When I started 2018 one of my New Years resolutions was to step outside of the genres / types of books I had been reading recently and try something new. I decided to stop searching out the tropes that I had been drawn to for years. I had gotten myself into the ultimate book slump. I had been suffering a book hangover for months and I’d been unable to invest in any new characters or stories.
Around this same time, I’d renewed my love of all that Goodreads has to offer. Not only the lists, the book suggestions, the reviews and ratings but the social aspect as well. This has been one of the most rewarding and beneficial choices I’ve made in a long AF time. Since really stepping outside of my comfort zone I’ve not only discovered amazing books I would’ve otherwise not found, but I found a community as well.
I can’t tell you how much money I threw down the drain buying book after book after book on my Kindle trying to satiate a need to read the same exact thing I’d been reading for years. I wasn’t growing as a reader, I wasn’t challenging myself and I wasn’t satisfied. With this post, I wanted to give you readers a book in every genre that helped break me out of a years long slump that threatened my long love and passion for reading.
Mystery/Suspense/Thriller: Final Girls by Riley Sager
Final Girls are defined as ‘the last woman standing at the end of a horror movie’ and here we follow three Final Girls: Quincy, Samantha (Sam) and Lisa. Our MC here however, is Quincy Carpenter. For the most part, this is told from her POV and switches between her past (in which she became a ‘final girl’) and her present where the simple life she has meticulously built is slowly falling apart. Quincy was just fine, until one of her fellow final girls, Lisa, is found dead in her apartment, wrists slit, and the other, Sam shows up on her front porch.
Quincy never wanted to the part of a club she didn’t know existed before she became a part of it. When Quincy was in college, she went on a vacation with 5 friends to a remote cabin in the woods. Unbeknownst to her, she would be the lone survivor of a massacre by a killer dubbed “The Sack Man”. Now it’s a race against time for Quincy to discover the truth – not only about Lisa but about a past she has blocked out and can’t remember. Will Quincy survive this time? Read and find out!
What worked for me: This is an excellent thriller and suspense novel with a great little mystery thrown in there. The writing was top notch and it grips the reader from the first page to the last. I have little doubt that readers won’t see this end coming from a mile away!
Favorite Quote: “That’s not your choice. It’s already been decided for you. You can’t change what’s happened. The only thing you can control is how you deal with it.”
Science – Fiction: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
Jason Dessen has it all, a beautiful wife, a smart, spunky son and a great job at a University. He may have passed up on the opportunity of fame and fortune for the work he did in Quantum Physics when he was younger but he has everything he could hope for and more. Or does he?
When Jason wakes up strapped to a gurney, no idea how he got there with a man he’s never met before smiling down upon him and welcoming him back he has no idea what has happened or the insane journey he’s about to embark on. Is the life he remembers and loves only a dream? Is this world reality and if so, where has he been? Why does he not recognize anyone around him, and why do the most important people in his life not recognize him?
This is a mind-bending relentless tale about the lengths the people will go to, to see if the grass really is greener on the other side. A singularly unique, heart-pounding and wholly original tale this is sure to appeal to all readers.
What worked for me: This was utterly thrilling. Don’t go looking for spoilers on this one because it’s an incredible ride from start to finish. I’ve mentioned before I’m not a big sci-fi reader but you absolutely don’t have to be to enjoy this.
Favorite Quote: “We’re all just wandering through the tundra of our existence, assigning value to worthlessness, when all that we love and hate, all we believe in and fight for and kill for and die for is as meaningless as images projected onto Plexiglass.”
Historical Fiction: Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
Inspired by real events surrounding the heart-breaking kidnappings of poor children sold to rich families by a notorious Tennessee Children’s home this is a poignant and incredible look at how even through atrocity, love can be found. A beautiful story of sisterhood and familial bonds this is an engrossing and emotional read that honors the memory of those affected by the tragedy.
Told in alternating timelines of present day South Carolina, and 1939 Memphis this is an intricate tale with many twists and turns. This story shows that distance, time and hardship can separate a family in space, but not in love.
What worked for me: The prose here are whimsical, bright and beautiful. It’s an emotional read that broke my heart but left me feeling ultimately uplifted. I called my sister right after finishing just to remind her how much I love her.
Favorite Quote: “But the love of sisters needs no words. It does not depend on memories, or mementos, or proof. It runs as deep as a heartbeat. It is as ever present as a pulse.”
Fantasy: The Air Awakens (series) by Elise Kova
Vhalla Yarl is a library apprentice in a kingdom that is steeped in magic. Despite the magic that flows freely through the veins of citizens of the nation, these sorcerers are feared and maligned. She dreams of a quiet life surrounded by books *but honestly, same girl* until she unknowingly saves the life of the dark Prince Aldrick. This one choice leads to the discovery of a long lost magic that has been sleeping inside Vhalla since her birth.
Now, she must decide. Does she forgo her magic and be stripped of all of her potential or does she let go of the life she has always wanted and accept her destiny. Powerful forces are lurking in the shadows and time is of the essence. This is book one in a heart stopping series that follows the incredible growth of Vhalla and the redemption of a nation.
What worked for me: The world building was epic, the writing is top notch and Vhalla was an incredible MC. She’s a strong and realistic female heroine and I couldn’t get enough of her story. There’s a great romantic subplot here but it’s not overwhelming and doesn’t detract from the story as a whole.
Favorite Quote: “They wanted to kill her, so this Vhalla would die, she resolved, and a new Vhalla would be born from her ashes.”
Contemporary Fiction: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
Enzo is a philosopher dog. He knows that in his next life he will come back as a human. He’s obsessed with opposable thumbs, racing and educating himself by watching television. He loves his up-and-coming racing star owner Denny and their comfortable life together.
Through Denny, Enzo gains insight into the human condition, what it means to love and be loved and about loss, redemption and forgiveness. On the eve of his death Enzo is examining his life and looking back on all the lessons he’s learned. This is heart-wrenching, funny and a uniquely beautiful take on what it means to be human.
What worked for me: Enzo was such a unique and likable main character and narrator. I love dogs so it was easy to love this one. It had solid humor throughout along with a poignant message.
Favorite Quote: “You should shine with all of your light all the time.”
What books helped you out of a reading slump? Have you read any of these – what did you think?