Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper
At 83, Etta has never seen an ocean. While her husband sleeps, she takes off on a journey across Canada on foot with only her boots, a rifle and chocolate. Weaving between past and present, we follow Etta's journey as well as her husband, Otto, and Russell, who has been in love with Etta for decades. The story is beautifully written and equally heartwarming and heartbreaking.
We Are Called to Rise: A Novel by Laura McBride
Set in Las Vegas, we follow three characters whose stories start to intertwine. Nothing like one expects of a story in Sin City, we see a woman whose long term marriage is crumbling, a soldier returning home from war and a young immigrant boy who will make you love him immediately and then completely tear your heart apart. I longed for the chapters based on young Bashkim and many times, wanted to reach right into the book to hug him. The other characters weren't quite as strong for me but this was a good book. Certainly not a light read but one that will keep you thinking long after you finish it.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
France, World War II, no one thinks the Nazis will invade. Two sisters, each making their own sacrifices and showing bravery in completely different ways. Everyone seems to rate this book very high. I wanted to love it (I normally love historical fiction set in WWII) but I just didn't. There was something about the writing that just wasn't for me and I occasionally found the story predictable and a little cliché.
Unabrow: Misadventures of a Late Bloomer by Una LaMarche
I'm not even quite sure how to describe this book. It's a memoir and it is hilarious. It speaks to all of us who have had an awkward stage (or stages…or life.) I devoured it as I battled jet lag and my semi-stifled giggles were shaking the bed at ridiculously early morning hours. This is your book if you need a laugh. (Gesci, thank you for the recommendation.)
My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff
Joanna is 23, left graduate studies and moves to New York with aspirations of becoming a poet. She's broken up with her long term boyfriend and taken up with another, riskier man. Desperate for money, she takes a job as an assistant to a literary agent who happens to represent the secluded, J.D. Salinger. While it's decades after Catcher was published, Joanna is put in charge of answering bags and bags of fan mail which she is supposed to do by sending a standard letter from the agency but often the heartfelt letters beckon her to respond more personally. As she does this, she begins to find her footing both in her job at the agency but also as a writer herself.
I really, really enjoyed this book. It was the type of read that had me feeling like Joanna was an old friend. I liked the slow and steady pace of the memoir and as happy as I was with the progression of the story, I really didn't want it to end.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I know, I know. I can't believe I've never read this either but we didn't do it in High School when everyone else seemed to have read it. All the talk about Watchman had me feeling left out so I finally delved in. There's a lot of discussion about this being a coming of age novel but I must say, I'm really enjoying it as an adult. Scout kills me. Anyways, I'm three quarters done and making myself put it down every night so I can actually get some sleep.
Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
I loved The Paris Wife so when I saw the author just published her second book, I jumped on it. This one is a story of expats in Kenya and it is also based on the stories of real people.
What have you been reading? Any recommendations?