Every year I get asked for a list of my favorite books of all time and honestly, that list is SO hard. Mostly because I love too many, all for very different reasons, so one of these days I'll make this huge definitive list that you need. But for now, some of you are still shopping for holiday gifts and if you have any awesome friends, they are readers. And readers want books for gifts, it's just a fact.
So without further making you wait, here is a list of top eleven books that I read this year.
This Dark Road to Mercy- Wiley Cash: Talk about a book that grabs you from the first word and keeps you hanging on to the end. I really identified with the older daughter, Easter. These girls are essentially orphaned when their mother overdoses on drugs after living a hard life. But instead of going to foster care, good ol' dad comes back out of nowhere and tries really hard to do the right thing. It's a hard book, and it's sad, but it was great.
Orphan Train - Christina Baker Kline: One thing I really love is when two generations learn about each other and can connect through stories of a time long passed. Then you get a book like Orphan Train, which is that and so much more and it's everything. Not only was I hooked on Molly's story, but more so the one of Vivian, who was a passenger on the oft forgotten Orphan Train, but I wanted to learn more about the orphan trains and really- they were kind of horrible. You never knew where kids would land and it didn't actually matter so long as they weren't taking up government funds in an orphanage somewhere. Then Vivian's ending? GUT PUNCH. I cried and had to take a break from the book just to read the final few pages.
Trinity Stones- L.G. O'Connor: I recently read and reviewed the second book in this series as well, and it's just as good as the first. So I'm going to honorably mention it here but you really need to read the first before you get to that one. But this was a really great book and if you are at all a fan of paranormal, you are going to love this. The story is great, the character development is great, you are completely hooked. You finish the book feeling satisfied but already wanting more because this is going to be a pretty in depth series and I cannot wait. Can I mention how fantastic the writing is??
The Unfinished Child- Theresa Shea: Oh man. Well this was a book that originally I didn't remember signing up for, was a little worried I would hate it, and it turned out to be one of the best books I have ever read. It's about two friends, one who desperately wants a child but can't for some unknown reason, and the other who has kids and finds herself pregnant again and isn't thrilled. Even more so when she finds out that her child will likely have Downs' Syndrome. But mixed in this is the story of a woman who gave birth to a child in 1947 with Downs' Syndrome and back then, you gave that baby up, you certainly didn't keep it. But she kept in touch with the home her daughter was at, and that proves to be horrific when she finds out what happens. But it ties in with the two friends. And it's such a moral gut wrench of a story and every opinion you thought you had on this would be questioned. Amazing story.
Alias Hook- Lisa Jensen: If there was an award for book that I talked about most this year, this book would get it. It's a re-telling of the classic Peter Pan, except the brilliance about this is that Peter Pan is actually portrayed as the bad guy, and poor Hook is the hero, the guy you root for and oddly enough, the guy you fall in love with by the end. No, I'm not even kidding. I said in my review that I had a slow start on this book but once I got into it, I was absolutely riveted and I could not put this one down at all. It was amazing, I am such a fan of Lisa Jensen and I will go wherever she wants to take me next. It was such a great concept of a book and honestly, I had no idea how she was going to make me love Hook but she did.
Sea Creatures- Susanna Daniel: Another author I will throw all of my money at just to buy whatever she is selling. Her first book, Stiltsville, is one of my all time favorites and it has a line at the end that will always gut punch me. I was so worried that feeling and love couldn't possibly be conveyed over another book with a totally different cast of characters and story, but it did. Oh, did it. It's about a mom who is in a difficult marriage with her work-aholic husband who reluctantly agrees to parenthood but kind of leaves it to her once the boy is here. She doesn't mind, she loves being a mom, even if her son won't talk for no reason. Bring on a job with her going to Stiltsville to help organize artwork for a recluse and you worry where this story is going, BUT! Cue a major accident, a hurricane, and an unexpected death and you are left reeling at the end. You feel like you're on a boat yourself and you might fall right off the edge. Absolutely loved it, I can hardly wait to see what she produces next.
Prophecy's Power- Brenda Dyer: YES. As book three in the series, I feel like I went in thinking there is a chance it won't be as great as the other two, and that's kind of allowable with a series because it has to be hard to write them. But no, it was just as amazing as the first two and I was so upset when I finished it. That moment when I'm hitting "next page" on my Nook and it's blinking at me like I'm an idiot and I realize that oh hey, this book is done. DAMMIT. I am quietly stalking Brenda's Facebook updates and she is furiously writing book four, which sounds equally amazing and I'm all over here wanting her to stop sleeping and just write. *sigh* SUCH a great romance series with a paranormal twist.
Made for You- Melissa Marr: Oh man. Here is another book I had no recollection signing up to review, and the cover is creepy enough to remind me that was probably why I picked it, and I absolutely was not disappointed at all. It's basically about Eva, who after almost being killed by some nut job who is fixated on her who refers to himself as "The Judge", discovers she has developed some unusual powers during her recovery. She connects with an old love interest and this seems to only fuel the psychopath who one by one starts murdering people in school as some kind of "I'm sorry I tried to kill you, but I do these other murders because I love you" thing and it's creepy. It's like a really terrifying Lifetime movie. The book is so fast paced and you have no idea who the culprit is until the end and it kept me on the edge of my seat.
I Shall Be Near To You- Erin Lindsay McCabe: All of the tears in the world. Absolutely do not read this if you are having your period or for whatever reason find yourself to be highly hormonal. Just don't do it because you will hate yourself afterwards and eat all of the ice cream you can afford. The book takes place during the Civil War, Jeremiah enlists and Rosette can't bear to be without him. She's not convinced he will come home and that's not the kind of life she wants, so she decides to pretend to be a man and also enlists. He's rightfully furious when he finds out, but also kind of relieved because he also is madly in love with her. I can't even tell you any more without ruining this beautiful story, but I'll tell you what, nothing in this lifetime prepares you for the ending. Nothing.
Accidents of Marriage- Randy Susan Meyers: If you are married, and you have ever had the "is it worth it to stick it out" thought, this book is for you. The wife is a pill popper to cope with the stress of parenting a teenager who seems more and more disconnected, and a son who she doesn't relate to, and a husband who is never home. The husband, doesn't see how far his family has spiraled out but doesn't actually care because if you don't see it, it's not a problem. Until one day an epic marital fight results in a horrifying car crash, leaving wife in a coma and fighting for her life. During that hospital stay, and subsequent recovery, we learn all about their marriage. Her problems, his infidelity, and all of the issues the children have had right in front of them. No holds barred, it was a great book.
Black Ice- Becca Fitzpatrick: Yes, I know this brings my list to 11 and that doesn't conform to standard end of the year lists and I really don't give a damn. I don't give a damn because I am a HUGE Becca Fitzpatrick fan and she could doodle on a napkin and it'll be on this list. That's how strongly I feel for her and her books. Yes, she writes YA and I am 32 years old and again, don't care. This is about Britt, who is basically your average dumb teenage girl, who makes a series of really terrible decisions which ultimately almost get her killed. BUT, we meet a cute guy who may or may not be a psychopath, we have Britt developing a little Stockholm Syndrome and then? THEN it all goes to hell in a hand basket (or forest after a terrible blizzard, as it so happens) and nothing was the same. The best part? You're left devastated at this ending- like was everything a lie? Does anything mean something anymore? But *deep breaths* we have an epilogue and it's amazing. It's so good, it's what you want. I flew through this book in a day and that was bittersweet because Becca is hands down, the slowest writer ever, or so it seems because we wait FOREVER between her books. Seriously. I think it's been years since this and the ending of the Hush, Hush series, which is one of my favorites of all time. So this is my plea to you, Becca: please dear god, write faster.
So there you go. You need all of these books in your life, right now. You also need to make sure any awesome reader friends on your shopping list get something off this list because they will thank you, you will look super awesome and knowledgeable, and then you can pay me in cookies.