Friday, July 7, 2017

What I've Been Reading: June 2017

I hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday weekend--I know I did! I am back, reasonably rested, and ready to share what I've been reading! I'll be back in full swing next week with some August fiction to look forward to. In the meantime, here's what's been good around here.

Right Behind You, by Lisa Gardner. Gardner is one of my favorites when it comes to thrillers--she is reliably entertaining, her characters relate-able, her plotting tight and fast. If you want a page-turner to keep you guessing, this is one I recommend highly. At thirteen, Sharlah Nash has had a tough life. She witnessed the death of her parents at the hands of her older brother, Telly, who was nine at the time. She bounced around the foster system for a number of years before landing with FBI profiler Pierce Quincy and his partner, Rainie Conner. This is, finally, the best possible place for her, and Sharlah is just starting to settle in when her estranged brother pops back up on the radar--evidence suggests that he's on a killing spree and his ultimate target may be Sharlah... One of the best thrillers I've read in recent memory.

Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin. This is my book club's selection for our July meeting. I have to admit--this was a hard one for me to get into. I switched to the audiobook after a few chapters and had better luck. Eilis Lacey is unable to find a good job in Ireland in the years following World War II. When an Irish priest from Brooklyn offers to sponsor her to live and work in America, Eilis ultimately decides to go, though it means leaving behind her mother and older sister. She works through her homesickness, working in a department store during the day and attending night classes, until tragic news from home brings her to have to make a final choice between returning to her past in Ireland or forging ahead with her plans in America. A short novel in which Eilis is less of a main character than a lense through which the reader experiences life in 1950s Brooklyn. I know this is a favorite of many, but I'm unfortunately not among them.

Woman No. 17, by Edan Lepucki. Writer Lady Daniels is taking a break from her marriage, but then finds herself confronted with the dilemma of coping with her two children, particularly her toddler, while trying to write under a deadline. She hires magnetic young artist S, who will live in the guesthouse out back, care for two-year-old Devin, and keep an eye on Lady's older teenage son, Seth. S is immediately indispensable, bonding with Devin and becoming a confidant to Lady. But the line between employee and something more blur quickly between S and the Daniels family as it seems everyone is keeping dark secrets which could spell destruction for everyone involved. Fraught with tension, this kept me guessing to the very end. For those who liked novels like You by Caroline Kepnes or Jessica Knoll's The Luckiest Girl Alive, consider adding this to your reading list.

Any Day Now, by Robyn Carr. Summer wouldn't be summer without some beachy reads. Here, in the second of Carr's new Sullivan's Crossing series (following 2016's opener, What We Find), Sierra Jones aims to leave her troubled past behind her as she stops for a visit with older brother Cal and his fiancee Maggie at Sullivan's Crossing, the campground at the crossing of the Continental Divide and Colorado trails. Sierra's future is not clear, however, and so she does not intend to put down roots here. She finds work, but never expected to find love, or a place to belong. Sweet, gentle, relaxing, easy reading. Just what a summer read ought to be.

Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery, by Jenny Colgan. The followup to Colgan's delightful Little Beach Street Bakery (2015) revisits Polly Waterford and her life on the tiny island off the southern coast of England. She's running a thriving bakery, she's got a home, a boyfriend, a pet puffin, and a community she loves. All of this slowly starts to crumble, however, when her landlady passes and the new property manager sacks her. Her boyfriend goes back to America to help with a family crisis. Polly, however, is nothing if not resourceful--she meets calamity head-on and finds a way through. Heartwarming, laugh-out-loud funny, this is classic Colgan. If you're looking for a new author to add to favorites like Elin Hilderbrand and Jane Green, I recommend Jenny Colgan.

Hunger: a memoir of (my) body, by Roxanne Gay. Gay is the best-selling author of Bad Feminist and Difficult Women. Here, she presents a searingly honest look at self-care, hunger, body image, and trauma as she has experienced them. She uses her own struggles to shed light on the shared cultural anxieties surrounding health, pleasure, appearance, and consumption. Eloquent and enlightening.

Come Sundown, by Nora Roberts. Latest by best-seller Roberts. Bodine Longbow is a businesswoman with strong family ties--she runs a sprawling resort on her family's Montana ranch, and three generations of Bodines and Longbows work alongside her. She is meticulous, vetting new hires herself, and that includes Cal Skinner, who has returned to his hometown after years in Hollywood. The crush Bo had on him years ago? That's not even on her radar...until it is. But life at the bustling resort gets an added dose of frenzy when old grudges rear their ugly heads, and a dark family secret comes home to roost. While the cast of thousands could have been pared back a little for this reader's taste, the book stands as a solid page-turner. As always, I like Roberts's characters, and they make reading a pleasure.

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