Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

wide-sargasso-sea
↑ Reserve a copy ↑

My summer pick for a classic I’ve never read was Wide Sargasso Sea.  I’m surprised I hadn’t read it, as it’s the story of the woman that marries Mr. Rochester, yes, that Rochester from Jane Eyre.  The book tells the story of Antoinette, born in Jamaica to ex-slave owners.  Eventually her father drinks himself to death and her mother exhibits signs of insanity.  Antoinette is cared for by the nuns at her convent school and occasionally by her Aunt Cora.  Mr. Rochester, while never directly named in the book, arrives on the island and marries Antoinette without really knowing much about her past.  This book was a richly detailed story full of secrets and superstitions as well as deep-seated resentments, especially of the ex-slaves toward the white aristocracy.  So glad I picked this to read this summer.

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

truly-madly-guitly
↑ Reserve a copy ↑

Liane Moriarty is one of my favorite authors.  I love the way she writes, with a mixture of a good story and strong characters.  I was very much looking forward to reading this book when I heard of its release, and I was not disappointed.

Much of the story revolves around an afternoon neighborhood barbecue and the events that occurred there. The timeline switches between the day of the barbecue and several weeks afterward.  In the process, we see the points of view of Vid and Tiffany and their daughter Dakota, who are the owners of the home where the barbecue was held; Erica and Oliver, their neighbors; and Clementine and Sam (and their two young daughters), who are friends with Erica and Oliver.

What I enjoyed beyond the mystery of what happened that afternoon is the development of the characters.  Moriarty writes in such a way that you really get to know all of them, which leads to a better overall understanding of not only the events that happened that day, but the motivations of the characters.  It took me a few chapters to really get into the book, but once I did, I was hooked.  I look forward to reading Moriarty’s next novel.

The Girls by Emma Cline

The Girls
↑ Reserve a copy ↑

This debut novel for Emma Cline is very true to the 1960s, with young girls looking to find themselves and ending up finding security in cults. The main character,  Evie, is lost — her parents just got divorced, her dad is living with a younger woman, her mom is trying to find a new husband, and Evie and her best friend have a falling out.  What she ends up finding is this clan of girls in the park.  That leads her to their ranch, where she gets drawn into their wild lifestyle of drugs, sex, and eventually horrible crime.  The story starts in Evie’s present time and keeps flashing back to tell this story.  I enjoyed this weird book, which concentrated not on the horribleness of this time, but more on the relationship between the girls.

William Shakespeare’s The Phantom of Menace: Star Wars Part the First (William Shakespeare’s Star Wars) by Ian Doescher

Shakespeare's the Phantom Menace
↑ Reserve a copy ↑

Well this was certainly fun to read!  It’s the Star Wars story written in Shakespearean iambic pentameter.  Very cool.  I was able to fly right through this.  As a lover of Shakespeare, I found  this a very cool way to read the first story in the Star Wars saga. The illustrations are beautiful as well.  Just an all around fun book, and for sure I’ll keep going with this series.

White Teeth by Zadie Smith

White Teeth
↑ Reserve a copy ↑

Zadie Smith is recognized as one of England’s premiere fiction writers.  Her first book, published in 2000, made an enormous splash and vaulted her to instant prominence.

White Teeth features a complex weave of fascinating characters, from multiple ethnic and racial backgrounds, reflecting modern-day England.  The story centers on two friends — Archie, a redheaded English person married to an Afro-Caribbean woman, and Samad, a Muslim immigrant from Bangladesh.  Their adventures are simultaneously funny and moving.  The storyline is entertaining, but the novel’s spice comes from the mosaic of peoples, cultures, and customs living in the same neighborhood, and the tensions and relationships that ensue.

I rarely laugh out-loud at a book, but I did with this one.  Give it a try.

 

The Girl in the Garden by Kamala Nair

The Girl in the Garden
↑ Reserve a copy ↑

This is the first book by this author.  I read it over a weekend.  The story begins as a letter from Rahkee (a young Indian woman) to her fiance as she is leaving him to return to her ancestral home in India to deal with her past.  The bulk of the novel settles on Rakhee’s summer spent in India before her 11th birthday with her mother’s (Amma) mysterious family and away from her father, Aba. Most of the story is told through the voice of young Rakhee, an innocent girl exposed to a brand new life in India as she discovers a secret garden that holds dark secrets of her family’s past that will change her life forever during that summer.  It’s a quick read that was beautiful but also sad.

 

 

Displacement by Lucy Knisley

Displacement
↑ Reserve a copy ↑

Similar to Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant by Roz Chast – but better!  Lucy Knisley’s graphic novel memoir of her Caribbean cruise also addresses the difficulties of aging, but is less depressing.  Lucy is a young “poor, single, obsessive freelancer” who gets the opportunity to accompany her grandparents on a trip.  Her “grands” are in their 90s, so her help will be invaluable.  This is also an opportunity for her to spend more time getting to know them better.  She has a copy of her grandfather’s writings about WWII, which are interspersed with the modern-day story.  Nothing seems to go well on this trip.  This is one of the best of the new adult graphic novels with both humor and sadness.  The illustration is lovely.  A great read!

The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

The Forgetting Time
↑ Reserve a copy ↑

Is reincarnation possible?  This wonderful new book explores what can possibly happen after we die and how far we would go to help our children and those we love.  This is a debut novel by  Sharon Guskin.

Janie Zimmerman became pregnant after a one-night stand.  Now her son Noah is four years old and highly intelligent.  He begins to experience bizarre behavior.  He becomes difficult, and is kicked out of school.  He is not crazy.  He does not like baths and is afraid of water.  He speaks of another mother whom he wants to go home to.  Dr. Jerome Anderson, a psychologist,  has been studying young children who seem to recall details from previous lives and is documenting this into a book.  Soon Noah, Janie, and Anderson  find themselves on a journey looking for answers — has Noah indeed been reincarnated?

Find Her by Lisa Gardner

Find HerI have never read Lisa Gardner before.  This book is the eighth in the  Detective D. D. Warren series, but you really didn’t need to have read the others.  This chilling murder mystery thriller stands on its own.  Florence Dane spent 472 days as the prisoner of a sexual predator, spending most of her time in a wooden coffin.  The story picks up after fice years of her being free.  Her kidnapping has left her scarred and obsessed with finding missing people and bringing their kidnappers to justice, which leads to her being abducted all over again.  Detective D. D. Warren’s job is now to find Flora as well as another missing girl.  A very highly emotional, haunting thriller.

 

 

Where It Hurts by Reed Farrel Coleman

Where It Hurts
↑ Reserve a copy ↑

Where It Hurts is a hard crime story.  It is tightly plotted and very descriptive with lots of information on its setting in Long Island, which made it a bit slow at times.  However, the characters and plot were so interesting that  it had me coming back to see how it would all play out.

This is the first book in a series featuring ex-cop Gus Murphy.  His son’s sudden death has thrown him into a deep hole of grief leading to the end of his marriage, problems with his daughter, and a menial job as a hotel van driver, living at the hotel and isolated from everything he knew. Then he is contacted by a man he regularly used to arrest and asked to look into the barbaric death of the man’s son.  Initially reluctant to do so, Gus slowly uncovers more and more details about those involved and as he does so, he also learns to deal with his personal grief and move on with his life.

I have never read this author before, but will look into some of his other popular series since I enjoy mystery.

The Alienist by Caleb Carr

The Alienist
↑ Reserve a copy ↑

Caleb Carr is a military historian turned novelist.  In The Alienist, he employs his specialty to paint a stark picture of the underside of New York City, circa 1896.

An “alienist” was the popular term used for people in the then-budding discipline of psychology.  Carr’s main character uses his skills to develop what we now call a “profile” to find a serial killer, stalking the male bordellos of lower Manhattan.

Carr populates his novel with prominent people from the history of  NYC in the late 19th century.  Central to the story is Theodore Roosevelt, in his role as Police Commissioner.  You’ll also meet folks like author Jacob Riis and J. P. Morgan.

This is a police procedural which uncovers the complex social history of NYC in an era of rapid social change via immigration, the rise of a super-wealthy class, and class conflict.  Carr also pushes the social envelop by making a woman police employee a central character.

For a strong taste of life in New York in this era, read The Alienist.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen
↑ Reserve a copy ↑

I loved this quick read YA fantasy.  It reminded me of The Hunger Games series.  This fantasy world is divided into the Silvers and the Reds (based on the color of your blood).  The Silvers are the rulers with special powers, and the Reds are the slaves working day and night to ensure the comfort of Silvers.  The story centers on Mare Barrow, a Red, and this determines her identity.  She’s a thief from a large family, trying to survive in a cruel world.  Unexpectedly she is thrown into the royal palace as a servant.  But, in an instant, her life takes a new turn.  It is discovered that Mare bleeds Red, but  possesses a very distinct superpower — one that could overthrow the crown and the hierarchies of the Silvers and Reds.  Thus starts the battle for the power of the kingdom and for loyalties. . .  I just got the sequel to start reading, and I am looking forward to the adventure continuing.

The Lost Heiress by Roseanna M. White

The Lost HeiressThe Lost Heiress by Rosanna White is right at the top of my “favorite books list.”  It is set in the Edwardian Era of England.  Brook, the main character, has never known where she truly belongs.  She was adopted by the woman who saved her from a carriage accident as an infant.  She was raised in Monaco’s palace by the prince.  Once grown, she longed to know where she came from. The death of her adoptive mother brought with it some secrets of her past.  Best friend and Duke, Justin, helped her find the family who thought her missing forever.  While her father accepted her right away, others were suspicious of her motives. Unknowingly, she has carried a curse that threatens to tear her from the family she has just found.  Will she learn to love and rely on those who betrayed her before?  You will just have to read it to see!  I literally couldn’t put this book down.  It had me completely captivated.  I liked it so much I purchased my own copy and have the next book pre-ordered!

The Ice Twins by S. K. Tremayne

The Ice Twins
↑ Reserve a copy ↑

The Ice Twins is about a family that moves from London to a remote island in Scotland after the death of one of their twin daughters.  Shortly before the move, Sarah, the mother of the girls, begins to wonder if something is off about her surviving daughter, Kirstie.

After the family moves to the island, the feeling of isolation adds to the mystery of what is going on with Kirstie, whose behavior is becoming more and more erratic.  She begins to insist that she is her dead sister, Lydia, and that there has been a horrible case of mistaken identity.  As Sarah delves more deeply into what has happened, she wonders if they have in fact a horrible case of mistaken identity.  The novel is told in the alternating perspective of Sarah and of her husband, Angus, who is the father of the girls.

I found this novel very enjoyable and fast paced.  I’d recommend it to readers who enjoy a good mystery/thriller.  I’m looking forward to reading more of S. K. Tremayne’s books.

 

Swerve by Vicki Pettersson

SwerveSwerve is a dark and twisty novel.  We follow the story of Kristine, who is traveling across the desert with her fiance, Daniel, to a family gathering.  While stopped at an abandoned rest stop, Daniel is abducted.  Kristine must do whatever she can to get Daniel back, following the deranged kidnapper across the desert.

Swerve was definitely a page turner, and I finished it quickly.  It’s hard to say too much without giving away key plot points, but I found this to be well-written, engrossing, and hard to put down.  The characters were well written, and I look forward to reading more by Ms. Pettersson.