Welcome to Page Turners: Best Books of 2019 (so far)
Welcome to “Page Turners,” my new column about all things bookish. I am thrilled to be writing for The Buzz about books and sharing my passion and love of reading with others.
My whole life I have loved to read and, about four years ago, a friend asked me to join a Facebook book salon, which opened up an entirely new world to me. This Facebook book salon brings together readers and authors for book chats, author discussions, book news and more. Through the relationships I developed there, I started reviewing books for authors and then publishers and have slowly built on that foundation over the past several years. I created an Instagram book account called a Bookstagram by people in the book world (@ThoughtsFromaPage), began working part-time at Murder by the Book and started speaking to book clubs and other women’s groups about book recommendations.
Eventually, my close friend Krista Hensel and I co-founded Conversations from a Page, an in-person author salon that brings renowned and up-and-coming authors to Houston for casual and engaging events that perfectly encompass all aspects of my passion for books and community. Buzz writer Andria Frankfort wrote about Conversations from a Page, which led me to The Buzz and to this column.
I read across a wide range of genres and find that what resonates most with me is quality writing and a sound plot. My favorite genres are mysteries and historical fiction, particularly World War II and Golden Age Hollywood tales, but I will read almost anything if the subject matter grabs my attention. Some of my favorite authors include Fiona Davis, Michael Connelly, Jane Harper, C. J. Box, Amor Towles, Lisa Duffy and Amy Poeppel.
In this first column, I wanted to include some of my favorite books so far this year (in no particular order):
- Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman. Set in 1960s Baltimore amid the social turmoil and strife of that era, Lippman’s tale unfolds through the perspectives of numerous characters, each new chapter tied to some small portion of the last chapter. I absolutely loved this one, and the ending is spectacular.
- The Beautiful Corpse by Christi Daugherty, sequel to The Echo Killing. Obsessed with solving her mother’s murder, Harper McClain works as a crime reporter for the local Savannah, Georgia newspaper in hopes that she will eventually encounter clues that lead her to her mother’s killer. Daugherty’s own experience as a Savannah newspaper reporter adds depth and realism to Harper’s character and career, and her descriptions of Savannah will transport you to the city’s cobblestone streets and historic buildings.
- Dragonfly by Leila Meacham. Leila Meacham’s incredible World War II saga chronicles a fictional team of young Americans recruited as OSS agents to infiltrate German-occupied Paris. The genius of Dragonfly is Meacham’s ability to vividly portray German-occupied Paris and the treachery that constantly existed for those working to remove Hitler and the Nazis. Clever, suspenseful and character-driven, Dragonfly is a tour-de-force, and a fabulous addition to the genre.
- The Editor by Steven Rowley. James Smale is an unpublished author whose autobiographical novel about his dysfunctional family has been sold to Doubleday Books where Smale is astonished to learn that Jackie Kennedy Onassis is his editor. As they commence working together, the two develop a friendship of sorts as Jackie strives to help James come to terms with unresolved family issues. Rowley writes with humor and empathy creating a gratifying, funny and, at times, heartbreaking tale.
- Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin. In 2018 and 2019, modern retellings of Jane Austen tales from another cultural perspective have become all the rage. Within this relatively new sub-genre, Ayesha at Last is a clear stand-out. Jalaluddin puts a Muslim spin on Pride & Prejudice staying true to the original story.
- This Is Home by Lisa Duffy. This Is Home is a beautiful story of redemption, family, community and friendship. Duffy’s prose is lyrical, and her ability to tell a story is outstanding. It is a spectacular read from start to finish.
- The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides. When the book opens, Alicia Berenson, a well-known painter, has been in a psychiatric facility for six years following her gruesome murder of her husband and has not spoken since the crime occurred. Theo Faber, a criminal psychotherapist, seeks to work with Alicia, determined to discover her motives for the crime. The Silent Patient is a page turner, and it is the best psychological thriller that I have read in a while.
- The Castle on Sunset: Life, Death, Art, and Scandal at Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont by Shawn Levy. Levy’s dishy, gossip-filled story of the Chateau Marmont and its storied existence will captivate readers. From John Belushi’s fatal overdose to Lindsey Lohan’s removal from the property for failing to pay her bill, the Chateau Marmont has seen more than its fair share of scandal, and Levy chronicles it all in a highly readable and entertaining fashion.
In future Buzz columns, I plan to cover a variety of book topics such as recommendations, reviews, author interviews, local author events and much more. I look forward to sharing more about my love of books and welcome any comments or suggestions.
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