What I’m Reading: November 2015

As we count down to the end of 2015, here’s what I’m reading this month.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Bee Bag Lady: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.

Doerr’s “stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors” (San Francisco Chronicle) are dazzling. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, he illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. Ten years in the writing, a National Book Award finalist, All the Light We Cannot See is a magnificent, deeply moving novel from a writer “whose sentences never fail to thrill” (Los Angeles Times).

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Bee Bag Lady: Big Little Lies by Liana Moriarty

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

Bee Bag Lady: Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancé, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve.

But Ani has a secret.

There’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything.

With a singular voice and twists you won’t see coming, Luckiest Girl Aliveexplores the unbearable pressure that so many women feel to “have it all” and introduces a heroine whose sharp edges and cutthroat ambition have been protecting a scandalous truth, and a heart that’s bigger than it first appears.

The question remains: will breaking her silence destroy all that she has worked for—or, will it at long last, set Ani free?


The Qualities of Wood by Mary Vensel White

Bee Bag Lady: The Qualities of Wood by Mary Vensel White

A haunting and provocative debut.’ – Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train

The house brought them together, but secrets will tear them apart.

When Betty Gardiner dies, leaving behind an unkempt country home, her grandson and his young wife take a break from city life to prepare the house for sale. Nowell Gardiner leaves first to begin work on his second mystery novel. By the time his wife Vivian joins him, a real mystery has begun: a local girl has been found dead in the woods behind the house. Even after the death is ruled an accident, Vivian can’t forget the girl, can’t ignore the strange behaviour of her neighbours, or her husband. As Vivian attempts to put the house in order, all around her things begin to fall apart.

The Qualities of Wood is a novel about secrets. Family secrets. Community secrets. And secrets between lovers, past and present. And all of these secrets have their price.

The Lake House by Kate Morton

Bee Bag Lady: The Lake House by Kate Morton

One of People magazine’s Best Books of Fall—“Morton’s moody, suspenseful latest is the perfect page-turner for a chilly night.”

From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Secret Keeper and The Distant Hours, an intricately plotted, spellbinding new novel of heartstopping suspense and uncovered secrets.

Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, innocent, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories. But the mysteries she pens are no match for the one her family is about to endure…

One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. What follows is a tragedy that tears the family apart in ways they never imagined.

Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as an author. Theo’s case has never been solved, though Alice still harbors a suspicion as to the culprit. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old estate—now crumbling and covered with vines, clearly abandoned long ago. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone…yet more present than ever.

A lush, atmospheric tale of intertwined destinies, this latest novel from a masterful storyteller is an enthralling, thoroughly satisfying read.

Love Letters by Debbie Macomber

Bee Bag Lady: Love Letters by Debbie Macomber

In this enchanting novel set at Cedar Cove’s cozy Rose Harbor Inn, Debbie Macomber celebrates the power of love—and a well-timed love letter—to inspire hope and mend a broken heart.

Summer is a busy season at the inn, so proprietor Jo Marie Rose and handyman Mark Taylor have spent a lot of time together keeping the property running. Despite some folks’ good-natured claims to the contrary, Jo Marie insists that Mark is only a friend. However, she seems to be thinking about this particular friend a great deal lately. Jo Marie knows surprisingly little about Mark’s life, due in no small part to his refusal to discuss it. She’s determined to learn more about his past, but first she must face her own—and welcome three visitors who, like her, are setting out on new paths.

Twenty-three-year-old Ellie Reynolds is taking a leap of faith. She’s come to Cedar Cove to meet Tom, a man she’s been corresponding with for months, and with whom she might even be falling in love. Ellie’s overprotective mother disapproves of her trip, but Ellie is determined to spread her wings.

Maggie and Roy Porter are next to arrive at the inn. They are taking their first vacation alone since their children were born. In the wake of past mistakes, they hope to rekindle the spark in their marriage—and to win back each other’s trust. But Maggie must make one last confession that could forever tear them apart.

For each of these characters, it will ultimately be a moment when someone wore their heart on their sleeve—and took pen to paper—that makes all the difference. Debbie Macomber’s moving novel reveals the courage it takes to be vulnerable, accepting, and open to love.

Lie Still by Julia Heaberlin

Bee Bag Lady: Lie Still by Julia Heaberlin

When Emily Page and her husband move from Manhattan to the wealthy enclave of Clairmont, Texas, she hopes she can finally escape her haunted past—and outrun the nameless stalker who has been taunting her for years. Pregnant with her first child, Emily just wants to start over. But as she is drawn into a nest of secretive Texas women—and into the unnerving company of their queen, Caroline Warwick—Emily finds that acceptance is a very dangerous game.

It isn’t long before Caroline mysteriously disappears and Emily is facing a rash of anonymous threats. Are they linked to the missing Caroline? Or to Emily’s terrifying encounter in college, years earlier? As the dark truth about Caroline emerges, Emily realizes that some secrets are impossible to hide—and that whoever came for Caroline is now coming for her.

Simply Strings: A Modern Approach to a Traditional Quilt Block by Rana Heredia

Bee Bag Lady: Simply Strings by Rana Heredia

String quilting has always been an artful approach to meeting a need, whether that need is brought on by lack or abundance, lack of yardage or an overflowing scrap basket. This book takes to the next step, the idea of sewing strip onto strip to make larger pieces, and using those “made” pieces into 12 stunningly graphic quilts. 72 pages in a soft cover with a pull-out pattern section.

As always,  you can follow my reviews on Goodreads as I finish reading these great books.

A Minion Quilt for Thomas

I was visiting Prairie Quilts in Hennessey, Oklahoma several weeks ago and came across a Minion fabric panel and snapped it up.  I knew it would make the perfect little quilt for my grandson Thomas, who turned 3 this month.

When I got home, I designed the quilt I wanted to make in Electric Quilt 7.  As you can see, I used other fabric from the Minions line by Quilting Treasures to piece a border for the quilt.  Since I didn’t buy any extra fabric, I ordered what I needed from the Missouri Star Quilt Company online.  In a few days, I was ready to begin!

Bee Bag Lady: EQ7 Minion Quilt Image

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What I’m Reading: October 2015

First of all, can I just say how much I love being retired so that I can read?  You might think being a librarian (my career) allowed me to read all the time, but that was not the case.  Just like any full-time job, I did not have much time leftover to read.  But I wanted to…

I set myself a Goodreads goal to read 75 books for 2015. Here’s the message I got today.

Bee Bag Lady: 2015 Reading Challenge

I think this is the most books I’ve ever read in a year.  Now, time to share what I’m reading this month.

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My Grandmother: Nancy R Minnie Ridge Pilkington

I am kicking off a new topic in my blogs today: Genealogy.  I am an active genealogist, love digging out the details of my ancestors’ stories.  I use Family Tree Maker to keep track of everything, which is then uploaded to Ancestry.com.  My family tree there is called My Hanselman-Pilkington Ancestry.

I will start today with a look at my grandmother’s life story, as told on Ancestry.com. To see where I fit it, I am the oldest child of Sylvia Elisabeth Pilkington (Hanselman), the next to youngest child of my grandmother.

Non-genealogists may ask if this information is correct.  I will state that no genealogy file is ever 100% correct.  I waited several years before uploading my family files to Ancestry because I thought I couldn’t put something out there that wasn’t fully accurate (that’s the librarian in me!).  If you have any corrections to my data, please leave a comment at the end of this post.

Nancy R Minnie Ridge - LifeStory [Read more…]