Updated: Aug 30, 2019
Reading has always been a passion. In fact, diving into literature has likely formed me in a way. I think it might be genetic. As a kid, I remember drowsily walking into my parents room on the weekends to my mom propped up in bed reading a book. As I got older, I continued to read, but a little less. I noticed getting excited for vacations because of plane rides and beach loungers, they both involved a paperback. But man, the evolution of technology has definitely changed only reading on vacations to reading everyday. I'll admit - I've fallen into the pit of podcasts and audiobooks and I don't want to crawl out. Lately, I've found myself waiting a few minutes for a chapter to end to go into work or the house. So, I am following through with my Reading Rainbow teachings and sharing some good books I've been reading (aka listening to) lately.
The Bear and the Nightingale. This is the first book in a trilogy called the Winternight Trilogy. The second book, The Girl in the Tower has been released, but the third book is still being published.
First, I am glad I listened to this. It's based in Russia and I can't imagine how badly I would have butchered the names and Russian wording in my head. The narrator was superb. This book is definitely one of a kind, which is my favorite thing about it. It's hard to find an original thought these days. The book is a Russian fairytale filled with love and adventure. It also happens to center around an independent girl who is stubborn, courageous and inevitably a heroine. No wonder why I like it. When you first start reading it, you won't think it's a fairytale, but hang in there and a whole new world unfolds. Once you've read the first one, I won't need to talk about how good the second one is, you'll just know.
Look for Me was an interesting read and entirely different from the book above. It's a murder mystery from the perspective of several different women. I definitely didn't figure this one out until the end - it kept me on the edge of my seat, literally. Side note: the first chapter is incredibly disturbing, but if you can get through it, it's worth it.
The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen is great, also an original in the way it's presented. It's a bit depressing at times, but it all comes together in the end. I read / listened to this one really quickly. It was one of those books I extended my runs for so I could get a little more of the story. And if you know me, going for a longer run is a sacrifice. This one is a mystery as well, but not your typical murder or crime mystery.
Before We Were Yours is a close tie for first place in the books I am mentioning today. Man, this one is a tear jerker and heart string puller, if I've ever read one. AND it's based on real events. That realization was mind blowing for me. You'll understand after you read it. When I finished the book, I greedily googled everything I could about the historical facts.
If you have kids, I'm sure this book will be even more of an emotional read. But, it's 100% worth it. This was one of those where I wished I had another 20 chapters.
The Child Finder is very similar to the one above except it is more of a mystery novel than historical fiction. However, I imagine it would be an emotional read for parents as well. It definitely kept me on my toes and apprehensive (in a good way) throughout the read. This was another book that I had a hard time turning off. It was very well written and told by two different points of view - the child and the adult looking for the child. It paints a picture from the child that is highly disturbing, but likely very factual in an event like this. I call this on a creepy read and it made me think of the movie, Room.
All the Missing Girls is so good. Top 5, for sure. Another murder mystery. My only complaint about this read is that I guessed the ending, not exact, but pretty close. Still, really well written and very complex characters with realistic issues. Based in a small town with very believable small town antics. Again, another love story folded into this mystery, which always keeps me interested.
Kristin Hannah, yes this isn't a book, but an author. I am listing this author because I've read three of her books in succession. No, they are not a trilogy,
but I liked her original book so much I just kept going. This first book authored by her was called The Nightingale. It was great. I'll probably have more to say about this book than the others because it's more recent for me. It's also in my genre wheelhouse - World War II / Holocaust. I like that this book is told from the perspective of someone who chose to be involved in the war. This book is told from the French perspective, particularly in one family. The main character is again an independent and courageous heroine. It's a vivid depiction of what it was like to live in German occupied France and the gradual progression of severity that ensued over the years. I was constantly thinking, what would I do? It's easy to pretend you know what you'd do in an event like WWII, but this book really makes you have that internal discussion.
The book opens in present day from the perspective of an eldery woman in her final days, but quickly switches to two French women in the late 1930's. You don't know who the woman is until the end of the novel, which is another amazing layer in the story. I hear they are turning this book into a film, which is exciting. I hope they do it justice. So often, they don't.
The second book is The Great Alone. It's about a man who has just come back from Vietnam, released as a POW. The story is told from his daughters perspective and literally transports you to the Pacific Northwest in the 70's.
The parents decide they are going to move to Alaska to try and find happiness (again) and escape their problems. During this time, Alaska is described as the final frontier. You take a step back in time 40 years in terms of technology and everyday living. Outhouses and killing your food is the norm in this novel. The imagery is incredible. I feel like I've been to Alaska, even though I haven't. However, it's definitely moved towards the top of my list.
Several times, I thought of my dad who lived in Alaska and realized why he liked it or at least the allure of it. When they talked about winter, I was also reminded of a friend who grew up in Alaska and always tells me to only visit in the summer. Another amazing story told exceptionally well.
The last book is my least favorite of the three. I am not finished yet, but I am towards the end. It's called Firefly Lane. Another book centered in the Pacific Northwest, specifically Seattle. It's a story about two women who grow up together and how their lives blend and separate. My favorite part of this book is how realistic it is, but that's also the downside as well. I keep waiting for the big plot twist, but I am not sure if there is one. I'll keep you updated as I finish it.
There are a lot more, but I'll save those for later.
If you’ve got your own favorite reads, comment below. I’d love to add them to my list.