never-before-told stories, including the details of his often tumultuous and largely public love life—giving readers a look at the ups and downs of his romantic past leading up to his happily-ever-after with his beautiful wife and their two children.
This is Mario Lopez unfiltered, for the first time ever.
My take: This was a fun read! I’m not a huge Mario fan, but still think he’s a fun guy to watch on TV, so reading about his life was interested. Did you know that one of Mario’s first kisses was with Fergie?? My grade: B
Have you read any good books lately??
Looking for more? Check out my other reading recommendation posts:
Reading Recommendations 2
Reading Recommendations 3
Reading Recommendations 4
Reading Recommendations 5
Reading Recommendations 6
Reading Recommendations 7
Linking up with Amanda today for Thinking Out Loud!
*Links and italics text are from Amazon.com.