Tuesday, December 6, 2016

2016 Reviewed Books: Fiction and Nonfiction

Many of the books I read or reviewed this year were from major or established writers.

FICTION

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles was my favorite book of the year; its about a man who adjusts to remarkable circumstances and earns the love and respect of even his enemies.


Moonglow by Michael Chabon was inspired by his grandfather's stories about WWII. Funny, tragic, and most wonderful.  

A Doubter's Almanac by Ethan Canin is the harrowing story of how a man pressured to achieve greatness brings his undoing.

The Eastern Shore by Ward Just. A retired journalist remembers the changing role of media in the 20th c.

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleeve is a WWII love story inspired by Cleeve's grandfather's war experience on Malta.

The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson, A woman who comes to a tach in a English village just before WWI and experiences the social changes war brings.

War and Turpentine by Stefan Hertmans is the author's family story during the Rape of Belgium.

The Last Painting of Sara De Vos by Dominic Smith is inspired by a real life forgotten 16th c Dutch artist. The forging and theft of a painting brings moral complications.

To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey is historical fiction about exploration and life in early Alaska.

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue. A nurse trained in the Crimean War is hired to watch a miracle child who has stopped eating.

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley is a thriller that thoughtfully addresses issues of the media and privacy.

The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore. A lawyer gets mixed up in the AC/DC war betweeen Tesla, Edison, and Westinghouse.

At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier. Historical fiction about settlers in the Black Swamp of Ohio and their war over apples.

I Will Send Rain by Rae Meadows is about a family unraveling during the Dust Bowl.

Dark Matter by Blake Couch is a sci-fi thriller about a man trapped in alternative realities.

Barren Cove by Ariel Winter imagines a world where robots rule humans, a smart retelling of Wuthering Heights.

Zero K by Don DiLillo probes existential questions when a man's estranged father chooses a cryogenic death.

The Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell crosses time to see how humans have destroyed or ca save the planet.

The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi is set in a dystopian future where Americans are at war over water.

The Language of Dying by Sarah Pinsborough tells of a daughter caring for a dying parent while visited by fantastic visions.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman is a lyrical fantasy of childhood peopled by monsters and saviors.

Faithful by Alice Hoffman will break your heart and mend it again as a young woman must rebuild her life after a tragic accident.

The Unseen World by Liz Moore: A daughter searches for her father's mysterious past through computer coded hints.

Leaving Blythe River by Catherine Ryan Hyde is a story of personal growth; a teenager seaches the wilderness for his missing father.

Damaged by Lisa Scottoline has Mary DiNunzio defend a special needs child.

The Female Detective by Andrew Forrester collects the first female detective stories.
*****
NONFICTION

Victoria: The Queen by Julia Baird reveals the surprising woman behind the crown.

For the Glory: Eric Liddel's Journey from Olympic Champion to Modern Martyr releats the story of the runner and missionary and his tragic death in China.

Hero of the Empire by Candice Miller follows Winston Churchill's journey to become a hero in the Boer War.

The Road to Little Dribbing by Bill Bryson revisits the Britain of his earlier book, recounting how it has changed.

When We Are No More: How Digital Memory is Shaping our Future by Abby Smith Rumsey considers the evolving challenges in the storage of information.

Lit Up by David Dency explores the impact of  literature on students in today's classrooms.


The Books That Changed My Life: 100 Remarkable People Write About Books by Bethanne Patrick reveals how books impact lives.

The Fictional 100 by Lucy Pollard-Gott presents the top 100 characters from literature.

You Must Change Your Life: The Friendship of August Rodin and Rainer Maria Rilke by Rachel Corbett looks at how the artist influenced the poet's work and life.

Constance Fenimore Woolston by Anne Boyd Rioux is a biography of a gifted forgotten writer and friend of Henry James.

Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies reveals the artist's life and work in context of WWI.

Sing for Your Life is Daniel Bergner's book about Ryan Speedo Greene's rise from the ghetto to international opera star.

Angelic Music by Corey Mean discusses the rise and fall in popularity of Benjamin Franklin's harmonium. 

World's Elsewhere by Andrew Dickson explores Shakespeare's influence across the world.=

How William Shakespeare Changed the Way We Talk by Jan Sutcliffe is a beautifully illustrated book for children.

Such Mad Fun is Jane Hall Cutler's story of her grandmother, a 1930s Hollywood screenwriter.

Who Knew? by Robert Cutietta is a collection from his radio show about classical music.

The Illustrated Book of Sayings by Ellis Francis Sanders presents illustrated sayings from around the world that don't sensibly translate into English.

You're Saying It Wrong! by Kathryn and Ross Petras helped me know how to pronounce words I had only before seen in writing.

The Dog Merchants: Inside the Big Business of Breeders, Pet Stores, and Rescues by Kim Kavin is a warning to dog lovers everywhere to think before they buy.

CLASSICS

The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis by Max Schulman are hilarious stories of teen angst.

Love for Lydia by H. E. Bates follows the destruction of hearts and bodies left by a new girl in the 'hood at hundred years ago.

Augustus by John Williams is an exploration of power through the life of the Roman ruler.

The Nutmeg Tree and Cluny Brown by Margery Sharp are wonderful social satires of early 20th c Britain. One of my favorite writers.
The Birthday Boys by Beryl Bainbridge allows the lost men of the tragic Scott Expedition to tell their stories.

On the Black Hill by Bruce Chawton is his first novel about twin brothers who watch the world changing while they remain bound to the past.