Waiting on Wednesday – Spotlight on Girls in the Moon

New WoW“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, which encourages fellow bloggers to spotlight upcoming releases that we’re excited about.

My “Waiting On” Wednesday selection for this week is Girls in the Moon by Janet McNally.  Aside from the blurb, which makes it sounds like it’s going to be a beautiful coming of age story, what really sold me on this book is all of the advance praise it has received from authors I admire.

Girls in the Moon

by Janet McNally

girls-in-the-moon-th

Publication Date:  November 29, 2016

From Amazon:

Everyone in Phoebe Ferris’s life tells a different version of the truth.

Her mother, Meg, ex-rock star and professional question evader, shares only the end of the story—the post-fame calm that Phoebe’s always known. Her sister Luna, indie rock darling of Brooklyn, preaches a stormy truth of her own making, selectively ignoring the facts she doesn’t like. And her father, Kieran, the co-founder of Meg’s beloved band, hasn’t said anything at all since he stopped calling three years ago.

But Phoebe, a budding poet in search of an identity to call her own, is tired of half-truths and vague explanations. When she visits Luna in New York, she’s determined to find out how she fits in to this family of storytellers, and maybe even to continue her own tale—the one with the musician boy she’s been secretly writing for months.

This soul-searching, authentic debut weaves together Phoebe’s story with scenes from the romance between Meg and Kieran that started it all—leaving behind a heartfelt reflection on family, fame, and finding your own way.

Check out this Advance Praise for Girls in the Moon!

 

“McNally is a polished storyteller, her prose alive with vivid descriptions, the excitement of romance, and an artist’s yearning to create.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Girls in the Moon is a beautiful, heartfelt novel about following your own path and finding your voice. Janet McNally’s stunning debut is a lush, lyrical paean to mothers, daughters, sisters, and the music that weaves them together.” (Kathleen Glasgow, author of Girl in Pieces)

“In her luminous prose, Janet McNally renders the moments—quiet and loud, in the spotlight and in the dark—that shape us and wound us and make us fully human.” (Nina LaCour, award-winning author of Everything Leads to You)

“A powerful story of secrets, sisters, mothers and daughters-of a family fractured and pieced back together across time, with love, pain, passion, and music. GIRLS IN THE MOON will stay with you like a song you can’t get out of your mind.” (Amber Smith, New York Times bestselling author of The Way I Used to Be)

“With lush, lyrical prose and nuanced storytelling, Girls in the Moon is a gorgeous coming-of-age story that sings of sisterhood, secrets, and the ties that both bind and bond us.” (Jessi Kirby, author of Things We Know by Heart)

“Laced through with drumbeats and heartbeats, GIRLS IN THE MOON is pure indie rock and even purer poetry. A luminous story of love, art, yearning, and connection.” (Jeff Zentner, author of The Serpent King)

“Sophisticated, dreamy, and gorgeously written, Girls in the Moon is like spending a summer night reminiscing with old friends.” (Heidi Heilig, author of The Girl From Everywhere)

“McNally’s first novel shows an appreciation of poetic phrasing, as well as plenty of musical references. Recommend this introspective novel to readers who enjoy stories about music and musicians.” (Booklist)

“Narrator Phoebe excels at capturing a moment’s emotional nuances… her reflections on independence and acceptance of people’s flaws are genuine. Understated but astute narration makes this family snapshot a worthy read.” (Kirkus)

* * * * *

I’d love to hear what upcoming book releases you’re waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me your link in the comments below and I’ll stop by and check out your WoW selection for this week. 🙂

Ten Books I’ve Added to my To-Be-Read List Lately

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is  Ten Books I’ve Added to my To-Be-Read List Lately.  This was a pretty easy topic for me since I’m quite literally adding new books to my TBR list pretty much every day.  The ten I have selected made it on to my TBR for a variety of reasons – some are based on blogger reviews I’ve read, others because I’ve received ARCs to review, and still others for random reasons like maybe a gorgeous cover caught my eye.

Ten Books I’ve Added to my To-Be-Read List Lately

1. Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill

01

This one made it onto my list because I’ve read several great reviews from bloggers who have read ARCs.  It sounds amazing!

Goodreads Synopsis: Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.

However, it’s not so simple.

The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

2. Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

02

This one made it on to my list as part of my birthday haul (which I, note to self, really need to hurry up and do a post on since my birthday was last month).  I saw this on sale and gifted it to myself, mainly because I LOVE the cover.

Goodreads Synopsis:  I didn’t ask for any of this. I didn’t ask to be some kind of hero. But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado – taking you with it – you have no choice but to go along, you know?

Sure, I’ve read the books. I’ve seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little bluebirds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can’t be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There’s still a yellow brick road – but even that’s crumbling.

What happened? Dorothy.

They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

My name is Amy Gumm – and I’m the other girl from Kansas.

I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.  I’ve been trained to fight.

And I have a mission.   (Read more…)

* * * * *

3. Timekeeper by Tara Sim

03

Another addition to the list based on some great blogger reviews.

Goodreads Synopsis:  Two o’clock was missing.

In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

It’s a truth that seventeen-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors.

And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems. Danny’s new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower’s clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield’s time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, and means risking everything he’s fought to achieve.

But when a series of bombings at nearby towers threaten to Stop more cities, Danny must race to prevent Enfield from becoming the next target or he’ll not only lose his father, but the boy he loves, forever.   (Read more…)

* * * * *

4. The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

04

A friend from college was telling me about this book and it just sounded so good that I had to add it to my list.

Goodreads Synopsis:  High in his attic bedroom, twelve-year-old David mourns the death of his mother, with only the books on his shelf for company. But those books have begun to whisper to him in the darkness. Angry and alone, he takes refuge in his imagination and soon finds that reality and fantasy have begun to meld. While his family falls apart around him, David is violently propelled into a world that is a strange reflection of his own — populated by heroes and monsters and ruled by a faded king who keeps his secrets in a mysterious book, The Book of Lost Things.

Taking readers on a vivid journey through the loss of innocence into adulthood and beyond, New York Times bestselling author John Connolly tells a dark and compelling tale that reminds us of the enduring power of stories in our lives.   (Read more…)

* * * * *

5. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

05

The beautiful cover is what caught my eye on this book, but I have been meaning to read more of Adichie’s books anyway because Americanah was so good.  I also added We Should All Be Feminists and Purple Hibiscus.

Goodreads Synopsis:  With effortless grace, celebrated author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie illuminates a seminal moment in modern African history: Biafra’s impassioned struggle to establish an independent republic in southeastern Nigeria during the late 1960s. We experience this tumultuous decade alongside five unforgettable characters: Ugwu, a thirteen-year-old houseboy who works for Odenigbo, a university professor full of revolutionary zeal; Olanna, the professor’s beautiful young mistress who has abandoned her life in Lagos for a dusty town and her lover’s charm; and Richard, a shy young Englishman infatuated with Olanna’s willful twin sister Kainene. Half of a Yellow Sun is a tremendously evocative novel of the promise, hope, and disappointment of the Biafran war. (Read more…)

* * * * *

6. The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker

06

Don’t laugh but I added this one to my list after my last Gilmore Girls rewatch. 🙂

Goodsreads Synopsis:  This sublime collection ranges over the verse, stories, essays, and journalism of one of the twentieth century’s most quotable authors. (Read more…)

* * * * *

7. Iceling by Sasha Stephenson

08

This book is on my list because I recently received an e-ARC from the First to Read program.

Goodreads Synopsis:  Lorna’s adopted sister, Callie, is part of a mysterious group of non-lingual teens, Icelings, born on a remote Arctic island, who may not be entirely human. Now Callie wants to go home.

Seventeen-year-old Lorna loves her adoptive sister, Callie. But Callie can’t say “I love you” back. In fact, Callie can’t say anything at all.

Because Callie is an Iceling—one of hundreds of teens who were discovered sixteen years ago on a remote Arctic island, all of them lacking the ability to speak or understand any known human language.

Mysterious and panicked events lead to the two sisters embarking on a journey to the north, and now Lorna starts to see that there’s a lot more to Callie’s origin story than she’d been led to believe. Little does she know what’s in store, and that she’s about to uncover the terrifying secret about who—and what—Callie really is.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

8. The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson

07

I recently received an e-ARC from Netgalley and this one also piqued my interest because of the praise from Anthony Doerr.

Goodreads Synopsis:  A captivating debut novel for readers of Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You and Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep, The Most Dangerous Place on Earth unleashes an unforgettable cast of characters into a realm known for its cruelty and peril: the American high school.

In an idyllic community of wealthy California families, new teacher Molly Nicoll becomes intrigued by the hidden lives of her privileged students. Unknown to Molly, a middle school tragedy in which they were all complicit continues to reverberate for her kids: Nick, the brilliant scam artist; Emma, the gifted dancer and party girl; Dave, the B student who strives to meet his parents expectations; Calista, the hippie outcast who hides her intelligence for reasons of her own. Theirs is a world in which every action may become public postable, shareable, indelible. With the rare talent that transforms teenage dramas into compelling and urgent fiction, Lindsey Lee Johnson makes vivid a modern adolescence lived in the gleam of the virtual, but rich with the sorrow, passion, and beauty of life in any time, and at any age.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

9. A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline

09

I loved Orphan Train so when I saw Baker Kline had a new book coming out, it had to go on the list.

Goodreads Synopsis:  From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the smash bestseller Orphan Train, a stunning and atmospheric novel of friendship, passion, and art, inspired by Andrew Wyeth’s mysterious and iconic painting Christina’s World.

“Later he told me that he’d been afraid to show me the painting. He thought I wouldn’t like the way he portrayed me: dragging myself across the field, fingers clutching dirt, my legs twisted behind. The arid moonscape of wheatgrass and timothy. That dilapidated house in the distance, looming up like a secret that won’t stay hidden.”

To Christina Olson, the entire world was her family’s remote farm in the small coastal town of Cushing, Maine. Born in the home her family had lived in for generations, and increasingly incapacitated by illness, Christina seemed destined for a small life. Instead, for more than twenty years, she was host and inspiration for the artist Andrew Wyeth, and became the subject of one of the best known American paintings of the twentieth century.

As she did in her beloved smash bestseller Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline interweaves fact and fiction in a powerful novel that illuminates a little-known part of America’s history. Bringing into focus the flesh-and-blood woman behind the portrait, she vividly imagines the life of a woman with a complicated relationship to her family and her past, and a special bond with one of our greatest modern artists.

Told in evocative and lucid prose, A Piece of the World is a story about the burdens and blessings of family history, and how artist and muse can come together to forge a new and timeless legacy.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

10. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

10

That creepy cover is what got this book onto my list.

Goodreads Synopsis:  The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.

But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.  It wants the truth. (Read more…)

* * * * *

Question:  Have you read any of these titles? What have you added to your TBR lately?

The Versatile Blogger Award Tag

the-versatile-blogger-award

 

I have been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award.  It took me so long to complete the tag that I actually ended up nominated by three of my fellow bloggers, so huge thanks to A Blog Of One’s OwnPages Bound Together, and Swooning Over Fictional Men for the nominations! 🙂

 

Rules of the Tag:

 

-Show the award on your blog

-Thank the person who has nominated you

-Share 7 different facts about you

-Nominate 15 different blogs of your choice

-Link your nominees and let them know of your nomination

 

7 Facts About Me:

 

1.  I’ve lived in the state of Virginia all my life.  Sometimes I think about moving elsewhere, but ultimately I really like the moderate climate and the proximity to both the ocean and the mountains.

Virginia in Autumn

Virginia in Autumn

2.  One of my favorite hobbies aside from reading is wine tasting. We have over 250 wineries here in Virginia and lots of wine trails, so I love to do girls’ weekends with my mom and sister and go and sample as many of the local wines as we can.  This past summer I enjoyed frozen wine slushies for the first time and became completely obsessed with them. Sooo good!

3.  Another hobby of mine is photography. I’m more into travel photography than anything else — I took well over 1,000 pics when I went to Europe last summer!  Even though I love photography, however, I haven’t tried Bookstagram yet and don’t know if I ever will. I can’t decide if it’s my thing or not. Sometimes it’s all I can do to get my books read and reviewed, so I fear that adding in another component to keep track of would be too much for me. I do enjoy other bloggers’ photography though 🙂

London, August 2015

London, August 2015

4.  I have quite an obsession with all things Disney. It started with Eeyore when I was a small child, but I honestly really can’t think of a single Disney movie or character that I don’t love. Even the Disney villains are awesome!

5. I’m not a morning person, but I’m not really a night owl either. I guess I’m more of a mid-afternoon/early evening kind of gal, haha.  Mornings are the worst for me though. Seriously. Don’t even think about speaking to me until I’ve had my coffee.  You’re taking your life into your own hands otherwise 😉

6. I’m a huge sports fan. I love football, baseball, and soccer. When it comes to professional sports, in football I root for the Carolina Panthers and the Baltimore Ravens and in baseball, I root for the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Nationals.  For soccer, although I do enjoy watching the English Premier League teams play, I primarily just root for my son’s soccer team 🙂

spring-soccer-2016-003

7.  I want to live a healthy lifestyle but have a hard time committing to any kind of diet or exercise routine that would help me to achieve this goal.  I’m constantly disappointed and frustrated by myself in this regard.

 

My Nominees:

(If you haven’t already done it)

1.  Angela at Musings of a Literary Wanderer

2. Grace at Rebel Mommy Book Blog

3. Verushka at pop.edit.lit

4. Greg at Book Haven

5. Eva at All Books Considered

6. Lindsey at Lindsey Reads

7. Megan at Bookslayer Reads

8. Melissa at Book Nerd Momo

9. Resh at The Book Satchel

10. Katie at Girl About Library

11. Olivia at The Candid Cover

12. Jordan at Forever Lost in Literature

13. Diana at A Haven for Book Lovers

14. Loreen at Coffee and Cats

15. Alisia at 4thhouseontheleft

ARC Review of The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker

ARC Review of The Animators by Kayla Rae WhitakerThe Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker
four-stars
Published by Random House on January 31st 2017
Genres: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 384
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Goodreads Synopsis:  She was the first person to see me as I had always wanted to be seen. It was enough to indebt me to her forever.

At a private East Coast college, two young women meet in art class. Sharon Kisses, quietly ambitious but self-doubting, arrives from rural Kentucky. Mel Vaught, brash, unapologetic, wildly gifted, brings her own brand of hellfire from the backwaters of Florida. Both outsiders, Sharon and Mel become fervent friends, bonding over underground comics and dysfunctional families. Working, absorbing, drinking. Drawing: Mel, to understand her own tumultuous past, and Sharon, to lose herself altogether.
A decade later, Sharon and Mel are an award-winning animation duo, and with the release of their first full-length feature, a fearless look at Mel’s childhood, they stand at the cusp of success. But while on tour to promote the film, cracks in their relationship start to form: Sharon begins to feel like a tag-along and suspects that raucous Mel is the real artist. When unexpected tragedy strikes, long-buried resentments rise to the surface, threatening their partnership—and hastening a reckoning no one sees coming.

“An engrossing, exuberant ride through all the territories of love—familial, romantic, sexual, love of friends, and, perhaps above all, white-hot passion for the art you were born to make . . . I wish I’d written The Animators.”—Emma Donoghue, author of Room and The Wonder.

* * * * *

My Review:

 

Buckle your seat belts because Kayla Rae Whitaker’s debut novel The Animators is one wild ride!  The novel follows the lives of Mel and Sharon, two art students who meet in college, become fast friends when they realize they have a shared passion of making cartoons, and who eventually become business partners as well. Whitaker weaves together a compelling tale as Mel and Sharon navigate the ups and downs of their personal and professional relationships, as they experience success, conflict, frustration, family drama, love, loss, tragedy, and pretty much everything in between.  Their lives become so entwined that they become more like family than just friends.  Whitaker does a beautiful job of realistically portraying the many layers of their relationship, while also exploring such themes as using art as catharsis, loss of innocence, addiction, dysfunctional families, and more.

What I Enjoyed:

Mel and Sharon – I immediately fell in love with Whitaker’s main characters.  They are basically yin and yang and it’s fascinating to watch the balancing act that is basically their relationship.  Mel is outspoken with a larger than life personality. She’s brash and unapologetic and you literally just never know what’s going to come out of her mouth next.  Sharon, on the other hand, is more the wallflower type.  She’s a small town girl who spends a lot of time trying to figure out how in the world she has even gotten to this point in her life.  As she and Mel experience major success with one of their cartoons and embark on a press tour to promote their work, Sharon often seems awkward and out of place, especially when compared to Mel and the way she just seems to eat up the spotlight and the attention.  Mel comes across as the driving force behind their projects, with Sharon being relegated to more of a workhouse role.  Because Sharon is deemed the more responsible of the duo, it often falls on her to try to reel Mel in and make her act more professionally as they make their required public appearances. Whitaker very realistically portrays the emotions that this kind of situation would easily generate – the jealousy, the resentment, the growing tension as Mel turns more and more to drugs and alcohol thus increasing her erratic behavior, and of course, Sharon’s feeling of not knowing if she even really belongs in this world that they’ve been thrown into.  Is she really talented in her own right or is she just riding Mel’s coattails?

I got so attached to these two ladies and became so invested in their friendship working out that I found myself wanting to yell at them whenever either one of them did something to upset the balance:  “OMG, get your act together, Mel!” or “Snap out of it, Sharon! You know you’re better than this!”

I actually almost lost faith in Mel at one point because she goes so far off the rails with the drugs and erratic behavior, but then when an unexpected medical incident almost kills Sharon and leaves her with a daunting recovery ahead of her, it is Mel who shows up to help — even though they aren’t even on speaking terms at the time of the incident. Mel is there with her every second of every day as she fights her way back from near death. That’s friendship.

Themes:  This novel is just so rich in themes.  Aside from tackling the dynamics of Sharon and Mel’s friendship, another theme that really struck me was the exploration of how living in an unsupportive environment can shape who you grow up to be.  Sharon and Mel both come from the land of dysfunctional families. Mel’s mother is actually in prison and her influence on Mel is the focus of their first successful cartoon, Nashville Combat.  Sharon’s childhood was a little more stable than Mel’s, but coming from a small town where no one EVER went away to school, her family basically never acted as though they were proud of her accomplishments and acted as though they resented her for going away to school.  These feelings clearly contributed to her sense of self-worth or lack thereof.

Another theme that I found interesting was the use of art as catharsis.  In the novel, Mel and Sharon decide to use their passion for art as a way to take control over and work through some traumatic events that shaped their lives.  While on the one hand, this is clearly cathartic for them and an incredibly brave act because they are basically putting their lives, and specifically their pain, on view for the world to see, the act also comes at a cost.  As one of Sharon’s childhood friends points out when he objects to being included in their project, it’s not just their lives on display, but also the lives of everyone else who played a role in the events being depicted. Sharon and Mel dismiss his objections, but it really got me thinking about how Mel’s mother, in particular, must have felt seeing herself exposed to the world as some kind of monster.  Is using your art to work through your own painful experiences worth the cost, which is potentially causing others pain?  I love a book that leaves me with something to think about afterwards and this question has been on my mind a lot since I finished The Animators.  I imagine this is a question that many artist have to weigh in their minds if considering this kind of personal artistic expression.

Was there anything I didn’t like? 

One potential pitfall for some readers could be all of the animation/cartooning talk.  Since the novel does explore, to a large extent, the professional lives of Mel and Sharon, and therefore their creative processes, there is a lot of information about the cartooning/animation process.  Much of it was over my head since I know nothing about art, but thankfully Whitaker doesn’t just do a huge info dump — instead, she weaves it throughout the novel, giving the reader just a little at a time so it’s not overwhelming or dry and boring.

One area I would have liked a bit more detail on was Mel and Sharon’s time in college together.  The beginning of their friendship was so touching and engaging as they bonded and realized that they had this shared passion.  I wanted to read so much more about that, so I felt a little cheated when I turned the page and realized we were jumping ahead in time.  I got over it of course since I clearly enjoyed the book, but it was still a little disappointing.

Who Would I recommend The Animators to?

I would recommend The Animators to anyone who enjoys a realistic portrayal of a dynamic friendship.  It’s not a light read by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a rich and compelling story with layer up on layer.  I think The Animators will end up being a popular book club read next year because it explores so many issues that are perfect for in-depth discussions.

The book does deal, in part, with addiction and some other darker themes of a sexual nature, so I wouldn’t recommend it to younger readers.

* * * * *

Rating:  A solid 4 stars

four-stars

About Kayla Rae Whitaker

Kayla Rae Whitaker’s work has appeared in Smokelong Quarterly, Split Lip Magazine, BODY, Bodega, Joyland, The Switchback, Five Quarterly, American Microreviews and Interviews, and others, and she is a regular contributor to “American Micro Reviews and Interviews” and “Split Lip Magazine.” She holds a BA from the University of Kentucky and an MFA from New York University. After many years of living in Brooklyn, she returned to Kentucky, her home state, in 2016 with her husband and their geriatric tomcat, Breece D’J Pancake.

Waiting on Wednesday: Spotlight on ‘The Girl Before’ by J.P. Delaney

New WoW“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, which encourages fellow bloggers to spotlight upcoming releases that we’re excited about.

My “Waiting On” Wednesday selection for this week is The Girl Before by J. P. Delaney.  I enjoy a good psychological thriller and this book just sounds like it’s going to be filled twists and turns that keep me guessing from start to finish.  I keep saying that I’m tired of books that are in the vein of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, but I think The Girl Before sounds like it has potential to revive my interest. We’ll see… 🙂

The Girl Before

by J. P. Delaney

girl before

Publication Date: January 24, 2017

From Goodreads:

In the tradition of The Girl on the Train, The Silent Wife, and Gone Girl comes an enthralling psychological thriller that spins one woman’s seemingly good fortune, and another woman’s mysterious fate, through a kaleidoscope of duplicity, death, and deception.

Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.

The request seems odd, even intrusive—and for the two women who answer, the consequences are devastating.

Emma:  Reeling from a traumatic break-in, Emma wants a new place to live. But none of the apartments she sees are affordable or feel safe. Until One Folgate Street. The house is an architectural masterpiece: a minimalist design of pale stone, plate glass, and soaring ceilings. But there are rules. The enigmatic architect who designed the house retains full control: no books, no throw pillows, no photos or clutter or personal effects of any kind. The space is intended to transform its occupant—and it does.

Jane:  After a personal tragedy, Jane needs a fresh start. When she finds One Folgate Street she is instantly drawn to the space—and to its aloof but seductive creator. Moving in, Jane soon learns about the untimely death of the home’s previous tenant, a woman similar to Jane in age and appearance. As Jane tries to untangle truth from lies, she unwittingly follows the same patterns, makes the same choices, crosses paths with the same people, and experiences the same terror, as the girl before.

Check out this Advance Praise for The Girl Before!

“Dazzling, startling, and above all cunning—a pitch-perfect novel of psychological suspense.“ —Lee Child

“Riveting! One of the most compelling page-turners I’ve read in years. Twisty, turny, and with an ending not to be missed!“ —Lisa Gardner

“I was instantly gripped and held captivated by the pace and elegant writing. I devoured it.” —Peter James

The Girl Before is a cat-and-mouse game that toys with our expectations and twists our sympathies. At times almost unbearably suspenseful, it keeps us guessing from the first page to the very last. Don’t miss it.” —Joseph Finder

* * * * *

I’d love to hear what upcoming book releases you’re waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me your link in the comments below and I’ll stop by and check out your WoW selection for this week. 🙂

Top 10 Books to Read if your Book Club likes Strong Female Characters

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Top Ten Books To Read If Your Book Club Likes ______ (if your book club likes historical fiction, inspiring stories, YA books, non-fiction, controversial books to debate about, or pick a specific book)

Okay, so let me start out by saying that I have FAILED at every book club I have ever tried to join.  At least where I live, it seems that the main staple in every book club is Chick Lit and that’s just not an area of fiction that really interests me at all.  So, inevitably, I join a book club, get bored, and eventually stop showing up.

What does interest me regardless of genre, however, are strong female characters. If I ran a book club, literally every title I selected would feature a badass female protagonist.  Someone who is strong, complex, fierce, stubborn, and someone who is not caught up in love triangles or squares or whatever the latest trend is.  So my top ten list for this week focuses on ten books featuring badass female characters that I would choose for my own book club.  I chose from several different genres and tried to choose books about women who I considered strong for a variety of reasons and whose experiences differ greatly from one another.  There are tons more that I could easily choose, but for this list, I specifically tried to pick titles I imagined would generate interesting discussion at an actual book club meeting.  Enjoy!

Top Ten Book Club Reads Featuring Strong Female Characters

 

1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

01

Goodreads Synopsis: Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead, subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity. She takes up the post of governess at Thornfield, falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman’s passionate search for a wider and richer life than Victorian society traditionally allowed.

With a heroine full of yearning, the dangerous secrets she encounters, and the choices she finally makes, Charlotte Bronte’s innovative and enduring romantic novel continues to engage and provoke readers.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

04

Goodreads Synopsis: The nation of Panem, formed from a post-apocalyptic North America, is a country that consists of a wealthy Capitol region surrounded by 12 poorer districts. Early in its history, a rebellion led by a 13th district against the Capitol resulted in its destruction and the creation of an annual televised event known as the Hunger Games. In punishment, and as a reminder of the power and grace of the Capitol, each district must yield one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 through a lottery system to participate in the games. The ‘tributes’ are chosen during the annual Reaping and are forced to fight to the death, leaving only one survivor to claim victory.

When 16-year-old Katniss’s young sister, Prim, is selected as District 12’s female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta, are pitted against bigger, stronger representatives, some of whom have trained for this their whole lives. , she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.   (Read more…)

* * * * *

3. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

05

Goodreads Synopsis:  The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it — from garden seeds to Scripture — is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family’s tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa..   (Read more…)

* * * * *

4. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

06

Goodreads Synopsis:  It’s first the story of two women in the 1980s, of gray-headed Mrs. Threadgoode telling her life story to Evelyn, who is in the sad slump of middle age. The tale she tells is also of two women — of the irrepressibly daredevilish tomboy Idgie and her friend Ruth, who back in the thirties ran a little place in Whistle Stop, Alabama, a Southern kind of Cafe Wobegon offering good barbecue and good coffee and all kinds of love and laughter, even an occasional murder.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

5. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

08

Goodreads Synopsis:  The Color Purple is a 1982 epistolary novel by American author Alice Walker which won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for Fiction. It was later adapted into a film and musical of the same name.

Taking place mostly in rural Georgia, the story focuses on the life of women of color in the southern United States in the 1930s, addressing numerous issues including their exceedingly low position in American social culture. The novel has been the frequent target of censors and appears on the American Library Association list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2000-2009 at number seventeen because of the sometimes explicit content, particularly in terms of violence. (Read more…)

* * * * *

6. Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

03

Goodsreads Synopsis:  When unattended environmental and economic crises lead to social chaos, not even gated communities are safe. In a night of fire and death Lauren Olamina, a minister’s young daughter, loses her family and home and ventures out into the unprotected American landscape. But what begins as a flight for survival soon leads to something much more: a startling vision of human destiny… and the birth of a new faith.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

7. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

09

Goodreads Synopsis:  Since its immediate success in 1813, Pride and Prejudice has remained one of the most popular novels in the English language. Jane Austen called this brilliant work “her own darling child” and its vivacious heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, “as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print.” The romantic clash between the opinionated Elizabeth and her proud beau, Mr. Darcy, is a splendid performance of civilized sparring. And Jane Austen’s radiant wit sparkles as her characters dance a delicate quadrille of flirtation and intrigue, making this book the most superb comedy of manners of Regency England.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

8. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

07

Goodreads Synopsis:  Mikael Blomkvist, a once-respected financial journalist, watches his professional life rapidly crumble around him. Prospects appear bleak until an unexpected (and unsettling) offer to resurrect his name is extended by an old-school titan of Swedish industry. The catch—and there’s always a catch—is that Blomkvist must first spend a year researching a mysterious disappearance that has remained unsolved for nearly four decades. With few other options, he accepts and enlists the help of investigator Lisbeth Salander, a misunderstood genius with a cache of authority issues. Little is as it seems in Larsson’s novel, but there is at least one constant: you really don’t want to mess with the girl with the dragon tattoo.   (Read more…)

* * * * *

9. Room by Emma Donoghue

10

Goodreads Synopsis: To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it’s not enough…not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son’s bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

10. Cinder by Marissa Myers

02

Goodreads Synopsis:  Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

I realized when I got to the bottom of my list that I didn’t have any nonfiction titles, so I’m throwing in this bonus selection.  I chose Hillary’s autobiography, because love her or hate her, I think everyone will agree that she is the badass of all badasses in the political world!

11. Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton

11

Goodreads Synopsis:  Hillary Rodham Clinton is known to hundreds of millions of people around the world. Yet few beyond her close friends and family have ever heard her account of her extraordinary journey. She writes with candor, humor and passion about her upbringing in suburban, middle-class America in the 1950s and her transformation from Goldwater Girl to student activist to controversial First Lady.

Living History is her revealing memoir of life through the White House years. It is also her chronicle of living history with Bill Clinton, a thirty-year adventure in love and politics that survives personal betrayal, relentless partisan investigations and constant public scrutiny.

Hillary Rodham Clinton came of age during a time of tumultuous social and political change in America. Like many women of her generation, she grew up with choices and opportunities unknown to her mother or grandmother. She charted her own course through unexplored terrain — responding to the changing times and her own internal compass — and became an emblem for some and a lightning rod for others. Wife, mother, lawyer, advocate and international icon, she has lived through America’s great political wars, from Watergate to Whitewater.

The only First Lady to play a major role in shaping domestic legislation, Hillary Rodham Clinton traveled tirelessly around the country to champion health care, expand economic and educational opportunity and promote the needs of children and families, and she crisscrossed the globe on behalf of women’s rights, human rights and democracy. She redefined the position of First Lady and helped save the presidency from an unconstitutional, politically motivated impeachment. Intimate, powerful and inspiring, Living History captures the essence of one of the most remarkable women of our time and the challenging process by which she came to define herself and find her own voice — as a woman and as a formidable figure in American politics.  (Read more…)

* * * * * *

Question:  Have you read any of these titles? What are your favorite reads that feature strong female characters?