Tuesday, November 29, 2016

BEST of 2016

What a stunning year in publishing, particularly for debut authors.  Not all these books are from 2016; many are, but this list encapsulates what I chose to read in this past year and what, in the words of my old teaching days, "knocked my socks off!" If you are like me, that 'to-be-read' list never goes away so we often have to dive back into previous years and may have missed some jewels.  And while ties may be a form of 'cheating,' it is also a recognition of the amazing literature that I rolled around in this past year.  Thanks for being part of my on-line book club and for reading my often-wordy but always heart-felt reviews...a literate world makes me hopeful for the future:)


Fiction:
The Clay Girl by Heather Tucker:  An inspirational story of a dysfunctional family in the 1960's and the young girl who survives and thrives, and so beautifully written your highlighter should be in hand
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara: A story of four friends and the decades of their friendship in New York City, a book I wept over and will be forever seared into my mind






Honorable Mention:
The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens, The Heart by Maylis deKerangal, Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye, A House Without Windows by Nadia Hashimi, Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult, Faithful by Alice Hoffman

Historical Fiction:
Homegoing  by Yaa Gyasi: a debut novel written by a stunning new talent, Gyasi tells of each generation of two sisters over a span of 300 years, from slavery to rebellion to civil rights
Honorable Mention:
A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton, The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson, The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore, Doc by Mary Doria Russell




Mystery/Thriller: 
The Trespasser (Dublin Murder Squad #6) by Tana French: the best of this mystery series by an accomplished Irish writer, two independent detectives search for answers in a vicious murder while they fight sexism and cronyism in their own squadroom
Honorable Mention:
The Good Goodbye by Carla Buckley, Darktown by Thomas Mullen, The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin, The Woman in Cabin 10 and In a Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware, Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris,










Fantasy/Science Fiction:
The Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo: the sequel and end to last year's fantasy winner, Six of Crows, the sly, dangerous, funny, and always entertaining crew of thieves is back to save their members and the magical world of the grishna, all while still trying to get rich off their numerous schemes
Honorable Mention:
Shadow and Bone triology by Leigh Bardugo, Ink and Bone by Lisa Unger, The Reader (Sea of Ink and Gold, #1) by Traci Chee, City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin, Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi, Scythe by Neal Shusterman, A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes #2) by Sabaa Tahir, A Shadow Bright and Burning (Kingdom on Fire #1) by Jessica Cluess







Memoir:
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi: The story of Paul's life and his subsequent early death from lunch cancer, this book will shred your heart and heal it, all at once (have a box of kleenex handy)
Becoming Nicole:  The Transformation of an American Family by Amy Ellis Nutt: the true story of a transgender teenager and how her family not only learns to understand the nuanced transition that Nicole must make, but also how to be the heroes in her life
Honorable Mention:
After the Wind by Lou Kasischke






Non-Fiction:
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance: the story of a young man in rural Ohio, raised by his Mamaw and Papaw from West Virginia, and the inner workings of the largest sub-culture in America today
Honorable Mention:
Some Writer:  The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet, The Nine:  Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court by Jeffrey Toobin, The Wright Brothers by David McCullough, So You've Been Publically Shamed by Jon Ronson, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond










Young Adult: 
Blood For Blood (Wolf by Wolf #2) by Ryan Gaudin: the end to Gaudin's first heralded book, where the Axis powers won and Hitler must be assassinated, this sequel follows the complex trio of teenagers in their continued attempts on Hitler's life and power
Honorable Mention:  Jackaby by William Ritter, If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo, Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk, When Friendship Followed Me Home by Paul Griffin











Middle Reader:
Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan: a sweeping story across decades of time where a small boy from the Holocaust, two brothers from the Great Depression, and a little girl in a Japanese internment camp are all tied together by a very special harmonica
Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley: the promise to a dying grandfather for a wish to be granted by the magical circus he once attended as a small boy sets two brave children off on an adventure that brings them answers to family secrets and a world they did not know exists
Honorable Mention:
Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes, One Half From the East by Nadia Hashimi, Pax by Sara Pennypacker, The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

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