Book Review: The Orchardist

I started reading The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin before we left for our Jamaican honeymoon. I post-poned my reading while we were on vacation because I didn’t want sand to get in my Kindle and brought along a regular old paperback with me to the sandy beaches. When we returned, however, I dove back into this long adventure of a man’s life lived in the Pacific Northwest.

The story starts with a look at William Talmadge and his sister as they settle on a sprawling apple orchard in Washington state. Wanting to work the land and make a living as an orchardist, Talmadge starts to feel comfortable and at home in the orchard and finds a wonderful way of life amongst the beauty of the territory. After his sister mysteriously disappears (did she run away?), Talmadge dives into a deep depression and trudges on into a lonely life working the land day after day.

Fast forward a few decades and we find a middle-aged Talmadge making a run into town to sell some of his apples to the townsfolk when he runs into a pair of teenage sisters on the run from a brutal past. This is where the story picks up and we find that the girls, Della and Jane settle into a life at the orchard and help Talmadge work the land, while also providing companionship (in a sisterly/daughterly form). Both girls are pregnant, and when their past catches up to them at the orchard, Talmadge must take a stand to ensure that no more harm comes to the girls.

This is a looooong novel, but a beautiful one. If you love when a novel fully paints a landscape for you, or when characters are fully developed, you’ll enjoy this book. There’s enough twists and turns throughout to keep the story going, and whenever Talmadge or the girls travel, you feel like you’re right there in the seat with them. Great book – especially for a rainy day.

Book Review: Sammy’s House

While in Jamaica, JP and I had the pleasure of lounging around on the beach and enjoying some leisure reading. We grabbed REAL (non-Kindle) books which we weren’t worried about damaging in the sun/sand and dove into the pages. I interrupted my reading of The Orchardist for a paperback – Sammy’s House by Kristin Gore, Al Gore’s daughter.

This fiction novel was perfect for beach reading, following main character Samantha Joyce on her journey as a junior staffer in her role supporting Vice President Robert Gary in the White House. The book (which I scored on a Borders clearance sale two years ago) is a sequel to Sammy’s Hill, which apparently has a movie in the works. Sammy is your average hard-working political guru and health adviser to the VP – she struggles with insecurity issues stemming from a previous bad relationship, and is trying to make a go of her current relationship with boyfriend Charlie Lawton, who happens to be an up and coming reporter at the Washington Post.

I really liked the characters in the book; from Sammy to her boyfriend Charlie to even her wacky mom and VP and President. What was sometimes hard to follow was the point to the novel. There were a few curveballs that Gore could have dove deeper into, and kind of picked up on a few “issues” that the characters had to deal with. At first I thought she would go one way and then the story completely went a different way with multiple crises occurring at once.

If you’re looking for a quick, easy read with an enjoyable character, this would be a great book to read!

Book Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Since the wedding has winded down, I’ve been able to get back into my leisure reading. Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children has been on my Kindle wishlist for a little bit, as I was intrigued by the title and cover.  When I started the book, I really had no idea where it was headed. It started off with the life of 16 year old Jacob Portman and his relationship with his grandfather, Abe. Abe told Jacob of “stories” from his childhood in a orphanage where he encountered the most “peculiar” children with amazing talents.  Touting pictures of these children performing some deft-defying feats such as levitation, bee keeping, and hurling extremely heavy boulders – Jacob always assumed that these were doctored photographs that his father used to keep young Jacob entertained as fables or fairytales.

After Abe passes away, Jacob begins to unravel the true story of where his orphaned grandfather really came from and learns more about the true existence of who these children were that his grandfather knew and who was Miss Peregrine. Spotting a letter from Miss P, herself, Jacob convinces his father that they should travel to an island off the coast of Wales so that Jacob (who his parents believe is depressed) can gain closure on his grandfather’s life.

The novel dives into a strange world of time travel where Jacob befriends some interesting characters and learns more about himself in the process. Discovering ruins of a home that has used to house children, including Jacob’s grandfather, he begins to unearth an unworldly environment of the lost children. There are creepy images scattered throughout the book that highlight some important people and add the creepy factor, but if you’re looking for a grown-up scary story you’re in the wrong place. I agree with one reviewer on Goodreads that stated it basically turns into a childish story. It’s pretty good none-the-less, and is something that’s different than most other novels out there.

Book Review: Gone Girl

Not knowing what this novel was about, at first, I put it off for a while before downloading it onto my Kindle. I had seen a lot of rave reviews on the book lately and even heard it’s going to become a movie with rumors that Ben Affleck may star as the main character, Nick Dunne.  After one of my sorority sisters raved about the book on Facebook, I decided that it would be my next conquest as I’ve been itching for a good story, and I was definitely not disappointed.

Gone Girl written by Chicago author Gillian Fynn takes outside St. Louis Missouri and follows married couple Nick and Amy Dunne through real life tragedy as Amy mysteriously goes missing on the couple’s 5th wedding anniversary. Amy, hailing from New York, comes from successful parents who wrote a series of children’s novels loosely based on their daughter’s trials and tribulations in life called the Amazing Amy series. Nick comes from small-town Missouri where his mother has passed away and his father is in a long-term care facility. Both of them lose their jobs and Nick uproots them back to Missouri from New York to help Nick’s twin sister Margo (or Go for short) to care for their father.

While in Missouri, the couple rents a large home in a semi-empty subdivision where Amy subsequently goes missing from. Taking a cue from some of the major real-life stories out there with missing wives, Nick is almost immediately penned as a prime suspect in Amy’s mysterious disappearance. Every piece of evidence points at Nick and the reader tries to grapple if they really believe he didn’t do it or is he really that clueless to a set-up?

This novel has so many twists and turns and has some amazing character development – really focusing on some eerie sociopathic tendencies. This is a book you won’t believe and something you won’t be able to put down – great for a beach read or something to get lost in as you try to figure out what happened to Amy and how Nick could commit such a crime in his seemingly happy marriage.