The “I’ve Always Meant to Read That Book!” Challenge August Read-along: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

August’s book is The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. The discussion post will go up on (or around) August 31st. Hope you can join the discussion!

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The Sunday Salon – July 27, 2014

sundaysalon2Lately: We had another busy week of family togetherness. We also had an old-fashioned church picnic at the park yesterday, with three-legged and potato sack races, great food, and lots of conversation. We all came home hot and sweaty, but happy.

We have one more week of Marni and her boys visiting, and are hoping to do some lake trips or pool trips to give the boys a way to run off their energy.

Oh, in other news, Natalie has a new boyfriend named Ben. We’re getting to know him, and so far so good. They were set up by Natalie’s best friend, Jazmyn, and Ben’s best friend, Cody, who are dating. Natalie was hanging out with them a couple months ago, and Cody mentioned that Ben and Natalie would be perfect together. Jazmyn agreed, and they arranged for them to meet. The rest, as they say, is history. :)

Reading: American Gods by Neil Gaiman; The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming

Recently finished reading: Never Coming Back by Tim Weaver and No Book But the World by Leah Hagen Cohen

Listening to: The same two books. With company in the house, I haven’t had much time to listen. That will change, however, when I drive Marni and her boys and Josiah four hours on Saturday to meet Marni’s husband, Hans. Lots of audio time in the car.

Watching: Marni and I watched Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, which I loved just as much the second time. All of us watched 3 Days to Kill, and it was a lot of fun. Tonight, for Family Movie Night, we are watching the classic sci-fi comedy, Galaxy Quest.

Blogging recently:
~ Mini-reviews: The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon; The Fever by Megan Abbott; and Never Coming Back by Tim Weaver
~ Book Spotlight: Ripley’s Believe It or Not – Reality Shock!
~ Adding to my TBR list – Bookmarks Magazine July/August 2014

What are you doing today? Are you doing anything fun? Are you suffering with temps in the 90s like we have been?

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Mini-reviews: The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon; The Fever by Megan Abbott; and Never Coming Back by Tim Weaver

winterpeopleTitle: The Winter People
Author: Jennifer McMahon
Genre: Paranormal fiction
Publisher: Random House Audio
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from my personal library
Audiobook reader: Cassandra Campbell, Kathe Mazur
Audiobook length: 10 hours and 46 minutes
First line: The first time I saw a sleeper, I was nine years old.

Goodreads blurb: West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter, Gertie. Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara’s farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that suddenly proves perilous when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished without a trace. Searching for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea’s diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother’s bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked deeper into the mystery of Sara’s fate, she discovers that she’s not the only person who’s desperately looking for someone that they’ve lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.

This was a deliciously creepy audiobook, read by two of my very favorite narrators. I loved both storylines, and having separate women read the modern and the historical portions helped keep them separate in my mind. Although I wouldn’t have had trouble keeping them straight, even without the difference in narration, as the writing style was also very distinct. The story kept me guessing, with several revelations sprinkled throughout – all leading up to the big finale. I have enjoyed everything of McMahon’s that I’ve read so far, and will definitely keep seeking out her work.

feverTitle: The Fever
Author: Megan Abbott
Genre: Contemporary fiction, thriller
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Number of pages: 303
First line: “The first time, you can’t believe how much it hurts.”

Goodreads blurb: The Nash family is close-knit. Tom is a popular teacher, father of two teens: Eli, a hockey star and girl magnet, and his sister Deenie, a diligent student. Their seeming stability, however, is thrown into chaos when Deenie’s best friend is struck by a terrifying, unexplained seizure in class. Rumors of a hazardous outbreak spread through the family, school and community.

As hysteria and contagion swell, a series of tightly held secrets emerges, threatening to unravel friendships, families and the town’s fragile idea of security.

I’ve really struggled with writing this review, because I’m not entirely sure how I felt about the book. On the one hand, I tore through it in only a few days, and wanted to keep reading until I found out the end. My first reaction was to give it a four-star review, and since I don’t second-guess my ratings, I will let it stand. However, after a couple weeks of thinking about the book, I don’t know that I can really say I liked it. I found it intriguing and hard to put down, but I didn’t feel particularly engaged with any of the characters. I was curious to find out what was going on with the girls, but not because of any emotional connection I felt to any of them. Though I’m glad I read it, my thoughts after some time has gone by is that it was just okay.

nevercomingbackTitle: Never Coming Back
Author: Tim Weaver
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Viking
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: ARC from the publisher
Number of pages: 384
First line: When the night came, it came fast.

Goodreads blurb: Emily Kane arrives at her sister Carrie’s house to find the front door unlocked, dinner on the table, and the family nowhere to be found—Carrie, her husband, and two daughters have disappeared. When the police turn up no leads, Emily turns to her former boyfriend David Raker, a missing persons investigator, to track the family down. As Raker pursues the case, he discovers evidence of a sinister cover-up, decades in the making and with a long trail of bodies behind it.

I wish that the first three books in Weaver’s David Raker series had been released here in the US, because I would love to read all of them. Hopefully, Never Coming Back will enjoy success in the States and the previous installments will eventually be available here. I liked Raker’s character, his drive and need to find lost people, although I wished I knew more about his back story. You definitely do not need to have read the previous books to enjoy this mystery, but I wanted to know more about him. There are hints to his past that made me hungry for more. They mystery itself was engrossing and hard to put down. I highly recommend this to any of you who enjoy mysteries.

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