Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Books I Read This Summer (or, the books you should put on your Christmas List)

I will start by telling you I’m in a reading funk.  Seems to happen from time to time.  I think maybe it’s because I had such a good string of reading this past summer.  I can’t remember the last time I read so many books in a row that I LOVED and kept me so hooked.

I’ve been wanting to share my summer reads for quite a while … even though summer is way back in the rear view mirror now.  So if you’d rather not think of this as a summer reads list, you can think of it as the books you should be putting on your Christmas list.  I highly recommend!

Me & Emma by Elizabeth Flock

Me & Emma

I’m going to warn you right up front:  if you like fluffy, light-hearted chick lit, this isn’t a book for you.  This is the story of a young girl named Carrie who witnessed the murder of her father at a very young age, and now she and her little sister Emma are living under the rule of their unstable mother and their abusive step-father.  Things happen in this book that will make you cry; things happen that will make your stomach feel sick.  What these little girls go through is shattering.  It isn’t a fun read.  But I was glued to it; I was desperate to find out what would become of the girls – if they would ever be able to escape their life filled with hardships.  And then there’s the twist at the end that I never saw coming.  It made me want to re-read the whole thing again, because I couldn’t believe I hadn’t caught on.

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

the husband's secret

Another book that hooked me from the first chapter and I couldn’t put it down.  Liane Moriarty was a new author to me, and I LOVE her writing style!  Fast-paced, thought-provoking… This story revolves around Cecilia Fitzpatrick, who stumbles upon a hidden letter that her husband wrote to her years ago, to be opened only in the event of his death.  The wonderful, handsome, doting husband and father, John-Paul, is still very much alive and well, yet Cecilia can’t help but open and read his letter.  And in it, she discovers her husband’s deepest, darkest secret.  It changes everything, not only for her and her family, but for many other characters, whose lives weave together in this captivating novel.  I can’t wait to read more by this author – in fact, I have her novel Big Little Lies waiting for me on my night-stand as my next read!

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

girl on the train

I bought this one on a whim, on a trip to Chapters.  It was on sale, and the cover boasted it was for people who loved Gone Girl… I did love Gone Girl, so I thought why not?  And yes, this one grabbed me just the same way.  This is the story of Rachel, a down-on-her-luck divorced alcoholic who travels in to the city every day by train.  Every day, the train stops at the same signal, and she sees a couple out on their garden terrace.  They seem perfect to her – “Jess and Jason”, as she calls them - and she daydreams about them and their life together.  Until one day she sees something wrong.  Someone else is on their terrace.  And then shortly after, she sees “Jess” on the news – she has gone missing.  Rachel inserts herself into the investigation, and is drawn into the lives of these strangers, trying to piece together what happened, all while she becomes the chief suspect.  I spent the entire novel trying to solve the mystery right along with her.  And no, I never did put the pieces together the right way.  I was stunned with the way things played out in the end.  This was another one that was very hard to put down.

This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

this is where I leave you

I loved this book. LOVED it.  In fact, I think I would put it in my Top 5 favourite books ever.  This guy has a writing style I’d kill for.  He made scenes come alive in front of my eyes – I felt like I could see it play out as if I was watching a movie.  But don’t take my word for it – my sister read it after me, and she hated it.  To each their own, I guess.  This is the story of Judd Foxman, a man whose life is really circling the toilet.  He has just found out his wife is cheating on him with his shock-jock radio host boss, thus ending both his marriage and his career.  And then his father passes away.  His dad’s dying wish is for his big sorta-Jewish family to come together and sit shiva for seven days.  So in his darkest hour, Judd is forced to confinement in his childhood home with his mother and three siblings, none of whom he is very close to anymore, while their entire community pours in to offer condolences and food.  I felt I related to the situation, having lost my father… the moments that make you laugh, the moments that make you cry, that family dynamic of sharing your grief together in weird and crazy ways… the grudges, the secrets, the skeletons in the closet that have a way of coming out at such a time.  And yet, at the heart of it all, is the realization that family is really all we have in this world. 

Lila by Marilynne Robinson


This was a birthday gift from my Aunt Marion, and I read most of it while in Nova Scotia in September.  It was a different read for me – it bounced around a lot in timeframe, so it was sometimes confusing to figure out where I was in Lila’s life story.  But Lila’s story was fascinating none the less.  She was an orphan taken in by a hard old drifter named Doll, and together they spent a gypsy-like life on the run.  After Doll’s death, Lila drifts into Gilead, where she meets and marries the local preacher.  She spends much of her days struggling to reconcile her new life of warmth and security with the difficult and tattered past that shaped her into who she is today.  Lila’s questions about life, religion, faith, family, and love really gave me pause, and made me think.  Like I said… a different read, but I enjoyed it.

Grey by E.L. James

grey book

My first recommendation with this book is to not accidentally buy the large print edition.  I think the only reason I didn’t read it very fast was because my wrists couldn’t hold it up for long.  Lordy Jesus, it was Biblically big and heavy.  But you guys all know or have at least hear of 50 Shades… you don’t need me to go into great detail, am I right?  This is just the same story, told through Christian’s eyes instead of Ana’s.  Which was actually more interesting that I expected it to be.  It gave a little more insight into Christian Grey, and why he is the way he is.  And well… we all need a fun sexy read now and then, don’t we? ;)

I’m always looking for new books to read, so do share your favourites in the comments section!  What books have you loved lately??


Stacy said...

do you own all these books...I want to borrow some!

Lindsay said...

YES YES YES! Especially your last recommendation! :)

Looking forward to reading "This Is Where I Leave You" as soon as I'm done my current book club book!

Nicole said...

I would like to put for fun books on my list... instead... I get to continue reading school books... especially since I didn't pass my comps so I have to retake.