Can you guys believe we are in the last few days of 2016? It seems like the older I get the quicker the years go by. I feel like it was just 2015 a moment ago. Today is my last day of the work week so tomorrow I’ll be spending my down time cleaning up my office and starting a new book. My all-time favorite hobby is reading. I am always reading something because it helps me to relax and wind down before bed. When I have a stressful day at work, I love how easy it is to pick up a book and transport your mind to another place. I’ve read quite a few books this year; some I loved and some I didn’t love. For today’s post I’ll be sharing with you all those titles I read along with my reviews of which ones were great and which ones were not so great. What are your favorite books? What are you looking forward to reading in 2017? Let me know in the comments! Enjoy 🙂
1. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
This novel is by Blake Crouch, the author of the Wayward Pines series. The story follows a man named Jason who hears the words “Are you happy with your life?” before being knocked unconscious. He wakes up strapped to a gurney and surrounded by strangers. He has no idea where he is and no recollection of how he got there. The life he wakes up to is not the life he remembers. His wife is not his wife and his son was never born. The story unfolds as Jason tries desperately to figure out what is happening to him and how to get back to the life he remembers. The Wayward Pines books kept me interested every step of the way and this book is even better. I read it every day and had a hard time putting it down at night. The plot never dulls and it will make you question what your own life would be like if you had taken a different path or made different decisions.
2. You Are One Of Them by Elliot Holt
The subtitle of this book is “A Novel About Secrets, Betrayal, and the Friend Who Got Away”. This book falls into the mystery genre but is a slower read than I expected. I thoroughly enjoyed it but the plot wasn’t as much of a page turner as I anticipated. Even though it takes a while to get going, I really enjoyed this book. Any woman who has experienced the growing pains of adolescence, the loss of friends, and the confusion of adulthood will surely enjoy this novel. At times I appreciated the somewhat slower pace of this book because it allowed me to reflect on my own experiences as a child, teenager, and woman.
3. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
This book was a beautiful read and kept me thinking for weeks after I put it down. The story follows a trio of friends at a boarding school set in the English countryside. The school has a myriad of strange rules and the teachers are constantly reminding the students of how special they are. As the three children grow into adulthood they go their separate ways but eventually reenter each other lives. Kathy begins to look back on her life and slowly starts to understand just how special they all really were and how that gift will shape the rest of their lives. The prose is reminiscent of The Virgin Suicides and the plot has a bit of sci-fi elements so the scope of this novel is grand. It even has a philosophical component as it calls you to question the ethics of science. Overall, it is written beautifully and almost feels like a dream. This book was made into a move in 2014 and it was every bit as beautiful as the novel.
4. The Man From Primrose Lane by James Rennner
I’ve read this book twice now and it hands down one of my favorites. It is a thriller, a detective story, with sci-fi and romance, plus a bit of near-future dystopia mixed in. The story is about an elderly recluse in Ohio who always wore mittens, even in July. He had no friends and no family, and was known only as the Man from Primrose Lane. Suddenly, on a summer day, someone murdered him. Fast-forward four years. David Neff, the bestselling author of a true-crime book about an Ohio serial killer, is broken by his wife’s inexplicable suicide. When an unexpected visit from an old friend introduces him to the strange mystery of “the man with a thousand mittens,” David decides to investigate. But the closer he gets to uncovering the man’s true identity, the more he begins to understand the reality-altering power of his own obsessions―and how they may be connected to the deaths of the old hermit and David’s beloved wife. I can’t say enough great things about this book. Just go read it.
5. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
This novel is very reminiscent of Agatha Christie. It is a New York Times Bestseller and has glowing reviews. For me, it was just “okay”. I will say it is a page turner in the sense that the plot was entertaining and kept me going. I read this book while on my honeymoon and it is a good “beach read”. It’s not a very intellectual read however. If you are looking for a crime thriller that is a light and quick read then this is a great option.
6. The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
Eyeroll. I really disliked this book. Somehow it managed to land itself on the New York Times Bestseller list but I think it’s best left on the shelf. It has several twists but they were all seen from a mile away. I found myself reading it and thinking “I bet ____ is behind this” and I was right. It starts of well and I thought it would be intriguing. The plot is quick and doesn’t slow down but everything ends up being very predictable. This book has a lot of great reviews but it just didn’t do it for me.
7. The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins
Another NYTimes Bestseller. So many people loved this book but it’s another one I saw coming from a mile away. I was intensely drawn in until about half way through when I had a strong hunch for “who did it”. My hunch was right so I didn’t feel any satisfaction from the story. I wanted to be surprised but I wasn’t. Though not quite as good, Paula Hawkins writing reminds me of Gillian Flynn, the author of Gone Girl. In my opinion, Gone Girl is on a level of it’s own while The Girl on the Train sits with The Woman in Cabin 10 and The Couple Next Door. This book is entertaining and another easy read. Just don’t be surprised if you’re not surprised by the plot twist.
8. Abandon by Blake Crouch
I kind of loved this book. On Christmas Day in 1893, every man, woman, and child in a remote gold-mining town disappeared, belongings forsaken, meals left to freeze in vacant cabins—and not a single bone was ever found. One hundred sixteen years later, two back-country guides are hired by a history professor and his journalist daughter to lead them to the abandoned mining town so they can learn what happened. Recently, a similar party had also attempted to explore the town and was never heard from again. Now the area is believed to be haunted. This crew is about to discover, twenty miles from civilization with a blizzard bearing down, that they are not alone, and the past is very much alive. Having read most of Blake Crouch’s novels, I went into this book with expectations. Those expectations were shattered, but in the best way. I don’t want to give too much away but this book surprised me all the way to the end. I thought I knew where the story would go but I was completely and happily surprised that this was a suspenseful thriller based on greed.
9. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
This is an absolutely captivating novel. The story follows a young man named Daniel who is mourning the loss of his mother when he finds comfort in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind by an author named Julian Carax. When Daniel sets out to find the author’s other books, he discovers that someone has been destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. Daniel may actually have the last Carax book in existence. Daniel’s search to find the books begins innocently but leads to one of the city’s darkest secrets. This book is beautifully written and is aptly described as “a love letter to literature, intended for readers as passionate about storytelling as its young hero.” Some may view the ending as a bit predictable but this book has so many great elements that are not to be overshadowed.
10. Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
Another brilliant sci-fi story that left me near speechless and wanting more. The interview-transcript format of the book was a bit of an adjustment for me but the story was enough to draw me in. I do wish there was more character development but it wasn’t really needed for the story. I didn’t want this book to be over so I’m happy to know it is the first in a series. For a debut novel, this is really good and I hope it only gets better as the series is released. This novel is very entertaining if you love a good sci-fi read that also delves into linguistics and how human fallibility affects science. The book has also been picked up for a movie deal, with the screenplay being written by David Koepp (Jurassic Park, Mission Impossible).
For 2017, I plan to start the year off reading The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick. What are you looking forward to reading next year? If you have any suggestions for great reads, let me know in the comments! I’m always looking for something new.