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29th July
2012
written by Steph

Well, I still do that from time to time, though I’ve been very bad about keeping S&TI! readers up-to-date on that front. I full-on admit that the past two months have not been as relaxing and full of reading as I would have liked (rather, they have been filled with stressful moves and mad-dash planning as we prepare to head off for Japan… just 1.5 weeks to go at this point!), but I have managed to keep up a steady stream of reviews for BookPage (and plan to continue to review for them while we are on our big trip… though I will be taking the month of August from professional reviewing as I adjust to life on the road in Asia!). As we finish up the tail end of our time here in North America, I am hoping to rediscover the joys of personal pleasure reading (need to get back into the swing of it before our 12 hour flight to Tokyo on Aug 8…), but for now, I’ll bring you up to speed with my BP reviews for the months of June & July.

Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes

Maybe it’s a hold over from the days when I had summer holidays, but for me, the summer is the perfect time to indulge in books that are unadulterated fun to read. We all know I have the tendency to gravitate towards highbrow literature, but sometimes you just want a book that will entertain and thrill you. If you find yourself on holiday this summer and need a book that you can read for hours by the pool and late into the night, then I highly recommend that you check out my review of debut author, Elizabeth Haynes’ novel Into the Darkest Corner. It is the ultimate “relationship gone wrong” story, and despite its length, this was a book I stayed up reading even when it was far past my bedtime. I particularly enjoyed the attention Haynes paid to the psychological trauma that can result following an abusive relationship, which I personally felt helped set this book apart from your standard run of the mill thrillers. Terrifying and utterly absorbing, this is a book that will hold you rapt from beginning to end.

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

If massive doorstops are your preferred beach reading material, then you could do no better than the second installment in Deborah Harkness’s wildly popular “All Souls Trilogy”, Shadow of Night. This book hardly needs a review given that it is the hotly anticipated sequel to A Discovery of Witches, which readers have been breathlessly waiting for since 2011, myself being no exception! Shadow of Night sees Diana & Matthew traveling back to the 1590s in order to give Diana a chance to master her burgeoning magical powers and also give our favorite vampire-witch duo the opportunity to intercept the elusive Ashmole 782 before it is enchanted. Fans of the first book will know that Harkness is not afraid to tell her story on an epic scale, and Shadow of Night is no different. Even the most voracious readers will likely need a few days to fully digest this massive story, which manages to address many of the pressing questions that were left dangling at the end of the first volume while still setting up a set of new questions for the final book in the series. I’m not normally a fan of historical fiction, but this book is just so much fun! You can read my full review here.

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

I also had the extreme pleasure of reviewing a stunning debut novel, Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. I have no idea why this book is not getting more buzz, because quite honestly, it had me in tears within the first 10 pages. I was not exaggerating in my review when I said that “Tell the Wolves I’m Home is not only one of the best debuts of 2012, it’s one of the best books of the year, plain and simple.” It really, truly is. It manages to be moving without being maudlin, not an easy feat when you’ve got a teenager as your narrator, and was just such a lovely, heartbreaking novel. One of those books you hardly want to write about because you feel your own words can’t do it justice. As much as all of these books I’ve reviewed are fantastic, if I could only pick one of them to read again, it would easily be Tell the Wolves I’m Home. Do not miss this book, or you will feel like a complete fool!

Broken Harbor by Tana French

Finally, although the August issue of BookPage isn’t out for a few more days, I figured my loyal readers deserved a treat for bearing with me over these past few months, so here is a sneak peak of my review of Tana French’s latest Murder Squad novel, Broken Harbor. Like many fans of the series, I was dubious about Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy taking the reins in this book, but: OH. MY. GOD. So deliciously creepy and twisted. This may be French’s best book yet: Kennedy winds up being a wonderfully nuanced character (hardly surprising given her track record) and his fate at the novel’s end is honestly like a swift kick to the gut. Perhaps the most compelling thing about the book is how terrifically atmospheric it was, the ghostly tendrils of the Brianstown housing estate deftly entangled themselves around my brainstem. This novel haunted me both during and after reading it, so make sure to clear your reading schedule to make room for this one!

So although 2012 continues to be something of a reading drought for me, I can’t complain about the quality of the books I’ve been reading thus far. All of these books would likely make it onto my “best books of the year” list, even if I were plowing through double the number of books, so they’re definitely well worth your while!

But, please tell me: what book(s) have you read in the past 2 -3 months that you think is absolutely unmissable? I’m definitely looking for something to kick-start my personal reading engine and need suggestions! I feel like all of my trip planning has thrown me squarely out of the book blogging loop!

12 Comments

  1. I’m so pleased to hear how much you loved “Tell the Wolves I’m Home” I’m planning to read it next and so am looking forward to it even more now.

  2. 07/29/2012

    Wow, Tell the Wolves I’m Home went straight onto my wish list based on your comments above! Thanks for bringing it to my attention – I’ve never heard of it :-)

    I must have missed somewhere along the line that you are off to Asia for a long time and aren’t going to be around North America again! Have LOTS of fun!

  3. I’m glad you mentioned Tell the Wolves I’m Home — I got it in the mail unrequested and just put it on my shelf without much thought. It’d definitely moving onto my books to read this month pile now!

    One book I recently really loved was Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I thought it was a ton of fun. Fooling Houdini by Alex Stone is the most delightful nonfiction read I’ve had this year.

  4. The cover on Tell the Wolves I’m Home is SO beautiful. Glad it was worth it.

    As for the new Tana French, I agree 100%. I think it’s definitely the strongest one yet, though I have a soft spot for In the Woods. It was also the first of hers to disturb me as much as it did. I started it late one evening and tried to push through to finish to get a sense of closure but couldn’t. Had to read it the next day and was still really unnerved. I’m really impressed with it.

  5. 07/30/2012

    I can’t wait to start Shadow of Night! I have it in hardcover for my collection, and in audio for listening. I am so glad that it came out, as I have been waiting for such a long time! I also want to start reading Tana French, and have her first two books right here. I know you love her, and others have told me that they are not to be missed.

    Have you seen the preview for Cloud Atlas? I remember you raved about that book, and I am hoping to read it before the movie comes out. It looks strange and intense. Does it look like it will be faithful to the book?

  6. 07/30/2012

    @ Jackie: I will be really interested to hear your thoughts on Wolves. It is a quiet novel, but not so quiet that I think you will dislike it. It is certainly character-driven, but has enough of a plot that I think it will appeal to wide variety of readers.
     
    @ Aarti: Seriously, I cannot believe more people are not raving about Wolves. It is SO good! I will have to work overtime to make sure it gets the exposure it is due!

    And yes, Tony and I are taking off and roaming the globe for the next 12 – 18 months! We will be blogging about our adventure over at our new travel site, 20 Years Hence.

     
    @ Kim: Thanks for the recs! I did read Ready Player One a few months back (I think I reviewed it on this site… maybe?) and liked it ok, but did not love it the way many others have. Have not heard of Fooling Houdini, so I will definitely look into that one!
     
    @ Jenn: I know a lot of people were disappointed by the ambiguity of In The Woods, but I really loved that one too. I think previously my favorite French novel was The Likeness, but now it might be Broken Harbor… not sure, but I do think at some point I will want to go back and re-read the first two books in this series!
     
    @ zibilee: I hope you love Shadow of Night. It was a lot of fun, though I do still think Discovery is my favorite book in the series thus far. Still, this one is very satisfying and has me very excited for the final book!
    I did see the Cloud Atlas trailer, and I am definitely impressed. To be honest, I don’t have any strong memories of the book, so I am probably not going to be able to judge how faithful the movie is, but given the way the book is structured, I think a film would necessarily need to depart from the book in some ways anyhow. I would like to re-read the book and I definitely think I’ll be seeing the movie!

  7. GOod to know you’re still around! You had me at hello with Tell the Wolves I’m Home. And I love the cover.

    1.5 weeks to go! EXCITING. Don’t forget you have an available bed here in Brussels.

  8. kay
    08/05/2012

    Oh, I had missed hearing more of your thoughts on books! I read Into the Darkest Corner and had a similar feel about it; it was dark and I loved the psychological aspect of it. I had a few issues with the story itself, but it was definitely a page turner.

    I still have to read A Discovery of Witches. It’s close to the top of my adult fiction pile though, since you recommended it to me when I asked for reading advice a little while ago. Just scanning your review of the second book made me want to read it even more!

  9. 08/06/2012

    Tell the Wolves is my current read and I’m loving it!!

  10. 08/08/2012

    So many memorable books – too numerous to mention.

  11. 08/14/2012

    I’m putting Tell the Wolves I’m Home on my wishlist too! I just started reading Shadow of Night this morning and am looking forward to meeting Kit Marlowe (although I heard he’s horrible here). Wishing you lots of fun in Japan and please eat as much as you can while you’re there and visit lots of combini! So far this summer, my most memorable reads have been Forge of Darkness by Steven Erikson and The Possessed by Elif Batuman.

  12. 09/13/2012

    Tell the Wolves I’m Home sounds intriguing, I’ll have to check it out. Beautiful cover as well.

    I’m with you on the 2012 reading slump… although I think mine’s been going on and off for about three years now. It’s getting out of hand!

    Hope you and Tony are enjoying your travels (if you are indeed still travelling!)

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