Category Archives: Books

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

I have seen this book everywhere. Wal-Mart, the Library (of course), blog world, pinterest, Target…everywhere. So I borrowed it from a friend – I’m pretty sure she’ll never loan me a book again – upon returning her paperback it looked like it’d been in Oscar the Grouch’s trashcan for the better part of a month (it was only in my care for 2 weeks).

Here’s the synopsis (from Ransom Riggs’s website):

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. And a strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children who once lived here—one of whom was his own grandfather—were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a desolate island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

Again this was a junior fiction – if not it really really felt like it. I was quickly reminded of Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants which also uses antique photographs to supplement, if not carry, the plot along.  Riggs’s story was interesting. This was a fantastical journey that included time travel and stretched my imagination. Fantasy isn’t usually my ‘thing’ but this book actually captivated my attention and kept it beginning to end. I’d say go for it, especially during Scare Month!

Have you read it? What’s your take?


Picture Perfect

Another book? IIII KNOW, Right?! I ripped through several books from May-August (several by my standards anyway) just a few more for you and then you’ll be caught up on my latest readings.

Here’s the synopsis (from Jodi Picoult’s website):

As Picture Perfect begins, it is daybreak in downtown L.A. A woman suffering from amnesia is taken in by an officer new to the L.A. police force, after he finds her wandering aimlessly near a graveyard. Days later, when her husband comes to claim her at the police station, no one is more stunned than Cassie Barrett to learn that not only is she a renowned anthropologist, but she is married to Hollywood’s leading man, Alex Rivers.

As Alex helps Cassie become reaccustomed to her fairy-tale existence, fragments of memory return: the whirlwind romance on location in Africa, her major anthropological discovery, the trajectory of Alex’s career. Yet as Cassie settles into her glamour-filled life, uneasiness nags at her. She senses there is something troubling and wild that would alter the picture of her perfect marriage. When she finds a positive pregnancy test in her bathroom, she is flooded with dark memories. Trying to piece together her past, she runs to the other person she trusts to keep her hidden– Will Flying Horse, the policeman who had initially harbored her.

I can’t say this is my favorite of hers or even in the top 3. It was more like one of those made-for-TV movies you let run in the background while doing housework. I didn’t find it captivating or noteworthy; it was just a decent read.

Have you read it? What’s your take?


The Fault in Our Stars

I this is my first John Green novel. I’ll fess up, I read it because the movie is coming out soon and well…I have a hard time watching the movie before I read the book. I was pleasantly surprised. Of course it’s junior fiction but, who cares?

Here’s the synopsis (from here):

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

It made me hug my spouse and wax nostalgic for the days when we first met – those long phone conversations, reading the same books, listening to each other’s music, just learning & discovering who the other person was. It’s a beautiful and unique tale of love, allowing yourself to be wooed – not just by another person but life itself.

Have you read it? What’s your take?


Where’d You Go, Bernadette

This book popped up in my Goodreads suggestion after my obsession with all stories/books Gillian Flynn left me with a giant gaping hole (and a lighter purse).  Rightfully so, it’s was along the same lines: female leads, a mysterious-ish plot, character development that leaves you thinking you could meet the main characters at the local Wal-Greens.

Unlike Ms. Flynn’s books this was much less gruesome and more lighthearted.  I chuckled out loud quite a bit – as in I had a hard time reading it in public. Because it was so interesting and fresh I neglected all housework and all other responsibilities until I finished. I think it was a 3 day read for me – that’s gotta be a Jessica record!  On to the book.

Synopsis from here (how hilarious is that doll?!?!):

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle – and people in general – has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence – creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a daughter’s unflinching love for her imperfect mother.

Maria Semple’s Bernadette Fox is a RIOT! to be honest, in my imagination she looks a lot like Jake’s Godmother… 🙂 I’d say if you’re looking for something humerus and different from the normal beach book or summer read, please pick it up!


Have you read it? What’s your take?


A Long Way Down

How can I describe Nick Hornby’s writing style? ummm…take that oddball friend in your social circle, the one with the weird and slightly dark sense of humor, add a whole lot of sarcasm, mix this with that guy who always makes terrible moments laughable and throw waaay too much pop-culture knowledge…now you’ve got a pretty good description.  That’s how I see and read Hornby.

Here’s the synopsis (from here):

Meet Martin, JJ, Jess, and Maureen. Four people who come together on New Year’s Eve: a former TV talk show host, a musician, a teenage girl, and a mother. Three are British, one is American. They encounter one another on the roof of Topper’s House, a London destination famous as the last stop for those ready to end their lives.

In four distinct and riveting first-person voices, Nick Hornby tells a story of four individuals confronting the limits of choice, circumstance, and their own mortality. This is a tale of connections made and missed, punishing regrets, and the grace of second chances.

Intense, hilarious, provocative, and moving, A Long Way Down is a novel about suicide that is, surprisingly, full of life.

I liked this book. It was a ‘light’ read; surprisingly kept my mood light, given the topic that’s quite a feat. I’d say if you’re not easily offended and looking for a chuckle or two while looking at the depth of friendship, loneliness, and life as a whole pick it up.

Have you read it? What’s your take?


Summer Reading

Reading was the 1st item on both of our Guidelines for Better Living this year.

Sadly we’ve dropped the ball. As of today I have finished only 2 books and I Jake’s still working through the first.

The ball is on the court, sadly rolling away.

This week we’re pickin’ it back up and have dreams of jaw dropping slam dunks by December 31st.

Here are the stacks on our nightstands:




Sharp Objects

Gillian Flynn did it again, another amazing plot twisting mind bender that kept me interested from page one thru the epilogue.

Here’s the synopsis (from Gillian Flynn’s website):

Words are like a road map to reporter Camille Preaker’s troubled past. Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, Camille’s first assignment from the second-rate daily paper where she works brings her reluctantly back to her hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls.  Since she left town eight years ago, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed again in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille is haunted by the childhood tragedy she has spent her whole life trying to cut from her memory.
I enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who’s in for a good quick read.

Have you read it? What’s your take?


Dark Places

Never, ever, EVER has an author jumped to my top 3 in under half a book. Gillian Flynn is a first. After devouring ‘Gone Girl‘ I HAD to read another. Again l forgot meals, a sane bedtime, and social interaction for the week it took me to finish this incredible book. And again there was NO. putting. this. book. down! Immediately after I finished I tossed her other book into my hold list at the library.

Here’s the synopsis (from Gillian Flynn’s website):

Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.” As her family lay dying, little Libby fled their tiny farmhouse into the freezing January snow. She lost some fingers and toes, but she survived–and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, Ben sits in prison, and troubled Libby lives off the dregs of a trust created by well-wishers who’ve long forgotten her.

The Kill Club is a macabre secret society obsessed with notorious crimes. When they locate Libby and pump her for details–proof they hope may free Ben–Libby hatches a plan to profit off her tragic history. For a fee, she’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club… and maybe she’ll admit her testimony wasn’t so solid after all.

Another whirlwind plot, more brain melting twists: I LOVED IT. This book should’ve come with a ‘don’t read in bed’ warning for me, it plays out like scenes from a horror film.  Unlike Gone Girl I wouldn’t really recommend it to just anyone as it’s a little on the darker side. If you enjoy bloody gore and suspense go for it!

Have you read it? What’s your take?


Gone Girl

I’ve become a member of Goodreads, the book equivalent of Netflix –in that you rate books you’ve read and it’ll pop out suggestions based on your ratings, it also has a ‘queue’ of sorts. The app allows you to create digital ‘shelves’ to place your books mine are pretty simple “to read”, “we own”, “already read” and “Jake’s picks”. Recently it suggested “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn and on our first trip to the library it was available so I thought, ‘I’ll give it a shot”.

HA! I devoured the book; l forgot meals, a sane bedtime, and social interaction for the week it took me to finish this incredible book. (It will usually take me anywhere from 2 weeks to a month to complete a book, I’m one REALLY SLOW reader…like molasses in January slow.) There was NO. putting. this. book. down! Immediately after I finished I knew I was going to be a Gillian Flynn fan for life.

Here’s the synopsis (from Gillian Flynn’s website):

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick Dunne’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer? As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love.
I’m not sure this synopsis really gives this book justice but I’m not going to give you much more info than this because it’s a tornado of a plot. I LOVED IT, and would recommend it to anyone who likes a mystery with a psychological kick.

Have you read it? What’s your take?


The Lucky One

I recently finished The Lucky One, another Nicholas Sparks novel. It was a quick ‘airport’ read, nothing too deep, nothing requiring much of my mind, a nice book to kick back and simply relax with. I’d say it was a bit predictable if you’ve read any of Spark’s stories set in a charming town somewhere in the South, boy meets girl, one of them has a secret and doesn’t share, the other finds out … dum dum dummmm…drama, it rains (for Sparks water seems to always equal bad news), there’s a crisis, it’s resolved, someone dies.

Here’s the synopsis:

When U.S. Marine Logan Thibault finds a photograph of a smiling young woman half-buried in the dirt during his third tour of duty in Iraq, his first instinct is to toss it aside. Instead, he brings it back to the base for someone to claim, but when no one does, he finds himself always carrying the photo in his pocket. Soon Thibault experiences a sudden streak of luck—winning poker games and even surviving deadly combat that kills two of his closest buddies.

Back home in Colorado, Thibault can’t seem to get the photo—and the woman in it—out of his mind. Believing that she somehow holds the key to his destiny, he sets out on a journey across the country to find her, never expecting the strong but vulnerable woman he encounters in Hampton, North Carolina—Elizabeth, a divorced mother with a young son—to be the girl he’s been waiting his whole life to meet. Caught off guard by the attraction he feels, Thibault keeps the story of the photo, and his luck, a secret. As he and Elizabeth embark upon a passionate and all-consuming love affair, the secret he is keeping will soon threaten to tear them apart—destroying not only their love, but also their lives.

Seriously, that synopsis covered the entire book, minus only a few details. I definitely did a fist pump when I read where the main character is from…DENVER! COLORADO! but sadly there are no details of my beloved state, none at all.

I’d say if you like Nicholas Sparks give this one a shot but please please please don’t look at the Zac Ephron movie posters before you do (he can’t pull off the Colorado vibe)

Have you read it? What’s your take?

Hay House