Each month, we host Facebook Friday Recommendations online. You can get personalized recommendations — all you need to do is find our Facebook Friday post and comment with two or three books or authors you like, and we’ll help you find your next great read! Here are the recommendations from June 2017.
Request: I like to switch it up a bit. Mystery novels, then something humorous, then biographies about presidents and their wives, autobiographies about people in the entertainment industry.
Recommendation: Wow! You have left the field wide open! For something that has a little bit of everything, you might try “Girl in Disguise” by Greer Macallister. The story is about the first ever female Pinkerton detective, Kate Warne, who learns to work undercover. This book is set in the Civil war era and Kate even meets President Lincoln. The book is based on a true story and incorporates a lot of historically accurate characters. There is a bit of humor, intrigue and real life (and larger than life) characters. And if you have not yet read “The Wright Brothers” by David McCullough then you have a treat in store. McCullough draws on the vast Wright papers to tell a very human story of the two brothers that changed the world.
Request: I like light and fun YA books. Loved the Jacky Faber series, but also love the dystopian series books, most recently read “The Gender Game,” but also “Legend,” “Hunger Games,” “Divergent,” “Matched.” Also really like the “Crash,” “Bang” and “Gasp” books by Lisa McMann.
Recommendation: Hello! The Cat Royal series by Julia Golding is, like the Jack Faber books, fast-paced and upbeat historical fiction featuring spunky orphans. The High Seas trilogy by Iain Lawrence is another action-packed historical fiction series filled with colorful characters.
To scratch that dystopian itch, you might try the Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness. It’s heavy on the action and political corruption. It’s heavy on the cliffhangers, so maybe get the whole series at once, if it intrigues you.
In “The Testing” by Joelle Charbonneau trilogy, teen girls are selected to represent their dystopian communities and must compete for survival. Sounds familiar, but should be a fun read.
“Numbers” by Rachel Ward is popular with fans of Lisa McMann, as is “Bruiser” by Neal Shusterman. Hope you’ll find one you enjoy; I think the odds are in your favor!
Request: I’m just finishing “The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint” and enjoying it tremendously. The storyline is full of twists and turns and the subject matter is dark at times. What other authors and titles would you recommend?
Recommendation: Brady Udall’s book is a great adventure and unique coming-of-age tale. A similar title is “The Good Thief” by Hannah Tinti. Compelling and almost fairy-tale like, this novel also has a young, disabled protagonist embarking on a journey of sorts. Another oddly dark and somewhat comic novel is “The Sisters Brothers” by Patrick deWitt. It’s an offbeat western that feels like it could easily be a Coen Brothers movie. If you want even more whimsy and absurdity, try “Skippy Dies” by Paul Murray. In this novel, the fourteen-year-old Skippy ends up dead on the floor of a local doughnut shop, a number of suspects emerge at Skippy’s school in Dublin. It doesn’t sound like the plot of a funny coming-of-age novel, but trust me — it is! I hope one of these fits the bill — happy reading!
Request: Two books I have enjoyed recently are “Death Wears a Mask” by Ashley Weaver and “Secrets in the Mist” by Anna Lee Huber. I kinda dig gothic novels and historical mysteries with strong female characters.
Recommendation: “After the Armistice Ball” by Catriona McPherson has an awesome, intelligent socialite heroine who uses her place in society to infiltrate the places she needs to, to get the answers she wants. Similar to “Death Wears a Mask,” this book has an inventive, twisty plot.
Another author to check out is Tessa Harris. She writes books that take place in the 18th century in England, where Anna Lee Huber’s are set in 19th century Scotland. Both provide a lovely sense of place, while still keeping the classic gothic, ghoul-y storylines.
A gothic that I loved was “The Thirteenth Tale” by Diane Setterfield. A mysterious author’s health starts to fail, so she allows a biographer to interview her; the stories that come forth are nice and creepy. This novel also has a compelling, intricate plot.
Reader Recommendation: Second “The Thirteenth Tale” … it was good! If you like gothic, you might also want to try “The Lie Tree” by Frances Hardinge. It is a young adult novel, but contains a strong female character and totally gripped me when I was reading it 😀
Request: Megan Abbott and Kimberly McCreight are new to my favorite authors list. I’ve been getting more into mysteries. I also love horror and humor.
Recommendation: For an author similar to Megan Abbott, you should check out the books by Rosamund Lupton. “Afterwards,” specifically, is about an intentionally set fire that injures a mother and her daughter, and, while they survive, they still might be in danger. This book breaks through middle class “normalcy” to reveal webs of dark secrets.
Marisha Pessl writes mysteries with intricate plots that revolve around strange murders that are usually covering up something bigger. Start with “Special Topics in Calamity Physics.”
Lastly, for a general mystery author I think you’d enjoy: Liane Moriarty. She writes gripping stories with characters who are full of secrets; start with “Big Little Lies,” but also check out the rest — they’re all great!
Request: I’ve been really into memoirs lately — especially ones involving travel and/or foreign countries. I recently read “Carsick” by John Waters, “South and West” by Joan Didion and just finished “Love, Africa” by Jeffrey Gettleman.
Recommendation: I’ll start with an easy one: a local author! William Least Heat-Moon’s “Roads to Quoz” accounts his off-beat experiences in small-town America. It’s a little more serious in its presentation than “Carsick,” but still a joy to read.
“Walking to Hollywood” by Will Self is a fun one, too. It blurs the lines between fiction and nonfiction by recounting the on-foot travel experiences he has, as well as offering commentary on contemporary culture.
For a book that takes place in Africa (I love reading about foreign lands, too!), I recommend “Bad News” by Anjan Sundaram. This one takes place in Rwanda while Sundaram is there at a journalist training program. It offers a portrait of a country that is stuck in political and social turmoil.
Request: I really enjoyed all of Gillian Flynn’s novels, some by Tana French (especially “The Likeness“) and recently read “Behind Her Eyes” by Sarah Pinborough! Bring on the dark and twisty, with great characters!
Recommendation: Dark and twisty coming right up! Elizabeth Haynes writes dark suspenseful thrillers with well thought out characters, of whom you must question their reliability as narrators; start with “Into the Darkest Corner”
If you want something a little darker and more violent, check out Erin Kelly. She writes psychological thrillers full of twisty tension; start with “The Poison Tree,” but don’t overlook her latest, “He Said/She Said.”
Lastly, though slightly less complex than Flynn, Andrew Klavan writes darkly humorous novels with a touch of noir, and they often toe the line of reality. “A Killer in the Wind,” is a great start to his books.
Request: “11/22/63” by Stephen King, but not a horror book. The storyteller Jodi Picoult — holocaust theme. “The Husband’s Secret” by Liane Moriarty — mystery.
Recommendation: Since you liked an alternate history from Stephen King, you may also enjoy “Dominion” by C.J. Sansom. In this political thriller, a group of resistance fighters in a Britain that is occupied by Germany attempt to protect an English scientist who hold a secret the Germans would love to get their hands on. You might also like “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union” by Michael Chabon in which Alaska has become the homeland for the Jews following WWII instead of Israel. This book follows Detective Landsman as he investigates the death of a heroin-addicted chess prodigy. And then, of course, you can’t go wrong with the classic “Plot Against America” by Phillip Roth in which Charles Lindbergh, heroic aviator and rabid isolationist, is elected President in 1940. Shortly thereafter, he negotiates a cordial “understanding” with Adolf Hitler, while the new government embarks on a program of folksy anti-Semitism.
Request: I’m really enjoying the One Read Book, “The Turner House.” Any recommendations for something else along those lines?Recommendation: We’re glad to hear you’re enjoying our One Read! You might also check out “No One Is Coming to Save Us” by Stephanie Powell Watts. This one also follows a large, African-American family, in this case the Ferguson’s of North Carolina, through the ups and downs of living the “American Dream.” Another book to consider would be “Mama Flora’s Family” by Alex Haley, which is a family saga that focuses on the lives of a large African American family over the 20th century. During that time they move from Tennessee to Chicago and the story follows the challenges they face as they live through some of the major events of that century. Happy reading!
Request: Kristin Hannah is my favorite author and “The Nightingale” is my favorite book. “Small Great Things” by Jodi Picoult is a great book.
Recommendation: You are not alone in your love of Kristin Hannah! If you loved the WWII setting and the acts of resistance (as well as the romance) of “The Nightingale,” you should try “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr. It’s more literary, perhaps, but it is beautiful writing and a very moving story about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths cross in occupied France during WWII. Author Barbara Delinsky is great for fans of both Hannah and Picoult. Delinsky writes well about complex family issues. “A Map of the World” by Jane Hamilton is also a haunting and thought-provoking book about the accidental drowning of a child and the impact of the accident on families, friendships, and the community.
Request: I’ve read two of Fredrik Backman’s books lately. What would you suggest for books like his?
Recommendation: We loved the quirky and likable characters in Backman’s books! I’d recommend “The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared” by Jonas Jonasson, which takes the reader on a funny and unexpected journey as the main character escapes a nursing home. “The One-in-a-Million Boy” by Monica Wood also pushes the same buttons for me. It tells the story of a 104-year-old woman and the sweet, strange Boy Scout assigned to help her around the house and how their unexpected friendship impacts the boy’s struggling family. Another you might try if you like off-beat and unusual narrators is “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine” by Gail Honeyman. Enjoy!
Request: Just finished “This Is How It Always Is” and “The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper.” Loved them both.
Recommendation: I recommend “We Sinners” by Hanna Pylvainen, which is about a large family living in modern-day Michigan who belong to a fundamentalist sect. It’s similar to “This is How it Always Is” in that both deal with loving, messy families that are further complicated by raising a transgender child.
If you haven’t read “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry” by Rachel Joyce, you’ll love it! It’s similar to Arthur Pepper in that Harold travels far and wide in order to confront his past — they both also endure oddball situations in their travels.
“The Little Paris Bookshop” by Nina George is also a good one for those who enjoyed the travels of Arthur Pepper. Jean Perdu, a likable but lonely man, sets out on a journey of self discovery after a new tenant moves in next to his bookshop. This book is lovely and quirky.
Request: Just finished the series by C.J. Box. Can’t wait for his next release. Love mysteries. Reading Iris Johansen now.
Recommendation: Since you enjoy the C.J. Box mysteries, you might also enjoy the Kevin Kerney mystery series by Michael McGarrity. Like Joe Pickett, Kevin Kerney solves environmental mysteries in the Western U.S. The first book of the series is “Tularosa.” Kerney is the ex-chief of detectives for the Santa Fe Police and has retired early because of a leg injury inflicted on him by his ex-partner – the same man that pulls him back out of retirement when he asks Kerney to help him locate his missing son. You might also like the Nate Rodriguez series by Jonathan Santlofer beginning with “Anatomy of Fear”. Nate is a police sketch artist and, like Eve, he finds himself empathetically involved with the victims.
Request: I have enjoyed Lisa See, Kristin Hannah, and Alex George.
Recommendation: Like Lisa See, Julie Otsuka provides a window into the world of immigrants. In Otsuka’s case, Japanese Americans are the focus. “When the Emperor Was Divine” is a lovely, taut, and moving novel about a family’s experience in an internment camp during WWII. If you are more in the mood for something more Kristin Hannah-ish (focused on women’s lives and relationships), you could try Jennifer Chiaverini’s books. “The Quilter’s Apprentice” is a good one to start with. Alex George writes moving historical fiction, so you might like some of Chiaverini’s popular historical fiction, like “Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker,” a fictionalized account of the friendship between Mary Todd Lincoln and her dressmaker Elizabeth Keckley, a former slave. Happy reading!
Request: I enjoy reading Jacqueline Winspear, Donna Leon, and Alan Bradley. Any suggestions for new authors.
Recommendation: Ah, the plucky Maisie Dobbs! For other historical mysteries with a heroine at their center, try Frances Brody’s books. Start with “Dying in the Wool.” Another mystery writer you might enjoy is Deborah Crombie. Like Donna Leon, Crombie writes police procedurals with well-developed characters and that evoke a strong sense of locale and local customs (but in England instead of Venice). “A Share in Death” is the first in the series. M.C. Beaton is another mystery writer with two series — one featuring amateur detective Agatha Raisin, and the other, Scottish police detective Hamish Macbeth. Smartly crafted plots and vivid settings are the hallmarks of Beaton’s writing. “Death of a Gossip” is a good place to start. Enjoy!
Request: I just discovered J. Courtney Sullivan and greatly enjoyed “Saints For All Occasions.” Also, Kathy Hepinstall, Amy Engel and Fiona Barton.
Recommendation: For a couple of books similar to “Saints for All Occasions” I recommend “The Visitors” by Patrick O’Keeffe. This tale weaves the past and present together while telling the stories of two Irish families who have emigrated to the United States; it explores consequences of actions from the past as well as the present. “Ashes of Fiery Weather” by Kathleen Donohoe is also about Irish families, but this one covers actual historical events. It starts with the famine in Ireland, and ends a decade after 9/11, all while including the messy, lovely saga of a family.
For something similar to Amy Engel, I have to recommend local author Laura McHugh’s latest, “The Weight of Blood.” Set in the Ozarks, a girl’s friend is murdered and she starts asking the questions that just might destroy her family. It’s gritty and full of disturbing secrets.
Request: “The 100 Cupboards,” “In The After,” “Smile,” “Drama,” “Ghosts,” “Sisters”
Recommendation: Since you like “The 100 Cupboards” you might also like the Darkmouth series. The first of the series is “The Legend Begins” and it is another gateway fantasy fiction in which there are towns where the border between our world and the world of monsters — properly called Legends — is thin. One of those towns is Darkmouth. For something similar to “Smile” you might try “Roller Girl” which follows the ups and downs of middle school social life through the clean-lined artwork of this graphic novel. The story is about a girl who discovers roller derby and assumes that her best friend will share her passion but the two begin to drift apart.
Request: “Animal Farm,” “1984” and “Manhood for Amateurs” by Chabon
Recommendation: “Submission” by Michel Houellebecq is similar to “Animal Farm” in that they are both political, but “Submission” has a very different agenda. Both have characters that face ethical dilemmas while a new regime rises. The writing is very witty in this political satire.
If you haven’t read “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood, I recommend it! Like “1984,” it offers a grim view of totalitarian society. While “1984” focuses on a generally oppressive government, Atwood writes about the subjugation of women. Both are gritty and thought-provoking.
I also recommend “Home Game” Michael Lewis. In his memoir, Lewis ponders the differences between society’s expectations of fatherhood and his reality. He writes hilarious stories about being a dad, but does focus more on raising young children, rather than manhood as Chabon does. It’s quite funny and heartwarming.