Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Show Us Your Books Best of 2016: The Lucky 13

This post has been thrown together in the quickest of fashions...a lot of copying and pasting...I give no apologies.  Excuse the typos or edits needed.  I'm not even proofreading.  But, but, but how could I not participate in an annual wrap-up of my favorite link-up?!?  Thank you to Jana and Steph for another amazing year of hosting this wonderful community of booklovers.


The first book that I read all year quite possibly is one of my favorite thrillers, unexpectedly, that I've read in years:  I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh.  My review for this one: 
"Thriller readers: read this book. You know when you're reading and think you've got it figured out...then you change your mind... then think "well, maybe"... then you are completely wrong...then you are kinda correct, but there's a twist...then you've figured part of it out but it doesn't matter because the book is still so good? That was this book for me. I stayed up past my bedtime because I couldn't put it down. There was a teensy tinsy part of the end that bothered me, but I still highly recommend to those who like this genre."

January offered up another unexpected thriller:  The Silent Girls by Eric Rickstad.  What I said about it at the time:  "
"I had never even heard of Eric Rickstad, but the book sounded like one I might like. I thoroughly enjoyed the mystery, the characters, and how the storyline came together with some loose ends that left me wanting more. 4.5/5"

It must've been my year for stumbling upon new authors and great crime/mystery/thriller books because here's another one:  Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic
"You know how some thrillers like to slowly build with a foundation and character development before the action takes off? Not this one. On page one, the lead character is holding his murdered best friend in his arms. Action from the start!
I enjoyed the story set in Melbourne and Resurrection Bay (not sure if this is an actual place or not), Victoria, Australia. It had me guessing and re-thinking my opinions about where it was going and who were the villains. The pace was quick, and some twists were unexpected.
I enjoyed the characters. Admittedly, I'm unaware of any book that I've read with a deaf protagonist. That element to the story was an interesting addition to a crime-based thriller.
If you can get your hand on this one, I recommend it."

Don Winslow's follow-up to The Power of the Dog (a book on my Best of 2015 list) was phenomenal:  The Cartel by Don Winslow.
"Think The Godfather; instead of The Mafia, it focuses on Mexican drug cartels. No, not The Godfather. That isn't violent or horrific enough. Think The Sopranos multiplied by 1000.
And, to think, I've been to every border town that is featured: Juarez, Matamoros, Nuevo Laredo, and Tijuana. I think that made the book all the more intriguing. And frightening. This book is not for the faint at heart. The violence is ruthless and plentiful. The characters are well-written, and I was cheering for some, aching for others, scared to death of the villains.
Both of these books (this is a sequel to
The Power of the Dog ) would make epic movies. I looked at the author's website, and guess what, they are in "pre-production" for movies."

When asked my favorite author, I often reply "John Sandford" because I've read the most books by him than any other.  I am loyal to both his Virgil Flowers and Lucas Davenport series, and this year's Davenport installment was a big winner for me:  Extreme Prey by John Sandford.  Honestly, I do not think you'd need to read any previous books in the series to enjoy this one (if you like these kinds of books.)

Another favorite author that I'm loyal to?  Karin Slaughter, and this year's Will Trent book was another great one for me:  The Kept Woman by Karin Slaughter.
"The story is gripping, and the characters are well-developed. Stories that are inter-connected include foster care, child abuse, personal relationships, domestic violence, parental relationships, the power of sports stars, and more. Does that seem like too much? It isn't. Slaughter works all of the stories together to make for a great read."                  


My favorite friend who I've known for over 20 years recommended this book to me.  I don't think she's ever steered me wrong with a book recommendation:  Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall, Denver Moore, and Lynn Vincent.  My review:
"A memoir that is almost impossible for me to "review". Uplifting, heartbreaking, and thought-provoking. Culturally and socially, this book is educational. Morally, this book is inspirational. Lessons of love, faith, forgiveness, change, philanthropy, and more. I respected the honest (sometimes brutally, painfully honest) description of the pain and suffering of a terminal illness. It made the other parts of the story carry merit and truth...parts that a reader could assume were sensationalized or exaggerated. For any person of faith, read this book. For others, read this book. Everyone, read this book."

My review for Not My Father's Son by Alan Cumming sums up what I thought of the book at the time, but it doesn't tell you that his story has still stuck with me months after reading it:
"Alan Cumming is an example of living a childhood with violence, fear, self-doubt, and self-loathing...yet he did not let his past define him or ruin him. He learned, grew, and came out a stronger, healthier person because of it. A really interesting memoir of the past and present. I need to look up his "Who Do You Think You Are?" episode... 4.5/5"

Cultural/Historical Fiction:

I have repeatedly praised this book and author, and I'm happy to see other book lovin' bloggers agree with me:  The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi.  My thoughts that I shared at the time:
"If you've read Khaled Hosseini's books and found them fascinating and powerful, then add this to your "to read" list. A captivating book that is both emotional and educational about two generations of Afghan women who faced hardships including abuse (physical, sexual, verbal, emotional), loss, loneliness, abandonment, betrayal, and more. If you are like me, you'll read this book, then want to go save alllllll the girls of the world that are denied opportunities and treated as inferiors for being female."

I am a self-professed Ruta Sepetys fangirl.  Every book of hers I've rated 5 stars.  Out of the Easy is:
"Colorful characters, an intriguing story, and a depiction of seedy New Orleans in the 1950s come together for a delightful book. Highly recommend."

I suppose you'd call this a "western" too, but I loved loved loved The Thicket by Joe Lansdale.  The characters are quirky...but warning: the story is violent.  It's a little like a Tarantino movie wrapped up in a novel.


I owned this book for almost a year before I picked it up to read.  Shame on me.  I should've dove into this story sooner:  I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson.
"Heartbreak, art, family, love, tragedy, self-discovery, and a little whimsy too. Some parts of the story, I predicted; others, I didn't...but I enjoyed the ride. I had high expectations, and this book exceeded them."

Contemporary/Literary Fiction:

Jana praised this and told all of us to read this.  I finally did and was not disappointed:  Please Come Back from the Moon by Dean Bakopoulos.
"I really enjoy when certain aspects of a story are left open for personal interpretation. This book has that element and so much more. There are layers of lightness and darkness, and the storytelling is both easy, yet heavy. I have no idea how to adequately review this book expect to say I loved it."

Have you read any of these?  Or are they on your tbr list?


  1. A few of these are on my list, probably because of your previous reviews of them!! So I need to get around to them! I'm so off my reading game right now, but hope to get back on it soon. I love seeing everyone's favorites for the year though. These are the ones you know you want to add!

  2. Although I Let You Go was already on my to read list, along with The Silent Girls, I have to read it sooner than later! I really like Ruta Sepetys and one of her books made my list as well. I will have to read Out of the Easy.

  3. I Let You Go is coming up for me very soon, and you're the second blogger in the link up to mention it so now I'm even more pumped!

  4. I agree wholeheartedly with you on I Let You Go. It made my year-end best list too. I was surprised by the big twist, and rarely am. So many good books here that are on my TBR. Is Extreme Prey a Lucas Davenport or Virgil Flowers novel? I've read several of the Lucas Davenport books and need to pick them up again. But I have not read any of the Virgil Flowers books but both you and Steph have praised thwm. If it's a Virgil Flowers one, I might be naughty and jump in here to give it a try!

  5. I Let You Go just went into my Audible cart. I had a credit to burn, and was waiting for this link-up!
    I wanted to try Out of the Easy but I haven't read any of her other books. Did you like Between Shades of Gray? How did it rank with other WWII books? I've struggled with that genre lately.

  6. Out of the Easy was such a great story-- I'm hoping to read Between Shades of Gray next year, since I've loved Sepetys books so much. The Winslow books are also hopefully on my list to read for next year!

  7. A bunch of these are on my TBR list already! I read Salt to the Sea this year and want to read more Sepetys and I just added the entire Karin Slaughter Will Trent series to my TBR the other day!

  8. I always love seeing what thrillers are your favorites because I know that we generally like the same types of books! I can't wait to read I Let You Go for your challenge, and I also need to get on the Karin Slaughter and John Sandford trains! They both seem like authors that I'd love! I'm so glad that you reviewed The Pearl That Broke Its Shell because it was the perfect book for me to read after reading The Kite Runner earlier this year! It was such a great book!

  9. I also read Please Don't Come Back from the Moon due to Jana's bullying -- I mean, recommendation -- and it made my list, too! I also have several of yours already on my TBR list!

  10. All your historical fictions are on my TBR list. I'm so determined to get some serious reading done in 2017!

  11. OK, that's it. You've convinced me I need to read I Let You Go (which is already on my Kindle. Haha) and Out of the Easy ASAP!

  12. I LOVED Same Kind of Different as Me - I'm thinking there is a 2nd book to that as well - a kind of continuing thing. It's been so long since I read them.

  13. Please Don't Come Back From the Moon...YES. I'm so glad you liked it.

    The Thicket was on my long list but I had to cut somewhere. But what a great book that was.

  14. yay for I Let You Go! so good. The Silent Girls is on my kindle.. one day! or is it in my library pile? so many books, so little time and brain power. lol.
    Not My Father's Son - so emotional. i want to watch the episode of who do you think you are as well, i've never seen that show, but i want to see his episode. i know you wrote that in your original review, did you ever watch it?

  15. I love that you have books from various genres! I love a good thriller.

    I'll Give You the Sun is one I read in 2015, I believe, and it's definitely a favorite.


  16. I have a few of these on my TBR list already, primarily I Let You Go, Out of the Easy, and The Pearl that Broke its Shell. Please Don't Come Back from the Moon also sounds good!

  17. I read The Pearl That Broke Its Shell last year. I agree; it's great. So much to think about with that book.

  18. So many good thrillers when I am in the thriller mood.. I haven't read any of these. I have I Let You Go and The Silent Girls on my TBR list.

  19. So many good books and I am still on hold for most of these at the library! Hopefully I will get them soon and then I can start reading them and add them to next year's list!

  20. I like how you organized this post! I Let You Go was on a couple lists so I'm adding it to my must read list. I have a few of your others on my shelf like Give You the Sun and Pearl that Broke. I'm finally going to get to Between Shades of Gray and highly doubt that it won't be a winner.


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