All Women's Talk

15 Best Fiction Books ...

By Kati

Looking for a good book to escape into? I love reading anything I can, but with the massive amount of new authors, new stories and rewritten classics, which one do you choose? Here are my top twelve fiction books you should read, to make your choice a little easier...

Table of contents:

  1. something borrowed – emily giffin
  2. the help – kathryn stockett
  3. the forgotten garden – kate morton
  4. sarah’s key - tatiana de rosnay
  5. the lost hours – kate white
  6. between georgia –joshilyn jackson
  7. the vanishing act of esme lennox – maggie o farrell
  8. whistling in the dark – lesley kagan
  9. the little giant of aberdeen county – tiffany baker
  10. after you’d gone – maggie o’farrell
  11. the house on fortune street – margot livesey
  12. the local news – miriam gershow
  13. the bright side of disaster – katherine center
  14. the hard way – julie luongo
  15. the sweetness at the bottom of the pie – alan bradley

1 Something Borrowed – Emily Giffin

Plot: Rachel Miller and Darcy Rhone have been best friends since childhood. They've shared birthdays, the horrors of high school and even boyfriends, but while Darcy is the sort of woman who breezes through life getting what she wants when she wants it, Rachel has always played by the rules and watched her stunning best friend steal the limelight. The one thing Rachel's always had over Darcy is the four-month age-gap which meant she was first to being a teenager, first to drive, first to everything ...but now she's about to be first to thirty. And Darcy still has a charmed life.

On the eve of her thirtieth birthday, Rachel is shocked to find herself questioning the status quo. How come Darcy gets a glamorous job at a PR firm and the perfect boyfriend, while Rachel grinds away at her despised job as an attorney and remains painfully single. Is it just luck? Or, looking back at their friendship and their lives together, is it a bit more complicated than that?

Then an accidental fling complicated everything, and it's time for Rachel to make a few hard choices. And she's forced to learn that sometimes true love comes at a price...

My Opinion: Everyone has had a friend that they’ve been jealous of, but Rachel has more problems then most! This is a well written book that most women will relate too, and it contains a gritty, gripping love story too. Well worth a read!
Price: $5.58 at amazon.com

2 The Help – Kathryn Stockett

Plot: hat perfect timing for this optimistic, uplifting debut novel (and maiden publication of Amy Einhorn's new imprint) set during the nascent civil rights movement in Jackson, Miss., where black women were trusted to raise white children but not to polish the household silver. Eugenia Skeeter Phelan is just home from college in 1962, and, anxious to become a writer, is advised to hone her chops by writing about what disturbs you.

The budding social activist begins to collect the stories of the black women on whom the country club sets relies and mistrusts enlisting the help of Aibileen, a maid who's raised 17 children, and Aibileen's best friend Minny, who's found herself unemployed more than a few times after mouthing off to her white employers.

The book Skeeter puts together based on their stories is scathing and shocking, bringing pride and hope to the black community, while giving Skeeter the courage to break down her personal boundaries and pursue her dreams.

My Opinion: This is a brilliant book, with an unusual plot that is sure to keep you reading! This will definitely be a best seller, and I’ll be keeping my eye out for Kathryn’s next novel. Really worth the read!
Price: $10.00 at amazon.com

3 The Forgotten Garden – Kate Morton

Plot: In 1913, a little girl arrives in Brisbane, Australia, and is taken in by a dockmaster and his wife. She doesn’t know her name, and the only clue to her identity is a book of fairy tales tucked inside a white suitcase.

When the girl, called Nell, grows up, she starts to piece together bits of her story, but just as she’s on the verge of going to England to trace the mystery to its source, her grandaughter, Cassandra, is left in her care. When Nell dies, Cassandra finds herself the owner of a cottage in Cornwall, and makes the journey to England to finally solve the puzzle of Nell’s origins.

Shifting back and forth over a span of nearly 100 years, this is a sprawling, old-fashioned novel, as well-cushioned as a Victorian country house, replete with family secrets, stories-within-stories, even a maze and a Dickensian rag-and-bone shop. All the pieces don’t quite mesh, but it’s a satisfying read overall, just the thing for readers who like multigenerational sagas with a touch of mystery.
-Mary Ellen Quinn
My Opinion: This book made me cry, laugh and fall in love with the main character, and by the end it feels like you were there every step of the journey. A brilliantly written and very inspiring book!
Price: $17.16 at amazon.com

4 Sarah’s Key - Tatiana De Rosnay

Plot: De Rosnay's U.S. debut fictionalizes the 1942 Paris roundups and deportations, in which thousands of Jewish families were arrested, held at the Vélodrome d'Hiver outside the city, then transported to Auschwitz. Forty-five-year-old Julia Jarmond, American by birth, moved to Paris when she was 20 and is married to the arrogant, unfaithful Bertrand Tézac, with whom she has an 11-year-old daughter.

Julia writes for an American magazine and her editor assigns her to cover the 60th anniversary of the Vél' d'Hiv' roundups. Julia soon learns that the apartment she and Bertrand plan to move into was acquired by Bertrand's family when its Jewish occupants were dispossessed and deported 60 years before. She resolves to find out what happened to the former occupants: Wladyslaw and Rywka Starzynski, parents of 10-year-old Sarah and four-year-old Michel.

The more Julia discovers—especially about Sarah, the only member of the Starzynski family to survive—the more she uncovers about Bertrand's family, about France and, finally, herself.

My Opinion: The success of this book speaks volumes, as its already been translated into 15 languages and is well set to be a best seller! It’s impossible to put this down, and you can read it again and again. A fantastic book with a very heart warming story.
Price: $8.37 at amazon.com

5 The Lost Hours – Kate White

Plot: When Piper Mills was twelve, she helped her grandfather bury a box that belonged to her grandmother in the backyard. For twelve years, it remained untouched.

Now a near fatal riding accident has shattered Piper’s dreams of Olympic glory. After her grandfather’s death, she inherits the house and all its secrets, including a key to a room that doesn’t exist—or does it? And after her grandmother is sent away to a nursing home, she remembers the box buried in the backyard. In it are torn pages from a scrapbook, a charm necklace—and a newspaper article from 1939 about the body of an infant found floating in the Savannah River.

The necklace’s charms tell the story of three friends during the 1930s— each charm added during the three months each friend had the necklace and recorded her life in the scrapbook. Piper always dismissed her grandmother as not having had a story to tell. And now, too late, Piper finds she might have been wrong.

My Opinion: I read this in one sitting! Its gripping, well written and completely different to anything I’ve ever read. You just can’t put it down, it’s that good.
Price: $6.00 at amazon.com

6 Between Georgia –Joshilyn Jackson

Plot: The biological daughter of poor, scared teenager Hazel Crabtree, Nonny Frett was left at birth with the wealthy, respectable Frett clan—a secret that doesn't keep long in a rural Georgia town of 90 people.

Growing up at the center of a Crabtree-Frett feud begun by her birth, Nonny is caught between her biological family and her adopted one, between contempt for her philandering husband and the comfort of marriage, between an apartment in Athens, Ga., and her childhood home, Between.

When a Doberman belonging to Nonny's biological grandmother Ona Crabtree attacks Nonny's adopted mom, deaf and blind Stacia Frett, and Stacia's twin sister, Genny, the families' dormant "war" awakens.

My Opinion: While I enjoyed the story and would recommend the book, I was a bit disappointed about the style of writing. Plot wise, there are a lot of corners cut, which I found frustrating. It’s really worth the read, though, as the author is excellent at writing laugh at loud dialogue!
Price: $10.07 at amazon.com

7 The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox – Maggie O Farrell

Plot: Slim, stylish Iris Lockhart runs a dress shop in contemporary Edinburgh when she's not flirting with her stepbrother Alex or rendezvousing with her married attorney lover, Luke. Esme Lennox, meanwhile, is ready to be discharged from the soon-to-be-closed psychiatric hospital where she's been a patient (read: virtual prisoner) for 61 years. Iris becomes aware of Esme's existence when she's informed, to her disbelief, that she has been granted power of attorney over Esme by Kitty Lockhart, Iris's Alzheimer's-afflicted grandmother.

It turns out Kitty and Esme are sisters, but Kitty kept quiet about Esme after she was hospitalized at age 16. Layer upon layer of Lockhart family secrets are laid bare—the truth behind Esme's institutionalization, why her existence was kept a secret, and a twist involving Iris's parents—as Iris mulls over what to do with her new charge, and Esme and Kitty reconnect

My Opinion: A raw, gritty family drama that really twists your expectations and views! The author is amazing at keeping up the tension, and the conclusion is very explosive. This is definitely worth a read!
Price: $9.20 at amazon.com

8 Whistling in the Dark – Lesley Kagan

Plot: T he loss of innocence can be as dramatic as the loss of a parent or the discovery that what's perceived to be truth can actually be a big fat lie, as shown in Kagen's compassionate debut, a coming-of-age thriller set in Milwaukee during the summer of 1959.

Ten-year-old Sally O'Malley fears that a child predator who has already murdered two girls, Junie Piaskowski and Sara Heinemann, will target her or her little sister, Troo, next. Sally's mom is in the hospital, while her big sister, Nell, is distracted by love and her stepdad, Hall, by the bottle, so who can save her if the killer is, as she suspects, her neighbor, David Rasmussen, a popular cop who has a photo of Junie hanging in his house?

Though the mystery elements are sketchy, Kagen sharply depicts the vulnerability of children of any era. Sally, "a girl who wouldn't break a promise even if her life depended on it," makes an enchanting protagonist.

My Opinion: Another gritty storyline, but this time it’s enhanced by the poetic, smart writing style. I loved this, and so did my little sister. A charming story, this is a grade A read!
Price: $10.04 at amazon.com

9 The Little Giant of Aberdeen County – Tiffany Baker

Plot: Baker's bangup debut mixes the exuberant eccentricities of John Irving's Garp, Anne Tyler's relationship savvy and the plangent voice of Margaret Atwood. In an upstate New York backwater, Truly, massive from birth, has a bleak existence with her depressed father and her china-doll–like sister, Serena Jane. Truly grows at an astonishing rate—her girth the result of a pituitary gland problem—and after her father dies when Truly is 12, Truly is sloughed off to the

Dyersons, a hapless farming family. Her outsize kindness surfaces as she befriends the Dyersons' outcast daughter, Amelia, and later leaves her beloved Dyerson farm to take care of Serena Jane's husband and son after Serena Jane leaves them.

My Opinion: This is a family drama with a difference, and contains a lovable narrator, a hint of magic and a beautiful story that isn’t over sweetened. This will be a massive book, so read it now!
Price: $9.44 at amazon.com

10 After You’d Gone – Maggie O’Farrell

Plot: In London, one cold day in late fall, Alice Raikes impulsively boards a train home to Scotland. Shortly after joining her two sisters in the Edinburgh train station, she sees something "odd and unexpected and sickening" in the station's restroom that causes her immediately to flee back to London.

Later that evening, while walking to the grocery store, Alice broods over what she has seen, then abruptly steps into oncoming traffic. As she lies comatose in her hospital bed, a swirl of voices and images gradually reveals her past--her parents, especially her mother, Ann; her beloved grandmother, Elspeth; her two sisters, so unlike her, both physically and temperamentally; and John Friedman, whom she loved and lost--and hints at her precarious future.

The unnamed spectacle of the opening washroom scene resurfaces in Alice's semiconscious haze, and its eventual elucidation comes as less of a shock than a confirmation of all we have learned about her tumultuous existence. S

My Opinion: This is an honest, unique and well written book which will have you rooting for the characters and forgetting you have your own life! The plot is full of twists until it reaches a brilliant climax, and its a hit in 7 other countries. What a novel!
Price: $6.64 at amazon.com

11 The House on Fortune Street – Margot Livesey

Plot: The first of four sections follows Keats scholar Sean Wyman: his girlfriend, Abigail, is Dara's best friend, and the couple lives upstairs from Dara in the titular London house. While Dara tries to coax her boyfriend Edward to move out of the house he shares with his ex-girlfriend and daughter, Sean receives a mysterious letter implying that Abigail is having an affair, and both relationships start to fall apart.

The second section, set during Dara's childhood, is narrated by Dara's father, who has a strange fascination with Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) and shares Dodgson's creepy interest in young girls.

Dara's meeting with Edward dominates part three, which mirrors the plot of Jane Eyre, and the final part, reminiscent of Great Expectations, is told mainly from Abigail's college-era point of view.

My Opinion: A modern and seamless take on old stories, this combines my favourite parts to make a gripping, unputdownable novel that will keep you guessing. An amazing book!
Price: $10.07 at amazon.com

12 The Local News – Miriam Gershow

Plot: Bright, precocious but socially awkward Lydia Pasternak reports on the aftermath of her older brothers disappearance in Gershows accomplished debut. Danny was everything Lydia wasn't: at ease with their parents, popular in school, physically imposing, beloved by the opposite sex.

Danny went from being Lydia's playmate in their youth to her tormentor in high school, so his disappearance leaves Lydia with some very mixed feelings, one of which is relief. As time goes on and the weekend search parties prove more and more fruitless, Lydia struggles with the fact that her geeky best friend, David, has feelings for her; she also obsesses over the private investigator hired by the family and allows herself to be sucked into the social world Danny once dominated.

Lydias perspective gives this Lovely Bones–esque story line an unflinching quality as she details the emotional damage that reverberates even through her 10-year high school reunion.

My Opinion: This is a psychologically gripping drama that will keep you guessing. The stark narration is hard to get used to at first, but later fits in perfectly and the wry insight of the author adds a whole new dimension. A really amazing book.
Price: $16.47 at amazon.com

13 The Bright Side of Disaster – Katherine Center

Plot: Jenny Harris is nesting in her Houston home with her fiance, Dean, awaiting the birth of their child, to be followed by their wedding. But Dean grows more distant, especially after a coworker dies in a plane crash, and Jenny ends up becoming a single mother. Determined to take good care of her child, she tries to forget about Dean, relegating him to the past.

Coping with a baby takes all Jenny's time, so when her perfect single neighbor takes an interest, Jenny is flattered but exhausted. Then, when she finally decides to take a chance and get to know him, Dean comes back into her life.

My Opinion: I never know what to expect from first novels, but Center has proved herself to be a brilliant writer! An accurate and humorous look at life as a mother, this is fast paced, funny and touching. The perfect book to enjoy on a cold night or at a book club, every woman should read this.
Price: $9.36 at amazon.com

14 The Hard Way – Julie Luongo

Plot: Her protagonist, Lucy Venier, spends her twenties floundering in careers and relationships that are wrong for her. Lucy tries her hand at journalism, advertising, sales, and even law school, but none of the professions feel like the right fit for the artistic Lucy, who is most at home when painting or filling her surroundings with her creations.

Her taste in men is even more misguided: she dates a feckless, unfaithful newspaper editor; an arrogant cad who magnifies her self-loathing; and an incomprehensible loser who gambles away $800 on her credit card. The only winner of the bunch is Ben, who is both charming and funny and believes in Lucy, but his proposal and their subsequent engagement feel suffocating.

Though Lucy’s boyfriends aside from Ben are almost unrealistically unappealing, her sharp observations (“I’ve stopped reading women’s magazines, so I feel less and less trivial everyday”) make her a heroine worth rooting for.

My Opinion: A refreshingly masculine style of chic lit, this is a good read with a range of characters you’ll relate too and love! I’ve passed this one around to my Mum, my sisters and my friends, and everyone has loved it so far. A light hearted read thats easy to get into.
Price: $11.86 at amazon.com

15 The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie – Alan Bradley

Plot: It's the beginning of a lazy summer in 1950 at the sleepy English village of Bishop's Lacey. Up at the great house of Buckshaw, aspiring chemist Flavia de Luce passes the time tinkering in the laboratory she's inherited from her deceased mother and an eccentric great uncle. When Flavia discovers a murdered stranger in the cucumber patch outside her bedroom window early one morning, she decides to leave aside her flasks and Bunsen burners to solve the crime herself, much to the chagrin of the local authorities. But who can blame her? What else does an eleven-year-old science prodigy have to do when left to her own devices?

With her widowed father and two older sisters far too preoccupied with their own pursuits and passions—stamp collecting, adventure novels, and boys respectively—Flavia takes off on her trusty bicycle Gladys to catch a murderer.

My Opinion: A murder mystery mixed with friendly characters and a happy atmosphere make a fast paced story full of twists and turns, and its packed with hints of period drama too! An excellent book, I can’t wait to read Bradley’s next offering!
Price: $10.99 at amazon.com
Now you’ve got enough books to last you through the Winter, invest in hot chocolate and comfy slippers and enjoy snugging up in the warm. I love to read, especially in the Winter! Have you read an amazing book lately? Please let me know!

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