The way the holidays lined up this year made for a wonderful Christmas break. We got Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, and New Year's Day off from work, so with just 3 vacation days + weekends, I get 11 days off in a row!
This is made even more exciting by the fact that I get to spend 8 of them at home with Kate. I sure hope we don't get too sick of each other...
We've definitely be busy with holiday celebrations, preparing for/throwing a fancy cocktail party, and snuggling the pups by the fire while it snowed outside. However, I've also been doing my fair share of reading. I've got 3 books queued up on my iPad (all from the library) and a back-up list on hand just in case I become a speed reader or get bored with my choices. Here's what I'm looking at:
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - I forget how I stumbled upon this book, but perhaps it was browsing reviews on Goodreads. It doesn't sound like my typical choice of book, but I'm loving it so far. The story is actually told by Death and is set in World War II Germany. Maybe not a feel-good book, but I love the writing style. It follows a young girl who is placed in foster care due to some unfortunate circumstances. She is a strong character with an endearing relationship with her foster father. So far it is sweet, sad, and gripping. I can't put it down for long.
From Amazon: "It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .
Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.
This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul."
Defending Jacob by William Landay - I've been reading quite a few books set in courtrooms lately. I like the suspense and drama. But based on some recent selections (Nineteen Minutes, for example), I keep getting recommended books about high school killings. Although I'm really intrigued by this book, I had to give it a rest after the recent tragedy in Connecticut. Perhaps I'll pick it up again after I finish The Book Thief.
From Amazon: "Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than twenty years. He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom, and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: His fourteen-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student.
Every parental instinct Andy has rallies to protect his boy. Jacob insists that he is innocent, and Andy believes him. Andy must. He’s his father. But as damning facts and shocking revelations surface, as a marriage threatens to crumble and the trial intensifies, as the crisis reveals how little a father knows about his son, Andy will face a trial of his own—between loyalty and justice, between truth and allegation, between a past he’s tried to bury and a future he cannot conceive.
Award-winning author William Landay has written the consummate novel of an embattled family in crisis—a suspenseful, character-driven mystery that is also a spellbinding tale of guilt, betrayal, and the terrifying speed at which our lives can spin out of control."
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh - I read about this book on Eat, Live, Run. Honestly, I'm not usually interested in the books Jenna recommends...but only because we have very different tastes! This one, however, intrigued me. Maybe I have a soft spot for foster children. Or maybe it's the draw of learning something about flowers - which I know NOTHING about. Either way, I'm 4th in line on the waiting list for it, so I better get my other books finished so I'm ready for it when it's my turn!
From Amazon: "The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating mistrust and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings. Now eighteen and emancipated from the system with nowhere to go, Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But an unexpected encounter with a mysterious stranger has her questioning what’s been missing in her life. And when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness."
Lastly, not yet available as an eBook from my library, but definitely on my list to find is:
Netherland by Joseph O'Neill - Kate recommended this book when we were looking for suggestions for my (newly retired!!) father. I was so intrigued by the review that I had to jot it down on my own list. 9/11 stories aren't something I'm usually interested in (I have my own memories from that day), but these words from the New York Times reviewer definitely drew me in "...here’s what “Netherland” surely is: the wittiest, angriest, most exacting and most desolate work of fiction we’ve yet had about life in New York and London after the World Trade Center fell. On a micro level, it’s about a couple and their young son living in Lower Manhattan when the planes hit, and about the event’s rippling emotional aftermath in their lives. On a macro level, it’s about nearly everything: family, politics, identity. I devoured it in three thirsty gulps, gulps that satisfied a craving I didn’t know I had."
From Amazon: "In a New York City made phantasmagorical by the events of 9/11, and left alone after his English wife and son return to London, Hans van den Broek stumbles upon the vibrant New York subculture of cricket, where he revisits his lost childhood and, thanks to a friendship with a charismatic and charming Trinidadian named Chuck Ramkissoon, begins to reconnect with his life and his adopted country. As the two men share their vastly different experiences of contemporary immigrant life in America, an unforgettable portrait emerges of an "other" New York populated by immigrants and strivers of every race and nationality."
What are you reading? I'd love some recommendations!