Scary Story Spotlight: I Remember You: A Ghost Story by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir

My blogging friend Cathy over at 746 Books wrote this post about I Remember You: A Ghost Story by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir. First published in 2012, it is the Winner of the Icelandic Crime Fiction Award.

Here’s the book blurb:

“In an isolated village in the Icelandic Westfjords, three friends set to work renovating a rundown house. But soon, they realize they are not as alone as they thought. Something wants them to leave, and it’s making its presence felt. Meanwhile, in a town across the fjord, a young doctor investigating the suicide of an elderly woman discovers that she was obsessed with his vanished son. When the two stories collide, the terrifying truth is uncovered.

In the vein of Stephen King and John Ajvide Lindqvist, this horrifying thriller, partly based on a true story, is the scariest novel yet from Yrsa Sigurdardóttir, who has taken the international crime fiction world by storm.”

Here’s what Cathy says,

In I Remember You, (Sigurdardóttir) takes inspiration from the heritage of Icelandic literature, funneling ancient ghost stories into an exploration of modern Icelandic society, exploring social care, financial upheaval and modern relationships, all tied up in a satisfying detective yarn.

Do you know about Yrsa Sigurdardóttir? In addition to writing international bestsellers, she is director of one of Iceland’s largest engineering firms. Several of her books are currently in film production.

What scary books or stories are your favorites? I checked out a copy of I Remember You from the library and I hope to read it before Halloween.

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Book on my radar: The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough

I got into a discussion at the library last week about great family sagas. The woman I was talking with said that her book group unanimously voted The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough as the best of the best. The book was first published in 1977 and has sold more than 33 million copies worldwide. The TV miniseries starring Richard Chamberlain, Rachel Ward and Christopher Plummer followed in 1983. The show won many awards including six primetime Emmys.

Here’s a summary provided by the publisher:

“Colleen McCullough’s sweeping saga of dreams, struggles, dark passions, and forbidden love in the Australian Outback has enthralled readers the world over.

This is the chronicle of three generations of Clearys, ranchers carving lives from a beautiful, hard land while contending with the bitterness, frailty, and secrets that penetrate their family. Most of all, it is the story of only daughter Meggie and her lifelong relationship with the haunted priest Father Ralph de Bricassart—an intense joining of two hearts and souls that dangerously oversteps sacred boundaries of ethics and dogma.

A poignant love story, a powerful epic of struggle and sacrifice, a celebration of individuality and spirit, Colleen McCullough’s acclaimed masterwork remains a monumental literary achievement—a landmark novel to be cherished and read again and again.”

I remember when this all came out, but I never read it. I think I would like to. At 692 pages, it’s a big book, but we all shouldn’t be afraid of long books, right? I think I’d like to buy my own paperback copy so I could crack the spine as I read.

Have you read The Thorn Birds? Have you watched the miniseries? Would you commit to a book this long? Leave a comment and let me know!

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Summer reading ideas – what’s in your bag?

I’m looking forward to reading some new books this summer, even though I already have plenty of books on my shelf. Here are three that caught my eye. All descriptions are from Amazon.

The Plot by Jane Hanff Korelitz (May 11)

Jacob Finch Bonner was once a promising young novelist with a respectably published first book. Today, he’s teaching in a third-rate MFA program and struggling to maintain what’s left of his self-respect; he hasn’t written—let alone published—anything decent in years. When Evan Parker, his most arrogant student, announces he doesn’t need Jake’s help because the plot of his book in progress is a sure thing, Jake is prepared to dismiss the boast as typical amateur narcissism. But then . . . he hears the plot.

Jake returns to the downward trajectory of his own career and braces himself for the supernova publication of Evan Parker’s first novel: but it never comes. When he discovers that his former student has died, presumably without ever completing his book, Jake does what any self-respecting writer would do with a story like that—a story that absolutely needs to be told.

In a few short years, all of Evan Parker’s predictions have come true, but Jake is the author enjoying the wave. He is wealthy, famous, praised and read all over the world. But at the height of his glorious new life, an e-mail arrives, the first salvo in a terrifying, anonymous campaign: You are a thief, it says.

As Jake struggles to understand his antagonist and hide the truth from his readers and his publishers, he begins to learn more about his late student, and what he discovers both amazes and terrifies him. Who was Evan Parker, and how did he get the idea for his “sure thing” of a novel? What is the real story behind the plot, and who stole it from whom?


The Maidens by Alex Michaelides (June 15)

Edward Fosca is a murderer. Of this Mariana is certain. But Fosca is untouchable. A handsome and charismatic Greek tragedy professor at Cambridge University, Fosca is adored by staff and students alike―particularly by the members of a secret society of female students known as The Maidens.

Mariana Andros is a brilliant but troubled group therapist who becomes fixated on The Maidens when one member, a friend of Mariana’s niece Zoe, is found murdered in Cambridge.

Mariana, who was once herself a student at the university, quickly suspects that behind the idyllic beauty of the spires and turrets, and beneath the ancient traditions, lies something sinister. And she becomes convinced that, despite his alibi, Edward Fosca is guilty of the murder. But why would the professor target one of his students? And why does he keep returning to the rites of Persephone, the maiden, and her journey to the underworld?

When another body is found, Mariana’s obsession with proving Fosca’s guilt spirals out of control, threatening to destroy her credibility as well as her closest relationships. But Mariana is determined to stop this killer, even if it costs her everything―including her own life.


Fox and I: An Uncommon Friendship by Catherine Raven (July 6)

When Catherine Raven finished her PhD in biology, she built herself a tiny cottage on an isolated plot of land in Montana. She was as emotionally isolated as she was physically, but she viewed the house as a way station, a temporary rest stop where she could gather her nerves and fill out applications for what she hoped would be a real job that would help her fit into society. In the meantime, she taught remotely and led field classes in nearby Yellowstone National Park. Then one day she realized that a mangy-looking fox was showing up on her property every afternoon at 4:15 p.m. She had never had a regular visitor before. How do you even talk to a fox? She brought out her camping chair, sat as close to him as she dared, and began reading to him from The Little Prince. Her scientific training had taught her not to anthropomorphize animals, yet as she grew to know him, his personality revealed itself and they became friends. From the fox, she learned the single most important thing about loneliness: we are never alone when we are connected to the natural world. Friends, however, cannot save each other from the uncontained forces of nature. Fox and I is a poignant and remarkable tale of friendship, growth, and coping with inevitable loss―and of how that loss can be transformed into meaning. It is both a timely tale of solitude and belonging as well as a timeless story of one woman whose immersion in the natural world will change the way we view our surroundings―each tree, weed, flower, stone, or fox.


I found these recommendations at “Summer Is Coming. Bring a Book.” from the New York Times. What’s on your summer reading list?

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Book on my radar – Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland

I have this book on my Kindle and I’ve been trying to get to it. My work friend recommended it and now I’m just going to have to make it happen! It’s the Winner of the 2020 National Jewish Book Award for Debut Fiction and a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice.

Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

“Over the course of one summer that begins with a shocking tragedy, three generations of the Adler family grapple with heartbreak, romance, and the weight of family secrets.

Every summer, Esther and Joseph Adler rent their house out to vacationers escaping to “America’s Playground” and move into the small apartment above their bakery. This is the apartment where they raised their two daughters, Fannie and Florence. Now Florence has returned from college, determined to spend the summer training to swim the English Channel, and Fannie, pregnant again after recently losing a baby, is on bedrest for the duration of her pregnancy. After Joseph insists they take in a mysterious young woman whom he recently helped emigrate from Nazi Germany, the apartment is bursting at the seams.

When tragedy strikes, Esther makes the shocking decision to hide the truth—at least until Fannie’s baby is born—and pulls the family into an elaborate web of secret-keeping and lies, bringing long-buried tensions to the surface that reveal how quickly the act of protecting those we love can turn into betrayal after tragedy.”

In case you don’t know, “America’s Playground” refers to Atlantic City. (I wouldn’t have known that unless my work friend had told me.)

I like historical fiction and stories about secrets. It seems to have an original twist to it too. What do you think? Would you read it?

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Happy New Year!

Hi Everyone and Happy New Year!

I’ve had fun seeing what all the book bloggers read in 2019 and now it’s time to begin again! I’m not doing any reading challenges this year, but I always like to have a short-term plan for what I’m going to read.

So here’s what’s in store for January:

I just started A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. It’s on loan from the library on my Kindle and due soon, so that’s first. OMG I am tearing through it. I’m already sure I will give it a good review!


Next up is The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. I’m reading it for my mystery book club at work. We decided to return to one of the first of the genre and this one goes way back. The Moonstone was first published in 1868!


I got two books for Christmas and I can’t wait to start them. I’ve been talking about reading a Howard Hughes biography and this one is Howard Hughes – the Untold Story by Petter Harry Brown and Pat H. Broeske.


I also got You by Caroline Kepnes. If you don’t know about this book, it’s also a series on Netflix and Season 2 just started. I’m going to read this first, watch Season 1, then move on to either the sequel called Hidden Bodies or watch Season 2 first. Can’t decide!


I hope you have some fun things and some good books lined up for 2020. What’s the first book you will read?

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New fiction in 2020 – on my list!

Image: Pixabay

I don’t like to overcommit to reading lists, because then where’s the fun of picking up a book on a whim? But I like to see what’s ahead by authors of books I’ve liked and pick a couple new ones. Here are two I’m excited to read:


The Glass Hotel – Emily St. John Mandel

Due out March 2020

From Mandel’s website:

“My fifth novel is a ghost story that’s also about white collar crime and container shipping.”

Knopf’s jacket copy:

“Vincent is a bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star glass and cedar palace on the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island. New York financier Jonathan Alkaitis owns the hotel. When he passes Vincent his card with a tip, it’s the beginning of their life together. That same day, Vincent’s half-brother, Paul, scrawls a note on the windowed wall of the hotel: “Why don’t you swallow broken glass.” Leon Prevant, a shipping executive for a company called Neptune-Avramidis, sees the note from the hotel bar and is shaken to his core. Thirteen years later Vincent mysteriously disappears from the deck of a Neptune-Avramidis ship.

Weaving together the lives of these characters, The Glass Hotel moves between the ship, the towers of Manhattan, and the wilderness of remote British Columbia, painting a breathtaking picture of greed and guilt, fantasy and delusion, art and the ghosts of our pasts.”

I have only read Station Eleven, but I enjoyed it very much. You can check out my review here.


All Adults Here – Emma Straub

Due out May 2020

From Straub’s website

A warm, funny, and keenly perceptive novel about the life cycle of one family–as the kids become parents, grandchildren become teenagers, and a matriarch confronts the legacy of her mistakes. From the New York Times bestselling author of Modern Lovers and The Vacationers.

When Astrid Strick witnesses a school bus accident in the center of town, it jostles loose a repressed memory from her young parenting days decades earlier. Suddenly, Astrid realizes she was not quite the parent she thought she’d been to her three, now-grown children. But to what consequence?

Astrid’s youngest son is drifting and unfocused, making parenting mistakes of his own. Her daughter is pregnant yet struggling to give up her own adolescence. And her eldest seems to measure his adult life according to standards no one else shares. But who gets to decide, so many years later, which long-ago lapses were the ones that mattered? Who decides which apologies really count? It might be that only Astrid’s thirteen-year-old granddaughter and her new friend really understand the courage it takes to tell the truth to the people you love the most.

In All Adults Here, Emma Straub’s unique alchemy of wisdom, humor, and insight come together in a deeply satisfying story about adult siblings, aging parents, high school boyfriends, middle school mean girls, the lifelong effects of birth order, and all the other things that follow us into adulthood, whether we like them to or not.

This is Straub’s third book. I had a lot of fun reading The Vacationers (read my review here), and I’m looking forward to this one!


Have you read any books by these authors? Do you line up books for the coming year? What reads are in your future?

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My NetGalley hauls

Hey readers! You probably already know about NetGalley because I was a late joiner. Not really a trendsetter here! But I signed up about a year ago and it has been great. Since I already write book reviews, having an early look at new titles is a lot of fun, with not too much of an extra commitment. I wasn’t sure how well I would do with turnaround, though, so I limited the number of books I requested and held off on new requests until I read the ones NetGalley approved.

I finally finished the last book from my first haul so this week I went on a NetGalley binge and loaded my digital shelf with some new ones!


Here’s what I picked:

      

   

The Last Cruise by Kate Christensen (pub. 7/10/18)
No Place Like Home by Rebecca Muddiman (pub. 8/6/2019)
Be Still the Water by Karen Emilson (pub. 7/28/2016)
The Space Within the Silence by Bre Woods (pub. 7/24/2018)
Tap: A Love Story by Tracy Ewens (pub. 7/10/2018)

Just like everyone else, I have a huge TBR pile, so I’ll be mixing these in with books already in the queue.


And here are the NetGalley books I’ve already read and reviewed:

      

      

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian – suspense – 4 bookmarks
The Surrogate by Louise Jensen – suspense – 3 bookmarks
Bunny Mellon by Meryl Gordon – biography – 4 bookmarks
Last Stop in Brooklyn by Lawrence H. Levy – mystery – 4 bookmarks
Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage – suspense – 3.5 bookmarks
The Bone Curse by Carrie Rubin – science thriller – 4 bookmarks
David Bowie: A Life by Dylan Jones – biography – 4 bookmarks


And if you’re wondering about my bookmark system, here’s a quick run-down:

5 bookmarks – best of the best
4 bookmarks – excellent
3 bookmarks – very good
2 bookmarks – okay
1 bookmark- didn’t enjoy it


For more information about NetGalley, visit their website at netgalley.com. Are you already on NetGalley? How many books on your shelf?

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Book on my radar – Less by Andrew Sean Greer

Sometimes you miss hearing about big things. I often pay attention to who wins the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, but this year, I forgot to check.

Last week, I saw who won: Andrew Sean Greer for Less. I read The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Greer a few years ago and thought it was great, so I know I’m going to have to fit this one in!

Here’s Amazon’s description:

Who says you can’t run away from your problems? You are a failed novelist about to turn fifty. A wedding invitation arrives in the mail: your boyfriend of the past nine years is engaged to someone else. You can’t say yes–it would be too awkward–and you can’t say no–it would look like defeat. On your desk are a series of invitations to half-baked literary events around the world.

QUESTION: How do you arrange to skip town?

ANSWER: You accept them all.

What would possibly go wrong? Arthur Less will almost fall in love in Paris, almost fall to his death in Berlin, barely escape to a Moroccan ski chalet from a Saharan sandstorm, accidentally book himself as the (only) writer-in-residence at a Christian Retreat Center in Southern India, and encounter, on a desert island in the Arabian Sea, the last person on Earth he wants to face. Somewhere in there: he will turn fifty. Through it all, there is his first love. And there is his last.

Because, despite all these mishaps, missteps, misunderstandings and mistakes, Less is, above all, a love story.

A scintillating satire of the American abroad, a rumination on time and the human heart, a bittersweet romance of chances lost, by an author The New York Times has hailed as “inspired, lyrical,” “elegiac,” “ingenious,” as well as “too sappy by half,” Less shows a writer at the peak of his talents raising the curtain on our shared human comedy.

Will this one be going on your TBR list?

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Five books in my near future – what about you?

May has been busy and I’m looking forward to more reading time in June. I usually store the books I’ve already read on my bookshelf and put the new ones in a pile next to the kitchen phone. Here’s what’s on top of my pile!



The Swans of Fifth Avenue
by Melanie Benjamin – My mom just finished this one and passed it along to me. Truman Capote was such an interesting person. I want to read this historical novel about him and the movers in high society New York, one of my favorite subjects!


A Long Way Gone – Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ismael Beah – My college son read this at school and when he brought it home this month, it immediately caught my eye. It’s the story of a boy fighter in the Sierra Leone and how he was rescued from this violent life.


The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly – This one’s up next for my Whodunits book club at my library job. Also a popular movie starring Matthew McConaughey. I’m sure I’ll check out the movie after I read the book!



When Breath Becomes Air
by Paul Kalanithi – This neurosurgeon author confronts his devastating diagnosis with stage IV lung cancer and asks what makes life worth living in the face of death.



My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry
by Swedish author Fredrik Backman – I’m reading this one for my local book club. Backman also wrote the very popular A Man Called Ove and Britt-Marie Was Here. I don’t usually jump on the popular book bandwagon but if I like this one I’ll read A Man Called Ove.


These books will keep me busy! Do you have a bookshelf system? What books are on top of your pile?

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Three books in my near future

Photo: theguardian.com

I’m looking forward to reading these three very soon:


Winter of the Gods by Jordanna Max Brodsky

Selene DiSilva returns as the modern-day Artemis in
Brodsky’s second crime mystery in Manhattan.


Click here to read all about Brodsky’s debut novel, The Immortals.


At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen

Historical fiction – a post-World War II love story set in Scotland. My book club enjoyed Water for Elephants and we’re looking forward to this one too!


In the Woods by Tana French

Our library Whodunits group will be discussing this Dublin crime story in April.  In the Woods is Book 1 of 5 in the Dublin Murder Squad Series.


That’s what is on top of my pile.
What books are in  your future?

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