I was going to wait to talk about these beauties on Friday, but I just couldn't contain my excitement anymore. As you might be able to tell from the list included, I have very eclectic taste in literature...as in, I can jump easily from harrowing mystery to light-hearted beach reads in the blink of an eye. But don't let that deter you from trying some of these out!
1. Nearer Home by Joy Castro
Nearer Home is the second in the new & terrifying series by Joy Castro, a professor of English at my alma mater, UNL (yes she came and talked to my class a few years ago, and she was just as inspiring in person as her books are enticing). The first was Hell and High Water, and both are centered around a reporter, Nola Cespedes, who lives in New Orleans post-Katrina and gets involved investigating crimes and the seedy underbelly of New Orleans. I highly recommend both of them, although there are a few "mature" elements (language & sex) for readers to watch out for if you're sensitive. Castro spins deeply involved tales, and does one of the best jobs I've seen in modern mystery writers of leaving you guessing until the last page.
2. Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult
I will readily admit it - I lap each and every one of Picoult's books up...to the point that I'm pretty sure I finished this one in one afternoon. If you've never tried one of her novels before, and you enjoy family drama mixed with court drama, you will LOVE Picoult's novels. This one is about a little girl who suffers from a very rare bone disease that makes her bones so brittle that by the age of 6 she's had 30+ broken bones. Her mother goes to court to try and win money to support her family, but ruffles a lot of feathers in the process. This one was especially intriguing to me because it tackled a lot of beginning-of-life questions (treated very well, in my opinion). If you like this one, she's got about 30 more written and all of them are just as enticing - of the ones I've read, anyway!
3. Persuasion by Jane Austen
If you're an old Austen fan, or someone trying to start reading her sometimes-intimidating novels, I have to recommend Persuasion as your best bet when it comes to the wonderfulness that is Jane Austen. (Disclaimer: she is my all-time favorite author, and I've read all her novels at least twice each). I tend to recommend Persuasion as the starting point over more popular ones like Pride and Prejudice because I think it's a better story, it's shorter, and it was her crowning work - the last novel she was able to complete before her death. It's about the loveably timid but headstrong Anne Elliot and her decade-long involvement with a dashing sea captain, Frederick Wentworth. If you like the book, you best not forget the best Austen-to--screen adaptation ever done by the BBC in 2007. It's Austen movie gold.
4. Blindness by Jose Saramago
In a complete 360 from Austen, my next recommendation is Portuguese author Jose Saramago's Blindness. It depicts an apocalyptic scenario in which a plague of blindness falls on the world, the cause and spread unknown, leading to eventual ruin of civilized society. Sounds kind of heady in a description but the novel itself is gripping. It's gruesome at times (don't read if you have an easily queasy stomach), horrifying, and frightening - but altogether an amazing work. There's a reason why it won the Nobel Prize for Literature, let's just put it that way. If you ever meant to read it and never had the chance, I urge you to pick it up.
5. Room by Emma Donoghue
I realize now that most of the books on this list are kind of downers, but they're all amazing...and none of them on this list is a better combination of those two descriptors than Room by Emma Donoghue. Room is told from the point of view of Jack, a 5-year old boy who's being held captive with his mother in a small room that Jack believes constitutes the entirety of the world. This story would be convincing and horrible if it were told from anyone's perspective, but seeing it through the eyes of a five year old makes it all the worse - he has a hard time believing that things on TV are real when his Ma tells them they are, because all he has known his whole life has been Room, his best friend. I will admit - I was in tears by the end of the novel, and I think you will be too. (Again, some mature elements but since Jack doesn't really know what they are, it's not too explicit in those areas). I can't wait for Donoghue's next novel because this was her first - how will she ever top this one?
Happy reading, and happy Wednesday linking up with Hallie!