Each year it gets harder and harder to exclude books from my list of favorites, although not all of them were published this year. When writing is good it is easy for me to tear through several books a week, sometimes one a day! I hit an all time high when I read 150 books this year. If you only read one book a month, these are the ones I highly recommend:
1. I Love You More: This wasn’t really a book about good versus evil, instead it pitted kind of evil against more evil against very evil. There were constant twists that kept me very entertained. I loved that the author had me examining my own morals as it related to how I differentiate between right and wrong. I’m still deciding which characters were villains.
2. White Collar Girl: White Collar Girl quickly became a favorite! I just loved this story about a determined female journalist in the 1950’s who had a passion for reporting and wasn’t about to let the men at her paper hold her back from reaching her dreams.
3. Chateau Of Secrets: A beautiful tale of a young girl’s courage and defiance in France during World War II helped her granddaughter Chloe seek a life of love in the present. Each chapter was not just crucial to understanding these determined women, but was also a daring adventure.
4. Girl in Translation: A fictional version of the author’s own childhood as an Asian American immigrant who landed in a sweat shop. Even though the narrator, Kimberly Chang, was a middle school girl, I imagine that her story would speak to a large audience. The story contained both funny and horrible tales that portrayed an immigrant’s life in a way that quickly elevated this book to one of my favorites this year.
5. The Kind Worth Killing: A stunning and unpredictable thriller where each character was more villainous than the next. The story of a man intent on killing his cheating spouse was made unpredictable by the dark pasts of each person he encountered. The poetic writing had depth that helped to craft a layered story that had me rooting for actions that were less than legal.
6. Holly Would Dream: A must read for all Audrey Hepburn fans! This was chick lit at its finest! Holly was an enchanting heroine who chased her dreams, fell in love, and lost famous gowns worn in classic Hollywood movies while cruising the Mediterranean.
7. The Ice Cream Queen Of Orchard Street: What made this immigrant story so fantastic was the narration by the spunky and confident narrator, Malka, which read just like a memoir. To say that she overcame a disability and conquered the ice cream business doesn’t begin to do justice to the heartfelt tale of riches, love, and betrayal.
8. Eight Hundred Grapes: A beautiful family drama with a a lawyer trying to find her way in life and save her family’s vineyard. The Ford family felt like longtime neighbors and were easy to like. Everything about this was perfect, including the focus on wine!
9. Secrets Of A Charmed Life: I loved the main character Emmy’s whose desire to be an adult inadvertently placed her on a collision course with the London Blitz. The aftermath resulted in a life filled with guilt and loss, yet her story was an uplifting emotional journey that was rewarding.
10. Girl On The Train: A cerebral narrative that made me wonder whether I was crazy or if the main character was. The quick narration pulled me into the unstable life of Rachel as she attempted to investigate the murder of another women in her former neighborhood.
11. Things Half In Shadow: The seances, mediums, and spirits in this gave the book a spooky aura. That was perfectly balanced with the relationship between Lucy and Edward that was so delightfully fun it made this mystery enjoyable to read!
12. The Life We Bury: This had everything a great book should have: characters with depth, a subplot that aided the main story, clear and brilliant writing, a good pace, and a story that kept me turning the pages. Not only was this a murder mystery, this examined humanity in a variety of forms, which gave this book a depth that I didn’t expect, but absolutely loved!
Books the just missed the list:
Ophelia’s Muse: Enchanting. Romantic. Lovely. Those words only begin to describe this beautiful novel. I loved learning about the career and romantic escapades of Lizzie Siddal, a woman who posed for several renowned artists in the 1850s.
Movie Star By Lizzie Pepper: I loved this clever and fun spoof on the Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes romance. Lizzie Pepper was an adorable character to lead me into the lives of filthy rich celebrities. What a ride!
How To Be A Good Wife: The fast narration of Marta, a woman consumed by visions, gave this book a pacing that contributed to the mystery she was determined to solve. The dark secrets were unearthed as Martha went further off her medications, leaving me to wonder if she was getting crazier or saner with each page.
Disclaimer: I was spellbound by the vibrant wording that gave each character determination to carry out their devious actions. This was a book packed completely with villains, but somehow that worked very well!
The Good Girl: This was worth reading just for the shocking last few pages. A true psychological thriller, I was completely mesmerized by the hypnotic writing and rooted for Mia to escape her kidnapper.