Tuesday, January 2, 2024

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Best of 2023 - Fiction

Yearly round up of books read last year. I read 124 books (27nonfiction) most audiobooks.  I'm going to make a separate post for the nonfiction books and a few other notable books but here are ten really good reads I had this year. Heh, I just noticed, ten really good reads I had this year, by women.

Trespasses Louise Kennedy

Such an Irish book! Set during the Troubles with a secret love, this broke my heart.

The Last Remains  Elly Griffiths

Elly Griffiths wrote 15 books in the Ruth Galloway series, the forensic archaeologist in Norfolk, England, who gets called in when bodies are discovered and ends up helping solve the murders. Her messy love affair with the police officer, her friendship with the local pagan Cathbad, her growing daughter - Griffiths kept the story going in real-ish time so that the books continued during the lockdown and pandemic. All the books are good, not necessarily excellent, but the familiar characters and suspense make the series as a whole excellent, and this last entry finished things up in a most satisfactory way.

Her Last Breath (#5 in the series)   Linda Castillo 

I assumed most Amish books are romances, but I was recommended this police/mystery series set in Ohio in Amish country has been excellent. The Chief of Police, Kate Burkholder, was once Amish, giving her an insight into their world. I read six of the books in the series this past year and like Ruth Galloway, a lot of the time its the personal life that keeps you reading. I've already got the next one queued up to listen to.

Weyward  Emilia Hart

Three story strands - 1619 a woman awaiting murder trial (is she a witch?), 1942 a young woman strains against expectations and searches for information about her long dead mother, and 2019 a woman escapes domestic violence to her great-aunts abandoned cottage. Each story was interesting, but having them woven together was very well done.

The Evil Eye by Etaf Rum

Remember all those women in the 1970s who struggled to find their power and autonomy, working how to balance home and work with a patriarchial society that limited them? dealing with depression but it wasn't acknowledged as depression, like in The Yellow Wallpaper? This story is a modern take on it within some cultures, like the Palestinian-American main character in this book. So, it's a quiet, one woman story, but  I liked Yara's growth and recovery.

Lessons in Chemistry   Bonnie Garmus

Great story, coming to a streaming service soon, about a 1960s chemist who refuses to behave as a women of her day. Elizabeth Zott is finding love, and family and a career despite her inability to accomadate others. There is a reason this is on plenty of 'best of' lists. Loved this book.

Pineapple Street  Jenny Jackson

Maybe my history of watching soap operas and reading Susan Isaacs novels in my teens is catching up to me, but this story about rich siblings in New York kept my attention even as it is not related to my life. Sometimes popcorn, while just fluff, tastes really good.

Remarkably Bright Creatures  Shelby van Pelt

A friendship between an all-knowing octopus and a widow working at an aquarium. Sometimes you don't really need to read the synopsis, you just need to read the heart-warming book.

Romantic Comedy Curtis Sittenfeld

Very modern, set partially during the pandemic, and based on a fictional Saturday Night Live sketch show, Sittenfeld plays on the dorky guy with the gorgeous actress trope and then turns the gender tables. Can a famous hot guy and a plain unknown woman make it work?

The Marriage Portrait   Maggie O'Farrell

1550s Florence and the life of girls and women sucks. If you've ever read Robert Browning's poem 'My Last Duchess', then this books is for you. Part of the appeal to me was that I haven't read a lot of books set outside of historical UK, so the Italian view really interested me, and of course, Maggie O'Farrell can write a great tale!

A Short List of Really Good Books by My Favourite Authors
Demon Copperhead  Barbara Kingsolver
Tom Lake Ann Patchett
Big Little Lies Liane Moriarty (reread)