Monday, January 11, 2016

What I read 2016

A running list of what I've read this year.  * is pretty good, ** is pretty great

1. **Hands-On Home by Erica Strauss  (amazing home goods, canning, personal care and more, blog)

2. Food Gift Love by Maggie Batista  (recipes and how to package them, just didn't jive with me)

3. *We are All Completely Beside Ourselves  (girl and chimp raised as twins, twisted way of telling story, but a good read)

4. *Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (world has fallen apart, story of traveling Shakespeare troupe and how people cope years later, all stories are connected and slowly you learn how)

5. *Dear Mr. Knightly by Katherine Reay (sweet read about an orphan grad student seen through her letters to her benefactor)

6. **Good Cheap Eats by Jessica Fisher (great cookbook with easy, inexpensive meals, maple oat breakfast cake!)

7. *Travel Guide to Heaven by Anthony DeStefano (interesting take on what our exerience of heaven will be now and after the second coming)

8. * The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick (saw movie a while ago so it felt like I was reliving that, rabid Eagles fan with mental issues, girl with a set of her own, withdrawn Dad, missing you years, and a dance contest...yup, pretty crazy book)

9. Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris (funny, but way too worried about everything being liberal, series of essays some of which have him taking on different personalities)

10. *Missoula by Jon Krakauer (very disturbing account of how rape is deal, specifically looking at Missoula, but really applies everywhere, drinking and drugs are at the start of every. single. case. and  I just am even more focused on raising our kids to make good choices all the way around)

11. *Wonder by R. J.  Palacio (a young adult book about a boy with physical deformity and heading to school for the first in 5th grade, quick read, well written)

12. *tiny beautiful things by Cheryl Strayed (advice letters she has written as Dear Sugar, many dealing with the craziest of love situations, but also fairly univeral in emotion)

13. **The Antelope in the Living Room by Melanie Shankle (funny, touching, real book about her marriage and her faith...last year I read Sparkly Green Earings by her about motherhood, also great)

14. *brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (free verse style, story of her childhood, mother leaving father, moving in with grandparents, then to NY with mom)

15. Skinnytaste Cookbook by Gina Homolka (didn't make anything, lots of pretty photos, good sounding recipes, but nothing earth shattering to me and everything is lowfat, etc., pretty much real food, good advice on portions)

16. *365 Slow Cooker Suppers by Stephanie O'Dea (read the blog during the year she made 365  crockpot recipes, yummy ideas including recipes not on the blog)

17. *the new Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook by Ellen Brown (everything you could ever want to eat made in a cast iron skillet)

18. **the Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook (read it before, but wanted new ideas from it, Amish Chicken Bake and the Simple Berrry Cobbler are both favorites)

19. **Nobody's Cuter than You by Melanie Shankle  (another funny, great book by Melanie, this one about friendships and faith)

20. * Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay  (story of two sisters (one a chef) and their dad and cancer...their mom's cancer and Jane's cancer...sweet love story added in and lots of Austen references, just like Dear Mr. Knightly)

21. ** Listening is an Act of Love edited by Dave Isay (Storycorps project records every day Americans being interviewed by those they love, a collection of a few of the 10,000 they've recorded)

22. *Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Risfka Brunt (a young girl loses her uncle, the love of her life, to AIDS back in the 80s when it was new and scary, discovers his partner that her family hid from her and helps him in his last months, lots of issues with her sister, but in the end the family pulls together again)

23.  *All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr  (WWII, a young blind girl, her museum loc/ksmith father, a diamond, an orphan with a gift for radios and the sadness and desperation of the times...the story jumps between the two stories and timeline, but is not hard to follow and shows many beautiful things in the midst of horror, I don't have the same crazy love for it as many do, but it was a well written, wonderful read)

24. **For the Love by Jen Hatmaker (her writing is like talking with a great friend who can make you laugh and think all at the same time, she has big love for Jesus and wants us all to focus on that a whole lot more and being critical of ourselves and others a whole lot less, a wonderful quick read for any woman who is over scheduled, over Pinterested, and just wants to live their life in a fun, whole, Jesus loving, family centered way)

25. * Carry on, Warrior by Glennon Melton ( writer who has had some posts go viral, so a few of the chapters I had read on fb or somewhere, thoughts on motherhood, faith, brokenness, and her past addictions, lots of good stuff, some uncomfortable stuff and generally a good read for moms doing their best to raise their babies to love God and people through our own stuff)

26. * Americanah by Ngozi Adichie (Nigerian love story of boy and girl who separate when she goes to America, starts a race blog and how they reunite many years later when she returns to Nigeria where he is married, with a child and also newly wealthy and all the ups and downs to them getting back together)

27. **The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield (3 preachers kids, their parents, uncle, aunt, and grandparents, a lost job, a suicide, the creepiest, meanest neighbor, a saved boy, love, loss, strength, a bar, a store and so much more, I really loved this book and Swan is an amazing character)

28. The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay (a bookseller, the boy she meets, the deception she is doing, the breakup, a trip to England with his Grandmother where she meets her criminal father, lots and lots of literary references, decent writer, but I think I'm done with this author for now)

29. **My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl (Gourmet goes under and she spends a year cooking in her own kitchen and figuring out what to do next, like her writing, love the recipes and the story too, 136 recipes that she says saved her life)

30. *Good Cheap Easts Dinner in 30 Minutes (or less) by Jessica Fisher (another good cookbook with fairly frugal, but also easy meals, Black Bean Tortilla Casserole was a hit)

31. ** The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (couldn't put it down, but heartbreaking too, memoir of her childhood growing up with an alcoholic, but dreamer dad and artist and most likely mentally ill mom, with four kids, a penchant for moving often, little food, heat or normalcy and how they got through and escaped to 'normal' life...not a great description of the book, but quite a read)

32. *Comfort Me with Apples by Ruth Reichl (a follow up to Tender at the Bone, so basically a memoir of her early professional life, her first marriage, affairs, early second marriage and attempt at adoption, so well written, a few great recipes, but also a very different lifestyle and value system than I have, she's lived a varied and wild ride of a life)

33. **Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger (Frank Drum tells the story the summer of '61 when four different deaths hit their town.  The first two happen quickly and set up the story, but the next one you know is coming, but you don't know who, just keeps you wondering and waiting and speed reading and then trying to solve it does the same thing, a very well written book)

34. * Delicious! by Ruth Reichl (her first fiction book, Billie works at the mag Delicious! and it closes unexpectedly, she stays on to work the phones and discovers a hidden room, letters to James Beard from the war and a librarian who had joy in hiding clues, there are great foodies folks, a handsome man, a sad back story, and some sluething, overall a decent read)

35. ** Being Mortal by Atul Gawande (everyone should read this book, about being sick, dying, aging and more, what we do right, what we need to do better, the conversations we need to have, important stuff to be talking about with those we love)

36. * The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball (city girl falls in love with farmer who falls in love with a 500 acre farm that has seen better days, they work to offer a whole diet CSA and she learns to stick and not run, made me gasp out loud in places, quick, good read)

37 and 38. * Nature Anatomy and Farm Anatomy by Julia Rothman (painted sketches of all the curious parts and pieces of the natural and farm worlds, great info, a little bit about a whole lot of things, great for helping improve sketching as they are simple line drawings)

39. ** When Breath Becomes air by Paul Kalanithi (about to finish his training in neurosurgery and take on the world he discovers stage IV lung cancer, his story of being sick, of living, of his growing up years, his marriage and all the highs and lows, his love of literature and science are woven so beautifully)

40. Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer (centers around the 1984 murder of a woman and her child by her bro-in-laws, but mostly a look at the background of Morman faith, the fundamentalist sects that break off and the way that it led to those men committing the murder, found it very repetitive and not organized the best)

41. *Gap Creek by Robert Morgan (Julie marries Hank, moves from the mountain top to Gap Creek valley and deals with trials from her mother-in-law, to the man they live with and then his death, giving away money to crooks, almost starving and drowning, losing their baby, and on, good read about a strong woman)

42. **A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams (Lily and Nick, spoiled Budgie and golden boy cheater Graham, Kiki, college and young adult life in the 30s, love found and lost, friendship and betrayal, family secrets and the daughter covering them up without even realizing it, high class life on Seaview during the summer, and the whirlwind of Lily and Nick finding their way back to each other and the hurricane that destroys the community the same day, loved this story)

43. **Essentialism by Greg McKeown  (the trivial many and the vital few, a millimeter in a million directions or a mile in one, lots to chew on here having to do with how we live our lives, the impact we have, lots related to business, but also just life, should reread often)

44. *All Stories are Love Stories by Elizabeth Percer (Valentine's Day and an earthquake in San Francisco, Max and Vashti come together after years apart only to be torn apart again, Gene should have known about the earthquake, but shot information down and spends day trying to get back to his ailing partner Franklin, children trapped with some odd ducks, it was intense at times, okay)

45. *Bossypants by Tina Fey  (funny, likeable, self-depreciating, pretty much exactly what you'd expect from Tina Fey, she doesn't get overly political like so many comedians, mostly talking about her career, does address the differences in the questions she gets because she is a woman, but not overly hung up on making things sexist, mostly she talks about outworking everyone if you want to be the best)

46. *Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner (two sisters Emmy and Julia have to leave their mom and London for the country during the bombing of WWII, Emmy wants to be a bridal designer and her sneaking back to London, with young Julia in tow, sets up a horrific separation of the sisters for 20 years, wonderful country foster mother Charlotte and Thistle House eventually work together to reunite them in a most extroidinary way)

47. *Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline (Vivian is a 91 year old train rider, who started with a different name, lived through two horrible placements and finally found a family and yet another name change, Molly is a foster care teen who has had a rough go of it herself, they work together to clean out an attic and find an unlikely friendship as well as family in the end, a good fictional read about a real event in our country)

48. **Miracles from Heaven by Christy Wilson Beam (The story of a family and their battle through a chronic disease with their young daughter, Annabel.  Their lives are overtaken with keeping her alive and not pain wracked and yet they are so strong in their faith, after a crazy falling through a hollow tree accident Annabel which results in a visit to heaven and Jesus's promise of healing they do indeed get their miracle!  So good, was made into a movie)

49. *Food Matters by Mark Bittman (focus on eating clean, whole foods with special emphasis on eating very little meat, he is encouraging this way of eating for the sake of the planet as well as our health, pulls it off by eating vegetarian/vegan all day until dinner and then basically eating anything, caused him to lose weight, eat cheaper, and reduce his pull on the planet's resources, 'eating sane' is mostly in line with how we try and eat, although we eat more animal products overall, but agree with him that Big Ag is not the way to raise our food)

50. ** Don't Leave Me This Way (or when I get back on my feet you'll be sorry) by Julia Fox Garrison (Healthy working mom has debilitating stroke and brain hemorrhage, the story of her getting sick, getting better, her faith,the Drs and medical people she meets along the way, Dr. Jerk, Dr. Neuro, etc, finally knowing why it happened (cold medicine!) and why she knows she is a better person now)

51. ** Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie  (Helping put first things first and realize that we are shepherding God's children as we are homeschooling and we need to rest in that He is in control of the outcome, we need to make the process right, not stress about checking off the boxes, but about coming alongside them to help them accomplish what they can and were made for, about relationships, not completed worksheets, should reread!)

52.** The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay (Story of Peekay from about 5 years until 19, started slow for me, but reviews were great so I kept on, his time at boarding school, influences, decision to become welter weight champ of the world and learning to box, meeting Doc--absodoodle!, Morrie, work in mines and major final scene, in the end it was pretty amazing and you couldn't help but love Peekay.)

53. * Thinking in Pictures and Other Reports From My Life With Autism by Temple Grandin (A collection of essays on different aspects of autism and treatments and abilities in general and her specific situation and life stories, focused on her career and how she got there and her relationships, her insights are amazing and you can see the differences in how her brain works in how she tells stories and the somewhat repetitive nature of her writing, very helpful to those who love people with autism.)

54. * My Double Life Memoirs of a NAturalist by Frances Hamerstrom (Very eccentric Wisconsin naturalist who along with her husband, is credited with saving the prairie chicken, she was raised in a wealthy, rigid family, but as an adult lived in crumbling farmhouses and raised their children with no running water, but amazing bird study material, so interesting to read about someone close to home with such a different life.)

55.* My Mrs. Brown by William Norwich (Sweet read about Mrs. Brown, a cleaner at a hair salon who is often treated poorly and overlooked, she may seem plain and simple, but impacts her neighbor's granddaughter, has a super model move in for a while, takes an amazing trip to NYC and finally get the Oscar de la Renta black suit that she wants, it is perfectly tailored and the whole world kind of helps her accomplish this goal, in the end you find out she wants it to wear to her weekly visits to her son's grave, heartbreaking in the end, but a great little read.)

56. ** The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro (Grace, and English woman,  is in a marriage that has turned very cold and suddenly finds out she has inherited an apartment and a large fortune from Eva d'Orsey in France, she travels there sure there has been a mistake as she has no idea who Eva is, the story of how they are connected and the characters she meets along the way are fascinating, started slow for me, but as it continued it drew me in more and more and in the end was a great story)

57. *for one more day by Mitch Albom (Chick is a former professional baseball player who has lost his wife and daughter due to his drinking, tries to kill himself and ends up spending a day with his deceased mother and learning a lot about life and love in a short time, learns why his parents divorced and finally chooses her over his dad in his heart, touching with a circle back at the end that is very sweet.)

58. **The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin (Janie is raising Noah, who is 'quirky' and wants to go home and see his mama, even with her in their home, and can't stand water, after many doctors she finds Anderson who has spent a career studying reincarnation in children who remember a past life, they find out about Tommy, who was killed by a neighbor accidentally, lots of interesting side pieces to the story and really suspenseful for a non-thriller book.)

59.  *People with Dirty Hands by Robin Chotzinoff (She spends time traveling the country visiting other gardeners from formal estate gardens to wild cottage gardens to the largest tomato growers in the country, interesting characters)

60. *Downton Abbey A Celebration by Jessica Fellowes (A great peak into all the characters and sets of Downton with episode information as well, neat to see the actors talking about their characters and the photos are beautiful!)

61.**Rare Objects by Kathleen Tessaro (Maeve Fanning, or May as she calls herself in the Boston shop, gets a job in an antique shop and works hard to pass herself off as high class, has a rocky relationship with her mom, has spent time in an institution after running away to NY and missed her best friend's wedding in the process and eventually runs into a girl she met there who turns out to be very wealthy, she becomes friends with Diana and runs in her crowd, living a double life, hard to summarize, but I like this better than the Perfume Collector I think.)

62.**The One-In-A-Million Boy by Monica Wood (Quinn and his twice ex-wife Belle have a son who has befriended and convinced to go after a Guinness World Record a 104 year old woman, before he unexpectedly dies, Quinn steps in to take care of Ona's yard and fulfill the scouting duty as a way of being there for his ex-wife when he wasn't during their son's life, he and Ona become friends, Belle marries the scout leader rather hurriedly, they meet Ona's illegitimate 90 year old son, and Quinn grows up while becoming actual friends with Ona, this is mingled with the recorded conversations that Ona and the boy did about her early life, her friendship with Louise, her parents' sacrifices, her marriage and such, really good book with sad ending, which explains the beginning)

63. * Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave (Set in England and Malta during WWII, Mary is a rich girl who becomes a teacher who simply must teach even if they are Negros or cripples once the children are evacuated to the countryside, Tom is her boss and almost fiancé, eventually all of them are killed leaving Mary in a terrible state, but writing to Alistair, Tom's best friend who is starving in Malta, losing his arm and goes MIA while being transported home, I was loving this book for so many reasons, (quick wit of the characters, the spiral into realities of war, a peek into the minstrel shows world) but the ending was odd and hard to get so it left me unsettled, possibly meant to as war does that to everyone's lives.)

64. * in a dark, dark wood by Ruth Ware (Lenora gets an invite to a 'hen' aka bachelorette weekend for Clare, who she hasn't talked to in 10 years, she and Nina decide to go, when there finds out Clare is marrying the love of her life, James, in the end James is dead, Flo kills herself and Nora is under suspicion for the murder and is almost killed herself by the golden girl turned psyco Clare.)

65. *Before We Visit the Goddess by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (Story of three generations of women who all end up abandoned by men in different ways, the grandma never leaves India, the daughter leaves to follow a man, the grand-daughter never gets to India, they all have triumph, they all have hurt and none feel whole because of the way they end up cut off from their mothers and families, told in little individual stories and sometimes hard to follow, but a good book.)

66. **Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys (Historical fiction based on the true WWII story of the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, the greatest tragedy in maritime history, the Germans were evacuating refugees and packed 10,000 people into the ship, this story focuses on a German who has turned against his country (Florian), a nurse (Joana), a pregnant via rape by Russians Polish girl (Emilia), a psychopath sailor (Alfred), the Shoe Poet and the Wandering Boy, they all travel together and work to get on the ship and survive, each character gets pages of their point of view and it is constantly flipping, but really well done and completely intense, really good.

67.The Perfection of Morning by Sharon Butala (Thought I'd love this since she moves to a large farm/ranch and the subtitle is an apprenticeship in nature, however it just seemed so focused on her dreams and a weird almost psycobabbley self rebirth thing, parts that talked about her adjustment to the country after her second marriage and the landscape were pretty, but I just couldn't get into it as it was too much about her inner musings and figuring herself out.)

68. Recollections of a Handcart Pioneer of 1860 by Mary Ann Hafen  (Almost like a conversation of Mary Ann's stories of growing up as a Morman who immigrated here and then across the country with her parents, her plural marriage, raising children and her faith, interesting)

69.*The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson (Hugh and Daniel are the well off nephews of Agatha and her war office working husband, and Beatrice comes to teach in their small town, it is shocking to have a Latin teacher that is female!  The story follows her settling into the town, the movement to war, Hugh and Beatrice falling in love, the scholarly gypsy boy who enlists, all the deaths in the early part of the war, lots of small town gossip and outrage and heartbreak of war with a bit of love found thrown in.)

70. **Gold by Chris Cleave (Zoe and Kate are rivals with a VERY complicated past, which isn't fully revealed until late in the story, they race bikes in a velodrome and are Olympic caliber riders, Kate gives up two Olympics to raise her little girl, while her husband competes and wins, Zoe wins as well, this story focuses on their last chance at an Olympics, a rule change that will leave one girl home, a very sick daughter and all the complications of the relationships of the 4 of them.  Great read!)

71. *How Not to Die by Dr. G  (She does autopsies for a living and basically runs down all the things you shouldn't do if you want to live a long life, if you are paranoid this might not be the book for you!)

72. **A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (Ove is the local curmudgeon and is trying to kill himself so he can join his beloved Sonja, however his new foreign neighbors and their children, a cat, his previous best friend Rune and his wife, Jimmy, the fat computer guy next door and others all end up foiling his plans accidentally, he is a man who speaks little, works hard and because of their 'incompetence' he is needed and can't take the time to end it all, his backstory, that of Sonja and all the rest of the backstory is so touching, I cried multiple times and it made me want an Ove in my life too, a great, touching, funny read.)

73. *Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (Lydia is the dead daughter that this book revolves around, but the stories are much more complicated than you can imagine, Marilyn wanted to be a doctor, but her home ec teaching mom wanted her to find a man from Harvard, she did, but James was Chinese and she never talks to her mother again, Marilyn freeks out and leaves her family at one point and Lydia promises herself that she will agree to everything if her other comes back, which leads to her being the beloved child while Nath is ignored and can't wait to escape to college and space and Hannah is the younger never noticed sister, James has an affair that starts the day of the funeral, they all have secrets from each other and all feel a sense of responsibility for Lydia's death, in the end there is a lot of hope they they will pull together and pull through.)

74. *The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty (Cecilia seems to have it all, great daughters, loving husband John Paul, success with Tupperware and so organized it is crazy, she finds a letter from her husband that she is to open upon his death and it turns their lives upside down, three women's lives intersect, one with a murdered child, another ends up with a severely injured one, there is an affair, a reconciliation and lots of humor in the middle of this turn your world upside down story.)

75. *Trim Healthy Mama Plan and THM Cookbook by Serene and Pearl (I read the old book and was pretty turned off, but know people who have had great success, so read the new book and it is better, I am focusing on eating fuels separate (S and E) and just eating the food we normal do, we'll see how it goes!)

76. *The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters (Frances and her mother take in a boarder couple, Lillian and Leonard, I thought this was more of just historical fiction, and there is a reality to the post war London it is set in, most of the book focuses on Frances and her previous relationship with Christina and the new one she starts with Lillian, Leonard is murdered and more than half of the book follows what happens after that night, it is engaging, but not my favorite read.)

77. ** 50 Great American Places by Brent Glass (A book that walks through one historic place in each state, but not necessarily the ones you would imagine, there are connections to other places as well, but a really neat way to travel through our country as they are listed in the chronological order, not in any type of state order.)

78. *First Comes Love by Emily Giffin (Josie and Meredith are sisters who have a pretty rough relationship, much of the family drama comes from the loss of their brother, Daniel, 15 years ago, their parents are now divorced, Meredith is a lawyer, a mom, and is not sure she should have married Daniel's best friend Nolan, Josie is a 1st grade teacher who is planning to get pregnant with a sperm donor, or maybe the guy she met through Match or maybe her best friend Gabe, it is a fast read with good characters.)

79. * A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray (Marguerite and Theo are chasing Paul through different dimensions because they believe he killed her father, they use the Firebird, which her parents invented after her genius mother figured out that there are an infinite number of dimensions, but all in the same time frame, she goes into Tsarist Russia, futuristic seeming London, and on a station in the middle of the ocean, she figures out that she loves Paul and he couldn't have done it, but also has feelings for Theo who still doesn't trust Paul, although he loves him like a brother, interesting idea, too much back and forth love stuff, but a quick interesting read.)

80. **The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (Don is a geneticist who is obviously on the spectrum, even as he doesn't recognize it in himself, he decides to start the Wife Project to meet a potential mate, but in the mean time meets Rosie and starts helping her identify her biological father, she has none of the qualifications of the wife project, but is obviously meant for him, also features his friend Gene who is a philanderer and his wife, Claudia who no longer wants to be in an open marriage, Phil, Rosie's dad and others, very sweet, quirky story.)

81. * Eating Wildly: Fraging for Life, Love and the Perfect Meal by Ava Chin (A memoir about her relationship with her grandparents, her single, boyfriend hopping mother, her absent, never wanted her father and a few boyfriends, including the one who becomes her husband, each chapter connects to a foraging food story and a recipe as well, good read.)

82. *The Death of Sweet Mister by Daniel Woodrell (This book is very popular and well written, but the subject matter could not be more depressing, Shuggie lives with his mom, Glenda, who is overly provocative, affair having woman, his 'dad,' Red, who is an abusive, part time, druggie/drunk who makes Shug steal drugs from sick patients's homes and has an affair right in front of his son, Shug gets caught, cleans up after Glenda and her lover kill Red and never mentions it and ends up having an incestuous relationship with his mom, just crazy.

83. * The Feast Nearby by Robin Mather (Robin gets divorced and loses her job in the same week, moves to a little cabin on a lake in MI and figures out how to continue to eat very well and locally on a budget of $40/week by bartering with neighbors and preserving in season, she, her dog, parrot and new kitty build a community and she shares recipes, it is a great read for local eating and recipes.)

84. *Brain on Fire My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan (Susannah is a healthy, busy 24 year old reporter for the NY Post when she suddenly seems to have gone mad, seizures and hallucinations are just the beginning on a month long hospital stay that does nothing to show what is wrong, then a new doctor sends for testing and a fairly rare auto immune disease is diagnosed, she heads home and starts treatment and eventually makes a full recovery, an interesting story about how our bodies can attack ourselves and when it involves our brain it completely changes our entire life, she uses her dad's journal, doctor interviews and such to rebuild this lost month of her life.)

85. ** My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman (Elsa is 7 and lives a very different life with her mother and stepfather who are expecting Halfie and her Grandmother who keeps escaping the hospital to be Elsa's biggest protector/storyteller/friend/cheerleader, Grandma was not the best mother, often missing in her work as a doctor in war zones bringing the lost home with her, now she is an amazing Grandmother weaving amazing fairy tales that all turn out to be about the characters in the book, the treasure hunt she sends Elsa on after her death, the revelation of the personalities and connections of the other residents in the house and the storytelling are amazing, he wrote A Man Called Ove and this is right up there too!)

A Partial History of Lost Causes (Started and didn't finish...shocking, I know!  Russian chess player goes from freezing in a horrible room to a superstar because of his abilities, just not that engaging to me at the time.)

86. *Lab Girl by Hope Jahren (Fascinating story of a scientist and her study of plants, trees and such, part memoir, part science lesson, all good!)

87. *Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Nguyen (An interesting story of an Asian immigrant family that is connected with the story of Laura Ingalls Wilder, a bit of a mystery surrounding Rose pops up and the implications are kind of story changing, all done in a fun historical fiction way.)

88. *Loving Frank by Nancy Horan (A novel, but based in mostly fact surround Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah, they both leave their families, tour Europe, we see Frank's career go really well and also stall, they return and build Taliesin, she eventually gets to see her children a bit again, the tragic fire that killed her, her children, and workers, it is quite a story with conversation so well done that it reads as thought it is not a novel!)

89. **Birtt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman (She has left her husband at the end of My Grandmother Says to Tell you She's Sorry and we pick it up with her living in hotel and trying to find a job, but still a complete control, cleaning machine, she heads to the small, failing town of Borgand ends up a soccer coach, even awkwardly meets someone and could be getting her life together if not for the fact that she is ready to take her husband back at any point, Borg is changed by her in a  big way, there is tragedy and it is a wonderful book like all his others!)

90. *Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (A heartbreak of a book about his life as a lawyer fighting to end the death penalty, free innocents in prison, and change a very broken system, so many cases that just blew me away with the injustice.)

91. ** Omnivoer's Dilemma by Michael Pollan  (He follows our food systems and how that has shaped our meals through Big Ag/corn and fast food, Grass and Joel Salatin's farm and the forest and a hunted/gathered meal he does with the help of some friends, a great reaffirmation of making good choices, the actual costs of our Big Ag food to our bodies and our world, let alone the animals in it.)

92. * Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowly  (Lily is a dachshund who develops an 'octopus' on her head and is nearing the end of her life, Ted is her owner who has struggled to find love in his life until he found Lily, they 'talk,' they play board games, they are completely wrapped up in each other,  he becomes so obsessed with her octopus that the story turns fantastical, the end is as sad as you imagine it will be.)

93. * I Will Send Rain by Rae Meadows  (Historical fiction of a sort based in the dust bowl, Annie and Samuel Bell are trying to make it through with their surviving children, Fred and Birdie, the loss of connection leads to Annie cheating, Birdie thinks she has found the love of her life until he leaves with his family, but leaves behind a coming baby, Fred has dust asthma and meets a tragic end, this is such a sad story, but somehow they keep on even through the dust, the boat, and the death of children.)

94. ** Find Her by Lisa Gardner (Super intense and fast paced, Flora was kidnapped and held for more than 400 days, she has survived, but isn't the same girl, she devotes herself to learning to protect herself and obsession on bringing home other victims which leads to her ending up taken at a nightclub, but killing the man that morning only to be taken again the next day, finding Stacey, the girl was looking for and then trying to save them both, D.D. Warren is the detective in the book and there is a series of books with her, good read that keeps you guessing and interested the entire time.)

95. *Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance (Memoir of a family and culture in crisis is the subtitle and pretty much sums it up, J.D. talks of his 'crazy' family, a mother who married and lived with many men, Mamaw and Papaw who gave him a safe harbor although not a classic one in any stretch, joining the Marines, going to college, graduating from Yale Law school, a successful marriage and all the many things he has done that were never expected and actually separate him from his family and culture, many say this book describes why Trump was elected, I think it is an interesting take on the culture surrounding Appalachia and hillbillies and families in general.)

96. * The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena (Anne and Marco attend a dinner party next door leaving their 6 month old Cora asleep and alone in their shared wall home, they get home at 1:30 to find her gone, the secrets that unfold after include Marco's business is in the tank, Anne's step father denied helping him again, even though the money is her mothers, the neighbors have a camera that could help solve the crime, but implicate them in things too, Anne's got a history of blacking out and not remembering violent acts she commits during those times, and at any point any of them could be connected, turned out that Marco was involved, but so was the step father as he was trying to get $$ to sneak away with his lover, the same neighbor whose party they were at, a good twisty read, but lags at times and man, the secrets one family can have!)

97. *The Mothers by Brit Bennett (Nadia's mother committed suicide and her father struggles to have a connection to her and their church, The Upper Room, she spends a summer with Luke, the pastor's son, and gets pregnant, gets an abortion and the rest of the novel is about the way that abortion haunts their lives, Luke missing his child, Nadia escaping to college, but never really letting go of Luke and the idea of Baby, Aubrey, her friend she never tells about any of this who also lost her very alive mother to an abuser, and when Aubrey and Luke get married and Nadia comes home from Law school to take care of her sick dad the affair begins, the friendship falls apart, the secrets all come out and the church falls apart too.)

98. * The Children of Willesden Lane by Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen (Mona is the daughter of Lisa and this is Lisa's story of being a child sent on the kindertransport from Vienna to England when the Nazi's were over taking Austria, Lisa was a piano prodigy and this story of her leaving everything she loves, working in a factory, eventually getting to audition and being accepted into the Royal Academy of Music in London, Mona and her sister are also concert pianists so the legacy of Lisa's parent's dream lives on!)

99. **My Antonia by Willa Cather (A classic I finally read!  Told from the perspective of Jim Burden, a fellow child growing up with her, we learn the story of Antonia and the other families of this small Nebraska town, how difficult it was to make it as a new immigrant, how the girls that are hired out to town help the families make it, but in the end their marriages and subsequent farms are often the successful ones, we learn how strong, down to earth, and wonderful Antonia is, we see how a few of the girls go out into the world and do not come back and how different those lives are, one of her 'prairie trilogy novels' and often called the great American prairie novel, worth reading.

100 ** I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh (A little boy is killed in a hit and run accident, the novel jumps between the police investigating and their lives and Jenna/Jennifer who I thought was his mother, turned out she was involved in the actual accident and was hiding in the seaside town to avoid her abusive husband, the twisty turns throughout, the people of the seas side town, the sweet vet, the police chief who makes a good choice in the end are all great, the very, very end is not how I would have ended it, but over all a good read.)

101 ** The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom (A very engaging novel that follows an Irish indentured servant, Lavinia who arrives small and sick when her parents have died and Belle, the daughter of the master who was raised in the big house until about age 10, unknown to his new, young wife,who is the slave running the kitchen house, the horrors of slavery, the threat of being sold, opium use by the ladies of the house, so much in this book, Lavinia ends up the wife of Marshall, the son who was destroyed by the abuses of his tutor and the hatred of the overseer, the ending is heart breaking, but also freeing in that Belle finally is free as is Lavinia, really worth reading, but hard to explain.)

Not a bad year of books!

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