I hadn’t realized until I was compiling this list that out of the unimpressive 12 books I managed to finish this year, only two I rated below four stars. That says a great deal about the quality of the books I finished. The following is a compilation of the books I liked best in 2016.
The Fist of God by Frederick Forsyth (♦♦♦♦): is not a crash course, but a full immersion in the 1st Gulf War complete with army acronyms, rogue hero pilots, and top notch espionage. Taut, dense, and brimming with useful (and likely) insider's information, it took me ages to absorb it all, and what a ride that was.
The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin (♦♦♦♦): reads like those appetizing stories in contemporary celebrity magazines like Star and Us Weekly that few people confess to reading, or liking. I read them and like them, so I enjoyed The Swans... a great deal.
Named of the Dragon by Susanna Kearsley (♦♦♦♦): I had a great time reading this book. In it, Susanna Kearsley weaves Celtic legends and myths to create a story that, though contemporary, recreates a time of forgotten heroes and prophesied greatness, bringing to the fore the vastness and richness of Welsh and Celtic traditions.
A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley (♦♦♦♦): Kearsley never disappoints me; her writing style is effortless, flowy, and as familiar and comforting as apple pie, or a warm summer afternoon. I can't pinpoint where her style secret resides, I just surrender to the experience. As is always the case, her research is impeccable, despite taking creative licenses that she admits to, both with characters and situations.
The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith (♦♦♦♦): is a multi-layered story on several fronts. The de Vos’ paintings being carefully built (when painted) or deconstructed (when forged) from the ground layers up made me visualize the processes as if they had been unfolding in front of my own eyes.
A Perfumer's Secret by Adria J. Cimino (♦♦♦♦): If you marvel at the color of sunrise or the smell of jasmine in a summer afternoon, then you should read A Perfumer's Secret… Gorgeously described, this novel details the quest of a woman to find her sense of self and belonging in the world.
Avenger by Frederick Forsyth (♦♦♦♦): I never stop marveling at Forsyth's talent for spinning a great story, particularly one which does both, entertain and inform the reader at the same time. Forsyth talks about conflagrations the world over and several countries' political intricacies with the depth of a master.
The Black Widow by Daniel Silva (♦♦♦♦♦): is a page turner of the highest order, a combination of great sense of humor, with more laugh out loud moments than ever before, but it also details the most chaotic and lethal deeds that terrorists may be able to conceive and carry out.