It's time. To buy the books for Book Club. Or maybe not? But - you tell me - when is it a BAD time to buy some books?
Here are my latest recommendations from what I've read recently. I've included a brief overview here, but if you click the cover, you'll link to my review, which is a little longer. Then come back here to finish the list.
Behind Closed Doors by BA Paris is enticing. Once you know what is really going on, you will race through this thrilling, horrific journey until its inevitable conclusion.
And then you'll tell your friends to read it too. All of them.
It's that good.
It's Karin Slaughter. Of course it's on my list.
Queen of the gory, master of the plot twist, commander of the shocking revelation, she doesn't write for those of us who are queasy at the sight of lots of blood in our minds. Please God, don't ever let them make movies out of these books. Too frightening.
The Kept Woman is the next (I've lost count) in the Will Trent series. Will's wife, Angie is back, and Will must find her, because only he can. Doctor Sara Linton who loves him is also on the scene, as is his GBI partner, Faith and the ever amazing Amanda, his boss.
It's a mad screaming rollercoaster ride through the worst part of town, where people lie, steal, cheat and peddle the worst of human addictive behaviour. And the body count is rising. Terrifying.
Sorry if you've read this already, I've only just got to it. I wanted to wait until I had forgotten the story of Will and Lou in Me Before You. I did, and I'm glad. Because now I want to go and see the movie.
Louisa Clark is trying to find her way after Will. It's hard, and she's struggling. Of course she is. Enter Lily, a troubled teen. And Sam, a paramedic, aka the ambulance guy. Read this with endless cups of tea, and don't do too much else. It's like your old friends over in your house, even if you didn't read the first book. But you should. Or watch the movie then read this one.
Lovely. Comforting. Soul food.
The Insect Farm was a wonderful surprise. Stuart Prebble's debut novel is about two brothers - Jonathan and Roger Maguire.
Both are obsessed, one with his insect farm, the other with his girlfriend.
It's interesting. It studies our behaviour and relationships in a way that is quite unsettling. There is a mystery to solve, but this is gentler paced than most other thrillers.
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett was so realistic, it hurt. The opening scene is a christening party, to which Bert Cousins, the deputy DA, shows up uninvited. Life takes a turn when everyone runs home, raids their orange trees (and their booze supply cupboards) and all kinds of drinks are mixed with orange juice.
We catch up with Franny Keating, the baby featured in the famed christening party years later, when she's all growed up. And then we hear flashbacks of her past, and revelations abound.
Broken lives, damaged souls feature here, but also hope and healing.
You'll laugh your aalie off at The Underachieving Ovary. Seriously, it's funny. Full of foul language and varying descriptions of the specific types of torture wanna-be-mums-and-dads go through. All the unmentionables are spoken about. Out loud. Very loud.
Told in a quirky off-beat way, it is a kind of memoir, and it will make you laugh and cry and snort and sob all at once.
Definitely read it if you've done the infertility treatment thing, but also read it if you haven't. Because it's about humanity and life and how we cope better together, especially if one of us has a wicked sense of humour, like JT Lawrence does.
This is probably not for everyone, but I loved it, so I'm putting it in. (I know you've done that too!)
Anne Tyler's take on, and modernisation of The Taming of the Shrew. Kate and Bunny are Dr. Battista's daughters. Pyotr is his assistant. The good doc and Pyotr are on the brink of a breakthrough, but Pyotr is about to be deported. You all know what comes next...
I thoroughly enjoyed this, but not everyone will. And it will be the one that gets left behind at book club, a lot.
Set in Irish Leinster House, a gory murder sparks an investigation at the seat of Parliament, where all the politicians are. They were all there at the time of the murder too, at a party where they came and went. Appearances, you know?
Jo's first novel, With Our Blessing, was a treat, and this one is too. It is a classic whodunnit, but told from the inside, with insight, You'll love it. Look at that cover. It says "read me, read me."
I'm so glad I found Lisa Jewell. Her books are simply wonderful. In I Found You, we meet Alice, single mum to three, and the Princess of Shocking Life Decisions. Which means we can relate to her. And we do. Almost too much. Then the other two stories start too. And we wonder how they're going to weave together.
Lisa Jewell has a way of grabbing our attention, drawing us in, gently singing a melody, but then the beat picks up, and we dance, whirling and twirling, until the music stops, and we're breathless and exhilarated. Such fun.
If you loved The Miniaturist, you'll enjoy The Muse. If you adored The Miniaturist, you may not like it as much. I was in the former camp. Liked it, but wasn't sure why the fuss. No surprise, I loved this one.
The Muse isn't as atmospheric, or as distinctive. But it is full of wonderful prose, strong writing and much more likeable characters than Jessie Burton's first novel. Look at that great cover. You know you wanna.
Thanks for dropping by and listening to me rant about my latest loves.
Here's the last round of recommendations.
And the 2016 Book List, if you need more inspiration.