Saturday, December 31, 2016

December Book List & 2016 Re-Cap

A whopping seventeen books read this month which I think is a new record for me. But there was only one I rated a 5 and that is John Hart's Redemption Road.
It is his first new book in five years, but so worth the wait. It is also the first book in some time that has kept me awake and reading well into the night because I "had to finish it". It is a police thriller with bad cops, serial murderers and troubled detectives. The writing is so taut - filled with tension, secrets, betrayals and scenes so graphic they are hard to read - but spellbinding. This guy is good!

Jojo Moyes is a recently discovered author and I really like her books. Paris For One And Other Stories is a book of short stories, which I don't usually care for, but Moyes writing is so good, funny and charming. Her heroines are all strong, relatable women in the midst of their everyday lives. Paris is the background for the stories. Rated 4.0.

Paris and a nearby small town are also the setting for The Dressmaker by Elizabeth Birkelund Oberbeck. This is her first novel; I hope she writes more. A traditional tailor in a small town is retained to design and make a wedding dress for a woman in Paris. Unlike every other bride he has ever made a wedding dress for, she doesn't offer any wishes for what she wants. He is to decide the style and material. The dress is a hit and he becomes a top designer in a Parisian fashion house. All the time he is in love with the woman and tries his best to win her away from her husband. The tale is beautifully wrought and unfolded. Rated 4.0.

Sara Rosett is another new author for me. Death In The English Countryside is the first book in her 'Murder on Location' series. An LA location scout goes to England to find out why her boss didn't return as planned. He is found, murdered, and she becomes a suspect. I think I liked this as well as I did because of the English setting. Rated 3.5.

Ruth Ware - another new author. The Woman In Cabin 10 is a good mystery with good writing, but the story line seemed a little far-fetched. Rated 3.0.

To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han, is a YA book I read because I saw it on a list of "books all women should read" - that even if you are an adult, the book will show you the why of all the boyfriend choices you made. I can't say it did, but it was a cute read. Rated 3.0.

A Gala Event by Sheila Connolly is another of what I call "cute little mysteries". It is part of An Orchard Mystery series. It was not too exciting and the writing was only so-so.  I probably won't read any more of the series. Rated 2.5.

Wallace Stegner was born in Iowa, but grew up in the west. He was referred to as "The Dean of Western Writers" and his books have a western flavor. I was introduced to his writing by a friend and probably started reading him around the time he died in 1993. Crossing To Safety is the story of two couples and their life-long friendships with all its ups and downs, triumphs and tragedies. It is what a call a 'quiet' little book - a satisfying read. Rated 4.0.

In One Basket is the third book in a time travel series by my brother, Les Lynam. (I love saying, "My brother, the author".) And even though sci-fi is not my favorite genre, I do enjoy his books. He is an excellent writer although I don't know how he keeps all the characters, locations, times, etc. straight. In this book more emphasis is on the character of Jane. She was already becoming my favorite - but now she definitely is. (As always I wonder who is the inspiration for this character?) Changes have been made in the time line and Alex cannot get back to his own time. Rated 4.5.

Pushing Up Daisies is the latest in the Agatha Raisin Mystery Series (#27). This series by M.C. Beaton, always delights me - probably because Ms. Raisin is so perfectly imperfect. Fun read.

I'm not a huge Mary Higgins Clark fan, but Preston gave me some books to read from one of Winterset's little libraries and I've Got You Under My Skin was one of them. I liked this one better than the last MHC I read. The producer of a true crime, cold case TV show is haunted by the unsolved murder of her own husband. Witnesses to the murder heard the killer say his wife was next and then their son. Five years have passed. Will the re-enactment of an unsolved murder give the woman's would be killer the opportunity he needs? Rated 3.0.

Medals In The Attic by Cathy Elliott was another book from Preston. It is part of the Annie's Attic Mystery series - another of those 'cute little mystery series'. Rated 2.5.

Plum Pudding Murder by Joanne Fluke was familiar to me because I've watched it on Hallmark's "Murder She Baked" series. It was fun to read the book, also from Preston. Rated 2.5.

A Turn for the Bad by Sheila Connolly apparently is one of the "A County Cork Mystery" series. Hey, if I'm not about all things Irish, I'm not about anything. But this simple little mystery left a lot to be desired. An o.k. read; but not great. Rated 2.0

Anne Enright's The Gathering is also set in Ireland. It was a 2007 Man Booker Prize winner. I so wanted to really like this book about a large Irish family over three generations. The family was very dysfunctional and only came together because of the suicide of one of the favorite sons. Alas, it was too disjointed, dare I say too dysfunctional? Rated 2.5

I had never heard of, nor read, Paulo Coelho until I watched a segment on Sunday Morning earlier this month. His, The Alchemist, was an international best seller. A simple fable about listening to your own heart and following your dreams, it reminded me of The Little Prince as well as Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Rated 4.0. (Because I believe in listening to your own heart and following your dreams.)

Final book read in 2016 was Susan Wiggs Family Tree. I have read a couple Wiggs books before, but hadn't written her down as someone I wanted to keep reading. I will now. I really liked this book - set in Vermont on a family farm/maple syrup business, it has a lot of the importance of family as well as finding and following your dreams. I rated it 4.0. I will be reading more Wiggs in 2017.

For the year end wrap up: I read 128 books in 2016. I can think of two I checked out and ended up not reading and one I started reading but gave up on. December was my biggest reading month with 17 and February the smallest with only 5 books read.
I had eight #5 ratings, twenty-three 4.5's, forty-five 4.0's, twenty-six 3.5's, fifteen 3.0's, eight 2.5's, two 2.0's and one 1.5. Check my math. I hope that adds up right.
I can only hope for as good a reading year in 2017. Happy New Year!

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