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November 24, 2017

15 Books for the Reader in Your Life

by Donna Huber


It can be difficult deciding what to buy for the reader in your life or maybe you are the reader trying to make out your Christmas list. Either way, I have a round up of 15 of my favorite books that I read this year.

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Literary Fiction

The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi
The Water Knife
I joined a book club this year and this was our October book I absolutely loved it.  The first chapter didn't really grab me (even though it started with a bang), but by the second chapter, I was hooked. It's a great thriller.

In the American Southwest, Nevada, Arizona, and California skirmish for dwindling shares of the Colorado River. Into the fray steps Angel Velasquez, leg-breaker, assassin, and spy. A Las Vegas water knife, Angel "cuts" water for his boss, Catherine Case, ensuring that her luxurious developments can bloom in the desert, so the rich can stay wet while the poor get dust. When rumors of a game-changing water source surface in drought-ravaged Phoenix, it seems California is making a play to monopolize the life-giving flow of the river, and Angel is sent to investigate. There, he encounters Lucy Monroe, a drought-hardened journalist, and Maria Villarosa, a young refugee who survives by her wits in a city that despises everything she represents. For Angel, Lucy, and Maria, time is running out and their only hope for survival rests in each other’s hands. But when water is more valuable than gold, alliances shift like sand, and the only thing for certain is that someone will have to bleed if anyone hopes to drink.

Buy The Water Knife at Amazon


The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall
The Best kind of People
I didn't want to put this book down. It deals with a difficult topic so I'm not sure how I feel about how it turned out but I liked that it focused on the family and how they dealt with it. Read both MK French's and my reviews.

George Woodbury, a celebrated teacher, is arrested for sexual impropriety at a prestigious prep school. His wife, Joan, vaults between denial and rage as the community she loved turns on her. Their daughter, Sadie, a popular over-achieving high school senior, becomes a social pariah. Their son, Andrew, assists in his father’s defense, while grappling with his own unhappy memories of his teen years. A local author tries to exploit their story, while an unlikely men’s rights activist attempts to get Sadie onside their cause. With George locked up, how do the members of his family pick up the pieces and keep on with their lives? How do they defend someone they love while wrestling with the possibility of his guilt?

Buy The Best Kind of People at Amazon


East of Eden by John Steinbeck
East of Eden
The classics are usually a good bet for avid readers and book lovers in general. If you think they have already read it, then go for a special edition or pretty binding. Steinbeck is one of my favorite authors and when I think "Great American Novel" his are always at the top of the list.

In his journal, John Steinbeck called East of Eden "the first book," and indeed it has the primordial power and simplicity of myth. Set in the rich farmland of California's Salinas Valley, this sprawling and often brutal novel follows the intertwined destinies of two families--the Trasks and the Hamiltons--whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel.

Adam Trask came to California from the East to farm and raise his family on the new, rich land. But the birth of his twins, Cal and Aron, brings his wife to the brink of madness, and Adam is left alone to raise his boys to manhood. One boy thrives, nurtured by the love of all those around him; the other grows up in loneliness, enveloped by a mysterious darkness.

First published in 1952, East of Eden is the work in which Steinbeck created his most mesmerizing characters and explored his most enduring themes: the mystery of identity, the inexplicability of love, and the murderous consequences of love's absence. A masterpiece of Steinbeck's later years, East of Eden is a powerful and vastly ambitious novel that is at once a family saga and a modern retelling of the Book of Genesis.

Buy East of Eden at Amazon

Memoir

Beautiful Hero by Jennifer Lau
Beautiful Hero
Wow. what a story of survival. This wasn't something I studied in history class so it was very eye-opening. Well written and while I knew the author survived I still couldn't put the book down. Read my full review.

With only half a canteen of water and one baby bottle, a family of eight fought for their lives in the killing fields and land mines of Cambodia.

Heroes emerge in the most unlikely places, under the most dangerous conditions. They are often the most ordinary of people facing extraordinary times. Surrounded by unimaginable adverse forces, one strong woman would ultimately lead her entire family to survive. Beautiful Hero is an autobiographical narrative told from a daughter’s perspective. The story centers around Meiyeng, the eponymous Beautiful Hero, and her innate ability to sustain everyone in her family.

Meiyeng’s acumen in solving problems under extreme circumstances is thought-provoking and awe-inspiring. She shepherded her entire family through starvation, diseases, slavery and massacres in war-torn Cambodia to forge a new life in America.

Over two million people—a third of the country’s population—fell victim to a devastating genocide in Cambodia. The rise of the Khmer Rouge posed not merely a single challenge to survival, but rather a series of nightmarish obstacles that required constant circumvention, outmaneuvering, and exceptional fortitude from those few who would survive the regime intact. The story suspensefully unravels the layers of atrocity and evil unleashed upon the people, providing a clear view of this horrific and violent time of the Cambodian revolution.

The book highlights the most basic impulses of man: good vs. evil, individual vs. group, democracy vs. tyranny, and life vs. death. It is the ultimate story of love, sacrifice, survival, and redemption—and lives pushed to the limits. It reaffirms the good in humanity by showing how one family lived and survived with grace and dignity.

Buy Beautiful Hero at Amazon

The Glass Castle
The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
I listened to this book on audio and I was so drawn into the story that I had trouble concentrating on anything else.

The second child of a scholarly, alcoholic father and an eccentric artist mother discusses her family's nomadic upbringing from the Arizona desert, to Las Vegas, to an Appalachian mining town, during which her siblings and she fended for themselves while their parents outmaneuvered bill collectors and the authorities.

Buy The Glass Castle at Amazon

Historical

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin
Victoria
I loved the PBS series and the book provided a few details that I had either missed or were left out of the show. I listened to it on audiobook, and it was excellent.

Early one morning, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria is roused from bed with the news that her uncle William IV has died and she is now Queen of England. The men who run the country have doubts about whether this sheltered young woman, who stands less than five feet tall, can rule the greatest nation in the world. Surely she must rely on her mother and her venal advisor, Sir John Conroy, or her uncle, the Duke of Cumberland, who are all too eager to relieve her of the burdens of power.

The young queen is no puppet, however. She has very definite ideas about the kind of queen she wants to be, and the first thing is to choose her name.

Everyone keeps saying she is destined to marry her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, but Victoria found him dull and priggish when they met three years ago. She is quite happy being queen with the help of her prime minister, Lord Melbourne, who may be old enough to be her father but is the first person to take her seriously.

Drawing on Victoria's own diaries, which she first started reading when she was a student at Cambridge University, Daisy Goodwin brings us the brilliantly imagined life of a young woman about to make her mark on her nation - and the world.

Buy Victoria at Amazon


The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck
The Women in the Castle
Such a lovely book. I see myself re-reading it many times to dig deeper into its depths. I can't praise this book enough. Read my review.

Set at the end of World War II, in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to all of German high society, a powerful and propulsive story of three widows whose lives and fates become intertwined.

Amid the ashes of Nazi Germany’s defeat, Marianne von Lingenfels returns to the once grand castle of her husband’s ancestors, an imposing stone fortress now fallen into ruin following years of war. The widow of a resistor murdered in the failed July, 20, 1944, plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, Marianne plans to uphold the promise she made to her husband’s brave conspirators: to find and protect their wives, her fellow resistance widows.

First, Marianne rescues six-year-old Martin, the son of her dearest childhood friend, from a Nazi reeducation home. Together, they make their way across the smoldering wreckage of their homeland to Berlin, where Martin’s mother, the beautiful and na├»ve Benita, has fallen into the hands of occupying Red Army soldiers. Then she locates Ania, another resistor’s wife, and her two boys, now refugees languishing in one of the many camps that house the millions displaced by the war.

As Marianne assembles this makeshift family from the ruins of her husband’s resistance movement, she is certain their shared pain and circumstances will hold them together. But she quickly discovers that the black-and-white, highly principled world of her privileged past has become infinitely more complicated, filled with secrets and dark passions that threaten to tear them apart. Eventually, all three women must come to terms with the choices that have defined their lives before, during, and after the war—each with their own unique share of challenges.

Buy The Women in the Castle at Amazon

Mystery

Written in Blood by Layton Green
Written in Blood
I'm a big Layton Green fan. I've loved all his books. I enjoyed the literary references. I hope there will be more books featuring this detective. Read my review.

Detective Joe "Preach" Everson, a prison chaplain turned police officer, is coming home. After a decade tracking down killers in Atlanta, and with a reputation as one of the finest homicide detectives in the city, his career derailed when he suffered a mental breakdown during the investigation of a serial killer who was targeting children.

No sooner does Preach arrive at home in Creekville, North Carolina--a bohemian community near Chapel Hill--than a local bookstore owner is brutally killed, the first murder in a decade. The only officer with homicide experience, Preach is assigned to the case and makes a shocking discovery: the bookstore owner has been murdered in exactly the same manner as the pawnbroker in Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment.

With the help of Ariana Hale, a law student and bibliophile who knew the victim, Preach investigates the local writer's community. As their questions increase, a second body is found, this time eerily resembling the crime scene in a famous Edgar Allan Poe novella. Preach and Ariana realize that their adversary is an intelligent, literate killer with a mind as devious as it is disturbed--and one or both of them may be his next target.

Buy Written in Blood at Amazon


Fatal Masquerade by Vivian Conroy
Fatal Masquerade
This was a pretty cute book. It is the first book I've read by Vivian Conroy, but it won't be my last. If the reader on your list enjoys cozy mysteries there are 4 books so far in this series. Are you giving an eReader as a gift? At 99 cents this is a great one to pre-load. Read my review.

Lady Alkmene and Jake Dubois are back in a gripping new adventure facing dangerous opponents at a masked ball in the countryside.

Masked danger…
Lady Alkmene Callender has always loved grand parties, but when she receives an invitation to a masked ball thrown by Franklin Hargrove – oil magnate, aviation enthusiast and father of her best friend, Denise – she’s never seen such luxury. The estate is lit up with Chinese lanterns in the gardens, boats operated by footmen float across the pond and the guest list features the distinguished, rich and powerful!

But below the glamour, evil is lurking. When a dead body is discovered, it forces Lady Alkmene to throw off her mask and attempt to find the true killer before Denise’s family are accused. If only her partner, Jake Dubois, weren’t hiding something from her…

This case might just be more dangerous than either of them could have imagined.

Buy Fatal Masquerade at Amazon


Southern Spirits by Angie Fox
Southern Spirits
This was a fun and fast read, plus the ebook is FREE  - so another awesome ebook to pre-load on that eReader you are giving. It is a great cozy mystery. It's a little like the television show Ghost Whisperer.

When out of work graphic designer Verity Long accidentally traps a ghost on her property, she’s saddled with more than a supernatural sidekick—she gains the ability see spirits. It leads to an offer she can’t refuse from the town’s bad boy, the brother of her ex and the last man she should ever partner with.

Ellis Wyatt is in possession of a stunning historic property haunted by some of Sugarland Tennessee’s finest former citizens. Only some of them are growing restless—and destructive. He hires Verity put an end to the disturbances. But soon Verity learns there’s more to the mysterious estate than floating specters, secret passageways, and hidden rooms.

There’s a modern day mystery afoot, one that hinges on a decades-old murder. Verity isn't above questioning the living, or the dead. But can she discover the truth before the killer finds her?

Buy Southern Spirits at Amazon


On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service by Rhy Bowen
On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service
I really enjoyed this book. Though I haven't read any of the other books in the series, I didn't feel too lost. I have a few questions about Georgie's family that is presumably answered in earlier books. Read my review

There are more important things than being thirty-fifth in line for the British crown, and Lady Georgiana Rannoch knows her true love, Darcy O’Mara, is one of them. Luckily, the Queen agrees, but she has a little mission for Georgie before she can say “I do!”

When Darcy runs off on another secret assignment, I am left to figure out how to travel to Italy sans maid and chaperone to help my dear friend Belinda, as she awaits the birth of her baby alone. An opportunity presents itself in a most unexpected way— my cousin the queen is in need of a spy to attend a house party in the Italian lake country. The Prince of Wales and the dreadful Mrs. Simpson have been invited, and Her Majesty is anxious to thwart a possible secret wedding.

What luck!  A chance to see Belinda and please the queen as I seek her permission to relinquish my claim to the throne so I can marry Darcy. Only that’s as far as my  good fortune takes me. I soon discover that Mummy is attending the villa party and she has her own secret task for me  Then, Darcy shows up and tells me that the fate of a world on the brink of war could very well depend on what I overhear at dinner! I shouldn’t be all that surprised when of one my fellow guests is murdered and my Italian holiday becomes a nightmare.

Buy On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service at Amazon


The Hitwoman Takes a Road Trip by JB Lynn
The Hitwoman Takes a Road Triip
I've been following this series from the beginning and love every new book. They are quick, fun reads so it won't take long to catch up. Read my review.

Some people just can’t outrun trouble.

Overwhelmed hitwoman Maggie Lee thinks she’s leaving her family worries behind when she’s convinced to take a road trip with her buddy, Armani.

But pretty soon an old friend, a pesky relative, and even her pet, are asking for her help.

Loyal to a fault, Maggie soon finds herself tangled in a dangerous theft involving a crime family; confronting the abusive previous owner of her cat, Piss; and dealing with family revelations that rock her world.

With the assistance of psychic predictions, talking animals and unexpected allies, Maggie takes on her troubles head-on.

But if she’s not careful, this “vacation” could literally be the death of her.

Buy The Hitwoman Take a Road Trip at Amazon


The Cinderella Murder by Mary Higgin Clark
The Cinderella Murder
It's been a while since I read a Mary Higgins Clark novel and I really enjoyed this one. Though it is the second book in the series, it can be read as a stand-alone just fine. The audiobook was well done.

Television producer Laurie Moran is delighted when the pilot for her reality drama, Under Suspicion, is a success. Even more, the program—a cold case series that revisits unsolved crimes by recreating them with those affected—is off to a fantastic start when it helps solve an infamous murder in the very first episode.

Now Laurie has the ideal case to feature in the next episode ofUnder Suspicion: the Cinderella Murder. When Susan Dempsey, a beautiful and multi-talented UCLA student, was found dead, her murder raised numerous questions. Why was her car parked miles from her body? Had she ever shown up for the acting audition she was due to attend at the home of an up-and-coming director? Why does Susan’s boyfriend want to avoid questions about their relationship? Was her disappearance connected to a controversial church that was active on campus? Was she close to her computer science professor because of her technological brilliance, or something more? And why was Susan missing one of her shoes when her body was discovered?

With the help of lawyer and Under Suspicion host Alex Buckley, Laurie knows the case will attract great ratings, especially when the former suspects include Hollywood’s elite and tech billionaires. The suspense and drama are perfect for the silver screen—but is Cinderella’s murderer ready for a close-up?

Buy The Cinderella Murder at Amazon

Romance

A Sudden Gust of Gravity by Laurie Boris
A Sudden Gust of Gravity
This was fun and cute and kept me up well past my bedtime. Another awesome ebook for just 99 cents! Read my review.

Christina Davenport, waitressing to pay the bills, has given up on becoming a magician—until she meets the mesmerizing Reynaldo the Magnificent. He offers her a job as his assistant in his magic and juggling show. She takes it, hoping she can revive her dream without cutting his giant ego in half.

Devon Park, a surgical resident escaping his own problems, visits the street performers in downtown Boston. But the young doctor worries that the bruises beneath Christina’s makeup go deeper than the training accident she professes.

Suspecting the doctor’s interest is more than clinical, the mercurial magician attempts to tighten his grip on Christina. Now she needs to decide—is the opportunity Reynaldo offers worth the price of admission?

Buy A Sudden Gust of Gravity at Amazon


Links by Lisa Becker
Links
One of the best romantic chases I have read. Read my review.

Charlotte Windham, a nerdy high school prodigy who tutored classmates to earn money for college, escapes her geeky past to become a celebrated novelist. During a chance encounter at a Los Angeles restaurant 15 years after high school, she reconnects with her secret crush, Garrett Stephens, the popular star athlete and teen heartbreaker. Garrett, still leaving broken hearts in his wake, is now a successful professional golfer who recently suffered a possible career-ending shoulder injury. As he and Charlotte spend time together, developing a friendship based on mutual respect and comfortable companionship, can Charlotte forgive the past and can Garrett reform his lothario ways for a chance at love?

Buy Links at Amazon


Of course, nothing goes better with a great book, than a wonderful cup of tea and Tea Forte has awesome tea. Use this link to get 20% off your first order.
Tea Forte


If you need more book recommendations, see Susan's Book Suggestions for the Reader on Your List.
Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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1 comments:

  1. Great list of books, Donna. My list of books to read has just gotten longer!

    ReplyDelete

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