The Lake House

In Kate Morton’s The Lake House, we meet members of the Edevane family 70 years after their baby brother mysteriously vanished. Sadie Sparrow is a detective on forced leave who’s staying with her grandfather on the Cornwall coast. The nearby Edevane family’s country estate piques her interested in its preserved derelict state. Family members have not returned to the estate since 1933 and the house, while wild on the exterior, seems to be a time capsule on the inside.

Along the way, we hear the history of many members of the Edevane family, including several who have died years ago. Guilt was a key component in many of the stories and it isn’t until the past is resurrected and the truth exposed can they once again feel free.

This was a well written mystery with many theories moving alongside each other until the truth is discovered, with many unexpected revelations after 70 years.

Great read!

Read September 2017

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The Last Good Girl

In The Last Good Girl, Emily Shaprio disappears after a night at the college bar. Allison Leotta sets up the story really well with current chapters from the pov of the prosecutor Anna Curtis, as well as transcripts of vlogs that Emily did for a media class and transcripts from a disciplinary committee. The main suspect is Dylan Highsmith, a wealthy frat boy who had been accused of raping Emily months earlier.

As we follow Anna Curtis in her search for information about Emily’s past, Leotta shines the spotlight on how colleges hide the rape culture that is prevalent on this, and many other, college campus. Cover-ups, buy-offs, deflection, anything to help the young-man continue HIS education and not impact HIS future, especially if there’s a big enough donation.

Anna is desperate not to let the rapist win, to the point where its impacting her family and friends. There’s a nice twist at the end, but it really the social injustice within this novel that drew me into the story and kept reading.

Interesting, well-written read.

Read August 2017

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

In the second Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,J.K. Rowling has Harry returning to Hogwarts in a flying car. Harry’s received warnings that he shouldn’t return to Hogwarts or he might die from a creepy little house elf, but of course Harry couldn’t imagine life without Hogwarts and his friends.

I read through this novel much faster than the first as my kids’ excitement about Harry Potter kept growing! This is a truly magical book where friendships are just as important as spell-casting.

The kids immediately had me diving into the third novel when we finished this one. I hope they’re taking note of what it means to be a hero, and standing up for what’s right and admitting when you’re wrong.

Great sequel!!

Read August 2017

The Identicals

The Identicals, by Elin Hildebrand, is the perfect summer read. I do enjoy her books as they transport me to the New England islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, where even the poor people are able to buy super local produce and seafood and have adventures around the islands. Of course, there’s also those with much more money traveling around as well.

In this novel, 2 identical twin sisters, who grew up as close as twins can, are forced to live with different parents after their separation. Its a little ridiculous, since the girls were in college at the time and could have remained closer, but this novel has them growing apart. There was a time when they once again relied on each other, but tragedy struck forcing them further apart. Upon the death of their father, the girls who think the other twin has an easier life, end up switching lives for the summer. Not secretly, they each retain their own identity but they trade responsibilities. Of course, there’s lots of family drama with their mother and one of their daughters forcing complications, but the story of the sisters finding themselves and each other again is sweet and goes down easily with a chilled glass of Sauvignon blanc.

Easy, fun read about family and beaches.

Read August 2017

A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel

Madeleine L’Engle’s novel A Wrinkle in Time was originally published in 1962. Hope Larsen adapted and illustrated this novel and published in 2012. I’ve not yet read the original, but I believe the text is comparable and the illustrations add another layer to the story.

This is a novel that I requested for my 8 year-old son to read. I recommend this to him and he read it in less than a day. Instead of waiting to get the original novel, I read the graphic novel in order to talk to him about it.

This novel follows a group of children who have to travel through time and space to save their father. Meg Murry is an ordinary child with an extraordinary brother Charlie. Their father has been missing for awhile and no one knows if he’ll return. Charlie befriends their strange neighbors and another schoolmate of Megs, all of which have strange abilities that help them communicate with other people. Its some sort of telepathy and ability to see the future combined with extreme empathy and the ability to hop through the wrinkles in space and time. The other world that they find themselves is a negative utopia with mind control and order being the goal.

Having been written in the 1960’s, there’s probably a glimpse into communism and the Cold War that I didn’t put much thought into while reading it. Its also a little similar to religions with one being knowing whats best for everyone, but I really read it with my 8 year-old in mind.

This was a fun, interesting read with a strong moral lesson that we need to stand up for what’s right and we all have the power to do that. I plan on reading the non-graphic novel after it comes, and I may put more effort into the symbolism at that point. Or maybe, I’ll just enjoy the read…

Read August 2017

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

When I first read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, I was home from my first year of college and read it at the request of my friend’s mother. She taught 6th grade and wanted to know if I thought the novel was appropriate for a 6th grader, or if it was too mature or scary. I read it, liked it, and gave it a glowing recommendation for a 6th grader, and never thought about it for years after. Then suddenly, Harry Potter seems to be everywhere and everyone read them! I think I might have been a few years to old to be in the main age grouping, and way too sophisticated of a college student to follow up on a novel that I recommend to a 6th grader…

Years later, I’ve watched most of the movies, but never read any of the other books, for no particular reason. I re-read parts of this novel with my then 4 year-old son and watched the movie. Again, I enjoyed the book but didn’t take it further than my son’s interest. I think the second novel, which we started together but never got very far, was too scary for my son and the novel was put down and forgotten.

I’ve just finished reading this novel again with my 6 year-old daughter and 8 year-old son, and I again loved it. But this time, both my kids are crazy for it!! We finished this book and have already started the next one!! Since we’re home for summer, I don’t know if we’ll be able to keep this up in the school year, but its exiting to read something that entertains the kids so much! They seem to be the perfect age for this book. While parts can be scary, it helps to be reading it aloud together so we can talk about anything that bothers them. In fact, while I’m writing this post, they interrupted me to ask to read more Harry Potter!! I love it!

I don’t feel the need to sum up this novel since most people know these series and the title gives a good reminder of the storyline. This is a well written story full of imagination and magic!

Read August 2017

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry tells the story of its namesake beginning shortly after his wife died. A.J. comes across as a curmudgeonly old man, but is only in his early 40s when the story begins. A.J. is stuck in a pattern of self pity and self righteousness about proper literary books versus any other type of book out there.

When life circumstances change, A.J. surprisingly changes with them. He develops a community of support that helps him and builds a better community around him, all dedicated to reading. Interspersed in the chapters are educational asides meant for his daughter to read certain books and what each meant to him at the time that he read it.

This was a sweet tale of a man who asks for nothing, but gives so much and ends up getting a family.

Read July 2017