Books are my favorite thing to give for Christmas gifts: they’re small, easy to wrap, and infinitely enjoyable.
Here is a summary of my favorite books of 2016. If it managed to get into my “awesome” category, it’s here – and in no particular order.
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The Last Librarian by Brandt Legg. Set sometime in the future after a planet-wide disaster, and dystopian without being drab, this is the first in the Justor Journal series. Smart and sexy characters who love and quote books struggle in a world that’s not quite right. Fahrenheit 451, a secret corporate government, and an impending revolution make for an action-packed book about books.Thank goodness there are two more books in the series.
The Distant Marvels by Chantel Acevedo. A hurricane roars towards Cuba. The elderly are gathered and placed in a locked room on an upper floor in a historical hacienda. They tell stories of their lives, listening intensely as the storm rages outside. Highly recommended.
The Incarnations by Susan Barker. After I had a root canal, I took my well Novacained & puffy-cheeked self to the bookstore. This was recommended by a staff member, and does not disappoint. Fascinating weaving of Chinese history and contemporary Beijing wrapped in a cloud of soul mate mystery.
Masters of the Living Energy: The Mystical World of the Q’ero of Peru by Joan Parisi Wilcox. An in-depth exploration and explanation of the Q’ero world straight practicing Q’ero shamans. Though they’re not really shamans; read the book to understand more. If you’re curious about Q’ero spirituality, get this and read.
Turn Right At Machu Picchu by Mark Adams. In the tradition of Bill Bryson, author Mark Adams is the guy who works behind the desk at Adventure Magazine, but never goes on adventures. For this book he steps out from behind the desk and conquers the Andes mountains while re-creating Machu Picchu ‘discovery’ by Hiram Bingham III in 1911. If you’re going to Machu Picchu or treking through Peru, be sure to read this before you go.
The Andean Codex by J.E. Williams. Part memoir, part explanation, I read this just before leaving for Peru, and it provided me with basic background to understand the world of the Q’ero.
Actually, anything and everything by Lois McMaster Bujold; her writing is both award-winning and truly masterful. Plotting, character development – gaaaa, it’s fabulous. Since August 2015 I’ve read practically everything she’s written. I quickly worked my way through the Chalion series, and am almost done with the Sharing Knife series.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I’m way late to the GG party, that’s for sure. The writing is as good as you think it should be, the story better. I haven’t seen the movie, won’t bother to see the movie, but might read the book again. It’s that good.
The Lake Of Dreams by Kim Edwards. It’s a good summer read book, set in a picturesque town on a picturesque lake. There’s romance, travel, genealogy, and history. Throw in women’s suffrage and one intriguing family mystery, and you’ve got it. Except you don’t, because Edwards ever-so-softly creeps into your heart: “The raft moved gently, soothingly on the waves. The moon, almost full, cast the sprawling old house in mild light. I was cold, but I didn’t want to leave. I lay there for a long time, watching the sky clear and the stars emerge, taking their places in the night.” This book deserves a place on your summer reading list.
Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor. Looking for a long, lusty, historical read this summer? This is the book for you. Sixteen year-old country wench Amber St. Clare comes to 1660’s London determined to do anything and everything she’s ever wanted. Filled with frivolous clothing, political intrigue, court assignations, and more parties than you can shake a stick at, this 900+ page book is a rollicking ride through the upstairs and downstairs worlds of the great plague, the London fire, and a whole hell of a lot more.
The Martian by Andy Weir. How would you survive if left stranded on Mars? This formidable first novel answers that question with geeky science details (that I mostly skipped over,) cheesy 70’s music and TV references (LOL and OMG,) and a daring rescue (hurray!) There’s a whole lot more in there, but you’ll have to read it. I loved it.
A Ship of Pearl by Adela Crandell Durkee. Admittedly, I’m biased as the author is a friend. I love that this is a Michigan book: it’s always fun to read about the state in which I was born and currently live. And the story? Top notch. Appropriate for young adults, this novel explores coming of age when your whole world crashes.
The Virgin of the Small Plains by Nancy Pickard. I’ve read this murder mystery a couple of times and have gone looking for other books by Nancy Pickard as a result. There’s something haunting about this book that keeps me coming back.
Ancillary Sword, Ancillary Justice, and Ancillary Mercy. by Ann Leckie. More sci-fi fantasy to feed my inner Star Trek geek. Ship “parts” come to life and take revenge. Kind of, but a whole lot more sophisticated. Award-winning, and reads up to the awards, for sure.
The Discovery of Chocolate by James Runcie
What could be more romantic than a love that lasts for a few centuries? Nothing. And all the more interesting when it involves a man who can whip up the best chocolate in the world. Heart and tummy warming.
The Atlantis Gene: A Thriller (The Origin Mystery, Book 1) by A.G. Riddle. Oooooo, now this I liked. I downloaded this in preparation for vacation travel back in October. It’s perfect for that: metaphysics, motivation, ancient history, mystery – and a whole lot of excitement. It’s the kind of book I can read but – when it inevitably comes to the big screen- couldn’t possibly watch because of the twists, turns, and awesome scenery. P.S. It’s an epic battle between “good” and “evil.”
The Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy by Nora Roberts – three books: Dark Witch, Shadow Spell, and Blood Magick.
I’m a sucker for an easy-to-ready, easy-to-follow, paranormal romance set in Ireland, and Nora does it right every time. Yes,her romances are like cotton candy at a summer fair: fluffy and predictable. They’re are also lighthearted reads full of good food, good people, and a whole lot of magick. Love them!
Budget Bytes: Over 100 Easy, Delicious Recipes to Slash Your Grocery Bill in Half by Beth Moncel
This book definitely lives up to the title. And, because I’ve cooked both from this book and from the Budget Bytes blog, I can recommend this with no hesitation. Carrot-Sweet Potato Soup anyone? Delicious!