Solo Lisa Reads: August 2019

Book review round-up

I can't believe it's almost September! Summer has passed by much too quickly, but at least I have one more lazy long weekend with lots of down time to read. If you're looking forward to doing the same this Labour Day weekend, here are 4 books you'll want to add to your reading list.

1. Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Taylor Jenkins Reid's latest novel Daisy Jones & The Six is one of the biggest books of this summer and on my must-read list, but for this book review round-up I wanted to throw it back to one of her earlier novels. 29-year-old Hannah is moving from New York back to her hometown of Los Angeles to live with her best friend, Gabby, after her life has fallen spectacularly apart. That night Gabby throws Hannah a "welcome back" party at a club and Hannah's ex-boyfriend Ethan shows up. Hannah has always regarded Ethan as the one that got away, and when Ethan asks her to stay at the party just as Gabby wants to leave, she has a choice to make. This seemingly simple decision—to stay at the party with Ethan or leave with Gabby—spins out into two parallel stories about Hannah's fate à la Sliding Doors. Both paths feature the full spectrum of life's ups and downs, its tragedies and joys and loves and betrayals. Fans of the original 90s era Gwyneth Paltrow rom-com will appreciate this fresh take on a clever narrative device.

2. The Arrangement by Robyn Harding

Love, sex, money, beauty, and youth form a salacious combination in Robyn Harding's much-anticipated third thriller, a deep dive into the world of sugar babies and sugar daddies. Natalie is a small-town girl from Blaine, WA studying art in New York City and struggling to pay her bills. Becoming a sugar baby seems like an easy solution to Natalie's financial problems, especially with the guidance of a classmate who has already done it, so Natalie creates a profile and starts messaging with men. She can't believe her luck when she ends up meeting Gabe—a wealthy, handsome and worldly lawyer who seems to genuinely care for her. However, Gabe regards their relationship in purely transactional terms and doesn't intend to leave his wife and family, and in true thriller form, things go horribly awry from there and a murder occurs. The Pretty Woman-esque story arc (glam vacations! fancy meals! nice apartment!) in the first half of the book is a lot of fun, but it's the thriller/murder mystery in the second half that will keep you up half the night reading.

3. The Better Sister by Alafair Burke

Hi, my name is Lisa and I'm addicted to Gone Girl-esque thrillers that feature female protagonists with deep dark secrets, so obviously when I saw The Better Sister at my local Indigo it piqued my interest. The Taylor sisters—honour student Chloe and hard-partying Nicky—are complete opposites. Chloe is bound for New York and a glamorous magazine job, while Nicky (who has always aimlessly drifted between different jobs and different men) settles down with brilliant, handsome attorney Adam Macintosh in their hometown of Cleveland and becomes a mother to a baby boy, Ethan. Fast forward 15 years though, and fortunes have turned: Chloe is now married to her former brother-in-law Adam, and is Ethan's stepmother. Nicky is still in Cleveland and has drifted out of all their lives. What happened in those 15 years to lead us to where Chloe and Nicky are today? And what, if anything, does it all have to do with Adam being murdered in the Macintosh beach house?

4. Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia

As much as I love a good thriller set in New York featuring power players, sometimes these novels start to feel like they're a dime a dozen. By contrast, Mindy Mejia's Minnesota-based thrillers feel like a breath of fresh air by virtue of their setting and working-class characters. 10 years ago, young Lucas Blackthorn and his father go camping in the immense wilderness of Minnesota's Boundary Waters; they disappear and are presumed dead. That is, until the present day when Lucas (now a young man) is found ransacking a wilderness outfitters' store where he accidentally kills one of the store's owners. Deemed uncommunicative and mentally disturbed, Lucas is placed in a psychiatric facility where he meets assistant language therapist Maya Stark. Maya bonds with Lucas and ultimately tries her best to help him reunite with his father in the woods in a life-or-death mission, and in the process, delves deep into her own dark past and secrets. This is a beautifully told story about haunting, damaged characters that will stay with you long after you turn the final page.

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1 comment

  1. All of these sound intriguing. Adding them to my reading list! Cheers!


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