And the hits just keep on comin’!
As always Linda is on top of the mysteries, and coming soon to her web page, Mysteries Abound, will be a link to an archive of Linda’s Top 5 picks from previous years.
Once again Ms. Penny hits one out of the park with A Great Reckoning. This is the twelfth in the Inspector Gamache series and does not disappoint. Does Armand also have secrets he does not wish revealed? In this installment the inspector is the Master Chess player, moving characters around in ways that will reveal their best, and worst selves. This book was a delight to read. After twelve books Louise Penny still excels at inspiring and surprising her readers. If you have read this far into this series you will certainly enjoy this episode. If you have not read these, it will serve you well to start at the beginning and read them in order. It’s a delightful, complex, and fulfilling journey full of action, excitement, and twists that will keep you guessing throughout the series.
Poison Flower by Thomas Perry is a great thriller. I couldn’t put it down, read it in one day. Jane Whitefield, Seneca Native, helps people disappear when they are in danger using finely honed gifts and techniques passed down through the centuries by her ancestors. In this story, Jane attempts to rescue a wrongly convicted man from the courthouse, but this time she makes a mistake. Would she pay for it with her life? See Jane run. Run, Jane, run!
It is the middle of winter and brutally cold, when a frozen body is found in the trunk of a car at the Portland Fish Pier. It’s a well-known young attorney hoping to make partner in a high-powered local firm. On the night of the murder a young woman, known to be mentally unstable, shows up at the small police station on a nearby island, telling the tale of a grisly murder she witnessed, but the cop on duty doesn’t believe her. Now she is missing too. Portland Police Detective Michael McCabe is on the hunt, hoping to find Abby Quinn before the killer does. The Chill of Night by James Hayman is a fast paced, suspense filled mystery that will keep you reading in front of the fire right up to the last page.
Flavia is a precocious (but not obnoxious) child of the manor born. Her life hasn’t been easy though. Her mother died giving her birth and her two older sisters tease her mercilessly. Flavia has gained the upper hand, ever since she discovered her uncle’s chemistry lab in the attic and learned how to create her own diversions. She also discovers bodies all over town. She and her trusty bicycle, Gladys, travel the county following the clues wherever they take her. With her unwitting ally, Chief Inspector Hewitt, and her father’s man, Dogger, no criminal is safe. Now a teenager, Flavia is growing into a young woman, but as astute as always, she solves the crime. Flavia is a delightful character who will capture your heart and keep your attention with her fearless attitude and her sleuthing skills. Mr. Bradley does a phenomenal job of bringing this child to life and describing the essence of a growing girl. And man can he turn a pretty phrase. Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d is Bradley’s newest installment and you don’t want to miss it!
Malice at the Palace by Rhys Bowen is a light, charming British mystery that takes place in the 1930s. Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie Rannock, is 34th in line to the throne. As nobility, she is expected to live up to royal standards, but hasn’t a penny to her name. Forced to live on her own, thanks to her selfish and greedy sister-in-law, Georgie, as her friends call her, finds enterprising ways of providing for herself. She has a dashing Irish suitor who disappears and reappears under very suspicious circumstances and friends who help her keep up appearances. Still, the Queen seems to favor her and gives her assignments but somehow they always seem to lead to murder. This is the ninth in this series that I find fun and amusing whenever I need a quick amusing book.
Emma’s Top 5 is actually Emma’s Top 6!
The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson is hard to categorize: a work of “autotheory,” a blend of memoir and critical theory, Nelson explores her marriage with Harry Dodge, a transgendered female to male artist and her experience of having a child. Interrogating the fluidity of love, identity, sexuality, parenthood and language with uncompromising honesty, this is a fascinating piece of work.
I’m not usually a science fiction fan but I became hooked on The Saga Series by Brian K. Vaughan. It tells the love story of two soldiers from warring factions in an intergalactic war told from the point of view of their child. This is a sweeping, subversive tale for adults.
Monstress by Marjorie Liu, a fantasy/horror graphic novel, is in turns beautiful and monstrous. Set in an alternate 1900’s Asia with art deco/steampunk inspired graphics, its tells the story of a teenage girl, maimed by war, who is “infected” by an unknown dark force that alternatively gives her great power but causes her to harm innocents.
Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix genuinely gave me nightmares! A book about a haunted Ikea-style store formatted like an Ikea-style catalog. It sounds gimmicky but was absolutely horrifying.
This is perhaps my favorite book that I read in 2016. Bizarrely, it is a tale of civilization’s collapse that is…heartwarming. A pandemic wipes out most of the population and twenty years later, a nomadic band of actors and musicians travel through what used to be North America performing Shakespearean plays. The book switches back and forth between these two time frames to tell the story of what happens when everything we know ends. I found Station Eleven by Emily St. Mandel spellbinding—I couldn’t put it down.
Author, Kelly Link, recommended Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt to me on Twitter and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s often described a contemporary gothic but it is stranger and more transcendent than that. There are definite echoes of Flannery O’Connor in the story of two women walking through New York state on a pilgrimage that is a complete mystery to one of them.
Julie also has an overabundance of hits, so here are her Top 9 of 2016. (And really, can there ever be too many suggestions? I think not.)
This is a popular title this year! Beware, this harmless looking story will frighten you!
Saga Volume 6 by Brian K. Vaughan involves time jumping, kindergarten, and as in real life, hard lessons for all.
Illuminae, by Amie Kaufmann and Jay Kristoff, is an inter-stellar adventure that has Kady and Ezra fleeing the enemy, but their ship’s artificial intelligence system may finish them off first.
Based on a Russian folk-tale, Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter, is set in Brooklyn and Vassa is needed to use her magic, from her dead mother, to rid the local convenience store of the witch Babs Yaga.
When “Father” dies, in The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins, the children whom he raised fight over his library which they believe holds the power over all Creation.
You think saving the world is easy? Try doing it with six outcasts that want to kill each other. Read Six of Crows by Leigh Barduga to find out if Kaz can get them to cooperate long enough to save the world.
Kiss of Deception by Mary Pearson has everything fantasy lovers desire, so you want to make sure and check this one out!
Amanda is in a new school and has a crush on Grant. As she gets to know him, she must choose whether to keep her secret or to tell him that before she was Amanda, she was Andrew. Read If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo to find out what she decides to do.
In Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff, perfect Waverly dream visits a boy she could never be with, but the experience makes her decide what matters to her most in life.
In 2016, Dale started a graphic novel book group, Read Between the Panels, so it is no wonder that 4 of his Top 5 picks are graphic novels. (And if you want to get in on Read Between the Panels, call Topsham Public Library at 725-1727 for more information!)
After trying to kill himself numerous times and by various means, Jimmy Yee decides to figure out why he cannot do himself in, no matter how much chaos his task unleashes. If you’re into graphic novels, try Demon by Jason Shiga.
While Alaska experiences their thirty days of darkness, Vampires wreak havoc on its citizens, in 30 Days of Night by Steve Niles.
In Outcast by Robert Kirkman, all his life Kyle has struggled as he is demon-possessed. When he goes looking for answers, it could be the end of the world.
What if World War II hadn’t ended the way it did? Manhattan Projects by Jonathan Hickman is an alternate ending to World War II involving science fiction themes.
Good Luck Have Fun by Roland Li is an unveiling of the multi-million dollar world of eSports.