For my final book review of 2016, I spent a long time looking at the books I’d read so far this year, trying to pick the perfect one to talk about. Instead, after perusing the list, I decided to share a few of the top reads I’ve enjoyed in the last 12 months.

Top of my list would have to be the Daisy Dalrymple series by Carola Dunn, since I’ve devoured 20 of them this year. This mystery series is set in England following the Great War, and the Honorable Daisy Dalrymple is trying to make a living by writing articles about manor houses, famous English landmarks and other such things. Of course, she finds herself constantly stumbling over dead bodies, with Scotland Yard Detective Alec Fletcher called in to investigate. A growing attraction between the two develops over the course of the series. I recommend starting with “Death at Wentwater Court,” but all of the books are a delightful cozy mystery to enjoy with a cup of tea and a biscuit.

Another great series of British historical mysteries are the Sebastian St. Cyr books by C.S. Harris. I came across the first one, “What Angels Fear”, which features aristocrat Sebastian St. Cyr as the prime suspect in a young woman’s brutal murder. He must clear his name and find the real killer while avoiding the clutches of the law and a mysterious figure who serves as the power behind the throne. Book 11, “When Falcons Fall”, was just added to the Joplin Public Library collection in October.

Reading so much, I find myself picking up books from all sections of the library, including the Teen Department. There were three books that were so outstanding I’ve been recommending them to others galore. First up is “Jackaby” by William Ritter, which can best be described as Sherlock Holmes meets Doctor Who. This is the first in a trilogy that features a young woman helping a detective investigate supernaturally bent crimes.

Another read that my teenage daughter and I both enjoyed was “The Jewel” by Amy Ewing. If you’re looking for a book that combines “The Hunger Games” with “The Handmaid’s Tale,” this is the one for you. The plot consists of young girls being tested for special abilities, with the successful ones chosen, trained and then sold to royalty to serve as surrogates. It was dark, compelling, thrilling and romantic, all at once.

Finally, if you’re looking for something lighter to read, I can’t recommend “The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” comic book novel enough. Squirrel Girl is one of the standout Marvel creations, with her optimistic attitude and her ongoing quest to kick butt and eat nuts. There are four volumes so far in the library collection, with each one filled with some of the funniest comics you’ll ever read.

One book that had me laughing throughout, and I mean loud, wake-people-up laughing, was “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: (a Mostly True Memoir)” by Jenny Lawson. The author is the creator of a blog, and this covers not only some of her funniest blogs, but also her awkward childhood and marriage to her long-suffering husband. Lawson is also quite open about dealing with her overwhelming social anxieties and issues. My poor husband had to listen to various excerpts that I found so hilarious that I was forced to read them out loud to him.

My final recommendation that I really enjoyed this year is “Dracula vs. Hitler” by Patrick Sheane Duncan. During World War II, Romanian resistance fighters, desperate to overcome the Nazi invaders, call on the Undead Prince, Dracula. The resistance, led by Van Helsing’s daughter and Harker’s grandson, hope that Dracula is, above all else, a patriot and lover of his homeland. But Hitler, once aware of this dark force, is determined to capture Dracula and gain his powers and immortality for himself. There are a multitude of mash-up books out there, but this is probably one of the best I’ve ever read. The author stays true to the story of Dracula and the characters penned by Bram Stoker, while merging them into Hitler’s quest for supernatural icons. While this may not appeal to everyone, it was a fun read that I whole-heartedly recommend.

These are just a few of the books I’ve read during 2016, but all stood out as ones that were my top reads for the year. All of them are available at the Joplin Public Library, and I hope at least one intrigues you enough to pick it up to read in the new year.

Advertisements