I read a lot of books across many different genres, usually around 3-5 books per week in ebook, audio, and hardback editions.
These are the memorable ones that made a lasting impact on me this year. I hope some of them make it to your holiday reading pile!
At First Light — Barbara Nickless. “Ritual murder. Archaic clues. A visionary killer.” This is the first in a new crime thriller series that hooked me with the main characters. Dr Evan Wilding, a brilliant forensic semiotician; his Ph.D. student Diane who throws axes for fun, and Chicago detective Addie Bisset. I love love loved the Viking research and runes and cool details, and the characters were compelling. I pre-ordered the second book immediately.
The Lighthouse Witches — C.J. Cooke. I sample a lot of fiction and this caught me within a few pages. A cross-genre novel of witches, the love of family, with an edge of the supernatural.
The Gemini Effect — Chuck Grossart. “A single raindrop opens a Pandora’s box when the spawn of perverse genetic research performed during World War II is unleashed on an unsuspecting modern world. By dawn, only a dead city remains, eerily quiet and still, except for mutant beasts that hide from the light, multiply, and await the shadows of night to continue their relentless advance.” Tech-horror fun.
All the Murmuring Bones — AG Slatter. “Long ago Miren O'Malley's family prospered due to a deal struck with the mer: safety for their ships in return for a child of each generation.” I love merfolk fiction, and this is excellent.
Sundial — Catriona Ward. “Rob is afraid of her daughter. Callie collects tiny bones and whispers to imaginary friends, and Rob is afraid of what she might to do Annie, her younger sister. She sees a darkness in Callie that reminds her of the family she left behind, and a life she has tried to forget.” Super dark.
The entire Slough House series — Mick Herron. I watched season 1 on Apple TV, and then binged the entire book series even though I don't even usually read spy books. The characters in this series will keep you coming back for more, and the books are better than the TV show, even though that is also brilliant!
The Change – Kristen Miller. “In the Long Island oceanfront community of Mattauk, three different women discover that midlife changes bring a whole new type of empowerment …” I have recommended this to so many people this the year. I LOVE it!
When Women Were Dragons — Kelly Barnhill. “In a world where girls and women are taught to be quiet, the dragons inside them are about to be set free …” Wonderful. I await my dragoning …
The Six Deaths of the Saint — Alix E. Harrow. The Saint of War spares the life of a servant girl so she can fulfill her destiny as the kingdom’s greatest warrior. This is a short story, so it's a quick read but it's a memorable one. I also loved Harrow's The Once and Future Witches, one of my best reads from last year.
The Paper Palace — Miranda Cowley Heller. “A story that unfolds over twenty-four hours and fifty years, as Elle's shocking betrayal leads her to a life-changing decision.” I love deep sense of place and after I read the opening chapter, I couldn't let this go.
The Thursday Murder Club series — Richard Osman. I resisted these books for too long, as I don't usually read cozy mystery, but the characters in this series are addictive.
Queen of Teeth — Hailey Piper. “Within forty-eight hours, Yaya Betancourt will go from discovering teeth between her thighs to being hunted by one of the most powerful corporations in America.” Weird cosmic horror at its best. A well-deserved winner of a Bram Stoker Award.
Never — Ken Follett. “A stolen US army drone. A shrinking oasis in the Sahara Desert. A secret stash of deadly chemicals.” An utterly compelling read because of how real it could be. Its horror lies in how easy it is to start a world war and for that reason, it is a must read in the hope we can avoid it.
I'd love to know what books remain memorable for you this year. Please leave a comment and give me some recommendations!
Happy reading holidays!