Best ‘New to Us’ Books in 2012: Melissa O.’s Picks

I am what you would call an eclectic reader. I love mystery, science fiction, thrillers, inspirational, and I am an avid nonfiction reader. I also love young adult and even juvenile fiction. So you see my difficulty in describing my reading interests. The good news is this makes it easy for me to make reading suggestions! Here are five of my favorite older books I read or re-read this year. (Yes, I am a re-reader!)  — Melissa O.

Skull Duggery by Aaron Elkins
Gideon Oliver is a forensic anthropologist (think old bones instead of recent murders). When Gideon joins his wife on a trip to Mexico he finds himself reluctantly pulled into yet another murder mystery. And it turns out someone will kill to keep it unsolved! Elkins manages to bring just the right amount of humor into his books, and you get the added bonus of traveling the world with the bone detective as he gets roped into, or manages to trip into, another unsolved crime.

A Spell For Chameleon by Piers Anthony
I discovered this book in high school and it remains my favorite humorous fantasy series. We meet Bink, the only citizen of Xanth with no magic, a tragedy for which he will be exiled. So he sets out to find his magic and just might win the girl of his dreams in the process. This is the first of the Xanth novels and I reread it this year to remind myself why I love these books so much. If you are a fan of puns you will die laughing!

Taliesin by Stephen R. Lawhead
This is the first in the Pendragon Cycle and sets the stage for the next four books. Lawhead expands on the usual Arthurian legends by weaving the mythic city of Atlantis into the tale. Lawhead also skillfully weaves a more prominent Christian message into the novels, but in a way that will not put-off non-Christians. In addition to Taliesin we meet Charis, a bull dancer, and watch their lives come together in one of the greatest love stories I have read recently.

The Sacrifice by Robert Whitlow
When you read Whitlow’s inspirational legal thrillers you can tell he is writing from experience. A practicing attorney for decades, his books are gripping and believable. We also get the added bonus that Whitlow is a local author and sets many of his books, including this one, in North Carolina. Scott Ellis is an attorney who finds himself advising a mock trial team at a high school. Add in a school shooting and you won’t be able to put this book down.

The Loch by Steve Alten
Alten takes the legend of the Loch Ness Monster and twists it on its head while including the right amount of science to keep my inner biologist happy. Zach Wallace returns to Scotland when his estranged father is accused of murder. Unfortunately, Angus’s sole defense is that “something” in the Loch killed his business partner. Zach must solve the mystery even as more bodies continue to pile up. Much sleep was sacrificed as I was sucked into this story!

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