While I’ve reported on my favorite books of the year, I thought it appropriate that I let you know of a few other good titles I’ve read over the past five months.
Note: For most titles, I have attached a link to either my GoodReads review or the general GoodReads entry.
A couple of years ago I read Iain Reid’s dark and twisted novel, I’m Thinking of Ending Things and if you want to see if the book is for you, check out my review here. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I picked up his follow-up novel, Foe, and while it wasn’t quite as dark as his previous book, it was still a good mind-bender. I can definitely see this made into a fabulous Twilight Zone episode.
I’ve been a fan of Elin Hilderbrand’s Nantucket books for years even though she tends to run hot and tepid. Winter in Paradise is the first in a trilogy set on the island of St. John and it is a frothy escape from the grind of everyday life. If you’ve never read her books, try The Blue Bistro or for a good binge-read, get the “Winter” series which starts with Winter Street.
The first Liane Moriarty book I read was The Husband’s Secret and I was blown away [a side note: the “exploding flowers” on the book jackets started a cover trend] and her follow-up, Big Little Lies, if not equally as good, was compelling and turned into a blockbuster HBO series. Even though her latest book Nine Perfect Strangers got off to a slow start, I ended up enjoying it. Some have said the plot twists were implausible but I found them very timely.
I am a huge fan of Stephen King (The Shining remains one of my favorite books of all time) but I have strayed a bit from reading his latest books. I saw Elevation at the library and decided to pick it up because it was short. It’s not scary, just an odd story about a man who suffers from every woman’s nightmare, losing weight but still staying the same size–OK, maybe that does classify it as horror.
Even though Claire Fuller’s Bitter Orange is set during a hot summer, the tone is dark (gothic noir?) as you know from the beginning it isn’t going to end well. It wasn’t the best gothic suspense novel I’ve read but it held my interest and the setting based on the Grange Hall estate in Hampstead sent me down a rabbit hole of googling images of the estate.
The Au Pair by Emma Rous is still on my “to-be-read” list but I included it for those who want more titles with a gothic feel. Reports have been mixed with some saying it’s rather slow and plodding but others have loved it.
While You Sleep (March publication) could also be titled “Fifty Shades of a Grey Ghost” because hoo-boy! it had some pretty steamy scenes involving a spirit. If you’re still interested, it’s set on a Scottish isle and is rife with lots of scary grabs, and while a twist or two may be guessed, the ending will have you thinking “What just happened?” It will also have you checking the VRBO or AirBnB reviews a little more carefully before booking a vacation rental.
Last year I enjoyed The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen so I was looking forward to their second collaboration, An Anonymous Girl, and I was not disappointed. The authors took their psychology research and applied it towards this very in-depth look at ethics and morals along with some good plot turns.
Even though I’d grown disenchanted with Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, I decided to try the 25th title, Look Alive Twenty-Five and it roped me back into the series. Stephanie’s life is still messy but some of her new exploits had me chuckling and even laughing out loud a few times. I maintain these are still best in audio as the narrator is excellent.
I adore the Bakeshop Mysteries series by Ellie Alexander featuring appealing characters who live and work at Torte bakery in the charming setting of Ashland, Oregon. The 9th book in the series, Live and Let Pie, starts with the crew moving into their remodeled digs and even introduces a couple of new characters. The food descriptions are yummy and recipes are tempting. And as usual, I recommend these be read from the beginning; a complete list of titles can be found here. Readers who enjoyed the Goldy Bear series by Diane Mott Davidson may want to give these a whirl.
Forty years ago, I read Peter Jenkins’ A Walk Across America and it instantly ignited my passion for reading books by anyone who performed some type of death-defying endeavor. I was excited to see his son, Jedidiah Jenkins had written To Shake the Sleeping Self, the chronicle of his bicycle trip from the Oregon coast to the southern-most tip of South America, but turned out that while the adventure was amazing, his storytelling lacked a certain panache. You can read more of my thoughts here.
So as I’m writing the above paragraph, I wondered if the phrase “southern-most tip of South America” is correct or if it has a redundant word or two. A few weeks ago I wouldn’t have given it a thought but after reading Benjamin Dreyer’s excellent book on language style and usage, Dreyer’s English, I find myself looking at my writing with a more careful eye. I’m not sure it’s changing for the better but at least I’m thinking about it! Anyway, if you do any kind of writing (and don’t we all?), buy a copy to keep on your shelf.
Tina Turner’s My Love Story details her amazing and many times harrowing journey from meeting Ike Turner and getting out of his clutches to meeting the love of her life and then surviving a stroke, cancer, and a kidney transplant.
In Pieces by Sally Field is interesting but not as compelling as I had hoped. She divulges some of the harrowing incidents that marked her life and talks about her complicated relationship with her mother, and her dishing on Burt Reynolds was revealing.
And then there’s the “memoir” This Will Only Hurt a Little by Busy Phillipps, the latest in a series of young female celebrities writing candid essays about their lives. I wasn’t as impressed as others have been but then maybe I’m a little too old to appreciate the whole “Insta-celebrity” phenomenon.
For sheer fun, get Sarah Andersen’s group of comics for adults called Sarah’s Scribbles. They are all a quick and realistic yet humorous look at a millennial’s life as an introvert who also loves books and cats. The titles are Adulthood is a Myth, Big Mushy Happy Lump, and Herding Cats.
That’s it for this post. I’ll be back to catch up on Library Reads and then my plan is to write about the life-simplifying trend, something I did 25 years ago after I read Elaine St. James’ Simplify Your Life.
I loved this entry! Your writing is informative, engaging, and witty.
Looking forward to reading more,
Thank you Sassy! I appreciate your comments and you definitely made my day. Robin
I continue to enjoy your posts and book recommendations. I’ve been binge reading the Joanna Brady series and just finished Field of Bones. So now what do I do, haha!
How do you keep up with reading all the books that you want to read? I have a list so long it’s impossible! There’s supposed to a couple rainy days here, I just started Into The Forest, so maybe I’ll finish it and another one.
Thanks for the time you invest in your writing and recommendations.
Thanks, Deb. I very much appreciate your comments. Glad you are enjoying the Joanna Brady series. Jance really captures the flavor of the desert, doesn’t she? You might try her Beaumont books set in Seattle. JP Beaumont is kind of a tragic hero and the Seattle setting is great. There is one where he meets up with Joanna. Also try Betty Webb’s Lena Jones series set in the Scottsdale and nearby AZ settings. I love them and I am always recommending her to readers of Sue Grafton.
I read Into the Forest a long time ago and remember really liking it. Let me know if I can give any more reading advice. I’m here for ya… 🙂
I did read the JP Beaumont book where he met Brady, I liked it and have thought about picking up that series.
I also read On The Beach which you mentioned in an earlier post. It really impacted me and I think about every once in a while. I think because sadly it could plausibly occur
Actually, the Beaumont series is my favorite of Jance’s. The Ali Reynolds are fine and worth reading if you want mysteries set around Sedona but I have gotten behind so unsure how they’ve developed.
I read On the Beach in 8th grade and I still think about that ending. Did you ever try Cormac McCarthy’s The Road? Geez, talk about depressing. I listened to it and had to get the book and skim it to the end as I was depressing me.
Thanks again for your wonderful recommendation of Dreyer’s English. I loved it and learned so much from it. I need to buy a copy for myself to have around for times of writing trouble. (I almost said I “really” need to but I’m trying to break myself of that habit thanks to him!)
I am so glad you loved it. I actually (heh) bought a copy and it’s rare for me to purchase a hardbound book. And yes, in my latest blog post I worked really (oops) hard at not saying “really,” “very,” and “actually.” Not sure I succeeded (need to reread the post) but it sure does make one aware doesn’t it?
And speaking of English usage and such, what do you think of the purchased edition of Grammarly? Yesterday I bought the download and not I’m not so sure it was worth the money. At least it catches my misspellings!
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Same for me, I’m avoiding hardcovers as much as possible but I keep finding myself needing to consult something from that one again so I may not be able to wait until the paperback is out. And much as I loved it, I hate dealing with footnotes on an ereader and his were actually so amusing and sometimes helpful! It did make me much more aware, which was invaluable…just keeping those points in mind has changed a lot of my writing already.
I haven’t tried Grammarly, I’m interested in hearing your experience with it! I’ve wondered because I copy edit and proofread all day for work and so many times I have to research grammar or usage rules and wondered if a system like that would save me some time. Is it really not that beneficial? Word is good enough for me for misspellings, it’s the intricacies of grammar and elements of orthography that I find myself second-guessing and spending tons of time researching. Does it not offer anything there?
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So far the most help I’ve received from Grammarly is where to put (or not insert) a comma and spelling. I haven’t used it enough to give it a fair shake and there may be features I don’t yet know how to use yet, but I don’t think it gets into the nitty-gritty of style and grammar. I used the free version for a while which mainly helped with spelling but I decided to splurge when I was editing my simple books blog post. It helped with a few grammar issues but then I’m not really the best at grammar so I’m sure what was caught was something you’d no doubt already know what to avoid, e.g. split infinitives and that type of thing.