Off the shelf: The Year in Books

With a reading list I’ll never finish, I didn’t make much headway in 2016. Most of my energy went to editing, rewriting, editing, rewriting and finishing my own book. But among the best I took time for were:
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  • Anthony Doerr’s near-miraculous All the Light We Cannot See. This 500+ pager transfixed me and I found myself entranced with two engaging children, one French, one German, as they struggled with survival during World War II. After meeting the author at a book event, it was all I could do to keep from kissing his adorably bald head in deep admiration.
  •  Make Your Home Among Strangers, a debut novel by Jennine Capo Crucet. A painful, funny tale about a gifted child of a fiercely insular Cuban immigrant family in Miami during the Elian Gonzales era. Her struggle to break free of cultural expectations and achieve her piece of the American Dream is fraught with frustration, but you root for her all the way.

Some colleagues also birthed books in 2016:

  • Pamela Fagan Hutchins added Fighting for Anna to her already rich array of romantic mysteries, and it’s a winner.
  • Spider Road Press and its publisher Patricia Flaherty Pagan issued a new collection of literary short fiction, Approaching Footsteps. This imprint nurtures writers of promise as well as seasoned authors, and there’s always something interesting to read in each collection.
  • Pennies from Burger Heaven, by Marcy McKay, a novel with such heartbreak, warmth and grit that I’m looking forward to reading more from this debut author.
  • William Dylan Powell’s Untimely Demise is on my gift list for a few folks. Its “365 Ways to Off Someone” is sly and often hilarious. Plus, his inclusion of Krav Maga in the “Killer Moves” section mirrors one of my character’s pastimes in The Body Next Door.

Surprise of the year:

  • An early reader likened my novel to those by Hank Phillippi Ryan. I’d never read this bestselling, multi-award winning author. Naturally, I was curious. I read The Wrong Girl, and boy, was I flattered by the comparison. Then I finished her latest book, Say No More, and I was hooked. She introduces each plot piece like she’s conducting a five-movement symphony of suspense. To be sure, there are more differences than parallels in our writing, but I’m thrilled to have found her trove of goodies to dig into next year. Next up, something from her Charlotte McNally series.

Two more are in the stack for the new year. A book club I’m in selected one by Meg Wolitzer, another acclaimed author I’ve never read. I’m looking forward to a new release by Laura Elvebak. And there’ll be a lot of research to wade through for my next novel.

I’m set for a happy start to 2017. I hope you are too. What will you be reading?

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Gay Yellen

Gay Yellen (@GayYellen) writes award-winning mysteries with a touch of humor and romance, and on occasion, silly verse. Her mystery series features Samantha Newman, a quirky young woman in search of a meaningful life who must solve a crime or two along the way.

Gay is a former actress, short-film producer and an award-winning magazine editor. She was the contributing editor for the international thriller, Five Minutes to Midnight (Delacorte). With two published novels in The Samantha Newman Mystery Series—The Body Business and The Body Next Door—she’s working on Book #3.

Gay loves connecting with book clubs and readers everywhere.

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2 thoughts on “Off the shelf: The Year in Books

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