The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain is one of my favorite books of 2016. It’s quirky, adorable, charming, and I would recommend it to anyone–but especially for fans of the movie Amelie. A bookseller in Paris finds a handbag on the street, with no identifying items inside. He keeps it, with the goal of tracking down the owner to return it. The characters are slightly eccentric, but lovably human. The story is uplifting and positive, yet offbeat enough to keep it from overly syrupy. Laurain also has a new book coming out October 11.
The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski is set in a fantasy world (somewhat similar to the ancient Roman civilization) where warfare is a regular occurrence, with the conquered people becoming enslaved. This series is unique in that there is so much sacrifice in the two main characters. Today’s society is all about instant gratification, yet Arin and Kestrel are constantly putting aside their own wants for the good of others.
Kestrel is an admirable heroine–she’s smart and fierce; a general’s daughter, she was raised to be a warrior. Yet she has a tender heart, and cares about others, even people at war with her own. Other readers have compared this series to Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy, and though I don’t think they’re similar, I did enjoy both, as well as Bardugo’s follow up, spin off novel. (Head’s up: Bardugo has a new book out next week!) A warning about The Winner’s Kiss: there’s much more bloodshed than in the first two books–I highly recommend skimming the fight scenes.
The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza is a fun, light read set in the world of fashion magazine publishing. A melding of The Devil Loves Prada, and Mean Girls, in the digital age.
The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell–Samantha is the supposed last descendant of the Bronte family, and heir to the mysterious treasures of the Bronte family (which she’s never seen, and she doubts the existence of). After the death of her father, she enrolls in Oxford University, only to be led on a scavenger hunt of literary treasures, aided by her handsome professor.
The true personalities and life experiences of the Bronte sisters flavor the background of the story, but you don’t have to be a Bronte scholar to enjoy this fast paced and smart mystery. (Hunting for antique books in gorgeous old stone buildings in England–totally my cup of tea). This is Lowell’s first novel, and I’m anxiously awaiting more to come.
I’m a regular reader of Ruth Soukup’s blog, so I expected I would like her latest book, Unstuffed. We all have too much stuff, and Ruth shares both practical and inspirational ways to clear our lives of all the excess. By sharing her own struggles with the love of stuff, Soukup makes me feel like there is hope for me too.
One of my favorite parts of fall and winter is enjoying a good book with my heated blanket and cup of hot tea. My hold list at the library needs to be replenished though–let me know what you’re reading in the comments!