Can we just talk about Lucinda Riley? I am obsessed with her books. They are all big, fat, juicy family sagas, with compelling (and sometimes frustrating) main characters. Most of her books go between the present time and various periods in history. The Olive Tree is an exception, and takes place completely in the present time (in Greece). She is a prolific writer, hugely popular in Europe, and most of her books are available in audio versions. I mean, seriously, her books are upwards of 600 pages, some of them, and every single one is a book you will immerse yourself in, with characters who will stay with you long after the book is finished. Check her out on Amazon.com, you will be amazed at how many good books she has written. She is currently working on a seven book series called The Seven Sisters, featuring seven women all adopted as infants by a Swiss gazillionaire. They are all named after the Seven Sisters in the Pleides constellation, and each of the seven books is the story of one of the daughters trying to seek out her true parentage. You will go all over the world in these books. I won't go into detail on the plots etc, but I urge you to check out this author. You will not be disappointed. She is my most favorite "find" in the past couple of years. Be warned: if you start listening to her books in the audio version while you are driving, you will find yourself driving around the neighborhood, not wanting to stop until you get to a good stopping point.
This book, 800 Grapes, was just ok for me. It is chick lit for sure. Elle, Glamour, Marie Claire magazines, all say it was the best book of the summer. Oh really? Set in Sonoma County California. Everyone has secrets. About family, love, marriage, the wine industry, California and so on. Some of you will love this book, so don't pass it by just because it wasn't my thing.
I'd classify Oh! You Pretty Things as chick lit as well, but I preferred it to 800 Grapes. Jess Dunne is third generation Hollywood working a dead end job as a barista in a trendy coffee shop. She is told that at the age of 29 she has "aged out" for her position and is being replaced by someone younger and prettier. She gets a new job as a personal assistant to the most narcissistic Hollywood star you can imagine. This book reminded me of The Nanny Diaries and The Devil Wears Prada. Wickedly funny descriptions of shallow Hollywood types. Very funny. Made me laugh out loud more than once.
Women are also the protagonists in Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly, but in a far more serious vein. Set during WWII, in Poland, New York and Germany, this story is about three women whose lives intersect. If you enjoyed The Nightengale by Kristen Hannah, you will love this book. One of the book's settings is the Nazi's Ravensbruck concentration camp, so you know at least some of the book is going to be grim. This was a moving, but unsettling book. You will be thinking about these characters for a long time after you turn the last page.
Oh, this was a GOOD book! Highly recommend this one, Before the Fall by Noah Hawley. Eleven people (all rich except for a struggling artist hitching a ride) board a private jet in Martha's Vineyard for a short flight to New York one foggy summer evening. Sixteen minutes after takeoff, the plane crashes. The struggling artist used to be a competitive swimmer and survives, saving the four year old son of one of the power moguls who went down with the plane. The book is the story of why the plane would have crashed, the secrets (and enemies) all the passengers had, and the ties that bind us together. The story goes back and forth between the aftermath of the accident and the backstories of the eleven people who were on the plane. Riveting.
Another super good book, The Magician's Lie by Greer MacAllister. The main character, The Amazing Arden, is a female magician who has been arrested for the suspected murder of her husband after her stage show. Set in 1905, the historical references were spot on, and the details fascinating. The point of view switches back and forth between Arden and Virgil, the small town police officer who is holding her captive. Arden is like Scheherezade, spinning her tale to Virgil all night long. What will happen at dawn? Well, I can guarantee you will be turning the pages all night long to find out!
I am a huge John Hart fan, and was eagerly awaiting the publication of this book. John Hart is an amazing author, winning back to back Edgar prizes for Down River and The Last Child. In Redemption Road you have a police officer with a tragic past, a wrongly accused man, a serial killer, children in terrible jeopardy, evil villains--add it all up and you have an almost unbearably suspenseful book. Extremely well written. Plot was a bit more "dark" than his previous books in my opinion, but all in all, an excellent book. Some violence.
In the style of Elizabeth George, Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner is a really good police procedural style mystery. The emphasis is more on the characters than on the crime itself. A young British woman who has it all (beauty, fabulous fiancé etc) and whose father is surgeon to the royal family, disappears leaving only a streak of blood behind on the wall. Lots of twists and turns in the investigation, headed up by a 39 year old single female detective. Of course nothing is as it seems and the ending will surprise you. Slow paced at times, but very well written.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Canterbury Sisters by Kim Wright, and I know a lot of you will too. It is about a woman who signs up for a walking tour across the English countryside to the Canterbury Cathedral, along with eight other women. Her long time lover has just dumped her and her mother just passed away, so she truly has no idea what she is going to do next. Just like Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, each traveller has a story, and hopes for a better future when they finish their pilgrimage. Everyone wants a second chance. Great characterization, good description of the surroundings, interesting stories of the crossroads in each of the character's lives. Chick lit, but engrossing and entertaining.
If you enjoy my little book reviews, check back for my next post on what I read in August and September.