Adult Book Club Suggestions 2016

I do sometimes miss leading adult book clubs, but I keep up to date on all the professional literature and read a ton myself, so here are some suggestions to assist you in keeping your book club captivated, enlightened and amused. 

 Adult Book Club Suggestions 2016

The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth

Jan 2016 ISBN: 9781250051905

Anna Forster, in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease at only thirty-eight years old, knows that her family is doing what they believe to be best when they take her to Rosalind House, an assisted living facility. She also knows there's just one other resident her age, Luke. What she does not expect is the love that blossoms between her and Luke even as she resists her new life at Rosalind House. As her disease steals more and more of her memory, Anna fights to hold on to what she knows, including her relationship with Luke.

When Eve Bennett is suddenly thrust into the role of single mother she finds herself putting her culinary training to use at Rosalind house. When she meets Anna and Luke she is moved by the bond the pair has forged. But when a tragic incident leads Anna's and Luke's families to separate them, Eve finds herself questioning what she is willing to risk to help them.


Sisi: Empress on Her Ownby by Allison Pataki

March 2016 ISBN: 9780812989052

Married to Emperor Franz Joseph, Elisabeth—fondly known as Sisi—captures the hearts of her people as their “fairy queen,” but beneath that dazzling persona lives a far more complex figure. In mid-nineteenth-century Vienna, the halls of the Hofburg Palace buzz not only with imperial waltzes and champagne but with temptations, rivals, and cutthroat intrigue. Feeling stifled by strict protocols and a turbulent marriage, Sisi grows restless. A free-spirited wanderer, she finds solace at her estate outside Budapest. There she rides her beloved horses and enjoys visits from the Hungarian statesman Count Andrássy, the man with whom she’s unwittingly fallen in love. But tragic news brings Sisi out of her fragile seclusion, forcing her to return to her capital and a world of gossip, envy, and sorrow where a dangerous fate lurks in the shadows.
Through love affairs and loss, dedication and defiance, Sisi struggles against conflicting desires: to keep her family together, or to flee amid the collapse of her suffocating marriage and the gathering tumult of the First World War. In an age of crumbling monarchies, Sisi fights to assert her right to the throne beside her husband, to win the love of her people and the world, and to save an empire. But in the end, can she save herself?


All Things Cease to Appear: A Novelby Elizabeth Brundage

March 2016 ISBN: 9781101875599

Late one winter afternoon in upstate New York, George Clare comes home to find his wife killed and their three-year-old daughter alone—for how many hours?—in her room across the hall. He had recently, begrudgingly, taken a position at a nearby private college (far too expensive for local kids to attend) teaching art history, and moved his family into a tight-knit, impoverished town that has lately been discovered by wealthy outsiders in search of a rural idyll. 
George is of course the immediate suspect—the question of his guilt echoing in a story shot through with secrets both personal and professional. While his parents rescue him from suspicion, a persistent cop is stymied at every turn in proving Clare a heartless murderer. And three teenage brothers (orphaned by tragic circumstances) find themselves entangled in this mystery, not least because the Clares had moved into their childhood home, a once-thriving dairy farm. The pall of death is ongoing, and relentless; behind one crime there are others, and more than twenty years will pass before a hard kind of justice is finally served. 


The Summer Before the War: A Novelby Helen Simonson

March 2016 ISBN: 9780812993103

East Sussex, 1914. It is the end of England’s brief Edwardian summer, and everyone agrees that the weather has never been so beautiful. Hugh Grange, down from his medical studies, is visiting his Aunt Agatha, who lives with her husband in the small, idyllic coastal town of Rye. Agatha’s husband works in the Foreign Office, and she is certain he will ensure that the recent saber rattling over the Balkans won’t come to anything. And Agatha has more immediate concerns; she has just risked her carefully built reputation by pushing for the appointment of a woman to replace the Latin master.
When Beatrice Nash arrives with one trunk and several large crates of books, it is clear she is significantly more freethinking—and attractive—than anyone believes a Latin teacher should be. For her part, mourning the death of her beloved father, who has left her penniless, Beatrice simply wants to be left alone to pursue her teaching and writing.
But just as Beatrice comes alive to the beauty of the Sussex landscape and the colorful characters who populate Rye, the perfect summer is about to end. For despite Agatha’s reassurances, the unimaginable is coming. Soon the limits of progress, and the old ways, will be tested as this small Sussex town and its inhabitants go to war.

The Forgetting Time: A Novel by Sharon Guskin

Feb 2016 ISBN: 9781250076427

What would you do if your four-year-old son claimed he had lived another life and that he wants to go back to it? That he wants his other mother?

Single mom Janie is trying to figure out what is going on with her beloved son Noah. Noah has never been ordinary. He loves to make up stories, and he is constantly surprising her with random trivia someone his age has no right knowing. She always chalked it up to the fact that Noah was precocious―mature beyond his years. But Noah’s eccentricities are starting to become worrisome. One afternoon, Noah’s preschool teacher calls Janie: Noah has been talking about shooting guns and being held under water until he can’t breathe. Suddenly, Janie can’t pretend anymore. The school orders him to get a psychiatric evaluation. And life as she knows it stops for herself and her darling boy.

For Jerome Anderson, life as he knows it has already stopped. Diagnosed with aphasia, his first thought as he approaches the end of his life is, I’m not finished yet. Once an academic star, a graduate of Yale and Harvard, a professor of psychology, he threw everything away to pursue an obsession: the stories of children who remembered past lives. Anderson became the laughing stock of his peers, but he never stopped believing that there was something beyond what anyone could see or comprehend. He spent his life searching for a case that would finally prove it. And with Noah, he thinks he may have found it.

Soon, Noah, Janie, and Anderson will find themselves knocking on the door of a mother whose son has been missing for eight yearsWhen that door opens, all of their questions will be answered.

Opening Belle by Maureen Sherry

Feb 2016 ISBN: 9781501110627

A whip-smart and funny novel told by a former Wall Street insider who reveals what it’s like for a working woman to balance love, ambition, and family in a world of glamorous excess, outrageous risk-taking, and jaw-dropping sexism.
In 2008, Isabelle—a self-made, thirty-something Wall Street star—appears to have it all: an Upper West Side apartment, three healthy children, a handsome husband, and a high-powered job. But her reality is something else. Her trading desk work environment resembles a 1980s frat party, her husband feels employment is beneath him, and the bulk of childcare and homecare still falls in Belle’s already full lap.
Enter Henry, the former college fiancé she never quite got over; now a hedge fund mogul. He becomes her largest client, and Belle gets to see the life she might have had with him. While Henry campaigns to win Belle back, the sexually harassed women in her office take action to improve their working conditions, and recruit a wary Belle into a secret “glass ceiling club” whose goal is to mellow the cowboy banking culture and get equal pay for their work. All along, Belle can sense the financial markets heading toward their soon-to-be historic crash and that something has to give—and when it does, everything is going to change: her marriage, her career, her world, and her need to keep her colleagues’ hands to themselves


The Travelers: A Novelby Chris Pavone

Jan 2016 ISBN: 9780385348485

It’s 3:00am. Do you know where your husband is? 
Meet Will Rhodes: travel writer, recently married, barely solvent, his idealism rapidly giving way to disillusionment and the worry that he’s living the wrong life. Then one night, on assignment for the award-winning Travelers magazine in the wine region of Argentina, a beautiful woman makes him an offer he can’t refuse. Soon Will’s bad choices—and dark secrets—take him across Europe, from a chateau in Bordeaux to a midnight raid on a Paris mansion, from a dive bar in Dublin to a mega-yacht in the Mediterranean and an isolated cabin perched on the rugged cliffs of Iceland. As he’s drawn further into a tangled web of international intrigue, it becomes clear that nothing about Will Rhodes was ever ordinary, that the network of deception ensnaring him is part of an immense and deadly conspiracy with terrifying global implications—and that the people closest to him may pose the greatest threat of all.
It’s 3:00am. Your husband has just become a spy.

 

Modern Lovers by Emma Straub

May 2016 ISBN: 9781594634673

Friends and former college bandmates Elizabeth and Andrew and Zoe have watched one another marry, buy real estate, and start businesses and families, all while trying to hold on to the identities of their youth. But nothing ages them like having to suddenly pass the torch (of sexuality, independence, and the ineffable alchemy of cool) to their own offspring.
Back in the band's heyday, Elizabeth put on a snarl over her Midwestern smile, Andrew let his unwashed hair grow past his chin, and Zoe was the lesbian all the straight women wanted to sleep with. Now nearing fifty, they all live within shouting distance in the same neighborhood deep in gentrified Brooklyn, and the trappings of the adult world seem to have arrived with ease. But the summer that their children reach maturity (and start sleeping together), the fabric of the adult lives suddenly begins to unravel, and the secrets and revelations that are finally let loose—about themselves, and about the famous fourth band member who soared and fell without them—can never be reclaimed.

Not Working: A Novel by Lisa Owens

May 2016 ISBN: 9780812988819 

Claire Flannery has just quit her office job, hoping to take some time to discover her real passion. The problem is, she’s not exactly sure how to go about finding it. Without the distractions of a regular routine, Claire confronts the best and worst parts of herself: the generous, attentive part that visits her grandmother for tea and cooks special meals for her boyfriend, Luke, and the part that she feels will never measure up and makes regrettable comments after too many glasses of wine. What emerges is a candid, moving portrait of a clear-eyed heroine trying to forge her own way, a wholly relatable character whose imperfections and uncanny observations highlight what makes us all different and yet inescapably linked.

13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad

Feb 2016 ISBN: 9780143128489

Growing up in the suburban hell of Misery Saga (a.k.a. Mississauga), Lizzie has never liked the way she looks—even though her best friend Mel says she’s the pretty one. She starts dating guys online, but she’s afraid to send pictures, even when her skinny friend China does her makeup: she knows no one would want her if they could really see her. So she starts to lose. With punishing drive, she counts almonds consumed, miles logged, pounds dropped. She fights her way into coveted dresses. She grows up and gets thin, navigating double-edged validation from her mother, her friends, her husband, her reflection in the mirror. But no matter how much she loses, will she ever see herself as anything other than a fat girl? 

The Girls by Emma Cline

June 2016 ISBN: 9780812998603

Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, and their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

Jan 2016 ISBN: 9780765379948

Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn't expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during middle school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one's peers and families.

But now they're both adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. Laurence is an engineering genius who's working with a group that aims to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention. Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the world's magically gifted, and works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world's every-growing ailments. Little do they realize that something bigger than either of them, something begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together--to either save the world, or plunge it into a new dark ages.

 

Have you read any of these books? Which one sounds the most appealing to you?

Spring Break 2016

Spring Break is gone. Sigh. It was a nice break, but over far too quickly. 

I took for granted being a school librarian and being a stay-at-home-mom. I had 10 great years with my trio, being on their schedule, being able to spend all of Spring Break at the pool, the beach, going to the movies, sleeping in late. Who am I kidding, my kids have only recently begun sleeping in. But the rest of it is true.

Now that I am a working out of the house professional mom my days of spending all of Spring Break with the kids are over.

But I still managed to take two days off during the break, plus Easter so we were able to have a little bit of fun together.

So what did we do?

On Thursday we went to Busch Gardens.

It was a very nice day. The park opened at 9:30am and we were right there at opening time!

We immediately did our normal routine: Cheetah Hunt, etc....but Cheetah Hunt was CLOSED!! SAY WHAT?? Yup. Closed. So we went on Montu first. Along the way we stopped at the display for Cobra's Curse. The #TampaTrio is excited and ready to ride this new thrill ride!

 

We then just walked through the park hitting all of our favorites. We even managed a ride on the train! We haven't done the train in ages and it was nice to get off our feet for a little bit.

 

And for the first time ever we went and saw the kangaroos. It was neat to see them so close. And yes, Miss Ella is even wearing her Busch Gardens summer camp t-shirt. Wink

The park was open until 8pm, but by 5:30pm we had done all the rides (thanks Fast Pass!!) and the trio were done!

We made it home by 6:30, ate dinner and went to bed. We had plans to go to the beach on Friday.

But Mother Nature tried to put a kink in our plans. We woke up on Friday to very overcast skies. The weather radar was very nasty looking but it looked like e might get a few good hours at the beach so we decided to go for it.

Off to Fred Howard Park we went. We went through some storms but decided that we should just go for it and perhaps it wouldn't be raining 25 miles away.

Well, it wasn't raining when we got there, but it started raining about an hour later. The duo wanted to keep building their sand castles through the rain and I said it was okay as long as there was no thunder/lightning. They made it about 10 more minutes after this photo was taken, but then a huge CRACK and a bright FLASH had us running to the car. We stopped by Twistee Treat on our way home (it's tradition) and then spent the rest of the day reading and watching TV.

I had to work on Saturday Frown but Easter Sunday saw us hitting up the Wellfield for a 4ish mile hike through the trails with daddy and Matthew.

 

It was a nice walk. The trio started off with their normal moaning and groaning, but after about 45 minutes they got into their groove and ended up having a nice time. At home I taught the kids how to play rummy and then we went and saw Batman v Superman. It was a good movie. I liked the introduction of the Extended Marvel Universe.

So while I may be missing out on an entire week of Spring Break fun I am doing the best that I can with the time that I have. And we're all doing okay.

What did you do during Spring Break 2016?

Would you know what to do in a pet emergency?

A few weeks ago my husband was working in his home office (also known as our living room) which overlooks our street. We live on a pretty quiet street. We're on a cul-de-sac with 11 houses total. 10 kids live on our street, and 5 dogs. A few of those dogs are well behaved and their owners allow them to go off-leash.

You all know we have our Matthew. Matthew is our 4 year old yellow Labrador. We NEVER let Matthew off-leash. NEVER. Sure he may dash out of an open door, but he immediately heads to our back lake, and I can easily get him back by holding up his ball.

So, back to my original story. James was in his office when he witnessed something that no pet owner ever wants to witness. Heck, I doubt any human being would ever want to witness it.

Our neighbor's dog was hit by a UPS truck.

Yes, she was off-leash. The UPS truck scares her, and normally she doesn't leave her grandma's side, but this day was different. In a blink of an eye, the sweet dog (y'all she truly is the sweetest dog ever) decided to run in front of the UPS truck. James saw the whole thing happen.

Poor puppy went down and James ran out the door. It was not a pretty site. Both her back legs were severely broken, and one of the legs was a compound fracture. Her grandma was in tears and James scooped the pup up, placed her on some blankets in the bed of his truck, grandma climbed in the bed with the pup, and she told James which vet to drive to.

They get to that vet office and they refuse to help. Grandma instructs James to another vet. That vet office also refuses to help. They finally end up at Tampa Bay Veterinary Emergency and at first that clinic refused to help too. James had to get pretty vocal, throw down the gauntlet and demanded that they at least get her stable. They agreed. This is where James left as the dog's owner had shown up. So on to the rest of the story....they stabilized her and then transferred her to another pet hospital. She ended up at Blue Pearl Emergency Vet on Busch Blvd. She ended up being in the hospital for nearly a week, and had to have multiple surgeries on her legs. Her one leg was actually scraped way down to the muscle. It was bad, folks. Real bad. Edited to add this comment made by my husband: Jen failed to mention the arterial bleeding. That was why we were in such a rush. There was about a gallon of blood in the bed of my pickup that I had to spray off with a hose once I got home. Blood was everywhere. 

After this accident happened it really got me thinking about my own dog. Would I know where to go if something like this happened to Matthew? It just so happened that I had a vet appointment for Matthew the next day for his rabies vaccine. So I asked them. They told me rather than driving around from vet office to vet office, if I needed emergency vet assistance I should immediately head to Blue Pearl.  I had never heard of Blue Pearl before this horrible accident but as long as I have a pet, they will be on speed-dial in my phone.

The sweet dog is home now and is expected to recover. We don't yet know if she'll have full use of her legs, but what I do know is that if my husband hadn't been home the ending to this story would have been very different. The pup's grandma told me that no other neighbor's were home that day and the dog weighed too much for her to pick up. And pup was bleeding so heavily she would have likely bled out before her owner could have made it to the house to take her to the vet.

A tragic story that taught us a lesson, and thankfully has a happy ending.

Do you know what to do in a pet emergency?