Quick Lit | January 2019
There’s something about clearing the decks at the start of a new year. I ended 2018 by reading 102 books- obliterating my original goal of 65. For 2019, I changed my goal to 85. I think it’s achievable but not outrageous- reading 100 books is a lot and toward the end, when I realized how close I was to that “magic” number, reading started to feel like work.
But- I do have quite a few good books to recommend to you. I genuinely enjoyed all of the titles below!
Waiting for Eden proves that you don't need a lot of text to tell a powerful story. Eden is a soldier who has been grievously injured in Iraq. He's badly burned, immobile, and hanging on by a thread. His story is narrated by his friend and fellow soldier, who died in the accident that injured Eden. Eden regains consciousness and the reader finds out what happened to him and his family and the events that led him to the hospital bed. This book will gut you, but it's such a well told, human story. It's not to be missed- I ended up naming it as one of my favorites for 2018.
This book is a straight up internet-friends-made-me-do-it pick for me, and I'm so glad I tracked it down. I've never read a Colleen Hoover book before. I gather that this was departure from her usual love stories but I'm not new to psychological thrillers- and this was pure entertainment. It's not high literature, to be sure, but there’s nothing wrong with reading to be entertained. The main characters were one dimensional and started to annoy me, and there's lots of incredibly horrifying stuff that happens- but I couldn't put it down. There's a love it or hate it kind of ending, but I'm happy that it's not quite straightforward. If you like suspense and want to try something that isn't formulaic, this might be for you.
This was a slow-burn. Clara’s boyfriend Luke disappears and she races to find out what happened to him. I initially had trouble connecting with the two diverging story lines, but I was propelled to keep reading because I wanted to see how the two groups of characters would intersect. (And happily- they did in a very satisfying way). Pay attention to the clues- the author does give the reader some hints, but there are some well disguised red herrings thrown in as well. Full review here.
This is a classic in the horror genre. Paul Sheldon is a best selling author. After finishing his latest book he goes out to celebrate- and wrecks his car during a snowstorm in rural Colorado. Luckily, his number one fan Annie Wilkes was there to save his life. Unluckily for him, she’s disturbed. I thought this was excellent and I found Annie Wilkes to be one the best villains ever- she's complex yet terrifying and I couldn't wait to see how it all ended. This might be a good pick for those of you who want to read Stephen King but are intimidated by the length of his books- this one's *only* 420 pages.
This just took over as my favorite Ruth Ware Novel. It is a slow moving suspense novel that’s more dark and moody than thrilling, but once all of the pieces were falling into place I couldn’t put it down. Hal is a down on her luck tarot reader who is desperately trying to hang on after the sudden death of her mother. A letter in the mail arrives, asking her to come and claim her inheritance from the death of her grandmother, Mrs. Westaway. Problem is, she doesn’t have a grandmother named Mrs. Westaway. She uses her ability to cold read people to suss out information about the family... And finds herself deeper than she ever imagined. If you’re willing to wait until about 60% of the novel for things to really get going, then the payoff is definitely worth it.
Book 1 of 2019! This was a perfect story to begin a new year: it's set on the last day of 1984 and it's the story of 85-year-old Lillian Boxfish's life. On New Year's Eve, after eating too many Oreos "those vile black and white sandwiches", she sets to walk them off. On the way, she runs into new people and things that remind her of the life she once had. She was the highest paid woman in advertising, a mother, a poet, a wife, a divorcee, and an all around independent woman during a time when women were expected to become homemakers and no more. I loved it. I thought the writing was excellent- Lillian has a voice so clear she came across as someone I know. The book reminded me of a quieter mashup of Eleanor Olephant is Completely Fine, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, and The Secret Life of Violet Grant.
This is an incredibly thoughtful and detailed account of the events that took place on April 20th, 1999. Cullen did a lot of research for this (10 years worth), and it shows. The stories of the victims, families, and perpetrators were all shared with compassion and with a sincere attempt at understanding. I was especially interested to read about all of the misinformation that came about as a result of the media and mishandling by law enforcement, as well as the aftermath of the victims and their families. This was a hard, but necessary and sadly still relevant, book to read. It broke my heart a hundred times over.
Looker was a slim little novel at 192 pages, but it really packed a punch. It’s part thriller, part character study, and fully haunting. Our unnamed narrator is separated from her husband and becomes fixated on a famous actress that lives in her neighborhood. She’s spiraling and struggling to face reality, and believes things would be better if she could just get closer to the woman. The entire story is told from a monologue and I was continually questioning what was real and what was imaginary. I was uncomfortable but somehow underneath it all, I still felt empathy for her. I really loved the authors tone and would love to read what she writes next.
This was a fictional account of the friendship between two women in post WWII England who are the embroiderers who helped create Queen (then Princess) Elizabeth’s wedding dress. In an alternate story line, a woman has passed away and gifted an heirloom to her granddaughter. Her granddaughter sets off on a quest to uncover details of how her grandmother came into possession of the item and the details surrounding her early life. It is a book about the Royals, but moreso about the bonds of female friendship.
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