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Posted by on Jun 8, 2013 in Books, Featured, Lists, Resources, Reviews and Giveaways, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Chasing Supermom’s 2013 Bookshelf – 25 Books

Chasing Supermom’s 2013 Bookshelf – 25 Books

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I’ve been saying, “I wish I had more time to read” for YEARS now. I have always had an intense love of reading, but have allowed the busyness of motherhood, blogging, housewifery, etc. take priority. I was lucky to read a book here and there throughout the year. I wanted this year to be different. I had challenged my first grade daughter to read 25 chapter books in one year, and decided to take the challenge with her. In a crazy twist of fate, we ended up both finishing our 25th book on the same day, a little more than 6 months ahead of our goal. We’ve now upped the ante and want to read 50 books each by the end of 2013.

I wanted to share my first 25 books with you. The words in italics are the book’s synopsis taken from Goodreads, while my thoughts are underneath. Books have taken me on quite a few incredible journeys this year. I’ve fought rebel wars, tried to clear my  name of a murder charge, heard the unsaid thoughts of those around me, and fought 34 other women to be the next queen. Every time I open a new book, I escape to somewhere else and open my mind to new ideas. I hope you’ll come along on a few of these journeys with me. I can’t wait to see what the next 25 books hold!

1. Divergent by Veronica Roth 5 starsdivergent

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue–Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is–she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are–and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Couldn’t read this fast enough. Loved the premise. Loved Four. Love. Love. Love. (Now, who is going to come see the movie with me when it comes out?!)

insurgent2. Insurgent by Veronica Roth – 5 stars

One choice can transform you, or destroy you. Every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves, and herself, while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

I am a tad bit obsessed with YA dystopian lit. Immediately following Divergent, I checked online and saw that my local library had a copy of Insurgent on the shelves. I then threw together the world’s quickest dinner so I could get in the car and rush to the library. I finished the book the next morning. I’m dying to read the next one. One of the best YA series I’ve read….(and I’ve read most of them!)

3. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie- 5 starsorient

Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. One of his fellow passengers must be the murderer.Isolated by the storm and with a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer amongst a dozen of the dead man’s enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again..

 

This was my second Agatha Christie novel. I typically don’t love mysteries, but had really enjoyed And Then There Were None, so I thought I’d give this a whirl when I found it on the shelf at the library. I’d never seen the movie, so I went into the book without an idea of “whodunit.”After reading the book I realized two things.  I would make a terrible detective and mysteries maybe aren’t all that bad. (This comment will make my mother smug and happy.She loves mysteries.) =)

changeling4. Changeling by Philippa Gregory – 2 stars

Italy, 1453. Seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is brilliant, gorgeous—and accused of heresy. Cast out of his religious order for using the new science to question old superstitious beliefs, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, commissioned by Pope Nicholas V to investigate evil and danger in its many forms, and strange occurrences across Europe, in this year—the end of days. Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl shut up in a nunnery so she can’t inherit any of her father’s estate. As the nuns walk in their sleep and see strange visions, Isolde is accused of witchcraft—and Luca is sent to investigate her, but finds himself plotting her escape. Despite their vows, despite themselves, love grows between Luca and Isolde as they travel across Europe with their faithful companions, Freize and Ishraq. The four young people encounter werewolves, alchemists, witches, and death-dancers as they head toward a real-life historical figure who holds the boundaries of Christendom and the secrets of the Order of the Dragon.

While pieces of the book were interesting (albeit contrived and predictable), much of the story is slow. The two main “stories” within the book feel very disjointed. While the author intends for you to keep reading the series (to no doubt watch some of the more obvious story lines play out (ie-Luca and Isolde) and to have the one question you are left with answered,  the book lacks the “I can’t wait for the next one!” quality that the other series books being written right now have. I kept turning the pages, much like when you continue to watch a slow movie, just hoping for something to happen, but ended disappointed. I believe the word, “Seriously?!” came out of my mouth after the final page. Sigh…I didn’t abandon it though…that says something I guess. I’d hoped for so much more from the other that brought me The Other Boleyn Girl, which I loved.

5. The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom 5 starskitchen

When a white servant girl violates the order of plantation society, she unleashes a tragedy that exposes the worst and best in the people she has come to call her family. Orphaned while onboard ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia arrives on the steps of a tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house. Under the care of Belle, the master’s illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family, though she is set apart from them by her white skin. Eventually, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, where the master is absent and the mistress battles opium addiction. Lavinia finds herself perilously straddling two very different worlds. When she is forced to make a choice, loyalties are brought into question, dangerous truths are laid bare, and lives are put at risk

This book was slated to be our “Book Club” pick. While the CS Book Club didn’t pan out, I am so glad my readers picked this selection. I don’t typically reach for historical fiction, but LOVED this book. It was haunting, passionate, and deeply realistic. I cannot count how many times I found myself sobbing, so wrapped up in the lives of the well-developed characters. You too might be reaching for the laudanum after reading this book, but the story will grip you, and you will find yourself unable to stop turning the highly depressing, yet intriguing and compelling pages.

girl moon6. The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen– 5 stars

Emily Benedict came to Mullaby, North Carolina, hoping to solve at least some of the riddles surrounding her mother’s life. Such as, why did Dulcie Shelby leave her hometown so suddenly? And why did she vow never to return? But the moment Emily enters the house where her mother grew up and meets the grandfather she never knew—a reclusive, real-life gentle giant—she realizes that mysteries aren’t solved in Mullaby, they’re a way of life: Here are rooms where the wallpaper changes to suit your mood. Unexplained lights skip across the yard at midnight. And a neighbor bakes hope in the form of cakes.
Everyone in Mullaby adores Julia Winterson’s cakes—which is a good thing, because Julia can’t seem to stop baking them. She offers them to satisfy the town’s sweet tooth but also in the hope of rekindling the love she fears might be lost forever. Flour, eggs, milk, and sugar . . . Baking is the only language the proud but vulnerable Julia has to communicate what is truly in her heart. But is it enough to call back to her those she’s hurt in the past?  
 Can a hummingbird cake really bring back a lost love? Is there really a ghost dancing in Emily’s backyard? The answers are never what you expect. But in this town of lovable misfits, the unexpected fits right in.

A very light, quick, and “happy” read. This was a welcome change for me as I found myself wrapped up in this charming tale.

7.  You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You’re Deluding not smartYourself  by David McRaney- 4 stars

Based on the popular blog of the same name, You Are Not So Smart collects more than 46 of the lies we tell ourselves everyday, including:
Dunbar’s Number – Humans evolved to live in bands of roughly 150 individuals, the brain cannot handle more than that number. If you have more than 150 Facebook friends, they are surely not all real friends. Hindsight bias – When we learn something new, we reassure ourselves that we knew it all along. Confirmation bias – Our brains resist new ideas, instead paying attention only to findings that reinforce our preconceived notions. Brand loyalty – We reach for the same brand not because we trust its quality but because we want to reassure ourselves that we made a smart choice the last time we bought it.Packed with interesting sidebars and quick guides on cognition and common fallacies, You Are Not So Smart is a fascinating synthesis of cutting-edge psychology research to turn our minds inside out.

Not a page turner, and speckled with unnecessary swearing, but interesting nonetheless and will appeal to those who enjoy psychology.

Safe Haven8. Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks – 5 stars

When a mysterious young woman named Katie appears in the small North Carolina town of Southport, her sudden arrival raises questions about her past. Beautiful yet self-effacing, Katie seems determined to avoid forming personal ties until a series of events draws her into two reluctant relationships: one with Alex, a widowed store owner with a kind heart and two young children; and another with her plainspoken single neighbor, Jo. Despite her reservations, Katie slowly begins to let down her guard, putting down roots in the close-knit community and becoming increasingly attached to Alex and his family.But even as Katie begins to fall in love, she struggles with the dark secret that still haunts and terrifies her . . . a past that set her on a fearful, shattering journey across the country, to the sheltered oasis of Southport. With Jo’s empathic and stubborn support, Katie eventually realizes that she must choose between a life of transient safety and one of riskier rewards . . . and that in the darkest hour, love is the only true safe haven.

I’ll admit I didn’t want to like this book. And yet, I turned into a big ol’ sap and loved every page.

 9. Reached by Ally Condie – 2 starsreached

After leaving Society to desperately seek The Rising, and each other, Cassia and Ky have found what they were looking for, but at the cost of losing each other yet again. Cassia is assigned undercover in Central city, Ky outside the borders, an airship pilot with Indie. Xander is a medic, with a secret. All too soon, everything shifts again.

I was so disappointed. I absolutely LOVED Matched and thought Crossed was okay, but found Reached to be slightly anti-climactic. I only continued to read Reached because I was invested in the series. I felt it was a bit contrived and that the author was trying too hard to be philosophical. The series did not end in a way that felt satisfying to me, and I sort of felt the way I did after finishing the last season of LOST….(ie-“did I really just waste all this time for THAT?!”)

sing10. Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult – 2 stars

One miscarriage too many spelled the end of Max and Zoe Baxter’s marriage. Though the former couple went quite separate ways, their fates remained entangled: After veering into alcoholism, Max is saved in multiple senses by his fundamentalist conversion; Zoe, for her part, finds healing relief in music therapy and the friendship, then romantic love with Vanessa, her counselor. After Zoe and Vanessa, now married, decide to have a baby, they realize that they must join battle with Max, who objects on both religious and financial grounds.

I usually love Jodi Picoult books, formulaic plot-twists and all, but was disappointed in this book. I saw the twists coming. This book is politically and socially charged and has a definite “slant.”

11. Seven Practices of Effective Ministry by Andy Stanley 4 stars7

Your ministry is perfectly designed to produce the results you are currently experiencing. If you are satisfied with those results, you don’t need this book. If not, it’s time for a change. Like your own personal trainer, 7 Practices of Effective Ministry is an insightful guide for any leader who yearns for a simpler, more effective approach to ministry. Here are seven strategic principles that when put into play will bring focus and clarity to everything you do and turn your ministry into a winning team.

Okay, this is not the typical book most people will sit down and read, BUT, I highly recommend this book to anyone in ministry, especially those in a leadership position within the church. Reading this book has helped shape my vision and planning for the mom’s group I am preparing to lead.

edge12. The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George – 4 stars

Whidbey Island may be only a ferry ride from Seattle, but it’s a world apart. When Becca King arrives there, she doesn’t suspect the island will become her home for the next four years. Put at risk by her ability to hear “whispers”–the thoughts of others–Becca is on the run from her stepfather, whose criminal activities she has discovered. Stranded and alone, Becca is soon befriended by Derric, a Ugandon orphan adopted by a local family; Seth, a kindhearted musician and high school dropout; Debbie, a recovering alcoholic who takes her in; and Diana, with whom Becca shares a mysterious psychic connection.

I loved this book, and cannot wait for the second one. Characters were amazingly well-developed, and reading a YA book that was not dystopian or futuristic was a nice break for me. I found George to be a thoughtful and descriptive author who created sympathetic and realistic characters.

13. House of Women by Lynn Freed – 1 starhouse

Seventeen-year-old Thea lives a strange and sheltered life with her mother, Nalia, retired opera singer and Holocaust survivor. A virtual prisoner of her mother’s obsessive love, Thea escapes with a mysterious and suave friend of her father’s and is taken to the remote island on which he lives. “The rule is this,” she says. “I am to pretend that my other life does not exist. And yet, pretending, it seems to be true.”” What Thea discovers on the island is that the house in which she grew up – with its gates and padlocks and dogs – has been replaced by a prison of a different kind. “All my life,” she says, “I have noticed keys. I like to know where they fit, how they work. ‘What do you need your own keys for?’ my mother would shout. ‘When you’re old enough for keys, you’ll be old enough to understand a lot of things.

What the? I’m struggling to find words….A disturbingly odd tale of a highly dysfunctional family dynamic. I found myself desperately hoping for Thea to overcome the epitome of an over-bearing (and all too often naked…WHY?!) mother, an absent father who raffled her off in a bet, and an adulterous and somewhat incestuous husband. Yet, Thea disappointingly never rises above or finds a way out. She doesn’t fight for her children, rage against her husband in any real type of way, and never even confronts her mother or questions the crazy (and hypocritical) lifestyle she leads. Overall a highly questionable book.

silver14. The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick – 2 stars

Meet Pat. Pat has a theory: his life is a movie produced by God. And his God-given mission is to become physically fit and emotionally literate, whereupon God will ensure a happy ending for him — the return of his estranged wife Nikki. (It might not come as a surprise to learn that Pat has spent time in a mental health facility.) The problem is, Pat’s now home, and everything feels off. No one will talk to him about Nikki; his beloved Philadelphia Eagles keep losing; he’s being pursued by the deeply odd Tiffany; his new therapist seems to recommend adultery as a form of therapy. Plus, he’s being hunted by Kenny G!

I’m going to commit book adultery here and say something I’ve only said about 3 other books…..I liked the movie better. A lot better.
Usually I’m irritated when there are so many differences between a book and movie, but honestly, I liked the changes the movie made. I felt that the relationship between Tiffany and Pat was stronger in the film, as was the storyline relating to the dance contest/football game bet (non-existent in the book.) A lot of the book is football related, and I found myself skimming these parts. I was expecting to love this book and was disappointed.
As a sidenote, if you are planning on reading any classic novels (the type they make you read in high-school) maybe don’t read this book….it’s full of “spoilers.”

15. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia – 5 starsbeautiful

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever. Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them. In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

I did not expect to enjoy this as much as I did. Found myself NEEDING to turn the pages to find out what would happen. Cannot wait to finish the series.

enclave16. Enclave by Ann Aguirre – 4 stars

In Deuce’s world, people earn the right to a name only if they survive their first fifteen years. By that point, each unnamed ‘brat’ has trained into one of three groups–Breeders, Builders, or Hunters, identifiable by the number of scars they bear on their arms. Deuce has wanted to be a Huntress for as long as she can remember. As a Huntress, her purpose is clear—to brave the dangerous tunnels outside the enclave and bring back meat to feed the group while evading ferocious monsters known as Freaks. She’s worked toward this goal her whole life, and nothing’s going to stop her, not even a beautiful, brooding Hunter named Fade. When the mysterious boy becomes her partner, Deuce’s troubles are just beginning.

Down below, deviation from the rules is punished swiftly and harshly, and Fade doesn’t like following orders. At first Deuce thinks he’s crazy, but as death stalks their sanctuary, and it becomes clear the elders don’t always know best, Deuce wonders if Fade might be telling the truth. Her partner confuses her; she’s never known a boy like him before, as prone to touching her gently as using his knives with feral grace. As Deuce’s perception shifts, so does the balance in the constant battle for survival. The mindless Freaks, once considered a threat only due to their sheer numbers, show signs of cunning and strategy… but the elders refuse to heed any warnings. Despite imminent disaster, the enclave puts their faith in strictures and sacrifice instead. No matter how she tries, Deuce cannot stem the dark tide that carries her far from the only world she’s ever known.

The first several chapters had me thinking this was simply a knock-off of the Divergent series. The enclave reminded me much of Divergent headquarters. However, as I continued reading I found the book’s unique plot-line. This is the first in a series. (And this is where I begin to realize the depth of my YA dystopian addiction, as I start to count up how many series I am currently involved in….)

17. Every Day by David Levithan – 4 starsevery day

There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere. It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

Thought I should try to read a YA novel that didn’t involve the destruction of society, a crazy government, or total anarchy, and picked this book up as the premise sounded interesting. While I was not satisfied with the ending, the fresh premise kept me turning the pages.

delirium18. Delirium by Lauren Oliver – 3 stars

They say that the cure for Love will make me happy and safe forever. And I’ve always believed them. Until now. Now everything has changed. Now, I’d rather be infected with love for the tiniest sliver of a second than live a hundred years smothered by a lie.
Lena looks forward to receiving the government-mandated cure that prevents the delirium of love and leads to a safe, predictable, and happy life, until ninety-five days before her eighteenth birthday and her treatment, when she falls in love. 

I loved the premise of this book, but may or may not have thrown it across the room when I was done. I found myself skimming over some of the lengthy sections of prose, craving more dialogue and “action.”

19. The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult – 4 starsstory

Sage Singer befriends an old man who’s particularly beloved in her community. Josef Weber is everyone’s favorite retired teacher and Little League coach. They strike up a friendship at the bakery where Sage works. One day he asks Sage for a favor: to kill him. Shocked, Sage refuses…and then he confesses his darkest secret – he deserves to die, because he was a Nazi SS guard. Complicating the matter? Sage’s grandmother is a Holocaust survivor. What do you do when evil lives next door? Can someone who’s committed a truly heinous act ever atone for it with subsequent good behavior? Should you offer forgiveness to someone if you aren’t the party who was wronged? And most of all – if Sage even considers his request – is it murder, or justice?

I loved this book. I found it haunting, intriguing, and powerful. An overwhelming sense of sadness and loss pervaded my mood as I read this book, as the recount of the Holocaust and the stories of the concentration camps were deeply moving and horrific. I don’t care that her books are formulaic and at times predictable…I find myself always waiting for the inevitable jaw drop that comes from reading a Picoult book, and found a few in this passionate and powerful story.

wedding20. Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella – 3 stars

Lottie just knows that her boyfriend is going to propose during lunch at one of London’s fanciest restaurants. But when his big question involves a trip abroad, not a trip down the aisle, she’s completely crushed. So when Ben, an old flame, calls her out of the blue and reminds Lottie of their pact to get married if they were both still single at thirty, she jumps at the chance. No formal dates—just a quick march to the altar and a honeymoon on Ikonos, the sun-drenched Greek island where they first met years ago.
  Their family and friends are horrified. Fliss, Lottie’s older sister, knows that Lottie can be impulsive—but surely this is her worst decision yet. And Ben’s colleague Lorcan fears that this hasty marriage will ruin his friend’s career. To keep Lottie and Ben from making a terrible mistake, Fliss concocts an elaborate scheme to sabotage their wedding night. As she and Lorcan jet off to Ikonos in pursuit, Lottie and Ben are in for a honeymoon to remember, for better . . . or worse.

Let me just go on record as saying I loathe “chick-lit.” I’ve read a few Kinsella novels that I didn’t hate, and grabbed this off the “Lucky Day” shelf at the library. It read just like a cutesy and predictable Katherine Heigl movie….somewhat of a train wreck, but you can’t help yourself from watching/reading.

21.Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver – 5 starspandemonium

I’m pushing aside the memory of my nightmare, pushing aside thoughts of Alex, pushing aside thoughts of Hana and my old school, push, push,push, like Raven taught me to do.The old life is dead.But the old Lena is dead too.I buried her.I left her beyond a fence,behind a wall of smoke and flame.

Instead of throwing this book across the room like I did with the first in the series, I realized my eyes were about to bug out of my head as my jaw hit the floor. This book far surpassed the first in my opinion, jam-packed with action. I cannot wait to see what happens next. (And, as an added bonus, I am so unsure of what I want Lena to do and what choice I want her to make!)

dualed22. Dualed by Elsie Chapman – 3 stars

The city of Kersh is a safe haven, but the price of safety is high. Everyone has a genetic Alternate—a twin raised by another family—and citizens must prove their worth by eliminating their Alts before their twentieth birthday. Survival means advanced schooling, a good job, marriage—life.
Fifteen-year-old West Grayer has trained as a fighter, preparing for the day when her assignment arrives and she will have one month to hunt down and kill her Alt. But then a tragic misstep shakes West’s confidence. Stricken with grief and guilt, she’s no longer certain that she’s the best version of herself, the version worthy of a future. If she is to have any chance of winning, she must stop running not only from her Alt, but also from love . . . though both have the power to destroy her.

I found this book to be highly unsettling, yet compelling. The concept is disturbing, heart-breaking, and terrifying. It’s very hard to “root” for anyone in this book on premise alone, and in part that the characters aren’t likable or terribly protagonistic  despite their situation.

23. The Selection by Kiera Cass – 5 starsselection

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon. But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks. Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

I LOVED this book! I loved it so much that the SECOND I finished reading it, I packed all of my kids into the van and drove straight to the library to pick up the second book! Think “The Bachelor” meets crazy new world order.

elite24. The Elite by Kiera Cass – 5 stars

Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea. America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide. Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending.

I read this in one sitting…devouring it. What a crazy roller coaster ride of a book. One minute you’re craving a certain outcome and in the next chapter, your mind changes, until it changes again. I am in AGONY as I wait for the third book to be released!

25. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – 4 starsgone

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. 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. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

Hands-down the most messed up book I’ve EVER read….and I couldn’t stop reading. Would have given it 5 stars had it not been laden with swearing and vulgarity. Flynn knows how to write and there is no question as to why this has topped the best-seller charts. As my friend put it, it’s highly disturbing, yet compelling.

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