Wednesday, December 27, 2017

My Favorite Books of 2017

As 2017 draws to a close, I’d like to use my Novel Spaces spot this month to take a look back at some of my favorite titles from the past year. The books are listed in alphabetical order by author and I’ve included the text of the review I wrote for each book.

This is one of the few books I've read recently that has held my interest long enough for me to stay up past midnight turning pages. I was entranced by the descriptions of what life was like in 17th century England, and the author does a superb job of setting up the events of the story against the events of that time in history.

From the Plague to the Great Fire of London, from the goings-on above-stairs to the goings-on below stairs, from the realistic setting to the real-life crimes being committed during that time, I learned an incredible amount about the Regency period. I loved the characters, especially the magistrate (the head of the household in the story), Lucy (the main character), and the other servants. I was pretty sure I knew the culprit behind the murder at Rosamund's Gate several times during the story, and the author surprised me at the end with a fabulous twist I didn't see coming--that's the measure of a great book, as far as I'm concerned. Surprisingly, the only character I couldn't get a handle on was Adam--his quicksilver reactions to the events in the plot are the only thing keeping me from giving this book five stars. In fact, I wish I could give 4.5 stars.

I have read this book with rapt interest and though I haven't had a chance to visit a labyrinth yet, I have a feeling the advice and recommendations given in the book will turn out to be life-changing. The author takes a subject I've seen referred to as "New Age hype" and turns it into something spiritual and beautiful and wholly subjective. I'm eager to learn more about labyrinths after reading this book.

The only thing that could have made me stop reading this book through to the end would have been the death of my Kindle. Once I started reading, the fast-paced plot, the fascinating backstories of the characters, and the way Patricia Gligor deftly intertwined their lives made the book impossible yo put down. My flower beds may have suffered because I spent an entire Saturday afternoon reading this book, but I'm glad I did it. Each chapter is told from the point of view of a different character, and with that character's thoughts come all the baggage that character carries into the story. I was sure I knew who the culprit was, but I turned out to be wrong, and that's my favorite thing about reading mysteries.

Whenever Hazel Rose gets involved, I want to read about it. Maggie King has done a fabulous job with Murder at the Moonshine Inn. From the twists and turns to the surprise ending (the clues were there all along), this book was a fun read with plenty to keep readers on their toes and turning pages. I'm looking forward to the next installment of the Hazel Rose stories.

I loved every single page of this book and I'm going to get Heroes and Hooligans just as soon as I finish writing this review.

The characters were developed with mastery, the plot never stopped moving, and there are enough laugh-out-loud Southern sayings to ingeniously lighten the mood of this based-on-a-real-event mystery.

The characters are like family, so I hope to meet them again when I visit Goose Pimple Junction--soon.

I have not yet reviewed this book because I’m still in the process of wrapping my mind around everything it says, but I would recommend it to anyone interested in better eating and improved gut health.

This is another book I haven’t reviewed yet, but I will. I’ve become more and more interested in the Mediterranean diet and this book is a great introduction to some delicious, easy recipes. It’s because of this book that I tried Haloumi cheese for the first time and I LOVE it.

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

From the pirates of centuries ago to the modern-day struggles of the lowcountry shrimping industry, Bob Spearman weaves a tale of greed, fear, and impossible choices set against the hauntingly beautiful coast of South Carolina.

The Dodd family has been a fixture of the lowcountry shrimping community for generations. Harlin, the current captain of the Dodd business, is trying to provide for his family, something that's getting harder and harder to do with each passing year. When the economic stresses of Harlin's day-to-day work combine with his desire to give some financial help to the family of a long-time employee, his daughter's drive to become part of the business, and his son's burgeoning career as a baseball wunderkind, he finds himself entangled in a situation that could prove to be either the family's salvation or its undoing.

This was a well-paced story that resonated with real-life struggles, family dynamics, and crackling suspense. It asks the reader to do some hard thinking about what he or she might do if placed in a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't situation.

I've had this book on my Kindle, queued up on my TBR, for months. And now that I've read it, I'm kicking myself for not reading it sooner. Peopled with a long list of possible suspects, backstory galore, thrilling suspense, and even some romance, this story kept me intrigued from the first page to the last. The characters were well-drawn, the pacing was excellent, and the setting was fascinating. I highly recommend Descent and I'm looking forward to Blaze, the second book in the Stone Mountain series.

The Right Wrong Man hooked me from the very first paragraph and didn't let go until the very last. It's full of twists and turns I didn't see coming, all intricately laid out and presented brilliantly. I was never confused, despite the complexity of the plot, which says a lot about the author's ability to write clearly and with precision. Pamela Wight has a way of putting the reader right in the middle of the action, of making the reader feel all the emotions the characters are feeling. I am so eager to read her next book!


Charles Gramlich said...

I should do this, and with goodreads I can actually see which books I read this year. I usually have a hard time remembering.

Liane Spicer said...

I plan to start keeping track as well. I tried to remember the books I read this year and could recall very few.

The first book on your list is going in my must-read queue! I'm intrigued by the Labyrinth book as well, and the others don't sound half bad.

Sharon Aguanno said...

Great collection of books! I have read a few of them, and would include them in my favorites list as well!

Happy New Year, my friend!

Amy Reade said...

Charles, I ended up going into my Amazon profile to find all my reviews. That made the post much easier. I find it hard to remember the books I've read, too.

Amy Reade said...

Liane, it was a fascinating book. I can't believe how much research went into writing it. I learned so much about that time period in England and loved it.

Amy Reade said...

Glad to hear you've enjoyed some of these books, Sharon! I hope you have a new year filled with joy, love, and laughter.

Linda Thorne said...

What a great idea for a post and thanks for sharing the books you read in 2017.

Maggie King said...

Amy, this is a very interesting and varied list. And thanks so much for including Murder at the Moonshine Inn. I'm honored.

I log my books (movies, too) in an old fashioned handwritten journal. I admit to being slapdash about reviews, but I'm trying. And as long as it's January 1, I'll make it a resolution.

Amy Reade said...

Thanks, Linda! Happy New Year to you and yours!

Amy Reade said...

Maggie, it was my pleasure to include Murder at the Moonshine Inn on my list. It was a great book. I also need to be better about reviewing the books I read. I was pretty good about reviewing in 2017, but there was some room for improvement. Happy New Year!