Tag: book lover

Occasionally I’ll take on book recommendations…who am I kidding. Gimme allllll of the book recs, I love to read new books! If you’re following on Instagram (@laceyellehill) you may have seen my post about my new favorite candle company Frostbeard Studios. Well, a reader commented on that post that she loved this book by Emily Carpenter and I hop-skip-jumped over to Amazon to get it! The rest is history.

Burying the Honeysuckle Girls is about 29-year-old Althea Bell, who is fresh out of rehab and still heartbroken over the years-ago death of her mother. She returns to Alabama to reconnect with her estranged father, but is met with family hostility. Her history with drugs and lying have made her unwelcome, even to her brother and his wife. In the midst of this all, her father fills her in on a grim family secret: her mother, her grandmother, and her great-grandmother all died mysteriously at the age of 30, and he is worried that she is next.

Before her mother died, she whispered to Althea “Wait for her. For the honeysuckle girl. She’ll find you, I think, but if she doesn’t, you find her”.

Since the death of her mother, Althea has dealt with her own mental issues, which were fueled by her use of her mother’s leftover bottle of prescription medication that she used to help curb what was deemed to be “schizophrenic tendencies”. Althea set out with her childhood flame to uncover the secret of the Honeysuckle Girl, and the deaths of her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. She was met with opposition, intrigue, obstacles, secrets and family angst; all of the hallmarks of a great page turning mystery! When the secret of the Honeysuckle Girl was uncovered in the end, I was floored.

The book switches throughout between Althea’s point of view and that of her great-grandmother in the 1930’s and I loved that! To understand our future, we must look to the past; it was a beautifully done dynamic characterization. There is something in this book that just about anyone can relate to, whether it’s mental illness, family secrets, or feeling alienated and different. This was a very satisfying mystery to read!

Years ago, when my brother Chris was 18, he recommended a book to me. Now mind you, Chris is the only person in my family that does not have a bone-deep love of reading; so I was very curious. The book was “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini, and I must have read it in about 14 hours of non-stop reading. It is set in Afghanistan in both the cities of Herat and Kabul. Ironically, Chris joined the Army that same year and was deployed to Afghanistan, to Kandahar. Both of my brothers each did two tours of duty in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom.

When I read this book, my brothers were already in Afghanistan and my father was in Iraq. While this book is set at the start of the Soviet-Afghan War (considered to be part of the Cold War) and ends at the very start of the 9-11 attacks, I soaked up every ounce of Afghanistan history that is laced throughout this book. To understand what shaped today’s Afghanistan, one must look back at the Soviet’s influence, then to the Mujahideen warlord takeover, and finally to the Taliban revolution. The historical facts are all accurate, and Khaled Hosseini did a remarkable job of tying the historical truth in with a fictional story. Before he wrote “A Thousand Splendid Suns”, Khaled went back to Afghanistan, his birthplace, for the first time in 30 years. Many of the moving stories he heard from Afghan women made their way in bits and pieces to this book.

“One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs, or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.”

“A Thousand Splendid Suns” starts in 1964 and ends in 2001. The story follows two women from very different walks of life. Mariam was the illegitimate daughter of the wealthiest man in Herat, who was raised by her bitter mother in a shanty just outside of town. She worships her father, and decided to set out for the first time in her life. On her 15th birthday, she went to his house to ask to be part of his “real” family. This decision changed the course of her life, and set the story in motion. She is given away to a man named Rasheed, whom she was forced to marry. He takes her back to Kabul, where requires that she wear a burka and surrender to the lifestyle of being submissive and subservient to him. Laila was born to a liberal family in Kabul, and only ever knew freedom and happiness. The collapse of Mohammad Najibullah’s regime in April 1992, other wise known as the Battle of Kabul, starts the merging of their lives. Laila is forced by circumstance to marry Rasheed, and quickly encounters the horrors of an abusive and domineering husband.

If you had told me mid-read that this book would have a happy ending, I wouldn’t have believed it. As gut-wrenching as some of the events depicted in this novel were, I was so struck by the loving manner in which Khaled writes these women. His perception of Afghan women is very well illustrated in his words, and the character development that he took the time to do makes this book so captivating to me. What these women endured in this story, and what real Afghan women endured in real life, truly mystifies me. To think of a life in 1990s Afghanistan as a women sends a shudder down my spine, and the strength shown by Laila and Mariam made for the most beautiful read. This story is one for everyone, as is the inspiring message to keep hope alive, even in the darkest of hours. I was nothing short of inspired and awed when I finished “A Thousand Splendid Suns”, and I’m so thankful that my brother recommend it to me all those years ago.

One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2016 was to read a new book every month. I joined Book of the Month Club to shake things up and No One Knows was the first book I chose! I’ve loved being part of this fun subscription so much this year. The best part of getting a monthly choice is being introduced to books you may have never chosen on your own! You can sign up here if you’re interested.

Have you ever stayed up all night reading because you felt like your life would be incomplete without knowing the ending to the book?

That was me while reading this little page turner.

No One Knows by J.T. Ellison is one of those twisty, angst ridden novels that keeps you wanting to uncover the next secret. The story follows Aubrey who has mourned her missing husband for the past five years after he vanished on the night of a friend’s bachelor party. The police (and the public) targeted Aubrey as the prime suspect in his disappearance, and over time that slowly gives way to suspicion that he faked his own death. Now that five years have passed, his mother has made the decision to have him declared legally dead. The declaration causes old memories to surface and new facts to present themselves in the most intriguing way possible, sending Aubrey’s life in a tailspin all over again.

The clever twists and turns in this mystery will floor you. Just when you think you’ve figured things out, J.T. Ellison slaps you in the face with a new revelation. My focus is easily distracted typically, but No One Knows kept the wheels of my brain turning constantly. Like the rest of the story, the ending is so unexpected that I had to read it twice to make sure I comprehended correctly! I completely enjoyed reading this book; definitely a must for the mystery lover. Happy Reading!