In case you haven’t noticed, I have a serious love for reading. In July (of 2016) I finally illustrated that love to all of you by starting up a new monthly feature called “Read My Lips”. I showcased the books I’d read and shared my musings on each novel. Since 2016 drew to a close I’ve had some people ask me about my favourite reads of the year, so I decided to compile a list of my 5 favourite books I read in 2016.
1. Find Her by Lisa Gardner
Genre: Mystery/Psychological Thriller/Suspense
This was the last thriller I finished in 2016 and it certainly wrapped up the year quite nicely. If I’m pushed, ever so slightly, then I would probably say that Find Her is my favourite thriller of 2016. I’m a newcomer to Lisa Gardner and Find Her is the first book I’ve read by her, but certainly won’t be the last. This woman knows how to write. Her style is immaculate – descriptive and explanatory without being long-winded. Seven years ago, carefree college student Flora Dane was kidnapped while on spring break. For 472 days, Flora learned just how much one person can endure. Now kidnapping survivor–turned-vigilante, Flora, tries to save another young kidnapped woman while the police do everything they can to save them both. This novel really appealed to my mystery solving heart, but more than that it gave me a whole new perspective on human nature as the book explores Flora’s psychological state during her traumatic abduction and her uncomfortable reentry into society after her horrific ordeal.
Find Her is exceptionally fast-paced and while your mind is still swirling from the previous page it’s already being shocked by the next event. The story is constant and never lags. Two words – action-packed. It’s filled with plot twists, dark moments and dozens of shocking scenes. This book is definitely worth a read. I can’t recommend it enough if you’re into the psychological thriller/mystery genre.
2. Behind Closed Doors by B A Paris
Genre: Mystery/Psychological Thriller
He has a dashing personality and oozes charisma. She radiates elegance and grace. He’s devastatingly handsome. She’s gorgeous. He’s a natural entertainer with a close circle of friends. She’s the perfect hostess and a culinary crackerjack. He’s a highly acclaimed lawyer for battered women. She’s a proficient painter and an avid gardener. Together they are the perfect couple – madly in love and attached at the hip. But as the old saying goes, appearances can be deceiving. You can’t judge a book by its cover. You can read the rest of my review over on my book club post from October.
3. YOU by Caroline Kepnes
Genre: Mystery/Psychological Thriller/Suspense
I’m not sure how a book can keep you captivated, scared witless, aghast, excited and gasping for breath all at the same time, but somehow YOU is able to achieve this slew of intoxicating reactions. This chilling story submerges us deep in the mind of a psychopath as he makes the connivingly perfect move from stalker to boyfriend. YOU is the epitome of what some people might refer to as a page turner. A twisted tale of obsessive love that will leave you feeling confused, sympathetic and disgusted. The darkest moment for me was when I saw parts of myself in the exceptionally smart main character, or when I found myself rooting for the maniac. There really is a fine line between love and obsession. In the age of social media, this is an important book to show how knowledge of your whole life is only a few clicks away.
When aspiring writer Guinevere Beck strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he’s instantly smitten. Beck is everything Joe has ever wanted: She’s gorgeous, tough, razor-smart, and as sexy as his wildest dreams. That blurb alone should send you running off to a bookstore yourself to grab a copy, hopefully without meeting a Joe of your own. Be warned, though, YOU is graphic in the way of sexuality, language, and violence. It might not be for everyone, but it’s certainly the most chilling, excellently written fiction book I read in 2016.
4. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Genre: Young Adult/Romance/Drama
I usually steer clear of romance novels. They’re just not my jam. But I do however have a thing for young adult fiction, so when it came to Eleanor & Park there was a tough decision to be made – to read or not to read. I obviously opted for the former, and boy I’m glad I did. When I set out on this journey of young love, I wasn’t even aware that this 2012 novel had reached something of cult status amongst the young adult crowd. I’m actually feeling myself getting teary-eyed just thinking back to this story and all the emotion it evoked in me. It was exactly the book I needed to read at the exact point in time when I opened it up on the first chapter.
Eleanor & Park is set over the course of one school year in 1986 and follows two sixteen-year-old star-crossed misfits who are forced to sit together on a school bus. Eleanor is the new girl, the girl with the crazy red hair and the eccentric clothes. Park is the quiet Asian boy who does everything in his power to blend into the background. We discover that neither of them have a perfect life, but somehow they manage to find solace with each other. Aaah, young love is a powerful thing. Wait, scratch that – love is a powerful thing and if you’ve even been in love then reading about it from a sixteen-year-old perspective is undeniably the most charming thing you’ll ever come across.
This beautifully crafted masterpiece left me speechless, shaking, distressed, elated, hopeful, angry and a multitude of other emotions. I couldn’t bring myself to read anything else for over a week as I needed time to process the story and the way it made me feel. I applaud Rainbow Rowell’s excellently crafted words. My favourite quote from the book – “Did she miss him? She wanted to lose herself in him. To tie his arms around her like a tourniquet. If she showed him how much she needed him, he’d run away”.
5. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
Sometimes you come across a book which captures you from the first word, then immediately has your heart racing and your brain firing on all cylinders. The Woman in Cabin 10 is NOT that book. However, it is a book that kept me reading, even when I still wasn’t sure what was happening half-way through. It piqued my interested and kept me wondering up until the very last page. I wasn’t sure if I was even enjoying the book until I realised at about 60% that I was actually loving the book. The story takes some time to pick up and the main character is a bit abrasive and rough around the edges, but other than that I love how if you pay enough attention to the storyline (which I did) you can definitely spot some ‘clues’ scattered throughout the book.
The Woman in Cabin 10 centers around Lo Blacklock, a travel journalist who has just been given the assignment of a lifetime – a week on a luxury boutique cruise boat housing 10 cabins. This whodunit tale leaves you guessing and second-guessing after our heroine witnesses what appears to be a murder in cabin 10. The problem is that all guests and staff are accounted for. Cabin 10 is completely empty. No blood is found. No body to prove it. This leaves poor Lo in a sticky situation when she realises that a killer hides in plain sight aboard the ship. The more she digs the deeper she falls into a dangerous situation.