the shark club

19723966_10155193407113392_1709718675_oThe Shark Club by Ann Kidd Taylor is a lovely beach read, “set against the intoxicating backdrop of palm trees, blood orange sunsets, and key lime pies.” The book is about Maeve, her twin brother, Robin and their childhood friend, Daniel.

Maeve is a traveling marine scientist, often called the shark whisperer, who returns to the small island off Florida’s coast where she grow up in her grandmother’s hotel. She was bitten by a shark at the age of twelve and has been obsessed with sharks ever since.  She has just began a romance with her colleague Nicholas, who also shares her passion for the ocean and its creatures, but that relationship is threatened when she arrives home and discovers her past love, Daniel is also staying at the hotel.

As children, Maeve, Daniel, and Robin were very close. All three of them had lost parents. “They shared fatherlessness like a glue that connected them.” According to Maeve, her and her brother “had an empty place, but we’d tried to fill it in such different ways.  For me, it was with sharks and oceans, with Daniel and the dream of a family.  For Robin, it was writing. After Robin’s writing was rejected over and over and he walked away from it, he turned to other ways of filling the void- parties and drinking and a sort of aimlessness.”  Robin’s grief never seemed to heal. Making trouble was his way of expressing his grief.  When Maeve returns to her home, she discovers Robin has finally written a book, but she is shocked and hurt to discover the book is about her and Daniel.

Daniel and Maeve proclaimed their love to each other when they were just 12 years old. This love progressed into adulthood and when their wedding was abruptly called off Maeve was devastated and heartbroken. “I experienced his loss like an actual death. I went underwater in more ways than one.” He was a wound I carried that wouldn’t heal.”  She later tells Daniel, ““There is always a sadness in me. I don’t want it to be there, but it is.  It sleeps inside of me, and when it wakes there’s nothing I can do about it.  It takes over, and when that happens nothing else exists. You did that. For the last seven years, I’ve hated you for it.”

So we have a love triangle. Will Maeve finally have a second chance at love with Nicholas or can she finally forgive Daniel and have everything she ever wanted. But the book isn’t just a romance, there is also a mystery intertwined.  There is an illegal shark finning operation going on and sharks are being killed for their fins.  Maeve is very upset by it and involved in trying to find the culprits. ”I’d given my life to sharks and people were killing them faster than they could reproduce.” “The sea, its creatures, its sharks-they were my religion. I could die for that.”

I adored this book. The perfect beach read. Written very well. It hooks you right away.

 Interesting side note: the author’s mother is Sue Monk Kidd, who wrote the Secret Life of Bees.

A few more quotes:

“We all have to live with our mistakes.”

“I’d make a fortress of myself and it caved like one of the sand castles that dotted the beach.”

“Whatever makes you feel alive, you ought to pay attention to it. If it makes you happy, it’s worth following.”

the curious charms…

19400836_10155128682113392_1592830941_oThe Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

Arthur Pepper has been a lonely widower for a year when he finds a charm bracelet he never knew existed that belonged to his wife. Arthur has pretty much spent all the time since his wife died like a recluse, isolated from others and depressed.  “He carried his loss around with him like a bowling bowl in the pit of his stomach.” “The only feelings he experienced were sadness, disappointment and melancholy.”  “There didn’t seem much point in discovering things alone.”

Arthur’s curiosity gets the best of him and he begins his adventure of tracking down where this bracelet and charms came from and why his wife had them. The search stirs something in Arthur and he experiences “emotions he didn’t know existed.  He began to discover people that excited him.  It made him feel alive.” With each person he encounters along the way, Arthur begins to change and grow.  He discovers things about himself: He was braver than he thought.  He was good at offering advice to others. He was more open and accepting of others than he knew.  He was stronger and had more depth.  These people stirred a desire in him to carry on with life.

The characters he meets along the way are all curious and charming as well. There is Bernadette, the neighborhood woman who likes lost causes and takes it upon herself to try to help them, including Arthur.  Bernadette’s strange, silent son Nathan. The man who lives with tigers, a former drug addict who is now a peddler, a gay young man who lives and takes care of an old, demented writer, a friendly man from India and a rude woman painter.  Each of these characters have their own story. Arthur really struggles with all the people and things that his wife Miriam kept from him, but by the end of the book he was made peace with it, made a lot of friends and come out of his shell.  “The past year of living alone had made the color fade from his life.  He had needed something to fill the void.” And he finds it.  Lovely and charming book!

The Historian

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THE HISTORIAN BY ELIZABETH KOSTOVA

Yes, I am really just getting around to reading this book. “The Historian,” has been on my bookshelf for many years and I finally picked it up and read it. It seemed like it took forever to get through it. At a whopping 700 pages, this is a book you have to really be invested in and spend some time with. That being said, if the book had been shorter and not so drawn out, it would have been much better!!!!

The author is very meticulous, too meticulous really and you have to read it slowly. The gist of the book is the search for the tomb of Dracula. Was he a real person? Is he still alive? Will they discover the truth?

The author takes you to many different countries in search for clues to this mystery and her descriptions of these places really make you feel like you are there. I loved how the historians visited so many different libraries all over the world, discovering ancient books and interesting artifacts that serve as clues for their search. I wanted to visit each of these libraries myself to see the beauty the author described. The characters risk their lives and much more trying to uncover secrets from the past.

What I liked most about this book was the characters. They are the heart and soul of the book. They made all the lengthy historical details and drawn out letters worthwhile. The book has a little of everything: romance, history, suspense, mystery, vampire folklore, and the supernatural.

Even though I am not a big fan of historical fiction, I thought overall it was a good book. I recommend it for history lovers and those who are interested in Dracula or vampires. While my review may seem a little negative, I really did enjoy the book and had to read until the end so I would know what really happened. As a lover of literary fiction, I can honestly say that Kostova is an amazing and very talented writer.

The Nightingale

nigh.jpgFinally got around to reading this gem.  A very moving story about two sisters during the holocaust era.  Isabelle has always been a bit of a rebel, always speaking her mind, determined to make a difference.  Vianne has always been the rule follower, cautious and afraid.  Both women are forced to be strong, face severe conditions and fight to survive during the war.

There are some chilling and horrific moments in the book that really open up your eyes to what people had to face during war.  The book focuses on how war effects people.  The book discusses family, love, loss and motherhood as well.

“If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this:  In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.”  “Grief, like regret, settles into your DNA and remains forever a part of us.”  Great book. Very moving! Couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.

Imagine Me Gone

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This book is a heavy read.  It is about John and Margaret and their three children Alec, Celia, and Michael.  Margaret married John knowing that he had issues with severe depression.  He suffered through difficult episodes of it his whole life. Sometimes he would just completely shut down, for weeks or months. Eventually he couldn’t keep a job and it began to have an effect on his wife and children.

Then it turns out that the eldest son, Michael, suffers significantly from depression and anxiety.  His mother and siblings do everything they can to help him cope.  It really takes a toll on the whole family.  A very powerful novel about how depression can effect people and their loved ones.

The author did an outstanding job of putting into words what depression and anxiety feel like. “What do you fear when you fear everything? Time passing and not passing. Death and life. I could say my lungs never filled with enough air, no matter how many puffs of my inhaler I took. Or that my thoughts moved too quickly to complete, severed by a perpetual vigilance. But even to say this would abet the lie that terror can be described, when anyone who’s ever known it knows that it has no components but its instead everywhere inside you all the time, until you recognize yourself only by the tensions that string one minute to the next. And yet I keep lying, by describing, because how else can I avoid this second, and the one after it? This being the condition itself: the relentless need to escape a moment that never ends.”