Terry's Traffic Light Delights
||A selection of the books Terry (tlg) loves. Terry is another cross genre
omnivore, with a particular passion for entertaining characters, exotic
locales, and more than a dab of romance.
With Lutz’s trademark humor, quippy dialogue, and quirky
characters, she introduces readers to three college friends who met in Santa
Cruz where they all began attending college in 1993. Anna is a take-charge,
wild, adventurous soul raised in an affluent family in Boston. Her desire
to escape her background, her family, and her emotions at every opportunity,
even as a child, continues to define her as an adult. Kate was raised by her
grandfather after both of her parents died when she was eight years old. She
was raised in Santa Cruz and never wanted to leave, her only ambition to manage
her grandfather’s restaurant. Life has other plans for her. George is a tall,
beautiful basketball player who hails from the midwest and had a less
catastrophic upbringing than the other two, but who has a penchant for men who
are bad for her.
from multiple viewpoints, points in time, and locations, the story leads
readers to learn about all three girls from college to graduate school …
through failed marriages, career decisions, and life cycles … and about the men
that revolve around their worlds. Fans of Lutz will fall in love all over
again. Readers who are new to her will race to their bookstores to begin
reading about the Spellmans.
It’s simple. It’s groundbreaking. It’s an entertaining peek into
Hollywood and the makings of a successful talent. It is also a very serious way
to begin thinking about how you can change your life; your work life, your
social life, and maybe even your personal outlook. Brian Grazer has subtitled
his first book The Secret to a Bigger Life … and this just may be it.
Brian is a very successful film and TV producer who teamed up with Ron
Howard at the beginning of his career to make a “splash” in movie theaters and
in our homes, but that is not what makes this book compelling (though it does
add to the entertainment value). What makes this book life-changing is that it
teaches us to use curiosity in a way that can actually improve our lives,
inspire innovation and creativity, and give us a reason dig deeper to find the
bigger truths in work and in life. The trait that has led Grazer to success,
understanding, and happiness has been his curiosity and his persistence to find
answers to his questions.
Grazer also talks about how important it is to understand what it means
to walk in someone else’s shoes and how we must understand our competitors’
perspective in order to anticipate their next move and improve on it. He calls
this “disrupting your own point of view” by anticipating what customers will
want by who they are and how they behave. He gives us plenty of examples of
ways he has used these techniques, and how others in industry and life have
used them too.
Grazer wrote A
Curious Mind to share his life perspective and to lead us in a direction
that may add value to our lives. This may, in fact, be one of the most
important business/life books of our time.
A First Date with Death is an entertaining look behind the scenes of a
reality dating show, featuring ex-cop Georgia Thornton as a woman looking for
love. Talked into doing the show by her BFF, show assistant producer Becca,
Georgia immediately regrets her decision, and not just because the first date
is a disaster with dire consequences. Additionally, her ex-fiancé enters the
show, she spots a crew member that may just be someone she sent to prison, and
one of her dates commits suicide. She is convinced that there is a homicide (or
two) that needs investigating as she struggles her way through the show, where
the guys are keeping her guessing. She also has to figure out who is on the
show to find love, since half the guys are only there playing for money. It's a
fast-paced romp with an enduring female lead we look forward to seeing again in
the next installment. A March Fantastic First Pick.
This luscious debut is a breath-taking, beautiful piece of
fiction set in war-torn Europe during WWI and its aftermath. I was quickly
drawn into the life of Lev Pearlmutter, an assimilated German Jew, at odds with
himself and his world at this momentous time in our history. After joining the
military in 1916, Lev is posted to the Eastern Front. It is while serving there
that he meets and falls for Leah, a beautiful young Jewish woman who lives with
her extended family. Lev’s exposure to her way of life becomes a life-changing
experience for him.
Upon his return to Berlin, Lev must deal with
his distant wife, his treasured daughter, and his difficult son while he tries
to reconcile his feelings for Leah and his Jewish identity to the life he
currently lives. This period piece is so well-drawn that you feel yourself
walking the streets with Lev and his family, experiencing their emotions, fear,
and fates. Despite all that has been written of this era, your understanding of
this time and this place and what it meant to be Jewish in Berlin between the
two World Wars will stay with you long after your turn the last page
This is literally the story of life and death. Life
following death. Death following life. It
centers on seven-year-old Mille Bird who contemplates death … a lot. The death
of her dog, Rambo, is only the first entry in her “List of Dead Things.”
Unfortunately, her father is also on her list, which results in a journey that
begins with abandonment, turns into an adventure (of sorts), and introduces her
to Karl the Touch Typist and Agatha Pantha, two elderly citizens in her town
who have suffered losses of their own.
As Millie tries to uncover
the truth about death, she ultimately helps Karl and Agatha find more life in
their lives. This promising debut has some life (and death) lessons for all of
us. A Fantastic Firsts Pick in February
are a bunch of very bad guys in and around New York City and the surrounding
boroughs. “Our” bad guys met in prison serving time for a range of illegal
activities which have prepared them to arm and protect themselves to ensure
that they don’t return to a life behind bars. James Beck, Demarco Jones, Manny
Guzman, and Ciro Baldassare live off the grid and on guard, as a close knit
family in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Red Hook. Their relatively peaceful
existence comes to a grinding halt when Manny’s niece calls in for protection
after she is threatened and fired from her job in a securities firm. At first
it seems like a simple matter getting justice for her, but quickly turns into something quite different when a Russian arms
dealer enters the picture. And then things get complicated and messy… and worse.
Among Thieves is for fans of Lee Child, Ocean’s 11,
and books with lots of action, and not a little bloodshed. This is a great
kickoff for what we hope will become a series, with smart plotting and
characters we would like to know better.
The Magician’s Lie is a compelling old-fashioned story with
a magical twist from debut author Greer Macallister. Told in two timelines set
13 years apart, the story draws readers into the lives of the most famous
female illusionist of her day, The Amazing Arden, and Virgil Holt, a young
policeman who is fighting for his livelihood after suffering the aftermath of
being shot in the back. The story begins with Virgil attending the performance
of the illusionist; shortly thereafter, Arden’s husband is found dead and
Virgil encounters the performer just as he is leaving a neighborhood tavern.
They proceed to his police station where through the course of one evening she
tells him the story of her life, and he has to make a determination of her
guilt or innocence. The Magician’s Lie is an intriguing, and engrossing journey
beginning in 1892 New York that travels around turn of the century America at a
Y - Factor ... Young Adult Novels
You will be charmed by this initial entry into the world of
magic and mayhem in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892. Abigail Rook’s travels
abroad looking for adventure, far from her beginnings in England, bring her to
this bustling American town. She is penniless and looking for a job when she
sees an advertisement for an investigative assistant to R. F. Jackaby. But
Jackaby is not your typical detective. He is a “seer” who has the ability to
see supernatural beings no one else can see. Abigail’s adventuresome spirit is
intrigued, and she begins her job immediately despite much grumbling from her
new boss. This leads directly to her first case involving murder, Jackaby’s not
very conventional home/office, and some new friends who are magical in their
own right. All of the characters are charming and the setting is just right for
high adventure, magic, mayhem, and more … for kids of all ages.
Y - Factor ... Young Adult Novels
Laurie’s first entry into the world of young adults brings
her trademark psychic sensibilities to a contemporary high school setting
featuring a young teen who tries to stay under the radar, but instead finds
herself a target for more than just the local school bullies. Madelyn (Maddie)
Fynn is the sixteen year-old daughter of an alcoholic mother, whose father was
killed on the job, but those are _ not her biggest problems. It is her ability
to perceive “death dates” printed on people’s foreheads that cause her no end
of distress. When she reads the death date of a child in a picture a visiting
client shows her, and the child in the picture turns up murdered, her problems
begin in earnest. When the body count rises and Maddie herself is a possible
suspect, her life becomes even more unbearable.
Laurie’s breathless pacing will keep you glued
to the pages as Maddie fights for her life and for who she is … in the midst of
a sea of relentless odds stacked against her. This is a protagonist that you
will root for … and feel for … and fear for … up until the very last page. And
then you will miss reading her … and hope that she will return. A Fantastic
First pick for January 2015.
There is nothing not to love about this book! First Impressions is a mystery built around an obscure book from
the late 1700s; almost every character reveres the written word; and one of the
narrators is Jane Austen! It’s fun. It’s tender. It’s suspenseful. It’s the
perfect book for almost every reader.
In the present day, Sophie Collingwood is an Austen scholar just out of
Oxford who has taken a job in an antiquarian bookshop in London. When two
different customers ask her to find a copy of a second edition of a book in
which the first edition is unspectacular, Sophie accepts the challenge to find
it and eventually learns that she may be the only person that can unravel the
mystery of who really wrote the new parts of this second edition.
In 1796, Jane Austen is just beginning her
writing career when she befriends an elderly cleric, Richard Mansfield. As
their touching friendship blooms, the connection between the past and the
present become clearer. In both stories, love of books, love of writing, and a
number of different love stories unfold. Priceless!
world of Tearling and its many engaging characters is a compulsive read from
newcomer Johansen. Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn was smuggled out of the Royal
Keep in Tearling as an infant, hidden, and raised and educated by foster
parents. Despite her rigorous education, Kelsea has no idea what her life holds
for her until she is picked up by the Royal Guard on her 19th birthday in order
to claim the throne and be crowned Queen. Her journey to the throne is
thrilling, dangerous, and enlightening, and Kelsea is tested at every turn. Her
kingdom is in peril, her enemies are many, and it is a treacherous path to save
her people, many of whom have no reason to believe that she can do so. Warner
Bros. has the rights to the movie … but for me, I can hardly wait for book two.
Although you know on page 2 that famed actor Arthur Leander
dies of a heart attack on a stage in a Toronto theatre, and you find out very
quickly that this is a pandemic tale, you will not anticipate the course of
this story as it moves back and forth in time from well before the first scene
to 20 years after the world as we know it today no longer exists.
The title, Station Eleven, comes from a comic book
series that connects the main characters: Arthur who is both amazed and
dismayed at his fame; his first wife, Miranda, who is the author of the series;
Kirsten, who is only 8 years old when a deadly flu claims the lives of all she
loves; and Clark, Arthur’s oldest friend. Emily St. John Mandel has always
impressed me with her work. Station Eleven may just elevate her to the
next level as she explores how much we have to lose in the present and what a potential
future holds for us.
Cain does it
again, with a cast of damaged characters whose back and current stories
will have you glued to the pages and wanting more. As she did with Archie
Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell (two of the most unforgettable characters in crime
fiction … if you don’t know what I am talking about, pick up Heartsick today!), Cain breaks new ground with Kick
Lannigan. Kick was kidnapped at age 6 and held captive for 5 years until she
was accidently discovered in the home of her captor. She is doing her best
to survive by arming herself, learning self-defense techniques, and trying to
deal with the trauma that formed her. One Kick opens
when she is 21 and her world is invaded by the mysterious John Bishop, a man
who has seemingly endless resources and a talent for survival. They soon team
up to find two missing children, but their story is far from straightforward.
Moyeshas the uncanny
ability to introduce us to characters we would probably never meet otherwise,
and create a tie so strong that we literally cannot do anything but turn the
pages to find out what will become of them. Jess, Ed, Nicky, and Tanzie embark
on an unexpected journey as strangers to each other, and as life happens, an
unbreakable bond begins to form. Jess is a single mom struggling each day just
to figure out how to take care of her two kids and get the bills paid. Ed is a
high-tech entrepreneur who has just been kicked out of his own company for
insider trading ... and that’s just the beginning of his issues. Nicky, the son
of Jess’ ex-husband, finds himself the target of the neighborhood bullies
because of his expression of his individuality. Tanzie, possibly the most
fascinating of all of the characters, is Jess’ daughter, and a math prodigy so
talented and unusual that she has been sought out for a scholarship opportunity
to a school they can’t afford, even with 90% of the tuition covered. They all
set out to see if she can win a math contest that will make up the last 10% of
her tuition. The resulting journey has many unexpected consequences … for each
member of this traveling foursome. Heartwarming.
Ove is a grumpy middle-aged widower who lives by himself in
a house that reminds him of all he has lost. You will laugh your way through
the pages as Ove works through his loneliness and unsettled life. His candid observations of the world around him and
everyone he encounters will engage you as will the story of his life both
past and present. And then you will cheer and you will cry because this is a
book to enjoy and cherish.
As a side note, it is ironic to me that this 59-year-old
point of view (grumpy) is alarmingly close to mine. As is his age. This is a
debut novel is already a bestselling book in Backman’s native Sweden.
stunning debut is destined to become a book group favorite. With Las Vegas as
much a character as the background for this multi-person narrative, we are
drawn into four distinct lives: a broken-hearted mom who has just been told
that her husband has been unfaithful and is leaving her, a social worker who
lives and breathes the lives of the disenfranchised youth she tries to save, an
8-year-old Albanian 5th grader who is wise beyond his years, and a broken
veteran who is not sure he wants to save himself. It is far from difficult to
fall in love with these four people, all of whom eventually come together in
this beautifully written story for our time.
was orphaned at 5-years-old when her worthless, drug-addicted, abusive mother
abandoned her in an empty apartment, alone, with no means to survive. Her
childhood remains bleak through a series of foster homes and group
houses. Her survival instincts take over during these formative years, and
we meet her at 24 when she has perfected the art of maintaining invisibility in
her private and work life ... and finding comfort and solace in food ... lots
of it. Then, very unexpectedly her world begins to shift when she meets an
amazing and vibrant young woman who can’t see her; not because
of Ellen’s invisibility, but because Temerity is blind. From here,
hilarity, friendship, and awareness ensues. It is a heartbreaking and
heartwarming journey and I recommend that readers of women’s fiction take the
journey with Ellen.
the Post Family. Franny is the matriarch and not a little pissed at Jim, her
husband of 35 years. Jim has been laid off from his job because of the sins he
committed there, for reasons that Franny cannot forgive. Their daughter, Silvia, has just graduated from
high school and will be leaving the family’s Manhattan home for Brown in the
fall. Bobby is their first born and currently living in Florida with his
girlfriend of six years, Carmen. This nuclear family from New York City is
beginning a pre-scheduled vacation on the island of Mallorca off the coast of
Spain as The Vacationers begins. Added to their crew
is Franny’s best friend, Charlie and Lawrence, Charlie’s husband. Each of these
vacationers has various expectations for their holiday… as you would expect ...
but far more important in this satisfying novel is the fodder for many poignant
observations of love of family and friends, and the many discomforts of both.
And of course, everyone has their secrets and passions. This makes for a fun
and insightful read. Take it with you on your next vacation.
In the not-so-distant future a very dire world exists
because a hormone called Scarpanol was released into the American beef
population. Fifty million women died and only very young girls and vegetarians
are left in a world ruled by powerful men who compete for the young women who
can become their wives and produce the next generation. Avie Reveare is one of
those young women. She wants to go to
college, fall in love, and be in charge of her own life. But her world comes
crashing around her when she becomes a part of a business deal that her father
has brokered to save his firm, and she is now contracted to become the wife of
a very powerful and rich man. Avie is 16 years old. There are not many options
open to her and the question becomes, can she be fearless enough to fight for
her future? The answer is an amazing journey … for both us and Avie.
Mystery & Suspence
This debut is both an insider’s look at investigative
reporting and a reporter’s quest to find out about the Orthodox Jewish
woman who gave birth to her and then abandoned her when she was six months old.
Rebekah Roberts is a 20-something journalism major who has moved to New York
City to start her career and be closer to the protected, insulated,
Jewish Brooklyn neighborhood where her mother once lived and where the
inhabitants seem almost invisible to the rest of the city. Rebekah works as a
stringer for the Tribune, a NYC tabloid, running from crime scene to
press events on an on-call basis.
Her two worlds begin to intersect when an orthodox woman is
found naked and dead in trash heap one very cold winter morning. As she digs
deeper into the cause of the victim’s death and begins to interview her family,
she also gets closer to solving the mystery of her own life and to repairing
the hole in her heart left by her mother. I hope we will get to see more of
Fans of Victoria Laurie,
check out this hilarious family of psychics … mostly of the animal variety (you
have to read it to get this … which you will on page 1!). In fact, the entire
town (the fittingly named Crystal Haven) is inhabited by mediums, tarot card
readers, and other mystic-based businesses. Clyde Fortune, however, wants
nothing to do with psychics or her family’s insistence that she uses her gifts
to make a career in town. In fact, she escaped years ago to pursue a career in
the police department in Ann Arbor. We know that her last case resulted in
disaster, but the facts are not yet revealed. We just know that she has agreed
to come home to rest. And wouldn’t you know, she finds a body very soon after
assuming a temporary career as a dog walker? The case that ensues drags Clyde
into her past and toward a dangerous present, especially when the detective on
the case turns out to be her former lover and the victim(s) are close to home.
Brashares is best known for her YA series, The Sisterhood
of the Traveling Pants. This future pandemic tale and time travel saga also
has great appeal. The setting is the east coast in 2014, but Prenna James and
her Mother arrived here just 4 years earlier … from 2098 … with a community
that crossed time to escape a massive plague that killed many/most of their
friends and family. Her group of time travelers has a very strict set of rules
and customs, most of which include not becoming involved with anyone outside of
their community and taking various
medicines to ensure that they do not infect anyone in 2014.
Prenna is now 17 and finding these restrictions
too confining, especially since she finds herself very attracted to schoolmate
Ethan Jarves who shares her vast intellect and seems to know more about her
than he should. There are repercussions for disobeying the rules, but the more
confining they become, the more suspicious she becomes about why they are there
in the first place. There are many unexpected twists … and the possibility of
more to come for these two … as there are many unanswered questions still to be
This is a truly amazing
debut. You will be transfixed from its sexy beginning through the backstory of
two immigrants who have more in common than they initially imagine. Perla is a
beautiful young Cuban-American who makes a living as a stripper in Miami. She
lives with her mother and is smart and conservative, even though the way she
makes her living makes this seem like a huge contradiction. Julian is an
adopted orphan from Siberia who has a dark past, but a bright future after he
arrives in Manhattan to be raised by an older Russian couple. These two meet
long before you begin to understand who they are … and it is this journey
through their lives that will have you glued to the page … while you fall in
love with both of them. This is a writer to watch.
It is not often that I want to sit down and read a book in
one sitting, but is also not often that I read a book that so thoroughly speaks
to me and my passion as a bookseller and life-long reader. A. J. Fikry is a
bookstore owner and passionate reader who lives on a small island off the
Northeast coast. He is persnickety and difficult. He drinks too much and is
largely a recluse … and let’s face it, he does not sell many books. He owns one
book that that may provide him with a way out of life in this town and in this
store, which has become unbearable since the death of his wife and partner.
What happens next is a surprise – to A. J. and to us – and the many stories
that follow are both heartwarming and heartbreaking.
Booksellers across America are embracing this
book, and so am I. This is a book for every bookseller and everyone else who
has ever loved a book, a person, and life.
I was completely taken with this turn of the
century Manhattan novel from one of our greatest writers. Two equally
compelling narratives describe this time in pitch-perfect detail, even though
Coralie and Eddie come from two completely different backgrounds and their
lives could not be more dissimilar. Coralie Sardie was born in 1893 and raised by
her father and his housekeeper in the museum of the book title, located in
Coney Island. Her father is controlling and demanding and she appears as an
“extraordinary thing” in his “museum” along with the unusual and freakish
collections of the time. Eddie Cohen is a Russian immigrant who was raised as
an orthodox Jew in the lower east side of Manhattan. He is only 11 when he
begins to support himself in the underworld, helping to find people that go
missing. Even when Eddie finds his joy and his future as a photographer, and
apprentices himself to one of the most famous photographers of his time, he
still finds himself restless and sleepless.
It is inevitable that these two will meet and their
story is heartwarming, but the character that draws you in the most is the city
itself and the many changes it is undergoing in 1911. Another highly
recommended read from Alice Hoffman.
In an alternate United Kingdom, White Witches and Black
Witches live in a world otherwise populated by “fains,” those of us who are not
magical in any way. Nathan is known as a Half Code because his mother is a
White Witch and his father is a Black Witch. And not any Black Witch, Nathan’s
father Marcus is the most renowned, hated, and dangerous of the Black Witches.
Nathan’s life is controlled by the Council of White Witches
(of England, Scotland and Wales) … and he does his best to make their lives
miserable and evade their decrees … but they are capable of doing much worse
things to him, as he learns in this first book in an amazing trilogy from debut
author, Sally Green. Nathan’s mother is dead and his father is completely
unknown to him, but it increasingly seems that the answers to his current
dilemmas and to his ultimate understanding of his gifts and his role in the
world must come from his father … if he can find him. There is plenty of action
in this inspired debut and nothing is as black and white as it first seems!
Half Bad has already been sold into 42 countries, the
film rights sold to FOX, and the buzz has been going strong since the bidding
war at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in March 2013. It is our YA Fantastic First Pick for March. Don’t miss this one.
Weaver’s debut about two badly damaged people who hold back
much of themselves despite their love for each other, had me hooked from the
very start … as did the appeal of the remote Alaskan landscape, which is an
equally compelling character in this novel.
Anna and Kyle are two
fiercely independent souls hiding huge secrets from each other even as they
decide to take a nine-month lease on a lighthouse on Hibler Rock, miles from
the coast of Alaska where they are isolated during harsh weather conditions.
The last caretaker disappeared over 20 years ago and this mystery is evenly
woven into the discoveries these two make about themselves and about their
futures. Point of Direction is also
about why they are drawn to Alaska and why this beautiful stark landscape maintains
a hold on both of them. It is both the secrets of the past, the adventure that
is their lives, and the roads each of them take toward recovery that will keep
you addictively turning the pages of this outstanding novel. – Terry
this YA debut begins like a tale of typical teenage angst meets boarding school
shenanigans meets townies versus the rich kids … it soon develops into
something much more sinister and mysterious … and dangerous. Sixteen-year-old
Mia Kish was born and raised in Fenton, Colorado, and is in fact famous as the
little girl who fell down a well and then was rescued. She is still haunted by
her history, but takes on physical challenges to work through them and in fact
has become a champion swimmer. When a deadly virus attacks their school, the
very posh Westbrook Academy, Mia and her friends know that they must escape the
school grounds and try to reach Mia’s father who works in the “Cave,” aka Fenton
Electronics. They have no idea why this electronics company is connected to the
virus, but they will do everything they can to find out … and survive. This is
a face-paced, adrenaline
rush of a book … with more to come, we hope, given the ending! – Terry
Mystery & Suspense
is a hoot! John Lango is an assassin, but not just any assassin. He works for
Human Resources, Inc. which trains disenfranchised young men with no family, no
morals, and no problem with the grey areas in life how to kill for a living.
John is on his last job. He has been working for HR, Inc. since he was twelve
years old and now that he is turning 25 it is time for him to retire …
whatever that means. But John is no dummy. He has a plan. The only problem is
that this last job is a doozy. Readers are along for the
ride with John, who has decided that while performing his last
job he will write a handbook for the up and coming professional killers
that will come after him. This book is full of his advice … and his foibles ….
And more. A great adrenaline rush of book with loads of laughs.
This brilliant debut is a lovesong to small town life,
lifelong friendships, and the challenges of both, as told by five friends
who grew up in Little Wing, Wisconsin. Henry Brown was born and bred to be a
farmer and cannot imagine life anywhere outside this little town, despite
the fact that times are often desperate and he knows that he cannot provide as
well as he would like for his family. His wife, Beth, is his high
school sweetheart and stands steadfast at Henry’s side through life’s ups and
downs and the many visits from his three best friends. Lee Sutton has made
it big time in the music industry, and is dating one of Hollywood’s biggest
stars. But despite being world famous and the town’s single celebrity, he
yearns for his home in Little Wing. Ronny Taylor was the first to break
out of Little Wing and make a name for himself as a rodeo
rider, until his penchant for liquor landed him on his head, with
long-ranging consequences. Kip Cunningham also left town and made a lot of
money for himself in Chicago as a commodities trader. When he returns home to marry Felicia, the love of his life, he is
determined to make Little Wing his home again and give back to his community.
This is how Shotgun Lovesongs begins; it is a
wonderful book of love and friendship, a Fantastic First Pick, and the #1
IndieNext pick for March!
Just by the title, you know this is a story about the lives
of women. You might also guess that you know parts of this story from other
sources. But The Wives of Los Alamos is at once exactly this … and also
so much more. With passion and a unique writing talent, this debut also
describes a universal truth about women, their hopes, fears, despairs, and
innermost thoughts. As the daughter of a military household, I personally
related to the stories of the adapting to the relocation to an unknown place
and settling into new lives. In Los Alamos, of course, their everyday life is
complicated by a project so secret that the families of these wives could not
know their addresses.
With her fresh and
captivating voice you will look forward to reading again, Tarashea Nesbit is a
debut author to watch. The
Wives of Los Alamos is also our Ladies, Lunch, and Literacy pick for
February’s Fantastic First Book Club.
Fans of dysfunctional families and friendships and of The
Silver Linings Playbook rejoice! Mathew Quick has done it again with a
hilarious look at life from the viewpoint of a 38-year-old man who has lived
with his mother all his life. He is her caretaker and she is his only friend.
Bartholomew Neil’s only dream is to talk to the Girlibrarian, his nickname for
a woman he admires from afar who works in his local library. Even a
conversation is too daunting a task for this surprisingly endearing character. But a small group of equally dysfunctional
characters are looking after him and vice versa, and through letters written to
his hero, Richard Gere, (yes, that Richard Gere) we meet them and watch
Bartholomew grow and change and find his own good luck of right now.
While this book is not for everyone, I could not
put it down until I reached the sweet and appropriate ending.
debut author has already been featured as an author to watch in Publishers
Weekly (“5 Under 35”) and this accessible set of stories will impress
readers, even those who typically do not read short stories. The UnAmericans
features eight narrators, each with a distinct voice, all with an intriguing
past life outside the refuge of America where their families now reside. The
last story, “Retrospective,” is about a famous art collector, Eva Kaplan, who
smuggled much of her collection out of Russia in the 1950s before the collapse
of the Berlin Wall. It is told from the perspective of her daughter and
grandchildren and all of their lives are seamlessly explored. “My Grandmother
Tells Me This Story” is the only holocaust story in this collection of Jewish-
themed tales and is both heartbreaking and compelling. These are but two
examples of this exceptional talent.
Wait! Don’t put this book down because you think it is just
another story about an amnesia victim who has been in an accident and will
spend the entire book trying to find out who he really is … or isn’t. It turns
out that Terms and Conditions is more … laugh-out-loud funny scenes and
an ingenious format for organizing each chapter and phases that Franklyn Shaw
goes through as he finds his way back to “normal” and finally becomes the
author of his future life.
Frank is a contract attorney in his family firm
in England, where he spends his entire day writing contracts (terms and
conditions) with an emphasis on the small print that no one ever reads … thus
protecting his clients. When he returns to work he notes, “Small print also
gave me the first clues about my old self. Reading his contracts I saw Old
Frank was a neurotic ball of fret. I could smell it the way he wrote terms. I
felt privileged to have been him; he was a man who elevated neurosis to an art
form.” Tons of fun, culminating in one of the funniest dinner party
conversations ever written.
The imagined life of Anne Frank’s sister, Margot, who has
somehow survived the concentration camps and found her way to Philadelphia in
the mid-1950s, does not at first glance seem like the enthralling historical
novel that this book actually is. When the book opens, we find “Margie
Franklyn” living alone in a small apartment in Philadelphia and working as a
secretary to Joshua, the dashing (and Jewish) son of the primary partner in the
robust law firm of Rosenstein, Greenberg and Moscowitz. She has kept her
identity a secret for the three years she has lived in Philadelphia. When her
sister’s diary becomes a movie and Joshua decides to take on the inequities
present in the 1957 Philadelphia job market for Jewish immigrants, Margot’s
cover story becomes more complicated for her. The dark secrets of survival
co-mingle with the realities of being a Jewish immigrant in America in an
engrossing tale of what it means to escape a horror, begin a new life, and come
to terms with your past.
This very hip techno-thriller will appeal to fans of
conspiracy theory, government corruption, and those who believe that the
internet is the next global warzone. Garrett Reilly has an extraordinary
ability to look at series of numbers and find data patterns that no one else
can see. This ability has allowed him to make a lot of money trading bonds for
a Wall Street firm under the guidance of his college mentor, Avery Bernstein,
who is also the head of the firm where Garrett works in NYC. When Garrett
notices that billions of dollars of Treasury bonds are being sold off, he soon
makes a connection to the possibility of a global war. When the Department of
Intelligence enters the picture, the real action starts … and Garrett will
never be able to return to the person he used to be.
The Ascendant is Chapman’s debut, but he is no
stranger to action fiction. He has contributed to many screenplays, including
Marvel’s original “Iron Man.”
compulsive read has it all: teens with innate abilities of interest to the FBI,
many mysteries to solve, teen angst, and a little bit of romance. Cassie is a
17-year-old with a natural ability to read people, a skill she honed via
intense training from her mother, who was a psychic in her own right.
Unfortunately, Cassie’s mother disappeared five years ago and is presumed dead.
Her military father dropped her off at her grandmother’s house after her mother
disappeared, and hasn’t been seen since. Under these circumstances, Cassie is
ripe for recruitment into a special DC-based unit of the FBI. This group of
“naturals” collectively has special talents for solving cold serial murder
cases. But readers also know there is a murderer close by, and that Cassie is
likely to be in the middle of it. The pacing is perfect though the subject may
be too gritty from some young adult readers. In the end, it is the perfect
start to a new series.
Mystery & Suspense
The premise for this series starter is at once hilarious and
made (impossibly) believable. Georgia Thackery is an English Professor and
single mom to teenage daughter, Madison. They have just moved back to her home
town, Pennycross, Massachusetts, where she has accepted another in a very long
series of adjunct positions teaching freshman English. Her current job is at
McQuaid University, the same university where her renowned parents have been
teaching for almost 20 years. Georgia is not only happy to have a job and a
free place to live (her parents are on a duel sabbatical), but she is also
reunited with her best friend Sid … who just happens to be the family skeleton.
Yep, that’s right – Sid is a talking skeleton who rescued Georgia from a
would-be kidnapper 30 years ago, and has been a welcome “family member” ever
since. The two of them become intrigued with finding out where Sid came from
and who he was in in life, after he recognizes a professor at the Mangachusetts
conference (celebrating everything manga and anime) taking place on campus.
When the professor turns up dead, their sense of urgency accelerates, as does
the number of suspicious events around McQuaid and Georgia’s beloved town. Fun
dialog, great characters, and an engaging set supporting cast make this a
series readers will want to return to.
Our Cozy Mystery Starter for September.
Don Tillman is an
extraordinarily bright 39-year-old genetics professor living and teaching in
Melbourne, Australia who is as socially inept as he is intelligent. In fact, he
probably has a highly functioning form of Asperger’s syndrome, though despite
his intelligence, he has only the slightest awareness that his proclivities are
unusual. He can easily count his friends on one hand, has a well-paying job,
has difficulty interpreting social cues, and has never had a second date.
Finding himself interested in finding a mate, he develops a highly scientific
questionnaire which he hopes will help him find the perfect partner. He has
named this quest The Wife Project, and begins to administer it to various women
at singles functions and enlists the help of his friend Gene. When Rosie enters
his life, all of his well-ordered behaviors and plans begin to unravel, and
hilarity ensues. The Rosie Project is
not just a compulsively fun read which will have you rooting for Don to gain an
understanding of common human emotions, but also an examination of an extremely
rigid thought process ... which may teach rest of us a little bit about
This is certainly one of the best books
of the year. The writing is creative and engrossing and the characters are
pitch-perfect. Perhaps it is no coincidence that I too came of age in the late
1960s when this novel takes place.
Brewster is a small town in upstate New
York where Jon, Ray, Karen, and Frank become friends in 1968 when they are
sixteen. Jon joins the high school running team where he finds a way to express
his frustration and gain some confidence. Ray, always the outsider and troubled
way beyond the understanding of everyone around him, becomes Jon’s best friend.
Frank is a stiff, religious young man of few words who suddenly (and quietly)
shows up at their cafeteria table one day. Karen is the girl they all fall in
love with, but whose heart only belongs to Ray.
As they begin to make plans for a future
that do not include Brewster, they find that they must deal with their current
lives before moving on. Much of their story is tragic, all of it is memorable,
and its impact will leave readers deeply moved. Slouka is a master craftsman
who will have you mourning by the end of the book.
This short but compelling novel confirms Yoon’s reputation
as a writer to watch. His debut short story collection, Once the Shore, was named a “Best Book of the Year” by
the Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, and Publishers Weekly
… to name a few. In Snow Hunters, you
will meet Yohan, a North Korean prisoner of war who travels to Brazil to become
a tailor’s assistant when the Korean
His adaptation to his new country and life will charm you, just as knowledge of
his earlier years will alarm you. This is an elegant story of the consequences
of war and the resilience of the human spirit.
In the summer of 1963, nine-year-old Starla Claudelle runs away from
her grandmother's home in Cayuga Springs, Mississippi, to avoid punishment for
the latest in her series of behaviors that have driven her grandmother to the
limit of her patience. Starla's adventures during her journey to reunite with
her missing mother in Nashville, Tennessee, take her into the middle of the
civil rights issues of the day. Along the way_ she meets and befriends a black
woman, Eula, who is traveling with a white baby she found abandoned on the stairs
of a church. This encounter begins a chain of events that will have an
everlasting effect on Starla, Eula, and many other people they meet along the
Yes, this author is related. No, I have no idea if Stephanie Plum was
named for Janet's niece. Yes, this is a comic novel. No, there are no car bombs
or conflicting boyfriends anywhere in the plot. Yes, there is romance … and not
a few tears integrated into this delightful debut.
Holly Brennan is not a slim, young, fit 20-something. She is
instead a 30-something widow with a weight problem who meets a
gorgeous personal trainer who wants to help her make her way back to the
world of the living. Yes, you know the ending. No, do not pass this
up if you are looking for a great summer read that pulls at your heartstrings.
Yes, you will look forward to hearing from this unique voice in the future.
Cinderella gets a
contemporary, hip make-over in this over-the-top tale about Becky Randle,
brought up in a trailer in East Trawley, Missouri by her single-mom who was too
obese to ever leave their home. When her mom dies, Becky finds a phone number
for the world’s most reclusive and renowned fashion designer. When they meet,
Tom Kelly promises to make Becky the most beautiful woman in the world. When
Becky reluctantly agrees, Rebecca Randle is “born” and brought into to the
world of high fashion, mega stars, and a luxurious life known only to the
richest, most beautiful people in the world. The one catch, (and there is
always a catch, isn’t there?) is that to keep her beauty, Rebecca must fall in
love and marry within one year. She sets out to do this in the most fantastical
way with unexpected results, leaving many of her questions unanswered … until
the completely charming end.
Every year I look forward to the misadventures of Izzy
Spellman and her family and a laugh on almost every page. Izzy (Isabel)
Spellman is now the head of Spellman investigations, and her employees are on
strike as a result of the activities in the prior book. Her major client is a
wealthy businessman who is in the beginning stage of Alzheimer’s and has taken
Izzy under his wing, become her mentor and a major investor in her business.
But both Izzy and her benefactor are in a heap of trouble. Someone is out to
frame them both and the answers are not coming easily. In the meantime, things
(as usual) in the Spellman household are unraveling. Her parents are absent
more than normal and her sister Rae is up to her usual antics and unorthodox
relationships with her clients. It’s fun. It’s satisfying. Stay tuned …
Mystery & Suspense
A heroine who comes from a family of thieves, a mystery
involving a missing Agatha Christie play, an avid (and cranky) book collector,
a hunky librarian, quirky relatives, and an intriguing young detective. What
more could you ask for in a new series? Jordan Bingham has returned to Harrison
Falls, New York and is living with the not-too-law-abiding uncles who raised
her. She is in debt and in need of a job. So even though that job comes from
Vera Van Alst, the most hated citizen of Harrison Falls, Jordan is intrigued
and has the right skill set (and connections) to hunt down the aforementioned
missing manuscript. Which is why it was March’s Fantastic First Cozy Mystery
Brilliant.Readable.Enchanting.Absorbing. This is Wecker’s
debut about two supernatural creatures in turn-of-the-century New York. From
the very first page, you will know you have picked up something special. The
creation of the Golem, the story of her arrival via steamship into NY Harbor,
and the backstory of her creator begin this magical journey. These events
converge with another mystical arrival into another subculture in 1899 NYC. The
Jinni is a mystical creature who has been released from a copper flask where he
has been the long-time resident, though he has no memory of how this came to
be. Both of these unusual foreigners must find their way among the citizens of
their communities and discover how they will redefine their existence within
the confines of this new civilization.
I took over a month to read The Golem and the Jinni,
not because it was a difficult read but because I wanted to savor every page …
This is a book I didn’t want to end.
Any novel by Kent Haruf is a gift and Benediction is
no exception. Once again, Haruf tells an extraordinary story about ordinary
people, their lives, loves, and heartbreak. In the small town of Holt,
Colorado, the plains and mountains are more plentiful than the inhabitants.
This is where “Dad” Lewis has just returned home after being informed that he
is dying. As his family and community surround him in his final days, the
granddaughter of their neighbor becomes an integral part of their community,
just one example of the cycle of life that this book so beautifully addresses.
As many of the characters reminisce about their past, we learn their history
and that of the town that will always be their home. This is a book to savor.
There are some books you just know you are destined to fall
in love with. You know it from the title and then you know it again from the
first sentence. And as you keep reading, you are reassured that you were, in
fact, exactly right.
The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls is one of
those books. In 1930, at the height of the Great Depression, Theadora Atwell is
forced to leave the only home she has ever known and the family she cherishes
to attend The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls in the Blue Ridge
Mountains of North Carolina. Not only has she been banished to a world she
knows nothing about, but also her life until this point has been lived mostly
in seclusion with her nuclear family on a 1,000 acre orange ranch in Florida,
an environment that could not be more different than the one where she finds
herself. The reason for her banishment is a slowly revealed secret, but this book
is so much more. It is rich in observations of the family, this particular time
in our history, and a coming of age story you won’t soon forget.
Let yourself be drawn into the world of Pine Haven Estates in Fulton,
North Carolina, and treat yourself to a cast of characters so rich that
you will be bereft every time the point of view changes … only to find
yourself enchanted anew. Pine Haven Estates is a retirement community
where life and death are inevitable companions. Its inhabitants and
some of the people who care for and about them are the center of this
story that examines the cycle of life; what it means to be alive as
well as facing the end of life. Much of the novel revolves around
Joanna who grew up in this town, left to make a mess of her life, and
has returned to bring meaning to the residents of this facility. Pine
Haven Estates is a community worth visiting and McCorkle has set just
the right tone for an uncomfortable subject.
Mary Coin is not only the story of the imagined
life of the subject of the iconic depression-era photograph, Migrant Mother,
but also the story of its photographer. Both women were mothers who suffered
through much of the 1920s and 1930s, personally and economically, and their
stories are not as different as you would imagine. The third character with a
narrative is Walker Dodge, a present day professor of cultural history whose
life has an unexpected intersection with the other two. This is a book to
treasure, a historical novel to learn from, and a great Mother’s Day present!
This emotional rollercoaster of a novel describes one
women’s journey from a complete loss of memory to self-discovery, only made
possible by the events that triggered her amnesia. Lucie Walker is almost 40,
two months away from marrying her long-term fiancé, and an uber-focused
entrepreneur with a less-than-likeable personality, who must begin life again
because she remembers absolutely nothing about herself or her past. When she
moves back to her home with fiancé Grady, she finds that her new self is
nothing like the person she once was. Love Water Memory is the story of
how she reconciles her past to her present, in complete awareness of the risks
to her sanity.
I have long admired Jennie as a writer and a person and
her latest novel warmed my heart for both.
From Our April Newsletter
Like Ozeki’s 1998 blockbuster, My Year of Meats, A
Tale for the Time Being has two narrators, one who is living in North
America and one in Japan. In alternating chapters that flow together perfectly,
this book is rich in character and in culture from both points of view. In
Japan, 16-year-old Nao was recently relocated to Japan after living in Silicon
Valley for all of her young life. When her father loses his job, they move back
to Japan and her circumstances change in dramatic and devastating ways. We
learn about her life there through a journal that has been discovered by Ruth,
an author living on a remote island in Canada. She struggles with writer’s
block and the relationships in her life … and bears a more than passing
resemblance to our author!
This is a novel jam-packed with thought-provoking ideas
about time, history, religion, culture and (so much) more...You won’t want to
miss a word.
First in a new series featuring Maura Donavan and the small
Irish Village where her grandmother was born, this promises to be another
winner for Connolly. Readers are introduced to Maura when she begins her first
trip out of the U.S. after the death of
the grandmother who raised her in Boston. She is not leaving much behind and is
open to the possibilities as they present themselves beginning with a job offer
at the local pub. When a body is discovered in a nearby bog, Maura unwittingly finds
herself in the middle of the investigation just as she begins discovering who
she is and where she comes from. The scenes from small town life in Ireland
provide a great background for the series, as do the locals who all seem to be related to
Maura! It will be a pleasure to spend time here again.
It is unusual to encounter a YA protagonist whose mother
is a whore in 1950 New Orleans, but that is where this story begins. Josie is
17 and has been living in New Orleans for 10 years, ever since her mother took
up residence in a whorehouse. She lives in a bookshop and has various jobs, including
cleaning the house where her mother lives … hoping to save up enough money to
leave the Big Easy. Despite the fact that she must fend for herself, there is a
cast of colorful characters that make it their business to look out for her,
including the savvy madam of the house, her driver, and two boys Josie’s age
who compete for her affections. When Josie finds herself in the middle of a
murder investigation, her hopes and dreams of going to college outside of the
Big Easy seem dashed. You will love Josie and root for her right up to the
I am not normally considered
a “dog person” and it was with complete surprise that I found myself
head over heels enchanted with Maggie, an 85-pound German Shepherd who
has been trained as a patrol and explosives-detection dog by the US
Marines. Maggie is now suffering from PTSD and finds herself partnered
with Scott James an ex-LAPD cop who is also suffering from PSTD as a
result of a violent episode nine months prior to the main events of
this story, when Scott’s partner was killed and he barely survived.
Crais does a masterful job creating the character of Maggie and it is
her story that will keep you turning the pages , even as we warm to
Scott who reintroduces himself to the case that took down his partner.
This standalone from Crais may just catapult him into new fans’ hearts
and not just those of dog lovers.
Backhaus’ debut is one of the
most original novels I have ever read. It is at once suspenseful and
titillating and takes you to places you have never been. Thomas Tessler
has locked himself into one room in his apartment for 3 years in
response to the grief and responsibility he feels for the death of his
son. His wife, Silke, lives in the room next door and still loves him,
but is beyond frustrated with this behavior, having not set eyes on him
for this entire period. She hires a “rental sister” to visit the house
to persuade Thomas to come out of the room and enter back into life.
Told alternatively from his point of view and the point of view of the
Megumi, a Japanese-born young woman with a background and lifestyle
that will alternately fascinate you and confound you. I was mesmerized
by this novel from the first page to the satisfying end.
This especially engaging
debut will thrill fans of the ultimate caper movies like Oceans 11, 12,
and 13 and The Italian Job. A Ghostman is someone who can disappear …
completely … from everyone’s radar. In fact in this first entry by
Hobbs we never learn the Ghostman’s real name, only that for this
particular job, he has taken on the persona of Jack Morton. “Jack” is
bored because he has been hiding out for over six months. When he gets
a call from Marcus Hayes who wants him to fix a bank heist gone very
wrong, “Jack” agrees to help him for a variety of reasons. As “Jack”
heads out to Atlantic City to figure out where two of the people
involved in a robbery/shoot-out have gone (along with the money), we
are treated to an insider’s look at bank robberies, how ghostmen work,
and a little bit about how this particular ghostman came to be. The
action never stops and we can only hope that “Jack” will be back.
Part folk lore, part historical novel of turn of the century America, and always a great story. This is Sutton by
bestselling author J.R. Moehringer who wowed the reading community with
his memoir and has done it again with the story of America’s greatest
Willie Sutton was a folk hero in his own right, a bank robber who didn't
hurt anyone during his many bank heists and even knew many of the bank
employees by name (he loved the research leading to every break-in). Sutton begins
with his release after spending most of his life in and out of prison.
And although this is a period piece, it also speaks to today's high
levels of unemployment and a complete disgust with banks and their never
But ultimately what makes this a great book is the way the story is told
and how likable a character Willie is … and how much we learn about
ourselves, our times, and the variations of truth that dictate the focus
of our lives.
about a young woman who contracts a devastating and undefinable disease is not
my normal reading fare. But it unleashed such passion in bookseller and
publisher representatives alike that I had to take a look ... and then I read
it in practically one sitting. Brain on Fire is at once a compulsive and
terrifying read, and a very important book, one I am convinced must be read by
as many people as possible. And not for the engrossing play-by-play medical
account of Susannah's decent into madness, but as a cautionary tale about our
medical system and the importance of finding the right doctor when a diagnosis
March 2009, something triggered (she still doesn't know what) an autoimmune
disease that resulted in Susannah's antibodies literally attacking her brain.
The result looked a lot like a very serious mental health issue complete with
seizures and delusions. Her journey through madness and back to health is an
amazing and mandatory read ... just in case someone you know displays similar
symptoms. It also gives us an understanding of the way the medical community
works and doesn't work.
Signed copies available while supplies last.
Anna Strong has been through a lot in the last seven books. She is
tired and lonely, but thinks she has found some peace with her current
boyfriend, Stephen, even though he is currently out of town with the
President as a part of his press corp. But it’s the holidays and that
is hard for many people. When Anna heads out to find solace with some
of her supernatural friends she gets more than she bargains for ... and
that is just the beginning.
Before too long, Anna finds herself right in the middle of the Mexican
Drug Cartels and in trouble in more ways than one. Her boyfriend is
unhappy with her sudden absence; her ex-boyfriend is with her on her
latest exploits, but is just as unhappy with her for his own reasons.
And the complications continue to multiply as old friends and lovers
enter the picture and reveal more to Anna than she was prepared for ...
Ahhhh, the loves and intrigues of the world`s most powerful vampire (at
least according to Stein).
This perky urban fantasy features a family of aura adapters who make
their livings in various ways. Ciel Halligan helps her clients solve
problems they don’t want to deal with themselves, by temporarily
changing into them and assuming their lives. Other members of her family
have more complicated employment opportunities involving secret
agencies and under the radar ops of all sorts. Ciel’s latest job is to
make sure that her client gets the marriage proposal she has been
dreaming about, so Ciel toughs it out on an all paid vacation to the
Bahamas. Everything goes swimmingly until a bomb goes off, various
relatives start getting involved, and her “fiancé” disappears. It’s
light, it’s fun, and it’s an enjoyable read.
This utterly charming and thoroughly readable debut will captivate and
hold you. Harold Fry is a 65-year-old married man who has just retired
and is living an entirely predictable life in a marriage that is
bordering on neglectful. When he receives a letter from an old friend
informing him that she is dying of cancer, he immediately writes her a
letter and walks out his front door to post it in his mailbox. And then
he continues walking. He walks past the post office and past other
opportunities to mail his letter. And he walks into an unexpected
adventure when he decides that he can keep his friend alive by walking
to her, from the bottom of England to the very top.
This unique adventure not only gives Harold the opportunity for change,
but also a way to make new discoveries of the world around him, and we
root for him every step of the way.
This is a book worth savoring and a pilgrimage worth taking. Take some
time out of your busy life to slow down just a bit while you join
Harold on this journey of a lifetime. This is a gem you won’t want to
Shine Shine Shine is one of the most unique and fascinating debuts I
have ever read. The characters, backstory, front story, lessons about
our human condition, the language that conveys all of this and more,
make this one of the best books I have read this year.
Sunny Mann is the product of the unconventional coupling of a
middle-aged missionary to Burma and his young, sheltered wife from the
Midwest. Sunny is born in the middle of a lunar eclipse with not a hair
on her head. She remains bald throughout her life and her childhood is
spent in very unorthodox circumstances. She marries one of the smartest
men on earth, Maxon Mann, who is hurtling toward the moon in a
spaceship (as the book opens) to create a robot nation capable of
preparing the moon for human inhabitation. Sunny has spent the last
five years trying to fit into her Virginia suburb despite her
unconventional family. She is pregnant with her second child and her
mother is terminally ill. This book is about how her life begins to
unravel, and about true love and what we are really made of. This is
simply a stellar book.
This is the book I never thought I would read. This is also a book that
is satisfying, stimulating, and frightening. It is the story of the
women left behind in 1943 Berlin. Sigrid Schröder is the wife of a
banker who is now serving as a soldier on the Russian Front. She lives
a contentious life with her disapproving/unhappy mother-in-law in an
apartment building where the neighbors both spy on each other and
withhold their thoughts and feelings, in an era where a wrong turn or
word will mark you for certain death. It is a time we know about, but
perhaps not this intimately. It is about being left behind and left in
the dark while the men are at war and allied bombs beat down on a city
that was once prosperous and proud. It is about a city at war both
within and outside its borders. It is also about looking away or
opening your eyes to the truth of the day despite the propaganda and
the fear. Gillham is an historian with an ear for the truth and
sentiments of day, and an author to watch.
This debut is not just a beautiful love story, told in the beautiful (yet impoverished) setting of mid-20th century Burma; it is also about “seeing” the essence of a person, a place, or a situation. Tin Win is a brilliant young man who lives with an elderly neighbor as a result of being deserted as a child. He is also blind, lost, and lonely until he discovers friendship and then love in some unlikely places. Mi Mi is a beautiful young woman who was born without feet, the youngest daughter of a village farmer. The impact of their meeting is profound in many ways and you will be surprised at how touched you will be by their story.
This is also the contemporary story of a young woman whose father deserted their family four years ago. Her search brings her to Burma (now the Republic of Myanmar) where she meets U Ba, an aging Burmese man who knows who she is and why she has traveled to his village.
I was captivated from page one. The Chaperone begins in the late 19th
century and is the story of changing attitudes and mores in American
through the 1970s. You may think you know this story, but it will truly
take you into a new world. Cora Carlisle and Louise Brooks are two
unlikely companions who come together for a trip to NYC for completely
different reasons. Louise Brooks is just starting a life that will
become a very public one as a famous actress. She is only 15 when they
leave Wichita, Kansas, and Cora Carlisle is her (fictional) chaperone.
Cora’s history will bring you to tears, even as she strikes out to find
out more about who she is. The two leave Wichita by train and are
forever changed by the world around them, as well as what they discover
about themselves during and after their trip together.
This is a thoroughly enjoyable read, by anyone’s standard,
and will have you thinking about your own attachments and priorities. Lucy
Bloom is a 40-something mother of a teenager who is in rehab. She has had to
sell all of her belongings and her house in order to support his recovery and
finds herself with few living/job options. Her published book about clearing
out clutter, Things Are Not People, has gotten her a job clearing out the house
of the famous, reclusive painter, Marva Meier Rios, who is also a compulsive
hoarder. The obstacles Lucy encounters in her personal/work life begin to
merge, and discovery and resolution for both Marva and Lucy are what we are
rooting for by the end of this readable and enduring novel. — Terry
Ever wonder what
happened behind the scenes of the Trojan War? Curious about the personal life
of some of Homer’s Greek heroes? Want to know how gods and mortal interact?
Even if you
answered “no” to these questions, the story of Achilles and Patroclus will
intrigue and engross you. It is based on Miller’s
retelling of the relationship between Prince Achilles and his longtime
companion, Patroclus. Achilles is half mortal, half god because his mother is
the sea nymph, Thetis. His unique
qualities bind him to the Trojan War, despite the efforts of his Mother to keep
him out of it and to elude the prophecy that his heroic efforts on the field
will result in his death.
Miller is a Greek
scholar who brings life to Homer’s world in this tale of Ancient Greece, filled
with myths, heroes, gods, and goddesses. So readable … so memorable. Miller has promised us another peek into
Homer’s world and particularly The Odyssey. I can’t wait!
What a true pleasure it is to read Richard Mason. He seamlessly
transports us to a time and place we don’t know and immerses us with
astounding accuracy and detail into the lives and minds of Piet Barol
and the Vermeulen-Sickerts family. His erotic tale describes in period
detail the lifestyle of one high society family and economics of the
early 1900s from Amsterdam to New York City to South Africa.
Piet Barol is a charming, beautiful young man who seeks to improve his
station in life. He rightfully believes that can do this in the
Vermeulen-Sickerts household, one of the richest families in Amsterdam,
as a tutor to their troubled 8-year-old son. He makes a lasting
impression on everyone he meets and his impact is felt long after he
leaves the family to pursue his dreams. At once a beautifully told,
historically fascinating story and a guilty pleasure, Mason’s fourth
novel is mesmerizing from page 1 and endures well beyond the last
page. The Lighted Rooms and History of a Pleasure Seeker are the first
in a constellation of related novels. The next in the series will
follow Piet Barol to South Africa’s Wild Coast.
with underlying themes of war, family, and survival, The Book of Jonas slowly reveals Jonas’ past and his present
assimilation into a new life in the United States. Jonas is originally from an
unnamed Muslim country where a military operation has destroyed his home and
his family. We know we will learn Jonas’ secrets as we get to know him and it
is his search for his memory and for his survival that carry us breathlessly
through his narrative.
It is also the
story of an American soldier and his mother, who searches for the truth about
her son as she tries to put a life together without him. Secrets are slowly
revealed and closure comes with the hope of peace … in a beautifully written
debut. – tlg
It’s a rare thing. But you know when you find it. And when you do, you don’t want to do anything else but read. This happened to me with The Language of Flowers, a book that is as unexpected as it is compelling and currently my favorite book for the Fall.
Diffenbaugh’s extraordinary debut and her protagonist Victoria Jones will leave you breathless with the scope and originality of both. Victoria was abandoned at birth and the story of her childhood in the foster-care system will have you weeping on her behalf. She is a true-to-life character whom you immediately love and root for from the first moment you encounter her. I loved Victoria’s almost mystical relationship with flowers and the messages they deliver. Her love of flowers and their power of communication becomes her salvation and steers her toward the possibility of a plausible future. Most importantly, this is a book about relationships, trust, and bravery. The Language of Flowers captured my heart.
This passage explains the character and message of the book: “For years my message-laden flowers had been faithfully ignored, an aspect of my communication style that gave me comfort. Passion, connection, disagreement, or rejection: None of these was possible in a language that did not elicit a response.” This was the isolated existence of a young woman who could not connect with any person or community. Her journey toward resolving the effects of the foster-care system in which she is raised will leave you deeply affected.
I am not the only one who loved this book. The World Book Night committe selected this book in 2013 and gave away 25,000 copies! -- tlg
This is another fabulous fall debut. A compulsively readable story about three people who live in Paris and attend (or teach) in an international school, it is more than it first appears. William is a charismatic teacher who lives a solitary life for reasons we yearn to know. Gilad is a teenager who has traveled the world since he was born with parents who live their own complicated lives. When he moves to Paris, he finds a home he can finally call his own. And then there is Marie, a student who is troubled by all of the things we would expect a teenager to be dealing with, but whose life becomes more complicated one compulsive, drunken night. You Deserve Nothing is a true education, dealing with adolescence, lust, philosophy, loneliness, and the meaning of life. You will be engaged from the first page to the last. Meet Alexander at Mysterious Galaxy Redondo Beach on Thursday, October 13 at noon. Bring your lunch and engage in a lively discussion and perhaps learn more about the future of these characters. -- tlg
This is one of the most richly imagined books I have read in some time. Billed as a Young Adult entry, this engrossing tale of fantasy, romance, war, magic, family, and friendship is one to be savored by readers of all ages. It is powerful on many levels and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
We meet 17-year-old Karou when she is an art student in Prague. She does not know who her real family is and finds it difficult to form attachments to places or people. She is constantly pulled by her other-worldly family to run magical errands all around the world for reasons she does not understand. It is also the story of the angel Akiva who Karou meets while on an errand in Morocco. This sets off a series of events which leads both characters to delve deeply into their pasts and unwind the mystery that binds them. In Daughter of Smoke and Bone a world where war between two cultures is the norm and peace an unimagined goal is seamlessly integrated with our own.
Ending this book is a heart break. Looking forward to the sequel is a joy. Meet the creator of all of these worlds on October 24 at the Redondo Beach store. -- tlg