Best Books of 2016

2016 had a great many books that thrilled me, and others that delighted. The rest of the year I could have done without —  so many deaths and a horribly long election and a range of backlash to terrify anyone.

For those interested, these are the best books I read in 2016, though not all were published in 2016.

Best Series:

March by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and artist Nate Powell (March: Book One, March: Book Two, March: Book Three)

Best Photography:

Photographs from the Edge: A Master Photographer’s Insights on Capturing an Extraordinary World by Art Wolfe, Rob Sheppard

Best Memoir:

Bukowski in a Sundress by Kim Addonizio

Best Children’s Book:

Science Verse by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith

Best Young Adult Fiction:

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Best Short Story Collection: (I only read 3 and these 2 tied)

Heirlooms: Stories by Rachel Hall (this one has remained on my mind more than expected)

Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War by Jessica Brockmole, Hazel Gaynor, Evangeline Holland, Marci Jefferson, Kate Kerrigan, Jennifer Robson, Heather Webb, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig

Best Jane Austen Fiction: (this is a three-way tie)

A Moment Forever by Cat Gardiner

Darcy’s Hope: Beauty from Ashes by Ginger Monette

The Courtship of Edward Gardiner by Nicole Clarkston

Best Poetry: (another tie)

Field Guide to the End of the World by Jeannine Hall Gailey

Obliterations by Heather Aimee O’Neill and Jessica Piazza

Best Fiction: (a three-way tie)

The Secrets of Flight by Maggie Leffler

My Last Continent by Midge Raymond

This is the Story of You by Beth Kephart

What books were your favorites this year?

The Secrets of Flight by Maggie Leffler

tlc tour hostSource: TLC Book Tours
Paperback, 368 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate


The Secrets of Flight by Maggie Leffler is a stunning mystery that unravels piece by piece, and readers will first meet Mary Browning, an elderly woman in a writer’s group.  She believes she sees an apparition of her sister, Sarah, as a young lady walks into their public writing group.  This vision prompts her memories to resurface, and with the help of this young transcriptionist, she begins again on her memoir.  Leffler deftly weaves between the past and present, creating a multi-layered story that will capture not only the nostalgia of a former airplane pilot during WWII but also the immediacy of a young woman’s search for herself among the detritus of family drama.  Her characters resonate off of one another, like echoes of the past pushing forward the lives of the present into the future.  This ripple effect builds throughout the novel, until the final mystery is revealed.

“But my greatest fear of all was not having a voice of my own.” (pg. 5 ARC)

We all fear losing ourselves and not having a voice.  We are individuals in search of ourselves, but we also are sisters, mothers, daughters, and friends, among other roles that we play.  These connections can help us breathe life into our passions and desires, or they can stifle them.  The trick is to balance the needs and expectations of others with our own without hurting ourselves or those we care most about.

“… I learned how to squeeze my face closed and let myself soundlessly shudder, imagining my tears deep inside, dripping off my organs.” (pg. 31 ARC)

Mary has lived her life, much of it on her own terms, and while she has had a hard time compromising, she was able to do it for love, even to her own detriment.  When WWII was in full swing, she left home to do what she loved even as many told her she shouldn’t, and when she fell in love, she made a sacrifice that many would now see as unnecessary without having lived with the fear of persecution.

Very rarely is there a book that can equally make emotions soar and crash, taking readers on a complete journey wrought with obstacles and choices that you can only imagine facing.  For Mary Browning to have survived them and to have created a satisfying, but not ideal life, is nothing short of miraculous — much like when a heavy metal plane takes to the air with the birds and clouds.  The Secrets of Flight by Maggie Leffler is equal parts coming of age story, WWII historical romance, and mystery, and it is so well balanced and amazing, readers will be left spent at the end of the runway.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Author:

Maggie Leffler is an American novelist and a family medicine physician. A native of Columbia, Maryland, she graduated from the University of Delaware and volunteered with AmeriCorps before attending St. George’s University School of Medicine. She practices medicine in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she lives with her husband and sons. The Secrets of Flight is her third novel.

Find out more about Maggie at her website, and connect with her on Facebook.

Mailbox Monday #373

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links.  Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Vicki, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:

Lost Kin by Steve Anderson for review with TLC Book Tours in May.

Occupied Munich, 1946: Irina, a Cossack refugee, confesses to murdering a GI, but American captain Harry Kaspar doesn’t buy it. As Harry scours the devastated city for the truth, it leads him to his long-lost German brother, Max, who returned to Hitler’s Germany before the war.

Max has a questionable past, and he needs Harry for the cause that could redeem him: rescuing Irina’s stranded clan of Cossacks who have been disowned by the Allies and are now being hunted by Soviet death squads—the cold-blooded upshot of a callous postwar policy.

As a harsh winter brews, the Soviets close in and the Cold War looms, Harry and Max desperately plan for a risky last-ditch rescue on a remote stretch of the German-Czech border. A mysterious visitor from Max’s darkest days shadows them. Everyone is suspect, including Harry’s lover, Sabine, and Munich detective Hartmut Dietz—both of whom have pledged to help. But before the Kaspar brothers can save the innocent victims of peace, grave secrets and the deep contempt sown during the war threaten to damn them all.

The Secrets of Flight by Maggie Leffler for a TLC Book Tour in May.

Estranged from her family since just after World War II, Mary Browning has spent her entire adult life hiding from her past. Now eighty-seven years old and a widow, she is still haunted by secrets and fading memories of the family she left behind. Her one outlet is the writing group she’s presided over for a decade, though she’s never written a word herself. When a new member walks in—a fifteen-year-old girl who reminds her so much of her beloved sister Sarah—Mary is certain fate delivered Elyse Strickler to her for a reason.

Mary hires the serious-eyed teenager to type her story about a daring female pilot who, during World War II, left home for the sky and gambled everything for her dreams—including her own identity.

As they begin to unravel the web of Mary’s past, Mary and Elyse form an unlikely friendship. Together they discover it’s never too late for second chances and that sometimes forgiveness is all it takes for life to take flight in the most unexpected ways.

Undercover: An Austen Noir by Cat Gardiner for review from the author.

It’s November 1952 in New York City where mysterious denizens linger in smoky bars and darkened alleys. The second Red Scare is dredging up a new swarm of “Commies”; “duck and cover” are the lingo of the day. And hard-boiled private eyes aren’t always men.

One audacious dame, Elizabeth Bennet, is undercover in a case of suspected murder: her best friend, Mary King, has been missing for eighteen months. Determined to find the man she believes did the girl in—one George Wickham—her investigation collides with an enigmatic bachelor, Fitzwilliam Darcy and his socialite sister, Georgiana.

Darcy is loaded, from a high-society family with all the money and the right connections for a future in politics. Elizabeth’s a career girl from the wrong side of the East River, but the sexual chemistry between them cannot be denied. She is focused on finding Slick Wick and he is hell-bent on stopping her investigation. But why? He’s hiding something, but she’ll use almost every weapon in her H-bomb arsenal to get his lips flapping.

Murder, kidnapping, and a brainy broad with a body for sin are just enough to break Darcy’s stone-cold reserve.

What did you receive?