Reviews of books, movies, and more
Happy New Year’s Eve! It’s that time again! My third annual favorite books of the year post.
As those who followed me may have noticed, I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump this year. I haven’t read quite as many books, so this year, I have a top seven instead of a top ten. (However, I really enjoyed reading all seven of these!)
Note that not all of these books were published this year – these are just my favorites out of the ones I have read.
Without further ado:
(in the order I read them):
Since I became a big fan of the musical and the movie, it was only natural that I would want to read the unabridged book as well. And what a book! It’s an exploration of faith, politics, history, and philosophy all rolled into one, not to mention the many excellent characters. It did take me six months to get through it, but that’s a small price to pay for a life-changing story.
In this somewhat morbid paranormal history, Mary Shelley Black is a teenage girl living in San Diego in 1918. With the combination of the devastating war and the flu pandemic that is killing people in droves, those who are left flock to seances and the so-called Spiritualist photographers in hopes of sensing a trace of their dead loved ones. When Mary Shelley is visited by her soldier sweetheart’s ghost, she realizes his death may not be what it seems and begins to search for the truth. It’s a dark but fascinating paranormal mystery, and covers a period of U.S. history that sometimes falls through the cracks.
Nothing is quite as it first seems as a girl captured by the Nazis records the story of her close friendship with a female pilot. It’s really rare to find novels centering around strong friendships between two girls, especially in the middle of an interesting time in history when both characters get to do things. It’s a hard book to read at times, between the subject matter and the intentionally disorienting narrative style, but undeniably good.
In the future, kids displaying strange powers as the result of mutations are sent to brutal concentration camps. After five years, Ruby escapes from one and finds herself on a crazy road trip with other kids like her. Though Ruby slowly bonds with her new friends, they aren’t safe anywhere, finding themselves pursued by government agents and manipulated by other groups attempting to seize power in the shambles of the United States. I became very attached to Ruby and her group, and appreciated Bracken’s ability to bring humor and sweet moments into an otherwise very dark book. However, as is typical for me, I didn’t enjoy the sequel nearly as much.
Emerson has the ability to see people from the past, which she finds seriously irritating. Then she meets Michael, a representative of an organization of people with similar abilities. Unfortunately, there is also another powerful person out there who is Up to No Good. This was a fun time-manipulation-type-book, with a dash of romance. I loved McEntire’s vivid descriptions of the characters’ personalities and the little Tennessee town in which the book is set.
In 1867, Verity returns to her hometown to marry her fiancé. She’s shocked to discover that the graves of her mother and her aunt are caged. Determined to find out the reason why, Verity begins an investigation that involves accusations of witchcraft and a lost buried treasure. This was an excellent history mystery, and Salerni also gets points in my book for being one of the few authors in recent memory to construct a love triangle that helps strengthen the story and main character rather than detract from them.
Mackenzie is trained by her grandfather to be a Keeper. Her role is to return escaped Histories (the “essence” of a person’s life in a human form) back to the Archive where they belong. She finds herself in over her head when her family moves to an old hotel-turned-apartment, and finds traces of a murder that occurred years before. Plus, more Histories than ever are escaping. It’s a difficult book to describe because of its unique premise, but it’s a well-done and creative mystery with a believable and flawed heroine.
4 of these books were borrowed from the library.
1 of these books was read on Kindle.
2 of these books I own.
Have a Happy New Year!