Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: New-To-Me Favorite Authors I Read For The First Time In 2015 & Recently Read - Show Us Your Books - Vol. 2 (Nov. '15)

Whew! Today's post is a busy one! Not only am I am linking up with The Broke and the Bookish and participating in their weekly Top Ten Tuesday feature post, but I am also linking up with Steph @ Life According to Steph and Jana @ Jana Says for their monthly Show Us Your Books link up. We've lots to do people, so let's get this show on the road!

This week's Top Ten Tuesday theme is:


  1. Paula Hawkins (The Girl on the Train)
  2. Mary Kubica (The Good Girl)
  3. Caroline Kepnes (YOU)
  4. Tammara Webber (Easy, Breakable, Sweet)
  5. Fredrik Backman (A Man Called Ove and My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry)
  6. Rachel Joyce (The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry)
  7. Andy Weir (The Martian)
  8. Peter Swanson (The Kind Worth Killing)
  9. Nickolas Butler (Shotgun Lovesongs)
  10. Liane Moriarty (What Alice Forgot)

*Disclaimer:  If you visit my blog semi-regularly and you read my Semi Charmed Winter Book Challenge (#SCWBC) December 1 post, the following will look very familiar because it's the same.  There's no sense in trying to reinvent the wheel, right?  LOL!

Below are the books I read in November:

A book with a one-word title.
Hostage by Robert Crais
Read November 1-2, 2015
400 pages

Although Hostage isn't my favorite Robert Crais book, it is a very solid mystery/crime novel with enough twists and turns to make it enjoyable and interesting.  It is fairly fast paced, given that the events of the book happen in less than a 24 hour time period.  My disappointment was with the ending.  It just seemed rushed and very anti-climactic.
My rating: ★★★

A book that does not take place in my country of residence. 
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
(Takes place in Australia)
Read November 2-7
487 pages

What Alice Forgot was a complete surprise to me.  I've never read anything by the author before, so I honestly didn't know what to expect; I just know that I didn't expect such an intriguing story with a mysterious plot that kept me guessing throughout and even surprised at the end.  There are a cast of characters involved, but Moriarty did an excellent job of describing each person in rich detail and giving each of them a distinct personality, so much so that I kind of felt as if I knew them somehow.  With each character having such a distinctive persona, it was easy to keep everyone straight as to who was who despite there being so many people involved.  

What Alice Forgot is a brilliant story about life, tackling the inevitable changes and challenges of adulthood and parenthood, and having the courage to carry on.  What I liked most about What Alice Forgot is that is even when I wasn't listening to it, I was thinking about it.  I wasn't necessarily thinking about the book itself, but about the overall big question - what would my self of 10 years ago think of the person I've become in the here and now?  It's a valid question that I think is essential for everyone to contemplate every now and then.
My rating: ★★★★

A book with a person's first and last name in the title.
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
Read November 8-9
273 pages

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is not a lighthearted, fun read.  It is a quick read, but it packs a lot of punch in a short time span and it tackles some tough and unpleasant issues.  The story was raw and filled with angst.  I found it heartbreaking and maddening at the same time.  There were so many moments during the book when I simply wanted to shout at Leonard and say, "Trust me, Leonard!  There IS life after high school!  Just hang on a bit longer!"  Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is a a stark reminder of the struggle that many teens deal with every single day.  Interestingly enough, despite the overwhelming tone of the book, I was left with a sliver of hope at the end.  It is an extremely thought provoking book.  
My rating: ★★★★

A book published under a pseudonym.
The Girl in 6E by A.R. Torre
(According to Goodreads, A.
R. Torre is a pseudonym for Alessandra Torre)
Read November 10-12
352 pages

Disclaimer:  This book IS NOT for everyone!  It is part thriller and part erotica.  It contains very candid sexual descriptions and explicit language. 

The Girl in 6E is not the most erotic novel I've ever read nor is it the most suspenseful thriller either.  It is an interesting mix of the two genres.  I didn't necessarily love the book, nor did I hate it.  It was good, it was okay.  It kept me engaged throughout.  The first half of the book was exceptionally fast paced, but the second half, even with a solid conclusion, was somewhat anticlimactic.  It was a solid read, it just wan't exceptional.  
My rating: ★★★

A nonfiction book and a fiction book that are about the same topic/subject (cancer)
1) The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
Read November 13-14
206 pages

Upon finishing the audiobook, I purchased two copies of this book - one for myself and one for my twenty year old step son, whom I feel would benefit from reading some of Pausch's parting words of wisdom.  For me, if I buy the physical book for my personal library after hearing the audiobook, then that says a lot about what I thought of the book.

Although none of what the author had to say was earth shatteringly novel, it was nice to hear none-the-less and it was delivered in a manner that was light and entertaining.
My rating: ★★★★

2) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Read November 20-21
313 pages

This is one of those books that I had every intention of reading before I saw the movie, but for whatever reason did not.  I have no problem reading a book after the movie, although I do admit that it robs a bit of the surprise element from the book.  The Fault in Our Stars was a good book, but I wasn't blown away by it like most people appear to be (probably due to the fact that I saw the movie and ultimately knew what was coming).  Despite having watched the movie first, I'm still glad I read the book because the book wraps up a lot of loose ends and questions that I had that were not answered when I watched the movie.  Overall, I thought TFIOS is very solid, very well written, and very poignant.
My rating: ★★★★

A book with “boy,” “girl,” “man,” or “woman” in the title.
The Forgotten Man by Robert Crais
Read: November 18-20
368 pages

The Forgotten Man is the tenth book in Robert Crais' Elvis Cole/Joe Pike series.  I've read all of the previous books in the series and I love the way that Elvis and Joe continue to evolve over time.  The changes they endure makes them seem real to some degree and makes the series even more compelling and interesting in my opinion.  In The Forgotten Man, we learn more about Elvis' past, something that was only hinted at in the earlier books and which has only recently started to be explored.  (The first book that revealed some of Elvis' backstory was The Last Detective.)

As with most of the books in this series, I enjoyed it.  It was interesting, easy to follow, and didn't let me figure everything out.
My rating: ★★★★

A book with a verb in the title.
Read: November 22-27
372 pages

What a bizarre, confusing, humorous, interesting, warm fairy tale of a story.  Before I get started, let me say for the record that I LOVED the author's previous book, A Man Called Ove.  I was super excited to find this book and was hopeful of a similar reading experience that I had with it.  Sadly, that wasn't the case.

It took me longer to get into this book than it normally does with books in general.  First, the descriptions of the fantasy, fairy tale land that she and her granny created, the Land of Almost Awake, was cute but sometimes confusing.  It used strange words that I had a difficult time connecting meaning with and it was complicated by the fact that I was listening to it via audiobook and didn't have a printed word to refer back to.  Second, I didn't like Elsa, the main character.  For a kid who is almost 8, she seemed more like a smart mouthed 11 or 12 year old.  I found her to be obnoxious and unbelievably mature for her age.  (I work with 7 and 8 year olds all the time and trust me and none of them are as "advanced" as Elsa.)  Given these 2 major factors, at several points in the first half of the book, I thought about quitting.  I just wasn't enjoying the book like I had hoped I would.  But, after reading several reviews on Goodreads that advised to "keep reading" and to "hang in there," I did so and, once I finished, I'm glad I stuck it out.

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry is a complicated story that involves many people as well as the interjections of their fairy tale counterparts from the "Land of Almost Awake."  Despite my struggles during the first 50-60% of the book, the ending was satisfying and wrapped everything up nicely.  I have serious mixed feelings with this book, for I started out not liking it, but my feelings softened once everything fell into place and I understood what was going on.  
My rating: ★★★/★★★★ (3.5*, I rarely give 1/2 ratings, but I am making a exception for this one.)

A food themed book.
Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan
Read: November 27-30
340 pages

Had it not been for needing to find and read a "food themed" book, I probably would've never considered this book. I vaguely remember watching a segment on the author, comedian Jim Gaffigan, on CBS Sunday Morning sometime in the past year and I think he spoke about the book, but that's really the extent of my exposure with the author or the book before this challenge. In Food: A Love Story, Gaffigan waxes poetically comically about his feelings about shellfish, which he refers to as sea bugs; oysters (snot from a rock); his love of Chicago deep dish pizza, steak, and bacon (aka "the candy of meat"); his thoughts on at least a dozen forms/types of cheese; and how he considers Hot Pockets both a blessing and curse. Jim also touches on dining out, dining al fresco, diners, truck stops, food trucks, street fairs, McDonald's, Subway, White Castle, and Burger King. The chapters are short and some are funnier than others and the specific topics are wide and variety, but all related to food. All and all, it was an entertaining listen and I enjoyed it, especially given that Gaffigan narrates the audiobook.

My rating: ★★★

What authors made your Top 10 New to Me Favorites list?  Also, what have you read lately?  Any recommendations?

As always, thanks for stopping by!  Happy reading to you!


  1. I'm happy to see Nickolas Butler on your list!

    I started A Man Called Ove and couldn't get through it...the book you read by Backman sounds confusing as all get out.

    I also tried to reply to your comment on my blog, but your email address is not attached to your comments and I can't find it on here - would you mind giving it to me so I can put you in my address book?

  2. I've heard several people recommend What Alice Forgot, so I'm definitely going to have to check it out. Thanks for the open, honest reviews. It's so helpful when deciding what to read next.

  3. The Last Lecture was an amazing, inspiring book. I also enjoyed What Alice Forgot, although definitely not my favorite Moriarty. I have a huge crush on John Green so I'm happy to see him listed, too. As for the top 10, so many wonderful authors on that list! Butler is one of my new favorites (who happened to be taught in a writer's workshop by my absolute favorite new to me author, Dean Bakopoulos).

  4. i think i read Liane Moriarty for the first time this year as well, and she's one of my new favourite authors! it might be because she's aussie, but i can't help it haha.

  5. I've heard such great things about all the authors on your list! My TTT

  6. I've had What Alice Forgot on my to-read list for so long. I really need to bump that to the top and just read it already. You have so many great books listed here that I'm actually adding a few of them to my list now!

  7. That's so awesome! I'm not sure if I have read 10 new authors this year... maybe. Goodness this month is just crazy! I REALLY hope I get to read on the planes in 10 days! :) XO -Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

  8. I enjoyed that top 10 list because I agreed with so many of your choices and those authors were new to me as well (Liane Moriarty, Andy Weir, Peter Swanson, Paula Hawkins, Nickolas Butler).

  9. Liane Moriarty is a new author to me this year as well and I just love every book by her that I have read so far!!! The Martian was probably my top read of 2015! Loved that book! I have got to get around to You because everyone has gushed about it.

  10. I've wanted to read What Alice Forgot! I've read and enjoyed The Husband's Secret and Big Little Lies so I feel like I'll enjoy everything and anything else she has written.

  11. I have to start this comment by saying that I have no idea how I haven't made it over to your blog until now. I've participated in the Show Us Your Books! link-up every month this year, and I'm also doing the #SCWBC15 ... So I have no idea why this is my first time here.

    I'm glad I found your blog, though! I think we have (mostly) similar tastes in books. This is obviously a good thing since I'll have yet another go to source for recommendations!

    Also, you're from West Virginia? I am too! I haven't lived there since 2008 (I live in Nebraska now), but it's my home state. It's very cool to find another book nerd from WV!

    I read Big Little Lies and The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty this year, and she's also one of my new favorite authors. I have What Alice Forgot on my "To Read" list, so hopefully I'll enjoy that one as well.

    That A.R. Torre series is on my list already as well (if I remember correctly, it's a trilogy). I also really liked The Girl on the Train, You, and The Fault in Our Stars (though I read that one last year). I still haven't seen the movie.

    I realized this month that I'm just not a Mary Kubica fan. I read both The Good Girl and Pretty Baby, and both were only 2 star books for me. I wish I'd liked them more (it seems like a lot of people do), but they just didn't do it for me.

  12. You need to youtube Jim Gaffigan hot pockets to fully appreciate that joke if you haven't already. You won't forget it! I like Liane Moriarty but I haven't read that one. I find that many of her other books follow similar formulas but this one sounds different. I totally agree about Leonard Peacock - it was hard to read as an adult because you KNOW how much better things get!


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