LJ Best Books 2017

It's time again for LJ’s annual Top Ten Best Books of the year, selected by our editors, as well as Top Five lists for genre fiction, nonfiction, poetry and literature, graphic novels, and SELF-e titles.   SEE WHO MADE THE LIST

Hilary Mantel, Alexander McCall Smith, Ron Currie | Fiction Finds

Slow Days, Fast CompanyBabitz, Eve. Slow Days, Fast Company: The World, the Flesh, and L.A. Recorded Bks. ISBN 9781501922176. Read by Mia Barron.
Babitz captures the voluptuous quality of L.A. in the 1960s in a wildly original, totally unique voice. These stories are time capsule gems, as poignant and startling today as they were when published in the early 1970s. Babitz is not well known today, but she should be.

Bell, Darcey. A Simple Favor. Harper Audio. ISBN 9780062658234. Read by Andi Arndt.
It starts with a simple favor—an ordinary kindness mothers do for one another. When her best friend Emily asks Stephanie to pick up her son Nicky after school, she agrees, of course. A widow and stay-at-home mommy blogger living in woodsy suburban Connecticut, Stephanie was lonely until she met Emily, a sophisticated PR executive whose job in Manhattan demands so much of her time. But Emily doesn’t come back. She doesn’t answer calls or return texts. Stephanie knows something is terribly wrong—Emily would never leave Nicky, no matter what the police say. Soon Stephanie understands that nothing—not friendship, love, nor even an ordinary favor—is as simple as it seems.

Claycomb, Ann. The Mermaid’s Daughter. Harper Audio. ISBN 9780062673718. Read by Shannon McManus and Collins Kerr.
In this modern-day expansion of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, Kathleen suffers from the bizarre malady of experiencing stabbing pain in her feet. No doctor can find a medical explanation, and even the most powerful drugs have proven useless. Only the touch of seawater can temporarily ease her agony. Investigating further, she learns how her family’s tragic past holds the key to her strangeness.

Currie, Ron. The One-Eyed Man. HighBridge. ISBN 9781681685953. Read by Kevin Pariseau. 
After his wife Sarah dies, K. loses his metaphorical capacity, becoming so wedded to the notion of clarity that he infuriates everyone, friends and strangers alike. When he intervenes in an armed robbery, K. finds himself both an inadvertent hero and the star of a new reality television program. Together with Claire, a grocery store clerk with a sharp tongue and a yen for celebrity, he travels the country, ruffling feathers and gaining fame at the intersection of American politics and entertainment. But soon, through a conflagration of biblical proportions, he discovers that the world will fight viciously to preserve its delusions about itself.

Donohue, Meg. Every Wild Heart. Harper Audio. ISBN 9780062659927. Reader TBA.
Passionate and funny, radio personality Gail Gideon is a true original. Nine years ago when Gail’s husband announced that he wanted a divorce, her ensuing on-air rant propelled her local radio show into the national spotlight. Now, The Gail Gideon Show is beloved by millions of single women who tune in for her advice on the power of self-reinvention. But fame comes at a price. After all, what does a woman who has staked her career on being single do when she finds herself falling in love? And is the person who is harassing her in increasingly troubling ways a misguided fan or a true danger to Gail and her daughter?

Dunn, Sarah. The Arrangement. Hachette Audio. ISBN 9781478962953. Read by Ellen Archer.
When friends at a wine-soaked dinner party reveal they’ve made their marriage open, sensible Lucy balks. There’s a part of her, though—the part that worries she’s become too comfortable being invisible—that’s intrigued. Why not try a short marital experiment? Six months, clear ground rules, zero questions asked. When an affair with a man in the city begins to seem more enticing than the happily-ever-after she’s known for the past nine years, Lucy must decide what truly makes her happy—“real life” or the “experiment”?

Faye, Lindsay. The Whole Art of Detection: Lost Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes. HighBridge. ISBN 9781681684239. Read by Simon Vance.
Faye’s best Sherlock Holmes tales, including two new works, are brought together in The Whole Art of Detection, a stunning collection that spans Holmes’s career, from self-taught young upstart to publicly lauded detective, both before and after his faked death over a Swiss waterfall in 1894.

Goodman, Carol. The Widow’s House. Harper Audio. ISBN 9780062660589. Read by Cassandra Campbell.
When Jess and Clare Martin move from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to an estate in their widows-house-copyformer college town in the Hudson River valley they are hoping for rejuvenation—of their marriage, their savings, and Jess’s writing career. But their new life isn’t all quaint town libraries and fragrant apple orchards. There is a haunting pall that hangs over Riven House like a funeral veil. Something is just not right. Soon, Clare begins to hear babies crying at night and see strange figures in fog at the edge of their property. Diving into the history of the area, she realizes that Riven House has a dark and anguished past. And whatever this thing is—this menacing force that destroys the inhabitants of the estate—it seems to be after Clare next.

Gray, Shelley Shepard. Her Secret: The Amish of Hart County. Harper Audio. ISBN 9780062658609. Read by Tavia Gilbert.
After a stalker went too far, Hannah Hilty and her family had no choice but to leave the bustling Amish community where she grew up. Now she’s getting a fresh start in Hart County, KY…if only she wasn’t too scared to take it. Hannah has become afraid to trust anyone—even Isaac, the friendly Amish man who lives next door. She wonders if she’ll ever return to the trusting, easygoing woman she once was. Just as Hannah is finally settling into her new life, and perhaps finding a new love, more secrets are revealed and tragedy strikes. Now Hannah must decide if she should run again or dare to fight for the future she has found in Hart County.

Grodstein, Lauren. Our Short History. HighBridge. ISBN 9781681684437. Reader TBA.
New York Times best-selling author Grodstein returns with a story about Karen Neulander, a successful New York political consultant. She has always been fiercely protective of her son, Jacob, now six. His father walked out on him before he was born, but now Karen is dying, and Jake wants to meet his dad. As she tries to play out her last days the “right” way, Karen struggles with knowing that the only thing she cannot bring herself to do for her son—let his father become a permanent part of his life—is the thing he needs from her the most.

Lodato, Victor. Edgar and Lucy: A Novel. Macmillan Audio. ISBN 9781427282217. Read by Victor Lodato.
Edgar is a complicated child, torn between the two women in his life. His mother, Lucy, who has a very active social life of her own, and his grandmother Florence, who dotes on him. When Florence dies suddenly, Lucy is thrown into the role of main caretaker. As Edgar and Lucy adjust to their new lives, they must also deal with the outside world and adults whose intentions are at once more sinister and more innocent than Edgar could ever know.

McCall Smith, Alexander. Sweet, Thoughtful Valentine. Recorded Bks. ISBN sweet-thoughtful-valentine
9781501939082.
Read by Davina Porter.
Known the world over for his “No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” series, McCall Smith is also the author of the much-loved Isabel Dalhousie mysteries. In Sweet Thoughtful Valentine, Isabel faces a moral dilemma after she learns a delicate secret.

McDermott, Andy. The Midas Legacy. HighBridge. ISBN 9781681684758. Read by Gildhart Jackson.
For Nina Wilde and her ex-SAS husband, Eddie Chase, locating the legendary lost city of Atlantis was just the beginning of an even greater quest: to discover what mysterious treasure drew an ancient Atlantan explorer to the Himalayas. But they’re unaware of the risks they face, the secrets gathering around them, and the powerful forces desperate to possess history’s greatest prize

McFetridge, John. One or the Other. Recorded Bks. ISBN 9781501939877. Read by William Dufris.
In the weeks before hosting the 1976 Summer Olympics, the Montreal police are tightening security to prevent another catastrophe like the ’72 games in Munich. But it isn’t tight enough to stop nearly $3 million from being stolen in a bold daytime Brink’s truck robbery. As the high-profile heist continues to baffle the police, Constable Eddie Dougherty gets a chance to prove his worth as a detective when he’s assigned to assist the suburban Longueuil force in investigating the deaths of two teenagers returning from a rock concert across the Jacques Cartier Bridge.


every-day-is-mothers-dayMantel, Hilary
. Every Day Is Mother’s Day. Recorded Bks. ISBN 9781470377885. Read by Sandra Duncan.
Evelyn Axon is a medium by trade; her daughter, Muriel, is a half-wit by nature. Barricaded in
their crumbling house, surrounded by the festering rubbish of years, they defy the curiosity of their neighbors and their social worker Isabel Field. Isabel is young and inexperienced and has troubles of her own. As Isabel wrestles with her own problems, a terrible secret grows in the darkness of the Axon household.

Moshfegh, Ottessa. Bettering Myself (from Homesick for Another World: Stories). Recorded Bks. ISBN 9781501953736. Reader TBA.
Winner of the Pushcart Prize, an O. Henry Award, and the Plimpton Discovery Prize, Moshfegh enjoys a well-deserved reputation as a master of the short form. Originally published in the Paris Review, “Bettering Myself” presents unvarnished portraits of women in transition.

Patterson, James with Max Dilallo. Stealing Gulfstreams. Hachette Audio. ISBN 9781478945222. Reader TBA. 
All his life, pilot Jack Flynn dreamed of winning the same air show where his father was killed. To bankroll that dream he just has to steal a $24 million jet and deliver it to shadowy criminals. What could possibly go wrong?

Patterson, James with Duane Swierczynski. The Shut-In. Hachette Audio. ISBN 9781478970699. Read by Caitlin Greer and Kevin T. Collins.
Confined to a studio apartment, Tricia Celano watches the outside world through a flying drone. But when her high-tech toy records a vicious murder, she’s determined to track down the killer—a killer who knows she’s being watched.

Proby, Kristen. Blush for Me: A Fusion Novel. Harper Audio. ISBN 9780062660558. Read by Abby Craden and Sebastian York.
As the take-charge wine bar manager of Seduction, Portland’s hottest new restaurant, Katrina Meyers is the definition of no-nonsense, and she isn’t afraid of anything. Well, almost anything: she hates to fly. When she’s forced to travel on a death trap with wings, the turbulence from hell has her reaching for any safe haven—including the incredibly handsome guy sitting next to her.

Quinn, Seabury. The Horror on the Links: The Complete Tales of Jules De Grandin. Vol. 1. HighBridge. ISBN CD 9781681686370. Reader TBA.
Quinn’s short stories were featured in more than half of the pulp magazine Weird Tales’ original publication run. His most famous character, the supernatural French detective Dr. Jules de Grandin, investigated cases involving monsters, devil worshippers, serial killers, and spirits from beyond the grave, often set in the small town of Harrisonville, NJ. In de Grandin, there are familiar shades of both Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, and alongside his assistant Dr. Samuel Trowbridge, de Grandin’s knack for solving mysteries—and his outbursts of peculiar French-isms (grand Dieu!)—captivated readers for nearly three decades.

Quirk, Matthew. Dead Man Switch. Hachette Audio. ISBN 9781478903123. Read by TBA.
A deadly fall on a rugged stretch of California coast. A home invasion gone wrong in Brittany. No one connects the killings because the victims are living under cover, their true identities closely held secrets. They are members of America’s most select kill/capture team, which combines special operations lethalness with CIA tradecraft. They are the last line of defense against foreign threats, and someone is assassinating them one by one where they sleep, taking family and innocent bystanders to make the deaths seem like accidents.

Robinson, Peter. Bad Boy: An Inspector Banks Novel. Harper Audio. ISBN 9780062006974. Reader TBA.
Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks faces his most challenging, personal, and terrifying case yet when his own daughter crosses paths with a psychopath.

Rollins, James. The 6th Extinction: A Sigma Force Novel. Harper Audio. ISBN 9780062400963. Read by Christian Baskous.
A military research station buried in the remote Sierra Nevada Mountains broadcasts a frantic distress call that ends with a chilling order: “There’s been a breach. Failsafe initiated. No matter the outcome: Kill us…kill us all.” When help arrives to investigate, they discover that everyone is dead—not just the scientists but every living thing for 50 square miles is annihilated—and the blight is spreading. Only one team on Earth has the scientific knowledge and military precision to handle this mission: Commander Gray Pierce and Sigma. The dead scientists were working on a secret project, researching radically different forms of life on Earth, life that could change our understanding of biology and humanity itself. But something set off an explosion in the lab, and now Sigma must contend with the apocalyptic aftermath.

Shattuck, Jessica. The Women in the Castle. Harper Audio. ISBN 9780062657398. Read by Cassandra Campbell.
Amid the ashes of Nazi Germany’s defeat, Marianne von Lingenfels returns to the once-grand castle of her husband’s ancestors, an imposing stone fortress now fallen into ruin following years of war. The widow of a resister murdered in the failed July 20, 1944, plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, Marianne plans to uphold the promise she made to her husband’s brave conspirators: to find and protect their wives, her fellow resistance widows. But she discovers that the black-and-white, highly principled world of her privileged past is filled with secrets and dark passions that threaten to tear them apart. Eventually, all the women must come to terms with the choices that have defined their lives before, during, and after the war—each with their own unique share of challenges.

Shipman, Viola. The Hope Chest. Macmillan Audio. ISBN 9781427282408. Read by Andi Arndt.
Mattie is a fiercely independent woman battling ALS; Don, her deeply devoted husband, is facing a future without his one true love; and Rose, their struggling caregiver, is a young single mother who feels trapped in her life. With each item that is discovered—including a beloved doll, family dishes, an embroidered apron, and an antique Christmas ornament—the hope chest connects Mattie, Don, and Rose to one another and not only helps them find hope again in the face of overwhelming life challenges but also brings new meaning to family.

Staub, Wendy Corsi. Bone White (Mundy’s Landing, Bk. 3). Harper Audio. ISBN 9780062664068. Reader TBA.
In the year since former NYPD detective Sullivan Leary solved the historic Sleeping Beauty Murders, she—like the village itself—has made a fresh start. But someone has unearthed blood-drenched secrets in a disembodied skull and is hacking away at the Mundy family tree, branch by branch.

White, Kate. The Secrets You Keep. Harper Audio. ISBN 9780062660008. Reader TBA.
Bryn Harper, an accomplished self-help author, already has plenty to deal with. She’s still recovering from a devastating car accident that has left her haunted by recurring, smoke-filled nightmares. Worse still, she can’t shake the ominous feeling her dreams contain a warning. Then, a woman hired to cater their dinner party is brutally murdered. As Bryn’s world unravels—and yet another woman in town is slain—she must summon her old strength to find answers and protect her own life. Her nightmares may in fact hold the key to unlocking the truth and unmasking the murderer.

Winspear, Jacqueline. In This Grave Hour: A Maisie Dobbs Novel. Harper Audio. ISBN 9780062657329. Read by Orlagh Cassidy.
When readers last saw Maisie Dobbs, it was 1938 and the world was on the brink of war. Now a year has passed, and Maisie is back home in England—yet neither she nor her nation is safe. Britain has just declared war on Germany and is mobilizing for the devastating battle ahead. But when she stumbles on the deaths of a group of refugees, Maisie suspects the enemy may be closer than anyone knows.

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