1. The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope, Rhonda Riley (audio): BOTNS recommendation. I should have liked it...I guess? It's billed as an unusual love story, and it definitely falls in the fantasy genre. I adored Evelyn at the beginning...and I adored the rural farm setting. Addie/Adam was an interesting idea. All of this is stuff I should have enjoyed...but I just didn't. It felt like a bit too much, and I found myself rolling my eyes rather than invested.
2. A Constellation of Vital Phenomenon, Anthony Marra: Usually BOTNS does 2 major book recommendations at the end of each episode...but this book is so magnificent that they did just the one to draw greater attention to it. With such an endorsement, I purchased it immediately...and I'm so very glad I did. Amazing, simply amazing....deeply sad, and yet with a tale of hope and redemption. This is my must-read recommendation of the month.
3. The House of Gentle Men, Kathy Hepinstall: This book was a recommendation by a good friend, and I am glad I read it. It's a curious book, based around a central idea that is truly unique. My one big complaint is that the ending came very abruptly. It felt as if the author had just decided one day she was done and that is that. I understand that in life we don't always get answers....but this was a bit on the extreme.
4. The Absent Woman, Marlene Lee: Lee is a local writer who was brought to my attention by the same friend. Unfortunately, this book suffered from the circumstance that it happened to be what I was reading during the lead up to Tanith's surgery...and thus I was really not so inclined to relate to the protagonist in any way, shape or form as she's left her husband and kids to find herself. This is the sort of book that relates a slice of real life...in which there is little in the way of what we normally think of as plot, but much in the examination of human story in all it's messy, unfinished glory.
5. Ella Enchanted, Gail Carson Levine: Post surgery I raided my eldest child's bookshelf for reading material as we all recovered from the stress and anxiety. I have to admit, I'm a sucker for a Cinderella retelling, and Levine's book is a classic. I just can't believe I hadn't read it before!
6. A Tale Dark & Grimm, Adam Gidwitz: I talked Gillian into buying this book after Gidwitz came to my attention through a now forgotten media source. This is a super fun book that takes several fairy tales back to their bloody, bloody true roots. There are lots of winks and nudges to the reader, and some gems of true wisdom sprinkled throughout. Need to track down the sequel!
7. Orange is the New Black, Piper Kerman (audio): Kerman is getting a lot of press right now because her memoir has been turned into a Netflix series that a lot of people are talking about. Kerman - who is a well-educated, blue-eyed, blond, upper middle class woman - spent a year in federal prison over a decade old drug offense, and her memoir of that time is both fascinating and eye opening.
8. Emma Smith: An Elect Lady, Susan Easton Black: I am currently taking some classes through my church, and this book was recommended by my teacher as a good entry point to learn more about church history. It was a quick and easy read (maybe a couple of hours) and was totally engrossing. Told through a question and answer style, Black focuses on historical fact...and not emotional/spiritual speculation. It's a tough story to put together because Emma did not leave behind much in the way of personal writing.
9. The Lacuna, Barbara Kingsolver: I bought this book from the iBooks sale page quite some time ago, basing my purchase solely on the reputation of the author. I don't even think I really knew what it was about. Then Frida and Diego came to the Nelson Atkins Museum for the summer. I went to see the exhibit a couple of weeks ago, and was surprised to see copies of this book in the gift shop at the end of the day alongside other books related to the exhibit. Silly me. The book is all about a writer who becomes a confidant and friend of Frida. It feels a little bit Forrest Gumpish....a person who just happens to be in the right place at the right time...repeatedly. However, it is beautifully written and is the sort of book that sent me running repeatedly to do some research about the paintings, people and events in the story. I won't say that I enjoyed it. As with Frida's art, the book was a bit too sad and troubling to have been a 'fun' read. It was lovely, though.