This is one of my favorite posts of the year, even though it is also one of the hardest. I love looking back over all the books I've read during the year, some will bring a smile to my face as I see a favorite series or a satisfied sigh as I remember a particularly poignant read. The difficulty comes when I have to narrow the 58 books I've read down to 10 reads I would most recommend purchasing as a gift for the book lover on your list (even if that book lover is you!).
For young readers
Twelve-year-old Millicent Marie Harris thought her advice giving days were over. After all, her blog had been an epic disaster. But when her former crush convinces her it's time to take her skills to the big league, aka the school newspaper, she decides it might be worth giving it another try. It seems life might finally be getting back to normal for this sixth-grader.
However, there are other big problems brewing at Springside Elementary. Mr. Stiles, the school's long-standing and beloved principal leaves abruptly—replaced by Dr. Feather Foster, a newcomer with a harsh rule list a mile long. To make matters worse, there is trouble with the school play and suspicions that Millie's brother is still sneaking around her diary. Enlisting the help of her friends, Millie sets out to find the truth, in hopes of restoring peace to Springside Elementary before the school year is over and any more disasters occur.
This is a great middle grades story. While it can be read as a stand alone, I would highly recommend picking up book one Millicent Marie Is Not My Name if you have a child on your list that hasn't read it. Read my full review.
Buy Millicent Marie: Just My Opinion at Amazon
Science Fiction & Fantasy
Free Patriots from outside Asylum bring with them a new plan to infiltrate the seemingly impregnable UWO machine, and Pria is once again at the center of the plan. This time, though, she must be willing to erase her identity, just as she’s beginning to figure out who she is. It’s a sacrifice she thinks she’s ready to make to take down the UWO and save the world, but she has no idea just how difficult it will be.
Criminal is the second book in K. B. Hoyle's dystopian series Breeder Cycle. In this case, you do need to have read Breeder. It will be enjoyed by young adults as well as adults that enjoy a well-written story of an alternate reality. It is not as dark as some popular dystopian novels I would compare it more to The Giver. Read my full review.
Buy Criminal at Amazon
The seven tribal nations are at war, and as a taporo Kit can finally do something to save her people. But Kit can’t shake the feeling she’s playing a game she doesn’t understand, and if she agrees to fight, she’ll lose the ones she loves the most.
The long-awaited final book in the Windstorm series is excellent and a must read. You will want to read the entire series. I love that it also features native people groups and the supernatural elements are woven so tightly into the story that it feels like it truly is how the world works. Again, this book is a great option for young adults and adults. Read my full review.
Buy Firestorm at Amazon
If you, I mean, the book lover on your list was a fan of the television show Veronica Mars, then this is a must have book. A bonus - the audio book is read by Kristen Bell. Everything I loved about the show is included in the book - fun characters and witty writing. Read my full review.
Buy The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line at Amazon
Even though her life is in chaos, she'll take any chance to repair her fractured family.
All she has do is:
Get out of the loony bin
Eliminate the killer who’s hunting her sister
Make sure her family doesn’t go off the rails (yup, this one’s the toughest)
Thankfully she’s got the help of an ex-lover, a conman, and a sexy sailor, along with her psychic friend, her loyal, but bickering, pets, and her favorite mob boss.
If only she could rely on them to help her stop the man who wants her sister dead. With two hitmen already killed for going after him, Maggie could use all the help she can get.
Maggie’s skills (and sanity) are put to the test and the stakes have never been higher.
All the Hitwoman books are excellent and JB Lynn has published several this year including one just last week - The Hitwoman Plays Chaperone (it's on my Christmas book buying list). They can be read as stand alones, so if you have a book lover that loves a good laugh then choosing one (or all) in the is series is a winning bet. Read my full review.
Buy The Hitwoman Under Pressure at Amazon
This book was a new discovery for me this year. It was a fun story. Agatha Raisin reminded me of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple. It was an excellent audio book and I'll be on the look out for more in this series.
Buy Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death at Amazon
Thrillers and Suspense
Unable to cope with her guilt, Amanda’s daughter sinks in depression. And Amanda’s husband turns destructive as he watches his family succumb to grief. Before long, Amanda’s whole world has collapsed.
Amanda knows she has to save herself before it’s too late. As she continues to search for Sarah, she embarks on a personal journey, seeking hope and purpose in the wake of so much tragedy and loss.
Set amidst the murky parishes of rural Louisiana and told through the eyes of two women who confront the darkest corners of humanity with quiet and unbreakable faith, The Feathered Bone is Julie Cantrell’s master portrait of love in a fallen world.
This was such a gut wrenching story. I needed several tissues. but it was so worth it. it is beautifully written and you will be thinking about long after you turn the last page. Read my full review.
Buy The Feathered Bone at Amazon
It’s been ten years since Nicolette Farrell left her rural hometown after her best friend, Corinne, disappeared from Cooley Ridge without a trace. Back again to tie up loose ends and care for her ailing father, Nic is soon plunged into a shocking drama that reawakens Corinne’s case and breaks open old wounds long since stitched.
The decade-old investigation focused on Nic, her brother Daniel, boyfriend Tyler, and Corinne’s boyfriend Jackson. Since then, only Nic has left Cooley Ridge. Daniel and his wife, Laura, are expecting a baby; Jackson works at the town bar; and Tyler is dating Annaleise Carter, Nic’s younger neighbor and the group’s alibi the night Corinne disappeared. Then, within days of Nic’s return, Annaleise goes missing.
Told backwards—Day 15 to Day 1—from the time Annaleise goes missing, Nic works to unravel the truth about her younger neighbor’s disappearance, revealing shocking truths about her friends, her family, and what really happened to Corinne that night ten years ago.
Like nothing you’ve ever read before, All the Missing Girls delivers in all the right ways. With twists and turns that lead down dark alleys and dead ends, you may think you’re walking a familiar path, but then Megan Miranda turns it all upside down and inside out and leaves us wondering just how far we would be willing to go to protect those we love.
If you (or the book lover on your list) love to be kept guessing, then All the Missing Girls is the book to choose. The unique storytelling of moving one day backward with each chapter and the unreliable narrators will keep you turning the pages until you know what happened. Read my full review.
Buy All the Missing Girls at Amazon
Four companions of varying beliefs, on a journey to the forgotten corners of Europe, are about to find out.
On a desolate English moor, a team of scientists unearths a two-thousand-year-old wooden box, preserved in silver and inlaid with a map of patterned gemstones. A set of runes inscribed on the box claims the map is a pathway to God.
In an attempt to decipher the map, a wealthy New Orleans collector assembles an unlikely team: a specialist in cultural antiquities who dabbles in the occult; a jaded attorney searching for meaning; a brilliant linguist who loathes organized religion; and a Catholic historian with a reputation for acquiring pieces no one else can or will.
Shackled by secrets and hidden motives, pursued by a sinister religious order, driven by an insatiable desire for answers, the four companions trek across Europe as they search for a connection among the ancient sites revealed by the map. As the hunt for truth takes them deeper into the unknown, their lives and perhaps their souls in peril, they must determine whether the letterbox is part of an elaborate, centuries-old deception—or the answer to mankind’s ultimate questions.
From critically acclaimed and bestselling author Layton Green, The Letterbox is a thrilling new mystery that weaves danger, exotic locales, breathless suspense, romance, and ancient secrets into the tapestry of an unforgettable novel.
I love Layton Green's Dominic Grey series, but I'm never sure if it is the author I enjoy or that I just the characters. Well, now having read his new book, The Letterbox, I know that I'm a fan of Layton Green. An intricate plot filled with wonderful details and well-developed characters are hallmarks of Green;s writing. Read my full review.
Buy The Letterbox at Amazon
Heart-felt Women's Fiction
Growing up, Cassie Carter and her sisters, Karen and Nichole, were incredibly close—until one fateful event drove them apart. After high school, Cassie ran away from home to marry the wrong man, throwing away a college scholarship and breaking her parents’ hearts. To make matters worse, Cassie had always been their father’s favorite—a sentiment that weighed heavily on her sisters and made Cassie’s actions even harder to bear.
Now thirty-one, Cassie is back in Washington, living in Seattle with her daughter and hoping to leave her past behind. After ending a difficult marriage, Cassie is back on her own two feet, the pieces of her life slowly but surely coming together. Despite the strides Cassie’s made, she hasn’t been able to make peace with her sisters. Karen, the oldest, is a busy wife and mother, balancing her career with raising her two children. And Nichole, the youngest, is a stay-at-home mom whose husband indulges her every whim. Then one day, Cassie receives a letter from Karen, offering what Cassie thinks may be a chance to reconcile. And as Cassie opens herself up to new possibilities—making amends with her sisters, finding love once more—she realizes the power of compassion, and the promise of a fresh start.
A wonderful novel of perseverance and trust, and an exciting journey through life’s challenges and joys, Last One Home is Debbie Macomber at the height of her talents.
I first discovered Debbie Macomber last Christmas when I listened to her Dashing Through the Snow, which I absolutely loved. Since I have listened to her Cedar Cove series and love them. I'm not the only Debbie Macomber fan here at Girl Who Reads and I don't think you could go wrong with any of her books. I'm hoping to pick up a copy of her new Christmas novel this season.
Buy Last One Home at Amazon
Award-winning writer and teacher Sally Allen knows that good books don’t just draw us in; they talk to us, shape us, and transport us to times, places, and minds different from our own. In Unlocking Worlds: A Reading Companion for Book Lovers, Allen deftly weaves personal stories with fifteen thematized, annotated, and illustrated reading lists for what to read next. By sharing some of the treasures in her library and the secret lives they reveal, she gives us permission to embrace the shameless book lover inside each of us. Unlocking Worlds is a testament to how reading passionately—and compassionately—can unlock the world beyond our back yard. Celebrating books and those who read them, Allen shows how the solitary act of reading can be a powerful thread that creates community and connection. Thought-provoking and eloquent, Unlocking Worlds: A Reading Companion for Book Lovers is a must-have for anyone who can’t leave the house without a book in hand.
Buy Unlocking Worlds at Amazon
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