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Topic: Book of the Month 2016 with comments and star rating.

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Subject: Book of the Month 2016 with comments and star rating.
Date Posted: 12/17/2015 1:46 PM ET
Member Since: 6/21/2008
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How about we have the monthly list and add a sentence or two about each book right when we list it as out pick for the month????

I am always tempted to do that anyway.  

And give the book however many stars.  Some of mine were not 5 star but still I wanted to recommend them for content or thought provoking stories.

JANUARY    If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name : News from Small-Town Alaska
Author: Heather Lende 

FEBRUARY  Euroupe at Midnight by Dave Hutchinson

MARCH    In Need of a Good Wife byKelly O'Connor McNees  I am partial to romance novels about mail order brides and orphan train stories.  I liked this one because the women did not have easy or storybook experiences.  A solid 4 stars.

APRIL    Coming CleanAuthor: Kimberly Rae Miller   Read by the author audio book.  Pretty fascinating autobiography of a woman whose father, and consquently also her mother, are hoarders.  She describes a child's view of growing up with parents who were at times barely able to take care of her and whose home, although she was loved, was never safe.  Incredibly she loved her parents anyway and speaks of them with tenderness, even after cleaning up after them for years and many moves or visits from state officials.  5*

MAY   Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder  4*  Moving biography of a man who escaped the genocide of Rwanda and Barundi.  Worth reading to understand the events in Africa that have been shaped by the oppression of European rule in these countries.

JUNE    Worthy by Catherine Ryan Hyde    Well, I am a sucker for stories with dogs as a main character.  Another touching and good story by CRH.  4*  I have really only read one book by her I didn't think was 4-5 star.  The audio of this one is good too.  It really helps sort out the emotions of the characters.

JULY     The Harrows of Spring by James Howard Kunstler   5*  I am a yuge fan of this series.  I have reread the books when the new one comes out every time.  I like the uneasy feel to the stories, the earthiness of the situations and the realness of the characters.  I have enjoyed them especially this last book which ties up some story lines for me.  I would have enjoyed an eight book series.

AUGUST  Leaving Blythe River by Catherine Ryan Hyde and The Reluctant Midwife by Patricia Harman.  LBR by CRH is one of her best.  Suspenceful and emotional.  Great characters.  TRM by PH is a powerful story of a nurse during the Great Depression.  The reluctant part is that where she eventually settles she ends up delivering babies where there is no doctor even though she totally dislikes OB work.  The story is the second in a series but I read it anyway while waiting for the first book, The Midwife of Hope River, to arrive.  

SEPTEMBER  Bruno: the Police Chief by Martin Walker  Bruno is the police chief in a rural, wine country part of France.  He is part of a quaint lovely little community that has its own dark side that rises up from time to time.  Great characters, good mystery stories and not everybody get what they want or need here so the stories have some teeth and grit.  4.5 stars

OCTOBER  The entire Bruno: the police chief series by Martin Walker.  As you all probably know about me, when I read a series I keep going until I read every book.  Except for the last book, I just kept reading this one until the end.  Each book is great onto itself but the series does lend to the stories.  4.5 stars

NOVEMBER   The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo  by Stieg Larson   I have had these on the shelf for several years and just finally picked this up.  Great story, totally relevent to today's politics.  Fascinating characters with world wide story lines.  



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I'm in! 

JANUARY: I only read two books this month but Dreams of Shreds and Tatters :: Amanda Downum was a surprise that I read to fill my horror requirement for a reading challenge. The story is about the consequences that follow when a group of magic users foolishly open a link to the terrible Yellow King. This would be the Yellow King referenced in the first season of HBO's True Detective and from the famed short story collection The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers. The author is very poetic in her writing, which suits the dreamy contemplations on blood and madness. I think saying that this author has read Clive Barker and H.P. Lovecraft would be a safe bet.

FEBRUARY: Read a lot of fluff this month. Most enjoyable were the books of the 'Elder Races' series by Thea Harrison. There are around... 8 novels and 12 short stories so far in this series? These books are action-packed paranormal romance / urban fantasy featuring more unusual creatures such as dragons, gryphons, and djinns along with your more traditional elves, witches, and vampires. All of them fun, easy reads.

MARCH: I liked the first horror book so much that I checked out The Fifth House of the Heart :: Ben Tripp from my library on a whim. Asmodeus "Sax" Saxon-Tang is a 70-something antiques dealer who unfortunately comes to the attention of a vampire after out-bidding it's minion at an antiques auction. Sax is elegant, grumpy, hip, snobby, cowardly, sly, and an unexpected vampire hunter. These are old-school, evil vampires and the book cover compares the novel to Salem's Lot. I was so engrossed that I was bummed that the book was a standalone when I got to the end.

APRIL: I accidently read a book from the wrong country for my reading challenge, but I don't regret reading Written in the Stars :: Aisha Saeed.  Naila is a college-bound teen whose life changes when parents take her to Pakistan in order to surprise her with a forced marriage. Naila loves her family and Pakistan, but is desperate to get back to her life in the US. The author herself is a Pakistani-American woman who happily chose an arranged marriage, but as she states at the end of the book, she knows plenty of girls who were pressured, coerced, threatened, and abused by their families into accepting marriages. It was a bit of an eye-opener. I was on the edge of my seat and raced through the book in one sitting.

MAY: Only read two books this month and one was Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson) :: Patricia Briggs. Wasn't my favorite of the series, but as I've said in years past, even a mediocre book by Patricia Briggs is better than a "good" book by other authors in her genre. A welcome trip back to one of my favorite series of books.

JUNE: I didn't read anything but fluffy manga this month. Didn't even track what I read. Sorry, no book this month. :(

JULY: I did not like Fun Home : A Family Tragicomic :: Alison Bechdel as much as I expected to, but I only read two books this month. It reads like the dysfunction of David Sedaris mixed with the swagger of David Eggers, just without any of the humor from either. It is also chock-full of classic literary references (the last chapter is all about Ulysses :: James Joyce) that made me feel like going back to a college lit class. As her love of lit becomes important to the story, I understand, but I still had to Google a bit. Story connections are woven well, and you will feel the tragedy half of this "Tragicomic", but suggested only for those who already had a interest.

AUGUST: I have a tie, and as I skipped June, I'm going with it. :) The Girl with All the Gifts :: M. R. Carey is a post-apocalyptic "mystery"/survival tale, told from the POV of multple narrators with differing agendas. I listened to the audiobook, which was fantastically narrated by Judi Dench's daughter, Finty. The story stayed with me for days, and I can't wait to watch the upcoming movie starring Glenn Close (who I think was PERFECTLY cast. Don't watch the movie trailer if you plan to read the book. It spoils the first third of the story.) My second book is Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore :: Robin Sloan, which I am sure you are already aware of (or have read.) It was not a fantasy novel, as I thought it would be, but it does have it's own type of whimsy and "magic". A feel-good story that makes you feel all warm and happy inside. These two books together strike an interesting sort of counterpoint about having hope in the future.

SEPTEMBER: I read a lot this month, but the clear winner is Yes Please :: Amy PoehlerI listened to the audiobook, read by the author, with bits from a range of guest stars like Patrick Stewart, Kathleen Turner, Carol Burnett and the author's own parents. For those of you who like memoirs by comedians, this is better than books like Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) :: Mindy Kaling and Dad Is Fat :: Jim Gaffigan, (which are both comedians I like) but not quite as perfect as Bossypants :: Tina Fey, which is the book against which I measure ALL of books of this ilk. Yes Please does manage to come up to a Bossypants level at times. My favorite chapter has to be "Crying to Laughing to Crying", which is about her pregnancy, and the birth of her first son.  As the title says, I was in fact laughing through the tears listening to it. 

OCTOBER: I read 11 books this month, including The Little Prince and a book by one of my favorite authors, Sarah Vowell. I really  wanted to like them, but I can't honestly recommend any of them. :/

NOVEMBER: ... I read nothing but manga (Japanese comic books) again this month. I don't suppose those are the kind of suggestions you are looking for. :P

DECEMBER: I'm glad I read House of Leaves :: Mark Z. Danielewski. It's the story of a "special" house that is bigger on the inside than the outside and the way the house affects the family that moves in... but the story is complicated and broken, being filtered through four different narrators/editors like a game of telephone. You can't listen to it on audiobook and you can't use your Kindle/Nook. The story is ONLY available in the printed word because it is specially designed solely for that format. Just the way that words are printed, the use of fonts and footnotes, are all calculated to manipulate the feelings of the reader. It is like no other book and it gave me that excitement I get when I experience a new art form for the first time. (Footnote 1: It gets really hard to read for a bit about 40 pages in. Don't give up! Just push through that chapter and it will settle down. Footnote 2: The less you flip through the book/know about the specifics, the better. I will say, it is a bit spooky. There is also sex, violence, and foul language.) 

BOOK OF THE YEAR: TIEThe Girl with All the Gifts :: M. R. Carey AND Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore :: Robin Sloan

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Sounds good, I'm in. Thank you , Pamela


January: Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourne . **** four stars

February: Lost December by Richard Paul Evans ****four stars, easy read.  She's Not There: A Novel by Joy Fielding ****four star suspence. Love Joy fielding, when she's good she's very good , but some of her stuff are duds ;(. This one I liked and couldn't put down.

March: Coal A Human History by Barbara Freese. ****four stars. Again, a non-fiction that reads more like fiction, th only kind of non-fiction I read :). If you enjoy history, this is a quick read.

April: Audio: When The Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka. Read by Elaina Erika Davis. A short Unabridged, only 3 cd's but the best audio i've listened to in a long time. 5 stars.

Print: A Train in winter by Caroline Moorehead. Haunting. 4 1/2 stars. Would have been 5 but I had trouble with the politics and French words, places and names. I skimmed alot at the beginning. But an important story will leave you grateful , angry and sad.  Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. I dont know why I waited so long to read this. But a 4 1/2 to 5 star read.

May: Salt, Sugar, Fat by Michael Moss  4- 4.5 stars

June:   Banana by Dan Koeppel  4.5 stars :  When Smoke Ran Like Water Tales of Environmental Deception and the Battle Against Pollution  by Devra Lee Davis 4 - 4.5 stars

July: Print: Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer   5 stars.  Fantastic, gross, sad and upsetting. The title says it all. This book did help change my mind (at least a little).

Aaudio cd: The Road by Cormack Mccarthy  5 stars. I thought I was going to hate "The Road" but this audio version is fantastic, the narrator, Rupert Degas, was one of the best I've listened to, at least for this book. Now I think I will attempt the print someday.

August:  Silent Spring by Rachel Carsen - 5 stars . I don't know how this lefty went so many years without reading this book. Written in the 60's but so much is still relevant. 

September: Eleventh month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour: Armistice Day, 1918 World War One,  and it's Violent Climax. by Joseph Persico. This book broke my heart. Probably my favorite for the year. 5 stars.

October: Darker Passions by Ed Bryant - short and weird but good.4 stars

November:  audio cd: Whispers and Lies by Joy Fielding. Reread of an old favorite. 4 stars

December:The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane (Audio CD) (Unabridged) by Katherine Howe. 4 stars

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Print: The Pecan Man by Cassie Dandrige Selleck.  LOVED this little book.  Well written, to the point, poignant.  heartheartheartheart

Audio: The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott narrated by Susan Duerden.  The Titanic tragedy told a different way.  The sinking is pretty quick, but the meat of the book is what takes place afterward for the characters.  Quite interesting, well-written, well-narrated.  heartheartheartheart


Print:  The Ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson.  Love triangle/murder mystery that I couldn't figure out until just before the end.  A good thing.  A good read.  heartheartheartbroken heart

Audio:  Making Masterpiece by Rebecca Eaton, narrated by Meredith Mitchell.  If you like  behind the scenes and trivia as much as I do, you will love this audio!heartheartheartheartbroken heart


Audio:  Whistling in the Dark by Lesley Kagen, read by the author.  Wonderful coming-of-age story set in 1959, when 2 young sisters were left pretty much on their own the summer their mother almost died, and their stepfather got drunk and stayed away.  A dangerous time as there was a killer of young girls on the loose in town.  heartheartheartheart

April:  A terrific reading month for me.

Print:  Tomorrow River by Lesley Kagen.  Another wonderful slice-of-life book set in the south perhaps in the 60's.  Another sort-of-murder mystery that the child feels she has to solve, and a tormented twin that she needs to nurture and fix.  heartheartheartheartbroken heart

The Round House by Louise Erdrich.  Once one of my buy-the-book-the-day-it-is-released authors, most of her books take place on the Objiwe reservation and are loosely connected.  I stopped reading her a while back, then this came to me in a swap.  Same place, loosely connected people still in the background, but this was more of a mystery, with characters I hadn't met before.  heartheartheartheart


Good Graces - Whistling in the Dark Series by Lesley Kagen. The sequel to Whistling in the Dark, a female coming of age mystery.  Read by the author who is an awesome narrator! heartheartheartheart


Print:  LaRose by Louise Erdrich.  Her latest release, again loosely takes place on the Obijwe Reservation, and absolutely one of her best books.  heartheartheartheartbroken heart

Audio:  On Agate Hill by Lee Smith, various awesome narrators.  1860's to early 1900's.  Coming of age.  Highly recommended. heartheartheartheartheart


Print: of the 3 I read, I cannot pick one that is a favorite.  Other than a reread of something I already read.


My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira.  Great book, terrific narrator: Kimberly Farr.  She sounds so like Debra Monk. heartheartheartheartheart


Print:  A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman  I tried this in audio and hated it.  But in print, heartheartheartbroken heart

The Things That Keep Us Here by Carla Buckley heartheartheartbroken heart

Audio:  Mr.  Mercedes by Stephen King, narrated by Will Patton.  The first King book that I loved in a long time.  First of a trilogy.  Second one was good, but not as riveting.  heartheartheartheart.  And for Patton's narration, as always, heartheartkissheartheart.

Little Bee by Chris Cleeve, Narrated by Anne Flosnik   heartheartheartheart



Print: The Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman.  Oh, this was terrific.  I read her memoir years back and enjoyed it, but this novel really surpassed it, even though the topic is the same, midwifery.  Set early in the last century, it reads very much like the Call the Midwife books.  heartheartheartheartbroken heart

Audio:  End of Watch by Stephen King  BK 3  narrated by Will Patton. kiss  Great end to the trilogy; would really love to see him continue with the side players, or perhaps a mini-series of the whole thing.  heartheartheartheart


Print:    More Than You Know by Beth Gutcheonheartheartheart

Audio:  Nightwoods by Charles Frasier, narrated by Will Patton. heartheartheart


Print:  such a pretty face by Cathy Lamb heartheartbroken heart

Audio: Nothing outstanding enough to post here.


Print:  Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O'Nan...short and sweet.  heartheartheart

December:  Wonderful reading month!

Print: Wishin' and Hopin' by Wally Lamb.  His best book I think, and if you liked A Christmas Story, you will love this!  heartheartheartheart

          Delicious by Ruth Reichl.  Her first novel and every bit as good as her memoirs.  Loved it!  heartheartheartheart

          the judas field by Howard Bahr.  One of the best Civil War novels I've read.  Superb writing and storytelling.  heartheartheartheartbroken heart

           The Education of Dixie Dupree by Donna Everhart.  Added last minute as I stayed up late to finish this.  Starts off as a sweet southern coming of age novel but when the child abuse begins, no holds barred.  It is gritty and true.  Excellent story-writing.  heartheartheartheart

AudioThe Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman, narrated by Judith Light, Grace Gummer, Zach Appleman heartheartheartbroken heart


So many 4 and 4.5 stars that I just cannot pick a print book of the year...though I think it might be   the judas field by Howard Bahr and The Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman.

For audio, a tie:  On Agate Hill by Lee Smith and My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira. Both 5 stars.


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January:  My Life on the Road - Gloria Steinem  5 stars  Enjoyed her travels and life perspective.  Not overly political.

February: The Rubber Band - Rex Stout  - A classic Nero Wolfe mystery, set in 30's NYC  Very enjoyable

March:  My Name is Lucy Barton - Elizabeth Strout (author of Olive Kitteridge) This is a novella, really, but as the month went on, I see the depth of the vignettes. There are episodes you won't soon forget.

April:  Tinkers - Paul Harding Pulitzer winner 2009. Beautiful language. As an 80 yr old man lays dying, he examines his life and how it was affected by his father's abandonment of the family. His story is interwoven with that of his father, a 1920's rural tinker/traveling salesman.

May:  Junk: Digging Through America's Love Affair with Stuff - Alison Stewart. NOT a how-to declutter, but an enjoyable look at the culture around our stuff.  Businesses that have arisen, storage, hauling, psychology, TV shows, even space junk (yes, outer space) 

June:  The Night Circus:: Erin Morgenstern   A magic circus that's only open at night. Two illusionists competing through their young proteges. A battle to the death. Young love. Fantastic inventions. Set in the 1880's in England and the US, this was marvelously inventive. Related films: The Illusionist, The Prestige, Now You See Me.

July:  The Last Painting of Sara de Vos - Dominic Smith Historical fiction based on the earliest women members of the Dutch painters guild. A painting is stolen in '50's NYC which had been in the family for 300 years. A young woman art restorer forges a perfect copy. The painting, the owner and the forger intersect again in 2000 Sydney.  Relationships and the meaning of love and art.

August:  The Drowning Girl - Caitlin R. Kiernan Fantasy? Horror? Mythopoetic? All of the above? A fictional memoir by a schizophrenic young woman who is obsessed by a painting and may be visited by the subject. Interweaving The Little Mermaid, Little Red Riding Hood tales, art, history, madness, and transformation. Very good writer. Some LGBT aspects.

September: I read 5 gems this month and it was hard to choose.  I'm going with Patient H.M. - Luke Dittrich The history of psycho-surgery, particularly the frontal lobotomy, by the grandson of the foremost Americal lobotomist. It is a famous case studied in medical and PhD. programs. Fascinating look at the history of mental health treatment and the ethics of researchers

October:  Gilead - Marilynne Robinson.  Elderly preacher father writes memoir for 6 yr old son to tell the boy of his preacher father and grandfather. Set in mid-century rural Iowa, it is a lost time and place. Bits of theology and history included.

November: Journey to Munich (Maisie Dobbs Bk 12) - Jacqueline Winspear This was more straight thriller than murder mystery. Maisie tries to get an English inventor out of 1938 Nazi Germany.

December: The Buried Giant - Kazuo Ishiguro  In post-Arthurian Britain, a tale of memories lost and found in a morality story where giants, witches, ogres and the like still are rumored to exist. Do you want the bad memories along with the good?

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January: This was a tough month to pick just one book so instead I will do the top 3.  #1 The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls ****, just amazing that she endured and became successful after just the screwed up way her parents raised her.  Really good read and one of those that makes almost everyone else's childhood seem a little better.  #2 This is a Bust by Ed Lin ***, set in the 1970's with main character being only Chinese-American police officer on New York City police dept.  His struggles with people, alcoholism and just the system.  Good read and interesting characters.  #3 Strange Pilgrims, Stores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez ***.  I enjoy mixing in a short story book and this one is very good.  Stories don't have energy or maybe angst that many short story writers seem to have today but these stories really do tell a story. 

February:  Visit Sunny Chernobyl and Other Adventures in the World's Most Polluted Places ***.  Interesting topic and liked how he kind of just jumped around & took an angle at the various areas.  It seems like he realizes much of this is more complicated than people realize and did seem to be some growth in his thinking which will likewise help readers to grow too.

March:  R is for Ricochet by Sue Grafton ***.  I finished 4 books but none of there were really exciting.  This was a good continuation of this series that I do enjoy so it wins March for me.

April:  Old Man's War by John Scalzi ****.  A sci-fi book that I really enjoyed.  Interesting characters and concepts.  Can see this is something possible in the few hundreds of years give or take a few either way.  

May:  The Bullet by Mary Louise Kelly ***.  A good quick read, like the author's style even if the story was a little hard to believe.  Also need to mention, White Palace ** & 1/2.  A kind of wierd book with interesting characters from about the same time I moved into St Louis, really seemed to hit what it was like in many ways.

June:  Land of Opportunity: One Family's Quest for the American Dream in the Age of Crack by William M. Adler ****.  Great research and interviews and really interesting read about a family from dirt poor Arkansas that 2 brothers and several relatives and friends from home that became major players in the crack trade in Detroit in the '80s.  Just stunning to read about this & all the money they had and how it just helped tear up neighborhoods.  Just stunning and sad.  Honorable mention to The Red by Linda Nagata ***, 1st book in trilogy about our military in probably far fewer years than we would like to believe.

July:  Blue Warrior by Mike Maden and S is for Silence by Sue Grafton, both come in at ***.  Blue Warrior was 2nd in series and did a nice job of continuing the story and building for future.  I really like the Sue Grafton series and S is also a good continuation of the series.

August: The Blood Infernal by James Rollins & Rebecca Cantwell ***.  The 3rd and I think last in series.  Maybe more of a rating for series, good series and like a lot about it but still a little out there at times to rate higher.

September: The King's Curse by Philippa Gregory ****.  Really enjoy this author and how she puts you right into the mindset of the times.  This is about the time of King Henry VIII.

October: The Eastern Stars by Mark Kurlansky***. About the baseball players from San Pedro de Marocis of the Dominican Republic.  Good read and stories about the players from the area of the small country.

November: Anything Goes: A Biography of the Roaring Twenties by Lucy Moore****.  Very good read about the '20s and the people.  Also need to mention--The Yucks:  Two Years in Tampa with the Losingest Team in NFL History by Jason Vuic****.  About the Tampa Bay Buccaneers first 2 years in the NFL.  Good read.



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January:  The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan.  5 stars.  I listened to it on audio and Ron Perlman is the narrator, who did an incredible job.  I have not watched the tv show and really didn't know what to expect.  It was a lot better than I thought it would be.  I don't usually read books about vampires.  Actually, I don't think I ever have.  I look forward to the rest of the trilogy.

February:  The Dog Stars by Peter Heller.  3 stars.  I didn't read much this month, and so of the two books I actually finished, this was the better.  I didn't really know what it was about when I started it. It's basically another post-apocalyptic book, which I usually really enjoy.  However, this author decided to be artistic about it and the style was over the top for me.  It was almost like prose, the way he went on & on waxing poetic.  It's not the worst book, but definitely not the best.  I'm sure the critics loved it, haha!

March:  This was definitely a mediocre month, so the selection for this month isn't particularly wonderful, but it was the best for what I listened to/read in March.  State of Wonder by Ann Patchett.  3 stars.  I think it was about on the same level as her other book I listened to a while back, Bel Canto. Not the best, not the worst.  It kept my attention but nothing to write home about. 

April: Hands down, this month's choice is American Assassin by Vince Flynn.  5 stars. This is the first I've read by the author. He has a series with Mitch Rapp as the main character. This book is where it all started, but was written recently -- so it's like a prequel. I loved it so much -- it was like watching a movie. Without giving much away, it's basically about a young guy recruited to be (you guessed it) an assassin. 

May: This was a surprising month, with my pick being an audio book read by the author.  Courage and Consequence by Karl Rove. 5 stars.  I don't usually like very many biographies, but this was so interesting, I found myself telling people about it.  Even though I knew some of what had happened during the Bush years, I found this enlightening and was so glad that Karl himself read it.  I doubt anyone would enjoy it if they don't have republican views, but I loved it!

June:  My pick this month is Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. 5 stars! I read a lot of books this month, some good, some not so good, with a variety of genres...and have had this book on my TBR for years.  Finally I decided it was time to read it and absolutely loved it. So far I've read three of her novels and each one I've loved. Definitely one of my favorite contemporary authors.

July: I had a couple of good choices this month, but I ended up picking The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey. 4 Stars. It's the 2nd in the 5th Wave series. My dh had just finished reading it and wanted to talk about it, and usually we don't read the same books in the same time frame to have a meaningful conversation. This time I read it right after he did, and while I loved it, he didn't care for it. He didn't like the different characters' perspectives while I enjoyed it. I hope if they are making a movie based on it, they follow it as closely as they did with the first book.

August: I had a great month and it was difficult choosing which of the 3 five star books to pick. Ultimately, I chose The Good Guy by Dean Koontz. 5 stars. I had no idea what it was about when I started it. I listened to it on audio and the narrator was wonderful -- the story was one where I just could imagine watching it like a movie. Lots of action and suspense. The characters all were quirky, and the dialog witty, which was very entertaining.

September: Only 2 books finished this month, both audios, so it really wasn't a very good month. My pick is one in a long series originally from the 80s, but is still very entertaining. Wagons West: Oregon!  by Dana Fuller Ross. 4 stars. I consider it fluffy historical fiction. I plan on eventually listening to the entire series.

October: This month I had a hard time choosing between two OK books, but in the end I picked Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear. 3 stars. Not a spectacular month, but this one I found interesting. Kind of along the lines of steampunk. I have never heard of this author, but I guess she has won some distinguished awards.

November: My choice this month, out of a pretty good reading month, is A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: Being the Adventures of Ser Duncan the Tall, and his Squire, Egg. by George R.R. Martin. 4 stars.This is a kind of prequel to the entire Game of Thrones series. And it is not anything like the Game of Thrones series. This has pictures, for one, and no gratuitous sex or violence at all. It's almost like it was written as a tale to tell children. I really liked it though! It was good to hear references to the different Houses and some of the history of the knights and battles. I would only recommend it if you're a GOT fan, however.

December: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman is my pick with 5 stars. I have never read this author before and didn't really know too much about the book. It is a fanciful tale with a mystical touch. A man goes back home and childhood memories come flooding back. I am looking forward to many more of this author's works!


2016 BOOK OF THE YEAR: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (5 stars)

(out of 47 books read)

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Subject: 2016: My best reads
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  • Fool's Errand by Hobb (Fantasy) 5 stars -- I enjoyed this book, which picks up about 15 years after the Farseer trilogy ends, even better than the others in the first series, which I loved.
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel by Orczy (Classic) 4.5 stars --  Surpringly suspenseful, especially given that much of the story involves waiting. 


  • Cannery Row by Steinbeck (Classic) 4 stars -- Though this wasn't my favorite of his novels, I still enjoyed it for the amazing writing, pathos and humor that is classic Steinbeck.  


  • Child 44 by Smith (Historical Fiction) 4 stars -- I enjoyed this for the history rather than the mystery. The latter seems to exist almost as a backdrop for the former, rather than vice versa as often happens. However, the historical fiction is well done, so read it for the engaging description of life under Stalin. If you're looking for a great mystery or thriller, look elsewhere.


  • Brothers in Arms by Bujold (Science Fiction) 4.5 stars -- One of my favorites in the Vorkosigan series, though I've enjoyed them all. Was I biased because this one was set on Earth? Maybe. However, this story also didn't have as many convoluted political elements (unfamiliar names of made-up political offices and intra/inter-planetary cultural conflicts) that, frankly, I'm often just too lazy to completely follow in the other books.


  • The Goblin Emperor by Addison (Fantasy) 4 stars -- Stripped of its fantastical elements, the "The Goblin Emperor" is a relatively simple and unoriginal tale of court intrigue. The elements of fantasy, on the other hand, are quite creative and unique, and I found myself wishing that these had been more thoroughly developed, as they showed promise for an elaborate and intriguing world. (Perhaps a sequel...?) In spite of these observations, I found the book compulsively readable. It's a heart-warming tale about a good-hearted, well-intentioned underdog who just wants to do the right thing.  I normally read several books at once, but this one I read straight through.


  • Melusine by Monette (Fantasy) 4 stars -- I was all ready to give this book 4.5 or 5 stars until the end, when the author wraps things up a little too sentimentally and without answering any of the questions that initiated the plot line. It seems to start out as one book and finish as another. Overall I did like it, though, excepting the ending. I was engaged throughout, and I will probably read the sequel in the future.


  • Istanbul Passage by Kanon (Historical Fiction) 4 stars


  • The Virtu by Monette (Fantasy) 4 stars -- The great character development continues in the second book, which I enjoyed as much as the first although the plotlines are quite different. 



  • City of Thieves by Benioff (Historical Fiction) 5 stars -- Highly creative and original tale with believable, relatable, entertaining characters. This story is at times disturbing, funny, thought-provoking, suspenseful...but always with an underlying compassion. 


  • Rise to Rebellion by Shaara (Historical Fiction) 4 stars -- I enjoyed learning about the founding of the country, though at times it felt a little like I was reading a textbook. I plan on reading the sequel, and if it's good enough, I may check out more by this writer, whose father's work, Killer Angels, I read several years ago and loved. 


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JANUARY  The Black Ice (Harry Bosch, Bk #2) by Michael Connelly (4 stars) This book won the best of the month book by default. All of my other books this month was mediocre. This was definitely an improvement over the first Harry Bosch book I read. 

FEBRUARY  The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks (4 stars) & Kill You Twice (Archie & Gretchen, Bk #5) by Chelsea Cain (4 stars) It was a tie this month. The Nicholas Sparks was typical Sparks book (who doesn't love those). The Archie & Gretchen books are so good. I can't put them down once I start.

MARCH    The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand (4 1/2 stars) Wonderful story of 48 year old Dabney Kimball Beech who has a gift for matchmaking. Dabney discovers she has terminal cancer and she works on matching her loved ones up so they will be home after she is gone. Definitely have your tissues nearby for this one. 

APRIL  Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen (5 stars) I love when a book sucks you in from the very first page. I couldn't put the book down once I started and finished it one day. Great story of two sisters who reconnect in a whimsical town in NC. 

MAY   Definitely Dead (Sookie Stackhouse, Bk #6) by Charlaine Harris (4 stars) Love all the Sookie books. They are easy to read and helps me to escape into a world of vampires/werewolves/faires, etc.

JUNE    The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin (4 stars) Story of a man and woman who survive a plane crash in High Unitas Wilderness and have to try escape from the mountain. 

JULY     None






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Date Posted: 1/6/2016 12:28 PM ET
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Okay, me too!

January:   The Murder House   Author: James Patterson, David Ellis

I give it a **** four star rating.  Really good read, suspenseful, great cast of characters, and just complicated enough that I could remember who was who, but still have a good bunch of possible "who did it's" to choose from.

February:  A Memory of Violets  Author: Hazel Gaynor

***** Loved this tale of 1900 impoverished London, and the little girls who starred in the story of survival.

MARCH:  Just a sweet little cozy, enjoy this series, a bit different and very entertaining.




April: Vertigo 42 (Richard Jury, #23)  by Martha Grimes *

Classic Grimes, ***** Enjoyed the whole cast of familiar characters as always, excellent mystery a step above the normal cozy.





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Date Posted: 1/15/2016 10:22 AM ET
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I'm glad I found you all!  Thanks for the email Pamela.  I love to see what others are reading and I think the idea of posting a couple of lines and rating books is perfect.

JANUARY  A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner heartheartheartheart

I enjoyed this book very much and it is written similiarly to those of Sarah Jio where the past connects to the present.  You switch back and forth between the two time periods and two different characters but are tied together by a piece of fabric - a silk scarf of Marigolds.  This book has it all, unconditional love, strength to go on, and historical insights of Manhattan.  I enjoyed it and definitely recommend to others. 

FEBRUARY  Moonlight over Paris by Jennifer Robson heartheartheartheart

I seem to be drawn to books that are set in Paris.  This book is about the rebuilding of Paris after the war and particularly the rebuilding of one girl's life during that time period.  It's not a deep book but gives you insights on life during the 40's and the societal mores that are placed on women who are not married.  I found it to be a very light read but enjoyable none the less and I am glad I read it.

MARCH I am listing two books this month as I liked them both equally and they are very different from each other.  Highly recommend.

Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain - This is my first Chamberlain book but will not be my last. heartheartheartheart

I fell in love with Graham, the father who had MS.  This book had great characters and their lives were so interwoven with each other thru the past and the present.  It touches on a lot of subjects and really makes you think what you would do in those circumstances.  Lots of life lessons in this book....how to handle things thru music and laughter and most of all love.

Mercury Striking (Scorpius Syndrome, Bk 1) by Rebecca Zanettie heartheartheartheart

This is a post-apocalyptic romantic suspense novel.  I am not a post-apocalyptic reader but must say after reading this I can't wait for the next book in this series to come out and have changed my opinion on "end-of'the-world" books.  The characters are hot yet funny and the whole premise of the book was very believeable.  Danger lurked around every corner and kept me riveted to my seat.  I couldn't put the book down.  Now again, remember I have not read this type of book before so my my opinion is based on no comparisons of other books of this nature.  All I can say is I want a Jax in my life.  LOL!!!  This one truly gave me a reprieve from the daily grind.

I know I should list books that are not just 4 hearts but I just can't get past sharing the books I have really enjoyed.  I have read quite a few that I would not rate that high.











**A list of all the books I have read in 2016 can be found on my profile page, if interested.

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Not having a good month so far.  Do hope it changes.  Popping in to comment on Pam's book of the month: If You Lived Here I'd Know Your Name.  Maybe back in 2008 a former PBS member who lived in Alaska sent me this book as a gift.  I loved it!  My husband enjoyed it.  It is still on my ever-shrinking keeper shelf.

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January - What She Knew by Gilly McMillian.  This book was fantastic and I stayed up late at night finishing it!  A young boy goes missing and many people think the mother was responsbile (or irresponsible) to take her eyes off of him.  You really don't know till the very end who abducted the boy.  I look forward to more from this author.  This one is a 5-star *****

February -

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I was a "lurker" last year and got lots of good tips for books.  

January - Desire Lines by Christina Baker Kline  I would give this book 4 ****  

February - The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.  This is the first book that I have read by this author.  I loved the characters.  I would give it 4****

March - Leaving Time by Jodi Piccoult  I give this a 5*****   I haven't enjoyed many of her recent books but I loved this one.  I loved the interaction between the characters

April - The Girls of August by Anne Rivers Siddons  I gave this one 5*****  I liked the way these women supported and helped each other through difficult times.

May - Breaking the Silence by Diane Chamberlain  5*****  Good story with a somewhat suprising ending.  Interesting characters.  Diane Chamberlain has such a way of twisting her stories and intertwining the characters from the past and present.  

June - The Bookstore by Deborah Meyler.  4****  This book shows what it means to take care of each other whethAer we are blood related or not.  The characters in this bookstore and the friends in this book take care of each other is a sweet unassuming way.  

July - The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls 5*****.   The story of two sisters and how they took care of each other was heartwarming.

August - Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil
Author: Deborah RodriguezKristin Ohlson

this was a slow reading month for me.  Nothing was exceptional.  This  book was interesting although a bit long and drawn out.  A beautician who went to Afghamistan to help train women to become more independent.  

September   The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant  5 *****

October -  This is Where I Leave You by  Jonathan Trooper  4 ****

November - Missing You by Harlan Coben 4****

December   between working a retail job and the holidays I didn't get much reading done.  I did read Sisters one two and three by Nancy Star.  It was a feeble thruBookbub.and it was pretty good  


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January  Think Of A Number by John Verdon a mystery for a book club. I liked it very much because iit was well written, thoought provoking and difficult to figure out, I rate it ****

Close second is The Shadow Of The Wind, although I did't like it as much as most other people seem to. Also 4 *

February  Fall Of Giants by Ken Follett, I loved it, well worth the 987 pages. 5 stars

March  After You by JoJo Moyes  4 stars  I liked it a lot, but I htink mostly because I loved the first book (Me Before You)

April  not o good month for books, but I liked The ExPats by Chris Pavone a lot. Hope I have a better month in May

May  The Hiouse At Riverton by Kate Morton was the best of the 5 I read this month. I'm reading a lot of old books on my shelves

June  all the books I read this month were just ok, but I guess Diane Chamberlain's Before The Storm was the best.

JULY  Nothing great this monthm but I guess Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier a good read about fossills and how religion was against them, would not believe they were real.

August Life Afteer Life by Kate Atkinson, a wonderful book. It took me a while to understand what the author was trying to dom had to reread the first pages a few times.

September Work Song by Ivan Doig, a sort of sequel to The Whiistling Season, which was one of my favorite books. Unfortunately this one is not nearly as good, but stil the best I've read this month.

October  Before The Fall by Noah Hawley One of the best I've read this year. A ssmall planecrashes and onlly a man and a lttle boy survuve. He gets blamed for it in the press.

November  The Blackhouse by Peter May  This was for a book club. I usually give a book only 50 pages beofre deciding if I'll finish it. At the 50 page mark I would have put it down had it not been for the book club. I ended up loving it, so I guess  it goes to show you might just enjoy them. I ordered the second in the trilogy, not started it yet, but soon.

December  The Mountain Stopry by Lori Lansens  I loved all her books that I've read. This is teh best of the month, and I liked it a lot but the ending just wrapped things upa bit too much. Bawically 4 peopole get lost on a mountain and 3 survive. I   love survival stories

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January:  Silent in the Grave(Lady Julia Grey, book 1)  by Deanna Raybourne. I read all her Lady Julia Grey books this month and liked them. I emailed the author and unfortunatley there are no plans to continue the series. ;(. I gave this four stars.

Date Posted: 3/9/2016 2:53 PM ET
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Thanks to all of you who have posted and updated. I love the suggestions.

Date Posted: 3/9/2016 4:32 PM ET
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just started The Secret of Lost Things by Sheridan Hay. I saw some comment about this book and wanted to read it. Just barely started a few pages in but I like the author's voice already. I think I am going to like this.

Date Posted: 3/18/2016 9:51 AM ET
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The Secret of Lost Things by Sheridan Hay

enjoyable read. It's not exactly like a Dickens but similar I think. engrossing story. While I was reading this I thought about it during the day and wanted to get back to find out what was going to happen.

Date Posted: 3/24/2016 11:05 PM ET
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January ~ nothing worth recommending

February Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, a Life Reclaimed: A Memoir of the Cleveland Kidnapping by Michelle Knight ~ Very interesting and intriguing read about a very sad and disheartening experience.  Michelle Knight is a true superhero!

March ~ Love & Other Unknown Variables by Shannon Alexander ~ (My Review) Well done Ms. Alexander! A teenage love story reminiscent of The Fault in Our Stars. But...I didn't like The Fault in Our Stars but absolutely adored Unknown Variables. I was drawn to this book because of the math connotations but quickly fell in love with ALL the characters in the book. From the nerdy math group to the cranky old lady to the friendship between two young girls, not to mention the love story. You couldn't help but feel touched by each character and appreciate the clumsiness of teenage love. Would give it more than 5 stars if I could (and I'm pretty picky with my books.) RECOMMEND!

Books I Read in 2016: http://www.paperbackswap.com/Books-Read-2016/list/20901/ 

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I had a great reading and listening month!  I posted the best of the best on my page one list, but there were others that were very good.  I can't recommend highly enough Lesley Kagen books, print or audio, esp. audio, if you like slice-of-life mysteries told through a child's eyes.

Date Posted: 5/1/2016 9:41 AM ET
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The Engagement by Georges Simenon. short book but powerful story. This is the first of Simenon's books I have read that was not a Maigret detective story. In this book the wrong man is suspected of a crime but the extenuating circumstances create much ambiguity.

Date Posted: 5/1/2016 9:44 AM ET
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I think this thread is going to get too long to follow. Can you start a new thread at the beginning of each month. might be more manageable that way.