I forgot to post here yesterday, but if you follow me on Facebook, you’ll never miss a recommendation. Still, here goes …

Day 11

I’ve rediscovered Lisa Jewell in recent years. She used to write very different kinds of books, mostly chick lit and romance and now she writes darker-side-of-human-nature novels with intricate plotting and very thorough character-building. This one I loved because she had so many characters to keep up with and did a great job keeping them distinct. I recommend ‘The Girls in the Garden’.

Here’s my review on Goodreads:

The Girls in the GardenThe Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this one! Domestic suspense at its best — family secrets, lies, murky pasts colliding with a messy present. This one had it all. The arrival of a new family into a closed community upends the delicate balance of relationships among adults and children alike, and exposes the dysfunctional underpinnings of what looks like an idyllic situation.

I loved the voice of Pip, the astute but still appropriately childlike narrator of some of the action. At times, more perceptive than the adults, and at times limited by her inexperience and lack of information, Pip still came across as one of the more reliable narrators in the story. Adele, the stay-at-home earth mother of a tribe of home-schooled girls was another highly sympathetic character, who acted as the moral and ethical center of the community and for the reader. And then there was Clare, the woman who is still reeling from the upending of her old life when she moves into Virginia Park with her daughters Pip and Grace.

This author did a remarkable job of making each one of a large cast of characters unique and distinguishable from the others, so that no one felt like a prop. For those of you who like things ‘resolved’ at the end of a book, be prepared for the mystery to be solved, but not REsolved. But I enjoy moral ambiguity in fiction, because I think it absolutely mirrors the moral ambiguity of real life, so this was a perfect read for me. Recommended.

View all my reviews

Day 12

Oh, how I love this book. ‘Out of my Mind’ by Sharon M. Draper was required reading for my then 9-year-old and we read it together. I loved it soooo much, I also got it as an audiobook and it was wonderfully narrated. It’s about a highly-intelligent 11-year-old named Melody who has cerebral palsy and so can’t speak her thoughts, and can barely move on her own but has a rich inner life. And through her loving mother’s tenacity, she finds a way to make her voice heard and her presence felt among her peers. It had a discernible impact on how my kid views and relates to the disabled. I HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend it for your kids, tweens and teens, and for adults. If you have a little one (like under 10), I think they would LOVE listening to it.

Happy Reading!


Today I’m recommending ‘We Are Water’ by Wally Lamb. I think he’s most known for his debut novel, ‘She’s Come Undone’ which was a great coming-into-adulthood story. This one is about a complicated family. Mom, an artist, comes out to her kids and announces she’s getting married, forcing them all to deal with painful truths about their family. One of the remarkable things about this book other than how insightful it is, is that much like his other books (other than his first) he manages to write upwards of 700 pages and make every word seem absolutely essential. His other book that I love, love, love, ‘I Know This Much is True’ is now showing on HBO as a limited series. If you watch, prepare for the waterworks.

Happy Reading!


Here’s my review of ‘We Are Water’ from back when I first read it:

We Are Water by Wally Lamb

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Best of 2016 for me. It took me a while to get through this one, but not because it wasn’t good. On the contrary, I read slowly because it was AMAZING. This is the first book I’ve read in a long while where every single character–main and supporting–felt layered and complicated. I empathized with them all, every single one of them, even while I liked some and disliked others. As a reader, this type of fiction is my sweet spot. I also love that Wally Lamb bucks convention and doesn’t feel compelled to confine his work to 350 pages to make it “marketable”. I love that he never strikes a false note in the interests of sounding “literary”. His writing is just true, and clear and completely authentic. I can see, however, how this book and books of this type are not for everyone. It jumps back and forth between voices, and in time and it takes a certain level of commitment to trust the author, and believe that the different narrative strands will come together. Well, I believed, and am so glad I did. From here on out, I will follow wherever Wally Lamb takes me. Looking forward to reading his latest release.

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And in case you’re curious about the HBO series for ‘I Know This Much is True’ here’s the trailer with the amazing Mark Ruffalo.