Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Teen/YA Review: Endangered

Many years ago, I read Michael Crichton’s novel Congo about a gorilla named Amy who learned sign language, and it quickly became my favorite Crichton book (and is appropriate for teens and YA readers, too). So, when I heard about Eliot Schrefer’s YA novel, Endangered, about a teen girl in a bonobo (a type of ape) sanctuary in the Congo, I was sold. Seeing that it was a National Book Award finalist sealed the deal. I was completely captivated by this fast-paced adventure story.

Teen Sophie lives in the U.S. with her Dad for most of the year, but she spends her summers back in her native Democratic Republic of Congo (known as Congo here, for convenience) at her mother’s bonobo sanctuary. Bonobos are the type of ape that is closest to humans, and this country is the only place in the world where they exist in the wild. On her way to the sanctuary from the airport, Sophie rescues an infant bonobo (though the way in which she does it is against her mother’s rules). She names the helpless and abused baby Otto, and the two quickly becomes inseparable as she works to nurse him back to health.

Meanwhile, the country around them erupts into a violent revolution, and the sanctuary (and everything else) is attacked. Now Sophie must save Otto’s life in a very different way, while trying to protect her own life, as they are forced into hiding in the jungle. Sophie is trapped in the midst of a coup and surrounded by violence and must find a way to safety – wherever that may be.

This unique novel in a foreign setting starts out as a gentle tale of love and connection between Sophie and Otto that turns into a nightmare chase. It is filled with suspense and action and is absolutely compelling from the beginning to the end. I could hardly put it down and finished it in just a few days, compulsively turning the pages and hoping that Sophie and Otto would be OK.

The setting here is exotic, exciting, and terrifying and provides a fascinating glimpse into a completely different world for most YA readers. I certainly learned a lot about Congo, its violent history, and what it might be like to try to survive in the midst of a revolution. Sophie and Otto are both likeable characters that I was rooting for to the very last page. It’s a gripping and suspenseful story with a lot of heart, unlike any other I have read.

 250 pages (plus some extras about the author and bonobos), Scholastic


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Free Audio Books All Summer!

Have you heard about SYNC?

The SYNC YA Literature website is offering two new free audio books each week all summer! Every week, they pair one current YA book with a classic of a similar theme, and both are available for free download.

I downloaded - and loved - Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick a few weeks ago, and I just finished downloading The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson to take on our upcoming roadtrip. My sons, now 16 and almost 20, say they've outgrown listening to audio books with us, but I still hope to entice them!

So, pop by the site, and sign up for their e-mail or text updates so you can find out which titles are being offered each week. I love this!

Teen/YA Review: UnSouled

The creepy cover on UnSouled, the third book in the Unwind series by Neal Schusterman, says it all: you are in for more fast-paced freaky future fun here! My husband, son, and I all love this dystopian series that spawned a new literary term, dystology, and book three continues to deliver.

I’m going to stick to a very vague and brief plot summary, for those people (poor souls) who haven’t yet read any of the Unwind series, so you can start at the beginning with Unwind, with no spoilers. The series takes place in the future, when a great war, The Heartland War, was settled with a document called the Unwind Accord. It states that life begins at the moment of conception, but that during the turbulent teen years, parents have the ability to “unwind” their unruly teens. New technology makes it possible to transplant every part of the human body so that technically, an unwound teen isn’t dead; they’ve just been redistributed. The novel is sprinkled with advertisements and paid political ads that give you an idea of just how far this society has gone: the latest law up for vote is designed to allow criminals to be unwound. You can see what a slippery ethical slope it all is.

Within this chilling future landscape, the main characters of the series are all teens who were designated for unwinding but managed to escape and band together. Connor, Lev, and Risa are all familiar characters from the very first book, with other kids highlighted in this book who were introduced in book 2, as well as Cam, a very unique teen who is a product of this brave new world. They are all still being chased by the authorities and are looking for places where they can stay safe, while also trying to figure out how to bring about the demise of unwinding once and for all. In this third book, we also meet the original inventors of the technology that made unwinding possible, a husband and wife team who were appalled at how their unique technology was used.

Neal Schusterman is one of my favorite teen authors, and this is hands-down my favorite series of his. The characters are very real, and the setting feels chillingly real also. He subtly connects this horrific world with real things going on in our own world today, making it all seem very possible and all the more creepy. Schusterman himself said he only planned on Unwind being a stand-alone novel, but he found this world so compelling that he couldn’t leave it alone. The one book became a trilogy and now a dystology. As with the previous two books, UnSouled is fast-paced and full of action, as the story moves between various characters. This series has everything for both boys and girls (and adults!): suspense, action, mystery, and even a bit of romance. We can’t wait to see how he wraps it all up in book 4 (already scheduled for release on October 14, 2014)!

404 pages, Simon & Schuster

And a movie adaptation is already in the works!!


Monday, July 28, 2014

It's Monday 7/28! What Are You Reading?

We enjoyed our quiet week alone while our sons were off sailing with my mom and her husband on their annual grandkids' cruise with my niece. This year brought a new development: I didn't have to drive them back and forth to CT - they drove themselves! Wow, what a concept. My youngest son is enjoying his newfound freedom...and so am I, with no longer needing to spend all day driving him places!

We all enjoyed lots of reading last week:
  • I finally finished my second Big Book of the Summer, Emma, my first-ever Jane Austen novel. It was definitely a long one. I struggled through the first half and really hated Emma herself, but I took your advice and stuck with it, and both the novel and its main character got better!
  • I started my third Big Book of the Summer, Good Fortune by Noni Carter, a teen/YA novel about a young African girl who is stolen from her homeland and brought to the US into slavery. It is excellent so far...and moving much more quickly than Emma did!
  • My husband and I continued listening to Uncaged, a teen/YA thriller by adult thriller writer John Sandford and co-author Michelle Cook. This is book one of a new series called The Singular Menace, and it's been excellent so far, but we need more time in the car together to finish it!
  • I started - and finished - listening to Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick on audio. This is an excellent YA novel by the famed author of Silver Linings Playbook, showcasing the same talent to tackle difficult subjects with heart and humor. It's about a teen boy who plans to kill the bully who's been tormenting him and then himself. It is especially eye-opening because you start out being disgusted by what he's planning and end up feeling bad for him and wanting him to get help. Most startlingly, some people in his life suspect he may be suicidal but don't do enough to help. Haunting and compelling.
  • My husband has been reading The Hurt Machine, a Moe Prager mystery by Reed Farrel Coleman, on his Kindle. He says it's good so far.
  • Jamie, 19, finished The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, author of the Mistborn trilogy that he recently enjoyed. It was over 1200 pages and is book one of The Stormlight Archive series. He enjoyed it very much.
  • Jamie did a lot of reading on the boat! Next, he read The Summoner by Gail Z. Martin, book one of the Chronicles of the Necromancer series, and another hefty one at 640 pages. Too bad he;s not doing the Big Book Summer Challenge with me!
  • He is now reading The Wise Man's Fear by one of his new favorite authors, Patrick Rothfuss. This is The Kingkiller Chronicles: Day Two, and he is loving it so far, making his way through another almost-1200 page novel! He usually brings an extra duffle bag filled with books on our vacations.

Last week wasn't quite the productive catch-up week I envisioned (is it ever??), but I did write two reviews:

Review of Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots by Jessica Soffer, an emotionally moving novel

Review of Gypsy Davey, a teen/YA novel by Chris Lynch

What are you and your family reading this week?    

What Are You Reading Monday is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, with a kid/teen version hosted by Unleashing Readers.

There are still 5 weeks of summer left, so plenty of time to participate in my Big Book Summer Challenge! You only need to read one book, 400 pages or more, this summer to participate, so join the fun! If you've already signed up, remember to stop back by the challenge page to link to your Big Book reviews!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Teen/YA Review: Gypsy Davey

Apparently, Chris Lynch is an award-winning YA author, but I’d never read any of his books before. So, I recently jumped at the chance to read Gypsy Davey, a slim novel about a seriously dysfunctional family and a unique boy.

Twelve-year old Davey has had a rough life, to put it mildly. His mother is neglectful and not very prone to mothering, and his father is mostly absent, though he occasionally shows up to have fun with his kids and then disappears again. Davey’s sister, Jo, has been acting like a mother to Davey since she was seven, and he was just two. But now Jo is a mother herself, at only seventeen, and seems to be following in her own mother’s footsteps, filled with anger and resentment and not much affection.

Although it is never spelled out, Davey seems to be autistic. In any case, he doesn’t interact with the world the way other people do. He tends to retreat into himself and engages in repetitive behaviors. Jo has always been his protector, but now she has her own baby to take care of. Davey does find relief and escape on his bike. He rides for hours and feels like he can think more clearly when he is moving.

Although Jo is already disillusioned by motherhood (perhaps because she has been playing the role of mother since she was 7), Davey adores his new cousin, Dennis, and is surprised to find that he’s quite good at taking care of him. That’s good because when Davey comes over after school, Jo sometimes takes off, much like their own mother did. Davey loves taking care of Dennis so much that he’s beginning to think that maybe someday he will find someone to love and have a baby of his own to take care of…and he’s pretty sure he’ll be a good father.

The chapters alternate between Davey’s perspective, which is a sort of stream-of-consciousness kind of of thing, and a third-person point of view to fill in the details of the story, often looking back at Jo and Davey’s past. I realize that it may sound like a pretty depressing book from the plot description, but Davey is a great narrator. Getting a peek into what and how he’s thinking is fascinating, despite the blatant neglect he suffers from. Ultimately, Davey is optimistic and hopeful about the future, which makes the reader hopeful as well. Lynch accomplishes quite a feat by packing such a full and powerful story into so few pages.

151 pages, Simon & Schuster


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Fiction Review: Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots

My local bookstore, The Hockessin Bookshelf, hosts a unique kind of monthly book discussion called Eat, Drink, Read, where a local chef makes food based on the selected book while the attendees discuss the book…and enjoy the fabulous food! My mother and I attended the June meeting where Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots by Jessica Soffer was discussed. I’m so glad we chose that month to participate because otherwise, I may never have read this compelling, intense, and heartfelt novel about family.

Fourteen-year old Lorca has been suspended from school. Her cold, distant mother is a successful professional chef with her own restaurant and little time or affection for her daughter. At a time when Lorca clearly needs help, love, and comfort, her mother’s response is to tell her she will be going to boarding school next semester. Lorca feels alone and desperate, with no one to turn to.

Meanwhile, in another part of the city, elderly Victoria is grieving and lost after her beloved husband’s death. She feels guilty, thinking she could have treated him better, and agonizing over a long-ago loss of which she and her husband never spoke. Victoria is also a chef and used to run a small family restaurant specializing in Iraqi food. She and her husband were both Iraqi Jews who fled to the United States just before World War II. Like Lorca, Victoria feels all alone in the world now.

When Lorca overhears her mother describing her best meal ever as masgouf, an Iraqi fish dish, Lorca signs up for cooking lessons with Victoria, in the hopes of learning to make her mother’s favorite dish and thus making her love her and want to keep her at home. The two lonely, aching women bond over food, while each tries to come to terms with her own personal demons.

Warm and compelling, this novel packs a powerful emotional punch, with secrets and twists around every corner. Food plays an important role in the novel (making it perfect for our lunch/book discussion!), as a source of comfort and nourishment, as well as a link to Victoria’s past. The author even includes some recipes (two of which the chef made for us).

This novel also covers some very difficult topics related to loss and love. Most difficult of all, however, is that Lorca engages in self-harm, a somewhat common but hidden practice in our world that is rarely talked about openly. The publisher never mentions this in the plot description on the book’s cover, even though it happens in the novel’s first pages, and I can understand why. This book is so wonderful and has so much to offer that I wouldn’t want people to pass it by simply because it deals with such a difficult topic. Everyone at our lunch/discussion agreed that the author handles the topic perfectly – she doesn’t make you pity Lorca or feel disgusted by her. Those passages dealing with her harming herself are difficult to read, no question, but I felt nothing but empathy for Lorca and was rooting for her to find help and the love she craved.

One reviewer summed up the novel by saying (I’m paraphrasing) that it is about the family you are born into and the family you find for yourself, and we all agreed that was a perfect summation. Despite the difficult subject matter, this is a gripping story that is ultimately hopeful and uplifting, about healing and people in need who find each other. The multi-dimensional characters have stuck with me strongly in the month since I finished the book. Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots is a profoundly moving novel, and I am so glad to have read it.

352 pages, Mariner Books

NOTE: The Amazon link included below includes an interesting interview with the author - 


Monday, July 21, 2014

It's Monday 7/21! What Are You Reading?

Another hectic week with not a lot of time for reading. We went to go visit my dad who is recovering from surgery for cancer about mid-week, and then our sons took off for their other grandparents' house for their annual week on the sailboat with them. So, long days on the road for all of us. This is supposed to be my quiet get-caught-up week, but I have an out-of-state doctor's appointment today (I have Lyme disease again) and have to renew my driver's license at the DMV tomorrow - good times!

Anyway, we did manage to squeeze in some reading last week, amidst the chaos:
  • I am still reading my second Big Book of the Summer, Emma, my first-ever Jane Austen novel. Those of you who told me last week to stick with it were right - I like it better now, and Emma herself is becoming more tolerable! I only have about 50 pages left.
  • I finished a middle-grade audio book, P.K. Pinkerton and the Pistol-Packing Widow by Caroline Lawrence, part of a mystery series set in the Old West that I enjoyed.
  • With our sons driving in a separate car, my husband and I were free to listen to an audio book on the way to Rochester! Our sons, now 16 and almost 20, don't like to listen to books with us on car trips anymore - they are all about their music. My husband and I listened to Uncaged, a teen/YA thriller by adult thriller writer John Sandford and co-author Michelle Cook. This is book one of a new series called The Singular Menace, and it's been excellent so far. We're at least 3/4 of the way through it, and it's been fast-paced and suspenseful, a great choice for a long car ride.
  • My husband, Ken, finished reading Raylan by Elmore Leonard on his Kindle, a book based on the character from the Justified TV show, which he loves. We recently bought this novel for both of our fathers, and my dad was talking about it during our visit. It's been a big hit all around, and Ken enjoyed it, too!
  • Jamie, 19, is still reading The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, author of the Mistborn trilogy that he recently enjoyed. This one is over 1200 pages and is book one of The Stormlight Archive series.
 No time for writing any reviews last week, but I managed a couple of blog posts:

Summary of Books Read in June

Trailers for Before I Go To Sleep and Gone Girl Movies (can't wait!) 

What are you and your family reading this week?    

What Are You Reading Monday is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, with a kid/teen version hosted by Unleashing Readers.

There are still 6 weeks of summer left, so plenty of time to participate in my Big Book Summer Challenge! You only need to read one book, 400 pages or more, this summer to participate, so join the fun!If you've already signed up, remember to stop back by the challenge page to link to your Big Book reviews!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

New Trailer for Before I Go To Sleep

There are so many movies coming this year that are adapted from books! I shared the trailer for The Giver last month. The latest trailer released is for Before I Go To Sleep, a creepy thriller by S.J. Watson from last year that I actually liked better than Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn's best-seller that received more hype. Both movies look great, though!

Here is the trailer for Before I Go To Sleep, to be released on September 12:

And here's the trailer for Gone Girl, to be released October 3:

Plenty for both book lovers and thriller lovers to look forward to in the theaters this fall!

What movie adaptations are you looking forward to?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Books Read in June

Whew, where did June go? We've had a rough summer so far, with all kinds of family emergencies and extra health problems. Thank goodness we always have our books for comfort and distraction. June was an outstanding reading month for me! Here's what I read last month:

  • Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt, fiction (NY)
  • We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, teen/YA audio (MA)
  • UnSouled by Neal Schusterman, teen/YA novel and my first Big Book of the Summer (CO)

  • Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots by Jessica Soffer (NY, Iraq)
  • Endangered by Eliot Schrefer, teen/YA novel (Dem. Republic of Congo)

In my reading journal, I mark a * next to any book that I thought was really outstanding...and every one of these books read in June got a * - a very high-quality reading month! Wow, choosing a favorite is really hard. They were all so good and all so different. Hmmm...I refuse to choose a favorite for last month - just read them all! I can tell you that We Were Liars was the most suspenseful, UnSouled the creepiest, Endangered the fastest-paced, and Tell the Wolves I'm Home and Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots were both heart-breaking but also life-affirming and hopeful.

It was an all-fiction month, with one listened on audio. Three were teen/YA novels, and two were adult novels, though interestingly, both had teen girl narrators. As you can see from the lack of links above, I am behind in my reviews - just no time for writing lately, but I hope to catch up during some much-needed down time next week.

I added just one new state and two new countries to my Where Are You Reading Challenge 2014 this month. Oh, dear - I didn't read a single book from my TBR shelves for my 2014 TBR Pile Reading Challenge in June - I am really doing poorly on that one, and my shelves are piling up! I listened to one more audio book for my 2014 Audio Book Challenge, bringing my total to 10 in 6 months, so that one's going well so far. No nonfiction books last month, and no classics.

What was your favorite book(s) read in June? 

Monday, July 14, 2014

It's Monday 7/14! What Are You Reading?

I missed last Monday's post, in the midst of a flurry of activity and travel. We were out in Oklahoma, helping my father-in-law clean out his house, to prepare to move out here in September. It's been a busy and stressful time this past month or so, and my health is worse than usual.

But we still keep reading! Three days spent in airports gave us all plenty of time to read:
  • I finished Endangered by Eliot Schrefer, a YA novel. It's about a teen named Sophie who is visiting her mom in the Congo, where she runs a sanctuary for bonobos, a type of ape. Sophie gets stuck there during a violent coup and must find a way to save both herself and the bonobos. It was wonderful - suspenseful and compelling.
  • For the past two weeks, I have been reading my second Big Book of the Summer, Emma, my first-ever Jane Austen novel. I know there are a lot of huge Austen fans out there, but I'm struggling with it. I'm a little more than half-way and feeling a bit bored with it. The character of Emma is pompous and condescending, which really turns me off, and the whole society is completely wrapped up in trivialities and gossip. I considered setting it down, but I really feel like I should read at least one Austen novel, so I am trying to stick with it.
  • I have been listening to a middle-grade audio book, P.K. Pinkerton and the Pistol-Packing Widow by Caroline Lawrence. My son and I were huge fans of her Roman Mysteries series when he was younger (it's like Nancy Drew & the Hardy Boys set in ancient Rome), and this is the third (I think) book in her new mystery series set in the Old West. I'm almost done and have been enjoying it.
  • My husband, Ken, finished The Terminal Man by Michael Crichton, a modern classic, and enjoyed it.
  • On our trip, Ken read Bent Road by Lori Roy, a thriller I gave him for Easter. I chose it from the bookstore shelves somewhat randomly, based on its being nominated for an Edgar Award. He liked it - said it was a bit gruesome but was suspenseful and interesting, set in Kansas, which was appropriate since we were visiting Oklahoma.
  • Now, Ken is reading Raylan by Elmore Leonard on his Kindle, a book based on the character from the Justified TV show, which he loves. We recently bought this novel for both of our fathers.
  • Jamie, 19, finished Ink Mage by Victor Gischler, a free fantasy novel on the Kindle.
  • Next, Jamie read the first of two huge novels that he carried in his backpack through all our airport adventures, The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.
  • He is now reading The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, author of the Mistborn trilogy that he recently enjoyed. This one is over 1200 pages and is book one of The Stormlight Archive series.
Only a few blog posts from the past two weeks:

Play Summer Reading Bingo, hosted by Books on the Nightstand podcast

Review of We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, a haunting and suspenseful teen/YA novel

Review of Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt, a coming-of-age story set in the 80's

What are you and your family reading this week?    

What Are You Reading Monday is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, with a kid/teen version hosted by Unleashing Readers.

There are still 7 weeks of summer left, so plenty of time to participate in my Big Book Summer Challenge! You only need to read one book, 400 pages or more, this summer to participate, so join the fun!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Snapshot Saturday 7/12

Snapshot Saturday is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads.

It's been a while since I've been able to participate in Snapshot Saturday. Most of my photos this past month have been of family stuff, as we've visited my father-in-law to help clean out his house so he can move near us and my own father who recently had surgery for cancer.

But I do have a few interesting photos snapped along the way - two of that amazing, glowing light that sometimes comes just before a summer storm (hard to capture in a photo!)  and one of the Chicago skyline from our plane, as we flew back home this week:

Eerie, beautiful, glowing light before a storm

The sky just before a summer storm

Chicago skyline from a plane

Hope you are having a great weekend!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Fiction Review: Tell the Wolves I’m Home

When my neighborhood book group recently chose Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt, I knew very little about it. I was pleasantly surprised and was pulled right into the story and characters and transported back to the 1980’s for a wonderful coming-of-age story.

It’s 1987 and fourteen year-old June adores her artistic, quirky Uncle Finn. She feels like he’s the only person who truly understands her; kids at school think she’s distant and strange. She loves everything to do with medieval times, and Finn understands that and so much more. Her 16-year old sister, Greta, feels a bit left out of their special relationship, but she seems to be wrapped up in her own friends and activities and growing apart from June.

When Finn dies of AIDS, June is devastated. Her mom, Finn’s sister, is also upset but doesn’t want to talk about it. The whole family feels the stigma of Finn’s illness at a time when little was known about AIDS and lots of assumptions were made, so little is said about it. June notices a strange man at Finn’s funeral whom her parents tell her caused Finn’s death. A few days later, June receives a package containing a special teapot of Finn’s that was meaningful to the two of them, with a note from the man, Toby, asking her if they can meet.

At first, June is cautious and suspicious of this man who has been shunned by the rest of her family, but as the two get to know each other, she realizes that he is a connection to her beloved Finn, perhaps the only other person on earth who misses Finn as much as she does and understands the relationship they had. The two grow closer, as June and Greta seem to grow ever further apart, and their parents are wrapped up in their tax business during the busy season. Meanwhile, June worries that Greta is headed for trouble but doesn’t know how to reach out to her.

Tell the Wolves I’m Home is a compelling coming-of-age story with a likeable character, June, at its center who is struggling to come to terms not only with growing up but also with grieving and loss. The setting and time period are like an extra character in the novel, with a fascinating look back at a time of confusion and fear as the AIDS crisis grew. Our book group had plenty of topics to discuss with this engaging, emotionally rich novel about family, friendship, growing up, and healing.

355 pages, The Dial Press (an imprint of Random House)


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Teen/YA Review: We Were Liars

I rarely have a chance to read books soon after they are released, but I heard so many good things about We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, released in May, that I eagerly listened to the YA audio book as soon as I got it. I wasn’t disappointed. We Were Liars is a suspenseful, intriguing, wholly unique story about family, secrets, and lies.

Seventeen-year old Cadence Sinclair Easton is spending the summer on her family’s private island, as she has almost every year of her life, except the past one. She spends every summer with her cousins on the island, swimming, boating, playing Scrabble, and hanging out with their families. She is particularly close to her other two teen cousins and their friend, Gat. During her 15th summer, something horrible happened to Cadence, and she still suffers from amnesia about that summer, plus debilitating migraines, pain, and other symptoms. This summer, she is focused on trying to remember what happened, but no one seems to want to talk about it.

The four teens call themselves The Liars. That, plus Cadence’s amnesia, makes her a classic unreliable narrator. The reader can tell something isn’t quite right but doesn’t know what – ad neither does Cadence. Suspense builds as Cadence tries to piece together what happened two summers ago that culminated in her injuries. The story moves back and forth between that summer (and previous ones, too) and the current one. Along the way, the reader learns more about the inner workings of the great Sinclair family and the characteristics and flaws of each of the family members. A budding romance between Cadence and Gat adds another piece of the puzzle.

The story uncoils bit by bit, as Cadence works to unravel her shattered memory and the reader gets to know her family. The result is a completely compelling, gripping novel that grabs you right from the start and never lets go. I listened to the audio book in less than a week, which is a record for me, as I wore my iPod around the house and ignored my family. It’s a haunting, engaging story that has stayed with me in the weeks since I finished it. Don’t miss this one!

Listening Library

Listen to an excerpt:

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Play BOTNS Summer Reading Bingo!

Of course, you should join my own summer reading fun, The Big Book Summer Challenge, but here is another way to add some fun to your summer reading...

My favorite book podcast, Books on the Nightstand, is hosting Summer Reading Bingo. Just use this link to print out a Bingo card for yourself and your friends (just hit refresh to get a new card...but no fair clicking over and over to get the one you want!). You can count anything you've read from Memorial Day weekend (May 23) through to Labor Day weekend (Sept. 1) and try to fill in 5 blocks in a row in any direction...or if you really want a challenge, try to fill in the whole card!

I've got 6 blocks filled in so far, plus my free square in the middle, but no full row yet.

Join in the fun!