Friday Fiction: What Are Y’all Reading?

I recently combed through our Borders store a second time looking for going-out-of-business bargains and walked away with another stack of books. This time, most of the books were for my family; however, I did add to my To Be Read pile – which currently resembles Jack’s beanstalk to the clouds.

In the queue are several non-fiction books (primarily on writing and language) and fiction selections as well.

For today’s Friday Fiction, I’m sharing what’s coming up on my list and asking what y’all have been reading.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. This book was recommended by mystery writer Jayne Ormerod. I had seen this title several times and it piqued my curiosity, but not enough until Jayne gave it a 5 out of 5 rating.

From the back cover: “January 1946: Writer Juliet Ashton receives a letter from a stranger, a founding member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. And so begins a remarkable tale of the island of Guernsey during the German Occupation, and of a society as extraordinary as its name.”

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards. Two good friends have recommended this book, and one finally loaned me her copy (which I’ve now had for months!). I’ve probably put off reading it because it sounds like a tearjerker, and this mama isn’t sure she wants to go down that road. But the plot does sound compelling and with the recommendations . . .

From the back cover: “This stunning novel begins on a winter night in 1964, when a blizzard forces Dr. David Henry to deliver his own twins. His son, born first, is perfectly healthy, but the doctor immediately recognizes that his daughter has Down syndrome. For motives he tells himself are good, he makes a split-second decision that will haunt all their lives forever. He asks his nurse, Caroline, to take the baby away to an institution. Instead, she disappears into another city to raise the child as her own.”

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See. My mother-in-law passed this one off to me. She has read quite a few historical novels and is good at spotting an excellent one.

From the book description: “In 1937 Shanghai—the Paris of Asia—twenty-one-year-old Pearl Chin and her younger sister, May, are having the time of their lives. Both are beautiful, modern, and carefree—until the day their father tells them that he has gambled away their wealth. To repay his debts, he must sell the girls as wives to suitors who have traveled from Los Angeles to find Chinese brides. As Japanese bombs fall on their beloved city, Pearl and May set out on the journey of a lifetime, from the Chinese countryside to the shores of America. Though inseparable best friends, the sisters also harbor petty jealousies and rivalries. Along the way they make terrible sacrifices, face impossible choices, and confront a devastating, life-changing secret, but through it all the two heroines of this astounding new novel hold fast to who they are—Shanghai girls.”

The Cat, the Lady and the Liar by Leann Sweeney. Mystery author Leann Sweeney lives in my town! But although that’s how I heard about her, I’m not reading her books for that reason. She’s a great storyteller. This one is the third in her Cats in Trouble series. I have also read her Yellow Rose Mysteries, which were a lot of fun. If you like cozy mysteries, pick up one of Leann’s novels and give it a shot.

From the back cover: “When cat quilter Jillian Hart tracks down the owner of a gorgeous stray cat, the trail leads her to none other than fabulously wealthy, undeniably quirky Ritaestelle Longworth. The gossips in town are questioning Ritaestelle’s sanity, and the high-society grande dame isn’t helping matters with her wild accusations that someone is drugging her to keep her away from her beloved cat. Before Jillian can get to the bottom of Ritaestelle’s charges, a body turns up in the lake behind her house – and her cat Chablis discovers Ritaestelle standing nearby. Can Jillian’s three wise cats aid her in solving a mystery with roots that are decades old?”

Rainwater by Sandra Brown. This bestselling author was the keynote speaker at the DFW Writers’ Conference held last spring by the DFW Writers’ Workshop. As part of her presentation, she described her two latest books, and this title sounded fascinating. I have only read one other novel from her– a romance from some years ago. I’m curious to see how her writing has evolved and to simply delve into the story.

From Publishers Weekly: “Bestseller Brown brings Depression-era Texas to vivid life in this poignant short novel. At the recommendation of Dr. Murdy Kincaid, Ella Barron, a hardworking woman whose husband deserted her, accepts David Rainwater, a relative of the doctor’s, as a lodger at the boarding house she runs in the small town of Gilead, Texas. As the local community contends with a government program to shoot livestock and the opposition of racist Conrad Ellis, a greedy meatpacker, to poor families butchering the meat, Ella grows closer to David. Meanwhile, David becomes a special guardian angel to Solly, Ella’s nine-year-old autistic son. Dr. Kincaid has gently suggested Ella put Solly in an institution, but she refuses to do so. Brown skillfully charts the progress of Ella and David’s quiet romance, while a contemporary frame adds a neat twist to this heartwarming but never cloying historical.”

Which of these titles have you read or want to read? So what’s up next on your reading list? Do you have recommendations for must-reads?

11 thoughts on “Friday Fiction: What Are Y’all Reading?

  1. With my book club, I've read "Guernsey" and "Memory Keeper". "Guernsey" was very enjoyable and was wonderful for discussion. We felt like we learned a lot and it had delightful characters. I did not like "Memory Keeper" although many in the group did. My biggest beef was that I didn't find the character of the wife believable (but I was comparing her to myself in light of our common experience, so perhaps that's not fair). My memory of the book was that it was melodramatic rather than truly emotional. The best book I've read in a long time was "Wolf Hall" by Hilary Mantel (Man Booker winner last year), but if you don't love Tudor history and court politics, it will probably be rough going.

  2. I think Leann Sweeney is so cool. I have to admit, though, I enjoyed her Yellow Rose Mysteries much, much more than I enjoy the Cat mysteries. It's not that they are poorly written. Just a matter of taste. I thought the Yellow Rose mysteries were a lot darker and grittier…but were still cozy mysteries.I love Sandra Brown. If only I could write that well. She always has me hooked from page 1. Right now, I'm reading a biography about serial killer Aileen Wuornos by Sue Russell. It's engaging but exhausting. You'll probably see Aileen in a future blog post at Full Tilt Backwoods Boogie. Next on my list? I'm going to grab the latest Charlaine Harris off my TBR pile and allow myself to burn through it. 😀

  3. I have sooo many books on my "Read These Darn You!" list. However, it looks like one more will be added to my pile.. thanks to you!The Memory Keeper's Daughter sounds very interesting.Catie: I loooove stuff about serial killers.. looking forward to your blog post! Thanks for yet another great blog post, Julie.

  4. Oh, I LOVED *Guernsey*!! I just finished *Anna and the French Kiss* by Stephanie Perkins and I was swooning! Literally! It was awesome! And, in a shameless plug, I will admit that I didn't get to start a new book yet, since I just put up my first self-pubbed book *Double Clutch*, and have been riding the high that comes along with having people I never met read and comment on my book! Very cool! I hope you love *Guernsey* as much as I did, and I'm going to check out a few others on your list!

  5. I read "Guernsey" and enjoyed it though it's been awhile and I can't even remember why I liked it! The "Memory Keeper" sounds exactly like a movie I've seen and that's sort of odd since the movie was quite a few years ago! I am reading Claire Cook's "Life's A Beach" and it's a fun and funny read.

  6. I have "Guernsey" on my list too and just haven't gotten to it yet. I loved the Memory Keeper and found it to be very well written, but i did think the wife written a little too bitchy melodramatic.

  7. I've read the first three. My fave of those was Guernsey. I loved the idea of letters bringing people together, and it makes me sad that letter writing is becoming such a lost art.I've been focusing on reading smaller press or independently published books lately. My favorite was a hauntingly realistic tale… Max and Menna by Shauna Kelley. (some editing errors, but great story). Another great read this year: Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.

  8. Oooh, Julie, you MUST read Anna and the French Kiss, it instantly made it to my favorites list. And the companion novel Lola and the Boy Next Door comes out this month :). Meep!Right now I'm reading Kait Nolan's Red. As you can see Lola is on my TBR list. Next up I'm planning to read some Neil Gaiman…as I have read none and my friend tells me this is a travesty :). I also want to read Paper Towns by John Green.

  9. SO MANY BOOKS, SO LITTLE TIME! I picked up a few that I hadn't heard of here to be added to my pile. Thanks for the reccomendations!I'm glad you are reading "Guernsey". It is a great read, and I concur with the person who said letter writing is a lost ART. Oddly, I am reading another book based soley on written communication (email messages) but the author (Beate Boeker) does a fabulous job of creating a very rich romance. Even though it is a romance, the email exchanges are not between the hero and heroine, but between the heroine and her business partner back east. It's a light read, perfect distraction while the football games are on.One book I've had on my shelf for years based on the reccomendation from my husband's 80 year old grandmother (who was the wisest woman I ever met!) is "Diary of a Geisha". She said it is the best book she ever read in her whole entire life. I don't know why I haven't read it yet, maybe I'm afraid it won't live up to my expectations. Has anyone else ever read it? Ever even heard of it?Next book for our local book club is "In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin" by Erik Larson. I couldn't find it at B&N because I was looking in the fiction section! Come to find out, it's non-fiction. I'm a little worried…Great discussion here Julie! Thanks!

  10. Just finished "Forever Freed" by Laura Kaye. Wonderful twist on vampire-told through male POV. Janet Evanovich is a favorite (rabid fan of Stephanie Plum) and the J.D. Robb "In Death" series. I write young adult so I do a lot of reading there. Definite recommended reads for adults as well is Sarah Dessen's "Dreamland" and if you can handle the subject material, the book is very well written and eye opening for parents (I do not recommend anyone under 16 reading) and that's "Boy Toy." The one I've read 3 times & still love, is Simone Elkeles "Perfect Chemistry." I just received the final book in the trilogy and is next on my reading list. So fun to see what everyone's reading. Personally, I couldn't get into the "Memory Keeper" and never finished it. "Guernsey" is on to be read list as well. Thanks Julie!

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