Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week a new theme is suggested for bloggers to participate in. This week’s prompt is Books I Loved But Never Reviewed!
Hello Readers! I’m sorry, I didn’t do much blogging or blog hopping last week. I was consumed with Midnight Sun. It was a lot bigger than I expected. But I’m not complaining. I was afraid of spoilers so I avoided social media. And, well, I was reading. 😉 My review is up now! If you’ve also read Midnight Sun, I would love to hear your thoughts.
Since I’ve only been blogging for a little under a year, there are a ton of books I’ve read but never reviewed here. This should be an easy list to make. I’ll be sticking to some of my favorite, five-star reads. <3
The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Synopsis: Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.
Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.
Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.
From my review on Goodreads: “I got swept up in the story, even though it seemed highly unrealistic in the beginning. I didn’t even care. The characters were so good, believable and true to themselves. It was a great reminder that great characters make a great book. I laughed. I swooned.”
How to Walk Away by Katherine Center
Synopsis: Margaret Jacobsen is just about to step into the bright future she’s worked for so hard and so long: a new dream job, a fiancé she adores, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in a brief, tumultuous moment.
In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Maggie must confront the unthinkable. First there is her fiancé, Chip, who wallows in self-pity while simultaneously expecting to be forgiven. Then, there’s her sister Kit, who shows up after pulling a three-year vanishing act. Finally, there’s Ian, her physical therapist, the one the nurses said was too tough for her. Ian, who won’t let her give in to her pity, and who sees her like no one has seen her before. Sometimes the last thing you want is the one thing you need. Sometimes we all need someone to catch us when we fall. And sometimes love can find us in the least likely place we would ever expect.
From my review on Goodreads: “So this charming and inspiring little novel was right up my alley. It might have also had something to do with the fact that it’s set in Texas (that’s where I live!) and that the main character, Maggie, has a terrible fear of flying (me too!). And while the plot was fairly predictable—there were a few surprises—I still enjoyed every word, which is why this one gets five glowing stars from me.”
Virgil Wander by Leif Enger
Synopsis: Midwestern movie house owner Virgil Wander is “cruising along at medium altitude” when his car flies off the road into icy Lake Superior. Virgil survives but his language and memory are altered and he emerges into a world no longer familiar to him. Awakening in this new life, Virgil begins to piece together his personal history and the lore of his broken town, with the help of a cast of affable and curious locals–from Rune, a twinkling, pipe-smoking, kite-flying stranger investigating the mystery of his disappeared son; to Nadine, the reserved, enchanting wife of the vanished man; to Tom, a journalist and Virgil’s oldest friend; and various members of the Pea family who must confront tragedies of their own. Into this community returns a shimmering prodigal son who may hold the key to reviving their town.
From my review on Goodreads: “Virgil Wander is a breath of fresh air. Charming, smart, and perfectly unforgettable. I haven’t rooted so hard for a character in a long time. This book will make you want to curl up under a warm blanket with a cup of tea and read for hours on end. I feel sad for whatever books I read next. They have a lot to live up to.”
Educated by Tara Westover
Synopsis: Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills bag”. In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father’s junkyard.
Her father forbade hospitals, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent.
Then, lacking any formal education, Tara began to educate herself. She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history, learning for the first time about important world events like the Holocaust and the civil rights movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.
From my review on Goodreads: “Tara Westover’s memoir is at times shocking, terrifying, and heartbreaking. But most importantly, it’s inspiring, reminding readers that knowledge gives us the courage to pursue our individuality and the power to respect each other’s paths. I highly recommend this one!”
Good Behavior by Blake Crouch
Synopsis: Fresh out of prison and fighting to keep afloat, Letty Dobesh returns to her old tricks burglarizing suites at a luxury hotel. While on the job, she overhears a man hiring a hit man to kill his wife. Letty may not be winning any morality awards, but even she has limits. Unable to go to the police, Letty sets out to derail the job, putting herself on a collision course with the killer that entangles the two of them in a dangerous, seductive relationship.
Good Behavior comprises three interlinked novellas (The Pain of Others, Sunset Key, and Grab), which together form a novel-length portrait of Blake Crouch’s all-time favorite character creation, Letty Dobesh. This edition is the complete Letty Dobesh collection.
From my review on Goodreads: “Not since Lisbeth Salander has a character been so intriguing. The final story in the set of three was by far my favorite, but the other two helped set up her character splendidly.”
Good Behavior was also made into a tv series a few years ago with Michelle Dockery as Letty. Sadly, it only lasted two seasons.
These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly
Synopsis: Jo Montfort is beautiful and rich, and soon—like all the girls in her class—she’ll graduate from finishing school and be married off to a wealthy bachelor. Which is the last thing she wants. Jo secretly dreams of becoming a writer—a newspaper reporter like the trailblazing Nellie Bly.
Wild aspirations aside, Jo’s life seems perfect until tragedy strikes: her father is found dead. Charles Montfort accidentally shot himself while cleaning his revolver. One of New York City’s wealthiest men, he owned a newspaper and was partner in a massive shipping firm, and Jo knows he was far too smart to clean a loaded gun.
The more Jo uncovers about her father’s death, the more her suspicions grow. There are too many secrets. And they all seem to be buried in plain sight. Then she meets Eddie—a young, brash, infuriatingly handsome reporter at her father’s newspaper—and it becomes all too clear how much she stands to lose if she keeps searching for the truth. Only now it might be too late to stop.
The past never stays buried forever. Life is dirtier than Jo Montfort could ever have imagined, and the truth is the dirtiest part of all.
From my review on Goodreads: “These Shallow Graves is an engrossing and well-plotted mystery that is hard to put down. From the very first page, Donnelly introduces the reader to a female heroine that is spirited, brave, and precocious.”
The Devil’s Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea
Synopsis: In this work of grave beauty and searing power – one of the most widely praised pieces of investigative reporting to appear in recent years – we follow twenty-six men who in May 2001 attempted to cross the Mexican border into the desert of southern Arizona, through the deadly region known as the Devil’s Highway, a desert so harsh and desolate that even the Border Patrol is afraid to travel through it, a place that for hundreds of years has stolen men’s souls and swallowed their blood. Only twelve men made it out.
I read The Devil’s Highway while on a roadtrip through the southwest. It’s a book that will stay with me forever.
From my review on Goodreads: “Gut-wrenching, enlightening, and so very beautifully written, this is a book everyone should read. And if you can read it as you drive along a desert highway, even better.”
To the Lighthouse by Virgina Woolf
Synopsis: To the Lighthouse is the most autobiographical of Virginia Woolf’s novels. It is based on her own early experiences, and while it touches on childhood and children’s perceptions and desires, it is at its most trenchant when exploring adult relationships, marriage and the changing class-structure in the period spanning the Great War.
From my review on Goodreads: “Stepping into a Virgina Woolf novel is like looking at daily life under a microscope. She magnifies the smallest moments and makes them monumental. Her language is fluid and striking, and her characters are flawed and identifiable. However, I can only scratch the surface. There are layers and depths that could only be discovered after serious ruminating and multiple reads.”
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
Synopsis: This sophisticated and entertaining first novel presents the story of a young woman whose life is on the brink of transformation. On the last night of 1937, twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent is in a second-rate Greenwich Village jazz bar when Tinker Grey, a handsome banker, happens to sit down at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a year-long journey into the upper echelons of New York society—where she will have little to rely upon other than a bracing wit and her own brand of cool nerve. With its sparkling depiction of New York’s social strata, its intricate imagery and themes, and its immensely appealing characters, Rules of Civility won the hearts of readers and critics alike.
From my review on Goodreads: “Rules of Civility is destined to be a classic. Reminiscent of The Great Gatsby, but with the Wharton style of class climbing and falling in the late 1930s New York society, this novel is smart, with characters that surprise and delight.”
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Synopsis: It’s about the disappearance forty years ago of Harriet Vanger, a young scion of one of the wealthiest families in Sweden . . . and about her octogenarian uncle, determined to know the truth about what he believes was her murder.
It’s about Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently at the wrong end of a libel case, hired to get to the bottom of Harriet’s disappearance . . . and about Lisbeth Salander, a twenty-four-year-old pierced and tattooed genius hacker possessed of the hard-earned wisdom of someone twice her age–and a terrifying capacity for ruthlessness to go with it–who assists Blomkvist with the investigation. This unlikely team discovers a vein of nearly unfathomable iniquity running through the Vanger family, astonishing corruption in the highest echelons of Swedish industrialism–and an unexpected connection between themselves.
It’s a contagiously exciting, stunningly intelligent novel about society at its most hidden, and about the intimate lives of a brilliantly realized cast of characters, all of them forced to face the darker aspects of their world and of their own lives.
For some reason I didn’t write a review of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo on Goodreads. But I binged the first three books in this series. I couldn’t put them down. Lisbeth Salander may be the most interesting character ever created.
Have you read any of these? What’s your favorite book you’ve never reviewed? Let me know in the comments!