Book Recommendations – June 2016

Welcome to my most requested List… Book Recommendations! And I wrote one TWO years ago and promised to do this monthly. Lies. But I am back again and going to give you a quick list to get back in the swing of things…a few books I’ve read since my last round of recommendations that I’ve started telling people to read. And again, I promise not to post spoilers in the descriptions if you promise not to post spoilers in the comments!

Affiliate Link disclaimer: If you click on the book, it will take you straight to my Amazon affiliate link so you can order…and ordering from my link enables me to buy more books. All of which I’ll tell you about in future lists. Isn’t Amazon grand?

1. Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline

It sounds terribly sad (a train of orphans? wahhhh) but I promise this is a captivating novel that will pull at your hearts strings as you follow the journey of two different young women, at two different periods in our history. The story follows both Vivian, a Depression-era young girl and her struggles on the Orphan Train (yes, it was a real part of our American history; the trains used to bring children from our crowded East coast cities out to the rural Midwest), as well as Molly, a teenager in our modern-day foster care system.

2. I Am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai

If you are not familiar with the story of Malala Yousafzai, you should be. Malala became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace prize in 2014, in recognition for her fight against the suppression of children and her work towards the education of all children, worldwide, regardless of gender. Her memoir chronicles her life in Pakistan, explains why she is a champion for children’s education, specifically young women’s, and reveals the aftermath of when she was shot by the Taliban in 2012. The extensive details of Pakistani history can be cumbersome, but we can all find inspiration in her message and story.

PS: Be careful purchasing this one if you decide to not just click on the handy dandy photo of the book above – there is also a “young readers” edition for children that is less detailed. The cover looks similar and is marked “Young Reader’s Edition” but it is an easy mistake to make.

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3. Red Rising, by Pierce Brown

Ender’s Game meets The Hunger Games. It’s a Science Fictionish Fantasyish and Young Adultish (the main character is 16 at the beginning of the trilogy but it doesn’t read like a YA novel) and combines a revolutionary war with space travel, historical Roman & Martian society and class oppression. A tale as old as time, right? I know this one sounds very niche (where my ancient Roman history Sci Fi readers at?!) but the trilogy feels fresh and like nothing I’ve ever read before while combining a compelling story line of friendship, war and intrigue.

4. The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah

Another historical novel, this one is a page turner but not because its a thriller – because it is a really well-written story. We follow two sisters in German-occupied France during World War 2 – one joins the Resistance, one follows the rules and permits her home to be occupied by a Nazi captain. PS: It reminded me of another Kristin Hannah novel, Winter Garden – an excellent story, strong female characters and just the right amount of pulling on my heart strings.

5. The Girl on the Train

Wait, didn’t she already write about a train? Sure did. But The Girl on the Train is very, very different from Orphan Train. This novel is more along the lines of Gone Girl (you can read my recommendation for that here) and is a page-turning thriller. And just like Gone Girl, it is coming to a movie theater near you in October!

But you all know the rules around here – the book is better so read the book first!

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Alright. There’s a few new books for you to add to your shelf and let me know when you read them! I plan on writing a few more book lists over the upcoming months, with drafts already created for Young Adult, Fantasy, Memoir and All Time Favorites!

What genre of book list would you like me to write next? Have you read any of these books?

Red, White & Blue Book Giveaway!

In honor of the 4th of July, and this week’s Summer Reading List, I am giving away two brand new copies of the books from my list – The Jefferson Key, by Steve Berry and The Art of Fielding, by Chad Hardbach. Nothing says ‘America’ quite like books, baseball or Thomas Jefferson!

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Enter in the Rafflecopter below and the first winner will get to choose which book they want, and the second winner will win the other!

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If you or anyone you know is interested in sponsoring a giveaway on the blog, please contact me at livelaughlist@gmail.com!

July Book Recommendations

Welcome to my most requested List… Book Recommendations! I am going to do this monthly, and am kicking it off with some summer reading – books I’ve read recently-ish (over the past few years) that have become my “go to” suggestions for people looking to read a book they can’t put down and aren’t necessarily genre-specific. I promise not to post spoilers in the descriptions if you promise not to post spoilers in the comments!

These aren’t in any particular order – just books I’ve read and suggest you do as well! If you click on the book, it will take you straight to my Amazon affiliate link so you can order…and ordering from my link enables me to buy more books. All of which I’ll tell you about in future lists. Isn’t Amazon grand?

1. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn

A thriller with enough twists to keep even someone like me (who consumes far too much media, thus is hard to surprise) guessing! Be sure to read this book BEFORE October when the movie is released starring Ben Affleck. Remember, Class: We read the book first. I know Ben Affleck is a dreamboat and whatnot, but this novel is so excellent its worthy of reading before the film. You know, like all books.

2. What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures, by Malcolm Gladwell

This is a collection of Gladwell’s essays that he has written for The New Yorker over many years. Gladwell has written more famous books (Outsiders, The Tipping Point, Blink), but I always recommend What the Dog Saw as a perfect introduction to his writing that you can pick up and put down. The book’s essays examine everything from intelligence tests and ethnic profiling, to why there are many varieties of mustard but only one variety of ketchup.

 3. The Art of Fielding, by Chad Hardbach

I was hesitant to put this on my list, as it’s a little deeper and “Book Club” ish than a summer read, but here goes: This book that’s not really about baseball could be hit or miss (ha, see what I did there) for many readers. True, it’s main protagonist is a baseball player, but the novel is actually character and relationship-driven. The downside is that there’s a few parts that feel long and sluggish. I didn’t think I would end up enjoying it after reading the first 50 pages or so, but the author does a fantastic job developing the characters and made me invested in their futures.

4. 11/22/63, by Stephen King

At 753 pages, this is no light read! But it is King doing what he does best – writing a captivating story unlike one I’ve ever read. 11/22/63 follows a man who attempts to go back in time and prevent the assassination of JFK while examining the consequences of changing time. If you’re willing to commit to the length, this book is awesome.

5. Here I Go Again, by Jen Lancaster

Time travel? Again? Well this one isn’t exactly 11/22/63. A perfect beach read, this follows former high school Queen Bee Lissy Ryder, who goes back in time to try and fix her life, karma and mean girl reputation. I love everything Jen Lancaster has written because no matter what she always keeps me laughing.

6. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

Technically a young adult novel, it follows the story of a young girl in World War 2 who steals books and her foster father uses them to teach her how to read. It is beautifully written and the narrator provides for an interesting perspective (no spoilers here on who narrates). It isn’t going to make you laugh, but it will make you think. And maybe make you cry. (PS: Oh, and obviously they made it into a movie – I repeat: Read the book).

7. Defending Jacob, by William Landay

A legal crime thriller, Defending Jacob is about a Boston suburb ADA who investigates the murder of a boy in his son’s class until evidence suggests his son, Jacob, is the primary suspect. The story follows Jacob’s parents’ love of their son, as well as examines whether a propensity for violence can be genetic. Excellent read and a page-turner until the very end. (PS: It’s not a movie yet…but I’m sure it will be… read it now and be a trendsetter!)

8. The Jefferson Key, by Steve Berry

I love Steve Berry and his books featuring Cotton Malone are my favorite. He mixes history and fiction to create captivating, beach read stories that I can’t put down. The Jefferson Key links several assassination attempts of U.S. presidents and the group behind them, and follows Cotton Malone as he tries to solve a cipher once used by Thomas Jefferson. If you liked the film National Treasure, you’ll love Steve Berry.

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Okay, these are some books that should keep you turning pages while at the beach. Next month I want to dive in to a different genre or theme. What would you like to see next? Young Adult? My All-Time Favorites? Non-Fiction? Comment below with your future book list requests!