Reading List: December 2017
And just like that, December is here, and with it comes the 12th and final edition of the reading list. What a fun reading adventure it has been for me this year, discovering and celebrating new book releases and learning a bit more about the publishing world. The reading life continues to be a happy life. I call the books featured this month, the final ten. 99 books were featured on the monthly readings lists (including these ten bringing up the rear) and while I confess that I did not read them all, I enjoyed the process of discovering them and I will save my thoughts on this year’s reading adventure for my postcard post that I will publish at the end of the year. But for now, here are the final ten:
The Ice House by Laura Lee Smith. Johnny MacKinnon might be on the verge of losing it all. The ice factory he married into, which he’s run for decades, is facing devastating OSHA fines following a mysterious accident and may have to close. The only hope for Johnny’s livelihood is that someone in the community saw something, but no one seems to be coming forward. He hasn’t spoken to his son Corran back in Scotland since Corran’s heroin addiction finally drove Johnny to the breaking point. And now, after a collapse on the factory floor, it appears Johnny may have a brain tumor. Johnny’s been ordered to take it easy, but in some ways, he thinks, what’s left to lose? This may be his last chance to bridge the gap with Corran–and to have any sort of relationship with the baby granddaughter he’s never met. Witty and heartbreaking by turns, The Ice House is a vibrant portrait of multifaceted, exquisitely human characters that readers will not soon forget.
A Distant Heart by Sonali Dev. Her name means “miracle” in Sanskrit, and to her parents, that’s exactly what Kimaya is. The first baby to survive after several miscarriages, Kimi grows up in a mansion at the top of Mumbai’s Pali Hill, surrounded by love and privilege. But at eleven years old, she develops a rare illness that requires her to be confined to a germ-free ivory tower in her home, with only the Arabian Sea churning outside her window for company. . . . Until one person dares venture into her world. Tasked at fourteen-years-old with supporting his family, Rahul Savant shows up to wash Kimi’s windows, and an unlikely friendship develops across the plastic curtain of her isolation room. As years pass, Rahul becomes Kimi’s eyes to the outside world—and she becomes his inspiration to better himself by enrolling in the police force. But when a life-saving heart transplant offers the chance of a real future, both must face all that ties them together and keeps them apart. As Kimi anticipates a new life, Rahul struggles with loving someone he may yet lose. And when his investigation into a black market organ ring run by a sociopathic gang lord exposes dangerous secrets that cut too close to home, only Rahul’s deep, abiding connection with Kimi can keep her safe—and reveal the true meaning of courage, loss, and second chances. Infused with the rhythms of life in modern-day India, acclaimed author Sonali Dev’s candid, rewarding novel beautifully evokes all the complexities of the human heart.
Three Sides of a Heart edited by Natalie C. Parker. This collection contains stories written by Renee Ahdieh, Rae Carson, Brandy Colbert, Katie Cotugno, Lamar Giles, Tessa Gratton, Bethany Hagan, Justina Ireland, Alaya Dawn Johnson, EK Johnston, Julie Murphy, Garth Nix, Natalie C. Parker, Veronica Roth, Sabaa Tahir, and Brenna Yovanoff. A teen girl who offers kissing lessons. Zombies in the Civil War South. The girl next door, the boy who loves her, and the girl who loves them both. Vampires at a boarding school. Three teens fighting monsters in an abandoned video rental store. Literally the last three people on the planet. What do all these stories have in common? The love triangle.
The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily by Laura Creedle. When Lily Michaels-Ryan ditches her ADHD meds and lands in detention with Abelard, who has Asperger’s, she’s intrigued—Abelard seems thirty seconds behind, while she feels thirty seconds ahead. It doesn’t hurt that he’s brilliant and beautiful. When Abelard posts a quote from The Letters of Abelard and Heloise online, their mutual affinity for ancient love letters connects them. The two fall for each other. Hard. But is it enough to bridge their differences in person? This hilarious, heartbreaking story of human connection between two neurodivergent teens creates characters that will stay with you long after you finish reading.
The Night of the Moths by Riccardo Bruni. Translated from Italian by Anne Milano Appel. Alice was a hopeful young graduate student when, on a beautiful August night, her body was found in the woods. She’ll always remember the night she was murdered. And she still suffers the grief and rage that destroyed her family. But what Alice regrets most is the last fight she had with her boyfriend, Enrico—and the fact that she never had the chance to tell him something that would have changed everything. A decade later, Enrico has returned to the provincial town where Alice lived and died, to sell his family home. All he wants is to forget. But then, among the things he left behind, he finds an old cell phone…and unread texts sent from Alice’s phone. Now, her terrible secrets are about to swallow up everyone she knew, loved, and trusted. For Enrico, discovering them is his only chance to put his lost love—and the demons of his past—to rest.
The Saboteur: The Aristocrat who Became France’s Most Daring Anti-Nazi Commando by Paul Kix. A scion of one of the most storied families in France, Robert de La Rochefoucald was raised in magnificent chateaux and educated in Europe’s finest schools. When the Nazis invaded and imprisoned his father, La Rochefoucald escaped to England and learned the dark arts of anarchy and combat—cracking safes and planting bombs and killing with his bare hands—from the officers of Special Operations Executive, the collection of British spies, beloved by Winston Churchill, who altered the war in Europe with tactics that earned it notoriety as the “Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare.” With his newfound skills, La Rochefoucauld returned to France and organized Resistance cells, blew up fortified compounds and munitions factories, interfered with Germans’ war-time missions, and executed Nazi officers. Caught by the Germans, La Rochefoucald withstood months of torture without cracking, and escaped his own death, not once but twice. The Saboteur recounts La Rochefoucauld’s enthralling adventures, from jumping from a moving truck on his way to his execution to stealing Nazi limos to dressing up in a nun’s habit—one of his many disguises and impersonations. More than just a fast-paced, true thriller, The Saboteur is also a deep dive into an endlessly fascinating historical moment, telling the untold story of a network of commandos that battled evil, bravely worked to change the course of history, and inspired the creation of America’s own Central Intelligence Agency.
Us by Curtis Wiklund. This book of heartwarming sketches reveals the everyday intimate moments that make up a marriage. Inspired by his wife, artist and wedding photographer Curtis Wiklund sketched a new drawing every day for a year. The result is this collection of adorable illustrations depicting the tender, true moments the couple shares. From winter walks to end-of-day cuddles, inside jokes to impromptu forts, this dreamy art has already captured the hearts of thousands of fans around the world.
Firefly Cover by Davis Bunn. Since the age of seven, Lucius Quarterfield has known he is dying. Doctors told him he had a “bad ticker” and might not live to see his next birthday. But somehow, the frail yet determined boy managed to hang on and surprise everyone. The bullies who teased him. The family who neglected him. The professionals who offered little hope for a normal life. To their surprise, Lucius not only survived to adulthood, he thrived, turning a small car dealership into a successful chain. But now, at twenty-eight, his time is finally running out. So he’s returning to the one place he ever felt happy, near the only woman he ever truly wanted–the California seaside town of Miramar Bay… Was it so much to ask, a healthy tomorrow shared with a woman he loved?
Jessica was the only daughter of the only dentist in town. An ardent reader and fan of Jane Austen, she was able to follow in her father’s footsteps, as he desired. But Jessica preferred the simple things in life–a trait that captivated Lucius from the moment he arrived in town on business. Her carefree approach to living and playful, quick wit were a breath of fresh air to a man who devoted all his time to work. They were complete opposites and perfect complements. Soon they were falling head over heels–until Lucius pulled away, to spare her the pain of his inevitable fate. Now, after all this time, he won’t put her through that again. His days are numbered. And whatever happens–with Jessica or anyone sharing his journey–he’s going to make each moment count. Because he knows that everything is about to change . . . he just can’t know exactly how. Warm-hearted, wise, and wonderfully moving, Firefly Cove is a powerful novel of first love and second chances.
Not Safe After Dark: And Other Stories by Peter Robinson. Peter Robinson pens thrilling tales rich with keen observations, pitch perfect dialogue, and shocking plot twists that have fascinated readers all over the world and made him one of the greatest suspense novelists alive. His acclaimed novels featuring Detective Inspector Alan Banks rank among the most celebrated police procedural series in modern fiction. In Not Safe After Dark and Other Stories, Robinson showcases once again his extraordinary talents with a collection of twenty stories, including three featuring Inspector Banks. In “Going Back”, Inspector Banks’ trip to celebrate his parents’ Golden Anniversary reveals how evil can wear many disguises. In the Edgar Award-winning “Missing in Action”, the disappearance of a young boy in the early days of WWII sparks a mob mentality with chilling results. “Innocence” captures the desperate plight of a man trapped by a set of coincidences that derail his life and lead him down a path he was destined to travel. The title story, Not Safe After Dark, is an exhilarating tale with a sudden conclusion that will leave readers’ hearts pounding. Not Safe After Dark and Other Stories deftly explores the darkest edges of humanity in which everyday people must commit desperate acts as they face fear, temptation, and impulses too irresistible to control.
Instructions for a Secondhand Heart by Tamsyn Murray. Jonny knows better than anyone that life is full of cruel ironies. He’s spent every day in a hospital hooked up to machines to keep his heart ticking. Then when a donor match is found for Jonny’s heart, that turns out to be the cruellest irony of all. Because for Jonny’s life to finally start, someone else’s had to end. That someone turns out to be Neve’s twin brother, Leo. When Leo was alive, all Neve wanted was for him (and all his glorious, overshadowing perfection) to leave. Now that Leo’s actually gone forever, Neve has no idea how to move forward. Then Jonny walks into her life looking for answers, her brother’s heart beating in his chest, and everything starts to change. Together, Neve and Jonny will have to face the future, no matter how frightening it is, while also learning to heal their hearts, no matter how much it hurts.