Abandoned Ship

Title: Abandoned Ship: An Intimate Account of the Costa Concordia Shipwreck

Author: Benji Smith. This is his first book.

Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir

Readers: Consultant Alila, prosecutor Rochelle, teacher Ninian and policy wonk BakingSuit

Summary: On January 13, 2012, the Costa Concordia — a thousand foot long luxury cruise ship, twice the size of the Titanic — ventured into shallow water and smashed into the rocks of a tiny island off the coast of Italy, throwing the four thousand passengers and crew members into a state of chaos. The captain and officers all abandoned ship, leaving the few remaining castaways to fend for themselves as the boat toppled onto its side and water flooded into the passenger decks.

In the wee hours of the night, newlyweds Benji Smith and Emily Lau feared for their lives, desparate and terrified after a malfunctioning lifeboat left them stranded on the sinking ship. By this point, the other lifeboats had all gone. They had been left behind.

This thoughtful memoir — hailed by The Daily Telegraph as “a compelling, minute-by-minute account of the chaotic evacuation” — tells the remarkable story of the couple’s harrowing escape, as they clung to a rope and rapelled down the hull of the doomed vessel.

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The Engagement

Title: The Engagement

Author: Chloe Hooper. Author of one previous novel,  A Child’s Book of True Crime,  which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize, and a work of crime nonfiction, The Tall Man: Death and Life on Palm IslandShe lives in Australia.

Genre: Thriller, Literary Fiction

Readers: Accountant Gina aka Slappy, lawyer Cait, stay at home mom A Military Mommy and policy wonk BakingSuit.

Summary: Liese Campbell has an engagement for the weekend: to stay with Alexander Colquhoun, the handsome, well-mannered heir of an Australian pastoral dynasty, at his country seat some hours from Melbourne. Liese is English. She’s come to Australia to work at her uncle’s real-estate business and pay off her debts. Alexander has been looking for a place in the city. The luxury apartments Liese shows him have become sets for a relationship that satisfies their fantasies—and her financial problems. Both players understand the rules. Or so she thinks.

Across the ancient landscape they drive at dusk to his grand decaying mansion. Here Liese senses a change in Alexander and realizes that a different game has begun.

Chloe Hooper’s riveting and provocative new novel is a psychological thriller for the modern age, an exploration of the snares of money and love and the dark side of erotic imagination. A trap has been set, but how and why? And for whom?

Read If You Enjoy: Books that throw you off kilter, erotic fiction that isn’t Erotica.

Don’t Read If You Dislike: Books with a cold tone, books that keep you at an emotional distance.

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What We Saw at Night

Book: What We Saw at Night

Author: Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of several bestsellers including The Deep End of the Ocean, one of Oprah’s first Book Club picks.

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Romance

Readers: Professors Michal and Irene Adler, policy wonk BakingSuit and freelance editor Allison.

Publisher Summary: Allie Kim suffers from Xeroderma Pigmentosum: a fatal allergy to sunlight that confines her and her two best friends, Rob and Juliet, to the night. When freewheeling Juliet takes up Parkour—the stunt-sport of scaling and leaping off tall buildings—Allie and Rob have no choice but to join her, if only to protect her. Though potentially deadly, Parkour after dark makes Allie feel truly alive, and for the first time equal to the “daytimers.”

On a random summer night, the trio catches a glimpse of what appears to be murder. Allie alone takes it upon herself to investigate, and the truth comes at an unthinkable price. Navigating the shadowy world of specialized XP care, extreme sports, and forbidden love, Allie ultimately uncovers a secret that upends everything she believes about the people she trusts the most.

Read It If You’re Looking For: A novel that has it all: romance, suspense and more.

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The Anti-Romantic Child

Book: The Anti-Romantic Child: A Memoir of Unexpected Joy

Author: Priscilla Gilman, her writing has been featured in The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, and The New York Times. This is her first book.

Genre: Memoir

Readers: University administrator Stacie, stay at home mom Colleen B., production coordinator Joanna and policy wonk  BakingSuit.

Summary:  Priscilla Gilman, a teacher of romantic poetry who embraced Wordsworth’s vision of childhood’s spontaneous wonder, eagerly anticipated the birth of her first child, certain that he would come “trailing clouds of glory.” But as Benjamin grew, his remarkable precocity was associated with a developmental disorder that would dramatically alter the course of Priscilla’s dreams.

In The Anti-Romantic Child, a memoir full of lyricism and light, Gilman explores our hopes and expectations for our children, our families, and ourselves—and the ways in which experience may lead us to re-imagine them. Using literature as a touchstone, Gilman reveals her journey through crisis to joy, illuminating the flourishing of life that occurs when we embrace the unexpected.The Anti-Romantic Child is a profoundly moving and compellingly universal book about family, parenthood, and love.

Read It If You Love: Romantic Poetry, Parenting Nonfiction, Confessional Memoir

Skip It If You Hate: Romantic Poetry, The Ivy League, Upper-Class Parents

For Book Clubs That Are Interested In: Memoir, Parenting, Special Needs  (Check out the Reading Group Guide)

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The Runaway Princess

BookThe Runaway Princess

Author: Hester Browne, New York Times bestselling author of several novels, including The Little Lady Agency series.

Genre: Chick Lit

Reviewers: Policy wonk BakingSuit, stay-at-home-mom Sarah L, research tech Rosie T and reading teacher Emry.

Publisher Summary: If Amy Wilde’s new boyfriend, Leo, treats her like a queen, that’s because he’s secretly a prince himself: Leopold William Victor Wolfsburg of Nirona, the ninth most eligible royal bachelor in the world. Amy soon discovers that dating an heir to a throne has many charms—intimate alfresco dinners, glittering galas, and, for a girl who lives in jeans and wellies, a dazzling new wardrobe with tiaras to match. But there are also drawbacks: imagine the anxiety of meeting your boyfriend’s parents multiplied by a factor of “riding in a private jet,” “staying in a castle,” and “discussing the line of succession over lunch.” Not to mention the sudden press interest in your very un-royal family. When an unexpected turn of events pushes Leo closer to the throne, the Wolfsburgs decide to step up Amy’s transformation from down-to-earth gardener to perfectly polished princess-in-waiting. Amy would do anything for Leo, but is finding her Prince Charming worth the price of losing herself?

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