Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Last Child

Fiction by John Hart.

The Last Child

As a mother of boy/girl twins, this story touched me a lot. In it, thirteen-year-old Johnny has been tirelessly searching for his lost twin Alyssa FOR A YEAR while everyone around him falls apart. It's heartbreaking.

Although there are plenty of plot twists in the story to keep you interested, it was the characters who really spoke to me. Fabulous book!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Stranger

Fiction by Harlan Coben.

The Stranger

There is a book by Albert Camus with this same title I read in high school.

This book is not a classic novel like that one. This is what scholars like my high school English teacher would call a "popular novel," possibly while holding it with two fingers and snorting derisively.

The Stranger (A New Translation by Matthew Ward)
Although I don't think Ms. West will be assigning any Harlan Coben novels anytime soon, this was a great story! I loved the plot twists in this book. And I don't mind being a lowbrow reader.

My apologies to Camus: your book was really good too!

I also read recently by this author: Fool Me Once.
(Second image also from

Monday, October 24, 2016

Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married

Fiction by Marian Keyes.

Lucy Sullivan Is Getting Married

Lucy Sullivan of the title doesn't even have a boyfriend at the beginning of this story, but she hopes to be getting married within a year because a psychic told her she would be. I'll let you find out if the prediction comes true!

This was a nice light read; although it was a straight romance, witty dialogue and fun characters kept it interesting.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Dorie: The Girl Nobody Loved

Nonfiction by Doris Van Stone.

Dorie: The Girl Nobody Loved

The true story of a little girl abused and rejected by her parents, this book was fascinating and slightly disturbing to read.  I was reminded of A Child Called It by Dave Peltzer, which featured a little boy in a similar situation, although I seem to remember the abuse in the latter book being more carefully described and therefore more painful to read about.

Doris Van Stone spends less than half the book on her troubled childhood, however, and it is the positivity of this story that really made it a good story.

Monday, October 17, 2016

One Thousand White Women

Fiction by Jim Fergus.

One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd

This is a historical novel with a bit of a far-fetched premise: Chief Little Wolf of the Cheyenne tribe visited President Ulysses S. Grant in 1873 (true) to ask for one thousand white women (what?) to come to teach his tribesmen the ways of white people, and to marry into the tribe and produce children, of course (not true). Even more far-fetched is the next step: President Grant agrees to this and sets a government program in place to send white (and, incidentally, black) brides out West, using women desperate enough to volunteer for this (definitely not true).

As long as you can willingly suspend your disbelief on this initial idea and go with it, this is a great book. It definitely kept my attention and took a fantastical what-if to a logical conclusion.

But of course, it is not in any way historical fact. That's why they call it fiction...

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Missing, Presumed

Fiction by Susie Steiner.

Missing, Presumed

This story centers on an English girl in her early twenties who disappears mysteriously, and the almost-forty-year-old female DI who tries to find her. I was definitely surprised by the ending here.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Couple Next Door

Fiction by Shari Lapena.

The Couple Next Door
This story starts out with a parent's worst nightmare: namely, it WASN'T okay to leave the baby in her crib and go next door with the monitor. As a mother, I almost couldn't get past that part.

But the story keeps going from there and it definitely kept my interest. This was an exciting thriller.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Red River

Fiction by Lalita Tademy.

Red River

This was a fascinating novel based on the history of the author's own family. I love this idea; the book On Gold Mountain by Lisa See is also a fictionalized retelling of  the author's ancestral past, which was amazing to read. I'd love to do this with my own family, although "The History of The Boring White Folks" is not really a gripping title.

Anyways, this book explores a past that many white southerners, like myself, would prefer to ignore. We'd like to pretend it wasn't all that much time between the emancipation of the slaves and the granting of their basic rights. In fact, however, we are looking at like a hundred years in there. The Civil War ended in 1865; the Civil Right Acts was passed in 1964. I can't believe I never thought about that span of time before. It's astonishing.

The author's ancestors were real people who tried to rise up out of slavery, with the supposed full backing of the US government behind them, but promises were broken and lives were lost. Still, the book doesn't descend into bitterness over this; the author's point is how they rose up in spite of all that.

Although it's not exactly easy, this book is definitely worth reading.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016


Fiction by Lauraine Snelling.

Reunion: A Novel
This was a nice, light novel with an interesting story.

 I also read by this author: Wake the Dawn