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Reading Recommendations 8

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

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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

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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

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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+

Reconstructing Amelia

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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. Sad smile My grade: C 

Just Between Us by Mario Lopez 

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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
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.

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Reading Recommendations 7

Hey guys! Happy Thursday!!

Today, I’m popping in today to share some of my recent good reads. . .

Big Little Lies

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Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal.

A murder…A tragic accident…Or just parents behaving badly? What’s indisputable is that someone is dead.

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny, biting, and passionate; she remembers everything and forgives no one. Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare but she is paying a price for the illusion of perfection. New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for a nanny. She comes with a mysterious past and a sadness beyond her years. These three women are at different crossroads, but they will all wind up in the same shocking place.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

–> a good “beach” read with an interesting twist at the very end. The book was a little slow at points, but the characters were interesting enough to keep me reading and I liked the twist at the end. My grade – B+

Labor Day

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The  unforgettable story of a mother and son forever changed during a long summer weekend when a mysterious man comes into their lives.

–> super quick read. I wasn’t exactly sure where the story was going but it kept me interested. Not my favorite book, but a decent beach read. C+

The Secret Keeper

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During a picnic at her family’s farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson witnesses a shocking crime, a crime that challenges everything she knows about her adored mother, Dorothy. Now, fifty years later, Laurel and her sisters are meeting at the farm to celebrate Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday. Realizing that this is her last chance to discover the truth about that long-ago day, Laurel searches for answers that can only be found in Dorothy’s past. Clue by clue, she traces a secret history of three strangers from vastly different worlds thrown together in war-torn London—Dorothy, Vivien, and Jimmy—whose lives are forever after entwined. A gripping story of deception and passion, The Secret Keeper will keep you enthralled to the last page.

–> I really liked this book, the story was interesting and I liked how it jumped around from each person’s view point and from the past to the present. It dragged a little bit in the middle, but the ending was totally worth the read. My grade – A

Obsession in Death

A #1 New York Times Bestselling Author Eve Dallas has solved a lot of high-profile murders for the NYPSD and gotten a lot of media. She and her billionaire husband are getting accustomed to being objects of attention. But now Eve has become one person’s obsession. Someone who thinks about her every hour of every day. Who believes the two of them have a special relationship. Who would kill for her again and again. And Eve knows that underneath the worship, a terrible threat lies in wait.

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–> So, I didn’t realize that this is like book #40 in a “In Death” series. . . thankfully, it is a good stand alone book. I liked the characters and think I will go back and read more of the series. This one was a fairly standard murder/cop mystery. Somewhat predictable but still a good read. My grade – B

The Husband’s Secret

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At the heart of The Husband’s Secret is a letter that is not meant to be read…
My darling Cecilia,
If you’re reading this, then I’ve died…

Imagine your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not only the life you have built together, but the lives of others as well. And then imagine that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive…

Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything—and not just for her. There are other women who barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they, too, are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.

–> such. a. good. book. I couldn’t put it down. I lost a lot of sleep the week I was reading this one. The perfect vacation/lazy weekend read. My grade – A

The Boys In The Boat.

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For readers of Unbroken, out of the depths of the Depression comes an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times—the improbable, intimate account of how nine working-class boys from the American West showed the world at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin what true grit really meant.

It was an unlikely quest from the start. With a team composed of the sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the University of Washington’s eight-oar crew team was never expected to defeat the elite teams of the East Coast and Great Britain, yet they did, going on to shock the world by defeating the German team rowing for Adolf Hitler. The emotional heart of the tale lies with Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not only to regain his shattered self-regard but also to find a real place for himself in the world. Drawing on the boys’ own journals and vivid memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, Brown has created an unforgettable portrait of an era, a celebration of a remarkable achievement, and a chronicle of one extraordinary young man’s personal quest.

–> Another winner. SO interesting and amazing. I love how the story started with following one boys childhood and then intertwining with the other boys who rowed in the crew team for University of Washington and then competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Also, it was very interesting to read about the Olympic preparations in Germany during the Nazi era. So much sadness during that time period, but this story will stay with you. I read it a few weeks ago and I am still thinking about this amazing story of the nine boys and their journey to the Olympics. Grade – A+

Looking for more? Check out my other reading recommendation posts:

Reading Recommendations
Reading Recommendations 2
Reading Recommendations 3
Reading Recommendations 4
Reading Recommendations 5
Reading Recommendations 6

Linking up with Amanda today for Thinking Out Loud!

*Links and italics text are from Amazon.com.

Have you read any good books lately??

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Reading Recommendations 6

Hey guys! Happy Thursday!!

Today, I’m popping in today to share some of my recent good reads. . .

Orphan Train

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Christina Baker Kline’s Orphan Train is an unforgettable story of friendship and second chances that highlights a little-known but historically significant movement in America’s past.

Penobscot Indian Molly Ayer is close to “aging out” out of the foster care system. A community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping Molly out of juvie and worse…

As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly learns that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.

Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.

–> I didn’t realize it was based on a true event until I was done with the book. According to my sister, there is some family connection with the real orphan train. Super interesting. It’s a sad and heart-breaking story to begin but where their lives take them is inspiring and heart-warming. Grade: B+

If I Stay  (Book 1 of 2)

In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen ­year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make. Heartwrenchingly beautiful, this will change the way you look at life, love, and family. Now a major motion picture starring Chloe Grace Moretz, Mia’s story will stay with you for a long, long time.

–> I liked this book a lot better than the second book. I thought it was sweet and heart breaking. And even though I knew there was a second book, it kept me guessing the entire time what would really happen in the end. Grade: B+

Where She Went (Book 2 of 2)

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Picking up several years after the dramatic conclusion of If I Stay, Where She Went continues the story of Adam and Mia, from Adam’s point of view. Ever since Mia’s decision to stay – but not with him – Adam’s career has been on a wonderful trajectory. His album, borne from the anguish and pain of their breakup, has made him a bona fide star. And Mia herself has become a top-rate cellist, playing in some of the finest venues in the world. When their respective paths put them both in New York City at the same time, the result is a single night in which the two reunite – with wholly satisfying results.

–> Interesting. Sad. Can get a little boring. Grade: C+

A Pearl in the Storm: How I Found My Heart in the Middle of the Ocean

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“In the end, I know I rowed across the Atlantic to find my heart, but in the beginning, I wasn’t aware that it was missing.”

In June 1998, Tori McClure began rowing across the Atlantic Ocean solo in a twenty-three-foot plywood boat with no motor or sail. Within days she lost all communication with shore but decided to forge ahead — not knowing that 1998 would turn out to be the worst hurricane season on record in the North Atlantic. When she was nearly killed by a series of violent storms, Tori was forced to signal for help and head home in what felt like disgrace. But then her life changed in unexpected ways. She was hired by Muhammad Ali, who told her she did not want to be known as the woman who “almost” rowed across the Atlantic. And at thirty-five, Tori fell in love.

A Pearl in the Storm is Tori’s thrilling true story of high adventure — and of her personal quest to discover that embracing her own humanity was more important than superhuman feats.

–> Uplifting. Inspiring. Awe-inducing. Grade: A

The Storyteller

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Sage Singer is a baker. She works through the night, preparing the day’s breads and pastries, trying to escape a reality of loneliness, bad memories, and the shadow of her mother’s death. When Josef Weber, an elderly man in Sage’s grief support group, begins stopping by the bakery, they strike up an unlikely friendship. Despite their differences, they see in each other the hidden scars that others can’t.
Everything changes on the day that Josef confesses a long-buried and shame­ful secret and asks Sage for an extraordinary favor. If she says yes, she faces not only moral repercussions, but potentially legal ones as well. With the integrity of the closest friend she’s ever had clouded, Sage begins to question the assumptions and expectations she’s made about her life and her family. In this searingly honest novel, Jodi Picoult gracefully explores the lengths to which we will go in order to keep the past from dictating the future.

–> Haunting. Heart wrenching. Graphic. World War II fiction. Some of the parts of the story are so real, I don’t think I will ever forget the imagery painted by the author. Grade A- (I gave it the minus because I am not sure I would have read it, if I would have known how graphic and descriptive scenes from the concentration camps were, however, I think it was a really really good book.)

This won’t hurt a bit

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Michelle Au started medical school armed only with a surfeit of idealism, a handful of old ER episodes for reference, and some vague notion about “helping people.”
This Won’t Hurt a Bit is the story of how she grew up and became a real doctor.
It’s a no-holds-barred account of what a modern medical education feels like, from the grim to the ridiculous, from the heartwarming to the obscene. Unlike most medical memoirs, however, this one details the author’s struggles to maintain a life outside of the hospital, in the small amount of free time she had to live it. And, after she and her husband have a baby early in both their medical residencies, Au explores the demands of being a parent with those of a physician, two all-consuming jobs in which the lives of others are very literally in her hands.
Au’s stories range from hilarious to heartbreaking and hit every note in between, proving more than anything that the creation of a new doctor (and a new parent) is far messier, far more uncertain, and far more gratifying than one could ever expect.

–> Anyone who is interested in the medical field or what it’s like to be a medical student/resident/new doctor should read this book. It is 100% #truth about the real life day to day and year to year struggles/triumphs/process of becoming a doctor.

Looking for more? Check out my other reading recommendation posts:

Reading Recommendations
Reading Recommendations 2
Reading Recommendations 3
Reading Recommendations 4
Reading Recommendations 5

Linking up with Amanda today for Thinking Out Loud!

Have you read any good books lately??

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Reading Recommendations 5

Hey guys! Happy Thursday!!

Today, I’m popping in today to share some of my recent good reads. . .

Masque of Red Death – Bethany Griffin

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Everything is in ruins.

A devastating plague has decimated the population, and those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles around them.

So what does Araby Worth have to live for?

Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery makeup . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all.

But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club, and Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.

And Araby may find not just something to live for, but something to fight for—no matter what it costs her

–> Interesting read with lots of questions and wondering throughout this first book. Overall a dark read because the book is all about plague, death and dying. When I read it, I didn’t realize it was the first book of two and when it ended, I was like “whaaaaaat???” Thankfully, I was able to get the next book from the library super quick..  .

Dance of Red Death (sequel to Masque of Red Death)- Bethany Griffin

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In Dance of the Red Death, Araby’s world is in shambles—betrayal, death, disease, and evil forces surround her. She has no –one to trust. But she will fight for herself, for the people she loves, and for her city. Her revenge will take place at the menacing masked ball. It could destroy her and everyone she loves . . . or it could turn her into a hero.

–> the awesome conclusion to the first book. Full of more twists, questions and turns. . . and all is answered in the end. Overall a fun but dark read.

Guilty Wives – James Patterson

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Only minutes after Abbie Elliot and her three best friends step off of a private helicopter, they enter the most luxurious, sumptuous, sensually pampering hotel they have ever been to. Their lavish presidential suite overlooks Monte Carlo, and they surrender: to the sun and pool, to the sashimi and sake, to the Bruno Paillard champagne. For four days they’re free to live someone else’s life. As the weekend moves into pulsating discos, high-stakes casinos, and beyond, Abbie is transported to the greatest pleasure and release she has ever known.
What happened last night?
In the morning’s harsh light, Abbie awakens on a yacht, surrounded by police. Something awful has happened–something impossible, unthinkable. Abbie, Winnie, Serena, and Bryah are arrested and accused of the foulest crime imaginable. And now the vacation of a lifetime becomes the fight of a lifetime–for survival. GUILTY WIVES is the ultimate indulgence, the kind of nonstop joy-ride of excess, friendship, betrayal, and danger that only James Patterson can create.

A fun “who-done-it” chick flick. I loved the main character and trying to figure out what was going to happen. I listened to it on audio book in the car on the way to work and it was a fun one to listen to. Beware – there are some quite graphic descriptions of love escapades.

Sharp Objects – Gilian Flynn

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Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, reporter Camille Preaker faces a troubling assignment: she must return to her tiny hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. For years, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed in her old bedroom in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Dogged by her own demons, she must unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past if she wants to get the story—and survive this homecoming.

–> whoa. this one is dark. a little uncomfortable and a lot crazy. but I really enjoy Gillian Flynn novels and this one is no exception. Not my favorite one of hers, but still a decent read.

The Matchmaker – Elin Hilderbrand

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48-year-old Nantucketer Dabney Kimball Beech has always had a gift for matchmaking. Some call her ability mystical, while others – like her husband, celebrated economist John Boxmiller Beech, and her daughter, Agnes, who is clearly engaged to the wrong man – call it meddlesome, but there’s no arguing with her results: With 42 happy couples to her credit and all of them still together, Dabney has never been wrong about romance.
Never, that is, except in the case of herself and Clendenin Hughes, the green-eyed boy who took her heart with him long ago when he left the island to pursue his dream of becoming a journalist. Now, after spending 27 years on the other side of the world, Clen is back on Nantucket, and Dabney has never felt so confused, or so alive.
But when tragedy threatens her own second chance, Dabney must face the choices she’s made and share painful secrets with her family. Determined to make use of her gift before it’s too late, she sets out to find perfect matches for those she loves most. The Matchmaker is a heartbreaking story about losing and finding love, even as you’re running out of time.

–> Total chick flick. Totally predictable. But still a cute, fast read.

Looking for more? Check out my other reading recommendation posts:

Reading Recommendations
Reading Recommendations 2
Reading Recommendations 3
Reading Recommendations 4

Linking up with Amanda today for Thinking Out Loud!

Read any good books lately??

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Reading Recommendations 4

Since my 1st reading recommendations post, my 2nd one and 3rd one, I have read (or listened to on audiobook on my way to work) some more great books to share with you! These are the ones that I would recommend!!

The Hunt, The Pray, The Trap

Don’t Sweat.  Don’t Laugh.  Don’t draw attention to yourself.  And most of all, whatever you do, do not fall in love with one of them.

Gene is different from everyone else around him.  He can’t run with lightning speed, sunlight doesn’t hurt him and he doesn’t have an unquenchable lust for blood.  Gene is a human, and he knows the rules.  Keep the truth a secret.  It’s the only way to stay alive in a world of night—a world where humans are considered a delicacy and hunted for their blood.

When he’s chosen for a once in a lifetime opportunity to hunt the last remaining humans, Gene’s carefully constructed life begins to crumble around him.  He’s thrust into the path of a girl who makes him feel things he never thought possible—and into a ruthless pack of hunters whose suspicions about his true nature are growing. Now that Gene has finally found something worth fighting for, his need to survive is stronger than ever—but is it worth the cost of his humanity?

–> another vampire book? Yup, I was a little skeptical at first too, but I really liked this series. And it’s different from the typical vampires stories. A fun read with lots of twists in the trilogy series.

Absolute Power – David Baldacci

In a heavily guarded mansion in a posh Virginia suburb, a man and a woman start to make love, trapping Luther Whitney, a career break-in artist, behind a secret wall. Then the passion turns deadly, and Luther is running into the night. Because what he has just seen is a brutal murder involving Alan Richmond, the president of the United States, the man with…Absolute Power.

–> oh man – awesome read. Great twists, turns and shockers.

After Her – Joyce Maynard

Marin County, California, summer, 1979. When young women start turning up dead on the mountain behind the home of Rachel and her devoted eleven-year-old sister, Patty, their father—a larger-than-life, irresistibly handsome (and chronically unfaithful) detective—is put in charge of finding the “Sunset Strangler.” Watching her father’s life slowly unravel as months pass and more women are killed, Rachel embarks on a dangerous game to catch the killer. Her actions will destroy her father’s career and alter forever the lives of everyone she loves. Thirty years later, believing that the wrong man was arrested for the crimes, leaving the true killer at large, Rachel constructs a new strategy to smoke out the Sunset Strangler and vindicate her father—and discovers more than she bargained for.

Loosely inspired by the Trailside Killer case, After Her is part thriller, part love story—a poignant, suspenseful, and painfully real family saga that traces a young girl’s first sexual explorations, the loss of innocence, the bond shared by sisters, and the tender but damaged relationship between a girl and her father that endures even beyond the grave.

–> a very thoughtful book. . . one that you will think about long after reading.

The One – Kiera Cass

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The Selection changed America Singer’s life in ways she never could have imagined. Since she entered the competition to become the next princess of Illéa, America has struggled with her feelings for her first love, Aspen—and her growing attraction to Prince Maxon. Now she’s made her choice . . . and she’s prepared to fight for the future she wants.

Find out who America will choose in The One, the enchanting, beautifully romantic third book in the Selection series!

–> Love love love this book and this entire Selection Series. Such a chick flick but a great, quick, cute read.

Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant – Veronica Roth

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

–> so unless you have been living under a rock, you’ve probably at least heard of this series, maybe have read the books or seen the movie..  . well, I might be the first person ever to say that I didn’t love them. Well, not exactly. . . I really enjoyed Divergent, but it went downhill after that. Insurgent was just ok and Allegiant was totally boring for me. Oh well, you can’t win them all. BUT, I am still going to see the movies. Winking smile

Read any good books lately???

Linking up with Amanda today for Thinking Out Loud!!

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Reading Recommendations 3

Since my 1st reading recommendations post  and 2nd one, I have read (or listened to on audiobook on my way to work) some more great books to share with you! These are the ones that I would recommend!!

Necessary Lies – Diane Chamberlain

“After losing her parents, fifteen-year-old Ivy Hart is left to care for her grandmother, older sister and nephew as tenants on a small tobacco farm.  As she struggles with her grandmother’s aging, her sister’s mental illness and her own epilepsy, she realizes they might need more than she can give.

When Jane Forrester takes a position as Grace County’s newest social worker, she doesn’t realize just how much her help is needed.  She quickly becomes emotionally invested in her clients’ lives, causing tension with her boss and her new husband.  But as Jane is drawn in by the Hart women, she begins to discover the secrets of the small farm—secrets much darker than she would have guessed.  Soon, she must decide whether to take drastic action to help them, or risk losing the battle against everything she believes is wrong.

Set in rural Grace County, North Carolina in a time of state-mandated sterilizations and racial tension, Necessary Lies tells the story of these two young women, seemingly worlds apart, but both haunted by tragedy.  Jane and Ivy are thrown together and must ask themselves: how can you know what you believe is right, when everyone is telling you it’s wrong??”

–> this book brings up a lot of interesting and thought provoking ideas. I really enjoyed listening to this one on audiobook. and really liked the topic.

Maze Runner, Scorch Trials, The Death Cure – James Dashner

–> another post-apocalyptic science fiction trilogy . . . if you liked the Divergent series, you would like this series too!!

American Wife – Curtis Sittenfield

“A kind, bookish only child born in the 1940s, Alice Lindgren has no idea that she will one day end up in the White House, married to the president. In her small Wisconsin hometown, she learns the virtues of politeness, but a tragic accident when she is seventeen shatters her identity and changes the trajectory of her life. More than a decade later, when the charismatic son of a powerful Republican family sweeps her off her feet, she is surprised to find herself admitted into a world of privilege. And when her husband unexpectedly becomes governor and then president, she discovers that she is married to a man she both loves and fundamentally disagrees with–and that her private beliefs increasingly run against her public persona. As her husband’s presidency enters its second term, Alice must confront contradictions years in the making and face questions nearly impossible to answer.”

–> this book is based loosely on Laura Bush, so I thought that aspect was super interesting. I really enjoyed reading about what was true and what wasn’t in the book after I was done reading it too.

Nanny Returns – Emma McLaughlin

“After living abroad for twelve years, Nan and her husband, Ryan, aka H.H., have returned to New York to get her new business off the ground and fix up their fixer-upper. To compound the mounting construction woes and marital chaos of Ryan announcing his sudden desire to start a family, sixteen-year-old Grayer X makes a drunken, late-night visit wanting to know why Nan abandoned him all those years ago. Soon she is drawn back into Mrs. X’s ever-bizarre Upper East Side conclave of power and privilege in this “eminently readable” and “surprisingly affecting” (Entertainment Weekly) tale of what happens when a community that chooses money over love finds itself with neither.”

–> A fun, quick summer read. The sequel to The Nanny Diaries.

Dark Places – Gillian Flynn

“Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice” of Kinnakee, Kansas.” She survived—and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club—a secret secret society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby and pumps her for details. They hope to discover proof that may free Ben. Libby hopes to turn a profit off her tragic history: She’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club—for a fee. As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer.”

–> WOW. This book was SUPER dark but also SUPER good. I really enjoyed the twists and how the book kept you guessing until the very end. If you liked Gone Girl, you would like this one too.

Read any good books lately???

Linking up with Amanda today for Thinking Out Loud!!

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Reading Recommendations–2

Since my 1st reading recommendations post I have read (or listened to on audiobook on my way to work) some more great books to share with you! These are the ones that I would recommend!!

Uglies – this is a series of 4 books: Uglies, Pretties, Specials, Extras. Each book is a pretty quick read. These books are targeted for a little younger audience, but I still enjoyed them a lot.

White Jacket Required –> This is a must read in general, but if you are a blogger, I think you will enjoy it even more because it is written by Jenna who blogs at Eat, Live, Run. And reading Jenna’s blog after the book is like reading the sequel. Winking smile

Is Everyone Hanging Out With Out Me – oh my goodness Mindy Kahling is hilarious. This book had me laughing the whole time. Another nice, quick read.

Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10 – Really good read. This book is based on the failed June 28, 2005 mission “Operation Red Wings”. Four members of SEAL Team 10 were tasked with the mission to capture or kill notorious Taliban leader Ahmad Shahd. Marcus Luttrell was the only member of his team to survive. –> also made into a movie.

Open: An Autobiography – Andre Agassi. A very interesting, real, honest read about his life and being a tennis superstar.

The Elite – the second book in “The Selection” series. I talked about The Selection in my first reading recommendations. And the 2nd one came out in April. Another good book, quick read, super cute. The only problem is, the last book (The One) doesn’t come out until May 2014!!

Kill Me If You Can – James Patterson. A fun read with some good twists and turns. Thanks for the recommendation Laura!!

Bossy Pants – Tina Fey. Honestly, this book wasn’t as funny as I expected from Tina Fey, but it was still a good read. Interesting to learn more about Tina Fey’s life and how things have worked out for her.

Violets of March – Sarah Jio. Totally a chick flick book, but I liked it!

The Help – I am totally late in jumping on this train. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I thought the book was good. Long read. No spoilers, but I didn’t love the ending. . . I am interested to see the movie and see how they transition it to the big screen.

Have you read any good books lately??

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Reading Recommendations

I have read or listened to (via Audiobook on my commute to work) some really good books lately. I always like to read other people’s blogs for new book suggestions, so I thought I would share some of my recent good reads!

The Selection by Kiera Cass

 

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

And the sequel to The Selection – The Elite (due out this month!) I obviously haven’t read this one yet but I was so upset when I finished The Selection and realized that the 2nd book isn’t due out until this month! And don’t get too excited, because I hear there is going to be a 3rd book too! And apparently they are making this trilogy into a CW TV series.

Kiera Cass’s The Elite is a must-read for fans of dystopian fiction, fairy tales, and reality TV. This sequel to The Selection will enchant teens who love Divergent and The Bachelor.

In America Singer’s world, a bride is chosen for the prince through an elaborate televised competition. In the second book of the Selection series, America is one of only six girls left in the running. But is it Prince Maxon—and life as the queen—she wants? Or is it Aspen, her first love?

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

Marriage can be a real killer.
One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed that her work “draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction.” Gone Girl’s toxic mix of sharp-edged wit and deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn.
On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?
As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?
With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.

For Darkness Shows the Stars – Diana Peterfrund

It’s been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot’s estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth—an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.

But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret—one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s faced with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she’s lost him forever.

Divergent – Veronica Roth

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

On The Island – Tracey Garvis Graves

Two people stranded on an island struggle to survive—and slowly fall in love—in the runaway New York Times bestseller from the author of the forthcoming novel COVET.
Anna Emerson is a thirty-year-old English teacher desperately in need of adventure. Worn down by the cold Chicago winters and a relationship that’s going nowhere, she jumps at the chance to spend the summer on a tropical island tutoring sixteen-year-old T.J.
T.J. Callahan has no desire to go anywhere. His cancer is in remission and he wants to get back to his normal life. But his parents are insisting he spend the summer in the Maldives catching up on all the school he missed last year.
Anna and T.J. board a private plane headed to the Callahan’s summer home, and as they fly over the Maldives’ twelve hundred islands, the unthinkable happens. Their plane crashes in shark-infested waters. They make it to shore, but soon discover that they’re stranded on an uninhabited island.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption -Laura Hillenbrand

On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.
The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini. In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails. As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile. But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.
Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.

Scott listened to this one on audiobook too and loved it. . . He actually listened to it a 2nd time right after he finished it the first time – it is that good.

Have you read any good books lately???

***All images and descriptions are from Amazon.com

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