Saturday, January 13, 2018

Raw, Emotional Sandy Hook Memoir Deeply Touching, Inspiring

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

On December 14, 2012, in a small town in southwestern Connecticut, the unthinkable happened.  Adam Lanza, a 20-year-old man who had just mudered his mother, forced his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School.  He proceeded to shoot and kill twenty first graders and six staff members before committing suicide.  His violent actions left a peaceful town and a stunned nation in horrified shock.  

Among the dead was 6-year-old Emilie Parker, a sweet little girl who loved art and the color pink.  In the wake of the shooting, her grief-stricken parents—Alissa and Robbie—struggled to understand such a senseless act.  Faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they couldn't fathom how God had let such an atrocity happen.  Mostly, they missed and mourned their young daughter, who had been taken from them way too early in a terrifying, tragic way.  

Although Alissa Parker doesn't consider herself a writer, she wanted to share her story.  An Unseen Angel, a raw and heart-wrenching memoir, is the result.  In the book, she talks about the shooting, but she spends most of the pages discussing her long, rocky path to healing and forgiveness.  She doesn't sugarcoat things as she discusses her warring emotions, her bitterness in the wake of her loss, and her constant yearning for the one thing she can't have—more time with Emilie.  I especially love the parts where Parker talks about how learning to forgive Adam Lanza allowed her to not only find true peace but also to more fully feel Emilie's spirit as she moved forward with her life.  This passage has really stuck with me:

I finally came to the conclusion that I would never know [why Adam Lanza did what he did].  I would never fathom what was in his heart.  But God could.  God knew how to hold him accountable.  God knew how to judge him.  That burden was not for me to carry; rather, it was for me to lay down at God's feet.  It was not something I needed to grapple with for the rest of my life.  I didn't have to judge.  I didn't have to figure it out.

As I made this decision, a burden so deep and heavy it had nearly crushed me was physically lifted from me.  My heart burned with a joy so powerful it brought me to tears.  I had learned it was possible to forgive Adam Lanza, and that the first step for me was to choose to simply let go (137).

Told in straightforward, unadorned prose, An Unseen Angel is an emotional and powerful memoir.  It touched me deeply, more so than I imagined it would.  Parker's story made me cry; it made me think; and it made me look at my own struggles with a new perspective.  As sad as the subject matter is, An Unseen Angel focuses not on the shooting at Sandy Hook itself, but on the hope, healing, and grace that have come about because of it.

If you're looking for an inspiring, faith-promoting read, look no further.  Just be sure to have a box of tissues handy because you're definitely going to need them.

(Readalikes:  Hm, I can't think of anything.  Can you?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of An Unseen Angel from the generous folks at Shadow Mountain.  Thank you!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Second Installment Proves Lady Darby Series Just Gets Better As It Goes

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Note:  While this review will not contain spoilers for Mortal Arts, it may inadvertently reveal plot surprises from its predecessor, The Anatomist's Wife.  As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.

Having been the assistant of her anatomist husband while he made a macabre study of death, Lady Kiera Darby has earned an unsavory, though undeserved, reputation.  Now a widow, the 25-year-old painter has gladly retreated from society.  Her sister's country home has become a refuge, in spite of the unfortunate murder that took place there recently.  When Kiera's pregnant sister is encouraged to relocate to Edinburgh to be closer to medical help, Kiera knows she must go, too.  Leery of society gossips, she tries to remain in the background, blending as well as she can into the scenery.

It's not to be.  When a local girl goes missing and Kiera's old art tutor, William Dalmay, becomes a suspect in a possible crime, Kiera is once again drawn into the intrigue.  Paired with Sebastian Gage, an infuriating inquiry agent whose many charms are not lost on the widow, she vows to prove William's innocence.  The more the duo investigates, however, the more it looks like William may, in fact, not be as innocent as he seems.  Kiera refuses to believe he's guilty, but she can't deny that the 40-year-old war veteran has been suffering from a severe case of shell shock.  Could he, in his debilitating illness, have done something terrible?  It's up to Kiera and Sebastian to find out.

While I liked The Anatomist's Wife, the first book in Anna Lee Huber's historical mystery series, I enjoyed this second installment more.  Mortal Arts boasts a more exotic setting, a more complex story, and a more exciting (albeit slow-burning) romantic subplot.  All of these elements work together to make it more engrossing on the whole.  While Mortal Arts has some grim parts, overall it's a clean, entertaining mystery that will appeal to readers who fancy detective novels with colorful historical settings, strong female leads, and fewer gory, graphic details than you find in a typical mystery/suspense novel.  I'm loving this series that just keeps getting better and better.

(Readalikes:  Other books in the Lady Darby series, including The Anatomist's Wife; A Grave Matter; A Study in Death; A Pressing Engagement [novella]; As Death Draws Near; and A Brush With Shadows)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for mild language (no F-bombs), violence, blood/gore, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of Mortal Arts with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

Eclipse-Chasing Mystery/Thriller Tense, Twisty

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

August 1999—Laura knows little about solar eclipses, but when her college friends decide to take a trip to the Cornish coast to witness one, she's all in.  She meets Kit McCall, a passionate, principled eclipse chaser, at a pre-trip planning meeting and falls swiftly in love.  By the time they travel together to Lizard Point, they're an established couple, both eager to experience the upcoming, sure-to-be-brilliant phenomenon.  But, in the chaotic, carnival-like atmosphere on the Point, Laura witnesses something even more life-changing than the eclipse.  She's not exactly sure what she's seeing; she only knows she has to intervene.  Grateful for her aid, 19-year-old Beth Taylor latches on to Laura, even showing up later on her London doorstep.  Leery of their new houseguest, Kit and Laura do what they can to help.  However, when things with Beth take an unsettling turn, they know they have to distance themselves from the increasingly unstable young woman.

March 2015—Now married to Kit and pregnant with twins, Laura still lives in fear.  Although the McCalls have taken great pains to hide their identities—they have new names, no social media profiles, burner phones, no personal photos published on the Internet, etc—Laura remains anxious, terrified of being discovered by Beth.  Kit's desire to go on an eclipse-chasing trip fills her with dread.  When his excursion triggers a brush with the past, Laura is forced to face the truth about what really happened in Cornwall.  With everything—and everyone—she loves at risk, she must find a way to stop her worst nightmare from coming to fruition.  

He Said She Said by English author Erin Kelly is an engrossing thriller that's both timely (more so when I read it back in July) and terrifying.  Complex and twisty, it kept me guessing and on the edge-of-my-seat until the very last page.  Although the novel is sad and depressing, it's also a tense, suspenseful page-turner from which you'll be hard pressed to look away.  If you're a twisty mystery fan, you'll definitely want to check out He Said She Said as well as other books by Erin Kelly.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of books by Sharon Bolton and Jane Casey)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for strong language, violence, sexual content, disturbing subject matter, and depictions of illegal drug use

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of He Said She Said from the generous folks at Minotaur Books (a division of St. Martin's Press/Macmillan).  Thank you!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Swoon-Worthy Trifecta Not Enough to Make Southern Beach Novel Stand Out

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Bonny Blankenship's happiest memories from childhood all center around one place: Watersend, South Carolina.  She loved spending long, languid summers there with her best friend, Lainey.  Known around town as the "Summer Sisters," the girls wiled away the hours swimming, dreaming, and reading at Title Wave, the local bookstore.  Although those idyllic vacations ended abruptly when Lainey's mother disappeared, Bonny still longs for the innocent, bygone days of her youth.  

When Bonny, now an ER doctor in Charleston, makes a critical mistake at work, she's encouraged to take some time off.  Lainey's suggestion of spending one last summer at Watersend seems to be just the ticket. Piper, Bonny's college drop-out daughter, comes along to nanny for Lainey's children while the two old friends (sans spouses) reconnect at the family cottage they've always loved.  As Bonny and Lainey share their individual triumphs and tragedies, they find camaraderie and understanding.  While trying to make sense of both their presents and their shared past, the duo poke into the continuing mystery of Lainey's mother.  With some help from Mimi, the owner of Title Wave, the women search for answers, healing, and the comfort that can only be found within the pages of a good book.  

The Bookshop at Water's End by Patti Callahan Henry combines several of my favorite novel themes: the South, the beach, and books.  That's a trifecta pretty much guaranteed to make me swoon.  In this case, though, it just ... didn't.  Not really.  I had trouble feeling any connection with Bonny or Lainey, both of whom seemed immature and self-absorbed.  While the story felt melodramatic to me, it was compelling enough to keep me reading.  Overall, though, I didn't love it.  In fact, The Bookshop at Water's End was so forgettable to me that I had to read a couple different plot summaries before I could remember enough about the book to write this review.  Bummer, because I wanted to like this one a lot more than I did.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of books by Karen White and Dorothea Benton Frank)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated: 


for language (a few F-bombs plus milder expletives), violence, mild sexual content, and references to illegal drug use

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of The Bookshop at Water's End from the generous folks at Penguin Random House.  Thank you!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman-Ish Historical Romance Enjoyable Overall (With a Giveaway!)

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

For her proper New York family, Kate Donahue's insistence on pursuing a medical degree is confounding.  She's a well-bred woman for heaven's sake, one with plenty of money and a handsome fianceĆ© to manage it for her.  What more does she need?  For 24-year-old Kate, becoming a doctor is about helping people.  Her parents and intended might think her dream frivolous, but she's determined to pursue a career in medicine no matter the cost.  

When Kate sees an advertisement from Craig, Colorado, seeking a town doctor, she hesitates.  But only for a moment.  Knowing the move will mean disinheritance, she sets out for the Wild West anyway.  Not surprisingly, a female doctor is not quite what Craig expected.  From the moment she steps onto its dusty streets, she meets resistance.  It only worsens when Kate finds herself entangled with a handsome Irish sheep rancher with plenty of his own problems, including an estranged wife in Boston.  Can Kate really create a life for herself, pursuing her passion—for medicine and for Lucas McCurdy—out in the lawless west?  Or will she be forced to return to her parents with her tail between her legs?

Heart of the West, a historical romance by Carolyn Twede Frank, is a clean, compelling story with plenty of conflict to keep it exciting.  It's an uplifting girl power novel that explores women's roles in America at the end of the 19th Century.  Kate represents a new kind of woman, one who bucks tradition by pursuing both a career and a family.  While I appreciated our heroine's confidence and determination, I also found her to be a condescending, know-it-all busybody.  Although she does learn some lessons throughout the novel, I felt like she didn't grow enough as a character.  A little humility would have made her more likable—at least for me.  Overall, though, I enjoyed this book.  It made for light, entertaining reading even if it was pretty predictable and tell-y. 

(Readalikes:  Honestly, the only "readalike" that comes to mind is Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.)   

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for violence, mild innuendo, and scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Heart of the West from the generous folks at Covenant.  Thank you!

--


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Tuesday, January 09, 2018

TTT: Distractions and Detractions


I discovered all kinds of new book blogs last year thanks to Top Ten Tuesday—just one of the many reasons I love participating in this weekly meme so much.  One of my finds was Reading is My SuperPower, written by the lovely Carrie.  I love her twist on this week's TTT topic, so I'm going to steal it.  Hopefully she doesn't mind šŸ˜¬ 

Before I get to that, though, I want to give a shout out to the lovely ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish.  They created TTT and have been hosting it for a looonnnggg time.  They'll be passing the duties on to Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl starting next week.  So, I just wanted to take a minute to say thank you to all of our hostesses.  I appreciate your hard work in running this super fun meme.

This week's topic is Top Ten Books We Meant to Read in 2017 But Didn't Get To.  I feel like I've already talked incessantly about what I want to read this year, so I'm going to channel my inner Carrie and go with this instead (thanks again, Carrie, for the fabulous idea):  

Top Ten Excuses Reasons I Didn't Read As Many Books As I Wanted to Last Year


1.  Words With Friends—It's embarrassing to admit, but this is definitely one of the top distractions that got in the way of my reading last year.  I've never cared for video games, but it's tough for me to resist word games.  If you play, hit me up—I'm sjwordnerd.


2.  Word Streak (formerly Scramble With Friends)—This is Zynga's version of Boggle and it's actually more fun than WWF.  Since you only get a limited number of free tokens to use for play, I can't waste endless time on it; thank goodness because otherwise I totally would!  I'm sjwordnerd on Word Streak as well.


3.  Family History—Much less embarrassing and a much more noble pursuit is genealogy.  Like many LDS people, I'm obsessed with tracing my roots.  It's fun and it's addicting.  Because it's my church "calling" as well as my hobby, I spend lots of time indexing historical records, exploring my own family tree, and helping others do the same.  If you're interested in family history, I highly recommend checking out familysearch.org.  It's a free, user-friendly site that allows you to search millions of historical records and use them to build a collaborative family tree.  Watch out, though, or you might find yourself becoming as obsessed with it as I am!


4.  Housework—I live in a 5000 square foot home that I clean myself. 'Nuf said about me and my first-world problems.

5.  Family—My husband and kids wouldn't recognize me if I didn't have a book in my hands.  Occasionally, I do have to come back to Earth and pay them a *little* attention.


6.  Lack of Speed Reading Skills—Every year I set the goal of reading 200 books.  Every year I fail.  I'm a fast reader, but I can't speed read unless I want to suck all the enjoyment out of the experience.  No thanks.  


7.  Writing Reviews—I read books faster than I review them, so I'm always—always—behind on reviews.  I review every book I read and I try to do so in a thoughtful manner, considering both what worked for me and what didn't.  As a writer, I've always been a bleeder so composing a satisfactory review takes some time.  Especially when you're still working on books you read back in July!



8.  Book Blogger Relations—I love the book blogging community.  I've been a part of it for a long time because I enjoy it so much.  That being said, it takes time to visit blogs, make comments, participate in memes/community events, etc.  It's fun but it definitely gets in the way of my reading—and that's okay.


9.  Social Media—Scrolling through Facebook and Instagram eats up way too much of my time.  I love keeping up with far-flung friends and family, but it's definitely a time suck.  

10. Volunteering—I love to volunteer in my community and should probably do more of it.  Still, I manage to put in time at my daughter's elementary school, at church, and with the FamilySearch Indexing program.  Go, me!

Do any of these things get in the way of your reading?  What other distractions take your attention away from the books?  What books did you plan to read in 2017 that you just didn't get around to?  I'd love to know.  Leave me a comment and I'll gladly return the favor.

Happy TTT!

*Generic photos/graphics from Google Images.  Family photo by Sidney Ulrich Photography.     

Monday, January 08, 2018

The Anatomist's Wife a Compelling Start to Intriguing Historical Mystery Series

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

With her abusive husband dead, Lady Kiera Darby has been released from his tyrannical reign over her life.  She can't, however, shed the reputation she's gained by assisting him in his "unnatural" pursuits.  A skilled artist, Kiera was forced to sketch the dead bodies her anatomist husband studied with an interest more macabre than medical.  Although she had no choice but to obey her spouse's commands, Kiera is still viewed with suspicion and disgust.

Kiera finds refuge at her sister's estate in Scotland.  There, she can hide away, concentrating on painting what she likes.  Her intent is to stay completely out of the public eye, but when a vicious murder occurs during a party hosted by her sister, Kiera is encouraged to use her knowledge of anatomy to help solve the crime.  Paired with Sebastian Gage, an insufferable rake with some experience in private investigation, Kiera becomes more and more involved in finding the killer.  Despite the threatening notes she receives warning her off the case, she's determined to see it through.  Can she and Gage find the murderer?  Or will they become his/her next victims?

When Lark praised the Lady Darby mystery series by Anna Lee Huber on her blog, I knew I had to check it out.  I mean, a historical Scottish setting + a murder + an "unnatural" lady detective?  How could I pass up that winning combo?  The Anatomist's Wife, the first book in the series, introduces our appealing heroine and her enigmatic partner in (solving) crime.  Kiera is a sympathetic character, who's easy to admire for her intelligence, bravery, and compassion.  The mystery she's striving to solve gets predictable, with few surprises to keep the reader guessing.  Likewise, the murderer's motive seems thin.  Despite these irritants, though, The Anatomist's Wife remains a compelling novel.  I enjoyed it overall and immediately reserved the next two books in the series at my library.  As I've since read them, I can vouch for this series—it definitely gets better as it goes!

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of other books in the Lady Darby mystery series [including Mortal Arts; A Grave Matter; A Study in Death; A Pressing Engagement (novella); As Death Draws Near; and A Brush With Shadows])

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for brief, mild language (no F-bombs), violence, blood/gore, and mild sexual innuendo

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of The Anatomist's Wife with a portion of the millions I earn from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

YA Murder Mystery Tense, Gripping

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

On an ordinary Monday at Bayview High School, five teens walk into detention.  There's Brownwyn Rojas, the brilliant Yale-bound senior; Nate Macauley, a 17-year-old drug dealer; Addy Prentiss, a pretty, popular homecoming princess; Cooper Clay, the well-liked basketball star; and Simon Kelleher, creator of a gossip app which Bayview kids view with both fear and fascination.  How Simon gets his surprisingly accurate intel remains a mystery, but everyone knows he's not afraid to use what he knows to stab his classmates right where it hurts most.

Although Simon is hardly Mr. Popularity, it's still shocking when he dies in detention following an allergic reaction to peanut oil.  It soon becomes apparent that his death was no accident.  The only question is: Who murdered Simon Kelleher?  He was just about to publish damaging secrets about Brownwyn, Nate, Addy, and Cooper, giving all of them motive to kill the app maker.  But which one of them actually did the deed?  All profess to be innocent.  Are they telling the truth?  Is someone on the outside framing the four teens?  If so, who?  Who wanted Simon dead bad enough to take such elaborate measures in order to close his digital mouth forever?  With a whole school full of suspects who know more than they're saying, finding the killer won't be easy ...  

I love me a good murder mystery, so I was excited to give this YA version a go.  One of Us Is Lying, a debut novel by Karen M. McManus, definitely opens with an intriguing premise.  It's essentially a locked-room mystery with a cast of unlikely suspects.  Tense and twisty, the story reveals secrets about all of the characters, adding to their realistically complex lives while upping the tale's intensity.  While I guessed whodunit without too much trouble, I appreciated the plot's build-up and the surprises it did offer.  Overall, this is a suspenseful novel with important messages about acceptance, honesty, and true friendship.  It's also a depressing little drama starring some seriously disaffected teens.  All in all, then, I didn't love One of Us Is Lying like I wanted to.  I enjoyed it enough, though, to keep reading and to keep an eye out for more from McManus.  

(Readalikes:  Reminds me a little of This Is Our Story by Ashley Elston)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for strong language, violence, sexual content, and depiction of underage drinking and illegal drug use

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

Friday, January 05, 2018

Smart Upstairs/Downstairs Mystery a Satisfying Delight

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

When Kat Holloway secures a position as cook in a fine Mayfair home, she expects to encounter the kind of drama that exists in every posh London household.  What she couldn't possibly anticipate, however, is the dead body she finds in the larder on her first full day of work.  Horrified by the brutal, senseless death of her pretty Irish assistant, Kat vows to seek justice for the young maid.  The police might think Katie Doyle was simply collateral damage in a burglary gone wrong, but the 29-year-old cook knows there's more to the story.  With the Fenian Movement in full-swing, Katie could have been killed because of her ethnicity.  Or was it a lover's quarrel between the girl and her brute of a boyfriend? 

If anyone can help Kat get to the bottom of things, it's Daniel McAdam, an enigmatic jack-of-all-trades.  Whether he's an undercover policeman, a private eye, or something less savory, she doesn't rightly know.  And yet, she trusts the charmer with the cheeky smile who makes her heart flutter every time he glances her way.  With the help of some other unlikely conspirators, the duo starts their own investigation into Katie Doyle's death.  Soon, however, they find themselves untangling a much bigger mystery, one that goes all the way to The Crown.  Can a cook and a might-be con man stop a villainous plot before it takes place?  Or will their dead bodies be the next ones stuffed into the larder?

There's so much to love about Death Below Stairs, the first book in a Victorian mystery series by Jennifer Ashley, that I'm not sure exactly where to start.  Clever and compassionate, our no-nonsense heroine makes for an engaging narrator.  The supporting cast is just as colorful, equally as compelling.  With an intelligent mystery at its core, the novel's plot chugs along at a steady pace, the upstairs/downstairs drama adding an extra layer of intrigue.  Its appealing mix of mystery, history, politics, and romance creates a winning recipe of which even Kat Holloway, the most sought-after cook in London, would be proud.  If you can't tell, I adored Death Below Stairs.  I just downloaded the prequel, A SoupƧon of Poison, and am eagerly anticipating Scandal Above Stairs, the next installment in what promises to be a thoroughly
charming series.

(Readalikes:  Um, I can't think of anything.  Can you?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for brief, mild language (no F-bombs) and violence

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Death Below Stairs from the generous folks at Berkley (an imprint of Penguin Random House).  Thank you!

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Fun, Magical Debut a Promising Series Start

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Although she descends from a powerful, long-time magical family, Amber Sand is certainly not a witch.  The high school senior got gypped in the sorcery category.  Her "gift" is very specific and totally lame.  She has the ability to see a person's true love within seconds of gazing into their eyes.  While she's able to make a few bucks playing matchmaker at her mother's magic shop on Navy Pier, Amber's ability is pretty much useless.  She can't even discern her own true love.  How ridiculous is that

When Charlie Blitzman comes to Amber for help, she's confused.  Especially since he's not asking for romantic advice, but for her aid in finding his father's missing girlfriend.  Amber can't say no.  After all, Charlie's dad is the mayor and Amber's mother's best friend.  It doesn't hurt that Charlie's gorgeous and the most sought-after guy at her school either.  Although Amber can tell instantly that she is not Charlie's true love, she can't help falling for him.  As she tries to unravel both a mystery and her growing feelings for a boy who clearly isn't meant for her, Amber will have to figure out her place in the equally confusing worlds of magic, love, and high school.  

The Best Kind of Magic, a debut novel by Crystal Cestari, is a fun, light-hearted romance that highlights the everyday sorcery at work in all our lives.  While I found the rules of its magical world a tad confusing, I enjoyed the story overall.  It's an engrossing novel that will appeal to teens who like their contemporary fiction sprinkled with a little bit of magic.  With the next book in the series—The Sweetest Kind of Fate—coming out on February 13, now is the perfect time to get caught up in Amber Sand's enchanting Windy City world.  It's no Harry Potter, but the series promises to be enjoyable and engrossing.

(Readalikes:  Um, nothing is coming to mind.  You?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (no F-bombs), violence, and mild sexual innuendo

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of The Best Kind of Magic from the generous folks at Disney/Hyperion.  Thank you!

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Best New-to-Me Author Discoveries in 2017


In evaluating my reading year, I realized that I actually read a lot of new-to-me authors in 2017, so today's Top Ten Tuesday topic should be a breeze.  Picking my ten favorites will be the tough part.  While I contemplate that question, why don't you click on over to The Broke and the Bookish and join in the TTT fun?  All you have to do is read a few simple instructions, make your own list, and start hopping around to different blogs.  The book blogosphere is full of a variety of fun sites.  It's always exciting to discover new ones and revisit old favorites.  Trust me, you want in on the action!

Okay, here we go with the Top Ten New-to-Me Authors I Read in 2017:


1.  Megan Miranda—I read three books by Miranda this year, so she definitely needs to be on this list.  I enjoy her twisty mystery/thrillers.  I have Fragments of the Lost out from the library right now and plan to read others by her this year.


2.  Anna Lee HuberLark introduced me to this author's Lady Darby mystery series.  I read the first two books last year and plan to read at least that many more this year.  


3.  A.J. Jacobs—Like many members of my church, I'm a *little* obsessed with family history.  While at RootsTech a few years ago, I heard A.J. Jacobs speak about his goal to organize a global family reunion by researching his roots and inviting all his "cousins" to New York City for a giant get together.  He's a charming and funny speaker, so I have been anxious to read It's All Relative, the book he wrote about this project.  It was such an enjoyable read that I want to read more from Jacobs.  I didn't get to his Drop Dead Healthy before I had to return it to the library a couple weeks ago, but I'm going to start with that one.


4.  Ashley Weaver—The Amory Ames mystery series is another discovery I made this year.  I read the first two books in 2017 and plan to continue with the series in 2018.  I've been trying to read cleaner, less gruesome mysteries lately and these fit the bill nicely.  


5.  John Marsden—This Australian author is best known for Tomorrow, When the War Began, his YA dystopian series about a group of teens who are hiking in the outback when their town is invaded by an army from a distant country.  The books follow the kids in their efforts to figure out what's going on and fight back against a powerful enemy.  I read the first three books in the series last year and plan to finish the last four this year.


6.  Jenny Colgan—I read The Bookshop on the Corner by Scottish author Jenny Colgan  back in May and really enjoyed it.  I'm definitely planning to read more of her books this year.


7.  Hugh Howey—I've only read one book by Howey, but I really enjoyed Wool, the first book in his SILO trilogy.  I'm planning to read the next two this year.


8.  Emily Bain Murphy—One of my favorite books of the year, The Disappearances, is this author's debut.  I don't know what Murphy has in the works, but I'm excited to read it!


9.  Anne Corlett—I forgot all about The Space Between Stars when I was making my "Best of 2017" lists, but I loved this debut novel.  I'll definitely be watching for more from this author.


10.  Lisa Wingate—I enjoyed Before We Were Yours, Wingate's newest novel (2016), last year.  I need to look for more of her books in the new year.

Who did you discover this year?  I'd really like to know as I'm always on the lookout for new authors to love.  Leave me a comment and I'll happily return the favor.

Happy TTT!    
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