I can't believe that I haven't updated my book list here in three months. I review a book each month in my Secret Posts, and I've taken to discussing what I'm reading on the HH facebook page, so I didn't realize how much time had passed since I'd done an update here.
We have a lot of ground to cover...
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. People have been recommending Rainbow Rowell's books to me for a year or more and I don't know why it took me so long. I guess I had low expectations for the book, because it took me utterly by delight. It's technically a Young Adult novel, but don't let that throw you. (One of my favorite books of last year was YA, Why We Broke Up, and I found it kind of similar to Eleanor & Park.) It was an easy, interesting read, and the writing is very clever. Makes me want to pick up Fangirl or Attachments.
The Secret Place by Tana French. Okay, I'm going to be really honest and tell you that this was not my favorite of Tana French's books. I love Tana French. I've bought her last couple of books on release day. And the premise of The Secret Place was way up my alley - private girls boarding school - so I can't exactly explain why I didn't connect to it as usual.
I saw some critique about the magical elements to the plot (something that is present in all of her stories, in one way or another), and that didn't bother me at all, though I didn't think it served the book all that well, either. I'm only mentioning this one here because I do call Ms. French one of my favorite current writers, but if you're new to her work I would start with In the Woods or The Likeness. I also really liked Broken Harbor, though I know it has mixed reviews and some people are really uncomfortable with the crime elements when children are involved.
Psst...just saw that you can buy all 5 of the Dublin Murder Squad books here. This would make a great gift for a reader in your life who hasn't read any Tana French yet.
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant is sort of a modern classic. Currently there's a mini-series of the novel on Lifetime. This is a beautiful, important book that had me crying at multiple points. It's a story about women and family and choices and even though it's not something any woman in 2014 should connect to, the scope of it is so universally female. People on the FB page were saying that they've read The Red Tent over and over again. I'm not sure that's something I could do, but it's worth mentioning.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. Here's the weird thing about everyone giving their opinion on the internet all the time: drive-by raves or pans happen and stick in your brain. Awhile ago, I saw someone online call this book "weird." For some reason that seems outside of my personality, I then deemed it not worth my time. I also had in my head that his books were science-fiction-ish, which also moved it to the bottom of my priority. But here's the deal, some of my favorite books in the last few years have been straight weird (Geek Love) and also science-fiction/fantasy (The Passage), so I need to readjust the labels in my brain to align with what I really like to read.
I'm so glad I gave The Ocean at the End of the Lane a try. It is great. Fantastic writing, thought-provoking story, I'd definitely nominate this for a book club pick, only because I see the range of opinions on it. I discussed the ending with a friend and we widely varied with our takeaway, even with what we thought actually happened at the end. I loved it, and promptly downloaded another Gaiman book Neverwhere to read soon.
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. First and foremost, I highly recommend that you just jump right in on this book and don't read a single thing about it first. I downloaded it on my kindle after a friend mentioned it, having no idea what it was about, and was given a total about face around chapter 3. This book is SO INTERESTING. I read it almost as if it was memoir. I was invested in this family like it was a true story I would someday see on Dateline. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves was unexpectedly sharp and touching.
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton. The cover was a little girly/romance novel for me, so much so that I kind of groaned each time it kept popping to the front of my kindle. I decided to read it over Thanksgiving, when I thought I would have a lot of time on my hands, but wouldn't want to go too deep. I was wrong about it all. Ignore the cover. This is a really entertaining and well-woven story about unlikeable characters that you are rooting for anyway. I guessed the ending, but it didn't dampen the read for me. The Secret Keeper seems like the kind of novel to get wrapped up in over the holidays beside the fire.
Now that we've gotten most of the fall reading out of the way, I'm working on my list for Best Books of the Year. I'll post those next week.
What have you read recently worth recommending?
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