Hopefully lots of you got new iPads or Kindles from Santa and you might be looking for books to fill them up! I thought I’d put together a list of books I have read so far this year and loved and some that I have in my Kindle that I am looking forward to reading plus a few upcoming releases of highly anticipated books.
Some of these aren’t new books but rather books that will be made into movies and are likely to become very popular once again. Perhaps you missed them the first time around and might want to read them before the movie version is released.
And if you have more books to add to this list, please be sure to comment below! I have found some excellent books based on your recommendations!
Here is the list in no particular order:
The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure– I LOVED this book! I could not put it down and it is about WWII- which we have all read about many times but I thought this was an interesting perspective and the author did a fantastic job of pulling me right into this world.
Here is the official summary of the novel:
In 1942 Paris, gifted architect Lucien Bernard accepts a commission that will bring him a great deal of money – and maybe get him killed. But if he’s clever enough, he’ll avoid any trouble. All he has to do is design a secret hiding place for a wealthy Jewish man, a space so invisible that even the most determined German officer won’t find it. He sorely needs the money, and outwitting the Nazis who have occupied his beloved city is a challenge he can’t resist.
But when one of his hiding spaces fails horribly, and the problem of where to hide a Jew becomes terribly personal, Lucien can no longer ignore what’s at stake. The Paris Architect asks us to consider what we owe each other, and just how far we’ll go to make things right.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr- This is another WWII book and it is also mostly from the French perspective but a completely different story and different tone. This story didn’t pull me in quite as much as the Paris Architect but it is still a beautiful book and absolutely worth picking up.
Here is the quick summary:
From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.
Gray Mountain- John Grisham– this book came out last year and I really didn’t see a lot of fanfare and such around the release. I love John Grisham and I always read anything he puts out immediately and this book was wonderful.
Here is the summary:
The year is 2008 and Samantha Kofer’s career at a huge Wall Street law firm is on the fast track—until the recession hits and she gets downsized, furloughed, escorted out of the building. Samantha, though, is one of the “lucky” associates. She’s offered an opportunity to work at a legal aid clinic for one year without pay, after which there would be a slim chance that she’d get her old job back.In a matter of days Samantha moves from Manhattan to Brady, Virginia, population 2,200, in the heart of Appalachia, a part of the world she has only read about. Mattie Wyatt, lifelong Brady resident and head of the town’s legal aid clinic, is there to teach her how to “help real people with real problems.” For the first time in her career, Samantha prepares a lawsuit, sees the inside of an actual courtroom, gets scolded by a judge, and receives threats from locals who aren’t so thrilled to have a big-city lawyer in town. And she learns that Brady, like most small towns, harbors some big secrets.
Her new job takes Samantha into the murky and dangerous world of coal mining, where laws are often broken, rules are ignored, regulations are flouted, communities are divided, and the land itself is under attack from Big Coal. Violence is always just around the corner, and within weeks Samantha finds herself engulfed in litigation that turns deadly.
Still Alice by Lisa Genova– this will be a movie in 2015 starring Julianne Moore.
Here is the summary:
Alice Howland is proud of the life she worked so hard to build. At fifty years old, she’s a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a world-renowned expert in linguistics with a successful husband and three grown children. When she becomes increasingly disoriented and forgetful, a tragic diagnosis changes her life—and her relationship with her family and the world—forever.
At once beautiful and terrifying, Still Alice is a moving and vivid depiction of life with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease that is as compelling as A Beautiful Mindand as unforgettable as Ordinary People.
**If you do enjoy this book, Lisa Genova has another book coming out in April that you can check out here.
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins – this book I have not yet read but the reviews are excellent and this was the January book of the month from Amazon–
Intersecting, overlapping, not-quite-what-they-seem lives. Jealousies and betrayals and wounded hearts. A haunting unease that clutches and won’t let go. All this and more helps propel Paula Hawkins’s addictive debut into a new stratum of the psychological thriller genre. At times, I couldn’t help but think: Hitchcockian. From the opening line, the reader knows what they’re in for: “She’s buried beneath a silver birch tree, down towards the old train tracks…” But Hawkins teases out the mystery with a veteran’s finesse. The “girl on the train” is Rachel, who commutes into London and back each day, rolling past the backyard of a happy-looking couple she names Jess and Jason. Then one day Rachel sees “Jess” kissing another man. The day after that, Jess goes missing. The story is told from three character’s not-to-be-trusted perspectives: Rachel, who mourns the loss of her former life with the help of canned gin and tonics; Megan (aka Jess); and Anna, Rachel’s ex-husband’s wife, who happens to be Jess/Megan’s neighbor. Rachel’s voyeuristic yearning for the seemingly idyllic life of Jess and Jason lures her closer and closer to the investigation into Jess/Megan’s disappearance, and closer to a deeper understanding of who she really is. And who she isn’t. This is a book to be devoured.
Funny Girl by Nick Hornby- this one has not been released yet but I wanted to throw in a few books more lighthearted than war, disease and murder 🙂 . Nick Hornby is a great writer from England- you might remember High Fidelity which he wrote and it became a John Cusack movie years and years ago.
Here is the premise of Funny Girl:
This Funny Girl is about a working class English girl who comes of age as a TV star in the days of Carnaby Street, the Beatles, and the musical Hair; what it’s also about is the way the world turned over for everybody – but especially actors and writers — in that explosive era. Sophie Straw is the gorgeous girl from Blackpool who, like Lucille Ball (to whom Hornby slyly introduces the starstruck Sophie in a late scene), is originally deemed too pretty to be funny; like Ball, she manages through wit, decency and pratfall to become her nation’s sweetheart. She’s a great character, and readers – like everyone in swinging London – will love her. But if Sophie is the star, the rest of the population here – the hilariously narcissistic lover/co-star, the director who pines for Sophie for years, and, my favorite, the writers who give her her vehicles – are exceptional supporting players. And Hornby, who was a bit of a pop culture wunderkind himself, is wise about the way artists’ (especially writers’) careers morph and change, and what it’s like to define a cultural moment and then watch yourself live past it.
The Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick-– this book was written in 2001 and was actually a National Book Award winner. This one is also being made into a movie and it looks really good!
The ordeal of the whaleship Essex was an event as mythic in the nineteenth century as the sinking of the Titanic was in the twentieth. In 1819, the Essex left Nantucket for the South Pacific with twenty crew members aboard. In the middle of the South Pacific the ship was rammed and sunk by an angry sperm whale. The crew drifted for more than ninety days in three tiny whaleboats, succumbing to weather, hunger, disease, and ultimately turning to drastic measures in the fight for survival. Nathaniel Philbrick uses little-known documents-including a long-lost account written by the ship’s cabin boy-and penetrating details about whaling and the Nantucket community to reveal the chilling events surrounding this epic maritime disaster. An intense and mesmerizing read, In the Heart of the Sea is a monumental work of history forever placing the Essex tragedy in the American historical canon.
The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant— this one is next up on my Kindle because it has been recommended to me numerous times.
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Red Tent and Day After Night, comes an unforgettable novel about family ties and values, friendship and feminism told through the eyes of a young Jewish woman growing up in Boston in the early twentieth century.
Addie Baum is The Boston Girl, born in 1900 to immigrant parents who were unprepared for and suspicious of America and its effect on their three daughters. Growing up in the North End, then a teeming multicultural neighborhood, Addie’s intelligence and curiosity take her to a world her parents can’t imagine—a world of short skirts, movies, celebrity culture, and new opportunities for women. Addie wants to finish high school and dreams of going to college. She wants a career and to find true love.
Eighty-five-year-old Addie tells the story of her life to her twenty-two-year-old granddaughter, who has asked her “How did you get to be the woman you are today.” She begins in 1915, the year she found her voice and made friends who would help shape the course of her life. From the one-room tenement apartment she shared with her parents and two sisters, to the library group for girls she joins at a neighborhood settlement house, to her first, disastrous love affair, Addie recalls her adventures with compassion for the naïve girl she was and a wicked sense of humor.
American Sniper by Chris Kyle– boy I am super behind because I haven’t read this one yet and it is a huge movie. The story sounds abosolutely fascinating and if you get going soon you can either read this before you hit the theater or in time for the VOD release.
Here is the summary from Amazon:
A celebration of the remarkable life and legacy of fallen American hero Chris Kyle, this commemorative edition of Kyle’s bestselling memoir features the full text of American Sniper, plus more than eighty pages of remembrances by those whose lives he touched personally—including his wife, Taya; his parents, brother, and children; Marcus Luttrell and other fellow Navy SEALs; veterans and wounded warriors; lifelong friends; and many others.
From 1999 to 2009, U.S. Navy Seal Chris Kyle recorded the most career sniper kills in United States military history. His fellow American warriors, whom he protected with deadly precision from rooftops and stealth positions during the Iraq War, called him “The Legend”; meanwhile, the enemy feared him so much they named him al-Shaitan (“the devil”) and placed a bounty on his head. Kyle, who was tragically killed in 2013, writes honestly about the pain of war—including the deaths of two close SEAL teammates—and in moving first-person passages throughout, his wife, Taya, speaks openly about the strains of war on their family, as well as on Chris. Gripping and unforgettable, Kyle’s masterful account of his extraordinary battlefield experiences ranks as one of the great war memoirs of all time.
The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman — This one is along the same lines as the Paris Architect and it is the story of a zookeeper in Warsaw that rescued hundreds of people by hiding them in the animal cages. I can’t wait to read this book and it will be made into a movie starring Jessica Chastain later this year.
This was a NY Times bestselling novel back in 2008– here is a summary:
After their zoo was bombed, Polish zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski managed to save over three hundred people from the Nazis by hiding refugees in the empty animal cages. With animal names for these “guests,” and human names for the animals, it’s no wonder that the zoo’s code name became “The House Under a Crazy Star.” Best-selling naturalist and acclaimed storyteller Diane Ackerman combines extensive research and an exuberant writing style to re-create this fascinating, true-life story—sharing Antonina’s life as “the zookeeper’s wife,” while examining the disturbing obsessions at the core of Nazism.
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn– oh goodnes, goodness! I read Gone Girl a few years ago and was absolutely hooked by Gillian Flynn. Dark Places is even creepier (in a good way!) than Gone Girl. These are dark stories but they are so well written with complicated characters- like a very dark episode of Law & Order.
Here is the summary of Dark Places:
Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice” of Kinnakee, Kansas.” She survived—and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club—a secret secret society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby and pumps her for details. They hope to discover proof that may free Ben. Libby hopes to turn a profit off her tragic history: She’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club—for a fee. As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer.
I believe this one will be a movie as well in 2015– if you like it go on to Sharp Objects 🙂
A Spool of Thread by Anne Tyler – this will be released 2/10 and is already on the best sellers list for the preorder.
Here is the summary:
“It was a beautiful, breezy, yellow-and-green afternoon. . .” This is how Abby Whitshank always begins the story of how she fell in love with Red that day in July 1959. The Whitshanks are one of those families that radiate togetherness: an indefinable, enviable kind of specialness. But they are also like all families, in that the stories they tell themselves reveal only part of the picture. Abby and Red and their four grown children have accumulated not only tender moments, laughter, and celebrations, but also jealousies, disappointments, and carefully guarded secrets. From Red’s father and mother, newly arrived in Baltimore in the 1920s, to Abby and Red’s grandchildren carrying the family legacy boisterously into the twenty-first century, here are four generations of Whitshanks, their lives unfolding in and around the sprawling, lovingly worn Baltimore house that has always been their anchor.
Brimming with all the insight, humor, and generosity of spirit that are the hallmarks of Anne Tyler’s work, A Spool of Blue Thread tells a poignant yet unsentimental story in praise of family in all its emotional complexity. It is a novel to cherish.
The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki– this is another February release and sounds like a great novel to pick up!
Here is the summary:
New York Times bestselling author Allison Pataki follows up on her critically acclaimed debut novel, The Traitor’s Wife, with the little-known and tumultuous love story of “Sisi” the Austro-Hungarian Empress and captivating wife of Emperor Franz Joseph.
The year is 1853, and the Habsburgs are Europe’s most powerful ruling family. With his empire stretching from Austria to Russia, from Germany to Italy, Emperor Franz Joseph is young, rich, and ready to marry.
Fifteen-year-old Elisabeth, “Sisi,” Duchess of Bavaria, travels to the Habsburg Court with her older sister, who is betrothed to the young emperor. But shortly after her arrival at court, Sisi finds herself in an unexpected dilemma: she has inadvertently fallen for and won the heart of her sister’s groom. Franz Joseph reneges on his earlier proposal and declares his intention to marry Sisi instead.
Thrust onto the throne of Europe’s most treacherous imperial court, Sisi upsets political and familial loyalties in her quest to win, and keep, the love of her emperor, her people, and of the world.
With Pataki’s rich period detail and cast of complex, bewitching characters, The Accidental Empress offers a captivating glimpse into one of history’s most intriguing royal families, shedding new light on the glittering Hapsburg Empire and its most mesmerizing, most beloved “Fairy Queen.”
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah– I read Fly Away by Kristin Hannah last year and thought it was a lovely book. This year she releases this one and it sounds fantastic:
In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France…but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When a German captain requisitions Vianne’s home, she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates all around them, she is forced to make one impossible choice after another to keep her family alive.
Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can…completely. But when he betrays her, Isabelle joins the Resistance and never looks back, risking her life time and again to save others.
With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France–a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.
First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen– this one I want to buy just based on that gorgeous cover 🙂
Here is a review from Amazon:
You will love going to ‘Lost Lake’ with Sarah Addison Allen and meeting all the fascinating characters that live there. This book is filled with mystery, magic and wonderful surprises! Fannie Flagg, author of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe [Sarah Addison Allen is a] surefire star of feel-good fiction … this endearing tale of surprising second chances may just be her wisest work yet. Booklist starred review on LOST LAKE A real and rare talent … an absolutely enchanting read www.novelicious.com on THE GIRL WHO CHASED THE MOON It’s a bewitching read in every sense, taking you to a world of regrets, missed opportunities and lost loves found again. Magical Glamour Must Read on THE SUGAR QUEEN ‘A bewitching tale laced with magic, hope and wit, a pure delight’ Bookseller on THE SUGAR QUEEN Beguiling … leaves a magical spell that enchants as it draws you in. An absolute gem. Now on GARDEN SPELLS This compelling book has it all – passion, romance and sibling rivalry. This is Sarah Addison Allen’s first novel – she’s definitely one to watch.
And there you go! Hopefully something for everyone and pretty much my Kindle and Audible queue for the next few months!
PS: One more bonus book because how can I possibly leave this off?
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee. Whut?! Yup! This is a follow up to To Kill a Mockingbird and will be released in July! Preorder and more details can be found here.
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