Best of the Backlist | Eight Books That Are Not New To Add to Your TBR List

By now, you know that I’m a new release junkie. I listen to a ton of book podcasts and and get a fair amount of books sent to me, so it’s easy to focus on the new and upcoming. I did make my way to some backlist books-books that were not published this year. These were my favorites!

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo | Taylor Jenkins Reid | Published in 2017

This book has a lot of hype surrounding it- and it lives up to it! World famous actress Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to spill everything. She selects an unknown journalist, Monique Grant, and refuses to tell her story to anyone but her. We find out about her fight to fame and finally get the answer to who was the love of her life. Don’t be fooled- this isn’t a cheesy love story. It’s got depth.

Dark Matter | Blake Crouch | Published in 2016

I’d feel comfortable calling this book one of my all time favorites. Dark Matter blew my mind. It’s a story that weaves physics, philosophy, psychology into a love story. Jason Desson gets abducted and his assailant demands to know if he’s happy with his life. This is a book that will have you questioning the choices you made in your life and have you feeling grateful for the good decisions that you’ve made. This is a book I’d like to see on screen.

In a Dark, Dark Wood | Ruth Ware | Published in 2016

I found Ruth Ware’s debut to be her best work. In a Dark Dark Wood takes a familiar setting- a bachelorette party- and turns it into the worst night ever. Pure entertainment- in a murderino kind of way.

Kindred | Octavia Butler | Published in 1979

I have no idea what mad me grab this one, but I’m happy I did. Kindred is often said to be the first science fiction book to be published by a black woman. Dana is a modern day black woman who inexplicably gets sucked back in time to the Antebellum South. It appears that one of her white ancestors, Rufus, has the ability to call her back in time when he’s in trouble. Seeing that it’s the 1800s, they believe her to be a slave and she has to do what she can to keep her sense of self and get back to the present.

The Dry | Jane Harper | Published in 1976

For readers that like crime fiction set in an evocative location with a detective you can root for. This isn’t a cozy though- it’s pretty brutal. But well written!

Bluebird, Bluebird | Attica Locke | Published in 2017

Bluebird, Bluebird is a complex mystery with Texas Ranger Darren Matthews at its center. There’s small town gossip, racism, and family drama will a well paced plot.

Just Mercy | Bryan Stevenson | Published in 2014

Really, a must read to understand the flaws in the criminal justice system in the United States.

A Head Full of Ghosts | Paul Tremblay | Published in 2015

I haven’t been this freaked out by a book since Pet Semetary. Kathleen Barber’s Are You Sleeping meets The Exorcist.

Ok, so a lot of these were published last year. One of my reading resolutions for next year is to read even more off of the backlist and to focus on quality, not quantity. How do you keep track of backlist books you’d like to read? Do you pay attention?

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Quick Lit | November 2018

Quick Lit | November 2018

Quick Lit | November 2018

Another reading month down! I cannot believe it’s November. Thanksgiving is next week! I had the best reading month- really, I can see reasons to recommend all of them. I’ve also been working on Nonfiction November, so I was able to get 2 Nonfictions down and I’ve just started Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming. I can already tell that will be a 5 star read. Here’s what else I’ve been reading!

November Rain | TBR Etc.

November Road | Lou Berney

When I first read that November Road was a cat and mouse crime novel set against the backdrop of the JFK assassination, I was in. I enjoyed this not for its JFK connection, but because of the story itself. Really, the inciting incident could have been anything (but I recently found out that mobster Carlos Marcello is a real guy! LOL thanks Sarah @sarahsbookshelves). Instead, we get to read the story of Frank Guidry, who until very recently, was Marcello's go-to guy. It seems his luck has run out though, so our boy Frank skips town. He's constantly trying to stay one step ahead and on the way meets Charlotte, her two daughters, and their epileptic dog. They're headed to California, Charlotte with the hope of eking out a living of her own instead of waiting for her drunken husband to get his life together, Frank just trying to stay alive. I thought the pacing was excellent and really liked the leads, Frank and Charlotte. Fans of Laura Lippman’s Sunburn might enjoy this one. 4/5.

Time's Convert | TBR Etc.

Time's Convert | Deborah Harkness

I was such a big fan of the All Souls Trilogy, so when I saw that Deborah Harkness had written a book largely centering on Matthew's son Marcus, I was all in. Marcus has chosen a mate, Phoebe, who makes the decision to change into a vampire. The story flashes back to Marcus's transition during the Revolutionary War. Unfortunately, to me, this story lacked the magic (heh) we got from Witches. Marcus is telling Diana his story, and the whole thing feels strangely detached. The big love story did nothing for me; even their reunion was lackluster. I really did not care to read about Diana's and Matthew's twins and there wasn't a satisfying ending. I'm still glad I read it because it was nice to see some of my favorites back in action, but this isn't a story that will stick with me. I found it to be about 3/5 (and it's the nostalgia for the characters that has me rating it this high).

The Great Believers | TBR Etc.

The Great Believers | Rebecca Makkai 

This took me awhile to get into, but this ended up being one of my favorites of 2018. The book opens with Yale and his boyfriend Charlie attending the funeral of their good friend Nico, who has died of AIDS. It's 1980s Chicago and people are just starting to understand the disease. Their community lives in fear of contracting it, as do so many communities across the world. The other story line features present day with Fiona, Nico's sister. She's on her way to Paris to reunite with her daughter, who doesn't know she's coming. I thought the characters were flawed and realistic. The story was a hair too long and certain points were a little too tangential, but overall it's a gorgeous story about friendship, family that you’re born with and family that you make, and acceptance. I'd be happy to read more by this author (and I'm always a sucker for books set in Chicago). 4.5/5 

A Head Full of Ghosts | Paul Tremblay

This has overtaken Pet Semetary as the scariest book I’ve ever read. Its the story of a young girl who has something absolutely terrifying happen to her. It might be schizophrenia or it might be demons- we’re not really sure. All we know is that her family has agreed to go on a reality TV show to share the exorcism they’ve elected to put her through. This book absolutely captivated me, but you definitely need to have a high tolerance for horror to enjoy it. 5/5

Between the World and Me | Ta-Nehisi Coates

This book made me miss my train stop- I don’t often get to say that! I have had this on my shelves for years and am so glad I finally made my way through it. Between the World and Me is a short book, but it’s impactful. Coates wrote this for his son and he talks about what it’s like to be a black person in America. A must read for everyone, really. 5/5

Bad Blood | John Carreyrou

I loved Bad Blood. It's the incredible true story of Elizabeth Holmes and her company, Theranos. The company alleged that it was able to perform over 200 blood tests from just a finger prick- but- the technology never worked. John Carreyrou did a fantastic job investigating the story and integrating all of the information into an incredible narration. If you're at all interested in true crime (or just unbelievable true stories)- definitely read this one! 5 stars.

The Witch Elm | Tana French

Well, Tana French remains one of my favorite authors but this one didn’t end up on my favorites list. Toby is a young man who has had an easy go in life, until one day he gets jumped in his own apartment and suffers a traumatic brain injury. He goes to the family home to take care of an ailing uncle, and something incredibly disturbing is found on the grounds, sending things into a tailspin. This was a quiet book and that was tense and atmospheric, but there wasn’t a ton of plot. The writing is superb, but I kept wishing for things to move forward more quickly. I also think it was too long by about 100 pages. If you go in thinking it’s more of a family drama than suspense/ thriller, you might like it more. 3/5

Watching You | Lisa Jewell

This is one of my new favorites! I’m a huge thriller/suspense lover (as you’ve probably gathered) and I’ve run into a lot of prolific authors whose books can by hit or miss. Lisa Jewell is an author that’s always consistent to me. A murder takes place in a neighborhood full of voyeurs and everyone’s a suspect. There was a twist or two along the way that got me and I loved the way the story was told. It opens with a police officer coming upon the scene, and then the story unfolds from the viewpoints of several neighbors. There are police interviews interspersed in the narrative, which I thought that was a fun addition. This struck me as a read alike for Big Little Lies. I’m giving it a 5!

Pieces of Her | Karin Slaughter

Pieces of Her is Karin Slaughter's latest standalone. It took me longer than usual to get into it, but in the end I did find it to be entertaining. I really liked the mother in the story- the titular Her- but I could barely get past my hatred for her daughter, Andy. This reminded me of The Nix in many ways. This one wasn't as brutal as some of her others have been- but it has its moments. It’s more suspense and drama than anything else. 3/5.

I fully recommend The Great Believers, A Head Full of Ghosts, Bad Blood, Between the World and Me, and Watching You.

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