Saturday, October 21, 2017

Weekend Shopping: Underrated Books (part 3)

Let's just get to it, shall we?

Forty-one-year-old school nurse Kate Cypher has returned home to rural Vermont to care for her mother who's afflicted with Alzheimer's. On the night she arrives, a young girl is murdered—a horrific crime that eerily mirrors another from Kate's childhood. Three decades earlier, her dirt-poor friend Del—shunned and derided by classmates as "Potato Girl"—was brutally slain. Del's killer was never found, while the victim has since achieved immortality in local legends and ghost stories. Now, as this new murder investigation draws Kate irresistibly in, her past and present collide in terrifying, unexpected ways. Because nothing is quite what it seems . . . and the grim specters of her youth are far from forgotten.
I have to start by telling you this was a debut novel and every single one of her books are JUST AS GOOD. This isn't very long (250 pages or so) but it will hook you immediately and you will never see the ending coming. All of her books are so messed up, basically, and nothing is ever as it seems. I've always finished her books in one sitting and they are just so great for someone who loves a good murder mystery but doesn't have a lot of time to read.

When Frances accepts an invitation to visit Stiltsville, a community of houses built on pilings in Biscayne Bay, she has no idea that her simple "yes" to a new friend will determine the course of her life for the next two dozen years. Set in Miami from the late '60s to the 1990s, Stiltsville is a sweeping journey seen through the eyes of one woman as she experiences love, motherhood, friendship, hurricanes, racial tension, and finally, a tragic death in slow motion.

In her debut novel, Daniel describes the experiences of three generations in one family whose spiritual heart is centered in a modest bungalow built a few feet above the water. When Frances meets and marries Dennis, she learns to live her life on the water, from bay to ocean to everglade to bayou. She navigates through it all: infidelity, empty-nest syndrome, and debilitating illness sometimes with grace and humor, sometimes with anger and bitterness, but always with the same people by her side.

One of my, hands down, favorite books of all time. There is a quote towards the end that is maybe the only quote I've ever been able to remember verbatim and it speaks so much to my own marriage. I read this at a time when Matt and I weren't on steady ground and I was really questioning how people who are married fifty years really do it because it can't BE this hard always, right? It starts off slow and I didn't realize that it wasn't about any one climax, instead it's like a slow burn. A look into a marriage, the good and bad, exciting and boring. Truly, I think a lot of you will relate to it and it's one I pull out from time to time and just love. Her next book, Sea Creatures, is just as good if not better.

She was just three years old when her mother signed on as the organist of tent revivalist David Terrell, and before long, Donna Johnson was part of the hugely popular evangelical preacher's inner circle. At seventeen, she left the ministry for good, with a trove of stranger- than-fiction memories. A homecoming like no other, Holy Ghost Girl brings to life miracles, exorcisms, and faceoffs with the Ku Klux Klan. And that's just what went on under the tent.

As Terrell became known worldwide during the 1960s and '70s, the caravan of broken-down cars and trucks that made up his ministry evolved into fleets of Mercedes and airplanes. The glories of the Word mixed with betrayals of the flesh and Donna's mother bore Terrell's children in one of the several secret households he maintained. Thousands of followers, dubbed "Terrellites" by the press, left their homes to await the end of the world in cultlike communities. Jesus didn't show, but the IRS did, and the prophet/healer went to prison.

One of the most fascinating memoirs I have ever read. I read this right after I read a book I'm going to feature next week and they both had religion as the main theme. This book follows Donna as she essentially grows up inside a tent revivalist community. It's a really fascinating look at what life is like in that kind of community, and it makes you question how God fearing these people actually are. This does no favors for religious fanatics but I look at some churches even today and some of the same characteristics can be seen. What kind of people fall for this, do they ever leave, what are the consequences of leaving, should you follow your faith blindly, is it immoral to ask questions, etc. Again, not a lengthy book but I was immersed in it and have borrowed my copy out quite a bit.

Happy shopping!

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