Wednesday, 10 August 2016

What Should I Read Next? Part 1

One of my favourite podcasts is What Should I Read Next with Anne Bogel. Anne asks her guests to share three books they love, one book they hate, and what they're currently reading. Then Anne performs some "literary matchmaking" and offers recommendations to her guests.

Since it was my good friend, and former book blogger, Sara who got me hooked on this podcast, I thought it would be fun for us to do some "literary matchmaking" for each other. I asked Sara the same questions. Three books she loves, a book she hates, and her current reads. Here's what she had to say.

Welcome Sara!

What should I read next?!?!

I fell in love with the podcast “What Should I Read Next” when my beloved “Books on the Nightstand” podcast decided to call it quits and they had an episode where they recommended other book­ish podcasts to listen to. I am obsessed!!! I told Jenn about it because I know she loves reading, and when she suggested we do this for each other I immediately said yes!

I’ve picked three books that I absolutely love and have recommended to other people, and I think they also represent some of my favourite genres (but not all!).

Without further ado.....

BOOK 1: The Divine Secrets of the Ya­Ya Sisterhood byRebecca Wells. A fantastic movie, but an even better book (which is USUALLY the way). I LOVE books that delve into the relationships between women, especially mothers and daughters, and also friendship. This book has it all!!! It’s not that I identified with any one character in particular, but that the characters are so realistic.

There were aspects of each of them that I felt I could really understand, and I often felt like I was right there with them­, both the older and younger generations. It’s been a few years since I’ve read this one, and I think it’s about time for another visit!

BOOK 2: Sarah’s Key by Tatiana De Rosnay. Ugh. I remember reading this and feeling devastated. Like ugly headache inducing crying. Doesn’t that make you want to read it?!?! This book jumps back and forth between Paris during World War 2 and present day America. In 1942, 10 year old Sarah hides her little brother in a cupboard and promises to come back for him, as her and the rest of her Jewish family are taken away in the middle of the night. In present day America, Julia, an American journalist, stumbles upon information that leads her to Sarah’s secret. Devastating as I said, but so amazing. I have always been fascinated by the experience of Jewish girls and women during World War 2 (I’m looking at you Anne Frank). The strength and courage to persevere in the most horrific of circumstances is unbelievable, and can really put things in perspective.

BOOK 3: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. This book! It was the first book I read in 2015, and it basically ruined everything else I read the rest of the year. I actually met the author last year as this book was selected for our first ever community book club (Red Deer Reads), and I told her that her book ruined all other books for the rest of year. Ha, I hope she took it as the compliment I intended it as!! I don’t really want to say what this book is about because most people hear ”Post apocalyptic” and “Shakespeare travelling symphony” and think “not for me”. WRONG! IT IS FOR YOU!!! The inside cover describes it as “ a novel of art, memory, and ambition. Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it”. This is exactly what I love about it. It’s like a blend of science fiction and literature. I LOVED IT!

A BOOK I HATE : The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larson. I. HATED. THIS. BOOK. I do not like crime, mystery, thriller, or detective noels, so I shouldn’t have been surprised. But it seemed like everyone was reading it, and even self-proclaimed “I don’t like to read” readers loved it, so it felt like a good idea at the time. It wasn’t. Way too graphic and violent for my liking. I couldn’t stand ANY of the characters, and I realized that it is important that at least one character resonates with me. I thought it was terrible ­for me. If you like that genre, or my descriptors then this book might be for you, but not me. Just in case I wasn’t clear about that.


I’m sort of reading Porch Lights ( as an ebook on my iPhone) by Dorthea Benton Frank­ which I selected for the cover because it seemed like an easy summery chick lit beach read­ but haven’t had a chance to really get into it yet.

I am reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to my 5 year old son. I have always loved reading a big series, and I think this is one reason why. WE are both REALLY into it, and try to sneak as much time alone with it as we can.

I just finished “A Fatal Grace” by Louise Penny. This is book #2 in the Inspector Gamache series and goes directly against most of what I said about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. This series kept coming up in conversations, and on the podcast, and my dad has been a big fan for years. A friend in my book club started reading them, and we have fairly similar tastes in books, so I decided to give it a go. I LOVE THEM! The series is set in a Three Pines, Quebec and each book deals with a different murder investigation. It is NOT gory or graphic at all, and the book focuses a lot on the people of the town and their relationships with each other. It’s basically a cozy mystery, but not quite. If that makes any sense. I can’t get the 3rd book in the series at the library so ay have to try to buy it at a used book store. I will likely work my way through this series as I read other books, so I am for sure not looking for anything else in this genre right now.


- Sara

Okay, Sara. What amazing book choices! I have also read and loved both Station Eleven and Sarah's Key. When looking at your books, I feel like you love strong female characters, so it doesn't surprise me that you wanted to give Girl with the Dragon Tattoo a try. It also seems like it's important that you are emotionally connected to the story.

So, with that in mind, here are my recommendations for you!

1. Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton.
A school is on fire, and one mother, Grace, sees the smoke and rush of people. She knows her teenage daughter is inside. Grace runs into the burning building to rescue her. Afterwards, Grace must find the identity of the arsonist and protect her children from the person who's still intent on destroying them.

It sounds like a bit of a mystery-crime novel, but there is so much more here about the power of a mother's love. Afterwards is told from a few different points of view which, I think, also adds to the story. There is also a slight, almost paranormal element to how this story is told, but I think you'll appreciate it in the same way you loved the extraordinary-ness of Station Eleven.

2. The Thread That Binds by Alice Hayes
The Thread That Binds is the story of five women who are either new mothers or mothers-to-be. These five women don't know each other at the beginning of the story, but through different circumstances, their paths cross and friendships form. Sherice is a new mom herself, coming to terms with an illness that is changing her own mother. Sylvie is a French woman who fell in love and now lives in the US. She and her husband are stricken by poverty as she tries to find prenatal care. Joanne is single and determined to have a baby, so enlists her gay best friend, Marty to help her. Payton is 17 years old, pregnant, and on the run from a family that has all but disowned her. And Gloria is trapped in a loveless and abusive marriage, in love with another, and pregnant with a baby that could belong to one of two men.

The Thread That Binds is also told using different points of view. All five women are able to tell their stories. The book is fast-paced and really kept me wondering how each of the women's stories would end. I loved how the women's lives wove together, and I could really see these women building new friendships with each other. The overall message is that kindness and empathy can triumph over situations that feel hopeless.

3. The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Steadman
After fours years on the front of WWI, Tom Sherbourne settles down with his loving wife Isabel as the lighthouse keeper in Australia. Tragedy strikes their family as Isabel suffers two miscarriages and a stillbirth. Then a boat washes up on their shore with a dead man and a small, living baby. Tom wants to report the baby, but Isabel so desperate for a baby that they decide to keep the baby and claim it as their own. What happens when they need to introduce their child to the mainland? How do they keep their dark secrets quiet? How can love actually destroy a life?

This is a powerful, unforgettable novel and a beautiful read. If you are looking for another historical fiction novel, guaranteed to bring out an ugly cry, be sure to check out The Light Between Oceans.

So, Sara....What do you think of those choices? Have you heard of any of them? What do you think you will read next?

Good call on the strong female leads!! You're also right about needing to feel emotionally connected to the characters - you've hit the nail on the head with that one!!  I am so excited about these recommendations (in case you couldn't tell by my liberal use of exclamation marks)!!!!

1. Afterwards - I haven't heard of it - and as I mentioned before, I wasn't really into crime-mystery novels, but this one seems to have the other elements I look for in a book - and I do love a little bit of the supernatural!!

2. The Thread That Binds - I haven't heard of this one either, but it sounds AMAZING!!!!! I love reading about different experiences with motherhood, and I love stories with alternating points of view!!

3. The Light Between Oceans - I have read this one. It was good and made me ugly cry until I felt sick!

I am currently halfway through Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which I must say took some getting used to as I don't usually read anything in play format - but this works out to my benefit because it will last longer. I also just started reading The Dinner by Herman Koch, and I am listening to I Must Say by Martin Short.

Once I work though those, I will for sure be picking up The Thread That Binds as that sounds like the perfect summer read for me!!

Now what about you, Jenn? What should YOU read next? I want to recommend some books to you!!

Stay tuned next week to see what Sara recommends for me!

Jenn and Sara

PS - Don't forget to check out Anne Bogel's What Should I Read Next? podcast where we got our inspiration for this post!

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