Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Your 2017 Book Recommendations

Last year (doesn't that make it sound like a really long time ago?), I asked you to help me pick two books to read in the first half of this year. Many of you were kind enough to oblige me. Included on that same list, along with other books I wanted to get to this year, I mentioned I would be reading one book of my husband's choosing and another my daughter selected. Well, my daughter was in the bath when I remembered to ask her last night and not in a position to pick a book; so I'll have to catch her at another time. She did say she'd rather pick one of her own books for me to read instead of one of mine--also adding that we have to read it together. I am okay with that.

My husband had a few weeks to think on it, and finally revealed his choice to me earlier this week. He is going to make sure I take in some science fiction this year:


 Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch #1) by An Leckie
Goodreads Summary: 
On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest. Once, she was the Justice of Toren - a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy. Now, an act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with one fragile human body, unanswered questions, and a burning desire for vengeance.
I am really looking forward to reading it!


Thank you to all of you who recommended books for me to read this year by entering my poll last month. Ya'll, I am so EXCITED! Some of these were already on my to read list and after looking up each of them, they all are there now. One, A Man Called Ove, I read the year before last--it was one of my favorite reads of the year. My goal is to read at least two of these in the first half of the year. I have a feeling I may get to more than just those two though. They all sound so good!



The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell
Goodreads Summary: 
Imagine that you live on a picturesque communal garden square, an oasis in urban London where your children run free, in and out of other people’s houses. You’ve known your neighbors for years and you trust them. Implicitly. You think your children are safe. But are they really? 
On a midsummer night, as a festive neighborhood party is taking place, preteen Pip discovers her thirteen-year-old sister Grace lying unconscious and bloody in a hidden corner of a lush rose garden. What really happened to her? And who is responsible?  
Dark secrets, a devastating mystery, and the games both children and adults play all swirl together in this gripping novel, packed with utterly believable characters and page-turning suspense.


Send in the Clowns (The Country Club Murders #4) by Julie Mulhern
Goodreads Summary: 
Haunted houses are scary enough without knife-wielding clowns. Especially murderous knife-wielding clowns. So thinks Ellison Russell, single mother, artist, and reluctant sleuth. Now death wears a red nose and Ellison is up to the blood-stained collar of her new trench coat in costumes, caffeine, and possible killers. Who stabbed Brooks Harney? And why? Money? Jealousy? Drugs?

With Mother meddling, her father furious, and her date dragged downtown for questioning, turns out Ellison's only confidante is Mr. Coffee.


The Go-Between by LP Hartley
Goodreads Summary: 
"The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there."

Summering with a fellow schoolboy on a great English estate, Leo, the hero of L. P. Hartley's finest novel, encounters a world of unimagined luxury. But when his friend's beautiful older sister enlists him as the unwitting messenger in her illicit love affair, the aftershocks will be felt for years. The inspiration for the brilliant Joseph Losey/Harold Pinter film starring Julie Christie and Alan Bates,
The Go-Between is a masterpiece—a richly layered, spellbinding story about past and present, naiveté and knowledge, and the mysteries of the human heart. This volume includes, for the first time ever in North America, Hartley's own introduction to the novel.


Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1) by Laini Taylor
Goodreads Summary:
Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands", she speaks many languages - not all of them human - and her bright blue hair
actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?


Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

Goodreads Summary: 
Eilis Lacey has come of age in small-town Ireland in the hard years following World War Two. When an Irish priest from Brooklyn offers to sponsor Eilis in America -- to live and work in a Brooklyn neighborhood "just like Ireland" -- she decides she must go, leaving her fragile mother and her charismatic sister behind. 
Eilis finds work in a department store on Fulton Street, and when she least expects it, finds love. Tony, who loves the Dodgers and his big Italian family, slowly wins her over with patient charm. But just as Eilis begins to fall in love with Tony, devastating news from Ireland threatens the promise of her future.


The Ghosts of Belfast (Jack Lennon #1) by Stuart Neville
Goodreads Summary: 
Fegan has been a “hard man,” an IRA killer in northern Ireland. Now that peace has come, he is being haunted day and night by twelve ghosts: a mother and infant, a schoolboy, a butcher, an RUC constable, and seven other of his innocent victims. In order to appease them, he’s going to have to kill the men who gave him orders.

As he’s working his way down the list he encounters a woman who may offer him redemption; she has borne a child to an RUC officer and is an outsider too. Now he has given Fate—and his quarry—a hostage. Is this Fegan’s ultimate mistake?

Stuart Neville is a partner in a multimedia design business based in Armagh, northern Ireland. This novel, also known as The Twelve in the UK and Ireland, is the first in a series.


A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Goodreads Summary: 
A grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He's a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn't walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove's mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents' association to their very foundations.


The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth #1) by N.K. Jemisin
Goodreads Summary: 
THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS... FOR THE LAST TIME. A season of endings has begun. It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world's sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun.

It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter.

It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester.

This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy.


Shades of Milk and Honey (Glamourist Histories #1) by Mary Robinette Kowal
Goodreads Summary:
Shades of Milk and Honey is exactly what we could expect from Jane Austen if she had been a fantasy writer: Pride and Prejudice meets Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. It is an intimate portrait of a woman, Jane, and her quest for love in a world where the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality.

Jane and her sister Melody vie for the attentions of eligible men, and while Jane’s skill with glamour is remarkable, it is her sister who is fair of face. When Jane realizes that one of Melody’s suitors is set on taking advantage of her sister for the sake of her dowry, she pushes her skills to the limit of what her body can withstand in order to set things right—and, in the process, accidentally wanders into a love story of her own.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
Goodreads Summary: 
At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.


Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
Goodreads Summary: 
New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. The Twins were playing their debut season, ice-cold root beers were at the ready at Halderson’s Drug Store soda counter, and Hot Stuff comic books were a mainstay on every barbershop magazine rack. It was a time of innocence and hope for a country with a new, young president. But for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum it was a summer in which death assumed many forms.

When tragedy unexpectedly comes to call on his family, which includes his Methodist minister father, his passionate, artistic mother, Juilliard-bound older sister, and wise-beyond-his years kid brother, Frank finds himself thrust into an adult world full of secrets, lies, adultery, and betrayal.

On the surface,
Ordinary Grace is the story of the murder of a beautiful young woman, a beloved daughter and sister. At heart, it’s the story of what that tragedy does to a boy, his family, and ultimately the fabric of the small town in which he lives. Told from Frank’s perspective forty years after that fateful summer, it is a moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God.


Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Goodreads Summary: 
Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.


Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova
Goodreads Summary:

Joe O’Brien is a forty-four-year-old police officer from the Irish Catholic neighborhood of Charlestown, Massachusetts. A devoted husband, proud father of four children in their twenties, and respected officer, Joe begins experiencing bouts of disorganized thinking, uncharacteristic temper outbursts, and strange, involuntary movements. He initially attributes these episodes to the stress of his job, but as these symptoms worsen, he agrees to see a neurologist and is handed a diagnosis that will change his and his family’s lives forever: Huntington’s Disease. 
Huntington’s is a lethal neurodegenerative disease with no treatment and no cure. Each of Joe’s four children has a 50 percent chance of inheriting their father’s disease, and a simple blood test can reveal their genetic fate. While watching her potential future in her father’s escalating symptoms, twenty-one-year-old daughter Katie struggles with the questions this test imposes on her young adult life. Does she want to know? What if she’s gene positive? Can she live with the constant anxiety of not knowing? 
As Joe’s symptoms worsen and he’s eventually stripped of his badge and more, Joe struggles to maintain hope and a sense of purpose, while Katie and her siblings must find the courage to either live a life “at risk” or learn their fate.


Any book by Simone St. James
(counted as 1, but I'm including all her titles here)
The Haunting of Maddy Clare
An Inquiry Into Love and Death
Silence for the Dead
The Other Side of Midnight
Lost Among the Living
Goodreads Summary of The Haunting of Maddy Clare (but all the books sound so good!): 
Sarah Piper's lonely, threadbare existence changes when her temporary agency sends her to assist a ghost hunter. Alistair Gellis-rich, handsome, scarred by World War I, and obsessed with ghosts- has been summoned to investigate the spirit of nineteen-year-old maid Maddy Clare, who is haunting the barn where she committed suicide. Since Maddy hated men in life, it is Sarah's task to confront her in death. Soon Sarah is caught up in a desperate struggle. For Maddy's ghost is real, she's angry, and she has powers that defy all reason. Can Sarah and Alistair's assistant, the rough, unsettling Matthew Ryder, discover who Maddy was, where she came from, and what is driving her desire for vengeance-before she destroys them all?


A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay
Goodreads Summary: 
Art restorer Emily Price has never encountered anything she can’t fix—until she meets Ben, an Italian chef, who seems just right. But when Emily follows Ben home to Italy, she learns that his family is another matter . . .

See what I mean? They all sound too good not to read.

Now for the winners! I did the ol' title/author in the hat drawing because I was feeling old-fashioned. Two of my coworkers each drew separate slips of paper. The winners are:

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

and 

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal

I am super excited about reading both of these (and all the others too!) Thank you again to everyone who took time to offer their recommendations!

Have you read any of these? What did you think?


© 2017, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

34 comments:

  1. It is kind of cool to have others occasionally help in choosing books. It opens up reading opportunities that one might otherwise not know about. I personally find it very fruitful.

    This looks like a very interesting group of books.


    Happy reading in 2017.

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    1. Brian - Oh definitely! I like the variety in the selections people recommended too. Some of the authors/books are unfamiliar to me, but fortunately all of the books appeal to me.

      I hope you have a great 2017 in books too.

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  2. I keep hearing good things about A Man Called Ove! I really, really hope my library gets it (since most of my books are from the library).

    The Bear and the Nightingale and Shades of Milk and Honey sound really good too! Can't wait to see your reviews of them!

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    1. Eustacia - I am hoping my library has most of these. I already know it doesn't have Shades of Milk and Honey. :-( I'm going to probably get that one used.I hope your library does get in a copy of A Man Called Ove! I think you might like that one.

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  3. That is a lot of great recommendations. I can't even remember what I recommended now. lol Shades of Milk and Honey is really good. I keep meaning to read Uprooted but hasn't happened yet. (And, to be honest, I have tried it on audio and in paperback and just couldn't seem to get into it either time. I will try again!)

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    1. Kelly - I hope you are able to get into Uprooted when you try again. I am enjoying it so far. I need to get my hands on a copy of Shades of Milk and Honey. That was one I was not too familiar with before, but it sure sounds good!

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  4. I almost DNF A Man Called Ove and so glad I didn't, what a gem and memorable characters. Definitely a winner. I am a Lisa Genova fan but Inside the O'brians was my least favourite, if you haven't read her before definitely read Still Alice or Left Neglected. I wasn't a fan of Ordinary Grace but for the most part my book club enjoyed it. Enjoy your choices.

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    1. Marce - A Man Called Ove was one of my favorites the year I read it. I have read a couple of Lisa Genova books (Love Anthony and Still Alice) and liked them--hopefully I will like Inside the O'Brien's too. Ordinary Grace will be my first by Krueger. Thanks for your input, Marce!

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  5. I loved Brooklyn, Ordinary Grace, and A Man Called Ove. I think you've put together a great list.

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    1. Kathy - Thank you! You all have great taste. :-) I'm looking forward to reading them.

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  6. The Ghost of Belfast is excellent, but about a brutal time during the Troubles. I also really liked The Fifth Season and Uprooted. I tried Ancillary Justice because a blogger I really respect loved it, but I couldn't get involved. She also recommended The Traitor Baru Cormorant, and I loved it. I'm interested in The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell--I have a review scheduled for Jewell's I Found You, which I liked a lot. I've started The Bear and the Nightingale, but wasn't enthralled and will try again later.

    Another favorite from this past year is The Girl in the Garden by Melanie Wallace. Confusing--because the title is so similar to Jewel's book.

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    1. Jenclair - I've heard Ancillary Justice takes a while to get into, so I'm hoping if I stick to it, it will work out well for me. My husband hasn't actually read it himself, but it's on his wish list. I'm really looking forward to reading The Ghost of Belfast--it sounds very good. And The Fifth Season is one I recently became really interested in. I just started Uprooted last night and am enjoying it so far.

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  7. Brooklyn by Colm Toibin sounds fantastic, and I think it was the basis for the movie of the same name. I really loved the movie, so if you like movies, I highly recommend that!

    Have a great 2017 in reading.

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    1. Serena - I definitely want to see the movie Brooklyn. I've heard it is really good. Of course, I hope to read the book first. ;-) I hope you have a great 2017 in reading as well!

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  8. You got some really good recommendations! I've read both of your "winners" and really liked each of them. Especially Uprooted. Enjoy! (And if you have time, read one of the Simone St. James books, too. She's one of my all-time favorite authors.)

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    1. Lark - Thank you! I am glad to hear you enjoyed both of the winning picks. :-) I'm not too familiar with Simone St. James's work, but they all sound like books I would really enjoy. I am looking forward to giving her work a try!

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  9. I loved Uprooted. I think it is a book that I will read again since I enjoyed it so much. I am looking forward to seeing your thoughts about it.

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    1. Carole - I'm reading Uprooted now and so far so good. :-)

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  10. I can see why you had to draw names! It would have been impossible to choose any other way. I'm really excited to see what you'll be reading - especially Shades of Milk and Honey because I've really been wanting to read it. Uprooted is on my TBR as well so I'll be looking for both reviews!

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    1. Katherine - I've been hearing great things about Shades of Milk and Honey. And having just finished a Jane Austen novel, the time period is especially appealing to me right now. :-)

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  11. I would want to read them all as well, Wendy! A couple of the authors look familiar, and I've read a couple of the Country Club Series by Julhern.

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    1. LuAnn - I haven't yet read any of the Country Club series books yet, but I do have the first one. This will be a good excuse to catch up with the series. :-)

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  12. What a great list of books!! I have read ORDINARY GRACE and INSIDE THE O'BRIEN'S. Both are quite good, but ORDINARY GRACE is stellar. I have a couple of the others in my stacks and want especially to read THE GIRLS IN THE GARDEN and THE HAUNTING OF MADDY CLARE. Good luck and let's have such a good reading year in 2017!!

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    1. Kay - Thank you! I think so too! I'm really excited about reading all the recommendations. They all sound so good. I am glad to hear you enjoyed Ordinary Grace and Inside the O'Briens. I hope you have a great year in books as well!

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  13. Yay for good books! Ive read a couple, have most of the others on my wishlist and recommended one to you, listed above. So many good titles! I know you'll enjoy them.

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    1. Rita - All the books sound so good. I'm looking forward to reading them. :-)

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  14. I enjoyed The Girls in the Garden last year. I would love to get to A Man Called Ove this year. Happy reading!

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    1. Grace - The Girls in the Garden sounds really good. I hope you get a chance to read A Man Called Ove. It's very good!

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  15. I read The Girls In the Garden last summer and thought it was pretty good so I hope you check that one out! So many good books to look forward to!

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    1. Iliana - I definitely plan to! I've been wanting to read The Girls In the Garden.

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  16. Wow! Every single book that you have listed I have at least heard something good about- you have lots of great reading ahead of you if you read all of these! I haven't had the chance to read any myself but I do have many of these on my TBR list so I will be looking forward to your thoughts ;)

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    1. Samantha - Don't they all sound wonderful? I'm really looking forward to reading all of them.

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  17. I'm so glad to read A Man Called Ove after reading all the rave reviews by fellow bloggers. That's wonderful about bookbloggers as they recommend/introduce books which we've missed or not heard of. I'm glad Uprooted is on your list and I can't wait to hear what you'll think of it. :)

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    1. Melody - Yes! Many of the books I read are a result of hearing about them on other people's blogs.

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