Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Brat Farrar

by Josephine Tey

The poor Ashby kids, after losing both their parents in an accident, their elder twin brother, Patrick, heir to the family fortune, disappears without a word. Then ten years later, as the property is ready to transfer to Simon, a handsome young man appears at the door claiming to be Patrick, but is it really him? He looks like Pat, talks like Pat and knows all the family secrets. He is soon settled in and ready to gain his inheritance. Only his twin brother Simon knows the guy's a fraud, but he cannot reveal the truth without exposing his own past misdeeds.

Brat Farrar is a classic psychological suspense novel in the style of Alfred Hitchcock, who was Tey's contemporary. For me, it was predictable, but I kept hoping it would end differently. A very quick and enjoyable rainy day kind of book. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Hike

by Drew Magary

In a word: bizarre!

Ben is a hard-working businessman, husband and father who may just be having a midlife crisis when he is sent to the mountains for a seminar. Because he arrives early, he decides to get some fresh air and go for a hike in the woods, but then he gets lost. He notices a path and begins following it and stumbles upon a campsite only to be chased away by some doberman-faced guys determined to kill him. Enter BIZARRO WORLD! The remainder of The Hike is a cross between a fairy tale, an adventure game and a drug-induced psychosis. Ben finds a witch who gives him magic beans, a man-eating giantess, a talking blue crab and a Spanish explorer on a century old expedition. His only way home is to stay on the path for years and years until he encounters the Producer.

Yes, this is a strange and oddly fun book, in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy kind of way.  You'll like it if you like weirdness and read it on the right day. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

I Am the Messenger

by  Markus Zusak

I previously mentioned I'd read some different but fun books, here is the second:

There are times in everyone's life in which you struggle with your own purpose. In I Am the Messenger, Markus Zusak addresses that head on with Ed Kennedy, a 19- year old cab driving, card playing, dog loving kid who is unsettled and unsure of where this path is taking him. But then one day he finds an ace of diamonds in his mailbox and that changes everything! Ed is now on a mission to discover the meaning of the card and who left it there. The card leads him into some challenging situations where he is forced to make some difficult choices. Along his journey he meets a barefoot runner, an abusive husband, a struggling family and himself.

The story of Ed shows how the people you encounter on your life's journey provide you with meaning and purpose. Success is in the person and how they respond to circumstances and those around them not in place or position. This is a quick, fun read with a good life lesson.  It is listed as YA, but keep in mind Ed is 19 before you let too young of an adult read it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


by George Eliot

Any reading nerd knows Middlemarch is listed on every "top 100 books" list and as such it would also be on their own "to-read" list.  I'm glad to say I can finally check it off mine! Eliot is in the same genre as Dickens, Austen and Alcott who present long, drawn out dissertations on society, culture, class structure, roles and relationships. I tend to like these stories and this was no exception.

The story begins with Dorothea Brooke, an intelligent young woman anxious to find her life's purpose. Then there's Dr. Lydgate caught between medical advancement and debt, Reverend Casaubon living with his aging spinster sisters but wishing instead for a wife and Mary Garth with her nose to the grindstone. Gradually we become acquainted with the whole little village of Middlemarch with all of its cares and concerns. There are so many characters it can become confusing, but each one has their own challenges along with supportive friends who guide them through. This is definitely a character driven novel, so there's no hurry to get it done and even when you do finish, it seems as if Middlemarch just keeps marching right along through time.

If you're a fan of the aforementioned author's then this is right up your alley.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

A Monster Calls

by Patrick Ness
inspirational idea Siobhan Dowd

I've read a string of different but fun books the past few weeks.

The first was A Monster Calls which is an elementary grade story about facing death. What's fun about death? Having a monster who navigates you through the pain both physical and emotional. That is what happens for Conor O'Malley as he lives with the stress of his mother dying of cancer and dealing with his future prospects for life without her. Conor is thirteen and lives with his single mother. His father has remarried, moved across the ocean and doesn't have much interest in maintaining a connection with his son. His grandmother is prim and stern and doesn't know what to do with a rowdy boy. And Conor is angry with all of them: his mother, his friends, his teachers and himself.

That is when the nightmares begin and the monster comes calling. The tree monster provides Conor with explanations for his actions and emotions that free him from guilt for his seemingly selfish thinking. While this story is mostly sad, there are many life lessons presented, which would be great springboards for discussion with your kids. But even us more mature people benefit. Read it with your kleenex nearby.

Friday, February 10, 2017

For the Love

by Jen Hatmaker

Last month a local university hosted Jen Hatmaker to speak at their chapel, interact with students and share some life/love tips mixed in with lots of funny! I was fortunate to get tickets, as both sessions sold out in a flash (thanks to my friend looking out for me). I really enjoyed the evening and found Jen's speaking very much in line with her writing. When you're reading For the Love, it is really like having a chat with your girlfriend. Sharing struggles, pet peeves, frustrations and laughs. It is a light hearted, quick and easy read and will remind you to love yourself and love others. Grace first- always!

I have a little card I carry that says:
Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved. -- Thomas S. Monson

I need lots of reminders. 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

by Katarina Bivald

Have you ever read a book and wondered why you kept reading? That's this one in a nutshell. I guess I kept thinking the Readers at Broken Wheel might actually begin to love books and recommend something. Instead the Swedish visitor to the tiny town in Iowa name drops a bunch of titles that some of the townspeople seem to read. But their main purpose is to be matchmakers of all sorts-- and there's LOTS of preachiness about it. Homosexual, bisexual, interracial, intergenerational, whatever and however you want it!

Why did I keep reading? Just so I could tell you not to.