Top Six Books I’ve Read This Year

Due to a transfer in career from New Mexico to Utah, I decided to take a brief hiatus from writing. Having completed a stand-alone thriller and nearing the end of the Detective Temeke series, there’s no better escape than reading books. Here are six of my favorites this year written by brilliant, talented writers.

AAA Oliver

Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press, (Simon and Schuster) Pages: 273. Rating 4.3. Reviews 315. Genre: Family Life, Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Thriller and Suspense.

Brief Description: Oliver Ryan has the perfect life. Elegant and seductive, he wants for nothing, sharing a lovely home with his steadfast wife, Alice, who illustrates the award-winning children’s books that have brought him wealth and fame. Until one evening, after eating the dinner Alice has carefully prepared, Oliver savagely assaults her and leaves her for dead.

Described as a whydunnit rather than a whodunnit, Unraveling Oliver is an intricately woven story of a man who apparently has everything. Or does he? Highly suspenseful and told from the perspectives of the injured parties, it is the tragic story of a fractured mind. Some of the reviews indicate that readers found the alternating points of view hard to get to grips with, but I love this style. If a book doesn’t have that extra layer it can fall flat for me and I end up distracted and looking for food. This story intrigued me and after the last page, the plot was thick enough to stick for at least a week. Highly recommended.

The wife between us

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press. Pages: 342. Rating 4.2. Reviews 1,739. Genre: Women’s Fiction, Psychological, Detective, Suspense.

Brief Description: When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.
You will assume you are reading about a jealous ex-wife.
You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement – a beautiful, younger woman who is about to marry the man they both love.
You will assume you know the anatomy of this tangled love triangle.
Assume nothing.

I found this story intriguing although a little slow to begin with. A twisty plot of love and betrayal written from two points of view, Nellie (the bride) and Vanessa (the disturbed ex). You you get the impression fairly early on that we are not getting the whole story and I had to go back and reread sections to make sure I had it down correctly. It’s well-read territory, twists and turns are a little contrived but around the half-way mark the reveal took me by surprise. The book is described as a clever suspense novel and compared to The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl. I’m not sure it’s quite up there, but it’s well worth the read.

Silent Girls

Publisher: Witness Impulse/Harper Collins. Pages: 411. Rating 4.0. Reviews: 1,406. Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense. Heist. Supernatural. United States.

Brief Description: Frank Rath thought he was done with murder when he turned in his detective’s badge to become a private investigator and raise a daughter alone. Then the police in his remote rural community of Canaan find an ’89 Monte Carlo abandoned by the side of the road, and the beautiful teenage girl who owned the car seems to have disappeared without a trace.

I had heard of Eric Rickstad but not read any of his novels. Needless to say, I was hooked at the first few pages. He has a rhythmic writing style I love, although I could have done with less of the short sentences. They were a little choppy and when more than one character (narrative voice) attempted the same style, it can get confusing. This was another book I thought I had figured out, but nope. The ending, for me, was a serious twist. Not everyone likes cliffhangers, so I hope he comes up with a second book. Recommended.

I let you go

Publisher: Berkley, Penguin Group. Pages: 377. Rating: 4.3. Reviews: 1,275. Genre: Women’s Fiction, Crime, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense. Detective. Psychological.

Brief Description: On a rainy afternoon, a mother’s life is shattered as her son slips from her grip and runs into the street… I Let You Go follows Jenna Gray as she moves to a ramshackle cottage on the remote Welsh coast, trying to escape the memory of the car accident that plays again and again in her mind and desperate to heal from the loss of her child and the rest of her painful past.

The blurb for I Let You Go enticed me to buy it and I was glad I did. The book tells the story of a mother who loses her child in an accident (not a spoiler since this is in the blurb) during those one of those dangerous split seconds of inattention. Its the hit-and-run the reader focuses on and Jenna’s way of coping with this terrible tragedy.  Unputdownable and disturbing, and brought home by brilliant, atmospheric writing. Just too many layers of this particular onion that I enjoyed, a truly emotional journey that made me feel no matter what Jenna did, she was going to pay the price at some point. Highly recommended.

all the light

Publisher: Scribner, Simon and Schuster. Pages: 545. Rating: 4.6. Reviews: 28,078. Genre: Historical Fiction, French, German, Military.

Brief Description: Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

Probably one of my favorite books of all time, All The Light We Cannot See takes you through the lives of Marie-Laure, her father and the gadget-obsessed German orphan Werner, tied together by a dangerous and priceless gem. It’s an intricate masterpiece that draws you in so you can’t fail to become personally connected. With alternating character chapters, the atrocities and the lasting scars on each will very likely create an image of war some of us have never imagined. I think this book will haunt me for some time. Highly recommended.

Beneath a Scarlet Sky

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing. Pages: 526. Rating: 4.8. Reviews: 19,097. Genre: Literary Fiction, Biographical, Women’s Fiction. 

Pino Lella wants nothing to do with the war or the Nazis. He’s a normal Italian teenager—obsessed with music, food, and girls—but his days of innocence are numbered. When his family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape over the Alps, and falls for Anna, a beautiful widow six years his senior.

With phenomenal ratings—4.8—it’s no surprise that this cinematic and literary work was chosen by Pascal Pictures to be made into a movie. Based on a true story and set against the backdrop of Nazi-occupied Milan during World War II, this book carries an intense pace and leaves you feeling like one of the characters and not just the reader. Pino becomes a driver for Major General Leyer, and through his eyes we ‘see’ all the harrowing Nazi atrocities and the allied advances to liberate northern Italy. Full of action and suspense, it will keep you on the edge of your seat. The writing is poetic and impeccable and as quoted within the opening chapters, nothing will ever be the same. Highly recommended.

There’s nothing like reading a book with that extra special magic, the type of book you can’t bear to finish. If you’re searching for a compulsively readable novel, these must-read books, complete with publisher information, ratings, genre and descriptions, are impossible to put down. 

Next, I will be reading a book by Tess Gerritson, Paula Hawkins and K.L. Slater.

 

 

 

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