Author: Rainbow Rowell
Published: July 2014
Summary: Georgie is one half of a successful TV writing duo and although her career has seen some success, her home life is stuggling. Connecting with her husband has become worse and worse and when he takes their kids for the holidays and leaves her behind, she has plenty of time to contemplate their relationship. This reflection is aided with the assistance of the old yellow telephone she used to talk with her now husband back when their relationship was brand new.
Why I Am Recommending: Of any of the Rainbow Rowell books I have read, I was most skeptical of this one, but my trust in her writing convinced me to give it a try. As always, it was another great one. This story explores a relationship that began in college and spans over the course of time leading them to their young family life. Their relationship has developed a wedge in it and their paths continue to diverge. Although she uses a magical phone to tell the beginning of their relationship, and I thought it might be hokey, I loved reliving the development of a relationship from new to committed. Any person in a committed relationship will be able to connect with this book and take a few lessons from it.
Author: Georgette Heyer
Summary: In the style of authors like Jane Austen, this is the story of Arabella who is sent to London to stay with her Godmother in the hopes of finding a suitor. She finds herself continually running into Mr. Beaumaris, London’s most eligible bachelor.
Why I Am Recommending: I recommend this for anyone who enjoys the regency era romances like those of Jane Austen, George Eliot, and the like. This book caught me off guard and I found that I really enjoyed this sweet little story. I was nervous for a copy-cat style of writing, but quickly lost that concern when I started reading. This is a wholesum and romantic novel that will help ease the void left by a finite selection of classic novels.
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Published: June 1992
Summary: Claire Randall is reacquainting herself with her husband after the war in 1945 in a Scottish town in the Highlands, when she is transported to 1743. Coming to terms with this unlikely scenario and trying to survive, Claire must throw herself into the times until she can find a way back home.
Why I Am Recommending: I like this book because of its epic story telling. Although this is a romance novel in many ways, I also appreciate the quality of writing and the attention to historical details. When I read this book, I had a giddiness and sense of warmth come over me every time I dove back into Claire’s world. There is an intense romance that measures up to the epic nature of this book. This is the first in a series that currently has 9 books, nevermind the novellas that go with it. I have only read the one, but will likely try out another one when I have time to commit to the next 800+ page installment.
Title: Shelter Me
Author: Juliette Fay
Published: January 2009
Summary: Janie is depressed. Her husband recently died, leaving her with her grief and two young children. Every day is a struggle for her, but that is made slightly easier by the support of her family. This is the story of Janie trying to pull her life together.
Why I Am Recommending: I read this book a while ago and have also reread it, which is a very unusual thing for me to do. I really connected with Janie and found her character and her predicament to be very realistic. I like that Fay showed her grappling with the grief and the daily struggles in a way I would imagine to be fairly believable. I think the character development in this book is great and I grew to love all of the characters. I am not sure everyone I recommend this to would give it 5 stars like I did (I just totally synced with Janie), but I do find that it is mostly well-liked.
Title: The Post-Birthday World
Author: Lionel Shriver
Published: March 2007
Summary: Irina is content with her life as a children’s book illustrator living in England with her long-term partner, Lawrence. Lawrence and Irina take snooker player, Ramsey, out for his birthday each year. This year, however, Irina takes Ramsey out on her own as Lawrence is away. Irina finds herself drawn to Ramsey and here the story diverges into parallel stories: one where she resists her attraction to Ramsey and one where she gives in to the attraction.
Why I Am Recommending: This book is exceptionally well-written. I was in awe of Shriver’s parallel story writing and the threads she wove between them. Absolutely beautifully written. That being said, this book is not everyone’s cup of tea. This is a dense novel that spends a great deal of time immersed in a person’s psyche. The writing is brutally honest and makes the reader face the darkest thoughts of their mind, but it is an impressive spectacle nonetheless. This book does have some sexually graphic passages, so if you are sensitive to that you may want to steer clear. I only recommend this book to the most avid readers who would appreciate the intense writing of Shriver–definitely not a breezy read recommendation. This would be a great pick for a serious book club as there is a lot to talk about and dissect
Title: Me Before You
Author: Jojo Moyes
Published: December 2012
Summary: Lou lives a simple life within the small town she was born and raised. Struggling to find employment, the local temp agency places her in a home as a caregiver for a parapalegic man, Will. Will led an adventurous and fast-paced life prior to his accident, which is in stark contrast to Lou’s way of living. Lou helps will find happiness in the smallest things and Will helps Lou imagine a bigger life for herself.
Why I Am Recommending: This is one of my go-to recommendations because I find it to be fairly universally enjoyed. The topic is interesting, the characters are quirky, there is romance, there are tears, it is in essence, everything a good book should be. When I say tears, I mean grab a big box of tissues. Jojo Moyes is a great author and you can always feel confident that the writing will be great and she will have researched her topic thoroughly. This book will not let you down.
Title: Swear on This Life
Author: Renee Carlino
Published: August 2016
Summary: Emiline, an adjunct professor and aspiring writer, is surprised when she reads the new bestselling novel written by J. Colby and finds it to be a portrayal of her childhood. Emiline reads this account of her painful upbringing and is hurt that her childhood friend, whom she has not heard from in over a decade, is finding success by telling her story.
Why I Am Recommending: I loved this book as intensely as Jax and Em loved each other. I devoured this book in just a few days and was sad to see it end. The book within the book is just as good as the story unfolding. This technique of having a book within the book also immersed me more fully in Emiline’s perspective as I felt like I was going through this experience with her. The romance was swoon-worthy and it shows that Carlino is known for her romance novels. If you are sensitive to the graphic tendencies of romance novels, you may not enjoy this book as it tip-toes in that arena, although it is not a book I would fully classify as a romance novel.