I love to read and am a self-declared book nerd. I don’t have a favorite genre as I move across the spectrum, depending on my mood and what’s available to read (although I tend to avoid scary, murder-filled, graphic books because my imagination is much too vivid to simply forget the descriptions as I fall asleep! Yes, I’m a wuss.). I love to read any time of the year, and definitely do, but winter time is especially wonderful – the couch, warm blanket, steaming tea and a good book – yes, please!
I’ve read a lot of books this year. Reading is my attempt at relaxing and unwinding after long work days, or an opportunity to escape into another life situation from my own (hey we all need a break at times!). I even use reading as a motivation tool for myself – I have a recumbent exercise bike at home so if I’m in the midst of a great book, I can’t read unless I’m riding my bike. Do you know how many miles I’ve logged because I get engrossed in a good book?!
Here are 10 fiction books that I read this year that stuck out:
- One Plus One, Jojo Moyes: A single mom struggling to raise her daughter and stepson, along with a big dog, tries to make ends meet and do the best for her kids. Along comes a tech millionaire with his own issues, who accidentally offers to ‘rescue’ them on a road trip, only to cause lots of chaos (sometimes funny, sometimes eye-roll worthy). I was entertained throughout the book and found myself cheering for many of the characters at various moments. In the end I really liked this book and was almost disappointed when it ended.
- Bel Canto, Ann Patchett: Bel Canto is Italian for beautiful singing or beautiful song, and this book centers on a performance by a popular American soprano at a private party for a Japanese businessman. Set in a South American country, the international guests are taken hostage by a small, seemingly unorganized group of terrorists. The story flows from the angles of various characters, including hostages and terrorists alike. I even got to a point where I felt a little bad for a few of the terrorists. The book seemed to move slow in many parts, until the end when things wrapped up quickly.
- Maggie Hope series, Susan Elia MacNeal: Maggie Hope is an American living in England during WWII. She becomes a secretary to Winston Churchill but wants to do more, and does. Becoming a spy who excels at breaking codes, Maggie and her friends embark on cases and undercover assignments to help the Allies win the war. I like this series as the main character is a strong, no-nonsense, likeable woman during a time that women weren’t expected to be that. Plus, the historical references are interesting.
- Property of a Noblewoman, Danielle Steel: When contents of a long-forgotten safe deposit box are revealed to include old letters and amazing jewelry, a law clerk and a fine arts expert go on a search to discover the owner and her amazing journey through life.
- At the Water’s Edge, Sara Gruen: Three young, spoiled Americans head to Scotland to search for the Loch Ness Monster during WWII. It sounds a bit crazy, and I thought so too at first. And while it’s a bit predictable, there is a larger story focusing on the privilege of some and hard work of others, and a young woman finding herself and more.
- So Close, Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Krause: Politics, love and life are what define this book. I like all those topics so I found this book really good. Following a young woman as she struggles to find her place in the world, make ends meet, support her mother and young siblings, figure out a relationship and help elect the next president of the United States, this book keeps moving.
- The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, Laurie King: This book kicks off a series featuring Sherlock Holmes and his apprentice, Mary Russell. Since Holmes is a main character, you know it involves mystery. I have not always been a Sherlock Holmes fan so was a bit hesitant to read but a few friends recommended so I gave it a whirl. I did enjoy the lightness and mysteries throughout the book. I ended up reading the second book, A Monstrous Regiment of Women, because I was curious how the story continues. And I have the third on hold at the library because, well, I’m curious how that continues…..
- Cuckoo’s Calling, Robert Gailbrath: This is the start of a mystery series featuring a down on his luck detective, his secretary and a case he’s hired to solve. Set in England, the detective is hired to determine if the death of a young model was really suicide. You can’t help but root for the detective as the case moves around with a lot of scenarios…I thought I had it figured out a few times but….
- The Secret Sister, Brenda Novack: At first I thought this would a predictable romance novel – woman leaves her controlling, rich family, only to return after divorce, career issues, financial stress, whatever. But it moves into a story focused on family when the main character finds clues that a sister once existed.
- The Kingmaker, Brian Haig: This is the third book in his “Sean Drummond” series but I followed it without having read the previous two books. I like political thrillers so this one interested me. The plot involves a U.S. General charged with treason. Lawyer Sean Drummond is hired to defend the general, who happens to be the husband of Drummond’s ex-girlfriend. As with most things involving politics, the plot keeps you guessing the outcome.
What are some of your favorite books that you read this year?