1. All the Missing Girls
A novel of suspense that personifies the Faulkner quote, “The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past.”
Two women are missing; ten years lie between their disappearances. In a small town like Cooley Ridge, almost no one thinks this is a coincidence, especially not Nicolette “Nic” Farrell, a woman connected, like the hub of a wheel, to all the missing girls. When Nic returns home to assist with the sale of her aging father’s home, this wheel begins to turn, only backward.
Miranda (The Safest Lies, 2016, etc.) takes a huge risk by flash-forwarding two weeks past the second woman’s disappearance. Our unreliable narrator, short on sleep and paranoid for good reason, then leads us back in time, day by day, to the night that Annaleise Carter went missing. In the process, she also unravels the story of her best friend, Corinne Prescott, who vanished from the local fair ten years earlier. Everyone is a suspect, but what makes this a particularly compelling read is that we don’t know if crimes have even been committed. Did harm come to Annaleise and Corinne at the hands of another, or did they simply decide to leave the small town that had failed them in countless ways?
Miranda’s risk pays off. This is a ferocious read, the suspense doubled by the clever time twist. Compelling sub-plots, including an idealized fiancé and a less than lucid father, add complexity and humanity to Nic’s journey. While you will be unable to let go of this story until its satisfying completion, there are moments when the backward narrative can be confusing. Readers might find themselves re-reading a few sections to orient themselves in time. The benefits outweigh the costs however, as this novel is worthy, not only of a Gone Girl comparison, but of attention in its own right. For while it is primarily a story of suspense, it is also a beautiful and nuanced reflection on how we lose, and eventually find, our girls.
A page-turning and emotionally distinctive twist on the missing woman genre.
2. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
There was a moment early on in my reading of this book that I texted my friend: "I am loving Big Magic." The first few chapters were really strong and I love Gilbert's writing style; it's as if we are having a conversation. She also tells some great stories about the gifts and challenges of living a creative life.
About halfway through some of the fire burned out for me but I am definitely glad I read this book. She focuses a lot on the creative art of writing (no surprise there, she's a writer) so I'm not sure how this would read for a different type of artist.
I read this book as part of a Yoga Book Club that I hosted and the general consensus was that people thought it was motivating and inspiring.
3. The Woman in Cabin 10
You are probably catching on to my love of suspense novels. This was a good one. I loved the setting: a luxury cruise ship. Our narrator is a total wreck and my head hurt just reading through her hangovers. If you are looking for a book that will grab you from the start that you won't be able to put down, this fits the bill.
4. The Prophet
I have a daily spiritual reader that quoted Gibran so I felt like I was being directed to (finally) read this spiritual classic. I was having a really shitty day that day, election-induced, and was just reaching out for any ray of hope I could find. Is this poetry or narrative? Both, I think. Either way, it's remarkable and so incredibly timely. I felt at peace when we were finished.
5. The Forgetting Time
You guys. This book is something else. While I've read a lot about reincarnation (and you know, experienced it probably 80 times or so I'm guessing) I've never seen it done like this in a novel. I was expecting something gimmicky but this wasn't like that at all. The author ties in the story of two mothers and a dying doctor in such a way that she made this feel completely real and beautifully human. I couldn't put it down AND it has stuck with me for days. I'm still thinking about it. That's how I distinguish a good book from a great one.
6. Lily and the Octopus
I'm so glad that there are people out there who write and publish books like this. Okay full disclosure some of you are going to feel like this book is weird. I am weird so this book felt normal. Or maybe I'm normal and you are weird. Anyway, I loved this book. I was very luck to have read back-to-back, five-star novels this month. The reading gods were smiling on me.
This book is about a dog and her owner. It's a love story that will break your heart in the best way. You know that kind of sad that's very particularly a hopeful sad? The kind of sad that makes you feel more alive, not less. This book is about that.
If you like this book please let me know because then I will know you are also one of the weird-normal people and I think we should stick together.
7. We Are the Ants
My first disclaimer here is that if I don't like a book I won't finish it, so I did like this book. I just didn't love it. The story is important and centers around a young, gay man who is struggling with the loss of his boyfriend and incessant bullying at school. However, I thought this was going to be more of a sci-fi book and I really don't feel like it had that element at all. It also ran a little bit long and I felt like there was some excess here that could've been cut in order to tighten the story. But again, it was an interesting read and I'm happy that this character was brought to life to have his story told.
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