Monday, January 02, 2017

Book of the Month & Year

My pick for December's book of the month is Someone to Love by Mary Balogh, the first novel in her new Westcott series. The author starts it off with a huge plot twist right in the beginning of the book, which sets the stage for some amazing storytelling.

When the Earl of Riverdale dies, he leaves behind a secret as well as a fabulous fortune. His widow learns that her husband provided financial support for Anna Snow, an orphan girl in Bath, whom everyone assumes is the earl's illegitimate daughter. Now a teacher at the orphanage, Anna is summoned to London by the earl's attorney. I won't spoil the surprise, but that's when things then go BOOM.

Anna also has more surprises in store after she meets the new earl's guardian, Avery Archer, the Duke of Netherby. Avery seems like nothing more than a little, foppish kind of guy; not at all hero material. Wait for it, because he's one of the most interesting male protagonists Mary has written in a long time. You'll be cheering for him and Anna by the end of the novel.

I really enjoyed this romance, and I can't wait to jump on Someone to Hold, the next book in the series, which should be released in March.

It was very tough to pick the book of the year. I read 104 books for pleasure in 2016, and the majority of them were terrific. I discovered new-to-me authors I will be collecting, and rediscovered some old favorites that still delivered the magic.

I made my choice based on the one book that I thought about for the longest time, and recommended most often to others. It's the third novel in an indy published series that has from the beginning impressed me to no end. I think this installment delivers even more than I expected after the promise of the first book and the intrigue of the second. It's my #1 book for 2016 for so many other reasons, too. The story is very well-written, adventurous, and packs a wallop of a plot. The characters were already pretty fabulous, but now they're growing up and developing into people whom I want to read about for a very long time.

This book takes me back, too. Science fiction used to be wonderful when I was a kid; I buried myself in books by A.M. Lightner and Edmund Cooper and René Barjavel. Unlike most of the literary nihilistic techfests no one even wants to call science fiction these days, the SF of my teens offered journeys you actually wanted to take. The stories whisked you off to an incredible new future with problems you wanted to solve while you got to know amazing characters in fantastic settings.

I miss all that, and the hope that came from those books. They didn't spit on the future or the reader; they entertained and inspired us. They were the stories that helped us deal with the troubles in the present, and made us want to be better people when we grew up. If that makes me terminally uncool so be it.

For all these reasons LJ Cohen's Dreadnought and Shuttle is my book of the year for 2016. You can read my write up about it here.

Finally, for posterity, here's the list of all the books I read for pleasure in 2016:


The Everything Mediterranean Diet by Connie Diekman and Sam Sotiropoulos
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
The Face of Battle by John Keegan
Scarce Resources by Brendan Detzner
Live to See Tomorrow by Iris Johansen
An Unbreakable Bond by Robyn Donald (revisited read)
Passing Love by Jacqueline E. Luckett
Creative Quilting with Beads by Valerie Van Arsdale Shrader
Silent Melody by Mary Balogh*


Sunday Morning Quilts by Amanda Jean Nyberg and Cheryl Arkison
American Cooking: New England by Jonathan Norton Leonard
Elegant Stitches by Judith Baker Montano
52 Small Changes for the Mind by Brett Blumenthal
Essentials of English Grammar by L. Sue Baugh
Driven by Fire by Anne Stuart
Heartless by Mary Balogh
The Naturalist by Darrin Lunde
Sight Unseen by Iris Johansen
Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen
The Arrivals by Melissa Marr
The Private Patient by P.D. James
Chocolat by Joanne Harris
Bella Tuscany by Frances Mayes
The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson*


City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte
The Elementals by Francesca Block
Ashes of Candesce by Karl Schroeder
Parlor Games by Maryka Biaggio
Earthbound by Aprilynne Pike
Ancient Egyptian Myths and Legends by Lewis Spence
How to Publish Your Own eBook by Nik Rawlinson
Alternative Art Journals by Margaret Peot*
Elegant Stitches by Judith Baker Montano
Never Kiss a Rake by Anne Stuart (revisited read)
Never Trust a Pirate by Anne Stuart (revisited read)
Never Marry a Viscount by Anne Stuart (revisited read)
The Duchess War by Courtney Milan
Dante's Circle Box Set by Carrie Ann Ryan
Firefly Hollow by T.L. Haddix
The Gettysburg Campaign by Charles River Editors
Branded by Keary Taylor


Creative Journal Writing by Stephanie Dowrick
100 Perfect Hair Days by Jenny Strebe
Bed Riddance by Ogden Nash
Writing the Life Poetic by Sage Cohen (revisited read)
Grimoire for the Green Witch by Ann Moura
Letters to a Young Artist by Julia Cameron
Gladiatrix by Amy Zol
Only Beloved by Mary Balogh*
Troubleshooting! by John Lyons


Barron's 101 Watercolor Techniques
Troublemaker by Linda Howard
A Shiver of Light by Laurell K. Hamilton
Ross Poldark: A Novel of Cornwall, 1783-1787 by Winston Graham*
The American Diabetes Association Diabetes Comfort Food Cookbook by Robyn Webb
Reckless by Anne Stuart (revisited read)
Bella Tuscany by Frances Mayes


Dinner with Edward by Isabel Vincent
Patchwork Style by Suzuko Koseki
Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris
Fun with Fabric by Jane Foster
J'adore Montreal by Isabelle Lafleche
Black & White ~ Bright & Bold by Kim Schaefer
Sewing with Fabulous Vintage Fabrics by Arden Franklin
Prince Lestat by Anne Rice
Dreadnought and Shuttle by LJ Cohen*


The Body Reader by Anne Frasier
Day Shift by Charlaine Harris
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach
The Vintage Caper by Peter Mayle
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen (revisited read)*
Redemption Road by John Hart
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
French Country by Barbara Buchholz and Lisa Skolnik
Modern Log Cabin Quilting by Susan Beal
One-Yard Wonders by Rebecca Yaker and Patricia Hoskins


Longbourn by Jo Baker
Slow-Cooker Quick Fixes by Southern Living
Imprudence by Gail Carriger
Wolf in Waiting by Rebecca Flanders (revisited read)*
Light in Shadow by Jayne Ann Krentz
Country French Kitchens by Carolina Fernandez


Frostline by Linda Howard and Linda Jones
The Big Four by Agatha Christie
Rex Harrison by Roy Moseley with Philip & Martin Masheter
Sizzling Sixteen by Janet Evanovich
Affliction by Laurell K. Hamilton
Stoker's Manuscript by Royce Prouty
A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn
On Thin Ice by Anne Stuart
Second Son by Lee Child*


All Shook Up by Susan Andersen
50 Ways to Wear Denim by Lauren Friedman*
Lady Fortune by Anne Stuart


Byzantium ~ The Early Centuries by John Julius Norwich
Shadowlands and Songs of Light by Kevin Ott*
Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk by Danielle Krysa


Someone to Love by Mary Balogh*
South China in the Sixteenth Century by C.R. Boxer
The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe by Mary Simses
Ricochet by Sandra Brown
Free-Form Embroidery by Judith Baker Montano
Strip Happy ~ Quilting on a Roll by Suzanne McNeill
Bonk by Mary Roach

*My pick as book(s) of the month

1 comment:

  1. By way of introduction, I am the author of Stoker's Manuscript. Just wanted to drop you a note of gratitude for mentioning my novel. I had a great time writing it.
    Thank you,
    - Royce Prouty


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