Friday, December 11, 2015

My Best of 2015

One thing I really love about this time of the year, are the "Best Of" lists.  The radio is counting down the best songs of the year.  MTV and VH1 are playing the best videos of the year(Wait?!? Do they still play videos on these channels?).  The news is showing the top stories of the year in varying categories.  Facebook is giving you your "Year in Review".  Instagram and Twitter show you your most liked, retweeted and shared content.  My favorite by far though is the lists made by my fellow book lovers, publishers and writers on the Best Books of 2015.  There hasn't been a book that I have given a 5 star rating on as of yet this year, so this list is comprised of my highest rated books.

I have reviewed several lists that have come across my email, Oprah's Bookclub, Goodreads,, and The New York Times; and I have compared their list with my Goodreads Read 2015 list and here are my best of 2015.

First, I'm going to start with Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman.  This was one of the most anticipated works of literary fiction for the year.  We hadn't heard anything from Ms. Lee since To Kill A Mockingbird some 55 years earlier.  For me this book was just alright.  I gave it three stars.  It didn't live up to all of the hype that it has been receiving up until its release.

Next, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins another highly acclaimed book for this year that didn't disappoint, but wasn't as great as I was anticipating. Think about how many pictures you saw this year with girls on a train reading The Girl on the Train.

Another book that made the top of my list this year is The Murder House by James Patterson.  James Patterson is one of my favorite authors.  Every year he releases several new books and this one by far is one of my favorites by him in a very long time.  It is a standalone and an outstanding read.

This year I was introduced to several new authors, thanks in part to this blog and groups I am a part of on Goodreads.  Here are some that I highly recommend:

H.N.Wake--I was given her book, A Spy Came Home in exchange for my honest review.  This is the first book in her Mac Ambrose series.  Deceits of Borneo is #2 in the series and that is waiting patiently for me on my Kindle now for a read and review.

Vince Milam--His book Evil Runs was a very interesting religious themed thriller.

Libby Fischer Hellmann-- She has written several books, but she is a new author to me.  I was given her novella, The Incidental Spy as a part of her Review Crew and I am looking forward to reading all that she has written.

This year, I also was much more involved with NetGalley and First To Read(a program through Penguin).  Here are some of the books, I received from these services that are on my best list:

Don't Fail Me Now by Una LaMarche
In Search of Sam by Kristin Butcher
The Mask by Taylor Stevens -- This is #5 in her Vanessa Michael Munroe series, but this is the first one I read.
Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave
The Underwriting by Michelle Miller
The Sound of Glass by Karen White
Eeny Meeny by M.J. Arlidge
The Truth and Other Lies by Sascha Arango

So here is my list.  Some of these books are included on the lists mentioned above.  But this is what I liked.  Please share with me your favorite books of 2015 and/or what you are looking forward to reading in 2016(I will have a blog post of that at the beginning of the new year).

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Review--The House Girl by Tara Conklin

The House GirlThe House Girl by Tara Conklin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Carolina Sparrow is a first year lawyer working in New York City. She is great at her job and her boss, Dan has told her that she is on track to become an excellent lawyer. Josephine Bell is a slave at the Bell Plantation in southern Virginia. It is the mid-1800's and she is ready to leave the slave life for something better. When a company contacts Lina's law firm to collect reparations for the slaves, Lina is given the task of finding a plaintiff who is a direct descendant of a slave. When Luann Bell's artwork comes into question at a local art exhibit, claiming the work could have been done by her house girl, Josephine, Lina uses this opening to find the plaintiff she may need. The book takes us back and forth between Lina and Josephine. Lina, trying to find a direct descendant of Josephine Bell and Josephine, trying to escape the Bell Plantation.

I'm torn between giving this book 3-4 stars. I was thoroughly intrigued by the subject matter, but didn't find myself running to read/listen to this book. I think part of this was due to the fact that for a few weeks, reading wasn't appealing to me and everything I picked up, I didn't find interesting enough to keep reading.

One really interesting aspect to this book was the racial divide. Lina, is a white girl from New York looking for descendants for a slave who escaped in 1852, shortly after the lady of the house passed away. This discovery takes Lina on a journey through Virginia that she never anticipated. She will uncover things that will turn history on end. This book has been on my TBR list for a while. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was thoroughly surprised. I recommend this book for anyone who is interested in this subject matter or for a good book, with a deep historical message. I look forward to reading more books by Tara Conklin.

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