The story: Ellen, a professional hypnotherapist, is in a promising new relationship with Patrick, a widower with a little boy—and, she soon discovers, a stalker. His ex-girlfriend, Saskia, just can't resist watching Patrick's every move. She follows him to dinner, the movies, and even on vacation. She can't seem to stop herself, even though she knows she's acting crazy. Told both through Ellen's and Saskia's points of view, this is another can't-put-down novel from Moriarty. (Where does she come up with these plot lines, anyway?) Ellen is a wonderful character: honest and lovable, you can't help but want everything to turn out okay for her. Saskia is complex and scary, yet also so pitiful you can't help but sympathize with her.
Me: I love Liane Moriarty. Her books feel like guilty pleasures for me, but I don't know why I feel guilty. She's an incredible write with amazing insights, and the plot lines, as I've said, are phenomenal.
Shakespeare's Landlord by Charlaine Harris.
The story: Lily Bard is a young woman who is trying to erase her tragic past by living quietly and without forming relationships. But when she sees something suspiciously like a body being carted off to a nearby park, she can't help but look—and when she does, she discovers her landlord's corpse. As Lily tries to remain uninvolved in the murder, she becomes more and more involved with both the mystery and with the people around her.
Me: This is our book club pick for this month. I was extremely skeptical. I rarely enjoy pulp mysteries, especially ones that come in a series. But this one? I loved it. Harris is an excellent writer. She doesn't trip to be flippant, cute, or funny, which I think is what often irritates me about light mysteries. Lily is the opposite of a bumbling amateur detective. She's smart, strong, and complex. I found myself picking up the book and reading in the middle of the day, which I don't normally do because, well, real life. In fact, I loved this book so much that I've already checked out the second one in the series, Shakespeare's Champion, so that I can find out what happens to Lily next. Highly recommended! This is a very quick read at less than 200 pages.
Shakespeare's Champion by Charlaine Harris.
The story: This is #2 in series featuring Lily Bard in the tiny town of Shakespeare, Arkansas. I had to keep reading after #1 to find out what happens next in Lily's life, and I wasn't disappointed. You wonder how many murders could happen in a year in a tiny southern town, but somehow it all seems perfectly logical in a mystery book. This one deals largely with racial tensions, hate crimes, and small town life.
Me: This was another good little mystery. I didn't enjoy it as much as the first one. Lily wasn't as endearing and well developed in this one, but it was still a good read. I think my obsession with Lily Bard has probably worn its course after these two little books. I loved them, really; but when the third one was available only in a format I don't like reading, I decided I just didn't care enough to pursue it. My book club friends assure me that #3 and #4 are excellent and that I should read them, so I may come back to them eventually.
Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez.
Lizzie, Reenie, Sweet and Mawu are four slave women from different plantations who meet one summer at a summer resort in the free state of Ohio. They are there because they are their masters' favorite mistresses ('wenches"), available all summer to their masters' whims and desires. They suffer constant abuse, humiliation, and mistreatment by their masters, yet these men are the fathers of their children. Each woman has her own struggles: jealous wives, fear for their children's futures, constant threat of violence, and, of course, being forced into slavery. It is in Ohio that they first hear of abolition and begin contemplate the possibility of freedom. They carefully observe free blacks at the resort and imagine a life in which their children are free. For three summers, the women meet and share their hopes and fears, and the possibility of freedom is always at the forefront of their minds. Should they try to run for freedom, or is the risk too great?
Me: This novel was enlightening to me, mostly because of the complicated relationships between slave women and their masters. I never considered that a slave woman might actually have feelings for her owner other than hatred. While three of the women are repulsed by their masters, Lizzie actually seems to love her master, Drayle, although she questions how she could possibly love a man who owns her. I don't think one could possibly read a novel about slavery that isn't tragic and heartwrenching, and this is no exception.
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak.
Multiple re-read for my literature class. I adore this book, and I always love doing my repurposed book pages with my class.
Here's my original review of the novel. I think it gets better every time I read it!