Last year I read some real duds when it came to fiction. I'm realizing my taste in fiction most often runs counter to "popular" in a lot of cases. Not always, but you won't find me loving Me Before You or The Nightingale. But this year there were a lot of hits! I'm glad to share them with you.
You already know of my love for Inspector Gamache. We'll start with him:
The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny****
How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny*****
The Long Way Home by Louise Penny***
The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny*****
The Great Reckoning by Louise Penny*****
Glass Houses by Louise Penny*****
Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry****
Poignant is what comes to mind. I wrote more than one quote from this book. A fast read but thought-provokingly beautiful.
Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly****
You know I loved this one. Check it out on audio if you like to listen to your books.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah**1/2
I barely made it through until the end. It was just blah. Reading it right after Lilac Girls highlighted it's flaws. I felt like modern women were superimposed back into the W.W. II era. I had a hard time caring about the characters because they just didn't feel real. Lilac Girls was like a fine crafted award winning movie and this felt like a Hallmark version.
The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood****
This book got a lot of love and I wasn't so sure about it . . . until the end. Oh, the end! It was superb!
The Dry by Jane Harper****
A gritty Aussie murder mystery.
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan****
Delightful on audio! Such a fun romp!
I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh****
Kept me guessing right until the end!
The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay***
I wanted to like this book more than I did. I loved the literary references. But, it just didn't grab me. The dialogue wasn't very natural and I thought the characters made really big deals about small things which struck me as a plot device to keep it moving.
As a side note, I did love that the character worked for a design firm. It's been a long time since I've heard a reference to "Scalamandre." I used to work in a museum and we used their fabrics all the time. So there were some fun side aspects to the book.
Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon****
It was more the history than the book that I enjoyed about this. It was slow to start but it did grab me in the end. I was captivated by the real people who were on the airship and watched the footage that was captured of it's destruction. It is truly amazing so many people actually survived.
The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson*****
Favorite stand-alone novel of the year! The audio version really was excellent!
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson****
Quirky, funny, and delightful. I'll read any thing Simonson writes!
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen*****
I listened to this like I'd never heard it before. Rosamund Pike was just a terrific narrator bringing out all the drama and comedy. A fun "reread."
Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart***
This was an interesting book, mainly due to the true events described. I looked up with interest the real Constance Kopp, who became the first female deputy sheriff. She defended her home against a man--a wealthy factory owner and his gang--who begins maliciously threatening her sisters by throwing rocks and shooting through their windows. The writing was a bit witty and the history was interesting.
But something about it didn't quite do it for me. I'm not sure what, but I didn't LOVE it. I probably won't be reading the rest of the series.