at Books And a Beat
showcases the books you ‘found’
and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list…
whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever!
(they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).
I’m presenting here the books we shared
at our last block Book Club meeting
– it’s a potluck book club,
meaning each member shares about his/her latest good read.
Awesome for diversity in books, lively conversations,
and your TBR getting suddenly taller!
(synopsis from Goodreads)
1. Blue Heaven , by C.J. Box (2008)
presented by M.
A twelve-year-old girl and her younger brother go on the run in the woods of North Idaho, pursued by four men they have just watched commit murder—four men who know exactly who William and Annie are, and who know exactly where their desperate mother is waiting for news of her children’s fate. Retired cops from Los Angeles, the killers easily persuade the inexperienced sheriff to let them lead the search for the missing children.
William and Annie’s unexpected savior comes in the form of an old-school rancher teetering on the brink of foreclosure. But as one man against four who will stop at nothing to silence their witnesses, Jess Rawlins needs allies, and he knows that one word to the wrong person could seal the fate of the children or their mother. In a town where most of the ranches like his have turned into acres of ranchettes populated by strangers, finding someone to trust won’t be easy.
With true-to-life, unforgettable characters and a ticking-clock plot that spans just over forty-eight hours, C.J. Box has created a thriller that delves into issues close to the heart: the ruthless power of greed over broken ideals, the healing power of community where unlikely heroes find themselves at the crossroads of duty and courage, and the truth about what constitutes a family. In a setting whose awesome beauty is threatened by those who want a piece of it, Blue Heaven delivers twists and turns until its last breathtaking page.
Blue Heaven is the winner of the 2009 Edgar Award for Best Novel.
2. Back of Beyond (Cody Hoyt, #1),by C.J. Box (2011)
presented by J.
Edgar® Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author C.J. Box delivers a thriller about a troubled cop trying to save his son from a killer in Yellowstone.
Cody Hoyt, while a brilliant cop, is an alcoholic struggling with two months of sobriety when his mentor and AA sponsor Hank Winters is found burned to death in a remote mountain cabin. At first it looks like the suicide of a man who’s fallen off the wagon, but Cody knows Hank better than that. Sober for fourteen years, Hank took pride in his hard-won sobriety and never hesitated to drop whatever he was doing to talk Cody off a ledge. When Cody takes a closer look at the scene of his friend’s death, it becomes apparent that foul play is at hand. After years of bad behavior with his department, he’s in no position to be investigating a homicide, but this man was a friend and Cody’s determined to find his killer.
When clues found at the scene link the murderer to an outfitter leading tourists on a multi-day wilderness horseback trip into the remote corners of Yellowstone National Park–a pack trip that includes his son Justin–Cody is desperate to get on their trail and stop the killer before the group heads into the wild. Among the tourists is fourteen-year-old Gracie Sullivan, an awkward but intelligent loner who begins to suspect that someone in their party is dangerous.
In a fatal cat and mouse game, where it becomes apparent the murderer is somehow aware of Cody’s every move, Cody treks into the wilderness to stop a killer hell bent on ruining the only thing in his life he cares about.
3. The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins (2015)
presented by S.
A debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people’s lives.
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?
Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.
4. Ripper, by Isabel Allende (2014)
presented by C.
Isabel Allende-the New York Times bestselling author whose books, including Maya’s Notebook, Island Beneath the Sea, and Zorro, have sold more than 57 million copies around the world-demonstrates her remarkable literary versatility with this atmospheric, fast-paced mystery involving a brilliant teenage sleuth who must unmask a serial killer in San Francisco.
The Jackson women, Indiana and Amanda, have always had each other. Yet, while their bond is strong, mother and daughter are as different as night and day. Indiana, a beautiful holistic healer, is a free-spirited bohemian. Long divorced from Amanda’s father, she’s reluctant to settle down with either of the men who want her-Alan, the wealthy scion of one of San Francisco’s elite families, and Ryan, an enigmatic, scarred former Navy SEAL.
While her mom looks for the good in people, Amanda is fascinated by the dark side of human nature, like her father, the SFPD’s Deputy Chief of Homicide. Brilliant and introverted, the MIT-bound high school senior is a natural-born sleuth addicted to crime novels and Ripper, the online mystery game she plays with her beloved grandfather and friends around the world.
When a string of strange murders occurs across the city, Amanda plunges into her own investigation, discovering, before the police do, that the deaths may be connected. But the case becomes all too personal when Indiana suddenly vanishes. Could her mother’s disappearance be linked to the serial killer? Now, with her mother’s life on the line, the young detective must solve the most complex mystery she’s ever faced before it’s too late.
5. Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free, by Héctor Tobar (2014)
presented by B.
When the San Jos mine collapsed outside of Copiap, Chile, in August 2010, it trapped thirty-three miners beneath thousands of feet of rock for a record-breaking sixty-nine days. Across the globe, we sat riveted to television and computer screens as journalists flocked to the Atacama desert. While we saw what transpired above ground during the grueling and protracted rescue, the story of the miners experiences below the earths surface and the lives that led them there hasn’t been heard until now. In this master work of a Pulitzer Prizewinning journalist, Héctor Tobar gains exclusive access to the miners and their stories. The result is a miraculous and emotionally textured account of the thirty-three men who came to think of the San José mine as a kind of coffin, as a cave inflicting constant and thundering aural torment, and as a church where they sought redemption through prayer while the world watched from above. It offers an understanding of the families and personal histories that brought los 33 to the mine, and the mystical and spiritual elements that surrounded working in such a dangerous place.
6. Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency, by Bill O’Reilly (2015)
presented by B.
From the bestselling team of Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard comes Killing Reagan, a page-turning epic account of the career of President Ronald Reagan that tells the vivid story of his rise to power — and the forces of evil that conspired to bring him down.
Just two months into his presidency, Ronald Reagan lay near death after a gunman’s bullet came within inches of his heart. His recovery was nothing short of remarkable — or so it seemed. But Reagan was grievously injured, forcing him to encounter a challenge that few men ever face. Could he silently overcome his traumatic experience while at the same time carrying out the duties of the most powerful man in the world?
Told in the same riveting fashion as Killing Lincoln, Killing Kennedy, Killing Jesus, and Killing Patton, Killing Reagan reaches back to the golden days of Hollywood, where Reagan found both fame and heartbreak, up through the years in the California governor’s mansion, and finally to the White House, where he presided over boom years and the fall of the Iron Curtain. But it was John Hinckley Jr.’s attack on him that precipitated President Reagan’s most heroic actions. In Killing Reagan, O’Reilly and Dugard take readers behind the scenes, creating an unforgettable portrait of a great man operating in violent times.
7. The Great Democracies (A History of the English-Speaking Peoples #4), by Winston S. Churchill (1958)
presented by P.
The fourth of Churchill’s grandly ambitious four-volume A History of the English-Speaking Peoples begins with the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars—and ends with the Boer War of 1902. In it, Churchill makes an impassioned argument for the crucial role played by the English-speaking people in exporting not just economic benefits, but political freedom.
Written in Churchill’s characteristically compelling style, this volume is the only one in the series to benefit from Churchill’s own personal experience as a soldier and a wartime journalist during the Boer War. It provides fascinating reading for those interested in world history and England’s impact on it.
8. The Revenant: A Novel of revenge, by Michael Punke (2002)
presented by W.
NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE
A thrilling tale of betrayal and revenge set against the nineteenth-century American frontier, the astonishing story of real-life trapper and frontiersman Hugh Glass.
The year is 1823, and the trappers of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company live a brutal frontier life. Hugh Glass is among the company’s finest men, an experienced frontiersman and an expert tracker. But when a scouting mission puts him face-to-face with a grizzly bear, he is viciously mauled and not expected to survive. Two company men are dispatched to stay behind and tend to Glass before he dies. When the men abandon him instead, Glass is driven to survive by one desire: revenge. With shocking grit and determination, Glass sets out, crawling at first, across hundreds of miles of uncharted American frontier. Based on a true story, The Revenant is a remarkable tale of obsession, the human will stretched to its limits, and the lengths that one man will go to for retribution.
9. The Great Swindle, by Pierre Lemaitre (2015)
presented by J.
October 1918: the war on the Western Front is all but over. Desperate for one last chance of promotion, the ambitious Lieutenant Henri d’Aulnay Pradelle sends two scouts over the top, and secretly shoots them in the back to incite his men to heroic action once more.
And so is set in motion a series of devastating events that will inextricably bind together the fates and fortunes of Pradelle and the two soldiers who witness his crime: Albert Maillard and Édouard Péricourt.
Back in civilian life, Albert and Édouard struggle to adjust to a society whose reverence for its dead cannot quite match its resentment for those who survived. But the two soldiers conspire to enact an audacious form of revenge against the country that abandoned them to penury and despair, with a scheme to swindle the whole of France on an epic scale.
Meanwhile, believing her brother killed in action, Édouard’s sister Madeleine has married Pradelle, who is running a little scam of his own…
You can read my own review, written for the Historical Novel Society, here:
10. The Sword and the Maiden (The Watchmen Saga #2), by Kathleen C. Perrin (2015)
presented by me
After being abruptly separated from Nicolas le Breton during the battle to save Mont Saint Michel from the English siege in 1424, Katelyn Michaels finds herself back in her normal twenty-first century life as an American teenager. Depressed and anxious to be reunited with Nicolas, she is comforted when a series of events and impressions lead her to believe she is being prepared for another mission as a Watchman.
After her beloved mentor, Jean le Vieux, comes to her in a dream and gives her the injunction to “Learn of the Maiden and take her the sword,” Katelyn understands that her mission involves assisting one of the most iconic figures in all of French History.
Katelyn is once again whisked back to the turmoil of medieval France during the Hundred Years’ War and to Nicolas. However, before the two can consider the future of their relationship, they must first complete their mission to take the sword to the Maiden. Little do they know that their old nemesis, Abdon, is already on their trail and will do everything in his unhallowed power to stop them.
You can read my own review, with a long Excerpt, here: