Book 1: The Storm We Made By: Vanessa Chan

In the winter, I always want the thick, hearty fiction reads that transport me to another place.  This is one of two “war-time” books (see below for The Women) – but it takes place in Malaya in 1945  (which I’d also never heard of).  At the time, they under the hands of British rule, but many found themselves wondering if it would be better to keep “Asia with Asia” and receive support from Japan.  As the readers, we know who was on what side during this war so you may read through some of the pages shaking your head and wanting to shake the book with a loud “nooooooo” to many of Cecily’s thoughts.

We are taken on a journey as Cccily fights with a decision she made in her past that is now coming back to her in a time of war.  As a young wife, she found herself being picked to be a spy – due to her husband’s job – and falls head over heels for her employer.  However, she’s not really sure what the information she gathers is for.  As we come to 1945, her son is kidnapped off the street and brought to a work camp – while she hides her youngest daughter in the basement so she’s not taken to be entertainment for the soldiers.  We go back and forth from multiple viewpoints of Cecily struggling through her every day, both of her daughters and her son.

I thought that the intro from the author immediately pulled me in.  She says that many stories from the time period haven’t been told, with those her grandparents’ age brushing over telling the stories – something that is common to those in her culture.  Vanessa Chan wanted to make sure to put a story and a voice out there to a story that hasn’t been told but should be.  It was tough to get through in some parts, but I thought it was a good read.

Book 2: First Lie Wins By: Ashley Elston

This book has been raging all over bookstagram, and I was excited to grab it because most people said it was a fresh twist on a thriller.  That’s greatly appreciated since I pretty much read thrillers nonstop, so of course, I had to grab this one.

Mia feels like a dream character where you sink right into her life and are invested in how she got to where she is.  Then the book takes you on a wild ride, realizing she is working for a voice, a shadow, a body – an anonymous person that gives her a whole setup on a con job.  She’s given a look, a name, and a whole new life background to learn so she can adapt to the life of her next job.  I liked how the author doesn’t make Mia cold,  but instead, a character that goes back and forth with her decisions and how she got to this place.  You’ll find yourself rooting for her – as her – but at the same time, you’re not really sure who she is.  As the book progresses, Mia finds herself the focus of a con job herself and has to separate to figure out why she’s been compromised.

If you’ve been in a thriller slump, this is a great one to grab.

Book 3: Woke Up Like This By: Amy Lea

Sometimes you just want to take a break from everything heavy in your life – and/or the World War fiction novels and bloody thrillers – so you reach for a rom-com of sorts.  A friend shared Woke Up Like This with me and I immediately threw it on my bookshelf, not expecting to pick it up anytime soon, but I’m glad I did!  It was a quick little rom-com read that reminds me of the days of Kate Hudson in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.  The book starts with the main character, Charlotte, trying to plan prom with her number one enemy, JT. We all remember those high school crushes that also drove us bananas?  Well, imagine falling Freaky Friday style and ending up in bed engaged to him ten years later.  Some of our worst nightmares, but maybe also some of our dreams come true.  We’re along for the ride as they try to figure out how they got to this place and if it’s possible to turn back time. Do they want to?  I thought it was silly, cute, and easy entertainment, so grab it if you can at the library or on the Libby app.

Book 4:  The Women By: Kristin Hannah

I know Kristin Hannah is a popular Southie fave by the number of people I see reading her books on the #9 bus in the morning.  If you loved The Nightingale, Four Winds, or The Great Alone – you’re in luck that The Women continues her tour of great books.  The author is able to achieve near-perfect stories that combine historical background and interpersonal relationships, which have you walking away feeling that you learned something and had your heart stomped on – in the best way possible.

I won’t give a big review here because 1.) if you’re looking for a great read, just grab it & 2.) if you’re already a KH fan, you already have.  I don’t know how accurate the parts about the Vietnam War are, but I felt fully engrossed in the atmosphere, from blister pain to the stench of the outhouses and the anxiety of returning home.  The book is split in half – part during the war and then what happens when soldiers return home.  It was thoughtful and didn’t shy away from the hard stuff that goes on abroad as well as at home.

Highly recommend.

Book 5: The Fury By: Alex Michealides

I’m only putting this here because I think many of you grabbed this one due to the success of the author with his previous two books:  The Silent Patient (yes, try it) and The Maidens (I can’t remember if I read this).  However, this was one that dull and boring utility you’re 75% through, but I’m guessing most will have stopped reading way before then.

Save your money, folks.

If you got this far, thank you!  Let us know what you’re reading via the comments on @caughtinsouthie or catch me at @glossinbossin / @josiegl on Instagram.

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