I wish I had an organized bookshelf like this. NOPE! I have a nice one that D put together for me and got me a few years back…then there’s another small bookshelf with mass markets and those that have stripped covers that I inherited. Then they’re all over the bedside table. And the living room table. And in various places at the store. Everywhere. Surrounded. Happily. I just did my top 15 of 2015 on my blog, and over at Erica’s blog as a guest post. I told her I would send her this also, so her readers have something new to look forward to. Something old, something borrowed, something blue, oh wait..that’s for another oddball ceremony. This has nothing to do with that! So anyhow, here are my picks for the top 16 books to read in 2016. They are all over the map, as are my reading tastes. I hope you’ll check them out. I hope you’ll read, review them, share them on social media, give a shout out to the authors and publishers- and let’s not forget, those pesky booksellers in brick-and-mortar stores that continue to humbly recommend their favorite reads. Enjoy! I would love feedback, tweets, angry pigeon bombs, whatever, on whether any of these are on your lists or what you think when you do read them. I LOVE talking to you all! Here goes:
THIS WAS NOT THE PLAN- CHRISTINA ALGER- I read this book a few months ago. I read most of it while watching Jay Cutler of the Bears screw up another game that the Bears should have won. And instead of screaming, throwing my popcorn at the TV, and coming up with ways of torturing the sulky QB, I picked up the book and read another chapter. And didn’t set it down. I read it in 3 hours. My friend Dylan came by to go to a late lunch and I asked him to give me a little more time to finish the book. I hadn’t had that reaction in a long time. This is funny, completely relatable, and heartwarming. I like to say it reminded me a lot of Nick Hornby’s “About A Boy”, but in present day. Charlie Goldwyn is my favorite character since Tom Violet (Matthew Norman’s “Domestic Violets”, one of my all-time favorites). He’s working crazily to make partner at his law firm, trying to get over his wife’s death and also managing to not really bond with his young son Caleb. Charlie has too many at a firm party, and manages to get fired. Now how will he deal? He ends up having to learn to be a single parent, how to navigate dating again, and all sorts of other predicaments that he didn’t plan upon. I laughed my ass off, and you will too. Out on 2/2/2016.
FLOOD GIRLS- RICHARD FIFIELD- Tied for first with “This Was Not the Plan” as my top favorites of 2016 so far. I was head over heels for this book and halfway through it when I got the death flu in December. It was one of those flu bugs that knock you from here to Paraguay and every vacuum cleaner in between. I had to put this book down because every time I picked it up to read it, my head started spinning and I felt sick. As soon as I felt a third better, I picked it right back up and finished it. And that one part? I bawled like a baby. I haven’t cried at a book since The Nightingale last year. I guess I was due! This was like a Joshilynn Jackson book that was a hell of a lot more ribald, meets A League Of Their Own, meets Fannie Flagg at a honky town, meets Coyote Ugly, meets Roseanne. In fact, if this is a movie (and it damn well should be! I’m going on record) Roseanne would be a great lead for Laverna. Laverna is a tough as nails woman who runs The Dirty Shame, the town dive. She also runs the Flood Girls, the local softball team. Throw in her estranged daughter Rachel who’s a recovering addict and coming back to town to complete her 12 steps, a host of memorable supporting characters, and you have a novel that grabs you and never lets go. Definitely an ensemble piece and every character is as memorable as the next. Also out on Feb 2, 2016
AND AGAIN- JESSICA CHIARELLA- I had the pleasure of meeting Jessica at my first meet n’greet last September. She was incredibly nice, upfront about how hard it is to write a book, and it was fun. My assistant manager Dan read it as well and enjoyed it as much as I did. It’s a book that stayed with me for awhile after I read it. The premise alone was the type of thing you expect you’ll read about or hear about on the news any day now, with the advances of medical technology as they are. This book centers around 4 radically different people, all with terminal diagnoses, and here’s their chance- as part of a far reaching study- to be “reborn” into new bodies that are exact replicas, but minus the diagnosis and the imperfections that those bodies had. But are their souls intact? How can you be the same person as you were before, when you are essentially “new”? This is a deep thinking book. Not so bad with the terminology that you’re wracking your brain or anything, but it raises many moral questions. I love a book that does that! This book is out today- Tuesday, January 12. Head out and get a copy!
18 AND LIFE ON SKID ROW-SEBASTIAN BACH-Ok, quit laughing. I am 100% serious here. I am a HUGE fan of hair metal. I was a huge fan of Skid Row, and yes, yes, I admit it- I had a thing for Mr. Bach. Who didn’t, with those legs, that blond hair, that voice, that attitude? I haven’t read this book yet, but I requested a copy a long time ago. I can’t wait to read about his childhood growing up as a child of a well known painter, to the heyday and high times (literally) of Skid Row, to what happened between them that led to his being canned, to his adventures on Boradway, to marriage and parenthood, and rocking in general. I CANNOT wait to read this! The release date on this continues to change, but as of last check, it’s out on April 12, 2016.
SWEET DREAMS ARE MADE OF THIS- DAVE STEWART- Yes, THAT Dave Stewart. Guitarist, producers, and musical virtuoso best known for his time in the 1980’s duo The Eurythmics. I always liked Dave Stewart, especially after finding out he’s a Virgo (I’m usually cursed with those 80’s heartthrobs, either Geminis or Leos. Not him! ). I thought he was a charismatic genius then, and I still think that now. This man has got to have insight, stories, and quite a story to share. I can’t wait to read his story. This book is out February 9th.
NFL CONFIDENTIAL–JOHNNY ANONYMOUS-I read about this months ago. A very popular NFL player has busted the dirty underside of football wide open in this little tell-all. I have to say, I’m not terribly surprised by a lot of what I’ve read in this, but I am terribly entertained by a lot of it. And believe it or not, as alarming as some of the revelations are, they are also funny. There’s a lot of humor here, and oh boy, do you need it to be playing in the NFL these days! I’m only halfway through it, but it’s definitely on my list of books for any football fan to read. The book is out now!
SUMMER OF SUPERNOVAS-DARCY WOODS- I really loved this YA novel. I think Holly thought it was hokey or maybe she wasn’t surprised when I picked it up because it has an astrology angle to it (and I love astrology). However, this one sounded a little bit fun as well. And it was! Will’s deceased mom left her with her astrological chart. Will’s a teen who’s looking for her soulmmate- but he has to be a Sagittarius . Only problem is, two boys, brothers, one is a Pisces and one is an Aries. She’s dating one officially, but the sparks really fly with the other brother. Will’s genuinely torn between the two and despite her traitorous heart, she can’t let her mom down, can she? I will tell you what I loved about this. Very real characters, real dialogue, and some serious soul searching astrology. Win! This book is out 05/10/15.
REVENGE AND THE WILD- MICHELLE MODESTO- This one was a lot of twisted, weird fun. And cannibals are involved, so definitely not your usual YA fare…which is why I loved it. Westie was only a young girl when she lost her arm and her family to cannibals on the wagon trail. Nine years later, she’s tough as nails and trying to formulate her plan for revenge. Her plan takes a slight detour when a family comes to town with the hopes of making her friend Nigel’s invention a reality- an invention that will save Rogue City. The only problem? The family looks exactly like the family that murdered her family! Westie has only the help of Nigel’s scarred servant Alistair, but she’s determined to get to the bottom of this- Rogue City’s future be damned or not. Here’s the thing about this unlikely book- there is a LOT of heart beating in these pages. So it’s not your conventional happy la la young adult book- that doesn’t mean it sucks and doesn’t deserve accolades. The opposite, in fact! This one is out soon- on February 2, 2016.
WE’RE ALL DAMAGED: A LOVE STORY- MATTHEW NORMAN- Again, if you haven’t read Domestic Violets yet, SHAME! Anyway, this is going to be his next book. This was the title last time I checked. It was also, I believe, slated for a release in the summer of 2016. I am ridiculously excited, as is most of the staff at my store (all DV fans). I really don’t know much about it, except I am dying to read it. So it makes this list! If you’re bored in the meantime, check out his debut novel. You won’t be sorry!
GATHERING OF SHADOWS-V.E.SCHWAB-I am ass backwards. Or bass ackwards.This is the #2 book in the series, but I am reading it before the first one. The lovely publisher sent it to me and I thought it was a new series. Bad me! So read the first one first- don’t do it in the order I am! Kell has the shadow stone, people have died, Rhy is more somber and serious, and Kell is struggling with his guilt. London is preparing for the Elment Games-a competition of magic that is supposed to be a bonding ceremony and draw people closer together, but there’s a pirate ship near that may change things. Two Londons, tons of magic, and nefarious bad guys afoot. It’s no wonder I’m enjoying it! Anyway, this second book is due out February 23rd.
SHALLOW GRAVES- KALI WALLACE-This was a spooky book. Spooky with a capital S. And yes, it is young adult, but hopefully those young adults reading it aren’t easily rattled. I’m not a young adult (43 in two days time), but this shit scared me senseless. Don’t let it stop you or your youngins from reading it, just beware that it is somewhat bone chilling. Breezy wakes up in a shallow grave, one year after she died. She has no idea how she got there, why, or whom. She is somehow conscious and able to sense murderous instincts and impulses in those around her. This isn’t just any garden variety type superpower, and the undead usually only have this power in bad Walmart fantasy novels, so what gives here? Once you get the story, well, just read it and find out. Unbelievably complex and page-turning, this one is out on January 26th.
The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen #1)- Alison Goodman- If you Victorian England with a little paranormal and some romance that isn’t a Harlequin paperback knockoff, this is the book for you to read. Another book I was finishing when I got the flu a month ago, and this one did keep my mind off of nausea and the like. I love Victorian England, and I love some paranormal. I don’t like the romance crap too much, so this was perfect. Just a touch of forbidden feelings, and that was enough. Lady Helen Wrexall is supposed to be concentrating on making her presentation to the Queen (formally marking open season on the young ladies of the ton), but one of the housemaids disappear and the mysterious Lord Carlston- a man shunned by the ton since his last wife died mysteriously-somehow may have the answers to how, why, and when, if not the power to stop this from happening again. Will Helen dare to ignore the warnings of her family and throw her cards down on his table? Will she be able to survive? What does any of this have to do with her deceased mother and father, who were also shunned by the ton? If you are a fan of Gail Carriger (I am), this is a book you’ll find yourself comparing- and that’s a huge compliment! This one is out January 26th.
FORGETTING TIME- SHARON GUSKIN- This was a book that made me bang my head against the wall. But I couldn’t put it down. And I couldn’t leave it behind, either. If you’re a fan of Jodi Picoult, this one belongs in that category. And it still didn’t end like I thought. Which is what I can say about the last nine Jodi Picoult books. Jerome is a doctor writing his final book (he’s dying), on the phenomena of kids who have the spirits of deceased children inside of them, causing them to act irrationally, among other disasters. Janie is a mom with a 4-year old son who is seriously unhappy and whom those wild behaviors get him bounced from the school. I can’t say too much more without giving more away, but prepare yourself for an umbrella of mixed emotions. That’s why it’s on my list, because it will definitely wreck havoc with your emotional barometer. It’s out February 2nd.