Books to Ring in the New Year

Bestseller by Christopher Wright

 My friend, Amber, gave me this book after hearing me talk about true crime daily at lunch. The main character is a famous book editor. She leaves her daughter with a trusted friend and heads to a cabin in Michigan in the middle of nowhere to finish reading the books that authors and publishers have sent her to review. Right away she’s experiencing some odd things around the cabin. Before she knows it, she’s in the middle of a horror novel. Very entertaining and will have you yelling at the character when she’s being like the stupid blonde in a horror movie!!

 Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt

Holling Hoodhood (yes, that’s quite a name) is a 7th grader in the Vietnam war era who has to spend every Wednesday afternoon with his teacher because he doesn’t attend religion classes like the rest of his class. She seems to dislike him but eventually, they create a wonderful relationship. Matthew had to read this for school, and I thought it sounded cute. It was a great read! I think I read it in a few hours too so if you’re looking for a quick read, this is a good one.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

 This book. My heart. So good. If you’re like me, you’ve read a lot of novels set during the WWII era. Sometimes I won’t read a book simply because it’s set during this time and I’ve read so many, but this is worth the read. It centers on Lale who has been sent to the concentration camp and somehow lands the job of tattooing numbers on the prisoners’ arms. He falls in love, he almost dies, he makes friends. It will get you with all of the feels!!

 Shamed by Linda Castillo

I love this author and her books that are set in Ohio and focus on murders that involve the Amish. This one was just as good as I had hoped! A little Amish girl with special needs has been kidnapped and Chief Burkholder and her crew are doing everything they can to find her; hopefully, they’ll find her alive. They uncover all sorts of secrets that the Amish community was trying to hide. So good!

Chase Darkness With Me by Billy Jensen

I heard about Jensen through my favorite podcast, My Favorite Murder.  Billy is a true-crime reporter and writer. This was his memoir about how he became a true-crime reporter and author. If you aren’t into Billy and/or true crime, this probably isn’t your cup of tea. I enjoyed learning more about Billy for sure!

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

 You will think you know what’s happening in this novel and you will be wrong. There are so many twists and turns you’ll get whiplash!! It’s a love story that is not as it seems. Definitely worth a read!

The Cactus by Sarah Haywood

 I almost stopped reading this one because it felt too cliché or boring, but I was intrigued by the main character, so I kept going. I really enjoyed it. Susan is an uptight, super type-A kind of gal who gets pregnant. That was not in her plans at all, thank you very much. She decides to keep the baby and be a single mom. During her pregnancy, she has to deal with her semi-estranged mess of a brother. But her brother brings a yummy friend. This was very different than most books I read and I enjoyed it!

Vox by Kristina Dalcher

 If you are like me and super worried about our country and our future right now, this novel will seem scarier than it intends to be. It completely freaked me out because I could imagine this happening to us women in our country. Women are no longer allowed to speak whenever they wish. They have to wear a bracelet that counts the number of words they speak; when they reach the limit, they are physically punished if they go over. If you enjoyed Handmaid’s Tale, you will enjoy this one. But be warned! It’s upsetting because it seems realistic in this era of the super orange Cheeto.

The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer

 Again, a different type of book that I wasn’t sure I was going to like but definitely did. Greer is a young, ambitious woman at the center of this novel. She is like any new adult — confused, overwhelmed and trying to find out her purpose in life. She is mentored by a woman Greer has adored for years, Faith Frank, who turns out to be not as great as she imagined. It’s a book about coming of age and finding your path in life. Very good!

 The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

 Four high-powered, competitive executives and their boss are sent an invitation for an escape room event. None of them want to go, but they’re certain it will affect their bonuses, so they all go. Little did they know that the escape room is the elevator that they will be stuck in for the foreseeable future. It keeps you on the edge of your seat while you try to figure out who put them in this mess, why they did and how it will end.

Over the Top by Jonathan Van Ness

 If you love JVN like I do, read this straightaway. If you don’t like him, don’t read it. And also, I ask, why don’t you love him like I do?? He’s the queen!!! If you don’t know who he is, go watch Queer Eye, listen to his podcast and then come back. This book will make you love him even more!

The Good Nurse by Charles Graeber

 Being a murderino, I was surprised that I had never heard of the good nurse, Charlie Cullen. He is accused of purposely killing at least 400 people throughout his nursing career. Isn’t that crazy??? He kept getting jobs and doing it over and over again without getting caught. This book is nuts! If you listened to the Dr. Death podcast and liked it, you will enjoy this book too. It’s very similar!

The Cellar by Natasha Preston

 This book felt familiar yet was still good enough to keep my attention. Summer is captured by a man on her way home from hanging with her boyfriend and friends. She is taken to the cellar where she meets her new roommates — all named after flowers which now she will be too. How on earth will she get out of the cellar and escape this madman?

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

 I believe one of my students recommended this book and I liked it quite a bit. Again, it felt a little similar to Hunger Games and Divergent but was still worth the read. Once you reach a certain age, you can be selected for “the testing”. No one knows really what will happen to you, only that you’ll have the chance to attend university. The main character, Malencia, is overjoyed when she is chosen but that quickly turns to dread when she finds out exactly what she has to do to survive.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

One of my students recommended this one as well. That’s the only reason why I kept reading it! I couldn’t bear to tell B that I didn’t finish it because I didn’t like it. It just wasn’t my cup of tea. Again, it’s another dystopian society book where you have no secret thoughts at all. When a boy becomes 13, he becomes a man in their community. Todd, the main character, can’t wait to be a man. But he is forced to leave with his dog right before he turns 13 and finds out horrible things about his community.

 Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

 One of my favorite things about teaching is all of the recommendations you get from students once they know you love to read. This was an excellent choice from some of my girls. Cupid Day is one of the biggest days of the year at Samantha’s high school and she can’t wait to see what unfolds. Little does she know that she will have to relive this day over and over again until she gets it right.

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

A man and a woman meet on a plane. They get a little tipsy and the man admits that he’d like to kill his wife because she is cheating on him. The reconnect after the flight and go forward with their plan. This was good; several twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. I felt like it ended somewhat abruptly but other than that, I recommend it.

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Oh, how I loved this book. This one, Where the Crawdads Sing and Fountains of Silence were my absolute favorites this year. Rill Foss is the oldest of five children who live on a boat in Mississippi in 1939. One night, her dad has to rush her pregnant mom to the hospital and the five other children are taken by child protective services. Fast forward to the present day where Avery Stafford is a federal prosecutor who is visiting her father who has become very ill. Her path collides with Rill’s and all of the secrets come out. It’s sooooo good!!!

Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner

Two sisters are trying to find their own path in the world after a tragedy. Meh. I just thought it was ok. I think it was supposed to invoke an “I am woman, hear me roar” kind of feeling but I couldn’t even remember what it was about without looking it up!

 Cleaning the Gold by Karin Slaughter and Lee Child

 What could be better than two of my favorite authors writing a short story together? Turns out, lots and lots of other books. I was so excited to read this, and it was a total snooze. Bummer. Jack Reacher and Will Trent end up in Washington D.C. literally cleaning gold and trying to solve a mystery.

 Find Her by Lisa Gardner

 Another great read by Gardner! Flora survived a kidnapping and may now be a vigilante that detective D.D. Warren will need to work with in order to stop the kidnapper.

The Rent Collector by Cameron Wright

 This story was so unexpectedly sweet and heartwarming. It will also make you extremely thankful for the roof over your head and the food on your table. It is set in the worst area of Cambodia where a little family is just trying to make ends meet. The rent collector is exactly that; the mean old woman who collects their rent. But Sang Ly discovers the rent collector has a secret past and that she might be able to help her and her little family survive. Very different from what I usually read, and I really enjoyed it.

The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

A very sweet love story between a woman who has Asperger’s and her college sweetheart. Not a page-turner or superstar of a novel, but definitely worth an easy read that will make you happy.

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

The only reason I finished this book is because it was by Moriarty and I typically love her books. This book was so insane and ludicrous, and the ending sucked. Skip it!

When We Believed I Mermaids by Barbara O’Neal

 This one is a little far-fetched by very good and intriguing. Kit is an ER doctor who lost her sister in a terrorist attack 15 years ago. One day she is watching coverage of another tragedy when she sees her sister on TV. She then flies to New Zealand to find her sister. There’s a little love story mixed in too. I will admit I got teary at the end, so I did get sucked in by the characters and the writing. I just thought the whole “faking her own death” thing was a little far-fetched.

A Merciful Death by Kendra Elliot

Mercy Kilpatrick grew up in a small town in a family of preppers. Her parents are steadfast in their belief that they need to be prepared for the end of the world. After an argument, Mercy moves away and doesn’t speak to her family again. Now, as a detective, she has to return to her hometown to help solve a murder. There’s a little love story mixed in for good measure. It was good enough that I would definitely read the next book in the series.

The Fountains of Silence by Rita Sepetys

 I am so glad my friend Kerry alerted me to this book. It was one of my top 3 of the year. In 1957, Daniel is in Spain with his family for the summer while his oil-tycoon dad works on a deal with General Francisco Franco the dictator of Spain. Daniel meets and falls in love with Ana who is their maid at their hotel. You will dive into Daniel’s family secrets, Ana’s family and their secrets and the secrets of Spain during this time. You won’t be able to put it down!!!

 Breaking Creed by Alex Kava

Ryder Creed is attracting national attention as a dog handler who searches for drugs, dead bodies and the like. He is called to work on a case that ends up going all the way to the FBI. The case was supposed to be about a drug ring but ends up being a whole lot more. It was an easy read and very suspenseful. I enjoyed it enough to read another in the series.

The Last Widow by Karin Slaughter

By now you know how much I love Slaughter’s books but guess what? I LOVE THIS WOMAN!! My friends Sherri, Amy and I were lucky enough to snag tickets to her talk at our local library. She was as amazing in person as we hoped she’d be! She was snarky (in a good way), hilarious, entertaining and kind. We even got to meet her and have our picture taken with her after. If you love her Will and Sara series, this will not disappoint. It’s intense and definitely a page-turner!!


Now I’m off to read my new and gorgeously illustrated Goblet of Fire!

What have you read lately?




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