2019 Reading



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Title: Stowed Away
Author: Barbara Ross
Length: 280 p
Published: December 2017
Book Group: no
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

The 6th installment of the Maine Clambake series--actually one of the better ones! I love the quirky characters.

From the publisher:
It’s June in Busman’s Harbor, Maine, and Julia Snowden and her family are working hard to get their authentic Maine clambake business ready for summer. Preparations must be put on hold, however, when a mysterious yacht drops anchor in the harbor—and delivers an unexpected dose of murder . . .

When Julia’s old prep school rival Wyatt Jayne invites her to dinner on board her billionaire fiancé’s decked-out yacht, Julia arrives to find a sumptuous table set for two—and the yachtsman dead in his chair. Suspicion quickly falls on Wyatt, and Julia’s quest to dredge up the truth leads her into the murky private world of a mega-rich recluse who may not have been all that he seemed . . .




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Title: Becoming
Author: Michelle Obama
Length: 19 hrs and 3 mins / 480 p
Published: November 2018
Book Group: no
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

One of the most inspiring and surprising people I've ever read about. I alternated reading with listening and preferred listening, her narration is fantastic.

From the publisher:
In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African-American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.


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Title: Puddin'
Author: Julie Murphy
Length: 11 hrs and 9 mins / 448 p
Published: May 2018
Book Group: no
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

The sequel to Dumplin' captures teen voices and attitudes. It features Willowdean's friend Millie and another pageant contestent, Callie.

From the publisher:
Millie Michalchuk has gone to fat camp every year since she was a girl. Not this year. This year she has new plans to chase her secret dream—and to kiss her crush. Callie Reyes is the pretty girl who is next in line for dance team captain and has the popular boyfriend. But when it comes to other girls, she’s more frenemy than friend. When circumstances bring the girls together over the course of a semester, they will surprise everyone (especially themselves) by realizing they might have more in common than they ever imagined.

Favorite quotes:

“My magic truth-the thing that has changed everything for me-is this: the body I have shouldn't change how deserving I am of my dreams. I stopped obsessing over my body being too round or too wise or too lumpy. Because I'm not too much of anything. I am just enough. Even when I don't feel like I am.”
― Julie Murphy, Puddin'

“For the longest time, I thought the power of positive thinking would get me by. And it helps, that’s for dang sure. But it takes more than thinking and hoping and wishing and praying. You need a whole lot of doing.”
― Julie Murphy, Puddin'

“I kind of wonder what it feels like to love something so much that you’re even happy to fail at it.”
― Julie Murphy, Puddin'


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Title: The Great Alone
Author: Kristin Hannah
Length: 15h 2m / 440 p
Published: February 2018
Book Group: School
My Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

I'm going to be unpopular for this--but I didn't like this book. Too many stereotypical situations and characters. It dragged and dragged. And the ending? Too tidy. Nope. Not for me.

From the publisher:
Alaska, 1974.
Unpredictable. Unforgiving. Untamed.
For a family in crisis, the ultimate test of survival.

Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.

Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if it means following him into the unknown

At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.

But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves.








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Title: Before We Were Yours
Author: Lisa Wingate
Length: 14 hrs and 29 mins / 342 p
Published: June 2017
Book Group: Library
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 star

Historical novel telling the ugly tale of notorious Georgia Tann's Tennessee Children's Home Society orphanage. Dual narratives tell the unfolding and sad tale of children caught up in "the system" and the modern repercussions of secrets and lies. It is an atmospheric and well-researched novel. The present-day thread of the story was predictable.

From the publisher:
Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge—until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents—but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.

Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals—in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country—Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.





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Title: Catch Me If Yukon
Author: Maddy Hunter
Length: 314 p
Published: December 2018
Book Group: no
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This 12th installment of kooky senior citizens traveling the Yukon is so funny. I didn't figure it out.

From the publisher:
As tour escort Emily Miceli leads her globetrotting band of Iowa seniors into the wilds of Alaska, she discovers that, in the land of the midnight sun, whales aren't the only killers on the prowl. When a tour member turns up dead on a mountainous hiking trail, Emily blames herself for the mishap--until she learns that something far hairier might be to blame. One of the seniors snaps a photo of what looks to be Bigfoot, raising many questions about what happened to the victim. But the illusive sasquatch is just a legend, isn't it? Between whale-watching in the glacial waters near Seward and ziplining in the primal forests of Denali, Emily finds herself locked in a game of cat and mouse with a killer who's too clever to be mere myth.





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Title: Washington Black
Author: Esi Edugyan
Length: 12 hrs and 18 mins / 339 p
Published: September 2018
Book Group: no
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Wow. I wish a book group of mine was reading this to talk about it. I have questions! I have half-formed thoughts that need to be explored. What was that ending?

From the publisher:
Washington Black is an eleven-year-old field slave who knows no other life than the Barbados sugar plantation where he was born.

When his master's eccentric brother chooses him to be his manservant, Wash is terrified of the cruelties he is certain await him. But Christopher Wilde, or "Titch," is a naturalist, explorer, scientist, inventor, and abolitionist.

He initiates Wash into a world where a flying machine can carry a man across the sky; where two people, separated by an impossible divide, might begin to see each other as human; and where a boy born in chains can embrace a life of dignity and meaning. But when a man is killed and a bounty is placed on Wash's head, Titch abandons everything to save him.

What follows is their flight along the eastern coast of America, and, finally, to a remote outpost in the Arctic, where Wash, left on his own, must invent another new life, one which will propel him further across the globe.

From the sultry cane fields of the Caribbean to the frozen Far North, Washington Black tells a story of friendship and betrayal, love and redemption, of a world destroyed and made whole again--and asks the question, what is true freedom?







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Title: Neanderthal Seeks Human (Knitting in the City #1)
Author: Penny Reid
Length: 14 hrs and 19 mins / 316 p
Published: June 2013
Book Group: no
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I've read some heavy books lately and needed a rom-com. This was a fun, light-hearted book. I do wish there had been more knitting.

From the publisher:
There are three things you need to know about Janie Morris: 1) She is incapable of engaging in a conversation without volunteering TMTI (Too Much Trivial Information), especially when she is unnerved, 2) No one unnerves her more than Quinn Sullivan, and 3) She doesn't know how to knit.

After losing her boyfriend, apartment, and job in the same day, Janie Morris can't help wondering what new torment fate has in store. To her utter mortification, Quinn Sullivan- aka Sir McHotpants- witnesses it all then keeps turning up like a pair of shoes you lust after but can't afford. The last thing she expects is for Quinn- the focus of her slightly, albeit harmless, stalkerish tendencies- to make her an offer she can't refuse.





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Title: A Place for Us
Author: Fatima Farheen Mirza
Length: 16 hrs and 38 mins / 385 p
Published: June 2018
Book Group: Library
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

This book is going to make a perfect book group discussion book. It's a contemporary study of family relationships--between siblings, parents and children, husbands and wives. The narrative jumps around--spanning decades, but it was quite easy to follow. The Romeo and Juliet storyline is enjoyable.

From the publisher:
A Place for Us unfolds the lives of an Indian-American Muslim family, gathered together in their Californian hometown to celebrate the eldest daughter, Hadia's, wedding - a match of love rather than tradition. It is here, on this momentous day, that Amar, the youngest of the siblings, reunites with his family for the first time in three years. Rafiq and Layla must now contend with the choices and betrayals that lead to their son's estrangement - the reckoning of parents who strove to pass on their cultures and traditions to their children; and of children who in turn struggle to balance authenticity in themselves with loyalty to the home they came from.

In a narrative that spans decades and sees family life through the eyes of each member, A Place For Us charts the crucial moments in the family's past, from the bonds that bring them together to the differences that pull them apart. And as siblings Hadia, Huda, and Amar attempt to carve out a life for themselves, they must reconcile their present culture with their parent's faith, to tread a path between the old world and the new, and learn how the smallest decisions can lead to the deepest of betrayals.





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Title: True Places
Author: Sonja Yoerg
Length: 12 hrs and 15 mins / 364 p
Published: January 2019
Book Group: no
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Kind of a far-fetched plot. Some cliche characters. But an interesting study of modern family. Told from shifting narrators, I think every character has their say.

From the publisher:
A girl emerges from the woods, starved, ill, and alone…and collapses.

Suzanne Blakemore hurtles along the Blue Ridge Parkway, away from her overscheduled and completely normal life, and encounters the girl. As Suzanne rushes her to the hospital, she never imagines how the encounter will change her—a change she both fears and desperately needs.

Suzanne has the perfect house, a successful husband, and a thriving family. But beneath the veneer of an ideal life, her daughter is rebelling, her son is withdrawing, her husband is oblivious to it all, and Suzanne is increasingly unsure of her place in the world. After her discovery of the ethereal sixteen-year-old who has never experienced civilization, Suzanne is compelled to invite Iris into her family’s life and all its apparent privileges.

But Iris has an independence, a love of solitude, and a discomfort with materialism that contrasts with everything the Blakemores stand for—qualities that awaken in Suzanne first a fascination, then a longing. Now Suzanne can’t help but wonder: Is she destined to save Iris, or is Iris the one who will save her?



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Title: Where'd You Go, Bernadette
Author: Maria Semple
Length: 9 hrs and 35 mins / 324 p
Published: August 2014
Book Group: Library
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Originally posted 5/9/2013


From the publisher:

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence—creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.

I wasn't really sure what to think of this book based on the overview from the publisher. But what a treat! This book is laugh out loud funny in several places. Even though you have to suspend belief, it's worth it to follow the improbable tale of Bee piecing together what happened to her mother, Bernadette. It's an epistolary-style book but it incorporates all types of messages: letters, texts, journals, billboards, emails, and other sources. The secondary characters start out as stereotypes but the arc of the story is surprising.

I really loved this book. I wanted to start reading it again just as I finished it.


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Title: Humans of New York
Author: Brandon Stanton
Length: 304 p
Published: October 2013
Book Group: School
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

A fascinating book group selection--we each responded to individual images, it was fun to share.

From the publisher:
A beautiful, heartfelt, funny and inspiring collection of photographs capturing the spirit of a city

In the summer of 2010, photographer Brandon Stanton set out on an ambitious project: to single-handedly create a photographic census of New York City. Armed with his camera, he began crisscrossing the city, covering thousands of miles on foot, all in an attempt to capture New Yorkers and their stories. The result of these efforts was a vibrant blog he called "Humans of New York," in which his photos were featured alongside quotes and anecdotes.

Humans of New York is the book inspired by the Internet sensation. With four hundred color photos, including exclusive portraits and all-new stories, Humans of New York is a stunning collection of images that showcases the outsized personalities of New York.

Surprising and moving, Humans of New York is a celebration of individuality and a tribute to the spirit of the city.



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Title: The Midnight Dog of the Repo Man
Author: W. Bruce Cameron
Length: 1 hr and 4 mins / 49 p
Published: September 2014
Book Group: no
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Had to read this novella--it's seriously got me hooked!














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Title: The Midnight Plan of the Repo Man
Author: W. Bruce Cameron
Length: 11 hrs and 15 mins / 336 p
Published: October 2014
Book Group: no
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This series is going to be a hoot! I can't wait to see what happens next.

From the publisher:
Ruddy McCann, former college football star, has experienced a seismic drop in popularity; he is now Kalkaska, Michigan’s full-time repo man and part-time bar bouncer. His best friend is his low-energy Basset hound Jake, with whom he shares a simple life of stealing cars.

Simple, that is, until Ruddy starts hearing a voice in his head.

The voice introduces himself as Alan Lottner, a dead realtor. Ruddy isn’t sure if Alan is real, or if he’s losing his mind. To complicate matters, it turns out Katie, the girl he’s fallen for, is Alan’s daughter.

When Alan demands Ruddy find his murderers, Ruddy decides a voice in your head seeking vengeance is best ignored. When Alan also demands he clean up his act, and apartment, Ruddy tells him to back off, but where can a voice in your head go?

With a sweet romance, a murder mystery, a lazy but loyal dog and a town full of cabin-fevered characters you can’t help but love, New York Times bestselling novelist W. Bruce Cameron’s The Midnight Plan of the Repo Man is yet another laugh-out-loud, keep-you-up-late, irresistible read.




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Title: A Lite Too Bright
Author: Samuel Miller
Length: 11 hrs and 39 mins / 480 p
Published: May 2018
Book Group: School
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

This is quite a ride. It's a quest for clarity, forgiveness, and ultimately answers.

From the publisher:
Arthur Louis Pullman the Third is on the verge of a breakdown. He’s been stripped of his college scholarship, is losing his grip on reality, and has been sent away to live with his aunt and uncle.

It’s there that Arthur discovers a journal written by his grandfather, the first Arthur Louis Pullman, an iconic Salinger-esque author who went missing the last week of his life and died hundreds of miles away from their family home. What happened in that week—and how much his actions were influenced by his Alzheimer’s—remains a mystery.

But now Arthur has his grandfather’s journal—and a final sentence containing a train route and a destination.

So Arthur embarks on a cross-country train ride to relive his grandfather’s last week, guided only by the clues left behind in the dementia-fueled journal. As Arthur gets closer to uncovering a sad and terrible truth, his journey is complicated by a shaky alliance with a girl who has secrets of her own and by escalating run-ins with a dangerous Pullman fan base.

Arthur’s not the only one chasing a legacy—and some feel there is no cost too high for the truth.



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Title: When We Meet Again
Author: Kristin Harmel
Length: 10 hrs and 20 mins / 384 p
Published: June 2016
Book Group: Library
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 star

Historical fiction exploring the themes of betrayal, forgiveness, and enduring love. This is the story of a German POW in America, there were many at the local air base so I grew up knowing about them, and the story of his love and loss. Alternating narratives from the past to the present day search for answers, it's a tidy story. I think my book group will enjoy it.

From the publisher:
Emily Emerson is used to being alone; her dad ran out on the family when she was a just a kid, her mom died when she was seventeen, and her beloved grandmother has just passed away as well. But when she’s laid off from her reporting job, she finds herself completely at sea…until the day she receives a beautiful, haunting painting of a young woman standing at the edge of a sugarcane field under a violet sky. That woman is recognizable as her grandmother—and the painting arrived with no identification other than a handwritten note saying, “He always loved her.”

Emily is hungry for roots and family, so she begins to dig. And as she does, she uncovers a fascinating era in American history. Her trail leads her to the POW internment camps of Florida, where German prisoners worked for American farmers...and sometimes fell in love with American women. But how does this all connect to the painting? The answer to that question will take Emily on a road that leads from the sweltering Everglades to Munich, Germany and back to the Atlanta art scene before she’s done.

Along the way, she finds herself tempted to tear down her carefully tended walls at last; she’s seeing another side of her father, and a new angle on her painful family history. But she still has secrets, ones she’s been keeping locked inside for years. Will this journey bring her the strength to confront them at last?


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Title: Kiss Me Quick
Author: Julie Highmore
Length: 300 p
Published: December 2006
Book Group: no
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

A confection of a book!

From the publisher:
Tim Downer's own life is in chaos, but he's paid for his qualification as a life coach, and he's going to use it. When his new, and only, client tells him she's had a huge windfall, he believes he really could turn his and, of course, her life around. He doesn't suspect that there's more to Debbie than the scruffy, overweight drudge she appears to be. But his ex-wife Erica and daughter Alice instantly spot her dodgy wig and strange accent. Deborah is actually in Shelcombe to investigate life coaching rather than benefit from it, but she quickly finds herself fascinated by the eccentric inhabitants of the little seaside town. Which is just as well, since when the magazine she works for collapses, she's stuck there. And once she meets Tim without her disguise, he gets a few surprising life lessons.



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Title: The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives
Author: Dashka Slater
Length: 5 hrs and 44 mins / 320 p
Published: October 2017
Book Group: no
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

A riveting true story of the nuances of what seems to be an easy, right and wrong case. What keeps this from being dry is the way the author examines the main and secondary people--from piecing together interviews, reports, and footage.

From the publisher:
One teenager in a skirt.
One teenager with a lighter.
One moment that changes both of their lives forever.

If it weren't for the 57 bus, Sasha and Richard never would have met. Both were high school students from Oakland, California, one of the most diverse cities in the country, but they inhabited different worlds. Sasha, a white teen, lived in the middle-class foothills and attended a small private school. Richard, a black teen, lived in the crime-plagued flatlands and attended a large public one. Each day, their paths overlapped for a mere eight minutes. But one afternoon on the bus ride home from school, a single reckless act left Sasha severely burned, and Richard charged with two hate crimes and facing life imprisonment. The case garnered international attention, thrusting both teenagers into the spotlight.




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Title: Run Away
Author: Harlan Coben
Length: 10 hrs and 20 mins / 385 p
Published: March 2019
Book Group: no
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This might be my first read of this author, although browsing through my GoodReads TBR, he's all over it. I will definitely check out more of his books. And I didn't know the genre of Domestic Suspense, either, but it is defined as a thriller with no police, detectives, or serial killers as primary characters. This story drew me in and I couldn't put it down. Suspend belief and enjoy the ride.

From the publisher:
You've lost your daughter.

She's addicted to drugs and to an abusive boyfriend. And she's made it clear that she doesn't want to be found.

Then, by chance, you see her playing guitar in Central Park. But she's not the girl you remember. This woman is living on the edge, frightened, and clearly in trouble.

You don't stop to think. You approach her, beg her to come home.

She runs.

And you do the only thing a parent can do: you follow her into a dark and dangerous world you never knew existed. Before you know it, both your family and your life are on the line. And in order to protect your daughter from the evils of that world, you must face them head on.





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Title: Repo Madness
Author: W. Bruce Cameron
Length: 9 hrs and 58 mins / 384 p
Published: August 2016
Book Group: no
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This second installment was as much fun as the first of the series. I can't wait to read more.

From the publisher:
Ruddy McCann, former college football star, now Kalkaska, Michigan repo man, is finally getting his life back on track. He has a beautiful fiancé, Katie Lottner, a somewhat stable job stealing cars, and a lazy, lovable basset hound.

With his job suddenly in jeopardy, his fiancé wanting a break, and a new court-ordered psychiatrist insisting he take his medication or violate the terms of his probation, Ruddy finds himself missing the one thing he thought he would be happy to be rid of--the voice of Alan Lottner, dead realtor and Ruddy's future father-in-law.

When a woman tells Ruddy that the tragedy that defines his life may, in fact, be a lie, Ruddy starts to investigate the disappearances of women in the area and soon discovers that his own redemption may be within reach. Alan's voice returns, and Ruddy and Alan work together to bring down a corrupt banker, win back Katie's love, and stop a serial killer before he can strike again.



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Title: Sadie
Author: Courtney Summers
Length: 7 hrs and 57 mins / 308 p
Published: September 2018
Book Group: no
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This is a gripping, difficult, disturbing, compelling read. Categorized as contemporary YA, don't let the label turn you away. It's twin narratives go between the titular Sadie and West McCray who is creating a podcast piecing together Sadie's story. I liked the format--the chapters alternated from Sadie's account of the action to podcast accounting of events. It's going to stay with me for a long time.

From the publisher:
A missing girl on a journey of revenge. A Serial―like podcast following the clues she's left behind. And an ending you won't be able to stop talking about.

Sadie hasn't had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she's been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie's entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister's killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray―a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America―overhears Sadie's story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie's journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it's too late.

Trigger warnings: pedophilia, child abuse, sexual assault, violence, potential eating disorder, descriptions of blood, mentions of substance abuse



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Title: The Immortalists
Author: Chloe Benjamin
Length: 11 hrs and 30 mins / 346 p
Published: January 2018
Book Group: School
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

The tagline of this book really captured my fancy: If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life? But the execution of this story left me flat. I didn't connect with the characters, they were whiny and entitled. I wanted to smack them and tell them to get over themselves.

From the publisher:
It's 1969 in New York City's Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children—four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness—sneak out to hear their fortunes.

The prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in '80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.

A sweeping novel of remarkable ambition and depth, The Immortalists probes the line between destiny and choice, reality and illusion, this world and the next. It is a deeply moving testament to the power of story, the nature of belief, and the unrelenting pull of familial bonds.





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Title: The Silent Patient
Author: Alex Michaelides
Length: 8 hrs and 43 mins / 323 p
Published: February 2019
Book Group: no
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

No spoilers here. It's being called a psychological thriller but I think it's more of a character study or a whodunit. Listening to the narrators of the audio version, the voice of Theo is superbly cast. Most of the story unfolds from Theo's point of view, but there are moments of Alicia's perspective too. The end took me by surprise. I didn't see it coming. This is one heck of a debut novel.

From the publisher:
ALICIA
Alicia Berenson writes a diary as a release, an outlet – and to prove to her beloved husband that everything is fine. She can’t bear the thought of worrying Gabriel, or causing him pain.

Until, late one evening, Alicia shoots Gabriel five times and then never speaks another word.

Alicia's refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

THEO
Forensic psychotherapist Theo Faber is convinced he can successfully treat Alicia, where all others have failed. Obsessed with investigating her crime, his discoveries suggest Alicia’s silence goes far deeper than he first thought. Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations--a search for the truth that threatens to consume him...

And if she speaks, would he want to hear the truth?


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Title: Not That I Could Tell
Author: Jessica Strawser
Length: 11 hrs and 44 mins / 320 p
Published: March 2018
Book Group: Library
My Rating: 3 out of 5 star

It was good but not great. Kristin's disappearance is a catalyst for the action but the interesting dynamics among the women and how their lives are changed by Kristin's actions are what the story is about. I'm hoping there is a good discussion for my book group!


From the publisher:
When a group of neighborhood women gathers, wine in hand, around a fire pit where their backyards meet one Saturday night, most of them are just ecstatic to have discovered that their baby monitors reach that far. It’s a rare kid-free night, and they’re giddy with it. They drink too much, and the conversation turns personal.

By Monday morning, one of them is gone.

Everyone knows something about everyone else in the quirky small Ohio town of Yellow Springs, but no one can make sense of the disappearance. Kristin was a sociable twin mom, college administrator, and doctor’s wife who didn’t seem all that bothered by her impending divorce—and the investigation turns up more questions than answers, with her husband, Paul, at the center. For her closest neighbor, Clara, the incident triggers memories she thought she’d put behind her—and when she’s unable to extract herself from the widening circle of scrutiny, her own suspicions quickly grow. But the neighborhood’s newest addition, Izzy, is determined not to jump to any conclusions—especially since she’s dealing with a crisis of her own.

As the police investigation goes from a media circus to a cold case, the neighbors are forced to reexamine what’s going on behind their own closed doors—and to ask how well anyone really knows anyone else.