Well I complained about the cold last month and now we have endured February and the snow and ice has driven almost everyone mad. The kids have had so many snow days they will probably still be going to school in July to make up the lost time. I have rescheduled or cancelled many appointments and activities, as have others. February may be the shortest month but it seems to just go on, and on, and on. It doesn’t help when my snowbird friends send me notes reporting the warm temperatures in Florida, Arizona, Texas. But you know, I heard it snowed in Hawaii and snowed hard in Seattle. So it is not all bad here, we have snow plows. Oh well, what to do? Well, we are FINALLY at the last day of the month and fortunately our book group wasn’t cancelled so I have twelve books to share with you.
1. Every Breath by Nicholas Sparks (2018) 322p. This is a love at first sight classic romance, that sees destiny play a huge role in shaping the lives of two individuals, Tru and Hope. Sparks describes his latest novel as ‘a classic story of lovers long denied’. But that is what I expect if I pick a Nicholas Sparks book.
2. Liar, Liar by James Patterson, Detective Harriet Blue #3, (2018) 368p. In this thrilling new chapter of Harriet Blue’s life, she transforms into quite the outlaw as she frantically works to ensnare a dangerous serial killer who murdered her brother. Now this book was presented by the same reader who did the Sparks book. He is quite an eclectic reader.
3. The Winner by David Baldacci (1997) 528p. LuAnn Tyler, a poor single Mom, is offered the gift of a lifetime, a $100 million lottery jackpot. All she has to do is change her identity and leave the U.S. forever. All goes well until she decides to break her contract and return home.
4. Kim by Rudyard Kipling (1901) 366p. Kim (Kimball) O’Hara is a 12-year old orphan in Lahore, India in the 1850’s, child of an Irish soldier and Indian mother. Despite the loss of both parents he thrives well as a street urchin. His life opens up when he assists a Tibetan lama on a pilgrimage and joins him on the road, pretending to be a disciple. I am always happy when one of our group picks up a classic. Part travelogue, part coming of age. Read it in the spirit of the time it was written.
5. The Book of Polly by Kathy Hepinstall (2017) 322p. Polly Havens is irreverent and overbearing, almost a caricature of the seemingly mean lady next door who really has a good heart. She smokes, she drinks and she is widowed in her late 50’s. She discovers, shortly after her husband dies, that she is pregnant. The story is narrated by her daughter Willow, who is 10 years old when the story begins and moves us through the next five years.
6. Jade Dragon Mountain by Elsa Hart (2015) 336p. A mystery set in 1708 in a town in China on the Tibetan border. The main character is Li Du, an imperial librarian, now in exile. The Emperor will arrive for the first time to usher in the eclipse of the sun, cementing his power and majesty over the region. Li Du is charged with finding if the sudden death of a Jesuit astronomer, Brother Pieter, is a random killing or orchestrated by someone associated with the Emperor.
7. Becoming by Michele Obama (2018) 426p. Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent as the First Lady of the United States. I recommend the audio version, because hearing this in her own voice makes it even more personal.
8. The New Order by Karen Bender (2018) 240p. This is a collection of short stories about a variety of topics, from the way friendships change over time, to bombings and school shootings. The stories are based on the contemporary American culture of today, especially the darker parts of it.
9. No Man’s Land by David Baldacci, John Puller #4 (2016) 420p. After returning from his latest military assignment, John Puller is visited by two military officials with potential news of a cold case from thirty years before. These two men have a letter from a woman who lived at Fort Monroe with the Pullers when John’s mother disappeared. The letter suggests that Puller’s father, an accomplished military man at the time, was responsible for the disappearance and murder of his wife.
10. Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen (2013) 318p. In this novel, the poet, Frances Osgood, is a young mother raising two children while her philandering husband is off in another city. She meets Edgar Allan Poe at a literary salon. It’s the start of a love triangle involving Frances, Poe, and his wife Virginia who is ill with consumption.
11. New York by Edward Rutherford (2009) 862p. A historical novel that follows four centuries of the history of New York and the people who lived in it. Rutherford is an exceptional historical fiction author. He is known for his attention to details and character development. A good read for an interminable month.
12. Need to Know by Karen Cleveland (2018) 304p. Vivian Miller is a dedicated CIA counterintelligence analyst assigned to uncover the leaders of Russian sleeper cells in the United States. After accessing the computer of a potential Russian operative, she stumbles on a secret dossier of deep-cover agents within America’s borders. A few clicks later, everything that matters to her—her job, her husband, even her four children—are threatened. A page-turner.