Reading Round-Up: My Top Book Recommendations
You don't have to be in a reading routine or a reading rut to need a good book recommendation! I also find myself "judging a book by it's cover", which I'll be honest, has lead to some real let downs (this feels like a dating metaphor). If you're like me, then having someone to make a recommendation leaves you feeling a lot more hopeful. Here are the books I've read in the last year that I liked, and why you should read them too. Disclaimer: I am merely suggesting books I've read and liked, not reviewing them BUT I will tell you about a great app to download so that you can learn more about them. Also- you should know, I read primarily Mystery and Thrillers, because murder is my thing (in books...) Enjoy!
Let's face it, by now, we've either all read and/or watched Gone Girl (if not, what planet are you living on). If you loved this book, you're in luck! The author, Gillian Flynn, happens to now be my favorite author, as she has written a few more gripping novels that I would argue may be even better than Gone Girl. I think others may agree, as Sharp Objects is also being made into a TV Mini Series and will star Amy Adams and tells the story of a young woman who returns to her hometown to report on the murders of two young girls while also remembering all the reasons she shouldn't be at home. I also recommend Dark Places about the sole survivor of a family with a catastrophic demise (Also, I just found out they made this one into a movie as well in 2015 staring Charlize Theron and other great actors so when you're done reading, grab the pop corn and make it a Gillian Flynn marathon!) . Also, her much shorter story The Grownup about the places a happy ending can lead you (yes, that kind of happy ending). What I love about these books, and this writer, is that the stories are dark in a way that isn't as obvious as so many others. They keep you guessing, wondering, and making bets with yourself on what is really going on, and just like that, on the very last page, you end up somewhere else completely. I've been known to yell out WHAT THE...?! upon finishing them all! If you enjoy mystery and something that is really going to throw you for a loop, then these books will do just that!
This next one I read because Gillian Flynn recommended it in an interview about books that scare HER and also because a friend of mine already had it and let me borrow it (this is one of the best things about having a physical copy of books, sharing with others!) Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight is about a career driven mom who's world comes crashing to a stop (literally) when she receives a call from her daughter's school to come and get her but upon arrival learns that she has fallen off the roof and now it's about finding out exactly what happened.
Ok, so you've already read the above and are left feeling hungry for more. If you haven't already read The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins, then I recommend (unless by now you've seen the movie). I remember when it hit the shelves, it was said to be this years "Gone Girl", and in a way, I guess it was. Read as the main character's inner dialog tells the nasty truth about her past and present as she rides the morning train past her old life and gets involved with the disappearance of a woman she doesn't even know. It has similar qualities that lead you down routes with many possibilities only to twist it one last time at the end (which is pretty much what I look for in a book).
One that you maybe haven't heard of just yet is All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda. It was nominated for Best Mystery & Thriller in 2016 and is high on my recommendations list. When a girl comes back to her hometown to tend to her father's home in his final weeks, only to be reminded of the unsolved dissapearance of her best friend one summer night when they were teens, and now, another missing girl. There isn't much I can say other than it was SO good, I was sad when it was over and I was still thinking about it days after I'd finished. Again, in the same vein as the books mentioned before it and makes you believe that these small town mysteries are really taking place somewhere.
Sooo... I have a curve ball for you. I've got a couple books written by someone we all know, love, and have probably read before...but you definitely wouldn't expect this from them, especially because they're writing under the Pseudonym Robert Galbraith AKA J.K Rowling!!! That's right! And I'm not about to recommend to you some Harry Potter circa 1997. The author has now written a couple mystery thrillers, the first being The Cuckoo's Calling and the second (and less recommended) The Silkworm. Both are set in London and follow the detective work of one Cormoron Strike. These are definitely a harder read than some of the others, and what I mean is that I found myself looking up vocab words all throughout the book which made a lot of sense when I realized the writer was J.K. Rowling. Start with The Cuckoo's Calling, which is the mystery of a famous model falling from the balcony of her posh London apartment, and then decide if you want to read The Silkworm, a detective's work into solving the ritualistic style murder of a famous but declining author. The reason that I wouldn't recommend it as highly is because it was a little too weird in a graphic way than I'm typically into.
The next author, Tana French, has several books under her belt which I always like because chances are if I like one, I'll like the rest and I have enough material to keep me going before I feel lost in the book store again. The first book is Into The Woods is about a young boy who enters the woods behind his house with his friends one summer day, only to return without his friends or any memory as to what happened. I've been seeing this on front tables near the checkouts which I'd like to think is a good sign and I'm happy that the author is being recoginized. I will say, her books are unlike the others in that there isn't a last minute twist, and you can typically figure out what is going on about mid way through without being wrong. This disappointed me a little at first because like I said, I seek the twist. But, as I continued reading her other books, I began to appreciate that not all writers are aiming to throw you off the scent until the very last page. Also, she doesn't always give you the answer to the mystery, which can be frusterating but I think also pushes you to make up your own explination and be creative. So far, all the one's I have read are set in Ireland and also include Faithful Place and Broken Harbour but she has others that I have yet to read.
Another one that has been getting a lot of attention lately is Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. I wouldn’t rate this one high on my recommendation list but I chose to still tell you about it incase you want to read it before watching it as a new mini series staring Nichole Kidman on HBO. The reason it’s not high on my list is becuase as I was reading it, it all seemed a little too generic (aka not twisted enough for me). However, if you’re into something that’s a little scandalous, gossipy, and murder without being too intense and giving you nightmares, then you may want to give it a shot and find that you enjoyed it! Perhaps this is how you dip your toes into the genre? It’s definately an easy read!
Guys, I know this sounds bad, but I don't really have a vast amount of recommendations for this category. Like I said before, mystery and thriller is really more my thing.
BUT there is ONE non-fiction (aka true story) that I read and is DEFINATELY worth sharing with you. Brain on Fire: My Month Of Madness by Susannah Cahalan is a memoir that will open your eyes to medical mysteries, make you thankful for modern medicine, and hold your sanity just a little tighter in bed tonight. Read all about how 24-year-old Susannah went from her career at the New Yorker, to being strapped to a hospital bed unable to speak, move or remember. It's insane! Literally... NOTE: just saw that this was made into a movie in 2016 staring Chloë Grace Moritz! I still recommend reading it first but I look forward to seeing how it all unfolds on the big screen...now question is...where do I find it... (still mourning Blockbuster...
TIPS: Be sure to download the app GOODREADS in the iTunes store for free. This will allow you to look up any of the books you're interested in from the above, save them onto shelves "to-read" and "read" as well as write reviews and browse recommended books and categories. This is a great way to check out new books before anyone's had the chance to recommend them to you!
On a side note about how I like to read my books, I am a lover of paper and supporting the "old school" way of reading by having a physical copy of the book. This makes it easy to read on the beach or during a commute without too much worry of battery power, glare or valuables. I also LOVE seeing all the books I've read sitting on a shelf and it makes it much easier to recommend and share one with someone else. On the flip side of this, I do also use the iBooks app on my iPad as I love that once I am done reading one book, I don't have to wait to get to a book store to buy another, I can download instantly which feeds my impatient personality. If you are going to purchase the physical copy of any of the books I mentioned above, just click them and the link will send you directly to amazon where they can be purchased. If you want to try your hand at digital reading, I have linked below where you can purchase a Kindle by Amazon. If you have other ways you love to get your read on, feel free to share with us!
Currently Reading... Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller
IF you still want more mystery/thriller recommendations, I have some that I did not include here and I'd be happy to share!
If you took one of our recommendations, tell us what YOU thought in the comments :) What's that? You have some recommendations for us too!? Please share them in the comments and tell us what you liked most about them, we can't wait to read them too!
Judging books by their covers...