I love the quote on the opening of this month’s set of book reviews. I have always picked up a book to get away from stress or problems or boredom. Nothing is better.
Now, I must confess I actually took the photo on the quote below! About two years ago my husband and I traveled to Maine and spent many hours driving from lighthouse to lighthouse. That photo looks like a postcard! It was just as beautiful when we were standing across the water from it. If you have never been to Maine- add it to your bucket list!
This month’s set of books are some of my favorites of the year. I listened to three of them and will highly recommend that you do the same. Here are some profound books for you to think about reading!
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The Institute by Stephen King
Oh my, Mr. King, you are amazing. Where on earth do these stories come from? And, please write more!
This latest thriller by Stephen King is a typical book from him. Heavy on character development, lots of details, conversation, and drama. The book opens with people boarding a plane and they are informed that someone important needs a seat. The airline asks for a volunteer to give up their seat- with compensation. Tim Jamieson decides to take the money and then he sets off, hitch-hiking, with no real plan for this turn his life has taken.
He ends up stopping in a tiny town and taking a job as a night watchman. Just when you think this book is about Tim… well, you know there has to be a twist. Let’s, meet the next major character.
It is Luke Ellis, an exceptionally intelligent 12-year-old that is about to embark on taking the SAT with the likelihood that he will then go to college. Unfortunately, he is kidnapped by a group that carries him away – to the Institute. Luke soon learns from other children in this place that adults perform tests on them and eventually they will be transferred to the Back Half. I will not divulge what takes place with the kids or the back half location.
So, the question is: Can these very smart children get together and plan an escape? Well, there is one more little twist. What do these children have in common? All of them either have telekinesis or the ability to communicate telepathically. They also have the ability to join their powers together. And the rest you will have to read for yourself!
FIVE STARS for this one! It does move slowly through some parts, but I love books with details. I was also rooting heartily for these kids to overcome the strange Institute. Read this one!
High Achiever by Tiffany Jenkins
Tiffany tells her story of addiction in a stream of consciousness style that is quite entertaining- if you listen to this book. I did, through Audible, and really enjoyed it. Ms. Jenkins begins the book with an arrest and her interview as she prepares to go to jail. She also hints many times that her story is quite shocking and has something to do with her boyfriend. This story is revealed through the rest of the book – in bits and pieces. The main story is her addiction, of course. She, like most addicts, would lie, steal, and say whatever she needed to say in order to get drugs. Jenkins does not mince words in describing the awful nature of this. During this initial interview, the officer tells her that she will be given a shot to help ease the detoxing that she will undergo. Jenkins writes:
I watched intently as she prepared her syringe and my stomach doubled over on itself at the sight. My palms began to perspire and suddenly I felt as if I might expode. My skin crawled and my legs were restless. It had only been about 20 hours since I’d last gotten high and I already felt like s***. This was going to f***ing suck.
Tiffany writes in a straightforward manner and doesn’t hesitate to tell us what she will do for the 15 second high she gets when shooting up pills. It is mesmerizing to read and you wonder how she survived.
Five stars for this one and I recommend listening to it! The book is read by Tiffany herself and it is spectacular. Do you use Audible? If not you can grab this book for free as part of joining.
The Only Plane in the Sky by Garrett M. Graff
Speaking of listening to a book – here is another I just finished. And it is a must-listen! It is available in a paper copy or Kindle version, but the story is told in the hundreds of voices of people that survived the attack on the USA in September 2001.
The story of the day is told in chronological order by the people that were part of it. There are firemen, policemen, eyewitnesses, survivors, and family of those that perished that tell about each part of the day.
I am like you in being able to remember where I was and how I found out all that happened. It is a moment we will likely always remember, very much like the assassination of JFK or the moon landing. I have watched movies and documentaries for many years- every year on September 11. I was very surprised at all the things I learned in listening to this book. This book is different. There is just something extraordinarily compelling about hearing the voices of so many people. Even though you know the story you will be mesmerized by the intensity and the human quality provided by these story-tellers.
Trust me, listen to this book! 5+ stars
Elevator Pitch by Linwood Barclay
This book was recommended by Stephen King so I thought I’d try it. It is definitely a sit-on-the-edge of your seat book. And you are likely to not want to get on an elevator after reading it.
The story begins when an elevator carrying four people begins to ascend in a Manhattan tower. The elevator skips the floors the people have pressed for and then begins a strange descent a few floors at a time. Then suddenly it plummets to the ground floor. At first, it seems like it might be a random accident, but the city of New York is a little panicked nonetheless. After all, the city of tall towers needs elevators.
The next day another elevator accident happens. It has a different scenario, but it also signals to the city leaders, especially the Mayor, that this is no accident. This might be terrorism. There are police detectives working the case and they, of course, investigate the elevator repair company that manages a large number of elevators in the city. The Mayor calls for all elevators to be shut down until the cause is determined. This sets off a great deal of grumbling from people that live near the tops of the highrises. There are plenty of suspects and I think you will be able to figure out the person responsible for it.
This was a nice change from the previous book which was quite emotional. I enjoyed it- but I will take the stairs whenever I can. 4 stars.
Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
This is one of the best books I have read in a very long time. It is another that I listened to and I would recommend that style of reading for this one. The narrator was excellent.
It is 1961 in New Bremen, Minnesota. The story involves the death of a child, the death of an adult, and a tragedy that occurs to the pastor’s family. The story is told by Frank who is looking back at this summer of 1961 when he was 13. The family includes Frank’s dad, a local minister, his mom, his younger brother, and his teenage sister. The sister is a gifted pianist that is tutored by a local man.
The boys love to roam outside and go places their parents have told them to stay away from. This includes the railroad tracks. When a young playmate named Bobby, is found dead on the tracks the parents warn the boys again to stay away from the tracks. Of course, they don’t and soon after Bobby’s death Frank and his brother happen upon a dead man. The boys take the story (or most of it) back to their dad and a friend of his, named Gus.
Are the two deaths related? What about the Indian (remember this is 1961 and this term was commonly used) that the boys saw near the dead body? And then tragedy strikes again. The family must endure an unspeakable event and the boys are thrust into the middle of it. The author writes beautifully and I really enjoyed the descriptions of the antics of these two boys. They were expert eavesdroppers and always knew everything that was going on – despite their young ages.
This is a don’t-miss book! I found it by searching the Audible website for the best books to listen to and I am so glad I did! 5+ stars!
I hope my fabulous book-finds this month have inspired you to try Audible books! Enjoy!
My rating system: 5 stars means perfection- the book was written well, held my attention, and I did not want it to end. 4 stars- the book was really good, but I had questions or concerns about parts of it – usually the way it ended stupidly. 3 stars- the book was okay, but I just didn’t like it much. 2 stars- I skimmed most of it. 1 star- I could not finish it.