Tag: Book Lists

Best Books of 2019 So Far

June 25, 2019 Annual "Best Books" Lists 17

Best Books of 2019 So Far


2019 is shaping up to be an excellent reading year so far! I’ve read 43 books and liked 84% of the books I read. My average star rating is 3.95 (although, this is skewed high because y’all know I don’t finish many books I don’t like) and I’ve already read seven 5 star books this year (compared to 8 for the entirety of 2018!).

For the past two years, 50-60% of the books on my June Best Books of the Year So Far lists (2018, 2017) ended up on my overall favorite books of the year lists (2018, 2017). And, I’d be shocked if at least half of the books on this list don’t stand up at year end!

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link), through which I make a small commission when you make a purchase (at no cost to you!).

My Best Books of 2019 So Far

Ask Again, Yesby Mary Beth Keane (my review)
A compulsively readable family drama…

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert (my review)
The historical fiction that won me over despite the fact that I’m not into the NYC theater scene…

Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (my review)
My current #1 book of 2019…

I Miss You When I Blinkby Mary Laura Philpott (my review)
The 2019 book I relate to most…

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim (my review)
The courtroom drama that’s so much more than a courtroom drama…

Normal Peopleby Sally Rooney (my review)
An intimate love and coming of age story that won’t be for everyone…

Out Eastby John Glynn (my review)
The memoir you think will be a ton of surface-level partying, but is actually heartfelt and emotional…

The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer (my review)
An epic historical love affair based on real life people…

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker (my review)
A slightly dystopian novel about fear, hysteria, isolation, and human behavior in the face of those things when a mysterious disease breaks out in a small, California college town…

The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin (my review)
Another character-driven family drama I couldn’t put down…

What are your favorite books so far this year?

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Best Books of 2019 So Far
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Book Club Recommendations That Are Great for Summer

June 6, 2019 Book Lists 6

Book Club Recommendations that are great for summer


I don’t know about you, but my reading goes in a slightly different direction in the summer. And, I imagine the types of books your book club is in the mood for do too. That’s why I put together this Book Club Recommendations That Are Great for Summer list!

In the summer, I like books you can fly through, books you don’t have to work too hard on, and books you can get easily immersed in. But, I also want my summer books to have some substance. The books you’ll find on this list are all highly readable and don’t require a ton of concentration, but still have lots of juicy meat for a book club discussion.

As with all my book lists, I’ll continue adding new books to this list moving forward, so save it to your favorites!

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2019 Summer Reading List

May 21, 2019 Book Lists 25

2019 Summer Reading List


Summer reading means something a bit different to everyone. Some of you like to put their brains completely on vacation with fun, easy reads. Some of you like an action-packed page turner. Some of you want something with a bit more substance. And some of you might like to head off the beaten path.

Personally, I like books you can fly through, books you don’t have to work too hard on, and books you can get easily immersed in. I avoid books that demand to be read in perfect peace and quiet (last time I checked, the beach and pool generally have screaming kids around!).

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More Unconventional Love Stories for Readers Who Don’t Like Romance

February 5, 2019 Book Lists 42

More Unconventional Love Stories


So…Valentine’s Day is actually one of my least favorite holidays. I feel pressure to participate in the cheesiness even though cheesy feels so uncomfortable to me. Luckily, my husband isn’t really into Valentine’s Day either.

Since it’s almost the big red day, you’re probably seeing lots of lists of “the best romances, etc” around the bookish internet. Here’s what bugs me about traditional “romances.” The predictable (no matter how unrealistic) happy endings, the cheesy dialogue, the equally cheesily written love scenes. Shall I go on? I promise, you won’t find those elements in these unconventional love stories. Most readers probably wouldn’t even call these love stories. But, I do and they’re the kind I prefer.

Last year, I shared a list of 12 unconventional loves stories for people who don’t like traditional romances. As I thought about Valentine’s Day 2019, I realized I had a lot of new books to add to this list. So, I bring you 10 new love stories…a few of the more conventional variety, but most unconventional.

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link).
Linking up with Top Ten Tuesday hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

10 MORE Love Stories (2019 Additions)

Forever is the Worst Long Time by Camille Pagan
You’ll start out thinking this is a run-of-the-mill love triangle, but it goes in a direction you probably wouldn’t guess.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

How to Walk Away by Katherine Center (my review)
This love story is more traditional and feels like a rom-com…but, for some reason all that didn’t turn me off!

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
Based on the real-life affair between the architect Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick Cheney, Wright’s married client. Beyond the tempestuous love affair, this is a story about Mamah finding her own identity outside of love.

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One Day in December by Josie Silver
Another more traditional love story featuring a love triangle, but its intriguing premise kept me interested.

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Otherwise Engaged by Lindsey J. Palmer
Yet another more traditional love story with an intriguing premise. Mini review coming next week.

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Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering
A sociopathic love story…and I can’t say this one is happy. It’s more of a cautionary tale.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

The Age of Lightby Whitney Scharer
Similar to Loving Frank, a novel based on the real-life love affair between former Vogue model Lee Miller and artist Man Ray. It’s out coming out today and I’ll have a mini review for you next week!

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The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson
Are you wondering why I have a thriller on this list? There’s a bit of a love story mixed in here too…a really messed up one.

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This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell
A family drama / love story…involving a Hollywood actress that the world had presumed missing and an American divorcee on the run from his problems.

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Where the Crawdads Singby Delia Owens (my review)
A coming of age story, a murder mystery, and a love story wrapped up into one…with some beautiful nature writing thrown in.

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12 Unconventional Love Stories for Readers Who Don’t Like Romance (Original List, 2018)

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood (my review)
Some would call this love story horrifying. I definitely did at times. But, it’s also different than anything I’ve ever read and Greenwood makes you question what you thought were your rock solid convictions.

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An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (my review)
What happens to a love story when a husband of only a year and a half goes to prison? Oprah sure wants her book club members to find out!

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Dark Matter by Blake Crouch (my review)
Most people probably wouldn’t consider this sci-fi page turner a love story. But, ultimately, Jason is fighting tooth and nail to be with his wife and child…his idea of home.

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Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift (my review)
An illicit affair between a British heir and his neighbor’s maid. It definitely doesn’t have a happy ending, but I finished the book completely satisfied.

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Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf (my review)
Two older people (Louis and Addie) stop caring what everyone else thinks and do what they need to do to be happy. It’s sort of like they read The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck by Sarah Knight.

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Sunburn by Laura Lippman
A love story where the two lovebirds are totally messing with each other and you have no idea who will come out on top.

Affiliate Link: Pre-Order from Amazon

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler (my review)
This is the kind of love story that many of us had in our youth (especially if you lived in NYC) and look back on with horror. We wish we would’ve been stronger, smarter, and valued ourselves more. It’s raw and most definitely not sweet.

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Tender by Belinda McKeon (my review)
A story of friendship, unrequited love, desperation and obsession. This one will make you uncomfortable…I was cringing often.

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The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel (my review)
Probably the most F’d up love story you’ll ever read (with a love story you can actually root for buried amid the horror)…starring a supremely dysfunctional family.

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The Rules of Magicby Alice Hoffman
Love permeates this story about family and magic. Can the Owens children find love? Should they? 

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The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugoby Taylor Jenkins Reid (my review)
The true love story of this book isn’t the one you think it will be.

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White Fur by Jardine Libaire (my review)
A classic “wrong side of the tracks” love story…told in a raw, gritty, edgy, and uncomfortable way.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon 

How do you feel about romances? Do you prefer the traditional or unconventional type?

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12 New-To-Me Authors I Read in 2018

December 17, 2018 Annual "Best Books" Lists 15

new-to-me authors


I love discovering a new-to-me author who has an extensive backlist to dig into! Though I’m late to the party on these authors, I’ve already fit in a second book by 4 of them (Maggie O’Farrell, Camille Pagan, Jo Piazza, and Tayari Jones)!

There are more lighter books and thrillers on this list than I normally read, so I’m thrilled to find some new authors that work for me in those genres.

This list does NOT include debut authors…since I already honored them in my Best Debuts of 2018 list.

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link), through which I make a small commission when you make a purchase (at no cost to you!).

12 New-To-Me Authors I Read in 2018

Elliot Ackerman (Waiting for EdenMy Review)
Waiting for Eden was my #1 book of 2018. I loved his spare, but powerful writing style and his 2017 novel, Dark at the Crossing, is calling my name.

Alafair Burke (The Wife, My Review)
Y’all know I’ve been frustrated by thrillers with outlandish plot twists and I was thrilled to find that The Wife was a compelling, straight-up thriller with no gimmicks. And, she has a new book (The Better Sister) coming out in April 2019!

Katherine Center (How to Walk AwayMy Review)
I didn’t think I was going to like How to Walk Away because it’s completely out of my wheelhouse, but it was a nice surprise! And, just like Alafair Burke, Center has a new book (Things You Save in a Fire) coming out in August 2019!

Anne Lamott (Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and LifeMy Review)
Can y’all believe I’m just now getting to Anne Lamott?! I thought she’d be serious since she writes with a bit of a religious lens, but she’s super relatable and funny! I’ve got the audio of her memoir about her son’s first year of life (Operating Instructions) on pre-order from Libro.fm.

Laura Lippman (SunburnMy Review)
I’m always excited to find a new thriller author I like since I’m so picky about them, but I loved the noir, “who can you trust?” vibe of Sunburn. And, she’s got an extensive backlist for me to dig into.

Rebecca Makkai (The Great BelieversMy Review
I know Makkai is kind of a critical darling, especially for her short stories, but I’d never read her before. You can bet I’ll read her again, though…since The Great Believers was one of my Best Books of 2018!

Maggie O’Farrell (I Am, I Am, I Am)
Like with Tayari Jones, I made sure to fit in a second Maggie O’Farrell book (This Must Be the Place) just recently…and loved it! And, I still have Instructions for a Heatwave on my TBR list.

Camille Pagan (Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties)
2018 was a good year for finding excellent “smart Brain Candy” authors and Camille Pagan is one of those. Thanks to Ashley Spivey for putting her on my radar and I fit in one of her backlist novels (Forever is the Worst Long Time) this year as well.

Jo Piazza (Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win, My Review)
Catherine at Gilmore Guide to Books has been telling me to read Piazza’s Fitness Junkie ever since it came out. I haven’t gotten to that one yet, but did love Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win and am currently listening to her memoir about her first year of marriage, How to Be Married.

Tayari Jones (An American MarriageMy Review)
Just like Oprah, I loved Jones’ runaway hit An American Marriage. I fit in one of her backlist titles, Silver Sparrow, just recently and I think I loved it just as much as An American Marriage!

Iain Reid (FoeMy Review)
I missed Reid’s debut novel, I’m Thinking of Ending Things, but Foe had a compelling sense of creepiness and “what is going on?”-ness. I also just noticed Reid has written two memoirs.

Jean Thompson (A Cloud in the Shape of a GirlMy Review)
Thompson was nominated for the National Book Award for The Year We Left Home, but I was late to the party. Her latest novel snuck up on me, despite it’s bleakness, which isn’t for everyone.

What new-to-you authors did you read this year?

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Best Books of 2018

December 13, 2018 Annual "Best Books" Lists 22

Best Books of 2018


Last year, I had no trouble picking an obvious #1 book of the year (The Heart’s Invisible Furies)…because:

This year, I had more trouble picking my #1 book. And, not because it was significantly less good than The Heart’s Invisible Furies, but more because my overall 2018 reading was SO much better than last year (I attribute this to tracking my best and worst recommendation sources using my Rock Your Reading Tracker)! There was just more competition for the top spot. I actually considered over half of my top 10 as candidates for my #1 book of the year.

The reason I picked Waiting for Eden is that it’s the book that affected me the most. I even re-read/re-skimmed it for an upcoming guest podcast discussion (more on that later) and it affected me just as much the second  time around. It’s not a book for everyone (you have to be okay with getting metaphorically punched in the stomach multiple times), but if you you’re comfortable with the gut-punching, then definitely give it a try.

This year, I’m not only sharing my own favorite books, but I’m also sharing the Sarah’s Book Shelves Facebook Group members’ favorites! You can join the Sarah’s Book Shelves Facebook Group (where I share my unfiltered thoughts, sneak peeks of blog posts and members’ trade book recommendations amongst each other) by supporting the blog at the $3/month level on Patreon (more details here).

Finally, I’ve brought back the high school yearbook-style “Superlatives” from previous years (2017201620152014)!

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link), through which I make a small commission when you make a purchase (at no cost to you!).

Best Books of 2018

My #1 Book of 2018

Waiting for Eden by Elliot Ackerman (my review)
Most Emotionally Gut-Wrenching

Best First Chapter
Biggest Punch in a Tiny Package
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The Rest of My Favorites

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne (review)
Most Memorable Villain
Best Non-Sequel Follow-Up Book (to The Heart’s Invisible Furies, my favorite book of last year)
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (review)
Most Readable “Issue” Book

Best New-To-Me Author
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell
Premise I Didn’t Expect to Work, But Totally Did
Best Bookend Essays (Opening and Closing)
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan (review)
Best New Addition to my “Women Who Get Women” Club

Book I Most Related To
Most Recommended (tie)
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The Ensembleby Aja Gabel
Most Gorgeously Written Debut

Best Ensemble Cast
The Book I Almost Didn’t Read
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The Female Persuasionby Meg Wolitzer (review)
Best Character-Driven Novel

Most Deserving of its Hype
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai (my review)
Best Book If You Want to Read A Little Life, But Are Avoiding It Because of the Relentless Abuse

Best “Issue” Book
Book With the Most Heart
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Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (review)
Best Debut

Best Southern Novel
Best Coming of Age Story
Most Recommended (tie)

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You Think It, I’ll Say It: Stories by Curtis Sittenfeld (review)
Best Short Story Collection

Most Perfect Collection for New Short Story Readers
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The Sarah’s Book Shelves Facebook Group’s Best Books of 2018

Not surprisingly, many of my Facebook Group’s favorites of they year lined up with mine! And, a number of the books that almost made my list did make m Facebook Group’s list! We’re all sharing recommendations in the Facebook Group, so you’d expect to see a lot of overlap.

Get access to the Sarah’s Book Shelves Facebook Group by supporting the blog for $3/month on Patreon (more details here)!

Top Books (2 votes each)

  • Educated by Tara Westover (my review)
    I loved this one too…it just didn’t make my top 10!
  • Clock Dance by Anne Tyler
    I sampled this one, but ended up not reading it.
  • The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya (my review)
    I really liked this one, though it’s a hard read. Just didn’t make my top 10.

Others Mentioned

More Best Books of 2018

Eight 2017 Books That Deserved the Hype…and Five That Didn’t
Best Debuts of 2018
Most Underrated Gems of 2018

What were your favorite books of 2018?

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Most Underrated Gems of 2018

December 11, 2018 Annual "Best Books" Lists 33

Underrated Gems of 2018


My Best Books of 2018 list is coming on Thursday, but in the meantime, I wanted to give some love to books I really enjoyed, but that didn’t get much attention from regular readers and bloggers.

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link).

Most Underrated Gems of 2018

A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl by Jean Thompson (my review)
I loved how Thompson wrote about women’s roles in marriage and in the home in this book…and particularly how she talked about the differences in viewpoints between generations. Though she’s been nominated for a National Book Award in the past, this novel didn’t get much attention. But, a few other bloggers I trust did really like it (but not many even read it!). 
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All the Castles Burned by Michael Nye (my review)
I actually can’t think of a single other blogger I follow who read this book. But, it’s a campus novel about a toxic male friendship with some basketball thrown in. Easy reading, but dark. Right up my alley…I included it in my 2018 Summer Reading Guide.

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Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win by Jo Piazza (my review)
This brain candy novel was one of my favorite summer books! It’s easy reading, but smart and contains astute observations on women in politics. I feel like Piazza got a lot more attention for her previous book, Fitness Junkie, but this one is not to be missed!

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Foe by Iain Reid (my review)
Reid’s sophomore novel is sort of Sci-Fi, but not quite (maybe Sci-Fi Lite?)…but, it’s also a rumination on marriage, which I love. It was nominated for a Goodreads Choice Award in the Horror category (huh?!), but it finished in the bottom third of the voting, which tells me not many people read it. But, more should because it had me on the edge of my seat in a creepy, quiet way.

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Laura & Emma by Kate Greathead (my review)
I think I did see this one on one Best Books of 2018 list, but it was fairly divisive among readers I know. Some didn’t like the vignette format, some didn’t like the ending, and some didn’t like Laura’s voice (or that we didn’t hear much from Emma). But, it totally worked for me!

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The Distance Home by Paula Saunders (my review)
You’d think this book would’ve gotten more attention since Paula Saunders is George Saunders’ wife at least. But, no. The writing was gorgeous, but I only know of two other bloggers who even read it.

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The Wildlands by Abby Geni (my review)
I saw this genre mash-up around #bookstagram a little bit when it was published, but not nearly as much as I would have expected! It’s a totally unique book and doesn’t really fit into one genre…but that’s what I love about it!

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Visible Empire by Hannah Pittard (my review)
This novel had the feel of a scaled down A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe. I included it on my 2018 Summer Reading Guide and Anne Bogel from Modern Mrs. Darcy did too…other than that, I really didn’t see it around anywhere.

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Waiting for Eden by Elliot Ackerman (my review)
I’m pretty sure I know why this book isn’t getting widespread attention. It’s hard, emotionally gut-punching…and those types of books aren’t for everyone. But, it affected me more than any other book I read this year. It’s outstanding in a very small number of pages. I’m actually re-reading parts of it right now for a book club discussion and it’s hitting me just as hard the second time around.

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Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties by Camille Pagan (my thoughts)
Pagan is like a lighter, more sarcastic version of Anna Quindlen. And this book is an easy and fun, but not silly read with small threads of darkness running underneath. I thought more people would’ve appreciated her pointed talk about marriage, divorce, and aging for women.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

What are your favorite underrated gems of 2018?

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Best Debuts of 2018

December 6, 2018 Annual "Best Books" Lists 15

Best Debuts of 2018


I’ve always felt strongly about reading debut novels…I love to support these authors and I’ve traditionally had great luck with the debut novels I’ve read.

Last year, two out of eight of my Best Debuts of 2017 also made my overall Best Books of 2017 list. 

I haven’t completely finalized my Best Books of 2018 list, but one of these debuts will for sure make it and a couple others are on the bubble. 

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link).

I made a grave mistake with this post…

Where the Crawdads Sing


Y’all, I can’t believe I did what I’m about to tell you I did. I have no idea how this happened or what came over me, but I omitted one of my MOST favorite debuts of the year from this list…Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (my glowing review). Not only did I forget to include it here, but I DID include it in my Instagram picture for this post that’s going up later this afternoon. And not only that…but, in my caption for that post, I called out Goodreads for “tragically” leaving Where the Crawdads Sing off their Best Debuts nominee list for the Goodreads Choice Awards. Pot, meet kettle.

I kind of feel like I should send Delia Owens flowers or something. Delia, if by some off chance you’re reading this, I’m SO SO sorry. I loved your book and you’ll see it on another, even better, list soon.

And, if you haven’t read this one yet, it’s my #1 Go-To Recommendation on my 2018 Holiday Gift Guide!

On to the rest of the list…

Best Debuts of 2018

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou (my review)
Though I got lost in some of the science and engineering details, I was fascinated / horrified at the arrogance of Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos’s young CEO who viewed herself as the next Steve Jobs, and the lengths Theranos went to to create a “unicorn” despite the absence of a viable product.
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Educated by Tara Westover (my review)
Imagine if you had to choose between getting an education (both the traditional kind and an education about life in general) and having a relationship with your family. That’s what happened to Tara Westover. This one is topping a bunch of Best Books of 2018 lists!

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From the Corner of the Ovalby Beck Dorey-Stein (my review)
This quarter life crisis memoir set in the world of politics might be my favorite audiobook of the year! It’s like listening to your fun friend who happens to have a job in the White House with access to the President give you all the very best anecdotes (plus, a good dose of her love life) over a glass of wine!

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I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara (my review)
The best true crime books put themselves on another tier by telling the story in a compelling, engrossing way and avoiding getting bogged down in overly dry details. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark does just that. It’s up there with The Stranger Beside Me (but not quite approaching In Cold Blood) in the true crime genre for me. Doesn’t hurt that a suspect in the attacks was arrested soon after the book was published.

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Laura & Emma by Kate Greathead (my review)
The key to loving Laura & Emma is loving Laura’s voice and the writing style (which I obviously did). Laura is offbeat, but likable and funny in an awkward way (she reminded me of a less damaged version of Eleanor Oliphant).

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Tangerine by Christine Mangan (my review)
The story of a fraught, obsessive friendship and all the wreckage it leaves behind. It’s kind of a page turner, but not in the traditional sense. It’s taut with emotional and psychological tension…my kind of “thriller.”

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The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir (my review)
The Book of Essie is the type of brain candy I love…a story about weighty topics that reads quickly and easily. Bonus: you get an interesting behind-the-scenes look at reality TV and image management in the media spotlight.

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The Ensembleby Aja Gabel
I almost skipped this book and I’m so relieved I didn’t! It’s about a musical quartet (which I’m not interested in at all…hence the “almost” skip) and is one of those character-driven novels that I couldn’t put down. It’s all about the simmering dynamics of this group and it explores the implications of having an essentially business relationship that supersedes all other relationships in these characters’ lives. And, the writing is drop dead gorgeous…especially for a debut.

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What are your favorite debuts of 2018?

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12 Memorable Villains of Fiction

October 23, 2018 Book Lists 21

Villains of Fiction


I love to read dark fiction, so not surprisingly, I encounter lots of villains in my reading. Putting together my 12 most memorable villains of fiction was disturbingly fun! 

Many on this list are adept manipulators, some are well known among readers, and some are not. And, the main character in the book I just finished (A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne) could possibly top this list. But, I felt weird about including him since the book isn’t coming out until November.

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link).
Linking up with Top Ten Tuesday hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

12 Memorable Villains of Fiction

Dr. Alan Forrester
All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker (Spoiler Discussion)
Why are psychiatrists so often creepy villains in fiction? This one was arrogant and diabolical, too.

Amy Dunne
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Possibly the most manipulative character I’ve ever read. But, her husband almost deserved her. Almost.

Annie Wilkes
Misery by Stephen King
A terrifying version of fangirl-ing. More power to you if you can get that vision of Annie hammering Paul’s ankles out of your head.

Bull Meacham
The Great Santini by Pat Conroy (my review)
Maybe the worst Dad in literature. But, he also had a sense of humor that made reading him slightly less traumatic.

Double Eagles
Natchez Burning by Greg Isles (my review)
A group rather than a person, but this is a dangerous splinter group of the KKK that reigned in the 1960’s and was even more ruthless than the regular KKK. The fictional Double Eagles is based on the real life “Silver Dollar Group.”

Jake the Bartender
Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler (my review)
The first of two sociopathic boyfriends on this list.

Joseph Castleman
The Wife by Meg Wolitzer (my review)
A bit of a different type of villain than the others on this list. He’s not downright evil, just completely self-centered, oblivious, and expects to be coddled. His poor wife…  

Miranda Priestley
The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger
The boss from hell. Except also thoroughly entertaining for readers…

Nate Piven 
The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman (my review)

Again, not as evil as some of the other villains on this list. But, a pretty unabashed and callous manipulator of women. I remember thinking when I read this, “this perfectly portrays dating in NYC!” 

Oliver Ryan
Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent
Here’s the first line of Unraveling Oliver, told from Oliver’s perspective:

I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.

Olivia Foxworth (aka the Grandmother)
Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews
Locked her grandchildren in her attic for years. I should probably include Corrine Dollanganger (the mother) on this list as well, seeing as she agreed to her mother’s diabolical plan.

Stephen DeMarco
Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering
The second sociopathic boyfriend on this list. But, definitely worse than the first one (Jake the Bartender from Sweetbitter).

What villains of fiction do you love to hate?

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12 Books By Favorite Authors I Haven’t Read Yet

September 25, 2018 Book Lists 45

Books By Favorite Authors I Haven't Read


One of the silver linings of discovering a new-to-you author a bit late is that the author likely has a pretty good, if not extensive, backlist waiting for you!  Most recently, this has happened with Anna Quindlen, Ann Patchett, and Kelly Corrigan…and I still have plenty more to go!

And, even with favorite authors I’ve been familiar with for awhile, I haven’t yet gotten to all the books of theirs that I want to read! Here are 12 Books by Favorite Authors I Still Haven’t Read…

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link).
Linking up with Top Ten Tuesday hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

12 Books By Favorite Authors I Haven’t Read Yet

Jami Attenberg
The Middlesteins
I loved Attenberg’s Saint Mazie (my review) and All Grown Up (my review). Her dry humor is right up my alley and I can’t wait to read her take on a dysfunctional family. Plus, this book is under 300 pages…making it way more likely I might actually pick it up soon!

For more than thirty years, Edie and Richard Middlestein shared a solid family life together in the suburbs of Chicago. But now things are splintering apart, for one reason, it seems: Edie’s enormous girth. She’s obsessed with food–thinking about it, eating it–and if she doesn’t stop, she won’t have much longer to live.

When Richard abandons his wife, it is up to the next generation to take control. […] Through it all, they wonder: do Edie’s devastating choices rest on her shoulders alone, or are others at fault, too?

Margaret Atwood
Alias Grace
Like many people, The Handmaid’s Tale (my review) blew me away…and it was one of the only classics I’ve read in later life. I downloaded Alias Grace when it was free via a Kindle deal over a year ago and really need to crack it open! The page count (over 450 pages) is probably what’s been causing me to put it off for so long.

It’s 1843, and Grace Marks has been convicted for her involvement in the vicious murders of her employer and his housekeeper and mistress. Some believe Grace is innocent; others think her evil or insane. Now serving a life sentence, Grace claims to have no memory of the murders.

An up-and-coming expert in the burgeoning field of mental illness is engaged by a group of reformers and spiritualists who seek a pardon for Grace. He listens to her story while bringing her closer and closer to the day she cannot remember. What will he find in attempting to unlock her memories?

Kent Haruf
Our Souls at Night (my review) is a tiny, quiet book, but it really spoke to me. I’m interested in seeing what Haruf does with a family story…plus, I’ve heard new things.

In the small town of Holt, Colorado, a high school teacher is confronted with raising his two boys alone after their mother retreats first to the bedroom, then altogether. A teenage girl—her father long since disappeared, her mother unwilling to have her in the house—is pregnant, alone herself, with nowhere to go. And out in the country, two brothers, elderly bachelors, work the family homestead, the only world they’ve ever known.

Emily St. John Mandel
The Lola Quartet
I (along with a gazillion other readers) loved Station Eleven (my review). It was the first dystopian novel I’ve ever actually enjoyed. Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy recently read The Lola Quartet from her backlist and devoted a special What Should I Read Next? podcast episode to it. Plus, it’s a literary thriller, which I generally love.

Gavin Sasaki is a promising young journalist in New York City, until he’s fired in disgrace following a series of unforgivable lapses in his work. It’s early 2009, and the world has gone dark very quickly; the economic collapse has turned an era that magazine headlines once heralded as the second gilded age into something that more closely resembles the Great Depression. The last thing Gavin wants to do is return to his hometown of Sebastian, Florida, but he’s drifting toward bankruptcy and is in no position to refuse when he’s offered a job by his sister, Eilo, a real estate broker who deals in foreclosed homes.

Eilo recently paid a visit to a home that had a ten-year-old child in it, a child who looks very much like Gavin and who has the same last name as Gavin’s high school girlfriend Anna, whom Gavin last saw a decade ago. Gavin—a former jazz musician, a reluctant broker of foreclosed properties, obsessed with film noir and private detectives—begins his own private investigation in an effort to track down Anna and their apparent daughter who have been on the run all these years from a drug dealer from whom Anna stole $121,000.

Haruki Murakami
Norwegian Wood
I loved Murakami’s 1Q84 (and it’s hard to keep me interested for almost 1,000 pages!) and his memoir, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. I’m dying to see what he does with a campus novel (one of my favorite sub-genres)!

Toru, a quiet and preternaturally serious young college student in Tokyo, is devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman, but their mutual passion is marked by the tragic death of their best friend years before. Toru begins to adapt to campus life and the loneliness and isolation he faces there, but Naoko finds the pressures and responsibilities of life unbearable. As she retreats further into her own world, Toru finds himself reaching out to others and drawn to a fiercely independent and sexually liberated young woman.

Maggie O’Farrell
This Must Be the Place
I loved O’Farrell’s memoir/essay collection, I Am, I Am, I Am. And, before I even knew about her memoir, I had This Must Be the Place on my TBR list. I snagged it in a Kindle Daily Deal and can’t wait to test out her fiction (hopefully sometime this year).

Meet Daniel Sullivan, a man with a complicated life. A New Yorker living in the wilds of Ireland, he has children he never sees in California, a father he loathes in Brooklyn, and a wife, Claudette, who is a reclusive ex–film star given to pulling a gun on anyone who ventures up their driveway. Claudette was once the most glamorous and infamous woman in cinema before she staged her own disappearance and retreated to blissful seclusion in an Irish farmhouse.

But the life Daniel and Claudette have so carefully constructed is about to be disrupted by an unexpected discovery about a woman Daniel lost touch with twenty years ago. This revelation will send him off-course, far away from wife, children and home. Will his love for Claudette be enough to bring him back?

Ann Patchett
Truth and Beauty
Ann Patchett is one of my very favorite authors. My favorites of hers so far are: Commonwealth (my review), State of Wonder (my review), and This is the Story of a Happy Marriage (my review). I read about her memoir of a friendship, Truth and Beauty, in This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, and am thinking it may be a good audio choice for me.

Ann Patchett and the late Lucy Grealy met in college in 1981, and, after enrolling in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, began a friendship that would be as defining to both of their lives as their work. In Grealy’s critically acclaimed memoir Autobiography of a Face, she wrote about losing part of her jaw to childhood cancer, years of chemotherapy and radiation, and endless reconstructive surgeries. In Truth and Beauty, the story isn’t Lucy’s life or Ann’s life but the parts of their lives they shared. This is a portrait of unwavering commitment that spans twenty years, from the long winters of the Midwest to surgical wards to book parties in New York. Through love, fame, drugs, and despair, this is what it means to be part of two lives that are intertwined–and what happens when one is left behind.

Jo Piazza
Fitness Junkie

I only read Jo Piazza (Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win) this year, but Catherine from Gilmore Guide to Books and Susie from Novel Visits told me to read Fitness Junkie well before that!

When Janey Sweet, CEO of a couture wedding dress company, is photographed in the front row of a fashion show eating a bruffin–the delicious lovechild of a brioche and a muffin–her best friend and business partner, Beau, gives her an ultimatum: Lose thirty pounds or lose your job. […] As Janey eschews delicious carbs, pays thousands of dollars to charlatans, and is harassed by her very own fitness bracelet, she can’t help but wonder: Did she really need to lose weight in the first place?

Anna Quindlen
Still Life With Bread Crumbs
Y’all know how much I love Anna Quindlen (see my “Women Who Get Women” Authors Club post). Still Life With Bread Crumbs is one of her only novels I have yet to read.

Still Life with Bread Crumbs begins with an imagined gunshot and ends with a new tin roof. Between the two is a wry and knowing portrait of Rebecca Winter, a photographer whose work made her an unlikely heroine for many women. Her career is now descendent, her bank balance shaky, and she has fled the city for the middle of nowhere. There she discovers, in a tree stand with a roofer named Jim Bates, that what she sees through a camera lens is not all there is to life.

Curtis Sittenfeld
I loved An American Wife years ago, but was initially turned off of Eligible because it was a Pride and Prejudice retelling. But, my interest in it was rekindled when I read and loved her short story collection, You Think It, I’ll Say It (my review) this year!

This version of the Bennet family and Mr. Darcy is one that you have and haven’t met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray. […]

Enter Chip Bingley, a handsome new-in-town doctor who recently appeared on the juggernaut reality TV dating show Eligible. At a Fourth of July barbecue, Chip takes an immediate interest in Jane, but Chip’s friend, neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy, reveals himself to Liz to be much less charming. . . . And yet, first impressions can be deceiving.

Elizabeth Strout
Olive Kitteridge
I loved both My Name is Lucy Barton (my review) and Anything is Possible and, if you can believe it, still haven’t read her Pulitzer Prize winner, Olive Kitteridge.

At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town of Crosby, Maine, and in the world at large, but she doesn’t always recognize the changes in those around her: a lounge musician haunted by a past romance; a former student who has lost the will to live; Olive’s own adult child, who feels tyrannized by her irrational sensitivities; and her husband, Henry, who finds his loyalty to his marriage both a blessing and a curse.

As the townspeople grapple with their problems, mild and dire, Olive is brought to a deeper understanding of herself and her life – sometimes painfully, but always with ruthless honesty.

Meg Wolitzer
The Ten-Year Nap
Meg Wolitzer is another one of my very favorite authors and I’ve rated every single book I’ve read by her 5 stars: The Interestings (my review), The Wife (my review), and The Female Persuasion (my review). When I was a guest on The Readerly Report Podcast recently, co-host Gayle Weiswasser recommended The Ten-Year Nap to me since I have toddler age children at home.

For a group of four New York friends, the past decade has been largely defined by marriage and motherhood. Educated and reared to believe that they would conquer the world, they then left jobs as corporate lawyers, investment bankers, and film scouts to stay home with their babies. What was meant to be a temporary leave of absence has lasted a decade. Now, at age forty, with the halcyon days of young motherhood behind them and without professions to define them, Amy, Jill, Roberta, and Karen face a life that is not what they were brought up to expect but seems to be the one they have chosen.

Have you read any of these backlist-ers? Which ones do you recommend I read first? And, what books by your favorite authors have you not read yet?

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