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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

30 Books in 2013: January - June

Last year my goal was to read 30 books in the year. And I did it.

This year I have the same goal and I'm currently ahead of schedule. Through the months of January to June I've read 18 books. I decided to break up my reviews since it would be too many books at the end of the year and this is more manageable. 

If you'd like more reviews you can read my 30 Books in 2012 Reviews and my Holocaust Novels Reviews. You can also follow me on Goodreads.

Mother Had a Secret by Tiffany Fletcher
This book was okay. I picked it because it's about a daughters point of view living with her mother with 15 different personalities and the effect it had on her childhood and their family. I usually enjoy stories like this from the phsychological aspect. While this book was enlightening about the disorder and seeing it from a child's point of view the story didn't really grab me. The fact that it's a true story though was intriguing.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
This story started off so normaly for a while that I wondered what it was leading to. Sylvia's struggle to "snap out" of her depression soon emerged. I wasn't as riveted as I thought I would be given that it's a classic. In the end it was an enjoyable novel to read.

The Kitchen House: A Novelby Kathleen Grissom
This was truly an amazing story. I simply couldn't stop reading it. A white orphaned servant girl gets sent to a plantation in the South and put to work among the slaves. The characters are so well formed and the slaves and plantation owners lives often paralleled each other reminding us "we are all just people". Throughout the book you feel like you become part of the family and you learn the balance between love, loyalty, family and sacrifice. If you liked The Help, you'll like this even better!

The Midwife's Confession by Diane Chamberlain
This book was recommended to me on Goodreads. It's the story after a beloved midwife commits suicide leaving a curious note that leads to a heartbreaking secret. The story follows her two closest friends as they try to unravel this web of betrayal and secrets their friend left after her death. You'll be blown away by the female relationships including mother/daughter bonds. I loved trying to piece together the mystery which made it a hard book to put down!

Another memoir. This one deals with Susannah, a journalist who wakes up to discover she's been hospitalized for a month and has no memory of that time. It was an interesting read about a rare autoimmune disorder that makes the body attack itself, in this case the brain. Terrifying and fascinating at the same time.

Love Anthony by Lisa Genova
I picked up this book after reading her other two last year (Still Alice and Left Neglected). I didn't love it as much as the others but it did some serious tugging on my heartstrings. I've always had a pull towards learning about autism and how autistic kids function on the world. Two mother's meet at the crossroads in their lives and it shows their different struggles. I found the parts about Anthony the autistic boy to be the most captivating. How she gave us his perspective seemed spot on. It really opened my eyes to this neurological disorder.

The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain
After reading The Midwife's Confession I knew I wanted to read some other Diane Chamberlain books. People are good but sometimes they are forced to do horrible things. That is what this book is about. CeeCee was naive and got herself involved in a botched kidnap attempt of a pregnant woman. I don't want to spoil the book so you'll have to read it to find out what happens. Loved the storyline.

Before The Storm by Diane Chamberlain
Laurel suffers from post partum depression and alcoholism and her son is born with fetal alcohol syndrome. Because of this he is taken into the system. Laurel fights to get her son back and continues to  try to make up for her mistakes in her life. But when her son is charged with arson in a church fire things start to unravel. Arson, affairs, and secrets from the past this is a real page turner. 

Secrets She Left Behind by Diane Chamberlain
This is sort of a sequel to Before the Storm. You meet some new characters and there are some old characters intertwined in the story. More drama and affairs and secrets that will leave you stunned!  You get flashbacks from the first book but from different characters which is nice. I recommend reading Before the Storm first to get a better sense of the main characters and what is going on.

The Hangman's Daughter bOliver Pötzsch
"A historical thriller set in Germany in 1660" A secret peek into the life of an executioner of the times. A town horrified to find several murdered children with strange tattoos on their bodies and discover the possibility of a witch in their midst. They set out to punish the woman they suspect is the witch while the hangman (also the local torturer) is set on finding "the real killer". A fictional spooky mystery with some historical facts thrown in.

Sad to say but probably one of my least favorite books from this bunch. A lighthouse keeper and his wife live on a deserted island. After several miscarriages one day a boat washes up on their island with a baby and a dead man on it. The wife filled with heartache from her miscarriages decides to keep the baby and raise it. It was an entertaining book but it frustrated me because I wanted the characters to do the right thing and they didn't. I ended up feeling sorry for all the characters even the baby.

Jack and Mabel are farming the untamed and unsettled Alaskan frontier. They are an older couple with no children when one night they make a snow child in the magical snow and the next morning a real child appears in the woods. It's part fairytale and part sorrow and heartbreak as the child grows and becomes part of their life.

A very quick read for the people who atheist. It's a pretty abrasive book and pretty extreme. It was an interesting read but read like a textbook to me with lots of information.

The autobiography of Seth Andrews as he grows up as a strong believer in a Christian school/household and even becomes a Christian radio host until he started really questioning his religion in his 30's and became de-converted. Now he's the guy behind The Thinking Atheist podcast. I loved his style of storytelling and it's a fair assessment of religion without name calling or such. Great for anyone who is open minded.

A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy
Set in Ireland in the winter Chicky Starr renovates herself and an old house and opens a holiday hotel, the Stone House. The book chronicles the first house guests of the season. Each section is devoted to a different characters and told from their point of view. It was a cozy relaxing read with well developed characters but not much plot except for what happens the first week in the holiday hotel. 

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
I'm a huge Jodi Picoult fan (loved My Sister's Keeper, Perfect Match and Nineteen Minutes). That being said, this was hands down my favorite Jodi Picoult book thus far.  A jewish baker befriends and elderly man and then he shocks her by asking her to kill him. In a turn of events she discovers he's a ex Nazi officer and her grandmother is a surviver of the Holocaust. Such a riveting plot and you become so connected with the characters and really feel the pain during the WWII scenes. I have a love hate relationship with holocaust stories and this one really captures a good story.

Defending Jacob: A Novel by William Landay
A court room fictional drama. When a local teenager is murdered the district attorney is shocked when his son is named the main suspect. Of course the whole book is about defending his son, Jacob. Did he do it? Will he go to jail? How will this affect their family? This book has you asking a lot of questions and the ending will leave you stunned. When I read the last few pages and closed the book I seriously sat there and said outloud "what just happened."

Wedding Night: A Novel by Sophie Kinsella
Not my favorite Sophie Kinsella book. Cheesy while trying to be romantic. Fliss is interferring with her sisters quicky wedding and tries to ruin her wedding night so she can get an anullment. The main character Lottie just got on my nerves a lot. Maybe it would be a nice easy summer read.

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