Hi, I’m Heather!  I blog over at Happily Heather After, mostly about my daily life, healthy living/weight loss, my sweet dog Darcy, and best of all…books.  Ericka and I bonded over books at the Healthy Living Summit, so I was happy to oblige when she asked me to write a guest post about one of our favorite topics.

I love perusing lists of books to figure out what to read next.  One of my favorites comes in June when Amazon does their Best Books of the Year So Far feature.  I nearly always find one or two gems that I’ve missed along the way.
Being that it’s Labor Day weekend, you may be lounging on a beach, sailing on a boat, or just relaxing at home—might I suggest a few of my favorite books of the year so far to while away the hours?
Fall of Giants—Ken Follett

Technically speaking, this book came out last September…but I didn’t read it until March of this year, so I’m counting it!
The first book in Ken Follett’s Century Trilogy, Fall of Giants follows the experiences of five (fictional) families during World War I.  From countries all around the globe (Russia, the UK, America), the lives of these characters are intertwined as a result of the war.  Follett does a wonderful job with the historical background of this book; it was definitely a refresher course in world history in addition to being a captivating story!  The characters seemed incredibly real, as if they really existed in this time, and I found myself rooting for all of them.
If you enjoyed The Pillars of the Earth or World Without End, I definitely recommend picking this one up.  Fair warning though: you’ll be left wanting more!  Unfortunately, it’s going to be a bit of a wait.  The second book in the trilogy—due to publish sometime in 2012—will involve the children of the characters in Fall of Giants as they live through the Great Depression and World War II.  The third book will explore the lives of the next generation during the Cold War, but you’ll have to sit tight until 2014 for that one.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children—Ransom Riggs  

 Miss Peregrine’s tells the story of Jacob as he travels to a remote island in Wales to unravel the mystery left behind by his deceased grandfather.  This book was chosen as one of Amazon’s Best Books of the Month for June and as one of the Best Books of the Year So Far, and I couldn’t agree more!  It’s technically a Young Adult novel, but it definitely transcends that age group. 
I don’t want to give away the plot beyond what I’ve already said, but this book is so well written and even haunting at times.  I still find myself thinking about it nearly three months later and wishing I could read it again for the very first time.
My only issue with the book is that the ending is a bit open-ended, and I was left wanting to know what happens next—yet it’s not the first in a trilogy/series as far as I know.  Keeping my fingers crossed that the author changes his mind!
A Discovery of Witches—Deborah Harkness

I kind of hate to keep singing the praises of first books in trilogies since you then have to wait for the next book to come along (such a tease!), but I can’t resist doing it one more time with this one.
A Discovery of Witches is a debut novel from Deborah Harkness that follows Diana Bishop, a direct descendant of the first woman executed at the Salem Witch Trials, as she gets interacts with any number of creatures—vampires, demons—in an attempt to prevent an interspecies war. 
I admit that it starts off strong and drops off a bit toward the middle…but the second half of the book is completely worth the effort it takes to get there.  I have really high hopes for the rest of the trilogy.  Plus, the atmosphere of the entire book is pretty timely; it takes place in Oxford, England in the fall and will have you wanting to curl up in a warm sweater and drink a cup of tea!
So there you have it—my top three favorite books of the year so far.  If you’re looking for more book recommendations, you can mosey on over to my blog where I share what I’ve been reading each month
Happy reading!
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