When I was home for winter break (seems so long ago but it was literally last week…), I did one thing that I don’t get to do often at school: read! I knocked out five books over the break and two of them I read all in one day. Check out what I recommend below!
Emmy and Oliver by Robin Benway – ★★★★
I loved this book and read it all in a day! It’s definitely an easy read, but it was just a fun, feel-good book. I thought it would be more ‘deep’ from the book description, but it was pretty simple. However, it was still a fun story.
Emmy’s best friend, Oliver, reappears after being kidnapped by his father ten years ago. Emmy hopes to pick up their relationship right where it left off. Are they destined to be together? Or has fate irreparably driven them apart?
A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena – ★★★
This book was not my favorite, but the plot was interesting. It was very slow in the middle as they were trying to solve the mystery. I thought I guessed ‘whodunit’ but the ending totally shocked me! The author certainly led you to believe it was someone else throughout the whole book until just the last few pages.
Karen and Tom Krupp are happy—they’ve got a lovely home in upstate New York, they’re practically newlyweds, and they have no kids to interrupt their comfortable life together. But one day, Tom returns home to find Karen has vanished—her car’s gone and it seems she left in a rush. She even left her purse—complete with phone and ID—behind.
There’s a knock on the door—the police are there to take Tom to the hospital where his wife has been admitted. She had a car accident, and lost control as she sped through the worst part of town.
The accident has left Karen with a concussion and a few scrapes. Still, she’s mostly okay—except that she can’t remember what she was doing or where she was when she crashed. The cops think her memory loss is highly convenient, and they suspect she was up to no good.
Karen returns home with Tom, determined to heal and move on with her life. Then she realizes something’s been moved. Something’s not quite right. Someone’s been in her house. And the police won’t stop asking questions.
Because in this house, everyone’s a stranger. Everyone has something they’d rather keep hidden. Something they might even kill to keep quiet.
The Lying Game by Ruth Ware – ★★★★
Loved this one! It’s an intense mystery that didn’t feel slow to me at all (which is my biggest problem with mystery novels). I found this from Reese Witherspoon’s book club and anything Reese recommends is typically five stars in my book. This didn’t disappoint. The author, Ruth Ware, has been called “the Agatha Christie of our time” which is high praise! I liked this the most because there were several different subplots running throughout the main plot that kept you guessing. There was just about everything in this–romance, mystery, nostalgia–and that kept my attention. (The Woman in Cabin 10, her other popular book, is next on my list!)
On a cool June morning, a woman is walking her dog in the idyllic coastal village of Salten along a tidal estuary known as the Reach. Before she can stop him, the dog charges into the water to retrieve what first appears to be a wayward stick, but to her horror, turns out to be something much more sinister…
The next morning, three women in and around London—Fatima, Thea, and Isabel—receive the text they had always hoped would NEVER come, from the fourth in their formerly inseparable clique, Kate, that says only, “I need you.”
The four girls were best friends at Salten, a second-rate boarding school set near the cliffs of the English Channel. Each different in their own way, the four became inseparable and were notorious for playing the Lying Game, telling lies at every turn to both fellow boarders and faculty, with varying states of serious and flippant nature that were disturbing enough to ensure that everyone steered clear of them. The myriad and complicated rules of the game are strict: no lying to each other—ever. Bail on the lie when it becomes clear it is about to be found out. But their little game had consequences, and the girls were all expelled in their final year of school under mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of the school’s eccentric art teacher, Ambrose (who also happens to be Kate’s father).
Hanna Who Fell from the Sky by Christopher Meade – ★
I read this book in a day, but I actually hated it! I thought this was meant to be a dystopian novel sort of like Handmaid’s Tale, but it actually had a weird supernatural element that didn’t make any sense to me. The beginning half of the book was intriguing and I was liking the idea of the plot, but once the supernatural element was introduced, it totally ruined the book for me. I can’t really say much more without ruining the story, but I don’t recommend this.
Hanna has never been outside her secluded community of Clearhaven. She has never questioned why her father has four wives or why she has fourteen brothers and sisters. And in only one week, on her eighteenth birthday, Hanna will follow tradition and become the fifth wife of a man more than twice her age.
But just days before the wedding, Hanna meets Daniel, an enigmatic stranger who challenges her to question her fate and to follow her own will. Then her mother tells her a secret–one that could grant Hanna the freedom she’s known only in her dreams. As her world unravels around her, Hanna must decide whether she was really meant for something greater than the claustrophobic world of Clearhaven. But can she abandon her beloved younger sister and the only home she’s ever known? Or is there another option–one too fantastical to believe?
The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines – ★★★★★
I loved this! I am way late to the game in reading this book but loved it nevertheless. It tells the story of Chip and Joanna Gaines and how they’ve built up a whole business around their design skills and thinking. I’ve had the opportunity to go visit Magnolia Silos in Waco, Texas and liked it a lot, but didn’t understand the full extent of what the Gaines have put into their business. This gave me a new appreciation for the two of them and I want to watch this last season before their show goes off-air. I also want to read Chip’s book, Capital Gaines, to learn about his entrepreneurial thinking.
The Magnolia Story is the first book from Chip and Joanna, offering their fans a detailed look at their life together. From the very first renovation project they ever tackled together, to the project that nearly cost them everything; from the childhood memories that shaped them, to the twists and turns that led them to the life they share on the farm today.
Currently reading: Galloway’s Book on Running by Jeff Galloway…stay tuned for that riveting review 😉