Monday, December 9, 2013

Best of 2013: Fiction Plus 1 Memoir Because I'm an Idiot

Continuing with my Best of Lists, today I'm sharing my favorite fiction reads of the year.  I read a lot of good books this year but I tried to limit it to books that I then turned around and recommended to others.  I LOVED Karin Slaughter's Grant County series but only shared my most favorite as opposed to all of them!

Interesting tidbit all of these but two, Folly Beach and Beyond Reach were book club reads!

My favorite fiction reads of 2013..

Those Who Save Us Jenna Blum, finished on January 20th
This was a bit on the long side but it is a beautiful and heartbreaking story that goes back and forth between WWII and present day.  If WWII fascinates you, definitely give this book a shot.  Especially, if you are interested in reading about the German/Nazi viewpoint at all. 
Description: For fifty years, Anna Schlemmer has refused to talk about her life in Germany during World War II. Her daughter, Trudy, was only three when she and her mother were liberated by an American soldier and went to live with him in Minnesota. Trudy's sole evidence of the past is an old photograph: a family portrait showing Anna, Trudy, and a Nazi officer, the Obersturmfuhrer of Buchenwald.

Driven by the guilt of her heritage, Trudy, now a professor of German history, begins investigating the past and finally unearths the dramatic and heartbreaking truth of her mother's life.

Combining a passionate, doomed love story, a vivid evocation of life during the war, and a poignant mother/daughter drama, Those Who Save Us is a profound exploration of what we endure to survive and the legacy of shame.

Let’s Pretend this Never Happened – Jenny Lawson, finished on March 24th
I apparently also forgot to blog about this.  I fail as a book blogger apparently ha.  This book was FREAKING HILARIOUS.  If you have a decent sense of humor, enjoy a potty mouth and a bit of insanity you definitely need to read this. I was shaking with laughter.  We read this for our Books & Bars and had a blast drinking martini's and laughing over some of her hilarious tales!
Description: Jenny Lawson realized that the most mortifying moments of our lives—the ones we’d like to pretend never happened—are in fact the ones that define us. In the #1 New York Times bestseller, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Lawson takes readers on a hilarious journey recalling her bizarre upbringing in rural Texas, her devastatingly awkward high school years, and her relationship with her long-suffering husband, Victor. Chapters include: “Stanley the Magical, Talking Squirrel”; “A Series of Angry Post-It Notes to My Husband”; “My Vagina Is Fine. Thanks for Asking”; “And Then I Snuck a Dead Cuban Alligator on an Airplane.” Pictures with captions (no one would believe these things without proof) accompany the text.

The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald, finished in April 2013
We read this for our April Books & Bars and it was a re-read for me.  I had read it in college and remembered loving it and loving it even more after having a discussion with classmates.  Talking about it as adults in a bar called Gatsby's? Even better.  I also loved the movie.  It may have been the only movie in 2013 I saw in the theater. I highly recommend it.  Minus the current day rap.  That, I could do without.

Beach Music  - Pat Conroy, finished on June 16th
This was a June Group Read that introduced me to Pat Conroy and I've been meaning to pick up another one of his books ever since.  I shall add that on to my goals of 2014.  Read another one of his. ;)
Description: Beach Music tells of Jack McCall, an American who moves to Rome to escape the trauma and painful memory of his young wife's suicide leap off a bridge in South Carolina. The story takes place in South Carolina and Rome, then reaches back in time to the Vietnam War era and the horrors of the Holocaust.

It is a novel that concerns itself with the loss of innocence. It is about the acquisition of self-knowledge and about learning to accept where we come from. It is about the eternal quest for forgiveness—seeking it in others, finding it in ourselves—so that we can begin to live again. Ultimately, it is about reclaiming the past in order to prepare a background on the canvas of the future from which hope can finally flourish.

Remembrance. Reconciliation. Redemption.

With resonant prose and unmatched insight, Conroy throws open all of the doors and windows on the human condition, revealing to us with crystal clarity the perils of the war without as well as the war within.
Folly Beach – Dorothea Benton Frank, finished on June 23rd
This was the first book by Frank that I read and it pushed me into trying a couple others of hers over the rest of the year.  By far, Folly Beach was the best.  None of the other two I read held a candle to this one.  I really recommend this if you are interested in musical history with a side of romance. ;)
Description: With its sandy beaches and bohemian charms, surfers and suits alike consider Folly Beach to be one of South Carolina's most historic and romantic spots. It is also the land of Cate Cooper's childhood, the place where all the ghosts of her past roam freely. Cate never thought she'd wind up in this tiny cottage named the Porgy House on this breathtakingly lovely strip of coast. But circumstances have changed, thanks to her newly dead husband whose financial—and emotional—bull and mendacity have left Cate homeless, broke, and unmoored.

Yet Folly Beach holds more than just memories. Once upon a time another woman found unexpected bliss and comfort within its welcoming arms. An artist, writer, and colleague of the revered George Gershwin, Dorothy Heyward enjoyed the greatest moments of her life at Folly with her beloved husband, DuBose. And though the Heywards are long gone, their passion and spirit lingers in every mango sunset and gentle ocean breeze.

And for Cate, Folly, too, holds the promise of unexpected fulfillment when she is forced to look at her life and the zany characters that are her family anew. To her surprise, she will discover that you can go home again. Folly Beach doesn't just hold the girl she once was . . . it also holds the promise of the woman she's always wanted—and is finally ready—to become.

Folly Beach, filled with the irresistible charm, saucy wit, and lush atmosphere that have won her the devotion of fans and propelled her books to bestsellerdom, is vintage Dorothea Benton Frank.

The Almond Tree – Michelle Cohen Corasanti finished on July 28th

Beyond Reach – Karin Slaughter, finished on Sept 8th
This is the last book in the Grant County series.  It made me so sad to end the relationships built during the other books, but luckily Slaughter has continued some of the storyline in her Will Trent series, which I've read a few of already.  If you enjoy series/mystery you should try Slaughter out!
Description: In a stifling hospital room in a small Georgia town, Detective Lena Adams sits, silent and angry—the only suspect in a horrific murder. Soon, a hundred miles away, Police Chief Jeffrey Tolliver will get the call that his young detective has been arrested. And Jeffrey’s wife, pediatrician and medical examiner Sara Linton, has troubles of her own and little patience for Lena or her dramas. Fighting a heartbreaking malpractice suit, Sara cannot guess that within days she herself will be at the center of a bizarre and murderous case. 
For Lena has fled back to the place where she grew up hard, careening back through the shadows of her past and into a shocking underground world of bigotry and rage. And now only Jeffrey and Sara can free Lena from the web of lies and brutality that has trapped her—as this powerhouse of a novel races toward its shattering climax…and a final, unforgettable twist.

Phew.  I feel like I'm for sure missing another great book I read this year but these definitely were excellent books!

What were the best fiction books you read this year?

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