Friday, July 26, 2013

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

★ 1/2

"I was not a lovable child, and I'd grown up to be a deeply unloveable adult.  Draw a picture of my soul, and it'd be a scribble of frogs."

I don't normally read crime/thriller novels, but after finishing this book, I may need to read a few more!! The book caught my interest from the very beginning and I couldn't put it done.  I read "Gone Girl" a couple a months ago and was excited that this title was on the list for a workshop that I am going to next weekend.

Libby Day was seven years old when her mother and two sisters were murdered. Libby was the only one to escaped and later testified that her 15-year-old brother Ben was the killer. Twenty-five years later, Libby is a troubled and lonely adult and her brother still sits in prison. The money that she was given when her family was killed is quickly running out and she is contacted by a "Kill Club" that is willing to give her money to talk to them about the murders and help prove that her brother is innocent. Left with few other options, Libby decides to meet with the club and agrees to revisit her past and the people that may have paid a part in the murders. The more she learns the more invested she becomes in not only the money, but finding out what happened the night her family was killed. As the true story begins to unravel she is suddenly finds herself in danger herself.

The novel alternates between Libby's story in the present and her mom's and Ben's the day the murders happened. I really liked that the book was set up this Libby was putting the pieces together of what happened, the stories of those who were actually involved play out throughout the day of the murders. I couldn't wait to find out what happened and was really surprised by the ending. The pieces fit so perfectly together and it was an insightful and intriguing story of the affect that tragedy has on  it's victims.

This book was #7 on my top ten list of 2013.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

* Reading Lists

An Echo Through the Snow by Andrea Thalasions

"Rosalie and Smokey walked past places in the woods where people had once lived.  Long after sandstone foundations crumbled back into soil, there remained demarcations of flower gardens.  Wives had once stood at the cliffs' edge, watching for the return of fishing vessels after a brutal November storm.  Clumps of daffodils, tell tale spires of purple and white lupines would poke up without fail.  Annual shocks of ruffled orange poppies and borders of electric blue forget-me-nots proclaimed, 'We were here: remember us.'  Pushing up each spring, the flowers held their ground against native grasses and sapling trees.  Stalwart little reminders of those who'd battled to hold on to the promise of spring.  Imprinting the land forever - long after simple graves are shrouded in thickets and everyone who remembers is gone- the flowers continue to bear testament."

I read this book for a workshop I am attending on book discussions in a few weeks.  The author will be joining us and I am very excited to meet her and see what she had to say about her book!

"An Echo Through the Snow" tells the story of two time periods: the native Chukchi people of Siberia in 1929 when Stalin's Red Army takes over and intertwines a modern story of a young girl named Rosalie in the 1990s.  The center of both stories are the Siberian huskies and dogsled racing. 

Even though it took me awhile to get the characters down,  I really enjoyed the parts centering on the Chukchi people.  I don't know much about this period in history and I could have used some more background and explanation on both the historical aspects and on the characters themselves.  I generally liked the character of Rosalie, but something just frustrated me about her.  Maybe there was just too much focus on her "finding herself."  I thought that the story was very original and I liked how the author was able to connect the two stories at the end of the book.  I learned a lot about dogsled racing!  Thalasions's prospective on native people, both in Siberia and in the United States, we really interesting.  She did a great job of showing how people were affected once their land was taken from them without coming right out and saying it.  The book also takes place in my home state of Wisconsin and the author, who teaches at UW-Madison, is also a dogsled racer herself:

Friday, July 12, 2013

* Reading by the Lake

Here are all of the books that I'm reading for the "Reading by the Lake: A Weekend of Book Discussion" (link here) summer class  in Madison on August 3-4th.  
So excited!!  Just hope that I can finish all the books on time :)

An Echo through the Snow by Andrea Thalasinos (review here)
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn (review here)
Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare (review here)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

* All the Shelves are Full!

Pretty much what happens every time I get back from the book store (except replace the cat with a dog). I never seem to have enough room for all my books!

Friday, July 5, 2013

* Summer Reads for Vacationing Booklovers

Check out this great list from summer reads from Half Price Books.  I just finished Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  I finished it in less than a week and it was definitely "page turning."  Can't wait to read some of the other ones on the list: "The Bookman's Tale" by Charlie Lovett and Neil Gailman's new book"The Ocean at the End of the Lane" ... just to name a few!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

11/22/63 by Stephen King

"We never know which lives we influence, or when, or why.  Not until the future eats the present, anyways.  We know when it's too late."

"For a moment everything was clear, and when that happens you see that the world is barely there at all.  Don't we all secretly know this?  It's a perfectly balanced mechanism of shouts and echoes pretending to be wheels and cogs, a dreamclock chiming beneath a mystery-glass we call life.  Behind it?  Below it and around it?  Chaos, storms.  Men with hammers, men with knives, men with guns.  Women who twist what they cannot dominate and belittle what they cannot understand.  A universe of horror and loss surrounding a single lighted state where mortals dance in defiance of the dark."

"You never knew me, but I love you, honey."

This book was amazing! I probably never would have picked it up if I hadn't been reading it from book club, but I'm so glad I did! 

Over the past two weeks I've been very obsessed with the book and when I'm really into a book I bring it every where with me. To work, to appointment, to my friend's houses...everywhere. So everyone kept asking me what I was reading. When I started raving about it and said it was Stephen King, I got a lot of the same responses: "Oh, Stephen King? He writes all those creepy horror novels. Those freak me out." I've only read the first three dark tower novels, so I can't judge, but this is NOT a horror book! Suspense-thriller, maybe. Mystery, yes. A novel about time travel, definitely. Historical fiction, absolutely. And a love story, yep it's got that too! And dancing. There's a lot of dancing.

The basic premise of the novel is a teacher named Jack Epping who travels through time to 1958 where he tries to stop the John F. Kennedy assassination. But changing the past is a lot hard then he thinks. And to top it off, he realizes that he really likes living in the late 1950s / early 1960s. And, of course, he falls in love.

I haven't read too much about this time period, or the assassination for that matter, so I really enjoyed King's perspective of this important time in America's past. I read a book review that I think sums it up quite nicely: "As a book, it is incredible. Once again King takes us back to the late 50's in a way no one else seems to be able to do. The stark difference between that time and ours is almost like reading a fairy tale or ancient history."

This book was #1 on my top ten list of 2013.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

* Little Free Libraries? What a awesome idea!

I came across the article in a listserv post from wispublib today in my inbox.  It resulted a lively discussion regarding if these lovely little book-nooks were going to one day replace libraries.  My opinion?  Of course not - libraries offer way more than just borrowing books!  They offer valuable services, research facilities, programs, and have become a valuable place to carry out these activities.  That being did remind me about an article I read a couple of weeks ago regarding Little Free Libraries.

You can check out the website here.

This is such an amazing idea!!  It's basically an expansion on the "take-a-book leave-a-book" concept.  I've seen them a at a few coffee shows and restaurants over the years and I always enjoy looking at all the books people have left and picking up some new titles to read.  The movement started in Hudson, Wisconsin by Todd Bol a couple of years ago and since then, these libraries have begun to appear all over the country and even all over the world.  You can build your own library or order one from the website!

There is even a map on the website that shows all of the registered Little Free Libraries.  You can zoom  in to find a location near you or zoom out to see libraries in other places around the world.  I even found some in my hometown of Waukesha, WI.