As the year is winding down, I wanted to share some of my favorite reads!
This year I set a goal to read 22 books, and I’ve exceeded that goal and recently finished my 32nd book!
Here are 8 books I loved & highly suggest! I’ve included a few of my reviews from Goodreads, with thoughts on the books.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Loved this book. Khaled Hosseini has a poetic way with words that draws you in from the first chapter. This is yet another of his books that spans decades, family ties, and one that crosses borders. The story will make you laugh, disappointed, smile, and cry… I seriously went through all the emotions while reading! If you’ve ever had a powerful, unbreakable bond with someone, you will understand the relationship between Amir and Hassan… as well as all the other characters that are loving, hateful, and loyal. I encourage people to read The Kite Runner not only to get a glimpse into life in Afghanistan and as a refugee in the States, but also to have a deeper understanding of the human nature and how to “be good again.”
Turn Right at Machu Picchu by Mark Adams
Such a fascinating read into Peru’s history and all about one man’s journey on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu! It was fun reading about a place I’ve visited, and it inspired me to go back and travel the trail someday. Mark Adams definitely did his research before writing this book, and it was so interesting. I highly recommend it to anyone with a love for Machu Picchu, or who has this place on their bucket list!
The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder
I highly recommend this short story, about the lives of 5 Peruvians and the people they knew and loved. It’s not one to rush through, but one to read slowly and reflect on. It’s a mirror of human beings, and maybe you’ll see yourself in one of the characters.
Perhaps you’ve read the famous closing lines before?? “But soon we shall die and all memory of those five will have left the earth, and we ourselves shall be loved for a while and forgotten. But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love. There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.”
Winter Passing by Cindy McCormick Martinusen
Oh wow, I thoroughly enjoyed this story that spanned generations!!! Darby’s Austrian grandmother, Celia, has so many secrets from her past that come to life after her death. Darby goes in search of answers in Austria, and finds the answers she seeks and many more. The whole story is extremely well written, and I didn’t want it to end! (spoiler: I cried a few times) Martinusen brought so many characters to life in Winter Passing, and taught me much about what Austria was like during World War 2, with so much Nazi influence. She sparked in me an interest in visiting Austria someday, and going to all the places she included in the novel. I loved the friendships Martinusen created, and how real they seemed to the readers. If only we all had friends like Celia and Tatianna! Definitely recommend this read to those who enjoy WW2 stories, stories where the character “finds themselves,” and stories that span generations.
The Last Camellia by Sarah Jio
Woah, so this novel really caught me off guard. I don’t know how it ended up in my Nook library, but I’m glad it did! The story goes back and forth between Flora, in 1940, as a nanny for the well-to-do Livingston family in their house in England, and Addison, a garden designer/botanist visiting the same house in 2000. Both these women have one flower in mind- the Middlebury Pink Camellia- and as they search for this blossom in the camellia orchard of the Livingston manor, they discover a mystery that haunts the house and the family members. Through the chapters, you learn of Flora’s true motives in finding the flower, and of Addison’s past that follows her like a shadow. Will either one find the flower they are seeking, and will the past be finally put behind them??? Dun dun dun… are you curious about The Last Camellia now?! I won’t give anything away, but the ending was a total surprise to me, and my mouth dropped open a few times in shock. If all of Sarah Jio’s novels end like this one, I definitely want to read more! (Also I learned a lot about botany and flowers, so that was cool too.) If you like mystery, novels set in an English manor, or books that you can’t put down, I recommend The Last Camellia!!!
The Selection by Kiera Cass
This was a quick (1-week), easy read for me and I loved it! I immediately fell for Prince Maxon and his adorable-sounding self, and of course I was rooting for America to keep her place among the other Selection girls. I like that it’s sort of futuristic… how the USA became the American State of China because they were in major debt to China, then Russia got involved… and so on. Learning some of the “history” of Illéa was interesting; I love when authors create new worlds in their novels. Also, the whole caste society was intriguing as well. While America was the typical “independent/strong/brave” type of protagonists that young women love reading about, I kind of felt she was predictable. I felt like it was clearly obvious that she would become attracted to Maxon in her own timing, and get over her previous passion. All in all though, this is a book I would recommend for someone wanting a YA read that is light, interesting, and exciting. And one that makes you download the second book mere moments after finishing! 😉
Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende
Wow… Beautiful. Mesmerising. In short, it’s a story about a slave, Tete, and how she overcomes the obstacles in her way to get what she truly wants- freedom, love, happiness. So many things happen in this story that were shocking, but true of the time period (early 1800s). I giggled, blushed, and cried while reading this.
Allende’s Island Beneath the Sea appealed to all my senses, and left me wanting more of the story of the overcoming Tete and her life. Allende has woven so many bright, full-of-life characters together, and brought them from Haiti to New Orleans in a spellbinding story that will have you choosing favorites and cheering for things to turn out for the best for them. I seriously could read this over and over and find something new each time. This for sure is a favorite book I’ve read this year!!!
A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner
A very touching read about love, loss, and finding the courage to move on and embrace change, A Fall of Marigolds is a vibrant story that ties together two women’s journeys over 100 years apart in New York City. It all starts with a scarf, and its pattern of marigolds. The scarf will bring together Clara, a young nurse on Ellis Island and Taryn, a young mother. A favorite quote: “Everything beautiful has a story it wants to tell. But not every story is beautiful.” You’ll have to read to discover the story of the scarf!
What books have you read and loved this year???