This has been a very busy year for me as a reader.
Although my Goodreads account says otherwise, according to my personal count I read around one hundred books. One hundred! While I claim to be a voracious reader I even shocked myself with that number. This is even more surprising when I realized that I also watched about the same number of films. I obviously had more free time than I realized.
So without further ado and in no particular order, here are my top ten favorites this year:
The Lady and the Lionheart -This is not only my favorite read this year, but is going on my top ten favorite books that I’ve ever read. The compelling and redemptive story of a tender hearted lion tamer and the sweet nurse with a tragic past who helps him care for an orphaned infant is one which has haunted me in a good way even months after I finished the book. I’m not the only one who loves their story. It’s getting rave reviews, so do yourself a favor and buy it.
The Progeny -Tosca Lee has always written fascinating stories and this one about gifted descendants of one of the most allegedly prolific female serial killers in history is a real thriller. It’s mystery and fast pace ensured I couldn’t put it down and I can’t wait for the sequel. I love how Tosca has a way of writing about notorious historical figures and making you see them from a different perspective.
The Price of Privilege Series -Yes, it is more than one book, but it is only one story. Julia Elliston finds herself thrust into a totally unfamiliar world of wealth and politics, woefully unprepared and uncertain who to trust. Her journey and the people who influence her life are the closest allegory to the Biblical story arc that I have ever read. Every detail, no matter how small, matters and all the individual threads are finally woven together in the end creating an explosive and heart rending ending. I have recommended this series to everyone I know.
The Girl From the Train-This is the first of South African Irma Joubert’s novels to be translated to English. This book follows a WWII orphan and her savior across Europe and into South Africa. I love reading stories set in different countries and have never read one like this.
The End of the World-Amy Matayo is one of my must read authors and her novel about two foster kids whose relationship over the years helps sustain them was difficult to read and yet extremely impacting. This one made me uncomfortable, but it is a necessary discomfort.
Rochester, A Memoir -For the Jane Eyre lovers out there, this is the familiar story from Rochester’s point of view. I appreciated seeing some of the things that annoyed me about him from his perspective. It gave me a better understanding of his character.
Undertow & Oceanswept -These two are part of a YA Trilogy about a privileged young woman who is captured by pirates and falls for one of her captors. I couldn’t help getting addicted to this feisty character and am waiting impatiently for the conclusion of the series.
Journey’s End -This is one I picked up on a whim, not expecting much and was surprised how much I liked it. A poor English girl, moves to America with the intent of revenging herself against the rich father she believes abandoned her.
Flowers from the Storm -I try to limit my reading of general market romances. But I loved the unusual premise of a mathematically brilliant duke who ends up in an insane asylum and the prim, Quaker woman who helps restore him to sanity. This was originally published in 1992 and is very well known so I’m pretty late to the party.
A Chance for Sunny Skies -This rom-com which follows an overweight woman who decides to change her life after a near death experience was a nice surprise.
The Captive Heart – Okay, I cheated, but I couldn’t leave out this story of an indentured Englishwoman who finds herself married to a backwoods stranger who may or may not have murdered his first wife.
Runners Up: The Waylaid Heart, Gladly Beyond, The Glass Mermaid, The Wood’s Edge, Mistress of Tall Acre, Attachments, Told You Twice, All Who Dream, I’ll Be Yours, When Fall Fades, Love’s Shadow, A Twist of Faith, Baron of Blackwood, Lady Undaunted, Three Wishes and the list goes on.
In addition to discovering new stories this year, I also read books by at least forty authors who are new to me. I have listed a few of my favorite new discoveries.
- Becky Doughty -She has been my favorite author discovery this year. I liked her YA series The Fallout, and was charmed by her sisters series The Gustafson Girls.
- Eva Ibbotson -Her books were contemporary at the time she wrote them, but are historical fiction at this point. Most of her adult stories revolve around once wealthy emigres from Austria who find themselves adjusting to new lives in England thanks to WWII.
- Kara Isaac -Contemporary author from New Zealand whose books are themed around famous classic authors (Tolkien, C.S. Lewis).
- Irma Joubert -wrote one of the books on my top ten list. South African author whose books are slowly being translated to English.
- Kristi Hunter -debut author who has a Regency historical fiction series.
- Lara Hays -another author whose books made my top ten list. I am currently stalking this YA author on social media for news of her next release.
- Rainbow Rowell -I know she’s been around a while, but I just discovered this writer of quirky contemporary tales.
- Susanna Kearsley -another author with many books already under her belt. I love how she mixes historical and contemporary timelines and adds supernatural elements.
- Eryn Scott -After reading A Chance for Sunny Skies (on the list above) I have bought and read most of her other books. Sunny Skies is still my favorite.
- Penny Reid -writes contemporary romances with the most fascinating unexpected characters. I devoured her backlog of books and particularly fell in love with Beauty and the Mustache (who doesn’t love a male hero who writes poetry and is still a manly man?!) Warning: These books are not clean reads.
- Julianna Deering -I’m not the only reader who likes her lighthearted mystery series set in 1930’s England. For fans of classic film, think The Thin Man.
- Liz Johnson -Any lovers of Anne of Green Gables out there? You will like this author’s contemporary romance series set in Prince Edward Island which is equally charming.
Honorable Mentions: Amanda Dykes, Crystal Walton, Heidi Ashworth, Rachel McMillian, Caroline Lee, Poppy Lawless