For PaperBackSwap’s 8 year anniversary, we asked 8 members
to tell us about 8 books that have mattered to them.
Today we feature Linda (Angeleyes)
Books I love
Pick 8 books that are special to me. Are they crazy? Just 8. How in the world am I supposed to do that? I’ve read THOUSANDS of books and many, many, many have left some sort of internal “mark” on me. Many of which I can’t even tell you why. So I sat and pondered. Over the last 40 years which books have really “packed a punch” so to speak that maybe aren’t your normal books everyone has heard about. Well here are my 8. I hope you give them a read and enjoy them as much as I did.
Scuffy the Tug Boat and his Adventures Down the River by Tibor Gergely & Gertrude Crampton
This is the book that started it all for me. The very first book I remember and as a child my absolute favorite. I made my mom read it to me every day and when I learned to read I read it to her. When my son was born 19 years ago I passed my well-worn copy on to him. If only Scuffy knew what he started..lol I’m sure he would be proud. Scuffy also taught me that it’s natural to want to go out and explore the world but you don’t have to get lost while you do it.
The Secret of the Old Clock – Nancy Drew, No 1 by Carolyn Keene
By the time I was 8 years old a book was a natural extension of my hand. Everywhere I went I had a book. The local librarian knew me by name. One day she suggested I venture out of the children’s area into the “big kid” room and pointed me in the direction of the Nancy Drew books. I had never before read a series book and felt so adult-like. I found book 1 – The Secret of the Old Clock and promptly found a seat and began reading.
This book was different than anything I had read before. This time I felt like I was right there in the story. Nancy, her friend Helen, housekeeper Hannah and even her dad were my friends. My imagination was on fire. Navigating the twists and turns with Nancy, I reveled in how independent, mature and headstrong she was.
The story finds Nancy involved in a search for a missing will. She is assisted by her father, who is a noted attorney, and her friend Helen.. As her investigation progresses she not only finds herself at odds with unworthy heirs, but confronting furniture thieves as well.
2 hours later I was finished. I was so proud of myself and a lifelong passion for mysteries was ignited. Excited I pulled off as many Nancy Drew books as I could carry, checked them out and strutted on home. My dad saw me walking up the street towards the house and asked if I had cleaned out the library…lol. For years after that I could be found every Saturday walking to and from the library with my backpack and my arms filled with Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and The Bobbsey Twins books.
Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Cruise &, Bob Mayer
I stumbled onto Paperbackswap in September 2007 with a very small repertoire of authors read under my belt. After exploring the site for a day or two I came across a book that looked kind of interesting and was different than anything I had read before. Excited to use my newly obtained credits, I ordered “Agnes and the Hitman” and within a few days it arrived. I jumped right in and read it while my teenage son played video games. I finished the book before he finished the game. I loved it ! The plot, the characters and the laugh-out-loud dialogue were perfect.
I am told I can be somewhat cranky and/or sarcastic so I felt Agnes was a kindred spirit of sorts. I mean when I read “… your ass is grass and I am a John Deere super-classic riding lawn mower with a V6 engine and a double cutting blade, do I make myself clear?” I laughed out loud. This is SO something I would say. My son asked me what was so funny and when I read it to him he asked if I wrote the book..lol
The premise of the story is things turn south for Agnes Crandall’s wedding catering business when a dognapper invades her kitchen holding a gun. Agnes wallops him upside the head with a cast iron skillet, knocking him thru a hidden door in her kitchen and killing him. An unexpected hero – Shane – arrives through a window to rescue her, only he turns out to be a professional hit man who was hired by his retired gangster uncle to protect Agnes. Shane’s uncle sort of forgets to mention that $5 million dollars is hidden somewhere in the house – thus the need for protecting Agnes. This leads to a string of hit men, gangsters, crazies and wedding guests searching for the money. And then there are the flamingos, the flamingo-themed wedding, and the flamingo-colored dresses. Not to mention the stripper with flamingo pasties. Oh and did I mention Agnes has anger issues?
There were twists and turns and every time I thought I had figured out WHODUNIT, the authors threw a monkey wrench in the mix and The HUMOR plus Agnes and Shane’s HOT relationship kept me plowing through the book to see how it ended.
I strongly urge you to give this book a try but make sure you keep a fan close and the liquids far (or you’ll be sure to spit them out all over the book from laughing..)
Every Woman Needs a Wife by Naleighna-Kai
Hey I want a wife too ! I ordered this book simply because of the title and it had me laughing out loud. I felt proud to be female when I went along on this ingenuously crafted novel with Kai.
When Brandi Spencer catches her husband (Vernon) of more than a decade with his mistress (Tanya), she decides to forgo the crying, kicking and screaming and to attack her husband where it will hurt him the most – by going after and taking his mistress! What woman does not need someone to take up the slack with cooking, laundry, taking care of the children, extracurricular activities, but what wife goes so far as to actually hire the mistress-with contract to boot-and moves the other woman into her home?!
In the midst of it all, both women realize that they have both been used and that Vernon deserves to be taught a lesson. As Brandi and Tanya scheme and plan how to get even with Vernon, they bond and a friendship is formed. Each woman also reclaims her self-worth and self-importance as she sheds baggage and horrible memories and experiences of the past.
A thought provoking read that made me laugh, cry, and say YOU GO GIRL ! at the same time, I kept thinking to myself, “I wonder if I would think of such a thing. What a fantastic response to such a horrifying situation”. And of course I could not put it down because every time I tried a new twist would come up that had me laughing even harder and thinking even more. I appreciated the fact the characters weren’t bitchy or catty but were intelligent and used intellect to “fix” their problems.
This book left me with a sense that anything worth having is worth fighting for. Of course when my BF saw me reading this and all he had to go by was the title I think he was a little concerned. That has since passed and he seems to be less fidgety but anytime I want to get him stirred up I pull out the book and sit it on the nightstand…lol.
My Best Friends’ Girl by Dorothy Koomson
Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love with girl. Boy sleeps with girl’s best friend. Girl finds out…..years later. And the world as they know it falls apart.
Told in first person prose, this is the story of forgiveness, redemption, motherly love and an understanding of the fragility of the human condition. From the moment that Adele Brannon and Kamryn Matika met in college, they were best friends. They thought nothing could come between them, but then Adele did the unthinkable. She slept with Kamryn’s fiancé, Nate. By the time Kamryn finds out, a few years have passed and Adele is the mother of a child named Tegan.
When the betrayal is revealed, Kamryn breaks up with Nate and walks out on her friendship with Adele and the goddaughter she adores
Years later, and after a series of unanswered letters from Adele, Kamryn finally responds to one that is truly a desperate cry for help, returning to London to a hospital room where Adele lies dying.
Kamryn reluctantly goes to see her and to her complete and utter shock Adele begs her to adopt her daughter, Tegan. With a job she loves, a hectic social life that does not include kids, kittens and motherhood, the last thing Kamryn needs is a five year child old tied to her designer apron strings. Especially not a child who reminds her so much of a time she would rather forget.
But upon finding a traumatised Tegan living in awful conditions with Adele’s vile stepmother and uncaring father Kamryn takes the bull by the horns and takes the child on.
The journey that ensues is emotional tale of love, friends, and the unusual forms that family can take; it was a page-turning delight that held my attention all the way through. This story reminded me of my best friend in high school who just happened to be black to my white. 28 years, 4 children, 2 ex-husbands 2 current “husbands” and a few life changing conditions between us we have learned of love, family and friends on our own terms. And I know that should one of us lie dying the other would “stop the world” for the other. Because that’s what family does.
Obedience by Will Lavender
I am a puzzle person. Give me a game of Tetris, or a Suduko or even a game of Freecell and I’m content. Give me a book with an infuriating, brilliant puzzle that compels continuous, non-stop reading from beginning to end to discover how everything winds up and I’m in heaven. Obedience is one of those books. It sticks with you for days after you finish it. Remembering what it was like to be an 18-21 year old college student, I remember how unsure everyone is at that age and how impressionable they are. This book plays on all of those uncertainties and shows just how easily manipulated we can be. This is not your ordinary thriller. There are no assassins, spies, or detectives, this thriller invites the reader to contemplate college relationships, professor-student indiscretion, the helplessness parents feel when their children are away at college, the role of graduate assistants, academic creativity, and more.
Three students at Indiana’s Winchester University are taking a philosophy class — Logic & Reasoning 204 — and have been given their only assignment for the term – locate a hypothetical young girl named Polly. Fail and she will be murdered. The professor feeds his students information about Polly’s family and friends and provides details about her actions just prior to her disappearance. He states that “the best way to learn logic is to decode a puzzle.” By solving the “Polly puzzle,” they “will learn to think, and induce, and carve out the blight of lazy thought.”
The students begin to discover similarities the assignment has to a real case of a missing girl in a neighboring town that’s gone unsolved for several years. And their professor even wrote a book about the case. As the three of them dive deeper into the assignment, they begin to question their professor’s word and believe that the case of Polly is actually real. When some clues begin to relate directly to their real lives, things get even more disturbing.
As the students encounter more mysteries, clues, and people – a strange warning from the dean, his cheating wife, a graduate assistant with a weird tattoo, campus police phone calls after forwarding emails, photographs, and the professor’s book – they decide to travel to the town of the real life missing girl where more strange characters await.
My son recently described his reading experience of “Obedience” as “a story that traps me to the point I can no longer stop reading. My choice is gone. It’s like rolling down a hill at such a high speed that you can’t stop. You’re enjoying the thrill, but praying the ending will be a good one and this book is awesome”. I don’t think I could have said it better myself.
The Secret Life of Cee Cee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain
I’d been on a cozy mystery reading binge for about a month and I decided to branch out and see what else my TBR pile had to offer. “The Secret Life of Cee Cee Wilkes” hmmm.. I’d received this book from a swap and at the time decided to keep it on the “I’ll get to it someday” shelf. Well, what the heck. Today was as good day as any. I got my drink, my snack and the book and ventured outside to soak up the sun and read for a while. A few hours later I was as red as a lobster (oops, I forgot the sunscreen !) and my mind was blown. This book was phenomenal! It pulled at my heart and didn’t let up until I read the last word. The mistakes that we make when we are young haunt us into our adulthood. We pray that our children don’t make the same ones and don’t find out about ours.
16 year old Cee Cee is seduced by a handsome older man, Tim Gleason, and is manipulated into helping him and his brother with the crime. Left to guard the prisoner at a remote cabin in the woods, events transpire that force Cee Cee on the run with a newborn infant in tow. Unable to bring herself to leave the little girl with her father, Cee Cee makes a decision to raise the child as her own. Years pass. Cee Cee, now known as Eve, has created a pleasant, comfortable life for herself and thinks she has moved far beyond those days in the forest — so far that she has almost forgotten that they ever happened.
The fantastic story of a young girl who gives up her entire life to finally telling the truth to save the man who manipulated her so many years ago, it really makes you think about what choices you would really make in difficult situations. I found myself tearing up at how her decisions affected her family and wondering if I would have the guts to make the decisions she made. This book put a knot in my stomach but I convinced I’m a better person for it.
Trapped by Chris Jordan
Rarely do I read a book that leaves me with that cold shivery feeling but “Trapped” is one of those books. Long Island single mom Jane Hartley is frantic when her sixteen-year-old daughter, Kelly, a survivor of childhood leukemia, disappears from her bedroom one night. To Jane’s frustration, the police believe that Kelly ran off willingly with her boyfriend, Seth. Unaware that her daughter even had a boyfriend, Jane soon discovers that Seth is no boy. He is an adult—a man who, after meeting Kelly on the Internet, took the teenager on one thrill-seeking ride after another. From motorcycles to skydiving, Jane’s little girl has been hiding some dangerous secrets.
Like mother, like daughter.
Adamant that Kelly is not a runaway but, rather, is being held against her will, Jane hires ex-FBI agent Randall Shane to follow the trail of her missing child. But every step brings them closer to a cold-blooded predator lurking in the shadows… coiled around Jane’s shameful secret…waiting to strike.
An extremely fast paced, highly emotional thriller brilliantly done with enough red herrings mixed in that I was constantly second guessing myself; the connections between various players can be shocking, secrets are revealed and mysteries solved. The killer is made even more frightening in the fact he is completely insane and has some very strange ideas about kinds of magical abilities he believes he has. And we all know sometimes the most powerful weapon is in, fact, the mind. After reading this book alone on a Saturday night, I had the overwhelming urge to go and spend some quality time with my teenage son, just to make sure he was safe. (He of course probably thought I was nuts but what the heck, you only live once, why not embarrass the heck out of your child when you scare yourself half to death…lol)