I was looking through the list of books I read last year and thought I’d share some of my favorites ones. These are the books that jumped out at me when I was perusing the list. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find your next great read.
- Last Night at the Telegraph Club
This historical novel takes place in Chinatown in 1954 and follows two young women, Lily and Kath who fall in love with each other.” The Telegraph Club is a Lesbian bar and it’s where a few pivotal events in the novel occur. This is a dangerous time for the young women to fall in love, with Red-Scare paranoia threatening their existence, especially for Lilly who is Chinese-American. I thought this was a delightful story focusing on lesbian culture and the coming of age of a young Chinese-American woman. I enjoyed the discussions of race, culture, immigration and sexuality in the story and this book stayed in my mind weeks after having read it.
- Malibu Rising
Taylor Jenkins Reid
Four famous Riva siblings throw an epic end of the summer party. This year’s party, however, is unlike those of the previous years, as each of the secrets that the siblings have been hiding comes to light. Additionally, a few unexpected guests manage to further fuel the fire that’s been brewing. As the party gets insanely out of control (kind of like a freight train running off the rails!) due to excessive drugs, copious amounts of alcohol, and disappearing inhibitions, the underlying drama escalates — resulting in quite an explosive conclusion, so much so that none of the Riva’s lives will ever be the same afterward.
- The Outsider
When the body of an eleven-year-old boy is found in a town park, eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens. However, things are not as they seem, especially in this story. I was shocked (in a good way) when this book turned out to be completely different from what I thought it was. It starts out as a murder mystery but ends up being so much more, once doubts and alternative evidence make the police question everything. Another hit for me by Stephen King. It’s also peppered with amazingly quirky secondary characters.
- The Echo Wife
I’ve read a couple of other books by this author: Magic for Liars and When We Were Magic and enjoyed both of them. But I’d say that this book is my favorite one of the three. I’m not sure if it’s really a thriller…it’s kind of a mixture of sci-fi, suspense and domestic drama. The story takes place in the not-so-distant future and follows a brilliant and driven award-winning scientist named Evelyn Caldwell whose work involves Clone technology, Unbenownst to Evelyn, her husband Nathan has stolen her research and created a genetic clone of her and named it Martine. Things get really crazy when the husband ends up dead in Martine’s kitchen and the two “Mrs. Caldwells” end up having to work together to fix the mess.
- We Begin at the End
I actually won this book in a Goodreads Drawing and boy what a pleasant surprise. This was a gripping character-driven saga of a family in small town America and deals with topics such as loyalty, loss, tragedy and murder. This crime fiction/murder mystery was one of those heart-wrenching books that sticks with you for a long time. The relentless plot kept me guessing until the surprising ending.
- Every Last Fear
“They found the bodies on a Tuesday. Two days after the family had missed their flight home. Six days after all texts and social media had gone dark.” Thus begins Every Last Fear, by Alex Findley, a spine-chilling, tension-packed gripper of a story. The story hurtles along at breakneck speed, never giving you the opportunity to catch your breath, with each scene ratcheting up the tension page by nerve-wracking page. Really, the suspense is pretty much unrelenting, almost to the very end.
- One Last Stop
I fell deeply in love with this story. McQuiston is the same author who wrote “Red, White and Royal Blue,” another favorite of mine. The story follows twenty-three-year-old August who has just moved to New York City. One day, she meets a gorgeous young woman named Jane on the subway and pretty soon falls head over heels for here. There’s only one problem however: Jane has been stuck on the subway since the 1970s and cannot leave it. Unable to resist a mystery, she and her roommates, try to help August and save her from the subway.
- Under the Whispering Door
This might be my favorite book of the year. This is an endearing tale that follows Wallace Price who has just died. A reaper appears and takes Wallace to a small teashop in a village where he has to learn a few important lessons before being allowed to enter the afterlife. Things get really interesting when the Manager, an enigmatic and and powerful being arrives at the tea shop and gives Wallace only one week before he cross over. Thus, Wallace sets about living an entire lifetime in seven days. A heartwarming, whimsical story about love, life and second chances. This one really wormed its way into my heart.
- Razorblade Tears
Though this was a tough book to read, it also was an amazing one. It’s a tragic story that follows two ex cons who gay sons are both murdered so they take it upon themselves to avenge the murders. It’s an action-packed, intense, heartbreaking book that looks at violence, racism, shame, guilt and regret. But it’s also a hopeful one about family, relationships, and friendship. Be warned however: it is a tad brutal in places, given that violence, sadness and grief are major themes in the story. Yet, it is ultimately a hopeful tale with incredible storytelling and larger-than-life characters.
- Anxious People
I reread this for my bookclub and I enjoyed it even more the second time. This was not only thought-provoking but laugh-out-loud funny. It’s a heartwarming novel populated with zany characters stuck in a ridiculous situation and I thought this was so much fun. If you enjoyed the humor in A Man Called Ove, you should enjoy this.