Swoony Reads for Your TBR

When a customer comes through the door looking for a recommendation, we are often asked for a book that is an escape. This can mean different things to different readers, but for some of us, myself included, one genre that reliably provides an escape is romance. Saturday August 21st is Bookstore Romance Day and in honor of celebrating romance authors, with their happy endings, witty dialogue, and love in all its forms, several of the Island Books staff are offering their personal recommendations of romances they’ve loved!

Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert

Recommended by Lillian

I am not in the mood for surprises. I haven’t been for several years, but I’m really not in the mood these days. I want to know how things will go, but I also don’t want to be bored. That’s a tough combination. Enter - the well-written, romance novel. I’ll tell you right now that the two main characters will be together in the end. I haven’t even told you which book I’m recommending, but I still promise you a happy ending. It’s an added bonus if the book makes me laugh. All of these things (happy ending, lack of boringness, and humor) are fully present in Talia Hibbert’s trilogy about the Brown sisters.

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Try Audio Books for Book Bingo!

Thanks to the recent Seattle Times article with the reminder that listening to an audio book constitutes reading a book for the purposes of Book Bingo, I was able to use some of my recent audio book “reads” to fill in a few Book Bingo squares!

For me, audio books have been a fun way to squeeze in a few more titles per month. I listen when I work out, on my way to and from work, when I’m knitting, and, when I’m really into an audio book, on my lunch breaks. I especially like listening to YA (bonus points if they have dual narrators, so fun!), romance, and some nonfiction, which is often narrated by the author, as you’ll see below. Every so often I’ll add in a literary fiction, like Maggie O’Farrell’s HamnetThe pleasure of truly excellent prose spoken aloud adds a depth to my experience of the story. I can’t listen to an audiobook as fast as I can read a book, so it gives me more time to think about the characters, what is happening in the plot and speculate about what might happen next. When I listened to The Dutch House (read by Tom Hanks) I was continually surprised by the twists of the plot. When I listened to Gold Diggers, I was able to step away long enough to remind myself these were fictional characters, because I thought they were making so many bad choices!

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Short Take: The Plot

In general, I shy away from contemporary psychological thrillers. But Jean Hanff Korelitz’s new book, The Plot, initially intrigued me with a killer premise and being about writers writing, a favorite of mine. When Cindy read it and thought it might be one of the smallish category of books we both like, I decided to give it a try. The Plot centers on Jake, an author whose debut was a success he has struggled ever since to match. Now, depressed and teaching at a low-residency and even lower status MFA program, he meets Evan, an annoyingly arrogant student in his class. Evan reluctantly tells him in confidence about the premise of the novel he’s working on, and Jake knows Evan will have a hit on his hands. However, after several years pass and Jake never sees Evan’s book come out, he discovers that Evan has died without publishing. How can Jake resist using Evan’s plot to finally write himself back into the spotlight? Jake thinks he’s gotten away with it, and is on the Seattle leg of his never-ending book tour more than a year later, when the first threatening email shows up in his in-box. Jean Hanff Korelitz has an insightful dry humor as she describes the ups and downs of Jake’s writing journey, and gives the reader an inside look at the publishing industry. I did try to unravel the mystery as I was reading, but Korelitz cleverly kept me guessing until close to the end. I also liked that excerpts from Jake’s novel, Crib, are interspersed in the second half so the reader gets a story within a story. The Plot was my “Mystery or Crime” Book Bingo square and I might give contemporary thrillers more of a chance in the future. This would also be a great book club book because there’s so much to discuss!

— Lori

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