Calendar Girl September: Best Contemporary Novel

Fourth participation in this monthly blog event called Calendar Girls and hosted by Melanie Bernard and Flavia The Bibliophile.

It’s now become a tradition at Beware Of The Reader and these girls are so funny I like to be a part of their “posse” LOL.

Again this is a perfect event/tag/meme call it like you want as it’s simple and does not ask lots of time to build!

Guidelines are easy: each month there is a theme voted on. Bloggers then write posts about a book fitting that theme. The best part are the discussions on our picks as we’ll visit the other bloggers and comment their choices 😀 To make it even more interactive we have a Twitter chat once a month on the 3rd Monday using #CGBChat

The choices are meant to be posted the first Monday of each month on our individual blogs.

We also get to vote for the next month’s theme starting on the 3rd Monday of the month (same day as #CGBChat) and for our favorite book pick of the month!

 

The past month these these ladies have added a read along but this time it won’t go on due to well … life! Anyway Flavia decided to organize a buddy read of A Darker Shade Of Magic by Veronica Schwabb so if you want to join the fun you’ll be welcomed! 😉

 

September theme is the Best Contemporary Novel

 

Well this time I will imitate Adrienne at Darque Dreamer Reads (another fantastic blog) and choose several contenders. This way you get to meet more of my favorite contemporary novels.

 

 

My top 5 contemporary novels

 

 

 

This book is one of the books that was so overwhelming that I had a huge bookhangover. I could not read anything for days after (it never happens to me) and I kept inventing another ending in my head even if the ending the author chose was the most logical and fitting for this story. If you are not afraid of taboo stories I could never recommend this one enough.

 

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

“She is pretty and talented – sweet sixteen and never been kissed. He is seventeen; gorgeous and on the brink of a bright future. And now they have fallen in love. But… they are brother and sister.

Seventeen-year-old Lochan and sixteen-year-old Maya have always felt more like friends than siblings. Together they have stepped in for their alcoholic, wayward mother to take care of their three younger siblings. As defacto parents to the little ones, Lochan and Maya have had to grow up fast. And the stress of their lives—and the way they understand each other so completely—has also brought them closer than two siblings would ordinarily be. So close, in fact, that they have fallen in love. Their clandestine romance quickly blooms into deep, desperate love. They know their relationship is wrong and cannot possibly continue. And yet, they cannot stop what feels so incredibly right. As the novel careens toward an explosive and shocking finale, only one thing is certain: a love this devastating has no happy ending.”

 

 

 

I would never have read this book based on its cover. A friend had to gift it to me and it ended one of the bests reads I ever had.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole life at home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his father’s extreme faith and very public fall from grace.

The only antidote to all this venom is his friendship with fellow outcasts Travis and Lydia. But as they are starting their senior year, Dill feels the coils of his future tightening around him. Dill’s only escapes are his music and his secret feelings for Lydia, neither of which he is brave enough to share. Graduation feels more like an ending to Dill than a beginning. But even before then, he must cope with another ending- one that will rock his life to the core.

 

Here is an excerpt of what I wrote:

The author said about this book: ”I wanted to write about young people who struggle to lead lives of dignity and find beauty in a forgotten, unglamorous place. Who wonder what becomes of dreams once they cross the county line. This book is my love letter to those young people and anyone who has ever felt like them, no matter how or where they grew up.”
Well, it’s probably been one of the most touching and poignant story I’ve read about friends fighting to find their place in the world and carve a better future.

Truly if you’ve never read it just give this book a chance. And Jeff Zentner’s second book Goodbye Days is nearly just as good.

 

 

 

I don’t understand why this book has not even more ratings on Goodreads than it has right now. I’m recommending it all the time! 😀  Well let’s be modest and realist I’m not an “influencer” but just a small fish in the blogger’s pond so there’s that.

Goodreads Synopsis:

September 11, 1973: Eleven-year-old Alejandro Penda watches from his apartment window as Santiago, Chile falls to a military coup, destroying his family and his childhood. Arriving alone in America, he’s taken in by the Larks: a prominent family in the town of Guelisten. Though burdened by unresolved grief for his disappeared parents, he becomes fiercely loyal to the Larks, eventually marrying one of their daughters, Valerie.

September 11, 2001: Javier Landes watches from his apartment window as New York City falls to terrorism. As one of Manhattan’s top-paid male escorts, this professional lover has never lacked for company and is loyal only to himself. But in the wake of 9/11, Jav is named guardian for an orphaned nephew in Guelisten and must open his carefully-guarded heart to pain he’s long suppressed.

Alex, Valerie and Jav meet first in their twenties, with a sudden attraction each finds strange and compelling. When they meet again in their forties, they discover not only is their bond still strong, but their life experiences are strangely similar. All have been shaped by separate 9/11’s, and their unfinished business from the past will change everything they know about love, loyalty and friendship.

“Life has rules. You cannot come in the middle of the night and take what we agreed isn’t yours.”

Across three decades and two continents, Suanne Laqueur’s fifth novel explores the unpredictability of sexual attraction, how family ties are forged, torn and mended, and how love’s downfall can turn to exaltation.

 

Here is some of what I wrote:

 

“First I went in this book totally blind. I had barely read the blurb. I had finished The Man I Love some weeks ago and I was smitten with Mrs Laqueur’s writing. So the story took me totally by surprise but it made me fall deeper in love with her penmanship.

** I never expected a story building upon decades, following different characters whose paths kept crossing each other.

**I did not expect a story so smartly written everything would come together at the end and make unexpected and dramatic sense.

**I did not expect a story that would make me wish some taboos did not exist because it just was so beautiful it had to be right.

**I did not expect a story that would leave me exhausted, fulfilled and yet empty at the same time because I wanted something else for Jav and yet I would not have loved the other option. But Alex was right, Javier deserved more.

**I did not expect a story that would made me hurt so bad with some of the characters that I wanted to jump right through my Kindle and be their light in the night, their safe haven, their security blanket, their home.”

 

 

 

 

 

I wanted to read this book for a very long time and the same friend that gifted me The Serpent King gave me this book. See two books she gave me are on this best contemporary list!

 

Goodreads synopsis:

It happened like this. I was stolen from an airport. Taken from everything I knew, everything I was used to. Taken to sand and heat, dirt and danger. And he expected me to love him.

This is my story.

A letter from nowhere.

Sixteen-year-old Gemma is kidnapped from Bangkok airport and taken to the Australian Outback. This wild and desolate landscape becomes almost a character in the book, so vividly is it described. Ty, her captor, is no stereotype. He is young, fit and completely gorgeous. This new life in the wilderness has been years in the planning. He loves only her, wants only her. Under the hot glare of the Australian sun, cut off from the world outside, can the force of his love make Gemma love him back?

The story takes the form of a letter, written by Gemma to Ty, reflecting on those strange and disturbing months in the outback. Months when the lines between love and obsession, and love and dependency, blur until they don’t exist–almost.

 

Excerpt of my review:

”What you did to me wasn’t this brilliant thing, like you think it was. You took me away from everything –my parents, my friends, my life. You took me to the sand and the heat, the dirt and isolation. And you expected me to love you. “

It was not my usual “man kidnap girl” read. This story has a haunting quality, thanks to the choice the author did to write the book like letters from the girl to her captor.
”But what else can I do, other than to plead with you like this? Other than to write down my story, our story, to show you what you’ve done… to make you realize that what you did wasn’t fair, wasn’t right.”

Written in such a way you feel the heat of this dead and thirsty land, I was in Gemma’s head and experienced everything alongside her: her family memories, her fear of Ty, her rage and desperation. I learned to see the hidden life of this arid land, to recognize the beauty of a starry night sky. I touched the soft fur of a camel with long eyelashes and sweet eyes. The earth sang and told a story. The slow pace allowed me to savor the story, to soak up this land’s wonders.

”I’m going to tell the truth. My truth. I will say that you kidnapped me, of course. You did. I won’t shy away from the evil you can be. But I’ll tell them your other side, too. The side I saw sometimes when you spoke softly to the camel, and when you gently touched the leaves of the saltbush, only picking what you needed. And the times you rescued me.”

 

See why I thought it was a fantastic read? I wanted to read other books by her but so far she has not published any new book.

 

 😀  And the winner is   😀 

 

 

 

After all these years this book is still my number one, my best of the bests.

I love Amy’s writign in general as there is an etheral grace to it. I can’t explain why I’m so enamored with her penmanship.

 

 

Goodreads synopsis:

Ambrose Young was beautiful. He was tall and muscular, with hair that touched his shoulders and eyes that burned right through you. The kind of beautiful that graced the covers of romance novels, and Fern Taylor would know. She’d been reading them since she was thirteen. But maybe because he was so beautiful he was never someone Fern thought she could have…until he wasn’t beautiful anymore.

Making Faces is the story of a small town where five young men go off to war, and only one comes back. It is the story of loss. Collective loss, individual loss, loss of beauty, loss of life, loss of identity. It is the tale of one girl’s love for a broken boy, and a wounded warrior’s love for an unremarkable girl. This is a story of friendship that overcomes heartache, heroism that defies the common definitions, and a modern tale of Beauty and the Beast where we discover that there is little beauty and a little beast in all of us.

 

And again, some excerpt of the (very) long review I wrote about this book (I have a BIG problem with Amy’s books: I can’t stop writing about them 😉 )

 

WARNING: this book is so beautifully written and the stories so inspiring you’ll want to read it and re-read it again and again!

Amy Harmon has just a magic touch with words. With a few well thaught sentences she delivers pearls of wisdom and sensitivity. I filled nearly two pages with her quotes and sentences so beautiful I wanted to keep them and meditate them each day.

Though, this is not a love story. This is THE STORY of LOVE, its multiple faces and its miracles.
It can be the love of a friend to rely on, the unwavering love of a brotherhood or the powerful love of parents for their special child. It can also be the intense love of a lover.
That’s love who makes us really see.

The characters in “Making Faces” are extraordinary. So much I wish I could be friend with them in the real life.

A few words for Amy thaugh. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! Thank you for your beautiful, sensitive and graceful writing. I don’t know you but I can’t help thinking surely you must also be a beautiful person inside out.

 

Now I can say that I know Amy as I had the extraordianry luck to interview her and speak often with her. She IS a beautiful, generous and inspiring person. One that I wish I could have as friend “next door” to chat and laugh with her.

 

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR READING this long post.

 

I can’t wait to see what the other calendar girls participants will choose! And you, what’s your favorite contemporary novel?

 

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6 Replies to “Calendar Girl September: Best Contemporary Novel”

  1. I LOVE that you did a top 5 and then a winner at the end! I also love your little Calendar Girl graphics! They made me smile. I haven’t read any of your 5 choices haha, so I should probably get on that. Thanks for participating, and for sharing these books!

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Thank you for the comments Flavia!!! And I added the little calendar girls especially for Adrienne as she loves retro LOL

  2. Great post! I will have to look up some of these. I LOVE those graphics by the way! I need to find some similar to go with my theme!

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Thank you Adrienne! I made it from a free picture on pixabay and collated on Canva 😉

  3. […] by Sandhya Menon Katie – Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple Sophie – Making Faces by Amy […]

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