I just finished a couple of really good books. Like couldn't-put-it-down, read-for-hours-straight-to-finish-it good. Which got me thinking...it's been awhile since I did a "What I'm Reading" post. I did a big one back in December and a brief update in January, so I went back through my list of everything I've read since then to find my favorites. I keep track of what I have read/am reading/want to read using the Goodreads app, which I love. You can browse people's reviews of books and quickly bookmark things you'd like to read. When it's time to get a new book from the library, I always have my list of "To-Reads" on hand. You can follow me (user name Lizz Dyer) if you'd like, although I don't think I'm so great at writing reviews. However, here are a few books that I'd highly recommend:
Crooked Letter, Crooked Tree by Tom Franklin - This was my favorite book of the past few months. It revolves around the kidnapping of a young girl and the mystery surrounding it, but the story is not really about that. It's about 2 secret childhood friends torn apart by circumstances that you come to learn about little by little. There are lots of twists and turns, but the story stays believable and real. And, most of all, the characters are great. I really got to love and hurt for these men, thinking about them and their situations often. I've even found myself imagining where their stories go after the book ends.
From Amazon: "Edgar Award-winning author Tom Franklin returns with his most accomplished and resonant novel so far—an atmospheric drama set in rural Mississippi. In the late 1970s, Larry Ott and Silas "32" Jones were boyhood pals. Their worlds were as different as night and day: Larry, the child of lower-middle-class white parents, and Silas, the son of a poor, single black mother. Yet for a few months the boys stepped outside of their circumstances and shared a special bond. But then tragedy struck: Larry took a girl on a date to a drive-in movie, and she was never heard from again. She was never found and Larry never confessed, but all eyes rested on him as the culprit. The incident shook the county—and perhaps Silas most of all. His friendship with Larry was broken, and then Silas left town.
More than twenty years have passed. Larry, a mechanic, lives a solitary existence, never able to rise above the whispers of suspicion. Silas has returned as a constable. He and Larry have no reason to cross paths until another girl disappears and Larry is blamed again. And now the two men who once called each other friend are forced to confront the past they've buried and ignored for decades."
Cover of Snow by Jenny Milchman - This book started out a bit slow, but at about the halfway point, I couldn't put it down. I was carrying my iPad around the house, reading what I could while I did laundry and packed my lunch and brushed my teeth - a page turner for sure! It's intense and the story is a little extreme at points, but it was definitely entertaining. If you like a good mystery that keeps you guessing and on the edge of your seat, give it a shot. (Just don't give up on it too early.)
From Amazon: "Waking up one wintry morning in her old farmhouse nestled in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, Nora Hamilton instantly knows that something is wrong. When her fog of sleep clears, she finds her world is suddenly, irretrievably shattered: Her husband, Brendan, has committed suicide...
Unraveling her late husband’s final days, Nora searches for an explanation—but finds a bewildering resistance from Brendan’s best friend and partner, his fellow police officers, and his brittle mother. It quickly becomes clear to Nora that she is asking questions no one wants to answer. For beneath the soft cover of snow lies a powerful conspiracy that will stop at nothing to keep its presence unknown . . . and its darkest secrets hidden."
The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger - The story of a "mail-ordered" bride didn't really catch my attention at first, but I picked it up after reading a review online. I liked the main character, Amina, and enjoyed the glimpse of Bangladesh - a place I knew nothing about. The contrast of cultures was interesting and got me thinking about what we consider "normal" or expected of our living situations. I found myself rooting for different characters at different times throughout the story as everyone's secrets become revealed...and was left perfectly unsatisfied in the end. (I hate when stories magically wrap up with a pretty little bow at the end, and this one seemed much more real.)
From Amazon: "Amina Mazid is twenty-four when she moves from Bangladesh to Rochester, New York, for love. A hundred years ago, Amina would have been called a mail-order bride. But this is the twenty-first century: she is wooed by—and woos—George Stillman online.
For Amina, George offers a chance for a new life for her and her parents, as well as a different kind of happiness than she might find back home. For George, Amina is a woman who doesn't play games. But each of them is hiding something: someone from the past they thought they could leave behind. It is only when Amina returns to Bangladesh that she and George find out if their secrets will tear them apart, or if they can build a future together."
The Innocents by Francesca Segal - Another story with a gloriously honest not-so-happily-ever-after conclusion. Stories about love aren't usually my favorite, but I think this one appealed to me because it was about a man's struggles. The feelings he dealt with seemed very real, which I appreciated. And I loved the setting of a Jewish community in London, which reminded me of New York and got me itching to travel.
From Amazon: "A smart and slyly funny tale of love, temptation, confusion, and commitment; a triumphant and beautifully executed recasting of Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence.
Newly engaged and unthinkingly self-satisfied, twenty-eight-year-old Adam Newman is the prize catch of Temple Fortune, a small, tight-knit Jewish suburb of London. He has been dating Rachel Gilbert since they were both sixteen and now, to the relief and happiness of the entire Gilbert family, they are finally to marry. To Adam, Rachel embodies the highest values of Temple Fortune; she is innocent, conventional, and entirely secure in her community--a place in which everyone still knows the whereabouts of their nursery school classmates. Marrying Rachel will cement Adam's role in a warm, inclusive family he loves.
But as the vast machinery of the wedding gathers momentum, Adam feels the first faint touches of claustrophobia, and when Rachel's younger cousin Ellie Schneider moves home from New York, she unsettles Adam more than he'd care to admit. Ellie--beautiful, vulnerable, and fiercely independent--offers a liberation that he hadn't known existed: a freedom from the loving interference and frustrating parochialism of North West London. Adam finds himself questioning everything, suddenly torn between security and exhilaration, tradition and independence. What might he be missing by staying close to home?"
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