Monday, January 6, 2014

My Favorite Books of 2013

The following books are the ones I enjoyed the most. This was a strange year for me and I didn’t come close to my annual goal of reading 100 books. In fact, I only made it through 42 books. But there were some exceptionally good reads among them.

I discovered many new-to-me authors and look forward to more of their books. I had never heard of Lee Child until a Facebook friend mentioned seeing him on TV. I immediately researched him and a friend gave me one of his books: One Shot. Needless to say, I am now hooked on his novels. Perhaps the most exciting discovery was Ben Rehder’s Bone Dry. He has been described as the Texas answer to Carl Hiaasen. High praise indeed and I tend to agree. For international adventure and intrigue I was blown away by Max Tomlinson’s Sendero, a thriller set in Peru. Paul J. Levine’s To Speak for the Dead also blew me away with a surprise ending. And Andrew Mcallister’s Unauthorized Access was a page-turner with a rip-roaring climax.

I have read three of Andrew Peters’ books and this year The Saundersfoot Suicides was a clever and hilarious tale of murder with unexpected twists and turns. Joan Conning Afman never disappoints and her Kingsley Woods was a fun and spooky read that had elements of Stephen King and Dean Koontz.  And another all-time favorite who never disappoints was P.D. James in her novel The Private Patient. With a complex but satisfying plot, I barely noticed that her protagonist Adam Dalgleish was not the principal player.

But amidst all the murder and mayhem, romance had its place also. For romantic suspense Marie-Nicole Ryan’s Broken Promises resulted in a very sensual, exciting story with surprising twists and turns. Under the Midnight Moon by Jean Joachim was a sweet and spicy love story. Caskets and Corruption by Cindy A. Christiansen, a humorous and romantic suspense novel, was fun from beginning to end.

For cozy mysteries, Marja McGraw’s They Call Me Ace was an intriguing character-based story. To Have and To Kill (The Wedding Cake Series) by Mary Jane Clark, finds the heroine in the midst of a killing spree. Another very new to me author, Jinx Schwartz, introduced her entertaining protagonist, Hetta Coffee, in Just Add Water. I can’t wait to read the next installments in this series. In Over Her Dead Body, Karen Vaughn demonstrated a wacky sense of humor.

I read two of Marilyn Levinson’s books for young readers and found them enchanting, intriguing and insightful: Getting Back to Normal deals with the death of a parent; Rufus and Magic Run Amok is about a boy with magical powers and his experience with bullying.

I ended the year with nine short stories by Elmore Leonard. The last story was one of the best stories I’ve ever read. And that’s not because it took place in my birth place of Okmulgee, Oklahoma. I have no idea if he really visited Okmulgee but he got his facts right and the characters were not only good ole boys, Oklahoma style, they were also Elmore Leonard style. The title was Tenkiller and anyone from Oklahoma would know what that meant.