Edmonds Booktalk: My nine favorite books of the year

By Elaine Mattson

There are lists of “best books of the year” appearing all over already. And there will be more. From everyone. And… I get to do one this year! I picked my nine  favorite books from this year.

I know, most of the lists are 10, but most of those lists come from entire staffs, and/or someone who does nothing but read books all day. I really need to figure out how to get one of those jobs!

Quite a varied list it ends up being, too… fiction, non-fiction, mystery, science fiction, young adult, and a children’s picture book. Nice.

The best book, by far, is “The Last Werewolf” by Glen Duncan. This is Mr. Duncan’s first novel, and his use of the English language is just phenomenal. [full disclosure: I do love a good werewolf tale!] This completely transcends the label of a genre novel. Not only is it a new take on a werewolf story, it is also is just so beautifully written, it’s crazy. I, in fact, drove everyone around me crazy while I was reading it: “oooh! Listen to _this_ sentence!” I cannot wait to read whatever he writes next.

“Crooked Letter Crooked Letter” by Tom Franklin made the short list for an Edgar award this year. And well deserved. As we read this novel set in current day, small town,Mississippi, we learn about a crime, and the events surrounding the crime, that occurred 20 years ago, from two very different points of view. Beautifully written.

“Mistress of the Art of Death” by Ariana Franklin. The first in a terrific series introduces our hero, a woman who was raised and educated in medievalItaly [specifically,Salerno, a center of learning]. The rest ofEurope at that time was not so accepting of a woman who knows about medicine, and more specifically the art of what we now call the medical examiner. But the King of England, is requesting her service, so what can she do, but travel dressed as a man, and in the company of a man [who is actually her assistant] who can speak for her when necessary. Grisly forensic details, combined with whodunit suspense, fascinating characters, timely themes, and even a little romance, make for an excellent read.

“Soulless: the Parasol Protectorate, Book 1” by Gail Carriger. In this fantasy, steampunk, Victorian, alternate history, [with a bit of bodice-ripping thrown in] mystery novel, Carriger does a beautiful job of creating her world where Victorian England was inhabited by werewolves, vampires, and ghosts, along all the proper humans. There are societal rules, of course, [no biting anyone without permission] and the fact that you are Scottish is more shocking and socially challenging than the fact that you are also a werewolf. Enter our hero, who is a spinster with two younger, prettier, and way more socially acceptable half sisters, and an interest in scientific advancements. Completely fun and entertaining romp.

“The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean” by Susan Casey. Truly fascinating look at huge waves – those who are subjected to them for shipping and other business reasons, and their experiences; and those that purposely go in search of them, to attempt to ride them, or at least attempt to survive the experience. The author herself gets pulled into a giant wave. On purpose! Crazy! Fascinating!

“Final Jeopardy : Man vs. Machine and the Quest to Know Everything” by Stephen Baker. Behind the scenes look at the IBM computer [Watson] that was developed specifically to compete on Jeopardy against two of the greatest champions. And what this means for the future of computer/human interaction… can they really think like we do?

“Maze Runner” by James Dashner. The first in a young adult science fiction series. A young man finds himself in a strange place with no memory about how he got there. As he learns the rules of life in his new situation, and attempts to make the best of it, he discovers strange talents, and has inklings of bits of memories… the third in the series just got published! If you liked “The Hunger Games,” this will satisfy.

“Virals” by Kathy Reichs. The start of a new young adult series by one of my favorite adult mystery authors. The main character in this series is, in fact, the niece of Reichs’ forensic anthropologist Temperence Brennan, and she has inherited her aunt’s love of science. While trying to rescue a wolf pup, she and her like-minded new friends make a discovery that get them all infected with a mysterious virus. Mystery, adventure, and did I mention: wolf puppy!

“An Annoying ABC” by Barbara Bottner, illustrated by Michael Emberly. Cute cute cute new picture book for the little ones. A child with a name for every letter of the alphabet, lovely illustrations, with the classroom pet imperiled on nearly every page!

 That was so much fun!

The biggest seller at the Bookshop for the last month or so, has been “The Future Remembered: The 1962 SeattleWorld’s Fair and Its Legacy” by Paula Becker and Alan J. Stein.

Other recent big releases:

“11/22/63: A Novel” by Stephen King.

“Inheritance (Book 4 of The Inheritance Cycle)” by Christopher Paolini.

V is for Vengeance : A Kinsey Millhone Mystery” by Sue Grafton.

For ages 9 – 12:  “Cabin Fever (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Book 6)” by Jeff Kinney.

“Explosive Eighteen” by Janet Evanovich.

For ages 9 – 12: “Warriors: Omen of the Stars #5: The Forgotten Warrior” by Erin Hunter.

“Micro: A Novel” by Michael Crichton.

“The Drop : A Harry Bosch Novel” by Michael Connelly.

“The Scottish Prisoner: A Lord John Novel” by Diana Gabaldon.

As always, check our website for all the latest in book news!  Happy reading!

Edmonds native Elaine Mattson has worked at The Edmonds Bookshop off and on since she was 12 years old, and has also worked at a book wholesaler, a book publisher, and for the book publishing division of a large local software company (yes, that one). “I was raised a book lover [thanks, Mom!],” Mattson says. “We got book lights by our beds as soon as we were old enough to read. And then I probably got in trouble for reading too late the very next night. And I still read too late!”



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