Ruth Ware writes gripping thrillers. I really enjoyed In a Dark, Dark Wood (review here) and thought her last one was OK. The Turn of the Key had some issues (getting scratched by a poisonous bush that is never resolved, for example), but overall, it was a great thriller that was readable in one (long) sitting. It’s a terrific summer choice.
Recursion by Blake Crouch is an excellent, mind-bending read, much like his previous book, Dark Matter (reviewed here). My 14-year old and I both enjoyed both books, but I think I liked Dark Matter better. My same description of Dark Matter holds for this one. I am not sure I entirely understood all of it, but I enjoyed the ride, nonetheless. In this crazy story, Helena invents a chair intending to preserve the memories of people like her mother with Alzheimer’s. Instead, there are devastating results. This is a great end-of-summer-back-to-reality escape novel.
Three Women has been publicized a great deal this spring and summer and I was excited to have it in my summer reading pile. In fact, I purchased this one, which happens quite infrequently. While I knew this was the non-fiction account of three different women and their sex lives, I wasn’t aware of quite how salacious this one was going to be. So, it felt a little like you wanted to cover it with a brown paper bag while reading (like 50 Shades). It was certainly an interesting book, but for more delicate readers, it might be a bit too much. In the end, I am not sure it was a summer favorite (or worth my rare purchasing), but if you are piqued by the hype, this won’t take you long to read and is certainly appropriate for summer.
I powered through Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane so I could leave it with our vacation hosts. This wasn’t a hard task because it was such a good book, but we did so many fun activities while at said vacation that there wasn’t much time for reading! This is the story of two neighbor families and the tragedy that comes between them even as the children are best friends through it. I enjoyed this one, but felt that the characters weren’t elucidated enough, or I didn’t feel like I knew them well enough. However, I liked the development of the characters’ lives over time and the general premise of this one. It’s worth picking up.
Apologies for posting a bunch at a time – I didn’t take a computer on vacation and have a backlog of good books to post about…for those new followers (somehow I have 12 new ones from the past two weeks – weird), I normally post once every few days or once a week or so.
I loved The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J Ryan Stradal. It’s about two sisters whose lives diverge and then, at the end, come back together. Through the story, you learn about beer and beer making. I had enjoyed his first book, Kitchens of the Great Midwest, and this one was not a disappointment. This is definitely one to add to your summer list!
Forever is the Worst Long Time by Camille Pagan was a wonderful read. It reminded me of Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. And, while the ending wasn’t what I had hoped, the story was a great one and a quick, easy read. When James meets Lou, he falls instantly head-over-heels. Unfortunately, Lou is James’ best friend’s fiance. You can imagine how things go from there, but there is some unexpected, some sadness, and some life-truths to go along with the more predictable. I would grab this one for the summer. I’ll bet you enjoy it.
The Lightest Object in the Universe by Kimi Eisele had the feel of The Road, which was a very disconcerting read (followed by the eerie experience of watching the movie one night and having an earthquake wake us up – yikes). So, in some ways, I felt like I had read this story before. In The Lightest Object, rather than a father and son pair, the two main characters are on different sides of the US and working toward finding one another again. Overall, despite the spooky feeling as I read, I liked this book and having a love story embedded in the post-apocalyptic tale. In addition, as the book progressed, while you were still on the edge of your seat, there were fewer terrible things and, indeed, hope. I really enjoyed this book, particularly the last third.
Evvie Drake Starts Over was a wonderful and quick summer read. Evvie is packing up to leave her husband when she learns that he has died in a car crash. Dean, a pitcher for the Yankees, can suddenly no longer pitch and comes to live in Evvie’s basement. While the story doesn’t provide much mystery, it’s well-written and an enjoyable read. And, it takes place in mid-boast Maine, which means the backdrop is one that I love. It’s perfect for a day at the beach.
You would be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard about Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead. It’s been written up everywhere and garnered high praise. Like Underground Railroad, however, I liked this novel, but I didn’t love it. This book centered around Elwood who was sentenced to a reform school in Florida (based on the real Dozier School for Boys where bodies were found by University of South Florida graduate students in 2012. It details the brutalities as well as the friendships he formed. The book was well-written and interesting, but I expected more.
There probably isn’t a perfect book. For me, however, The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa comes pretty darn close. It was certainly the best book I have read this year and definitely a top 20 lifetime read. It’s a short novel about exactly what the title describes and I read it last night with time to spare. None of the characters are named except the housekeeper’s son whose nickname is Root (like square). The Housekeeper comes to work for the math Professor who has already gone through nine other housekeepers. He was in a car accident in 1975 and only has 80-minute chunks of short-term memory. I can’t even adequately describe this wonderful story and how much I loved it. If I gave more than five stars, this book would get them!