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Summer Reading

I've been reading rather voraciously lately. See, I'm one of those crazies that always has millions of projects going on to occupy the millions of ideas swirling 'round my head. Or nervous energy or ambition or whatever it is. I don't know why I'm like this (my mother!) but I've learned to embrace it and use it productively. For the most part.

Summer Reading

Being pregnant and the relentless heat waves we're experiencing are really cramping my style. So I read. A lot. Reading also helps me to relax before bed so I brave an hour or so of Leo's "turn off the light!" scoldings until I'm drowsy enough to fall asleep.

I've read quite a few books recently that I think are fabulous summer beach reads. You know, if we didn't have kids and could actually read at the beach. But I think you know what I mean....thoughtful, easy, sometimes juicy stories that make you feel better about yourself than mindlessly flipping through gossip rags.

Get at these and let me know what you think! I have yet to join a book club (sorry Kat, I don't think the two of us constitute a "club") but love reading different perspectives and suggestions.

GONE GIRL: A NOVEL by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl: A Novel

Told from a husband and wife's alternating points of view, this smart and often times hilarious suspense thriller begins on the fifth wedding anniversary of Amy and Nick as Amy is discovered missing from their home with signs of foul play. It's a "you think you know but you have no idea" story that will have you pondering your own relationships (and maybe yourself) and leave you guessing till the very end:

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

THE AGE OF MIRACLES by Karen Thompson Walker

The Age of Miracles

I'm just finishing this captivating coming-of-age tale. The voice of 14-year old Julia sucked me right in from the start. The narration is being compared to The Lovely Bones, a haunting oldie but goodie. Don't let the sci-fi aspect of the story scare you either. Much like The Hunger Games Trilogy, it's just the backdrop for the story that you'll easily get into:

On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, Julia and her family awake to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. The days and nights grow longer and longer, gravity is affected, the environment is thrown into disarray. Yet as she struggles to navigate an ever-shifting landscape, Julia is also coping with the normal disasters of everyday life—the fissures in her parents’ marriage, the loss of old friends, the hopeful anguish of first love, the bizarre behavior of her grandfather who, convinced of a government conspiracy, spends his days obsessively cataloging his possessions. As Julia adjusts to the new normal, the slowing inexorably continues.

THE WITNESS by Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts, The Witness

I'd estimate that I read mysteries/suspense thrillers more than any other genre. I've devoured most of the current best sellers like The Innocent, Guilty Wives, and 11th Hour, all of which I liked, but I think Nora Roberts' The Witness is the best of them. Who doesn't love a thriller AND a love story? Well, this fast-paced novel has both, with a heroine that reminded me a lot of Lisbeth Salander from Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy with her eidetic memory, computer hacking, and lack of social skills:

Daughter of a controlling mother, Elizabeth finally let loose one night, drinking at a nightclub and allowing a strange man’s seductive Russian accent lure her to a house on Lake Shore Drive. The events that followed changed her life forever.

Twelve years later, the woman known as Abigail Lowery lives on the outskirts of a small town in the Ozarks. A freelance programmer, she designs sophisticated security systems—and supplements her own security with a fierce dog and an assortment of firearms. She keeps to herself, saying little, revealing nothing. But Abigail’s reserve only intrigues police chief Brooks Gleason. Her logical mind, her secretive nature, and her unromantic viewpoints leave him fascinated but frustrated. He suspects that Abigail needs protection from something—and that her elaborate defenses hide a story that must be revealed.

THE COST OF HOPE: A MEMOIR by Amanda Bennett

The Cost of Hope: A Memoir

I'm so touched by Pulitzer Prize winner Amanda Bennett's memoir. It's one part investigative journalism, two parts love story, and engaging throughout. A quick, weekend read with a lot of heart and perspective to consider long after you've turned the last page:

When Wall Street Journal reporter Amanda Bennett meets the eccentric, infuriating, yet somehow irresistible Terence Bryan Foley while on assignment in China, the last thing she expects is to marry him. They are so different—classic and bohemian, bow ties and batik, quirky and sensible. But Terence is persistent. “You are going to be somebody,” he tells her. “You’re going to need somebody to take care of you.” Though initially as combative as their courtship, their marriage brings with it stormy passion, deep love and respect, two beloved children, and a life together over two decades. Then comes illness, and the fight to win a longer life for Terence.

The Cost of Hope chronicles the extraordinary measures Amanda and Terence take to preserve not only Terence’s life but also the life of their family. After his death, Bennett uses her skills as a veteran investigative reporter to determine the cost of their mission of hope. What she discovers raises important questions many people face, and vital issues about the intricacies of America’s healthcare system.

Do you belong to a book club? Any recs for me?

{I was not compensated for this post, although Amazon Affiliate links are included. I received a complimentary copy of "The Cost of Hope" for review purposes. All opinions expressed herein are my own. First image via Pinterest. Book cover images via Amazon.}