I love reading the classics. Any fiction from old, dead writers, and I’m in. But as I looked over my reading list from this past year, I was surprised to see that in 2016, I mostly read books by writers who are not only alive and well, but by women I’ve actually met, either online or in person. And I discovered something: I like writers above all other people – they are funny, self-deprecating, sensitive, and caring appreciators of alcohol. These are my people, and I’m so glad I found them!
I would be remiss if I didn’t start with my fellow Debs, mostly because their books are on mind so much of the time. (I’ll be brief because information about our books can be found all over our website.)
Here we go with the “Something old, something new” routine on debut books I loved this year that are coming to a book store near you – and soon!
Something Old: Crystal King’s FEAST OF SORROW takes us way back to ancient Rome and inserts us into the daily, dishy life of Apicius, writer of cookbooks and wealthy, eccentric foodie. This is a wonderful trip back to the olden days, with writing that makes you feel like you’ve been transported into this Roman household for dinner parties, family disputes, and scandal.
Something New: Tiffany’s book ALLEGEDLY is decidedly new-tro – this page-turning, powerful YA novel provides a modern glimpse into a young girl’s life in a halfway house/jail as she renegotiates her future and fights to keep the baby she’s carrying, in spite of what she’s allegedly done.
Something Borrowed: Jenni Walsh borrows from the riveting biography of Bonnelyn Parker in her historical fiction novel BECOMING BONNIE. (Spoiler: there are some borrowed cars in there as well, while we’re on the theme.) This novel took me back to my hometown of Dallas, Texas during the time of prohibition and speakeasies, as we watch Bonnie transform into the kickass half of the notorious Bonnie and Clyde. Such a fun read!
Something Blue: Lynn Hall’s touching memoir CAGED EYES is, in fact, blue on the outside, and it made me blue on the inside as well. It is an important, shocking, revealing, and brave book, describing Lynn’s experiences of sexual assault in the Air Force Academy. I was saddened and infuriated as I read it, telling Lynn after I was done that I seriously wanted to hurt someone. Lynn Hall is my hero.
Here are some other favorites from other amazing writers I have actually met IRL. The authors are as awesome in person as their books are. I’m thinking wine – Are you in the mood for red, white, or pink?
RED. Marcy Dermansky and THE RED CAR. I met Marcy briefly at a reading she did at The Housing Works Bookstore. She was lovely and funny, and I was riveted by the passage she read to her audience. She discussed her main character Leah, a woman who takes money for sex in college, just sort of on a whim because why not? So intriguing! This book blew my mind. I absolutely loved every page, from learning the realities of Leah’s marriage to accompanying her on her California journey. I became absurdly invested in the story, in the fate of the heroine, and in the personality and unknowable intentions of the red car she inherits.
WHITE. Elizabeth Brundage and ALL THINGS CEASE TO APPEAR. Please read my interview from December 10 with this amazing author. I share an agent with Elizabeth and had the pleasure of meeting her in person recently. She is one of those women who I felt a kinship with immediately. Her latest novel is terrifying and enthralling – a must read mystery, says the Wall Street Journal (and me). The gorgeous, simple, pure white cover of this book may fool you, but it holds a dark and complex tale inside.
PINK. Georgia Clark and THE REGULARS: this is a hilarious, rowdy girls’ night out, wrapped in a pretty pink cover. The only thing more fun than this book is Georgia herself. She is a kick and loves wine and cheese as much as I do. Her book examines notions of beauty – How far would you go to be drop-dead gorgeous and what would you do next?? This is a super, fast-paced and fun book to devour in a weekend.
Want more? We can move onto the hard stuff:
Vodka. Suzanne Rindell and her novel THREE-MARTINI LUNCH: This is a beautifully-written and compelling story of the lives of three young people, each with hopes and dreams, that intersect in New York City’s publishing world in the 1950s. The three main characters are motivated to succeed, and they find they live at a time and in a world that is relentlessly competitive. (ps Suzanne is awesome and has the cutest dog on planet earth.)
I’m thinking tequila. M. Elizabeth Lee and LOVE HER MADLY: Love this book madly, love this author madly. And yes, have a stiff drink because this book is scary and extremely suspenseful. This is the story of a fraught friendship – two college women who aren’t an obvious fit as BFFs, but hit it off and then have lots of conflict over an appealing guy – and that’s just the start of the drama.
Booze, in general. Camille Perri and THE ASSISTANTS: I just can’t stop thinking about this charming, funny, fresh, clever book. I met Camille Perri briefly at The Point Street Reading Series and liked her right off the bat. She introduced the premise of her book in such an engaging way that I went home and started reading my copy immediately. There is some anxiety involved as the women struggle to keep disaster at bay, and the characters (and I, as reader) may have had a drink or two to cope with the stress! This is a completely entertaining and satisfying book that is wish fulfillment at its best!
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