Summer Reading

I’ve had a bit of extra down-time on my hands this summer; and as a result I’ve been able to enjoy some really good books.  I love reading almost as much as napping or taking bubble baths.

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House Rules:   by Jodi Picoult

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HOUSE RULES is about Jacob Hunt, a teenage boy with Asperger’s Syndrome. He’s hopeless at reading social cues or expressing himself well to others, and like many kids with AS, Jacob has a special focus on one subject – in his case, forensic analysis. He’s always showing up at crime scenes, thanks to the police scanner he keeps in his room, and telling the cops what they need to do…and he’s usually right. But then one day his tutor is found dead, and the police come to question him. All of the hallmark behaviors of Asperger’s – not looking someone in the eye, stimulatory tics and twitches, inappropriate affect – can look a heck of a lot like guilt to law enforcement personnel — and suddenly, Jacob finds himself accused of murder. HOUSE RULES looks at what it means to be different in our society, how autism affects a family, and how our legal system works well for people who communicate a certain way – but lousy for those who don’t.  Synopsis from Jodi

This one was definitely a page turner.  I recommend it especially if you like ‘who done it?’ stories.  It was a little predictable but it gave some interesting insights into Asperger’s too.

At Home on Ladybug Farm:  by Donna Ball

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A year after taking the chance of a lifetime, Cici, Lindsay, and Bridget are still trying to make a home for themselves on the newly-renovated Ladybug Farm. Life in the Shenandoah Valley is picturesque, but filled with unexpected trials- such as the introduction of two young people into the ordered life the women have tried to build for themselves.

As the walls of the old house reveal their secrets and the lives of those who have gone before begin to unfold, the cobbled-together household starts to disintegrate into chaos. And when one of their members is threatened by a real crisis, they must all come together to fight for the roots they’ve laid down, the hopes they share, and the family they’ve become.  Synopsis from

This is book two of a series.  You may recall I read the first one earlier this year.  I grew kind of attached to the characters in the first book so I was excited about continuing with their tale.  It was an enjoyable story, but very fluffy.  The author threw in some historical perspective here and there that didn’t necessarily go in chronological order.  So it was somewhat difficult for me to follow.  I would have loved an actual pictoral timeline of the who, where, and when on the inner flap.  If you liked the first book you’ll like this one too.  I hear that the author has just finished the third book in this series.  It’s called Love Letters from Ladybug Farm and it should be out soon.

Water for Elephants:  by Sara Gruen

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As a young man, Jacob Jankowski was tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. It was the early part of the great Depression, and for Jacob, now ninety, the circus world he remembers was both his salvation and a living hell. A veterinary student just shy of a degree, he was put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It was there that he met Marlena, the beautiful equestrian star married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. And he met Rosie, an untrainable elephant who was the great gray hope for this third-rate traveling show. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and, ultimately, it was their only hope for survival.  Synopsis from

This book is a few years old and I think everyone on the planet had read it before I got around to it.  It has gotten rave reviews.  In fact, they are making a movie out of the story.  It’s going to star R. Patt and Reese Witherspoon.  I LOVE Reese Witherspoon!  But I digress, sorry.  The book was very very good.  It’s not a great as I had hoped though.  I would definitely say you should give it a try, just don’t listen to all of the hype like I did.

When Crickets Cry by:  Charles Martin

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It begins on the shaded town square in a sleepy Southern town. A spirited seven-year-old has a brisk business at her lemonade stand. Her latest customer, a bearded stranger, drains his cup and heads to his car, his mind on a boat he’s restoring at a nearby lake. But the little girl’s pretty yellow dress can’t quite hide the ugly scar on her chest. The stranger understands more about it than he wants to admit. And the beat-up bread truck careening around the corner with its radio blaring is about to change the trajectory of both their lives.

Before it’s over, they’ll both know there are painful reasons why crickets cry…and that miracles lurk around unexpected corners.  Synopsis from

You know how I love my southern genre.  This book was reviewed and recommended in Southern Living magazine.  I liked it.  I think my favorite part was the geographical imagery.  It made want to drive up to the North Georgia Mountains and cruise around Lake Burton.  The story was very entertaining, but a little unbelievable.

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by:  Lauren Willig

Image from: httpsearch.barnesandnoble.comThe-Secret-History-of-the-Pink-Carnation

Realizing romantic heroes are a thing of the past, graduate student Eloise Kelly is determined to focus on her work. Her first stop: England, to finish her dissertation on the English spies of the Napoleonic Wars, like the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian.

But her greatest conquest is to reveal the most elusive spy of them all, the dashing Pink Carnation. As she does, she discovers something for the history books-a living, breathing hero all her very own…  Synopsis from

I received this book as a gift and the story was such a nice surprise.  Silly me I thought it was going to be about the history of the flower – the pink carnation.  Instead it was a spy novel.  I love, love, love stories with intrigue.  This book was very good, ala Robin Hood for chicks.  I really liked it.

I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by:  Nujood Ali with Delphine Minoui

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Forced by her father to marry a man three times her age, young Nujood Ali was sent away from her parents and beloved sisters and made to live with her husband and his family in an isolated village in rural Yemen. There she suffered daily from physical and emotional abuse by her mother-in-law and nightly at the rough hands of her spouse. Flouting his oath to wait to have sexual relations with Nujood until she was no longer a child, he took her virginity on their wedding night. She was only ten years old.

Unable to endure the pain and distress any longer, Nujood fled–not for home, but to the courthouse of the capital, paying for a taxi ride with a few precious coins of bread money. When a renowned Yemeni lawyer heard about the young victim, she took on Nujood’s case and fought the… Synopsis from

Wow, you could have knocked me over with a feather after reading this one.  What a compelling story.  I am fascinated by learning about other cultures.  As Americans we certainly do live in a very protective bubble.  This book is a VERY quick read.  You will be instantly drawn to little Nujood and awed by her strength and resilience.  This story reminded me somewhat of one I read awhile back called Three Cups of Tea.  That one was a doozy too.  The stories themselves are in no way similar, but the cultural references resemble each other.  Without getting too political, in my opinion both stories really awakened in me the reality of why the Middle East is such a ripe planting ground for terrorism.

Finally, the most recent book on my nightstand was Roses by Leila Meacham

Image from: httpsearch.barnesandnoble.comRoses

Spanning the 20th century, the story of Roses takes place in a small East Texas town against the backdrop of the powerful timber and cotton industries, industries controlled by the scions of the town’s founding families. Cotton tycoon Mary Toliver and timber magnate Percy Warwick should have married but unwisely did not, and now must deal with the deceit, secrets, and tragedies of their choice and the loss of what might have been–not just for themselves but for their children, and children’s children. With expert, unabashed, big-canvas storytelling, Roses covers a hundred years, three generations of Texans and the explosive combination of passion for work and longing for love.  Synopsis from

I have to admit this book suckered me in with the pretty cover.  The story was pretty good, VERY long though.  Overall, I liked it.

I hope you’ll give some of these books a try.  If you do, I’d love to know what your thoughts are on them.  Do you have any goodies you’re reading right now?  I’m always up for a great book!