Thursday, June 30, 2016

First Half Favorites for 2016

My lists of favorite books never have anything to do with anyone else's "Best of" lists. They always represent my favorites of the books I've read, not the "Best" books published during a year. And, anyone who follows my blog knows I read popular books, seldom anything that someone would call literary. They're what I like to read, and, most of the time, I read for entertainment.

2016 is half over. Hard to believe, isn't it? So, as in previous years, I've picked my favorite ten books. By the end of the year, some of these books will still be on the list, and others will have been knocked off by something I loved in the second half of the year. Louise Penny's new book doesn't come out until August, for instance. And, I have a debut novel to review for a journal, a book that looks promising. I never know what a debut will bring, and I'm always hopeful. Here's my top 10, in no particular order. What are your favorite books of 2016?

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald brings a book lover from Sweden to Broken Wheel, Iowa to meet her pen pal, only to find she's died. It's the story of one woman's love of books, and how a town and a stranger change each other.

The View from the Cheap Seats is Neil Gaiman's collection of essays, covering everything from books and libraries to comics, graphic novels, music, and advice for artists. Wise. It's a beautifully written collection.

Glen Erik Hamilton's Past Crimes came out in 2015, but I only discovered it this year. The debut novel introduces Van Shaw, an Army Ranger who was raised by his grandfather to be a thief. After ten years of silence between the two, Van's grandfather asks him to come home to Seattle. It's there that Van finds his grandfather bleeding on the floor. Knowing he'll be a likely suspect, he turns to some unlikely friends for help.

In Rita Sepetys' Salt to the Sea, she focuses on a little-known tragedy as she tells the story of refugees fleeing from Prussia in the last days of World War II. Sepetys creates a small group of characters to tell the brutal, riveting story of young people fighting for survival as they try to reach safety.

The next title is one that is on my list, and, undoubtedly, few others, unless you're a fan of basketball in North Carolina. John Feinstein's The Legends Club: Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Valvano, and an Epic College Basketball Rivalry is the story of the years when leading up to the time these three men and their schools exemplified college rivalries. It also covers the years since the deaths of Valvano and Smith.

In Delivering the Truth, Edith Maxwell introduces Quaker midwife Rose Carroll in Massachusetts in 1888. A midwife, privy to the secrets of women of all classes, is the perfect amateur sleuth when a suspicious fire and murders occur. With its historic details, it's an excellent launch for a new series.

In Miller's Valley by Anna Quindlen, Mary Margaret Miller tells the story of the town and the family farm she loved for entire life. She's an unforgettable narrator as she tells of past family stories, uncovers secrets, and looks back at the valley she always loved, after it disappears.

I love Charlaine Harris' stories set in the unusual town of Midnight, Texas. Night Shift is the third in the series, a series hard to explain if you haven't read the books. The town residents are unusual, and to reveal the true nature of several of them is to spoil previous books if you haven't read them. But, it's obvious in early books that a young psychic, a vampire, a pawnshop owner, and a witch and her cat are involved in the complicated stories in which they try to hide the secrets of their town from the rest of the world. In Night Shift, people are suddenly drawn to Midnight, where they commit suicide.  The residents must come together to save the town, and the world.

What can be any better than one of Craig Johnson's novellas featuring Sheriff Longmire and Henry Standing Bear?  In The Highwayman, the two travel to Wind River Canyon where a state trooper claims she's receiving calls from a heroic trooper who was killed in the canyon years earlier. It's a wonderful ghost story from a master of the novella.

Nora Roberts' Guardians Trilogy brings together a team of three men and three women on a quest to rescue three stars created by the goddesses of the moon. Their task? Keep those stars from falling into the hands of a goddess of darkness. In Bay of Sighs, the second book, the team search for the Star of Water, with the focus on a traveler through time and space and a mermaid. Hard to believe Roberts' makes romance readers believe in these stories, isn't it? I'm a big fan of her trilogies, and this is another appealing one.

A ghost story, a romantic quest, an urban fantasy, a couple mysteries, a couple nonfiction books. My selections for the first half of 2016 are a mixed bag. I hope you've enjoyed your 2016 reading as much as I have. Do you have favorites this year?


Jeff Meyerson said...

I always have a tough time knocking it down to 10. Let me check.

Lou Berney, The Long and Faraway Gone
Brian McGilloway, Little Girl Lost
Glen Erik Hamilton, Past Crimes
Rachel Caine, Ink and Bone
Elliot Chaze, Black Wings Has My Angel
Gordon McAlpine, Woman With a Blue Pencil
Charlie Lovett, The Bookman's Tale
Andrea Camilleri, Montalbano's First Case & Other Stories
Justin Cronin, The City of Mirrors
non fiction:
Daniel De Vise, Andy & Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show (Andy Griffith & Don Knotts)

Lesa said...

I'm always interested to see what you're reading and your lists, Jeff. I see we both have Past Crimes on the list. I recognize a few other titles, but haven't read them. You're the second person I know to recommend Andy & Don.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

What a terrific idea!!!!

And why am I not surprised to see some of my faves listed here?!

I'm going to think about doing this too, Lesa. You have the best ideas.

Lesa said...

No, our friend, Jen Forbus, has the best ideas. She asked me to do this for her a couple years in a row, and I've just kept it up, Kaye. Looking forward to your list.

Trisha said...

A book I loved and keep talking about is "Into the Magic Shop", a memoir by a neurosurgeon.

I liked "The Nightingale", "Four and Twenty Blackbirds" and "the Summer Before the War" a great deal. I should probably be on goodreads, I can't remember everything I've read.

Thanks for all of the great recommendations!

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Our Jen! Yes, she does have great ideas!!!
and there seems to be an endless supply - I love that.

Margie Bunting said...

Thanks, Lesa. Here are my top ten, not in any order:

Helen Simonson, The Summer Before the War
Fredrik Backman, Britt-Marie Was Here
Phaedra Patrick, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper
Curtis Sittenfeld, Eligible
Monica Wood, The One-in-a-Million Boy
Sere Prince Halverson, All the Winters After
Jacquelyn Mitchard, Two If By Sea
Cleo Coyle, Dead to the Last Drop
Gregg Hurwitz, Orphan X
Rita Lakin, The Only Woman in the Room

Honestly, I could have added quite a few more who were vying for my top ten. Right now I'm excited to start reading Steven Rowley's Lily and the Octopus. I was about to buy it in hard cover and discovered it's $1.99 on Kindle! By the way, I agree about Past Crimes, but I read it in 2015.

Kevin R. Tipple said...

I'd never thought of doing this. Hmmmmmmmmmmm......

Sharon said...

I am enjoying reading the lists Lesa.
My favorite this year were:
Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove
Katarina Bivald, The Readers of Broken Arrow Recommend
Faith Sullivan, Good Night Mr. Wodehouse
Helen Simonson, The Summer Before the War
Shelley Noble, Forever Beach
Phaedra Patrick, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper
Sarah-Jane Stratford, Radio Girls
Victoria Kelly, Mrs. Houdini

Trisha said...

Thnaks, everyone, for your lists--I have a ton of books on hold at my library now!

Grandma Cootie said...

More to add to my lists! I am currently reading The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend and already know I don't want it to end. I had forgotten about John Feinstein. I used to read all his books, have to start again. Thanks for all the recommendations.

Kevin R. Tipple said...

Okay, I have not put my list together yet. Something else to do.

But....I am now once again on the hold list for THE HIGHWAYMAN and hope to get the book in a month or so. Longmire always works.

Of the others, I have only tried PAST CRIMES. Gave it fifty pages and returned it to the library. It just did not appeal. Quite honestly, it may have been my frame of mind at the time and not the author. I am finding it harder and harder to just focus on the read and shut out our reality.

Lesa said...

It was fun, wasn't it? And, it helps me when it comes to the end of the year list of my favorites. Kaye Wilkinson Barley posted hers, and I know others put their lists up on their blogs. I loved seeing your lists, and some of the books that make multiple lists. There are some still on my TBR piles that are on yours. And, Kevin? I hear what you're saying. I'm sorry.