watch me disappear

0812989465.01._SX142_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_Billie Flannigan left for a weekend hiking trip and never returned. Her body was never found but she is presumed to be dead. She has left behind her husband, Johnathan and her daughter, Olive. Johnathan and Olive are still grieving and learning how to live without Billie and have so many unanswered questions about her death.
It has been a year since her mother disappeared when Olive begins to have visions that lead her to believe that her mother may still be alive and asking her for help.
Johnathan is trying to move forward with his life and declare Billie legally dead. He starts to find out things about her he did not know before and finds himself wondering if maybe she may have planned to leave them and did not have an accident or die on her trip.
The ultimate theme of this book to me is the concept of how well we really know people and what they are capable of doing.
“Maybe this is why they say love is blind: Who you want people to be makes you blind to who they really are.”
My book club enjoyed this one. It will keep you guessing right up until the end, what really happened to Billie?

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clockdance

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Anne Tyler’s books are always a special treat. In Clock Dance, as with all her books, Tyler creates quirky and lovable characters that you will quickly become enamored with and find completely relatable. Willa is the main character of this book. We learn about her life in sections: at age 11, at age 21, in her early 40s and in her early 60s.
Willa has always been a good girl, well-behaved, well-mannered, and agreeable. It’s obvious she puts everyone else’s happiness and wishes above her own. She is way too passive, complacent, and eager to please. She is basically just letting life pass her by when she gets a phone call from the neighbor of her son’s ex-girlfriend, Denise. The neighbor tells Willa that Denise is in the hospital and wants Willa to come take care of Denise’s eleven year old daughter, Cheryl.
At her husband’s disbelief and disapproval, Willa agrees to fly across the country to Baltimore to help out. I think she goes because she actually feels like someone finally needs her for once. Her sons have little to do with her and her husband is busy with work and she feels bored and unfulfilled.

Willa quickly becomes entangled with Denise and Cheryl and all the other lovely neighbors in the community. All the neighbors are great characters as well. Willa begins to feel like her life has purpose again. She feels needed in Boston. Has she finally found a more meaningful life instead of the one she has always just settled for or will she go back to her regular, boring life of being an obedient wife once Denise is well?
You can never go wrong with Anne Tyler. She continues to writing endearing books!!!!

the weight of this world

51EkS0rJCpLThe Weight of This World was my first book by North Carolina writer, David Joy. The book takes place in the mountains of North Carolina. The characters are re a little rough around the edges. It  was dark and violent at times, but Joy’s writing was superb and you can’t help but find yourself hoping the best for these characters.
Thad and Adien have been best friends since they were children. When Adien’s parents died, he moved into a trailer with Thad. Thad lived in an abandoned trailer behind his mother’s house. The two friends are more like family and they lived together up until Thad enlisted in the military. It’s obvious when Thad returns from the war that he is haunted by the things he saw and did during his service. “His memories had become something physical that he had to carry through this world.” He also had to carry the fact that his mother, April, never really loved him.
April has some traumatic buried secrets of her own. “There were so many things she carried, memories that lay heavy as stone. All of those things stayed bottled and building. All of those things had damn near broken her in two.” She is unable to love her son because of some things that happened to her in the past. While Thad is away, April and Aiden develop a relationship.
Adien has always been a very loyal friend to Thad. Aiden wants to improve his life by moving to Asheville to start over, but Thad refuses to go and Aiden refuses go without him.
Aiden: “No matter what he did, it seemed some higher power had it out for him, and that kind of certainty comes to leave a man numb after a while.” “All the weight of this world seemed to be on him right then and he just stood there staring out into nothing at all unsure how much longer he could go without buckling beneath it.”
All of these characters are broken, torn, troubled and haunted. No matter what they do, things never get better for them.
From Megan Abbott’s review: “The Weight of This World, is a tale of exquisite grit. David Joy is willing to go to all the dark places, but his voice and his heart serve as such strong beacons what we’ll follow him and take our chances. Those chances pay off in a story that is as tense and harrowing as it is achingly tender.”

the lost for words bookshop

40222288_719404101730126_3301275016628273152_nThe Lost For Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland
Loveday Cardew uses her job at “the lost for words bookshop,” not only as a means for income, but as a refuge and safe place to hide from the world. Her whole life, books have provided her with the escape, comfort and the safety net she needed.
Archie is the charming book-owner who is more of a father-figure to Loveday than a boss. It’s obvious that these two have a close friendship. Archie is one of the few people that Loveday has in her life. She was forced into a foster home at the age of ten and has kept to herself, guarding her heart and avoiding relationships of any kind for most of her life.
Then things begin to change for Loveday. The mysterious Nathan Avebury enters the picture. He is a magician/poet who quickly becomes part of Loveday’s life. She tries to fight her feelings for him and keep herself from getting too close, but before she knows it, she finds herself in a relationship.
Then mysterious packages keep turning up at the bookstore that force her to think about her parents and her past. Will she finally be able to face it and move on?
The book of course has a lot of references to other books. It also reflects on what books mean to people and how they can have such an impact on our lives. I very much enjoyed this charming little story that took place in England and I think you will too!

ruby

91xHnFrogPL.jpg Ruby by Cynthia Bond. I have mixed feelings about this one. It is probably the only selection from Oprah’s book club that I didn’t love.  This book will not be for the weak of heart. It is dark, disturbing, graphic, grotesque, and really just a horrific tale of sexual abuse.  Women and children are raped and beaten. Men are evil and demonic. There is a magical realism, voodoo, supernatural element to the book that I found weird and confusing.

All that being said, the author’s prose was brilliant, poetic, and powerful at times and it may have been necessary to include all the graphic details so the reader could understand the terrible cruelty of sexual abuse.  My book club had a very good discussion about the book. It reminds me of Beloved by Toni Morrison, which I didn’t really care for either.

Ruby is the tragic heroine of the book. She is sold into prostitution at a young age and is the perfect example of how a lifetime of sexual abuse can break a person. 

And then along comes Ephram, who tries to help Ruby face and overcome her past.  Will she be able rebuild “the broken femur of her soul?”  Can the human spirit survive such traumatic experiences? Is it possible that she can find love and peace at last?

 

the perfect couple

38057391_10156825784888392_8406964660158332928_nEvery summer I looked forward to a new book by Elin Hilderbrand. She is one of my favorites. The Perfect Couple was a little different from her previous books. It was more of a mystery than a romance. The book begins when a dead body washes ashore at a lavish oceanfront estate where a wedding is about to take place. As the book develops, all the wedding guests become suspects.

The book explores what really makes “the perfect couple” and how the couple that seems perfect may not be perfect at all. There were a ton of characters in this book and they all had their issues. It made quite a juicy beach read.

Nantucket is always a character in Hilderbrand’s books and I always want to hop on a plane and move there after reading them. This book made me hungry. I not only wanted to go to Nantucket, but I wanted to go there and eat all the things these characters were eating! It sounds like heaven.

You must have this book for your summer beach trip and when you finish it you will want to run out and buy all of Hilderbrand’s books. They never disappoint.

all your perfects

38023470_10156818909623392_8878929279056871424_nThere is something about a Colleen Hoover book that grips you from the first page and holds you hostage until the end. She always makes you feel all the feelings!!!!
All Your Perfects is about a couple, Quinn and Graham, who meet and fall madly in love. The kind of sickening, intense, lustful, undying love that always takes place in Hoover’s books.
After the couple is married, they begin to try to get pregnant. A mom is the only thing that Quinn wants to be and as she struggles with infertility she becomes a completely different person. Battling infertility takes a toll on each of them and their marriage.
Quinn: “I cry because I hate what I’ve turned this marriage into. My husband’s heart is my saving grace, but his physical touch has become my enemy.”
“Of course he feels like he’s making love to a corpse. It’s because he is. I haven’t felt alive inside in years. I’ve been slowly rotting away, and that rot is now eating at my marriage to the point that I can no longer hide it.”
“Something that should have brought us together pulled us further apart. Avoidance sounds like such a harmless word, but that one word can cause some severe damage to a relationship. We avoided so much in our marriage, simply out of fear. We avoided communicating. We avoided talking about the challenges we faced. We avoided all the things that made us feel saddest.”
As things fall apart between Quinn and Graham over the years, the author takes you on an emotional roller-coaster and you will wonder if their marriage will survive or not, desperately hoping it does.
“I can spend my time focusing on the perfect version of the life I’ll never have or I can spend my time enjoying the life I do have. And the life I have would provide me with so much opportunity if I would get out of my own head long enough to chase those opportunities.” (Quinn)
“If you only shine light on your flaws, all your perfects will dim.”
Colleen Hoover always writes the perfect romance novel. If you haven’t read her books, you are missing out!

something in the water

37815572_10156807121748392_8400129911196483584_nSomething in the Water by Catherine Steadman.  Mark and Erin are just two ordinary people from London. When the couple marries and goes to Bora Bora for a honeymoon in paradise, an innocent trip out scuba-diving changes their lives forever.

The couple panics, packs up and returns home earlier than planned. In part of the back story, Erin is making a documentary about three prisoners that are about to be released and Mark has just been fired and the couple is struggling financially. 

As the couple’s fear and paranoia get worse, they make numerous bad and hasty decisions. Erin: “Maybe I’m crazy, but I feel like something is closing in on me, on us. I know it sounds stupid and paranoid and I have no evidence to back this feeling up, but I can just sense it all around me. Like it’s just waiting for something. I can’t feel it yet, but I can feel it coming.”

The book explores how easy it is to adapt, to become a different person, and how you can do what you have to do for survival. “We human beings are amazing in our capacity for adaptation. Like plants, we grow into our pots. ”

Erin and Mark begin to doubt everything and everyone, including each other. How well do you really know another person?

I read this because Reese Witherspoon chose it for her Hello Sunshine book club. Honestly, I didn’t get interested until half way through the book. I found it boring and I was disappointed, but please read it for yourself because a lot of other people really seemed to enjoy it!

the book that matters most

book that mattersThe Book That Matters Most by Ann Hood. Ava longed for company after her husband Jim moved out to be with another woman. She desperately needed to find a way to fill the empty hours that appeared suddenly when her husband left. When her friend Cate announced an opening in her book club, Ava jumped at the chance to join. As she gets to know the other members she gets the comfort, companionship, and conversation that she needs. The book club filled her with a warmth and comfort she hadn’t felt in a long time. Books had always been a refuge for Ava. “Reading used to bring me such pleasure. And then things happened in my life, and books lost the magic they once held for me. I feel I’m rediscovering that.”

Meanwhile, Ava’s daughter, Maggie, is supposed to be in art school in Italy. She drops out of school without telling anyone to move to Paris, following the footsteps of Ernest Hemingway to pursue her dream of being a writer. She spent afternoons/evenings sitting in cafes, drinking wine, waiting for her life to begin, for something to happen, but nothing ever did. She left drunk, disappointed, not inspired, and not alive. She’d been dead inside for a long time. Maggie has a history of falling in love suddenly and dropping everything for a boy. She becomes involved in a very troubling relationship with an older married man and takes part in very dangerous and reckless behavior.

Meanwhile, Ava’s book club meets monthly and each member shares with book club “the book that matters most” to them. The books that were chosen were Pride and Prejudice, The great Gatsby, Anna Karenina, One Hundred Years of Solitude, To Kill a Mockingbird, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, A Catcher in the Rye, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and Slaughterhouse-Five. The book Ava chooses was given to her has a child and she begins to hunt down the author after she lies to the book club and tells them the author is coming to their discussion. As her search begins, alot of secrets from the past are revealed.

This was a light and heart-warming read about the love of books and the way they affect us and our lives. It made me think about the books I love most and what they mean to me.

Americanah

37075451_10156782475533392_5623867393274019840_nAmericanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Ifemelu and Obinze met as teenagers. When they met they trusted each other suddenly and completely and immediately had an intimacy between them. He made her like herself. It was almost like love at first sight and they were together up until Ifemelu moves to America to attend college.

Ifemelu really struggles when she moves to America. She can’t find a job, she doesn’t fit in, and she misses Obinze. Then something happens to her and she cuts off contact with Obinze. He is completely confused about why she has stopped contacting him. “He missed her, a longing that tore deep into him. He resented her. He wondered endlessly what might have happened. He changed, curled more inwardly into himself. He was, by turns, inflamed by anger, twisted by confusion, withered by sadness.”

Ifemelu soon finds out, “You are in a country that is not your own. You do what you have to do if you want to succeed.” “I came from a country where race was not an issue; I did not think of myself as black and I only became black when I came to America.” “How many other people had become black in America? How many had felt as though their world was wrapped in gauze?” She begins a blog about race that is a huge part of the novel and it becomes successful.

She has two serious relationships in America and then she finds that her heart just isn’t in it anymore. “She did not know what it was but there was something wrong with her. A hunger, a restlessness. An incomplete knowledge of herself. The sense of something farther away, beyond her reach.” “There was cement in her soul. It had been there for a while, an early morning disease of fatigue, a bleakness and borderlessness. It brought with it amorphous longings, shapeless desires, brief imaginary glints of other lives she could be living, that over the months melded into a piercing homesickness.”

Meanwhile Obinze is feeling the same way. “He had begun, in the past few months, to feel bloated from all he had acquired and would, from time to time be overcome by the urge to prick everything with a pin, to deflate it all, to be free. He no longer felt sure, he had in fact never been sure whether he liked his life because he really did or whether he liked it because he was supposed to.” “His mind had not changed at the same pace of his life, and felt a hollow space between himself and the person he used to be.”

So Ifemelu follows her heart and moves back to Nigeria and she and Obinze find each other again. Will their love be enough? Will he be able to leave his wife to be with her again? I desperately wanted a happy ending for these two and I won’t say whether they got one or not because I don’t want to spoil it for you. I found this book to be boring and tedious at times and the race subject was a little overkill. However, I kept reading because I was very invested in the love story between Ifemelu and Obinze. Adichie is a very talented and amazing writer and I will continue to read anything she writes