Big Sky Country by Linda Lael Miller. Reviewed here. Funny enough, the day after this posted, I actually was in Big Sky Country - Montana!
Guts by Kristen Johnston. I picked up this book because I loved the actress on Third Rock from the Sun. I thought it would be a funny memoir about acting, being beautiful, achieving success again and again. Instead, it's about Johnston overcoming her addiction. I guess I'm naive, but I didn't even know she had an addiction! She glosses over her childhood and even her beginning acting success, which originally bugged me, because that's what I wanted to read about. The book instead centers around her stomach actually ripping open and releasing acid into her body due to ingesting so much wine and medication. (It is called Guts...) The majority of the book focuses on her period of recuperating in a London hospital, and finally getting sober after the fact. Pretty funny at times, kind of depressing and sad, but she has a fresh, honest way of approaching addiction that redeems it all.
Riding the Bus with My Sister by Rachel Simon. A great memoir documenting a year in the author's life as she tags along with her sister. Beth, the sister, is a mentally handicapped adult who is functioning enough to live on her own and be employed. However, instead of holding a job, Beth prefers to ride the city buses all day, learning all of the routes and schedules, and befriending drivers and passengers. Simon finds her life changed as she travels in circles with her sister. There are some really heartfelt emotional scenes that will open your eyes towards injustice as well as the beauty in life. There is also a surplus of honesty - Simon never glosses over how it feels to cope with a handicapped family member, recounting fights she picks with her sister, anger she feels, and the guilt that results from both. It's an amazing book, the second I've read by the author, and I'm eager to read more.
Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman. Very humorous book about a struggling writer unhappy with his job, and what happens when he takes action. Thrown into the mix are relationships with his incredibly famous writer (and womanizer) father, his sweet step father, his wife, his daughter, his mother, and his crush at work. It sounds like a bunch of characters thrown into the mix, but it works beautifully. It's really amusing and while the ending seems a little too clean, it's worth a read. Bonus factoid: the author got his MFA from the program I attended!
One Breath Away by Heather Gudenkauf. Reviewed here. In airports on my way home from traveling, I saw this book on every bookstore's "Bestseller" shelf!
The Line Between Here and Gone by Andrea Kane. I liked the premise of this book: a newborn is struggling to live because he has a condition that only a transfusion from his father can cure. His mother, Amanda, isn't a match, but she's trying to find another donor because Paul, the baby's father, died before Justin was born. Then a friend sends a photo of Paul to Amanda - apparently he's alive and just ran away from something. He never knew she was pregnant but Amanda is still hurt that Paul might have abandoned her and their son. She hires an investigative firm to find him, if only for the transfusion that will save her son's life. The detectives start finding more and more trouble around Paul's disappearance. The story is well told, the suspense is well done, but too many external characters come into play. For half of the book, it was just Amanda, the baby, her close friend, her uncle, and the investigative team. As the book goes on, a bunch of criminals come in to play, as well as more FBI agents, and the names are really difficult to keep straight, as well as what role they play in the story. Otherwise it was a good read.
This is actually the second book in a series. I haven't read the first one, so maybe it is easier to follow the characters' names and jobs if you read them in order.
The Power to Write by Caroline Joy Adams. Described as "a writing workshop in a book," this volume can either be a quick read of seven chapters, or drawn out to study each chapter over a week and dedicate time to the exercises included. It's a very basic writing book, with the focus being on inspiring you to get started. There are guidelines for having hooks in your first sentence, using sensory details, and including emotions so your reader is drawn into the story, but it's more of a starting point than a book to help hone your craft.