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It’s been a while since I could say this, but all of the books on my recent-reads list are winners! And, almost all of them are relatively new releases. There’s quite a variety here, so no matter your tastes (or feelings for long reads), there’s likely something that will appeal.
I’ve spent the last few weeks immersed in two long, very different historical fiction novels. The sudden busyness that is May has kept me from reading as much as I usually do, so I’m still finishing up the latest (Love and Ruin). Once I’m done with it, I’ll definitely be ready to move on to some faster, more recent reads. Check out my May 2018 reading list for more on what I’m reading this month.
Mini Reviews of Recent Reads
Here’s what I’ve been reading:
Rosie is one of those people who makes a room brighter just with her presence. Impulsive and whimsical, she is the polar opposite of Rex, her now ex-husband. Eleven-year-old Willow is enchanted by her mother and only tolerates her days at her rigid father's house, counting down until the next magical adventures. But magic and candy can only go so far, and as her mother falls into exhaustion, addiction, and depression Willow feels her world slowly crumbling in a way she doesn't quite understand. Wolfson masterfully provides the differing perspectives of all the characters in a way that inspires empathy, even as you are frustrated with the flawed Rex and Rosie. Each family member--especially Willow and her brother Asher--will break your heart in a different way.More info →
Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks: A Librarian’s Love Letters and Breakup Notes to the Books in Her Life
Dear Fahrenheit 451 is the blog I would write if I had a little more snark in me--only in book form. I had so much fun reading Annie Spence's letters to the book she loves, the books she's retiring from the stacks (she's a librarian), and the many books that have stayed with her in various ways.
I actually found this hard to put down--it was such a light, funny read, and I looked forward to seeing if she covered any of my favorites. She hit on a few that I've loved, as well as some others that I'd now like to read. But some of the funniest letters were to the surprising finds that she weeds from the stacks (The One Hour Orgasm and Principles of Bloodstain Pattern Analysis, anyone?). If you love books about books, this is one of my favorites.More info →
Ellie Mack has been missing for ten years. At fifteen, beautiful, smart, and full of life and potential, she disappeared without a trace. The police suspect she ran away, but her mother Laurel refuses to believe it. Ten years later, divorced and disconnected from her other children, Laurel is still struggling to accept that Ellie is not coming back. Things start to look up when she meets Floyd and quickly falls into a relationship--falling under his nine-year-old daughter Poppy's spell as much as his. Poppy bears an eerie resemblance to Ellie, and soon Laurel is wondering if the connections between them are more than just coincidence.
This book reads as a mystery, and though it's not hard to figure out from the beginning, I was completely hooked and needed to know how the story played out. It's rare that I rate a thriller with five stars on Goodreads, but this one fit the bill. It doesn't quite fit the criteria for a thriller that isn't a mystery, but it's close. Jewell manages to build suspense but is meticulous in tying up loose ends, making this one of the most satisfying thrillers I've read in a long time.More info →
The Female Persuasion was one of my most-anticipated books of 2018 and it lived up to my expectations. Meg Wolitzer perfectly captures that disorienting time in college and early adulthood that so many people experience. The time seems defined by uncertainty about so many things: identity, values and political beliefs, the role of past relationships in future lives, and the relationships and goals we'll pursue.
Greer embodies all of these uncertainties, and feels she's found a foothold after an encounter with Faith Frank, an aging activist in the women's movement. The memory of that encounter drives Greer through college toward a career working with Frank--forever placed on a pedestal and seen as a mentor.
Life is on track for both career and relationships...until suddenly it's not and things aren't working out quite as planned. Greer must reconcile her past mistakes, decide what she's willing to compromise, and move past her youthful idealism to more fully see herself and those she loves and idolizes.More info →
This massive tome is the third in the Pillars of the Earth series and is set several hundred years after the previous (there are small references to the previous books, but they don't need to be read to follow this story). These books are what I call "soapy historical fiction." They are epic stories that span decades and are filled with drama, conflict, and romance, as well as history. This story takes us back to the fictional town of Kingsbridge, England, as well as to France, Spain, and Belgium during the time of the Tudors and the Inquisition.
The main conflict is between Catholics and Protestants, and we see the effects of this conflict on everyone from peasants to merchants to royalty. What I love about reading this whole trilogy, spaced hundreds of years apart, is the very strange feeling that comes with realizing that the characters you knew intimately from the previous books have died. All of the events and cares that drove their lives have passed into history and are largely irrelevant to the current story, but they also reverberate through the centuries and shape the lives of future generations. Another book that does this (with a very different story, and in much fewer pages) is Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.More info →
What have you been reading lately?