Vicky’s Best Reads 2016

Best Reads for 2016

by Vicky Calmes, Colby Public Library Director

 FICTION

  1. The Book that Matters Most by Ann Hood  

Ava joins a book group for the love of reading and desperation for companionship. The group’s goal throughout the year is for each member to present the book that matters most to them. Ava rediscovers a mysterious book from her childhood.

  1. The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

Your neighbor told you that she didn’t want your six-month-old daughter at the dinner party. Your husband said it would be fine. After all, you only live next door. You’ll have the baby monitor and you’ll go check every half hour. But now, as you race up the stairs in your deathly quiet house, your worst fears are realized: she’s gone!

  1. Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You’d like to get to know Grace better. But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love. Is it the perfect marriage or the perfect lie?

  1. Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Sam and Clementine have a wonderful life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Two months later, Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?

  1. One More Day by Kelly Simmons

No one wants to be the mother whose child disappears. It’s unthinkable; the stuff of nightmares. But when she turns her back to pay a parking meter, Carrie Morgan becomes that mother. Ben is gone, and more than a year later, it’s clear that he is never coming back. Until he does…for just twenty-four hours, before once again vanishing from his crib without a trace. Her husband and friends start to think she’s crazy. The police start to think she’s guilty.

  1. The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth

Anna Forster is only thirty-eight years old, but her mind is slowly slipping away from her. Anna’s family is doing what they believe to be best when they take her to Rosalind House, an assisted living facility. As her disease steals more and more of her memory, Anna fights to hold on to what she knows, including her relationship with Luke, the only other person near her age in the facility. When a tragic incident leads Anna’s and Luke’s families to separate them, Rosalind House employee Eve finds herself questioning what she is willing to risk to help them. 

  1. She’s Not There by Joy Fielding

The trip is supposed to be a celebration. Caroline’s husband, Hunter, convinces her to leave their two young daughters, Michelle and Samantha, alone in their hotel suite while the couple enjoys an anniversary dinner in the restaurant downstairs. Returning afterward, Caroline and Hunter make a horrifying discovery: Two-year-old Samantha has vanished without a trace.

  1. Goodbye to the Dead by Brian Freeman

Detective Jonathan Stride’s first wife, Cindy, died of cancer eight years ago, but her ghost hangs over Stride’s relationship with fellow detective, Serena Dial. When Serena witnesses a brutal murder outside a Duluth bar, she stumbles onto a case with roots that go all the way back to the last year of Cindy Stride’s life.

  1. Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia’s teenaged sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire. Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet. Neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss—a devastating wound that’s cruelly ripped open when Claire’s husband is killed.

16. The Widow by Fiona Barton

When the police started asking questions, Jean Taylor turned into a different woman who enabled her and her husband to carry on when more bad things began to happen. Then, “that” woman’s husband died last week and Jean doesn’t have to be her anymore. The truth—that’s all anyone wants. But the one lesson Jean has learned in the last few years is that she can make people believe anything…

  1. The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

For Jerome Anderson, life as he knows it has stopped. A deadly diagnosis has made him realize he is approaching the end of his life. His first thought—I’m not finished yet. Once a shining young star in academia, a graduate of Yale and Harvard, and a professor of psychology, he threw it all away because of an obsession. Anderson became the laughing stock of his peers, but he didn’t care – something had to be going on beyond what anyone could see or comprehend. He spent his life searching for that something else. With the discovery of four-year old Noah, he thinks he’s found it.

14. Salt to the Sea (YA) by Ruta Sepetys

In the winter of 1945, there are four teenagers with four secrets. Each one was born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies, and war. As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom. Inspired by the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, this is the tale of a shockingly little-known casualty of World War II. 

  1. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door. Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon with staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. Behind the cranky exterior, there is a sad story.

  1. Leave Me by Gayle Forman

For every woman who has ever fantasized about driving past her exit on the highway instead of going home to make dinner, for every woman who has ever dreamed of boarding a train to a place where no one needs constant attention–meet Maribeth Klein. She’s a harried working mother who’s so busy taking care of her husband and twins, she doesn’t even realize she’s had a heart attack.

  1. Redemption Road by John Hart

A boy with a gun waits for the man who killed his mother. A troubled detective confronts her past in the aftermath of a brutal shooting. After thirteen years in prison, a good cop walks free.   Deep in the forest, on the altar of an abandoned church, the unthinkable has just happened. This is a town on the brink. This is a road with no mercy.

  1. The Ex by Alafair Burke

A woman agrees to help an old boyfriend who has been framed for murder—but begins to suspect that she is the one being manipulated. Twenty years ago she ruined his life. Now she has the chance to save it. Olivia Randall is one of New York City’s best criminal defense lawyers. When she hears that her former fiancé, Jack Harris, has been arrested for a triple homicide—and that one of the victims was connected to his wife’s murder—there is no doubt in her mind as to his innocence. The only question is who would go to such great lengths to frame him —and why?

  1. (TIED)

Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben

Former special ops pilot Maya, home from the war, sees an unthinkable image captured by her nanny cam while she is at work: her two-year-old daughter playing with Maya’s husband, Joe—who had been brutally murdered two weeks earlier. The provocative question at the heart of the mystery: Can you believe everything you see with your own eyes, even when you desperately want to?

Home by Harlan Coben

A decade ago, kidnappers grabbed two boys from wealthy families and demanded ransom, then went silent. No trace of the boys ever surfaced. For ten years their families have been left with nothing but painful memories and a quiet desperation for the day that has finally, miraculously arrived: Myron Bolitar and his friend Win believe they have located one of the boys, now a teenager. Where has he been for ten years, and what does he know about the day, more than half a life ago, when he was taken? And most critically: What can he tell Myron and Win about the fate of his missing friend? 

  1. Find Her by Lisa Gardner

Seven years ago, carefree college student Flora was kidnapped while on spring break. For 472 days, Flora learned just how much one person can endure. Miraculously alive after her ordeal, Flora has spent the past five years reacquainting herself with the rhythms of normal life. And then Flora disappears again…

  1. Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf

Sarah Quinlan’s husband, Jack, has been haunted for decades by the untimely death of his mother when he was just a teenager. Her body was found in the cellar of their family farm; the circumstances a mystery. The case rocked the small farm town of Penny Gate, Iowa, where Jack was raised, and for years Jack avoided returning home. But when his beloved aunt Julia is in an accident, hospitalized in a coma, Jack and Sarah are forced to confront the past that they have long evaded.  6. The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton

On the 24th of November, Yasmin and her deaf daughter Ruby arrived in Alaska. Within hours, they were driving alone across a frozen wilderness looking for Ruby’s father. They still cannot find him, but someone is watching them in the dark.

  1. Those Who Wish Me Dead by Michael Koryta

When fourteen-year-old Jace Wilson witnesses a brutal murder, he’s plunged into a new life, issued a false identity and hidden in a wilderness skills program for troubled teens. The plan is to get Jace off the grid while police find the two killers. The result is the start of a nightmare. The killers, known as the Blackwell Brothers, are slaughtering anyone who gets in their way in a methodical quest to reach him.

  1. The Golden Son by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Anil is the cherished son of a large family in rural India. As the eldest boy, he is expected to inherit the role of leader of his clan and arbiter of its disputes, dispensing wisdom and good advice. Leena is his closest companion, a fiercely brave girl who loves nothing more than the wild terrain where they live and her close-knit family. As childhood friends, they are inseparable, but as adulthood approaches, they grow apart. Anil is the first person in his family to leave India, the first to attend college, and the first to become a doctor. At home, Leena dreams of marriage and leaves her beloved home to join her new husband’s family in a distant village. Then, things start to go wrong: Anil makes a medical mistake with tragic results, his first love begins to fray, and a devastating event makes him question his worth as a doctor and as a friend.

  1. Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica

In downtown Chicago, a young woman named Esther Vaughan disappears from her apartment without a trace. A haunting letter addressed to “My Dearest” is found among her possessions, leaving her friend and roommate Quinn Collins to wonder where Esther is and whether or not she’s the person Quinn thought she knew.  

  1. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene? Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime.

  1. The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa  

A riveting story of twelve-year-old Hannah Rosenthal’s harrowing experience fleeing Nazi-occupied Germany with her family and best friend, Leo. They discover that the overseas asylum they had been promised is an illusion as Cuba denies the passengers of the St. Louis admittance to their country.

AND THE 2016 TOP FICTION CHOICES:

Trilogy: Once Upon a Lie (reviewed below) followed by Lies That Bind and Lie in Plain Sight  by Maggie Barbieri

Maeve Conlon’s life is coming apart at the seams. Her bakery is barely making ends meet, and one of her daughters spends as much time grounded as the other does studying. Her ex-husband has a new wife, a new baby, and a look of pity for Maeve. Her father insists he’s still independent, but he’s slowly and obviously succumbing to Alzheimer’s. Then, her cousin Sean Donovan has been found dead, sitting in his car in a public park, shot through the head. There was never much love lost between Maeve and Sean and she’s not exactly devastated by his death, but suddenly the police are poking around asking the family questions. It’s just one more hassle Maeve doesn’t have time for, until she realizes that her father, whose memory and judgment are unreliable at best, is a suspect in the murder.

NON-FICTION

  1. Will and I by Clay Byars

Clay Byars was recovering at home from a near-fatal car crash when he suffered a massive stroke. He was just eighteen years old. He awoke, back in the hospital, and was told he would be paralyzed from the eyes down for the rest of his life. Determined to defy the odds, Clay quickly and miraculously began to recover his mobility but discovered just how different his life would be―a disparity embodied by his identical twin brother, Will. As Will went on to graduate from college, marry, and start a family, Clay carved out a unique existence, doing the seemingly impossible by living on his own on a remote farm in Alabama.

  1. Roughneck Grace by Michael Perry

New York Times bestselling author, humorist, and newspaper columnist Michael Perry returns with a new collection of bite-sized essays from his Sunday Wisconsin State Journal column, “Roughneck Grace.” Perry’s perspectives on everything from cleaning the chicken coop to sharing a New York City elevator with supermodels will have you snorting with laughter on one page, blinking back tears on the next, and nodding in recognition throughout.

  1. Giants: The Dwarfs of Auschwitz by Yehuda Koren

This is a moving and inspirational story of survival of a troupe of seven dwarf siblings. Their story starts like a fairy tale before moving into the darkest moments of their history. At a time when the phrase survival of the fittest was paramount, the Ovitz family, seven of whose ten members were dwarfs less than three feet tall, defied the fate of so many other Holocaust victims. The irony was that, doubly doomed for being Jewish and disabled, it was their dwarfism that ultimately saved their lives. Obsessed with eugenics, Dr. Mengele experimented on the family, aiming to discover the biological and pathological causes of the birth of dwarfs. Like a single-minded scientist, he guarded his human lab-rats, and subsequently, when the Russian army liberated Auschwitz, all members of the family–the youngest, a baby boy just 18 months-old and the oldest, a 58 year-old woman–were alive.

  1. They Left Us Everything by Plum Johnson

After almost twenty years of caring for elderly parents—first for their senile father, and then for their cantankerous ninety-three-year-old mother—author Plum Johnson and her three younger brothers experience conflicted feelings of grief and relief when their mother, the surviving parent, dies.  Now they must empty and sell the beloved family home, which hasn’t been de-cluttered in more than half a century. Twenty-three rooms bulge with history, antiques, and oxygen tanks. The task consumes Johnson, becoming more rewarding than she ever imagined.

AND THE 2016 TOP NON-FICTION CHOICE:

The Long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz

The harrowing true tale of seven escaped Soviet prisoners who desperately marched out of Siberia through China, the Gobi Desert, Tibet, and over the Himalayas to British India.