our book club reads happy books!

Happy 2014! Happy Reading!

Happy New Year Everyone!

It’s that time of year for new beginnings, resolutions, and… “best of 2013” book lists. I added my own list at the end of 2012. But I don’t think I’ll do that this year. Instead I’ll list a couple of authors that I read for the first time this year and really enjoyed.

1. Kate Atkinson. When I started hearing rave reviews for her new novel “Life after Life” I thought I should check her out. I started reading the books in her Jackson Brodie series. (I was under the mistaken impression that “Life After Life” was a part of this series). Atkinson is a great writer and her characters and stories keep you reading. I’ll be reading more by her this year and maybe checking out the BBC series that were adapted from these books if I can find it.

2. For a road trip to Shenandoah National Park I selected Philippa Gregory’s “The White Queen” on audio. I had been seeing a lot of advertisements for the Starz production  of this novel. I got hooked. The audio narrator was excellent and I went on to listen to the next 2 books in the series. It reminded me of a time in my life when I was crazy about historical fiction. I will be listening to more of these – she has lots!

3. Linwood Barclay. I’ve never considered myself a big reader of thrillers (I’m one of the handful of people on the planet that doesn’t read James Patterson), but when a co-worker recommended “Trust Your Eyes” I was happy to “trust my co-worker”. So glad I did! Great stories and characters that you really care about.

I’ll conclude with a book that I happened to read between 12/31/13 and 1/1/14. It turned out to be the perfect New Year’s read. It was “The Snow Child” by Eowyn Ivey.  I admit my motivations for bringing it home were not the best. I had never heard of the book or the author but we got several copies delivered to the library and not enough room for them all on the shelves. The stark but beautiful cover intrigued me, so I brought it home.



This beautiful story of a childless couple, homesteading in the Alaska wilderness in an attempt to escape their grief is entrancing. It is inspired by a Russian folk tale by the same name. I am not a big fan of magic or fantasy in novels, but by the time these are introduced I was completely hooked by the story and couldn’t stop reading. (And is it really magic? You’re never quite sure.)

It turned out to be a perfect New Year’s read. Some inspiration I will take with me:

” We are allowed to do that , are we not , Mabel? To invent our own endings and choose joy over sorrow?”


“In my old age, I see that life itself is often more fantastic and terrible than the stories we believed as children, and that perhaps there is no harm in finding magic among the trees.”

This book casts a spell on you with its gorgeous writing, its beautiful setting, and its tale of the joys and sorrows that make us human. It is truly an amazing fairy tale for adults.

As a footnote, I will add that I was so smitten with this author’s name that I googled the pronunciation (its Ay-o-win) and found out this was the name of a character in “Lord of the Rings”. (I told you a don’t like fantasy –  I never read it or watched it!! Does this make me a failure as an English major??)Turns out Eowyn Ivey’s mother named her after this character (http://eowynivey.com/bio/) Did Eowyn  have any other choice but to grow up and write such a fantastical book?


Pat’s Top Five(ish) for 2012

Happy last day of 2012! The past few weeks I have been bombarded with lists of the best books of 2012, and it made me want to compile a list of my own!

I composed my list from books I read in 2012, not books published this year. Books that made the cut made me stay  up late at night reading, made me laugh out loud, or made me quick run to see what else that author had written. Number 1 did all three.

Here’s my list:

5. (tie) Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese and State of Wonder by Ann Patchett.  They both conjure a wonderful sense of place and have really interesting characters. Verghese reminded me of John Irving and “State of  Wonder” reminded me of “Poisonwood Bible” by Barbara Kingsolver.

4. Treasure Island!!! by Sara Levine. This book surprised and delighted me. It started me on my “mean girls” reading kick.

3. Heading Out to Wonderful by Robert Goolrick.This was beautifully written and incredibly heartbreaking. Very memorable.”Let me tell you something, son. 
When you’re young, and you head out to wonderful, everything is fresh and bright as a brand-new penny, 
but before you get to wonderful you’re going to have to pass through all right. And when you get to all right, stop and take a good, long look, because that may be as far as you’re ever going to go.” Very dark book indeed!

2. Velva Jean Learns to Drive by Jennifer Niven. I loved Velva Jean and was happy to find such a likeable and plucky heroine to root for.

1. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. This book was the whole package for me! If your whole package includes a happy ending, you better skip it though! This book is original and suspenseful with characters you love to hate and hate to love.  I went on to quickly read Flynn’s previous novels. I would rate them in order of publication:  “Sharp Objects” good ,  “Dark Places” better, and  “Gone Girl” best. Isn’t that what we all hope for- to get better with time and experience? I eagerly anticipate her next novel!

How about you? What were your favorite books of 2012?