The Murderer’s Daughters by Randy Susan Meyers


The Murderer’s Daughters by Randy Susan Meyers
(Kindle Edition)
Lulu and Merry’s childhood was never ideal, but on the day before Lulu’s tenth birthday their father drives them into a nightmare. After the girl’s self-obsessed mother throws him out, their troubles turn deadly. Lulu’s mother warned her to never let him in, but when he shows up, he’s impossible to ignore. Lulu who obeys her father’s instructions to open the door, then listens in horror as her parents struggle. She runs for help and discovers upon her return that he’s murdered her mother, stabbed her sister, and tried to kill himself. For thirty years, the sisters try to make sense of what happened.

This is a sensitive story about grief, anger and forgiveness. The chapters switch back and forth between first person narratives by each sister, showing you each characters viewpoint on what is going on around them. Lulu is an overachiever and becomes a doctor, she pretends her father is dead and never tells her own children the truth about their grandparents. Merry stays in touch with her imprisoned father, chooses a career working with abusers. This book is not for everyone, but it is a very good read particularly for those who have gone through difficult family times.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen


Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
(Kindle Edition)
As a young man, Jacob Jankowski was tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. It was the early part of the great Depression, and for Jacob, now ninety, the circus world he remembers was both his salvation and a living hell. A veterinary student just shy of a degree, he was put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It was there that he met Marlena, the beautiful equestrian star married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. And he met Rosie, an untrainable elephant who was the great gray hope for this third-rate traveling show. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and, ultimately, it was their only hope for survival.

If someone hadn't recommended Water for Elephants to me I probably wouldn't have read it, I was hesitant at first (I’m not a fan of the circus)… I loved this book, another one I couldn’t put down.  I read it while exercising, while eating, while folding laundry (thank goodness for larger font size on my Kindle) and while I should have been practicing piano!  In the prologue we discover a secret which Jacob has kept for seventy years, then the story begins alternating between 1931 and the modern day with an elderly Jacob (ninety or ninety-three… he can’t remember).  Water for Elephants is brilliantly written, the characters are well developed and easy to love (or hate as the case may be).  I thought it was a delightful story and absolutely loved the ending!

Faking It & Ordinary World by Elisa Lorello


Faking It by Elisa Lorello
(Kindle Edition)
What happens when a writing professor and a male escort become friends? Thirty-four-year old professor Andi Cutrone has broken up with her fiancé in Massachusetts, moved back to her native New York, and wants to be a better lover. So after meeting Devin, a handsome, charming escort, she proposes an unusual arrangement: lessons about writing in exchange for lessons about sex. When Devin accepts Andi’s proposal, he draws up a contract in which the two are forbidden to see each other socially. There’s just one problem: Andi also wants Devin. Faking It is a witty, sometimes hilarious, sometimes heart-wrenching story about relationships, writing, and getting real.

I would have never come upon this book if it wasn't for Amazon recommending it to me. I still probably wouldn't have bought it if it wasn't for the reviews people left at Amazon & at GoodReads.  I decided to give this book a try and I couldn’t go wrong with the Kindle price of $.99!  I was pleasantly surprised, I finished it in one day and yes I didn't want it to end.  It’s a romantic read that doesn't go into the sexual details; it focuses mainly on the characters (Andi & Devin) and their growth.  Andi (the main character) was so easy to relate to and extremely likable. She reminds me of what almost every girl/woman goes through, the self-consciousness.  I immediately bought the sequel (Ordinary World also $.99) and couldn’t wait to start reading.

Ordinary World by Elisa Lorello
(Kindle Edition)
Six years after leaving New York, Andi has everything she wants: a tenured professorship at Northampton University in Massachusetts, a published collection of essays, good friends, and a blissful relationship with her husband. But what happens when tragedy strikes and the world as she knows it changes in an instant?

I really enjoyed Ordinary World, but I have mixed feelings about it.  I have to admit that I liked Andi (the main character) better in Faking It.  In this book Andi and Sam are celebrating their five year anniversary.  That night, Sam is killed in a car accident by a college student driving drunk; Andi can’t cope with the loss of Sam.  While I understood Andi's grief, as the story progressed I got irritated with her, her continual whining got very annoying.  For a short time I no longer cared what happened to her, but I kept hoping that she would come to her senses about her relationship with Devin/David.  I would recommend both books, but be aware Ordinary World it’s not a lighthearted read.  I’m looking forward to reading more from Elisa Lorello.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
(Kindle Edition)
Ten people, each with something to hide and something to fear, are invited to a lonely mansion on Soldier/Indian Island by a host who, surprisingly, fails to appear. On the island they are cut off from everything but each other and the inescapable shadows of their own past lives. One by one, the guests share the darkest secrets of their wicked pasts. And one by one, they die-

This is the first book I’ve read by Agatha Christie, and it was incredible.  This is a classic story of murder and suspense which kept me continually guessing who the murder was.  It is only at the very end (literally, in the last few pages), that the whole sinister plot is unraveled.

A Bend in the Road by Nicholas Sparks

A Bend in the Road by Nicholas Sparks
(Kindle Edition)
Miles Ryan's life seemed to end the day his wife was killed in a hit-and-run accident two years ago. Missy had been his first love, and Miles fervently believes she will be his last. As a deputy in the North Carolina town of New Bern, Miles Ryan not only grieves for Missy, but also longs to bring the unknown driver to justice. Then Miles meets Sarah Andrews. The second grade teacher of his son, Jonah, Sarah had left Baltimore after a difficult divorce to start over in the gentler surroundings of New Bern. Perhaps it’s her own emotional wounds that make her sensitive to the hurt she first sees in Jonah's eyes, and then his father's. Tentatively, Sarah and Miles reach out to each other. Soon they are both laughing for the first time in years, and falling in love. Neither will be able to guess how closely linked they are to a shocking secret -- one that will force them to question everything they ever believed in and make a heartbreaking choice that will change their lives forever.

This is a wonderful love story full of unexpected twists, and suspense, but it is predictable.  Just when Miles thought he was ready to move on with Sarah, a chain of events are set into place that could forever change the life he wanted with Sarah.  It makes you think about how much you would be willing to forgive once you know the whole truth.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald


The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
(Kindle Edition)
It's also a love story, of sorts, the narrative of Gatsby's quixotic passion for Daisy Buchanan. The pair meets five years before the novel begins, when Daisy is a legendary young Louisville beauty and Gatsby an impoverished officer. They fall in love, but while Gatsby serves overseas, Daisy marries the brutal, bullying, but extremely rich Tom Buchanan. After the war, Gatsby devotes himself blindly to the pursuit of wealth by whatever means--and to the pursuit of Daisy, which amounts to the same thing. "Her voice is full of money," Gatsby says admiringly, in one of the novel's more famous descriptions. His millions made, Gatsby buys a mansion across Long Island Sound from Daisy's patrician East Egg address, throws lavish parties, and waits for her to appear. When she does, events unfold with all the tragic inevitability of a Greek drama, with detached, cynical neighbor Nick Carraway acting as chorus throughout.

I found it impossible to enjoy this book, I struggled to get through it and found it quite boring.  I confess that I did have extremely high expectations especially since The Great Gatsby is considered one of the greatest American novels, a classic masterpiece… I think it’s overrated.   I really didn't care about anyone in this book; the characters weren’t memorable as in other classics.  I just don’t get… Why is Gatsby so great?!

Dear John by Nicholas Sparks



Dear John by Nicholas Sparks
(Kindle Edition)
An angry rebel, John dropped out of school and enlisted in the Army, not knowing what else to do with his life--until he meets the girl of his dreams, Savannah. Their mutual attraction quickly grows into the kind of love that leaves Savannah waiting for John to finish his tour of duty, and John wanting to settle down with the woman who captured his heart. But 9/11 changes everything. John feels it is his duty to re-enlist. And sadly, the long separation finds Savannah falling in love with someone else. "Dear John," the letter read...and with those two words, a heart was broken and two lives were changed forever. Returning home, John must come to grips with the fact that Savannah, now married, is still his true love--and face the hardest decision of his life.

Dear John is a great example in what true love means, sacrificing what you need in order to make sure your loved one is happy. I enjoyed the book, it was a quick, easy read with a heartwarming story and I’m glad that the ending wasn't a typical fairy tale ending (like in the movie).  Read Dear John before seeing the movie… the book is way better!  

Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
(Kindle Edition)
Rural Wisconsin, 1909. In the bitter cold, Ralph Truitt, a successful businessman, stands alone on a train platform waiting for the woman who answered his newspaper advertisement for "a reliable wife." But when Catherine Land steps off the train from Chicago, she's not the "simple, honest woman" that Ralph is expecting. She is complex and devious, haunted by a terrible past and motivated by greed. Her plan is simple: she will win this man's devotion, and then, ever so slowly, she will poison him and leave Wisconsin a wealthy widow. What she has not counted on, though, is that Truitt — a passionate man with his own dark secrets —has plans of his own for his new wife. Isolated on a remote estate and imprisoned by relentless snow, the story of Ralph and Catherine unfolds in unimaginable ways.

Another book that I couldn’t put down, I found myself adding extra time to my workout while reading it on the recumbent bike.  The Reliable Wife is full of intrigue, subplots, twists and turns.  I absolutely loved it and its two main characters Ralph and Catherine.  Both characters are flawed and damaged yet imminently lovable and relevant.  I would recommend it to anyone who likes to figure out what's going on and loves suspense right up to the end.