Winter in the Midwest means it is cold outside and the perfect weather for staying indoors and reading a good book. My bookworm friends and I are always discussing good authors or novels. There is seriously nothing better than stumbling upon a new writer and falling in love with a great book series. It is the ultimate when you can find a new-to-you author that has been in publication for years, because that typically leads to bookshelves upon bookshelves of new reading possibilities.
It was hard to narrow down my list, but (for now) here are three authors that I recommend for great reading. All are famous already and need no help from me when it comes to sales. Links have been provided to their books for quick purchase, or just to verify that these writers are as wonderful as I say.
Liane Moriarty is a New York Times best-selling author. I got hooked on her about five years ago after reading a book review for her novel “What Alice Forgot”. (*Not to be confused with the book “Still Alice”, which is also a movie with Julianne Moore.) All of her books are good, and through narration the reader gets to dive into the mindsets of Moriarty’s great characters before discovering what has really been steering their behavior. Flash backs are a common scene for this author, and they are always smartly written.
“What Alice Forgot” is a chic lit book, but kicked up a notch or two. The novel starts with the main character, Alice, waking up to having amnesia. Instead of being newly married and 29-years-old, she is really 39-years-old and on her way to divorce. The plot follows Alice as she tries to remember her lost decade and reconcile the fact that she and her husband are no longer happy. The side characters are also well-developed in this story.
Like all of Moriarty’s novels, “What Alice Forgot” is about more than just a disgruntled female character and romantic twists. It examines marriage, sibling rivalry, parenthood, and other everyday issues by stripping them down to show how nothing is ever simple and being complicated can make for a beautiful story.
I have read all of Moriarty’s books and am always impatiently waiting for her next one to go to print. My good friend insists that “The Husband’s Secret” is the best book she has ever read. I liked that one a lot, as it had a chilling aspect to the narrative centering around the question of “How well do you really know your spouse?”. However, my favorites by Moriarty are “What Alice Forgot” and then her recent publications “Big Little Lies” and “Truly Madly Guilty”.
If you like Jennifer Wiener, Jane Green, Emma Giffin, or JoJo Moyes, than you should be reading Liane Moriarty.
My brother introduced me to the writing works of Chuck Hogan with the book “Prince of Thieves”. It is a fictional crime thriller, but so much more. The main character, Doug MacRay, is a master thief and has a crew that would follow him into war. They pull a bank job, but for some reason Doug can not completely walk away from the bank teller and brief hostage, Claire. He befriends her later, without his mask, and they form a bond. It sounds hoaky, but it is deep and complex and so very well written.
The story is set in Boston and follows Doug as he begins to question his life, friends, and choices. He has to make a lot of complicated choices while trying to evade a FBI agent, who also has a strong interest in Claire. Doug is one of the best anti-heroes I have ever read. The book’s ending is stellar and involves a heist at Fenway Park. *If this plot line is sounding familiar, it may be because this novel was made into a movie by Ben Affleck called “The Town”. Affleck did a surprisingly good job adapting this book, but still read the real thing as it has a lot to offer.
Hogan has some serious range as a novelist. He wrote a three book series, called The Strain Trilogy, with Guillermo Del Toro (the master movie maker behind Pan’s Labyrinth and Hellboy). These book are set in present day time and revolve around a plague that is threatening to take over the world. The plague is no normal sickness, as it is a vampire plague that mutates human beings into monsters that will stop at nothing to devour and destroy the human population.
I know, I know…another vampire series. But, seriously these books, The Strain (#1), The Fall (#2) and The Night Eternal (#3) are no Twilight love story. They are thrillers with haunting descriptions. Reading about the vampire hunting process and the biological changes occurring in those infected give off full on adrenaline. The main characters involve a CDC scientist, a rodent exterminator, and an aging Holocaust survivor. If you do not mind a bit of gore, read this trilogy. It is also a series on FX, but I have never had the chance to watch the show.
If you regularly read Greg Isles, Jeffery Deaver, Thomas Harris, or Ridley Pearson then you would enjoy Chuck Hogan.
I was very late to the party with Charlaine Harris, as she has written a ton of great books. I love mysteries and Harris is one of the best. She has gotten a lot of fame for her fantasy/mystery Sookie Stackhouse series, also known as “True Blood” due to the popular HBO show. The series centers around a female lead, Sookie, who works in a bar and can hear other people’s thoughts. Sookie is a smart girl and with a past full of tragedy. She is also often mistaken for strange or slow due to her unique psychic ability. To add more peculiarity to her life, vampires decide to “come out” just as a new synthetic blood is produced and for sale to the masses. Sookie can’t read the minds of vampires, and this leads to some interesting friendships and intimate relationships.
There are thirteen books in Sookie Stackhous series and all have a nice, new mystery with a common plot backdrop involving all of the eclectic characters in Sookie’s life. While this series is widely popular, I actually like Harris’s other novels a bit better. (*I liked this one enough to read all of the books…I am just saying if I had to pick my favorite.)
The Aurora Teagarden Series is a great whodunit read. Aurora is a small town librarian that stumbles upon some strange crimes and murders in her suburban town near Atlanta.
I loved the Harper Connelly Series because Harper is a young lady that can recall the last moments of the dead. She has turned this strange ability into a business with her step-brother. It is somewhat fantasy fiction, but the deep, dark mysteries are what engaged me as a reader. Harper also has as back story that follows her throughout each book regarding the loss of her missing sister.
The Lily Bard Shakespeare Series was another favorite of mine, but it is dark due to the main character, Lily, having to endure a very horrible act of violence. The reader meets Lily at a time in her life when she is jaded, untrusting, and for the most part a solitary person that is trained in self-defense. Usually due to no fault of her own, she gets tangled up in a mystery and becomes the key to solving it. This series was written in the 1990’s and early 2000’s.
Harris writes with charm and even some much needed comical flair to offset her murder mystery scenarios. There is often a romantic twist in her stories, but they all are easy and fun to read. She is a talent. If you like Agatha Christie, Robert Crais, Janet Evanovich, or Lisa Scottoline then you will appreciate Charlaine Harris.
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