Read These Books!

Okay I’ve read some REALLY good books lately! Here are a few that you should add to your “to read” list!

1. The Returned by Jason Mott

This book is about the dead returning to the living. No, not zombies or creatures. They just…reappear. The main characters are Lucille and Harold–an elderly couple living in the South who lost their only song, Jacob, when he was 8 years old in 1966. The dead are coming back to life and returning to their loved ones with the help of a new government agency. But they just see this in the news–stories about “The Returned”. Until Jacob shows up on their porch with an agent, still 8 years old.

“It really is a blessing from God, Agent Martin Bellamy…and just because a person don’t quite understand the purpose and meaning of a blessing, that doesn’t make it any less of a blessing…does it? [pg 78]”

They have the choice to accept Jacob, or to deny him. They choose to take him back into their lives, despite the fear and trepidation around whether it is “natural”. “Some folks locked the doors of their hearts when they lost someone. Others kept the doors and the windows open, letting memory and love pass through freely. [pg 338]”

It’s a good book, a quick read. While it does tend to drag a little in the middle of the story where the protesters are rallying again the “Returned” and the Returned are being rounded up and imprisoned, I still liked the book and it was an interesting story!

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2. As the Crow Flies: Walt Longmire Book 8 by Craig Johnson

Have you started reading this series yet? No? Why not?! It’s a great mystery series and I just LOVE this world that the author has created. The characters are complex and I love them. Walt is a great hero and in this book there is a new character introduced whom I hope sticks around – Lolo Long, the new chief of Tribal Police. She’s difficult, by the book and no one likes her but Walt takes her under his wing, so to speak, and coaches her. Despite starting out as a very unlikeable character, I grew to like her and hope she becomes a regular character.

This book was just as good as the other ones in the series. It’s a murder mystery, but also a book about Walt and Henry Standing Bear planning Walt’s daughter’s Cheyenne wedding. And these two old guys planning a wedding are absolutely HILARIOUS. Great book.

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3. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

This is the second book I’ve read from this author and hands down, she’s a great writer. The stories are compelling and suck you in. This book is no different. I couldn’t stop reading it! Then when it was almost finished I started to bum out that I was nearly done.

Similarly to “Big Little Lies”, there are three story lines taking place with each woman the main character of that story and then the stories eventually intercept. I liked all three women equally and enjoyed their stories and I admit that I guessed “the husband’s secret” pretty early on. I don’t want to spoil it for readers so I will be vague. My only concern is that if I continue to read this author she uses the same format of three women telling their story. I can see that getting old.

However, this book was REALLY good. Read it.

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4. The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

Another “If you liked Gone Girl…” book. I don’t really get the comparison. The epilogue maybe falls under the comparison but overall I don’t think so. The Good Girl is about the abduction of Mia, an art teacher who also happens to be the daughter of a Chicago aristocratic judge. The chapters flash back and forth between Mia’s kidnapper, Mia’s mother Eve as she deals with the man-hunt and search for her daughter, and Gabe the detective in charge of her case.

The writing is really well done and I didn’t want to stop reading the book. Each chapter ended and I thought, “Okay, now I’ll go to bed…” then I’d read just one more chapter. It took me a day or two to read the whole book. It’s a fast, easy read and you end up liking a lot of the characters, even her kidnapper. This was a quality book that I would recommend to anyone looking for a GOOD BOOK to read!

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5. The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

I loved this book. I loved every single word of it; I loved the story; I loved the characters. Everything about this book was wonderful and charming. It’s a story about AJ, a grumpy bookstore owner on an island off Boston. His life is forever changed one night when, passed out drunk and depressed from his wife’s recent death, he wakes up to find a priceless book stolen. Basically his life savings is gone. Shortly thereafter he finds a 2 year old girl left in his bookstore with a note from the mother. She can’t keep her daughter and wants her to grow up smart and loving books.

AJ ends up adopting Maya and raises her on his own. His sister-in-law is a pivotal character, as well as his soon to be second wife, Amelia. Complete the little family with the best friend police chief and you have a fantastic group of characters that are so well-developed that you just want to join their world.

“Remember, Maya: the things we respond to at twenty are not necessarily the same things we respond to at forty and vice versa. This is true in books and also in life. [pg 41]”

“We read to know we’re not alone. We read because we are alone. We read and we are not alone. We are not alone. [pg 249]”

“My life is in these books, he wants to tell her. Read these and know my heart. [pg 249]”

The characters were excellent. The dialogue was witty and funny and smart. A nice change from the forced and often stilted dialogue in novels that just comes across as fake. This book was all around amazing–one I am thinking of buying and reading again someday. Loved it.

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6. The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

I didn’t really know what I was getting in to when I started this book, other than it was about a family and their dramas. Turns out the mother, Lorelai is a hoarder. The story spans a generation of the family, her four kids growing up in a house where she saves every little thing. Meg, the oldest, realizes at a very age that her mother is mentally ill but no one else in the family will admit to it and they don’t try and help her. It’s begins with Easter and the novel largely revolves around Easter and the things that happened to them around that time. One of the first clues that the mother is ill is that she “saves the foils” from the Easter egg hunt she plans annually for the kids. The description of her frenzy around “saving the foils” was chilling.

The stories of the siblings intertwine and then we’re at “present” day where Lorelai has finally died, basically starving herself and she had TB. The family reunites to clean out the house and it’s worse than it was when they saw it last. They have to crawl through the piles to get through the house, kind of like rats burrowing and crawling.

The writing is really good and the characterization is well-done. You felt sympathy for everyone in the family when it was their turn to kind of tell their story. It was a great read and I enjoyed the book a lot, despite the sadness and mental illness of the mother.

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7. The Shadow Year by Hannah Richell

I could NOT stop reading this book. I read it in two days and had I not had to go to work I probably could have read it in one sitting. 🙂 There were two parallel stories going on, one in 1980 where a group of newly graduated from college friends decide to live off the grid in a cottage near a lake. The other story is about modern day Lila and her husband Tom. They’ve suffered a horrible tragedy and Lila is struggling with her grief.

She inherits this mysterious cottage from someone she doesn’t know and decides to fix up the cottage. She ends up living in the cottage, separated from her husband essentially, while she works through her grief. The story seems predictable but it had some interesting twists and turns in it that didn’t feel predictable. I absolutely loved this book and was disappointed when I finished it! Beautiful, poignant, excellent book.

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8. The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

Dark, twisted, similar to Gone Girl…It’s being compared to Gone Girl and Girl on the Train and I tend to agree. It’s a twisted story that keeps you guessing and just when you think you’ve got it, there’s another twist. The main character shifts through out the story and it’s very well done and not confusing. You grow to like the characters, even the despicable ones, and it’s a compelling read.

The story starts out with Ted, a rich guy who recently discovered his beautiful wife is cheating on him with the contractor who is building their mansion. Ted meets Lily on a plane from London to Maine and he tells his story. She offers to help him kill his wife, Miranda. Little does he know that Lily has done this before. The story is told in flashbacks, weaving them into present day as all of these evil people plot against each other. What a good read!

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Hope you guys check out some of these books and enjoy them!

11 Responses

  1. My library hold shelf just keeps growing, thanks to you! But keep ’em coming 🙂 A lot of the ones you listed look very good – I’ll head out to the library website here in a moment.

    Here’s one I can recommend to you – Wool by Hugh Howey. There are 3 of them and I have only read the first one. I just stumbled across it at Powell’s our last trip down to Portland, and really enjoyed it. Then I saw on 20th Century Fox has bought the rights and Ridley Scott is looking at it – squee! Set in a dystopian future, it was a great read.

    Thanks for the book reviews, Lisa!

  2. I’m so glad you ready A.J. Fikry — I just loved that book to pieces. I can’t remember if you read Station Eleven, that was another recent fave of mine. Reading Girl on the Train now although I must admit I haven’t picked it up in a few weeks so I guess I need to get into it a bit more. Thanks for the recommendations!

  3. I just downloaded the 30 day free Kindle App – I am bound and determined to be more of a reader of just blogs and these posts of yours always inspire me – thanks!
    Biz recently posted..Six Months

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