What I’m Reading: September 2017 Book Recommendations

Here are some of my recent fiction book recommendations, whether you're looking for suspense novels or historical fiction that sweeps you away.

Since my last book post was in June, I have a slew of good book recommendations to share today. It always feels like I read more fiction during the summer, and this year was no exception. I read some fantastic suspense novels that were perfect for the beach.

What I’ve Been Reading

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

This novel set in WWII Europe has been on my TBR list for umm… years. I actually checked it out from the library a few times and simply didn’t get into it. Finally I got over the hump and then I was hooked. Marie Laure is a teenage blind girl in German-occupied France. Werner is an orphaned German boy whose gift for engineering takes him to a prestigious school that trains Nazi soldiers. The story is unique and opened my eyes to elements of WWII that I had never really considered. The writing is beautiful, and the story is compelling. I highly recommend it.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

On the heels of All the Light We Cannot See, I launched into another WWII novel, although the two are very different. This novel takes place in France and details the plight of two sisters during the war. Each has her own personal struggles, and in turn, fights back against the enemy in her own way. I was struck by the description of life under German occupation. In the past when I thought about those who suffered during WWII, I mostly thought of the concentration camps. I didn’t often think about how others were affected, but The Nightingale helped me see that there were so many types of suffering. It’s an emotional story, but inspires perseverance and heroism under the worst circumstances.

I See You by Clare Mackintosh

Zoe Walker, a middle-aged mom in London, is shocked and unnerved when she discovers a picture of herself accompanying an ad for a chat line in the daily paper. Soon after, she sees another picture advertising the same chat line and recalls the woman’s face from a recent article about victims of theft. Zoe is mostly able to call it coincidence until she sees a news report about a murder and realizes the murdered woman’s picture was recently featured in the same chat line advertisement. Together with police officer Kelly Swift, Zoe attempts to determine who is behind these mysterious ads and whether she might actually be in danger. Ruth Ware (author of The Woman in Cabin 10) describes it perfectly as “a deliciously creepy tale of urban paranoia.”

The Dry by Jane Harper

Aaron Falk returns to his small Australian hometown to attend the funeral of one his best childhood friends. In a seemingly open and shut case, Luke killed himself after killing his wife and young son. While Aaron has been out of touch with Luke for some time, something about the situation doesn’t quite add up. Apart from facing the possibility that Luke did in fact kill his own family, Aaron must come to terms with the mysterious death that drove him and his father from town many years before. While I enjoyed the suspense, I felt like the conclusion was a stretch. It’s a good story showing how tension and suffering can lend bias to a situation, but I wasn’t sold on the ending.

I Found You by Lisa Jewell

I was on a suspense kick this summer and this one didn’t disappoint in the heebie jeebie category. There’s a lot going on in this novel. Alice Lake is a mother of three in a small town on the coast of England. She discovers a man suffering from amnesia on the beach one day, and inexplicably takes him in. Meanwhile, Lily Monrose is back in London, searching for her missing husband, Carl. It seems simple enough, but Jewell also weaves in flashbacks of a teenage sister and brother, Kirsty and Gray, who encounter a strange young man named Mark while vacationing on the coast with their parents. The author does a good job of tying the pieces together, only revealing bits and pieces at a time, until you’re left dying to know how it will turn out.

He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly

This thriller was one of my favorites this summer and kept me guessing until the very end. Kit and Laura are eclipse chasers, traveling the world to experience the path of totality. (Coincidentally, I read He Said/She Said just before the recent solar eclipse. I think it added to the creepiness factor.) During an eclipse festival, Kit and Laura interrupt what they believe to be a crime in progress. The ensuing consequences of their involvement continue to plague them, no matter the distance they put between themselves and the others involved. This is a story about perception and the ripple effect of lies, even those told with the best intentions. I highly recommend this book if you enjoy psychological thrillers.

What have you been reading??

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What I’m Reading: February 2017 Book Recommendations

In January I started some books, which I shared here, and while I’m enjoying them, I was craving some fast-moving fiction. Sometimes tearing through a couple great narratives helps renew my desire to read in general. It gets me back in the habit of reading regularly and ignites that interest in discovering a good story. Here’s what I’ve been reading and what’s on my nightstand.

Are you looking for a great book? Here's a list of what I've been reading and what's on my nightstand.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

My sister lent me Eligible at Christmas, and once I started reading it last week, it took me all of a few days to finish. Admittedly I was a little turned off by this “modern retelling of Pride & Prejudice” at first. I didn’t expect the parallels to Jane Austen’s classic to be so strong, but once I got invested in the modern versions of the characters, I started to really enjoy the story. Sittenfeld manages to stay true to the original plot, while adding in contemporary issues to give it a new feel. Even though I knew the outcome of Pride & Prejudice, I was still anxious to find out how the story would end. Eligible is a fun, quick read that would be a perfect vacation read.

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

I chose this book for the 2017 Reading Challenge category “a book with a reputation for being un-put-down-able.” It did not disappoint! Lo Blacklock is a travel journalist assigned to a press trip on a brand-new luxury yacht. On her first night on the cruise, she hears something or someone thrown overboard and then comes to realize the passenger in the room next door has vanished without a trace. Her quest to find the truth is filled with twists, and I finished the book in a day. This would also be a great choice if you’re looking for a story with an unreliable narrator.

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

This isn’t exactly a page-turner in the same way as the previous two books, but I’ve found it very interesting. My book club selected Hillbilly Elegy last month, and since it was also one of my selections for the 2017 Reading Challenge, I jumped at the chance to pick it up. Vance’s memoir of growing up in the Rust Belt, amidst a poor, white, working-class community is a powerful glimpse into a culture that many of us don’t understand. Vance’s strength is offering factual information woven through raw personal anecdotes about the colorful family in which he grow up. I highly recommend it if you’re seeking to understand America on a broader scale.

On my nightstand

The Wife, the Maid and the Mistress by Ariel Lawlon

I just started this mystery novel based on the actual disappearance of a supreme court judge in 1930s New York City. I’ve heard several good recommendations so I’m hopeful. I’m not far enough in to determine yet if I love it.

A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

You can read my last post here where I mentioned Peter Mayle’s memoir about moving to Provence. I’m about three chapters into this one. While I find the story interesting, it’s not compelling enough to keep me dying to read more. It’s a good book to work through a little at a time though because each time I pick it up, I don’t feel like I need a refresher on the plot.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

I just heard about Station Eleven in episode 63 of the What Should I Read Next podcast and it sounded like a book I would like. I was intrigued by the description because the story bounces between the world both before and after a devastating flu changes the world as we know it. Another in a long line of post-apocalyptic novels, I’m curious to see what this one brings to the table.

What are you reading this month?

*This post contains affiliate links. You can find my full disclosure here.

{Linking to Modern Mrs. Darcy}

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What I’m Reading: January 2017 Book Recommendations

With all the festivity of the holidays and a lot of hosting at our house, I didn’t have much time for reading in the month of December. Now that we’re settling back into our normal routine, I’ve been catching up on some good books. If you didn’t see last week’s post where I shared my selections for the 2017 Reading Challenge, be sure to check it out here.

Are you looking for a good book recommendation? Here's what I'm reading this month.

One of my reasons for taking part in the Reading Challenge is motivation. As much as I love to get lost in a great story, it can be easy to get out of the habit of reading. There are so many demands on my time during the day, and some nights I can barely keep my eyes open long enough to get through a few pages. Plus let’s be honest, sometimes at the end of a long day, Netflix wins the battle for my attention. Having a list of books that I hope to read by the end of the year will hopefully keep me motivated to make time for reading.

So here’s what I’ve been reading lately and what’s on my nightstand right now.

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

Although The Nest has been growing in popularity for a while, I didn’t have much interest until a friend recommended it and then it just happened to show up on one of the display shelves at the entrance of our library. The story begins with Leo Plumb getting into a car accident under scandalous circumstances. The aftermath of his accident drains the trust fund intended for Leo and his three siblings, the grown children of a well-to-do New England family. Each of the siblings has been depending on “the Nest,” as they have coined their anticipated inheritance, for a different reason. The rest of the story revolves around the impact of Leo’s poor choices on his family members. This one starts off fast and furious, but takes a dip into a slower analysis of family dynamics and the choices we make when faced with a crossroads. I really liked where Sweeney took these characters and felt she really explored the inner workings of sibling relationships.

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

Unless you live in a cave, you most likely recognize this author as the creator of “Grey’s Anatomy,” and “Scandal,” (my fave) among others. In Year of Yes, Rhimes recalls how despite running a wildly successful production company, she wasn’t really happy in her own life. When her sister called her out with six words, “you never say yes to anything,” Rhimes took it as a personal challenge and thus began her Year of Yes. In saying yes to all the things that scared her or pushed her out of her comfort zone, she was able to find her own voice among all those that she so cleverly puts on our screens each Thursday night. Reading through the different ways that Rhimes was forced to say yes, it’s easy to see the similarities between these pages and the characters I enjoy so much in her shows. It’s a quick read, full of humor and genuine insight. It’s definitely a great selection to kick off the new year.

Are you a reader in search of honest book reviews and quality recommendations? Check out what I'm reading now and what I'm planning to read next.

On my nightstand

A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

I chose A Year in Provence for the 2017 Reading Challenge category “a book set somewhere you’ve never been but would like to visit.” I happened to find it in a thrift shop for $1 and I’m looking forward to starting. From Amazon “In this witty and warm-hearted account, Peter Mayle tells what it is like to realize a long-cherished dream and actually move into a 200-year-old stone farmhouse in the remote country of the Lubéron with his wife and two large dogs.” That just sounds like such a fun adventure doesn’t it?

Own Your Life by Sally Clarkson

The subtitle of Own Your Life reads, “living with deep intention, bold faith, and generous love.” Umm… yes please. After listening to an interview with Sally Clarkson, I was so excited to read her newest book that I requested it for my birthday. And then I never actually read it. How did that happen?? I’m not really sure, but I feel like this will be another good choice for the start of a new year.

I’m still working on Food Freedom Forever and you can see my initial take in my November post. There are so many books that I want to start RIGHT NOW just because they’re on my list, but I’m trying to focus on just one or two at a time.

What are you reading this month??

 

*This post contains affiliate links. You can see my full disclosure statement here.

{Linking to Modern Mrs. Darcy}

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What I’m Reading: March 2016 Book Recommendations

Spring has officially arrived in my neck of the woods, and it has been unusually rainy so far. Since we don’t get a ton of rain, I actually enjoy these gray days. They’re perfect for the family to snuggle up on the couch for a movie or for those rare occasions when I have time to myself to catch up on some reading. I have some great book recommendations for you today!

What I'm Reading

What I’m reading Now

The Lake House by Kate Morton

I received Kate Morton’s most recent novel for Christmas and couldn’t wait to tear into it. In her usual style, Morton bounces between the past and the present as she delves into the mysterious 1930s disappearance of a toddler in the English countryside. While the story is suspenseful and intriguing, I admit that this wasn’t my favorite of Kate Morton’s novels. There are plenty of twists along the way that kept me guessing, but the ending wraps up just a little too neatly and felt a bit contrived. Overall, I would still recommend The Lake House because it’s a good story. I really enjoy Morton’s style of jumping between different time periods to give the reader clues to the puzzle.

The 5th Wave and The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey

I picked up The 5th Wave when I was looking for a Christmas gift for a friend’s 13-year-old. Though it seemed too mature, I read enough that I got sucked in and ended up plowing through in about three days. I then purchased the sequel, The Infinite Sea, and devoured that one as well. The story primarily follows 16 year old Cassie, a survivor of a large-scale alien attack on the world. It feels a little ridiculous even writing that description, but it’s actually a great story. Through flash-backs and dialogue you piece together what happened in the attack, and what became of Cassie’s family. It’s a story of how despair and courage intertwine in our innate instinct to survive.

Hello, From the Gillespies by Monica McInerney

A friend of mine found a list of 20 books that “you wish would never end.” Since we live far apart, we decided it would be fun to read some of the books at the same time, like our own mini long-distance book club. Hello, From the Gillespies was the first book we chose, and I highly recommend it. The story opens as Angela, a mom in her 50s living in the Australian Outback, is attempting to write her annual Christmas newsletter. Instead of her usual cheery letter, she writes the truth about her family, everything from job failings to marriage troubles. Chaos ensues when her husband sends the email to all their friends and family, not knowing what Angela had written and intended to delete. There’s definitely a lot of sweetness to this novel as it explores the relationships between husband and wife, parents and children. This was the first I’ve read from Monica McInerney and I would definitely pick up another of her novels.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

We Were Liars is a YA novel that combines suspense with a sometimes visceral examination of teenage emotions and family dysfunction. The reader is invited into the wealthy Sinclair family, who spend every summer on a private island off Cape Cod. Cadence, the eldest grandchild, attempts to discover the events leading up to a mysterious accident that occurred on the island. The ending is as haunting as it is unexpected. My only complaint is that I didn’t really enjoy the way the narration jumps to poetic prose without real consistency. I would recommend this one for a weekend away or spring break by the pool.

 

{Linking to Modern Mrs. Darcy}

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Summer Fiction Review

In June I shared a list of books I hoped to read during the summer. Our school runs on a slightly different schedule with an 8 week summer break so this list is still in progress. I’ve read two of the books from the list, as well as some other fantastic fiction. During summer, I gravitate to breezy fiction and suspenseful page turners. Here are five great choices to toss in your beach bag.

Summer is the perfect time for fast paced fiction. Check out five selections to toss in your beach bag today.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I started this one right after I shared my summer reading list. It took me about three days to finish! I’ve heard it called this year’s Gone Girl, but I admit I liked Gone Girl better. (Side note: The Girl on the Train is also going to be a movie in 2016.) The principal character, Rachel, has a lot of issues and although she is somewhat redeemed by the end, her story is troubling. I think that the overall plot is original and certainly full of uncertainty to keep the reader guessing.

You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Another suspense novel, this is the story of Grace, an NYC therapist, whose life is torn apart when a woman from her school community is murdered and Grace’s own husband turns up missing. The story is compelling, although heavy on description, and I found myself sometimes wanting to skim sections. The author really develops the character of Grace and how circumstances force her to confront her own identity and how it must evolve in the wake of tragedy.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

This is the story of Louisa, who takes a job as a companion for Will, a former hotshot paralyzed in an accident. Will and Louisa butt heads quite a bit, but over time, each is positively influenced by the other. Funny side note: a friend recommended another book by Moyes and I thought it was the sequel to Me Before You. Based on the title of the other book, I had a good idea of how this one would end. It turns out that the other book has nothing to do with this one. Luckily, there is an actual sequel to Me Before You coming out on September 29.

The Hypnotist’s Love story by Liane Moriarty

By the end of summer, my energy was drained, and I couldn’t handle any heavy reading. The Hypnotist’s Love Story was perfect for my frazzled end-of-summer-buy-all-the-school-things brain. Fans of What Alice Forgot, also by Moriarty, will enjoy this story of a hypnotherapist who gets involved with a nice widower that happens to have a stalker. There are a few twists, but mostly it’s a lighthearted read.

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

I really enjoyed this story of a French hotelier in a German-occupied village during WWI and a modern English widow fighting for the rights to a painting. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, and Moyes does a good job here of bridging the past and present with a little mystery. I’ve only read two novels by Moyes but I can understand why she’s so popular. Her writing isn’t overly complex, but she touches upon issues that address the moral gray areas that plague her characters.

What have you read recently that you would recommend?

 

*This post includes affiliate links.See my full disclosure here.

{Linking to Modern Mrs. Darcy & Just A Girl and Her Blog}

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