GoodReads Recommends…YA Thrillers!

It’s time for another GoodReads Recommends post, a semi-regular feature where I highlight suggested titles based on GR’s recommendations page. Curious about past editions? I’ve looked at contemporary thrillers, TWO favorite novels…which led to discovering a third favorite novel, took a look at recs based on one of my favorite authors, and most recently, highlighted titles based on one of my Top Reads of 2016!

Today I want to look at YA Thrillers. I’m not a huge YA fan, but man oh man, I love me some thrillers. These recommendations are heavily based on several recent reads including Teresa Toten’s Beware That Girl and Megan Miranda’s The Safest Lies (a double review for both can be found here) as well as The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas and both of Amanda Panitch’s novels: Never Missing, Never Found and Damage Done.

One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards
October 4, 2016

A senior camping trip-turned-deadly? SIGN ME UP! Sera’s trip starts out normal enough – hiking, nature, the whole works – until one morning when the group awakens to discovers words scrawled on their wrists: damanged, deceptive, dangerous, and darling. Their supplies are destroyed, half of the campers have vanished, and the chaperone is unconscious. Possibly the creepiest part – there are dolls dressed just like them and placed nearby that are acting out a murder.

UM YES YES YES although a HUGE hell no to the creepy murderous dolls! This one is for sure going on my To Read list!

This is Our Story by Ashley Elston
November 15, 2016

Five boys went hunting, but only four came back and they’re not saying a word about who fired the shot that killed the fifth boy. Kate’s senior internship with the District Attorney’s office wasn’t anything spectacular…until she’s handed the biggest case her small town has ever seen. The River Point Boys are the talk of the town and despite the toxicology reports from that fateful night, the DA owes their powerful families and wants the case swept under the rug. Kate refuses to back down and she and her boss secretly begin their own investigation – and discover some startling truths.

This sounds super good and definitely a book I would get lost in!

With Malice by Eileen Cook
June 7, 2016

I love books that are ripped from the headlines and this sound sounds eerily similar to the Amanda Knox case. Jill wakes up in a hospital room with a cast on her leg and several stitches…and no memory of what happened. Eventually she discovers she was in a car accident while on a trip in Italy – though she doesn’t remember taking that trip at all. Her father brings her home to recuperate…and to meet with a lawyer, because that accident? It might not have been as innocent as it looked. Suddenly Jill finds herself in the national (global) spotlight accused of killing her best friend. She knows she would never do anything to hurt Simone, but with no recollection of Italy and the past six weeks, what can Jill truly believe?

Verrrry intriguing!

GoodReads Recommends: based on Black Rabbit Hall

It’s time for another round of GoodReads Recommends, a semi-regular feature where I take a look at the suggestions from GR’s recommendations page. Sometimes I get lucky and discover a new favorite novel, other times…nope.

Curious about past editions? I’ve highlighted contemporary thrillers, two favorite novels…which led to a new favorite novel, and took a look at recs based on one of my favorite authors.

Today I’m featuring recommendations based on one of my top reads of 2016, Black Rabbit Hall, Eve Chase’s debut novel that’s deliciously gothic and full of family secrets with a grand old estate that’s every bit as much of a character as the people who lived in it. Interested in my thoughts on this one? Check out my review.
Ghosts are everywhere, not just the ghost of Momma in the woods, but ghosts of us too, what we used to be like in those long summers . . .

Amber Alton knows that the hours pass differently at Black Rabbit Hall, her London family’s country estate, where no two clocks read the same. Summers there are perfect, timeless. Not much ever happens. Until, of course, it does.

More than three decades later, Lorna is determined to be married within the grand, ivy-covered walls of Pencraw Hall, known as Black Rabbit Hall among the locals. But as she’s drawn deeper into the overgrown grounds, half-buried memories of her mother begin to surface and Lorna soon finds herself ensnared within the manor’s labyrinthine history, overcome with an insatiable need for answers about her own past and that of the once-happy family whose memory still haunts the estate.

Lost Among the Living by Simone St. James
St. James is an author who has been on my radar for years and I honestly have no idea why I haven’t grabbed one of her books! They seem to be total Leah reads, gothic and dark with a hint of horror and mystery. Lost Among the Living is no exception: England, 1921. Jo is still mourning her husband who was shot down in Germany a few years earlier. She makes ends meet by working as a paid companion to her husband’s wealthy (if ill-mannered) aunt, and joins Dottie as she travels to the family’s country estate. Once they arrive at the house, Jo realizes just how little she knows about this family…like the rumors that they’re cursed, for example. And the mysterious death of another relative. I’m all about big houses and dark secrets!

House of Shadows by Nicola Cornick
If the pitch includes the phrase “for fans of Kate Morton” you better believe I’ll be reading it! This one features one of my all-time FAVORITE storytelling devices: dual eras. Bouncing between the 1660s and the present day, House of Shadows is about a man who’s researching his family tree when he suddenly disappears. His sister begins a frantic search and, along the way, uncovers an antique mirror and an old diary of a courtesan who was living in their house when it burned down 200 years ago. As she digs deeper into the mystery the diary holds, she hopes the answers revealed will lead her to her brother. The blurb also mentions a Winter Queen and yep I’m on board with this one!

Smoke by Dan Vyleta
This one comes out May 24 and I’ve been seeing some serious buzz! Unlike the other recommendations, this one is historical fantasy and I’m intrigued. This is an England where anyone who has evil or wicked thoughts emits a smoke from their body. Unless, of course, they’re a member of the aristocracy. There’s an elite boarding school, teachers with inside ties to the government, and a grand estate with hidden rooms and laboratories. And what’s a story without a little murder? I’m still on the fence with this one so I think I’ll wait until more reviews come out, but so far people are raving over this one!

The Devil in the Corner by Patricia Elliott
I was a little surprised to see a YA novel included in the recs, but I’m open to anything! Maud escapes life as a governess by moving in with a cousin she’s never met. Life with Juliana, however, isn’t exactly what she had hoped for: she’s essentially locked inside the house and made a prisoner; any outside friendships are nixed before they have a chance to form. Maud turns to laudanum and the more she becomes dependent on the drug, the more she begins to wonder if her cousin (or someone) is plotting her demise. Hmm..I’m not sure about this one. I try not to place too much weight on reviews (especially since some of my all-time favorites are books that were brutally destroyed in the media!) but this one doesn’t seem to be too well received. It sounds like it might be interesting, but for now I’m thinking I’ll hold off.

The Firebird’s Feather by Marjorie Eccles
It’s 1911 and soon-to-be King George V is preparing for his coronation, suffragettes are campaigning, and an 18-year-old girl is excited about her debut into London society. Kitty’s world turns upside down, however, when her mother is brutally murdered in Hyde Park and the resulting investigation leads Kitty to the realization that she really didn’t know her mother at all. Yay, more family secrets! A possible affair, is there a link to their Russian background? What does the rest of the household know that they aren’t telling Kitty?

Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman by Tessa Arlen
And we’re ending on a perfect note! I actually received this book (and its just-published sequel, Death Sits Down to Dinner) from the publisher – thanks, Minotaur! This one is the first in the Lady Montfort Mystery series, an Edwardian cozy and I’m actually planning on doing a double-feature review for both books soon, so it’s super fitting that this one popped up on the recommendation page! A summer costume ball, a murdered nephew, the hidden lives of the servants. Yes, yes, yes.

GoodReads Recommends: based on…Jennifer McMahon!

It’s time for another round of GoodReads Recommends, a semi-regular feature where I highlight suggestions from the GoodReads recommendation page. Previous editions featured contemporary thrillers and took a closer look at a new favorite novel I discovered through the very first GoodReads Recs post!

Today I’m hoping to find some fantastic new books based on one of my favorite authors, Jennifer McMahon. If you want a novel that’ll suck you in and have you leaving the lights on all night, Jennifer’s your gal!

Don’t Breathe a Word | May 17, 2011
On a soft summer night in Vermont, twelve-year-old Lisa went into the woods behind her house and never came out again. Before she disappeared, she told her little brother, Sam, about a door that led to a magical place where she would meet the King of the Fairies and become his queen.

Fifteen years later, Phoebe is in love with Sam, a practical, sensible man who doesn’t fear the dark and doesn’t have bad dreams—who, in fact, helps Phoebe ignore her own. But suddenly the couple is faced with a series of eerie, unexplained occurrences that challenge Sam’s hardheaded, realistic view of the world. As they question their reality, a terrible promise Sam made years ago is revealed—a promise that could destroy them all.

Don’t Breathe a Word was my very first McMahon novel – coincidentally it was also the first post on the blog, way back in August of 2011! I loved it then, still love it now, and it kickstarted a beautiful relationship with a fab author! So what does GoodReads say I might also enjoy?

These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf
When a teenager with a golden child reputation is sent to prison for a gruesome crime, her family’s world is turned upside down. Her parents want to forget she exists, her sister has to suffer through whispers in the school hallways. When the girl is released to a halfway house, her only thought is to contact her sister. At the center of it all is a little boy, his adoptive mother, and the secrets that bind the two sisters together. This one sounds interesting, though my initial reaction was that it reminded me of That Night by Chevy Stevens (which I did not like.) That said, I’ve seen Gudenkauf’s novels around quite a bit and have always been a little curious about them. This might be one worth looking into!

The Cypress House by Michael Koryta
Arlen Wagner can look into a person’s eyes and know they’re about to die. When he’s on a train and sees the sign in the passengers’ eyes, he attempts to warn them. With only one believer, the two flee the train and make their way to a boarding house…which is directly in the path of an oncoming hurricane. A bit supernatural, a bit edge-of-your-seat thriller, The Cypress House sounds crazy intense. It has the added bonus of being blurbed by Dean Koontz! It doesn’t say it (or even hint at it) in the blurb, but reviews have mentioned this book is a historical novel! It’s set in the 1930s!! Be still, my heart! Creepy historical fiction is so up my alley.

The Winter People | February 11, 2014
West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter, Gertie. Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara’s farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that suddenly proves perilous when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished without a trace. Searching for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea’s diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother’s bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked deeper into the mystery of Sara’s fate, she discovers that she’s not the only person who’s desperately looking for someone that they’ve lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.

The Winter People was a novel that had me genuinely creeped out in the middle of the afternoon. I was jumping at every little sound! I’ve gone of to recommend this one to a ridiculous amount of people and every single one of them has loved it. This one also showed up again on my Top Reads of 2014 list!

Bird Box by Josh Malerman
This is a novel I’ve heard nothing but AMAZING things about! Something has caused people to go on rampant killing sprees, commit suicide, or dive into the depths of madness. Five years later only a handful of survivors are left, including a mother and her two very young children. The entire time she’s been planning their escape, dreaming of the day when they’ll be safe. Finally she launches into action, sailing down the river in a tiny boat (blindfolded, for if you see it, you become one of them.) Apparently Bird Box is being adapted into a movie? I’m not a big fan of dystopian novels, but there have been a handful I’ve enjoyed, and this one sounds great!

The Vanishing by Wendy Webb
A woman receives an offer of a caretaker position and it’s only after she arrives at the enormous estate that she discovers just who she’ll be caring for: the famed horror novelist Amaris Sinclair…who the world believes is dead. Yes, yes, and YES. This one sounds like the perfect winter’s read when I’m curled up with a cozy blanket and a hot cup of cocoa. Earlier in the year I read the graphic novel Exquisite Corpse which also deals with a writer hidden away and presume dead, but The Vanishing sounds like a far creepier tale.

The Night Sister | August 4, 2015
Once the thriving attraction of rural Vermont, the Tower Motel now stands in disrepair, alive only in the memories of Amy, Piper, and Piper’s kid sister, Margot. The three played there as girls until the day that their games uncovered something dark and twisted in the motel’s past, something that ruined their friendship forever.

Now adult, Piper and Margot have tried to forget what they found that fateful summer, but their lives are upended when Piper receives a panicked midnight call from Margot, with news of a horrific crime for which Amy stands accused. Suddenly, Margot and Piper are forced to relive the time that they found the suitcase that once belonged to Silvie Slater, the aunt that Amy claimed had run away to Hollywood to live out her dream of becoming Hitchcock’s next blonde bombshell leading lady. As Margot and Piper investigate, a cleverly woven plot unfolds—revealing the story of Sylvie and Rose, two other sisters who lived at the motel during its 1950s heyday. Each believed the other to be something truly monstrous, but only one carries the secret that would haunt the generations to come.

The Night Sister is my third and most recent read and firmly solidified Jennifer’s spot as one of my auto-buy authors. Creepy and haunting – and, at times, downright terrifying – I really ought to know by now to ONLY read her books in the middle of the day when Matt is home with me!

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter
Pretty fitting last night for a thriller novelist, no? Centering on three sisters, this is another novel that brings to mind Chevy Stevens (Those Girls and a book I actually did enjoy!). Twenty years ago, one of the sisters disappeared. The remaining sisters grew up and couldn’t be more different: Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of a millionaire and Lydia is a single mother dating an ex-con. When Claire’s husband is murdered, the sisters set aside their differences and come together – could the murder and their sister’s disappearance somehow be related? Pretty Girls sounds more psychological thriller than anything paranormal, but I’m VERY interested in its premise! I’m also a bit curious to see what this author is all about – I’ve seen her name come up several times in my recommendations and she seems to be a pretty Big Deal.

Somebody I Used to Know by David Bell
Nick sees a woman at the grocery store and time stops. You see, the woman is the splitting image of his college girlfriend…a young woman who died in a campus fire twenty years ago. When he tries to speak to her she runs and the next morning police arrive at his door: the woman had been murdered and Nick’s name was written on a piece of paper in her pocket. I had been asked to join the blog tour for this one earlier in the year but had declined. Now I wondering if I should see what I missed out on! Another David Bell novel was a recommendation for Don’t Breathe a Word: Cemetery Girl. Somebody I Used to Know sounds like a really fun and gritty ride – should Bell be an author I need to be reading??

GoodReads Recommends: Contemporary Thrillers!

It’s time for another round of GoodReads Recommends, a semi-regular feature where I highlight books GoodReads suggests on their recommendations page based on other books I’ve read/shelved. FUN STUFF.

At the moment I’m on a Thriller kick. Last summer’s Dear Daughter was such a great read and I’ve since recommended it to multiple friends. Then, earlier in the month, I received a copy of Luckiest Girl Alive which I’ve already read and loved (keep an eye out for my review in May!) I’ve been craving something similar, a good ol’ fashioned suspense novel, something I can sink into on a lazy afternoon. I’m currently listening to my very first Liane Moriarty (!!!) and oh my gosh it’s so good. So, yeah, I am ALL about Thrillers right now.

I Love You More by Jennifer Murphy
“One man. Three wives. The perfect murder.” Picasso is 12 when her father is murdered and her mother is the prime suspect…until police discover his second wife…and the his third. These women claim they have never met but Picasso knows the truth. One of the wives is pregnant with Oliver’s fourth child, another wife showed up at the house carrying the same purse as Picasso’s mother. Jealousy and revenge are the driving force behind this novel and I almost grabbed this one on audible before deciding on Big Little Lies.

The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford
Dana was the last person to see her neighbor alive. Suffering from bipolar disorder, Dana sometimes finds she has holes in her memory, including just what happened the afternoon she last saw Celia. The evidence starts to point to Dana and she begins to wonder if she really did murder her friend…or is there a killer in their neighborhood? I try to avoid comparisons, but this one is likened to two novels I desperately want to read: The Silent Wife and Before I Go to Sleep. Also, Dear Daughter has a similar plot in that Janie isn’t sure if she actually was the one to kill her mother.

The Butcher by Jennifer Hillier
After a string of terrible and gruesome murder, the Beacon Hill Butcher was finally tracked down and killed. Now, thirty years later, the cop responsible for the Butcher’s death has retired and has given his Victorian house to his grandson. As Matt begins renovating the house he comes across a locked crate and uncovers dark family secrets. His girlfriend Sam fares little better: her mother was murdered and despite the crime taking place two years after the Butcher’s death, she’s convinced he did it. This one definitely sounds like something I’d enjoy, those the reviews are super polarizing – and the consensus seems to be that Hillier’s other works are better.

The First Wife by Erica Spindler
After marrying her knight in shining armor, a woman discovers his first wife disappeared under mysterious circumstances. On a trip to Logan’s sprawling estate in Lousiana, Bailey’s perfect world begins to crumble. Rumors surrounding the first wife, talk of other woman in the area who disappeared, and now another woman who has gone missing. Bailey begins to realize how little she knows about her husband. OH I LOVE DARK SECRETS and this one sounds fantastic. Also, it features a guilty pleasure of mine: a status difference. Logan is from the upper crust while Bailey is working class all the way.

The Bullet by Mary Louise Kelly
A French literature professor is shocked to discover a bullet is lodged near the base of her skull. She has never been shot – how did it get there?? Initially her parents are confused as well until they finally tell her the truth: Caroline was adopted when she was three after her parents were murdered. A stray bullet had found its way into Caroline’s neck and the doctor’s simply stitched up the wound.Thirty-four years later Caroline wants answers about a life she never knew. She heads to her hometown only to discover the case has gone cold, there were no suspects, no one charged. There was never any evidence…until now. The bullet in Caroline’s neck could finally prove who murdered her parents. Okay, so admittedly this sound a little far-fetched, but it also sounds deliciously fast-paced and exciting!

Before He Finds Her by Michael Kardos
One a Sunday evening in September 1991, Ramsey Miller threw a block party and murdered his wife and daughter. What everyone doesn’t know is that the daughter is still alive. Now eighteen and living as Melanie Denison, she has spent the last fifteen years in the Witness Protection Program. Never allowed to attend school dances, travel, or even have Internet at her house, Melanie finally has had enough. Tired of following such strict rules, she rebels, starting up a relationship with a teacher and now, ten week pregnant, she decides to take matters into her own hands. She doesn’t want her child to grow up sheltered and hidden away, so she returns home to track down her father…unless he finds her first. Okay, so this one is even more far-fetched than The Bullet (because of course the one thing you should be doing while pregnant is tracking down a murderer!) but it’s received great reviews!

BONUS: TWO UPCOMING NOVELS

Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight
The body of an infant is discovered, but no one knows who she is or how her body ended up in the wood’s near the university’s campus. Molly, a freelance journalist, is tasked with covering the story and what is uncovers is more than she bargained for. Ridgedale has some serious skeletons in its closet, including a string of unreported assaults that go back decades. Cassie first brought this one to my attention and we’re usually SPOT ON with our tastes. This could totally be an episode of Law & Order.

Those Girls by Chevy Stevens
The three Campbell sisters know to keep their heads down and avoid their father’s fists. One night, however, a fight gets out of hand and the sisters know they need to get out now. When their truck breaks down in a small town, they find themselves in an even worse situation, ultimately deciding the only way to stay safe would be to adopt new identities. Eighteen years later their past catches up to them and they have nowhere left to run. EEEEE!! Chevy Stevens is another author whose works I almost grabbed on audible. Her stuff sounds GREAT and there were so many GR rec’d that I wanted to include here!

Do you like Thrillers?? What are some of your favorites?

GoodReads Recommends: based on Glow!

The more I think about this feature, the more I love it! GoodReads Recommends is pretty straightforward: based on other books I’ve read and shelved, GoodReads’ recommendation page lists other titles I might be interested in! I thought it would be fun to take a look through these books and so far I’ve had fantastic luck!

My very first GoodReads Recommends featured novels I might enjoy based on two of my favorites: Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being and Katherine Howe’s The House of Velvet and Glass. Glow was a recommendation based on Howe’s novel and it sounded so great I immediately requested it from my library! I loved it so much that for this edition I’m highlighting recommendations based on Glow!

BECAUSE I READ…

Glow by Jessica Maria Tuccelli | my 5-star review
October 1941. Eleven-year-old Ella McGee sits on a bus bound for her Southern hometown. Behind her in Washington, D.C., lie the broken pieces of her parents’ love story—a black father drafted, an activist mother of Scotch-Irish and Cherokee descent confronting racist thugs. But Ella’s journey is just beginning when she reaches Hopewell County, and her disappearance into the Georgia mountains will unfurl a rich tapestry of family secrets spanning a century. Told in five unforgettable voices, Glow reaches back through the generations, from the red-clay dust of the Great Depression to the Blue Ridge frontier of 1836, where slave plantations adjoin the haunted glades of a razed Cherokee Nation. Out of these characters’ lives evolves a drama that is at once intimately human and majestic in its power to call upon the great themes of our time—race, identity, and the bonds of family and community.

I SHOULD READ…

The Blessings of the Animals by Katrina Kittle
As she deals with her recent divorce, veterinarian Cami Anderson can’t help but notice all the love and happy relationships going on around her. Her parents are celebrating their fiftieth anniversary, her former sister-in-law is newly engaged, and her daughter is starting to date. Through her struggles she takes comfort in an unexpected source: an angry old horse who is in her care.

I’m a little confused as to what this has to do with Glow (a female lead is all I’ve got) but this sounds like chick-lit at its finest, a read for a lazy afternoon. Plus I’m a total sucker for books with animals. WANT TO READ

The Shortest Way Home by Juliette Fay
After twenty years in Third World war zones, Sean has finally decided to come home. His arrival isn’t exactly what he expects, however – his family is going through its own disaster.

Though the cover looks bright and happy, I’m just not feeling this one at all. Nothing about it appeals to me – especially the bit in the blurb where it mentions Sean hopes to ~re-write his destiny~ with a woman from his past. Gag. PASS

The Last Will of Moira Leahy by Therese Walsh
One fateful night the bond between twins, between sisters, is broken forever. A decade later both women are still struggling to move on and find their own identity. When an auction bid leads to anonymous notes and an invitation to Rome, the score is finally going to settled once and for all.

Okay, so I’m ALMOST 100% sure my mom either has this book or has read it. If so it’ll be easy peasy for me to get a copy! Also, HEY LOOK IT’S MY NAME. Sort of. Really though, this one sounds great! I’m loving the mystery element and I love stories where family bonds are broken (bonus points for this one focusing on twins!) and the auction with the winning dagger is very intriguing. It adds a bit of depth to this novel and makes my history buff heart beat a little faster. WANT TO READ

The Search Angel by Tish Cohen
Eleanor Sweet is the owner of an upscale baby boutique. Being surrounded by strollers and onesies all day only deepends Eleanor’s desire for a child, but when her husband suddenly gets cold feet, their plans for adoption doesn’t look good. Eleanor is still determined to adopt Sylvie, especially since she was adopted herself, though she was always reluctant to find her birth parents. With Sylvie’s future at stake, Eleanor hires Isabelle, a search angel, to find her own birth mother.

I’m confused. From the blurb it sounds as though Eleanor needs to track down her mother for this adoption to somehow go through. Is it some sort of grammatical error (or complete misreading on my part) and it’s Sylvie’s birth mother Eleanor needs to find? Regardless, this one is getting a PASS

The Theory of Opposites by Allison Winn Scotch
Willa Chandler-Golden’s father wrote a self help book that changed millions of lives. In the book, he stated that everything happens for a reason, and while Willa isn’t convinced, she does have a pretty good life. Until the day her husband announces he wants to take a two-month break to see if they can’t live without each other and are truly meant to be. Her husband’s proposal sets Willa’s life on a downward spiral: she loses her job, her nephew moves in, an ex finds her on facebook, and her best friend lands a spot on a reality show. Could her father’s theories be right? Or should Willa dare to blaze her own trail?

Although the ratings are good, this one sounds just okay. A perfectly average read and, while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, I want amazing. I want mind-blowing. Decent just isn’t going to cut it. PASS

The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D. by Nichole Bernier
After losing her best friend in a terrible accident, Kate heads to Great Rock Island for a restorative summer vacation. While there she inherits a trunk of Elizabeth’s belongings and inside Kate finds a journal, leading Kate to discover a completely different woman than the one she thought she knew.

I misread the summary and thought this was going to be my favorite type of historical fiction: a story told in dual eras. I thought Kate was going to be in the present day, while the journals were from the past. This clearly isn’t the case, and I’ll admit I’m a little bummed. I’m also not a big fan of epistolary novels, they rarely work for me, so because of that, I’m giving this one a PASS

Well that’s disappointing! How could one of my favorite books of 2014 lead to such pitiful recommendations?? :( Boo. Better luck next time I guess! Have you read any of these?

GoodReads Recommends!

I don’t know about you guys, but I love GoodReads’ Recommendation page! Sometimes I find completely new-to-me novels and other times seeing a certain book is similar to one I already enjoyed is all I need to give me that extra push. I thought this would be a fun feature to start – and today I’m highlighting some recommendations from two pre-2014 novels I absolutely loved! Who knows, maybe there will be a new favorite found in these recs!

BECAUSE I READ…

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki | my 5-star review

In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao plans to document the life of her great-grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace—and will touch lives in a ways she can scarcely imagine.

Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox—possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future.

I SHOULD READ…

The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara
In 1950, a doctor and an anthropologist sign on to an expedition headed for a remote island in search of a lost tribe. Once they arrive, they discover that, not only is the tribe alive and well, but they have a lifespan that far surpasses ours. Suspecting the source of their long life is a rare turtle, the doctor tracks one down and brings the meat back to America where he proves his theory and gains worldwide fame and the Nobel Prize. But he quickly learns that this new-found fame comes at a price.

This one had actually been on my To Read list last year, but I let one negative review get the better of me and I removed it. So I don’t know about you guys, but this one sounds like a total Leah book! A little Magical Realism, a little Literary Fiction… yep, this is definitely a book I WANT TO READ (possibly sooner, rather than later!).

Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw
Five characters – a country boy-turned pop star; a man hoping to expand his family’s real-estate empire; a poetry-loving, left-wing activist who reinvented herself into a successful businesswoman; a girl who arrives in Shanghai only to discover the job she came in search of doesn’t exist; and the novel’s title billionaire – and the city that surrounds them.

I’m all about stories following multiple characters! I looove them. It also helps that Ruth Ozeki herself gave this one 5 stars. That said, there’s nothing about the summary that I find particularly intriguing. It was a nominee for the Man Booker Prize and I usually adore the novels up for the title, but I think I might have to PASS.

The Gods of Heavenly Punishment by Jennifer Cody Epstein
Fifteen-year-old Yoshi is heading home one night when American bombers shower her city with napalm, leaving 100,000 people dead within hours. As Yoshi attempts to pick up the pieces of her now-broken life, we meet other characters: a pilot taken prisoner, an architect, and a soldier.

I’m a little surprised I had never heard of this novel until now! I love me some Historical Fiction, especially when it’s a wartime novel. From what I understand, The Gods of Heavenly Punishment takes place in the years before, during, and just after World War II. That, combined with the glowing reviews (including some from bloggers I adore!) make me WANT TO READ this one!

The Garden of Evening Mists by Twan Eng Tan
Malaysia, 1949. A young lawyer who has started a career of prosecuting Japanese war criminals (she was the sole survivor of a camp). She heads home and discovers the only Japanese garden in Malaysia, along with its owner, the former gardener to the Japanese Emperor, now in exile. With his guidance, she soon learns the art of garden design and struggles to make sense of the mysteries surrounding her teacher.

Again, another novel I had never heard of and yet another Man Booker nominee! While the summary doesn’t seem like much, the reviews are outstanding. I’m also getting the feeling that The Garden of Evening Mists will break me and I’ll be a horrible weeping mess after finishing. WANT TO READ.

The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma
Three friends and the falling out that upended their world. Our narrator, who always knew he wanted to become a writer. Julian, the narrator’s best friend and rival. Evelyn, the green-eyed girl who got away. Their falling out leads to a tangled web of lies that leaves the narrator unsure of who he is and where his life is now headed.

Last year the publicist pitched this novel to me and, at the time, I had passed. Since then it’s crossed my path more than once and every time I wonder if I had made a mistake. The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards is a slim thing – just 250 pages – and certainly sounds like something I could enjoy. There are mentions of Manhattan jazz clubs and Sri Lankan villages. That the narrator is unreliable and unnamed only intrigues me more! From the sound of things, this is a novel unlike any other – in the latter half of the book, names and identities are completely changed. I’m thinking I just might WANT TO READ this one after all!

BECAUSE I READ…

The House of Velvet and Glass by Katherine Howe | my 5-star review

Still reeling from the deaths of her mother and sister on the Titanic, Sibyl Allston is living a life of quiet desperation with her taciturn father and scandal-plagued brother in an elegant town house in Boston’s Back Bay. Trapped in a world over which she has no control, Sibyl flees for solace to the parlor of a table-turning medium.

But when her brother is suddenly kicked out of Harvard under mysterious circumstances and falls under the sway of a strange young woman, Sibyl turns for help to psychology professor Benton Derby, despite the unspoken tensions of their shared past. As Benton and Sibyl work together to solve a harrowing mystery, their long-simmering spark flares to life, and they realize that there may be something even more magical between them than a medium’s scrying glass.

I SHOULD READ…

By Fire, By Water by Mitchell James Kaplan
Fifteenth Century Spain. The Spanish Inquisition rages and those in power become even more powerful day by day. Luis de Santángel holds a position at court and is a close friend to King Ferdinand. When a friend falls victim to the Inquisition, Luis decides to take matters into his own hands – even though his Jewish heritage makes him an easy target.

While I adore Historical Fiction, I have to admit I tend to stick to a few specific periods. The Fifteenth Century is not one of them. That said, I love reading outside my comfort zone! I’m also curious to see just how religion will play out in this one. Although I have no immediate plans for By Fire, By Water, it does sound interesting enough and having Christopher Columbus as a character just might make this novel one I’ll read SOMEDAY.

And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander
A Viscount’s proposal lands Emily in the throngs of Victorian society. Upon his sudden passing however, Emily discovers deep and dangerous secrets.

Not a whole lot to go on, but I’m familiar with this author! I haven’t read any of her novels, but she is someone I come across daily at work. I’m definitely interested in the Historical Mystery aspect and I’m loving that this series is a bit on the longer side (the ninth book came out this year). And Only to Deceive sounds like a fun, quick read for a rainy day: WANT TO READ.

Glow by Jessica Maria Tuccelli
October 1941. An eleven-year-old girl sits on a bus bound for Georgia. As a child of mixed race (her father is black, her mother is Scotch-Irish and Cherokee), Ella has already spent a lifetime confronting racism, and the further South she heads, the worse it’ll get until her disappearance in the Georgia mountains (for her parents receive a phone call saying she never arrived in her hometown) uncovers a century’s worth of family secrets.

Glow spans multiple eras (from the 1830s to the Great Depression to the 1940s) and follows numerous narrators as they dish out the family saga. Just like The People in the Trees this is one I’ll be reading immediately and the second I read the summary I raced to my library’s website and squealed in delight when I saw it was listed in the database! It’s now requested and I cannot wait to read this one! WANT TO READ

The Doctor and the Diva by Adrienne McDonnell
It’s 1903 and Erika, a beautiful and talented opera singer, has been struggling for years to get pregnant. Just as she’s about to finally give up home and leave Boston (and her husband) to pursue a career in Italy, she makes a visit to Dr. Ravell. The young doctor has a budding reputation helping couples conceive. When he meets Erika, however, he soon comes to realize their doctor-patient relationship will be unlike any other.

Eh. I don’t know. On the one hand, yay opera! Yay turn-of-the-century Boston! …but on the other, this sounds like it could quickly delve into Erotica territory and no thank you. I read through some reviews and they seem pretty split: either people enjoyed this one or they hated it. I haven’t seen many glowing reviews from people who loved this one and that concerns me. I don’t want to spend time with just an okay novel. Sorry, but it looks like both doctor and diva will be getting a PASS.