This is it. Believe it or not, you have made it to the last post of the 2016 Library Challenge.
If you’ve been participating in the challenge or following along with the blog, you know we have taken quite the journey this year, working our way through a range of interesting challenges, everything from romance to nonfiction to badly-reviewed books.
The only one left is a book published in the last year. So, without further ado, let’s take our last romp of the year with a round-up of some recent releases that have received positive reviews.
As always, if you’re interested, please visit our online library catalog for more information on any of the books.
If you love thrillers:
Shari Lapena’s The Couple Next Door (2016)*
Ernest Hemingway used to let his cat babysit his son when he wanted to go out, but Marco and Anne didn’t really have a cat option when their sitter cancelled on them. They decide to proceed with their evening plans anyway because they’ll just be right across the street. They return to find their baby missing, but that’s just the start of their nightmare as the police begin to question their story of what happened that night. This suspense thriller–a debut novel for its author–has received a lot of acclaim for its suspenseful, fast-paced plot that is packed full of twists and turns.
*Ebook and audiobook also available on Libby.
Recommended for those who enjoyed Paula Hawkins’s The Girl on the Train or Megan Miranda’s All The Missing Girls.
If you prefer historical fiction:
Helen Simonson’s The Summer Before The War (2016)**
If you loved Helen Simonson’s endearing Mr. Pettigrew’s Last Stand from a few years ago, you’ll definitely want to check out her latest book, The Summer Before The War. The war in question is World War I, and the book follows Beatrice Nash in her position as a family tutor. She battles nepotism and the perception that she is not to be taken seriously, but the seemingly faraway news of trouble in the Balkans soon changes everything.
**Ebook and audiobook also available on Libby.
Recommended for those who enjoyed Simonson’s previous work or The Guernsey Potato Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society.
Ruta Sepetys’s Salt to the Sea (2016)***
If you would rather read about a different world war–or perhaps a historical event that gets a lot less attention–consider Salt to the Sea. This book received a lot of praise for its depiction of the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, the single most deadly ship sinking in history. (You’re more likely to have heard of the Titanic sinking, but roughly six times more people died on the Wilhelm Gustloff.) But Sepetys’s focus isn’t just the sinking itself but also the events leading up to the sinking as she follows several characters–both German and Eastern European refugees seeking to escape the incoming Soviet army and military personnel on board the ship. This book is technically YA, but you don’t have to be a teenager to read and appreciate this harrowing story of survival.
***Ebook and audiobook also available on Libby.
Recommended for those who enjoy Elizabeth Wein’s work, Michael Grant’s Front Lines, Allan Wolf’s The Watch That Ends The Night, and Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief.
If you enjoy humorous science fiction:
Connie Willis’s Cross Talk (2016)
Would you want to hear every single one of your loved one’s thoughts? That’s the premise of Cross Talk. Set in the future, the book focuses on a young woman named Briddey and her boyfriend Trent. He suggests they both undergo an implant procedure that will allow them to hear the other one’s thoughts, which should increase communication. Briddey agrees but soon finds, to her absolute horror, that the procedure did not work. She cannot hear Trent’s thoughts. Instead, she can hear one of her coworker’s thoughts. And he sure has a lot of annoying ones. As you can imagine, complications ensue.
Recommended for those who enjoy Jasper Fforde’s work and Gary Shteyngart‘s Super Sad True Love Story.
If you love nonfiction:
Simon Sebag Montefiore’s The Romanovs: 1613-1918 (2016)
I haven’t had a chance to read this book yet, but I’ve enjoyed reading Montefiore’s work in the past, both fiction and nonfiction. (Confession: I really love Russian history. Like, possibly more than is emotionally healthy.) In his most recent book, he applies his talent for writing readable history to the Russian tsars, specifically the Romanovs. He traces their rise and fall across several centuries. It’s a lengthy book–well over 700 pages–but it’s full of colorful characters and also relies on new archival research to shed light on pivotal moments and figures in Russian history.
Recommended for those who love Russian history (like me!) or those who enjoyed G.J. Meyer’s The Borgias.
If you want to read YA:
Morgan Matson’s The Unexpected Everything (2016)
Andie is a teenager who has her summer–and, indeed, her future–already mapped out for her. That’s the way she prefers things. She’ll attend a prestigious pre-med internship program for teenagers this summer, which will lay the ground work for her attending a prestigious college and medical school. But nothing goes according to plan after her Congressman father becomes embroiled in a scandal. As a result, she loses her place in the summer program and instead finds herself walking dogs. But, she soon learns that maybe the chaos isn’t all bad. . . . . Matson’s book received a lot of praise for its charm, humor, and quirkiness.
Recommended for those who enjoy the work of Huntley Fitzpatrick and Sarah Dessen.
Have you read any of these books? What books have you read that were released this year? Has the 2016 Library Challenge left you feeling exhausted or exhilerated? Tell us in the comments!