"Then We Came to the End: A Novel" by Joshua Ferris - guess I'm starting with what I felt was a dud. It gets great reviews but it was much like watching the TV show "The Office". I just don't get cubicle culture and why it would fascinate viewers or readers. To each their own. I didn't finish it.
However I really have enjoyed the three novels by Donna Tartt that I've read!
The Goldfinch , The Secret History, and The Little Friend were all very different stories but what they have in common is complex characters whose tale unwinds slowly. Of the three my favorite was "The Secret History", I won't give it away but here's the blurb from Amazon: Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality their lives are changed profoundly and forever, and they discover how hard it can be to truly live and how easy it is to kill.
"Songs Without Words" by Ann Packer was a very honest look at the relationships we have throughout our lives and the emotional devastation of mental illness on individuals and their loved ones. I know this is a topic of personal interest with our situation, but this was definitely one of the best books I've ever read. I'm looking forward to reading other works by this author!
"The Girl on the Train" by Paula Hawkins has unexpected twists and turns and was a unique story that I really enjoyed. Only disappointment here was that she is a new novelist so there isn't more to snatch up and read!
Looking for something less intense? Dean Koontz writes thrillers that are a little easier to read lightly. I read my way through the Odd Thomas series this year and found a new hero to love. The 7 book series features Odd Thomas, a short order cook in a small town who sees the dead and feels compelled to help them. His internal dialogue about his misadventures with the dead and the bad guys who did the deed is witty and he has a heart of gold he shares with his friends both old and new. Fun reads!
The Moonlight Bay series only has two books and was more traditional Dean Koontz fare. The main character suffers from a genetic disorder and cannot go out in daylight. While exploring the night he witnesses events that lead to uncovering a disturbing mystery that will affect everyone he knows and loves. Like other Koontz characters he has a golden retriever companion, which encourages me to share that my favorite Dean Koontz book is "Watchers". Like the Moonlight Bay books it deals with the question of animal experimentation and where science might take us, for better or worse.
"A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail" was an easy pick when I was looking for books that explored hiking as a topic. Bill Bryson explores the theme that the journey is the destination, and that there is always more to learn about the world and about yourself. Another book with this same theme was of course "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed, another good read.
I do read non fiction too, especially travel related books. Not so many of them this year, but I did read This Superior Place: Stories of Bayfield and the Apostle Islands Dennis McCann. It was disappointing. It read like a collection of those little boards on the side of the road. Very dry, feel free to skip this one when you see it in the gift shop, you're not missing anything.
"East of the Mountains" by David Guterson was an interesting concept and a nice little read. I read it because the author wrote "Snow Falling on Cedars" which I read years ago and adored. This book and its main character who is dying from cancer handled the subject in an interesting fashion and while it wasn't a page turner it was easy enough to stick with it to find out whether or not he decides to take matters in to his own hands and exit life early.
The Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell was a re-read decision of mine. I picked it up at book 8 and have made my way through to book 16 so far because I couldn't remember where I left off and the books are that nice balance of intriguing but not exhausting. The first book was published in 1990 and I have 6 more to go to get caught up. Like Stephen King she is a very prolific author, writing forensic thrillers from a strong female perspective. Great recurring characters with interesting back stories, the books focus more on the heroes than the perpetrators of the crimes.
Speaking of Stephen King, I purchased "The Stand" and have it on standby to dip into now and then when I don't have any library books to read. Stephen King is like that boyfriend you can't help but call even though you know it probably won't turn out the way you want it to. Most times I enjoy the ride but am disappointed in the ending, but this is his masterpiece and nothing about it disappoints. I also read A Good Marriage which explores that age-old question of can you ever really know what someone else is thinking...and doing? I like his novels like this one that deal less with things that go bump in the night, people are horrific enough as this tale shows.
More books next time, settle in with a good one this weekend and stay warm and dry!