Welcome to The Sunday Salon! It's the day of the week we kick back and relax, and virtually talk about the books we've found this week that we just HAVE to read! And I've found a few this week that made their way into my ever growing library and a few that are going right on that wish list… But how do we choose what we're going to read next? Are you ever influenced by what you just read?
The book club I started over 10 years ago is still going strong. We've added a member or two, lost a member, but the original 5 are still there (although one is in Florida, but she joins us via Skype). Originally I picked out the selections, but quickly decided everyone should get a chance to pick a book they want the group to read. This took the pressure off me in finding the "perfect" book every time and also opened up my reading to choices I would not have made. This month's book club selection was The Devil in The White City by Erik Larson. I had heard long ago that this was a good read, but just never got around to reading it. Although, when I first opened up the book I could not get into it. OMG, it was so boring it was a struggle to get through the first page. But then I have to remember that I just read an incredible suspense thriller. Was that the problem? Was the Erik Larson book so different in style that I just couldn't adjust? I think so, because after struggling with the book, I suddenly couldn't stop reading it and after finishing it this week I can enthusiastically say I really enjoyed it! So, how do we choose what we're going to read next? And do we need a breather before we start another book? I know quite a few people who pick up a book immediately after putting down a book. I'm not that way unless it's part of a trilogy or continuation. I need to enjoy "the moment" after finishing a book, especially a great book. And maybe taking that breather will help when changing "styles" of books. The Devil in The White City was certainly not a thriller, but how exciting it was to be in 19th century Chicago building the Worlds Fair and meeting all sorts of people like the guy who designed Central Park, or The Flat Iron Building, or made the first Ferris Wheel or even made Cracker Jack, not to mention meeting one of the world's most infamous serial killers that settled in Chicago while the fair was there. So, after taking a "breather", I've found some books that are vying for the next reading position…
Circling the Sun by Paula McLain… Transporting readers to colonial Kenya in the 1920s, Circling the Sun brings to life a fearless and captivating woman—Beryl Markham, a record-setting aviator caught up in a passionate love triangle with safari hunter Denys Finch Hatton and Karen Blixen, who as Isak Dinesen wrote the classic memoir Out of Africa. Brought to Kenya from England as a child and then abandoned by her mother, Beryl is raised by both her father and the native Kipsigis tribe who share his estate. Her unconventional upbringing transforms Beryl into a bold young woman with a fierce love of all things wild and an inherent understanding of nature’s delicate balance. But even the wild child must grow up, and when everything Beryl knows and trusts dissolves, she is catapulted into a string of disastrous relationships. Beryl forges her own path as a horse trainer, and her uncommon style attracts the eye of the Happy Valley set, a decadent, bohemian community of European expats who also live and love by their own set of rules. But it’s the ruggedly charismatic Denys Finch Hatton who ultimately helps Beryl navigate the uncharted territory of her own heart. The intensity of their love reveals Beryl’s truest self and her fate: to fly
Maybe this is because I just read a historical fiction book that this book appealed to me, but this has gotten so much great press that I have to read it. I also enjoy books with strong female protagonists and Beryl Markham seems to fit the bill with that too. But when I opened the first pages I felt like I was gently swept up in the arms of the book and placed in far off Kenya. The book telling its' story in such a manner that I was totally relaxed and listening intently. Some say this is going to be the "it" book in 2015, but we have a long way to go before declaring that.
Night Sisters by Jennifer McMahon… Once the thriving attraction of rural Vermont, the Tower Motel now stands in disrepair, alive only in the memories of Amy, Piper, and Piper's kid sister, Margot. The three played there as girls until the day that their games uncovered something dark and twisted in the motel's past, something that ruined their friendship forever. Now adult, Piper and Margot have tried to forget what they found that fateful summer, but their lives are upended when Piper receives a panicked midnight call from Margot, with news of a horrific crime for which Amy stands accused. Suddenly, Margot and Piper are forced to relive the time that they found the suitcase that once belonged to Silvie Slater, the aunt that Amy claimed had run away to Hollywood to live out her dream of becoming Hitchcock's next blonde bombshell leading lady. As Margot and Piper investigate, a cleverly woven plot unfolds—revealing the story of Sylvie and Rose, two other sisters who lived at the motel during its 1950s heyday. Each believed the other to be something truly monstrous, but only one carries the secret that would haunt the generations to come.
I loved Jennifer McMahon's book Dismantled! I also have read Island of Lost Girls for book club. She's a really good writer and always surprises me with her plot twists. I haven't picked her up in a while, but when I saw this book coming out, I could not resist. Sounds like it's going to be a fun read and has that signature plot twist that will make us go, "wow".
The President's Shadow by Brad Metzler… To most, it looks like Beecher White has an ordinary job. A young staffer with the National Archives in Washington, D.C.,, he’s responsible for safekeeping the government’s most important documents…and, sometimes, its most closely-held secrets. But there are a powerful few who know his other role. Beecher is a member of the Culper Ring, a 200-year old secret society founded by George Washington and charged with protecting the Presidency. Now, the current occupant of the White House needs the Culper Ring’s help. The alarming discovery of the buried arm has the President’s team in a rightful panic. Who buried the arm? How did they get past White House security? And most important: what’s the message hidden in the arm’s closed fist? Indeed, the puzzle inside has a clear intended recipient, and it isn’t the President. It’s Beecher, himself.
Beecher’s investigation will take him back to one of our country’s greatest secrets and point him towards the long, carefully-hidden truth about the most shocking history of all: family history.
I'm usually not the political thriller type, but I did like Angels and Demons by Dan Brown (no, I never did read The DaVinci Code, although I did see the movie), and this is suppose to be similar in type of book… secret societies, long buried secrets and a race to find the truth before something happens to ruin the country. After reading Greg Isles and the first two books in the Natchez Burning trilogy, and really loving the writing, I thought I'd try Brad Metzler. This just came out and piqued my interest. I'm stepping out of the box for this one, but think it will be worth it!
So there you have it, three very different styles. Historical fiction, mystery and political thriller. I think I'm going to take a brief breather and pick up Night Sisters first. I'll let you know how it goes. What have you found this week to read?! And do you need a breather after a good read? I'd love to hear all about it!
More great books coming next week…
Happy Reading… Suzanne