Hello, everyone! Happy Monday! I hope you all had a fantastic weekend!

Today’s prompt for the blogtember challenge is five books that have impacted my life, but I think I’m going to do a slightly different twist on this. These books haven’t changed my life in a grand way, but they’re books that I return to. I have read all but one of these books multiple times and the one that I’ve only read once I think about often and will definitely reread in the future. These are books that inspire me and that I can just soak up. They’re filled with characters and plot points that stay with me.

The Beach House by Mary Alice Monroe
is about Cara, who has a tense relationship with her mother. Because of this, it seems strange when her mom asks her to return to her childhood home in the Lowcountry for the summer, but with her life spiraling out of control, she goes back. While there, she repairs her family beach house, spends time with the Turtle Ladies, and settles into beach life.

I love books that explore relationships, so I really loved this look at a mother/daughter relationship that was a bit shaky. The first time I read this was over Thanksgiving and I carried it to the table with me and kept it on my chair, because dinner was ready right at the end of this book. I know! It seems unreasonable to me, too, that my family wouldn’t push back our Thanksgiving meal so that I could finish my book. I even pulled it out while everyone was chatting at the table after the meal was over. This book introduced me to the life of the sea turtles and they have captured my attention and my heart ever since. Cara is a character that I really loved from the start. She’s not a perfect character–my favorite kind–but I was able to identify her and see things in her life from her point-of-view. The great thing about this book is that I was able to see things from her mom’s point-of-view too, even when it came to the rifts between them. The fact that I connected to Cara so well when I first read this book kind of surprises me when I think back… I was in high school and Cara is forty. But that’s just a testament to Monroe, her writing and this story. This is now the first in a series. I’ve read the sequel (Swimming Lessons) and loved it, too. There’s also a prequel (Beach House Memories), but I haven’t read it yet. My copy of this book is pretty battered now… but that just means I should be able to buy a copy of the book with an updated cover, right? (While keeping the old one, of course.) 😉

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen is about Annabel, a teenage model and the girl who seemingly has it all. But she doesn’t have her best friend, who “friend dumped” her and home isn’t always the most comfortable thing to be. So when the girl who’s life is all about appearances meets music-obsessed Owen, who is obsessed with telling the truth, it’s the beginning of an interesting relationship.

I think what I love most about this book is it’s focus on appearances and making an assumption on someone’s life based on what you see. What their life appears to be like, may not be how it actually is. Growing up as a PK (pastor’s kid), this is something that I identified with, because people have an image of what the pastor’s family is like. I remember multiple occasions where someone heard stories about my family and said, “Oh, that sounds like my family. You’re like us!” I also loved all of the details in this novel, like the description of the house that Annabel lives in and all the details about her sister. There are so many details and scenes that always stand out to me, and I love it when I have a chance to get back into this book.

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson is about about a man who is badly burned while swerving to avoid what he thinks is a flight of flaming arrows and drives off a cliff. While in the hospital, he meets Marianne Engel, a sculptress of gargoyles who proclaims that he’s been burned again, and begins to visit him so that she can tell him about their life together in medieval Germany, along with the love stories of different couples from all over the world and in different periods of time.

I don’t even know where to start with this book, other than to say that I love everything about it. I love the different stories that Marianne tells and how they weave in and out of the story of the narrator and Marianne. I love the narrator and how well the reader gets to know him, even though we never learn his name. And Marianne… she’s a character that has stayed with me ever since I first read the book. This probably isn’t a book for everyone and I always want to give the warning for anyone who is interested in reading it that the first few chapters can be a bit uncomfortable (due to discussion of the narrator’s occupation, as well as detailed information about debridement) but I also don’t want that to scare anyone away. This is a really beautiful book and everyone who I know who has read it has loved it. This is a fantastic book to read, but it’s also a great one to listen to. The narrator of the audiobook was perfect!

After Dark by Haruki Murakami follows Eri, her sister Mari and the people that Mari meets late one night. It takes place in Tokyo between midnight and dawn.

What captivates me most about this novel is that it takes place in the middle of the night. The world appears different at night and I liked this focus on the people who inhabit that world. I don’t know what else to say about this one, other than I read it every few years and I love it each time.

Night Film by Marisha Pessl is about Scott McGrath, an investigative journalist who ruined his marriage and his career while investigating the cult horror filmmaker, Cordova. When Cordova’s daughter is found dead in an apparent suicide, McGrath believes there’s more to the story and starts his investigation again.

This novel is a bit on the long side, but I love it. If you’re interested in this book and you read books on an eReader, I highly recommend picking up a physical copy for this one. Night Film is an experience, that includes photos, newspaper articles and website pages in addition to the text. I was really drawn into the world of Cordova and all the extras that Pessl includes made his world even more realistic. And if you’re looking for something to add to your reading list soon, fall is the perfect time of year to dig into a mystery like this one!


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