January Bookshelf 2019
No Exit, by Taylor Adams
After reading this you might think twice before turning in to a rest stop ever again. No Exit is a heart-stopping, adrenaline rush of a thriller that builds momentum right to the end. Five strangers are stranded at a Colorado rest stop at night during a snowstorm. A young college student, Darby, discovers a little girl being held captive in the back of a van by another motorist. What unfolds is Darby’s desperate attempt to formulate a plan to rescue the child, all while trying to determine the captor’s identity in a race against time and the elements.
The Only Woman in the Room, by Marie Benedict
The author of The Other Einstein and Carnegie’s Maid has created yet another fantastic historical novel of a strong woman. Hedy Lamarr was a Hollywood screen idol known for her beauty, but there was more to her than just her looks. Desperate to escape the rise of Nazi control, she fled to America and became a film star intent on helping the American cause in the war. Her efforts resulted in a groundbreaking invention that revolutionized modern communication. Book clubs will love this book.
The Current, by Tim Johnston
If you read literary suspense, this is your book. If you are looking for a book you can’t put down, this is your book. If you need a story that will follow you for days, this is your book. New wounds open old wounds in this superb tale of unresolved loss and crime. Two 19-year-old college girls are frantically driving away from a terrifying encounter on a dark, icy Iowa road when their car plunges into a river. One young woman is found downriver, drowned, while the other is rescued at the scene. Determined to find answers, the surviving young woman soon realizes that she’s connected to an earlier unsolved case by more than just the river, and the deeper she dives into her own investigation, the closer she comes to dangerous truths, and to the violence that simmers just below the surface of her hometown. Johnston instills grief and grace, twists and escalating tension, and the tenacity of those left behind in this deftly written novel.
Half of What You Hear, by Kristyn Kusek Lewis
After losing her White House job under a cloud of scandal, Bess Warner arrives with her husband, Cole, and their kids to take over Cole’s family innkeeping business in Greyhill, Virginia, his hometown. But Bess quickly discovers that fitting in is easier said than done in this refuge of old money, old mansions, and old-fashioned ideas about who belongs and who doesn’t. When the opportunity to write an article for the Washington Post’s lifestyle supplement falls into Bess’ lap, she thinks it might be her opportunity to find her footing, even if the subject of the piece is Greyhill’s most notorious resident, Susannah “Cricket” Lane. As Bess discovers unsettling truths about Susannah, Greyhill, and the secrets of prior generations, she begins to learn how difficult it is to start over in a town that runs on talk, where sometimes, the best way to find yourself is to uncover what everyone around you is hiding.
The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction, by Meghan Cox Gurdon
Grounded in the latest neuroscience and behavioral research, and drawing widely from literature, The Enchanted Hour explains the dazzling cognitive and social-emotional benefits that await children, whatever their class, nationality or family background. It’s not just about bedtime stories for little kids: Reading aloud consoles, uplifts and invigorates at every age, deepening the intellectual lives and emotional well-being of teenagers and adults, too. Gurdon argues that this ancient practice is a fast-working antidote to the fractured attention spans, atomized families and unfulfilling ephemera of the tech era, helping to replenish what our devices are leaching away. Bringing together the latest scientific research, practical tips and reading recommendations, The Enchanted Hour will both charm and galvanize, inspiring readers to share this life-altering tradition with the people they love most.
Elephant in the Room, by Tommy Tomlinson
Nearing the age of 50 and weighing in at 460 pounds, Tomlinson, a columnist for the Charlotte Observer for 23 years, explores what it’s like to live as a fat man after deciding to change his life. Intimate, honest and searingly insightful, The Elephant in the Room is a chronicle for the millions of Americans taking the first steps toward health, and trying to understand how, as a nation, we got to this point. From buying a Fitbit and setting an exercise goal to contemplating the Heart Attack Grill, America’s “capital of food porn,” and modifying his own diet, Tomlinson brings us along on an unforgettable journey of self-discovery that is a candid and sometimes brutal look at the everyday experience of being constantly aware of your size.
One Breath at a Time: A Skeptic’s Guide to Christian Meditation, by J. Dana Trent
This book answers the questions: How does meditation fit into Christianity, and how does it differ from prayer? In secular mainstream America, meditation has become as ubiquitous as yoga. (Americans spend an estimated $2.5 billion annually on yoga instruction.) Trent reframes meditation for those who doubt its validity as a Christian spiritual practice. Using Scripture, theology and examples from the early Church, the book challenges Christians’ prayer habits that leave little room for enough silence to experience and listen for God. It provides a practical, 40-day guide to beginning and sustaining a Christian meditation practice in an often chaotic world.
Lola Dutch: When I Grow Up, by Kenneth and Sarah Jane Wright
Always bursting with energy and grand ideas, Lola Dutch has an unexpected emergency. She does not know what she wants to be when she grows up. After consulting a book (of course!), Lola decides she is destined to command the stage or become an astronaut, or a gardener or possibly even an inventor. There are just so many options and this is a wonderful problem, because Lola is excited to learn about every one of her possibilities. (Ages 3-6.)
Chicken Talk, by Patricia MacLachlan
The term “Chicken Scratch” gets a whole new meaning in this delightful barnyard tale from award winning author/illustrator team Patricia MacLachlan and Jarrett J. Krosoczka. (Ages 3-6.)
Dog Man: Brawl of the Wild, by Dav Pilkey
Dog Man is absolutely the hottest thing in books and he’s back for his sixth adventure. The crime biting canine, part dog-part man, will have young readers howling with laughter as he gets out of a “Ruff” situation and has to prove he is innocent of a crime for which he is sent to the dog pound! (Ages 8-10.)
Slayer, by Kiersten White
People are divided into two groups: the slayers, who hunt and kill demons, have amazing powers and are fierce in battle; and the watchers, who supervise and advise slayers. Nina and her twin sister, Artemis, are part of the watcher society. Both of their parents were watchers and they grew up around watchers. Nina is a medic, healing and helping, and not a full-fledged watcher. Artemis trains in combat and is competent and levelheaded. One day, Nina shows an amazing new skill and her world is turned upside down. She must make sense of her new powers and decide how to make choices on a path she has not chosen. (Age 14 and up.) — Review by Annabelle Black, age 15. PS
Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally.
2018 Book Club Top Reads
Before We Were Yours, by Lisa Wingate
A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
Educated, by Tara Westover
News of the World, by Paulette Giles
Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance
Small Great Things, by Jodi Picoult
The Girl Who Wrote in Silk, by Kelli Estes
The Last Castle, by Denise Kiernan
The Rent Collector, by Camron Wright
Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly
Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng
America’s First Daughter, by Stephanie Dray