Staff Picks 2017

It’s that time of year again when we look back over our reading year and share our favorite books, movies, and music that we read, watched, and listened to in 2017.  I’m up first.  The coming weeks in January will feature other staff members’ picks from 2017.  You can expect these posts on Thursdays throughout the month.  My items are arranged by format and then alphabetically by title.

 

Books

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda introduced me to a new favorite author; this gripping, suspenseful story unspooled backwards chronologically when one woman’s return home unleashes a reckoning with the past that will leave no one unscathed.  Packed with twists that sneak up on the reader, you won’t be able to put this book down.  Later in the year I also read and reviewed Miranda’s follow up, The Perfect Stranger.  And in November Miranda released a new YA title, Fragments of the Lost, that I’m hoping to read this year.

The Dry by Jane Harper is the debut novel of the author and first installment of the Aaron Falk series.  It’s a tense, heart pounding, puzzling Australian murder mystery set in a tiny, drought strangled town rocked by the (seemingly) straight forward murder-suicide of one of its residents.  When Federal Agent Falk returns to pay his respects to his childhood friend, the town makes it clear that he is (still) not welcome.  However, Falk owes his friend a debt, and against his better judgment he remains in town to help the local police constable determine whether or not this was really a murder-suicide.

In Bitter Chill and A Deadly Thaw by Sarah Ward are the first two novels in the DC Childs series.  Set in England, it’s a well-written, highly suspenseful mystery series.  Both mysteries are gripping and engrossing and have ties to previous unsolved crimes that directly lead to the present-day crimes under investigation.  If you’re a mystery fan, I highly recommend this series.  The third title was released in 2017 and will be reviewed later this month or next month on the blog, so be on the look out for that.

On Living by Kerry Egan is the only non-fiction pick from 2017.  It’s a short, unputdownable book of highly personal meditations about living.  Egan is a hospice chaplain, and the stories shared by her patients serve as gateways to meditations on broader life themes.  This is a book about living, about people who just happen to be dying.

Honorable mention: Everything We Keep by Kerry Lonsdale is the author’s debut novel.  The best way to describe this book is that it is essentially a book version of a messy, twisty, melodramatic soap opera/telenovela.  It’s plot points are polarizing.  It features mega shady characters with incredibly questionable judgment and a cruel twist of a cliffhanger in the epilogue.  The author has since released a sequel to this novel that I have not read, and I have no plans to read it either.  You may wonder why this title receives an honorable mention.  Despite this book’s faults (and there were a few), it was hard to put down and elicited a strong reaction that required venting on Facebook twice.  For those reasons alone it receives an honorable mention on my 2017 picks list.

TV Shows

Broadchurch (all three seasons) stars Olivia Coleman and David Tennant.  I waited what felt like a year for the third and final season of this great British series to finally be released on DVD.  Ok, it was almost a year because I remember that all the way back in February or January BBC America was all, hey, Broadchurch season 3 will be airing really soon.  Well.  Their definition of really soon was like, the summer.  In preparation for the final series I re-watched and reviewed the first two series.  If you love a good mystery TV show, this is the show for you.

Mercy Street season two stars Josh Radnor, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Luke Macfarlane.  I haven’t reviewed either season of this PBS, Civil War era drama set in a military hospital near the war’s front lines in Alexandria, Virginia, but I love it, and it made me really sad when they cancelled it after the second season.  Each season is only six episodes long.  The characters and stories suck you in; it’s suspenseful.  And if you love period dramas, I think you’ll enjoy this gem of a TV show.

What I’m looking forward to in 2018:

There’s a lot of good reading I’m excited to get my hands on this year.  Jane Harper’s follow up to The Dry; Simone St. James’ next release, The Broken Girls; Emily Arsenault’s next release, The Last Thing I Told You; and Anna McPartlin’s new release, rumored to be a follow up to The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes; are just a few of the books I’m waiting for this year.  I am also still waiting (and waiting) for Happy Valley season 2 to finally be released on DVD in the U.S., but I’m not holding my breath on that one.

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