Hilary Mantel’s completion of her bestselling, award-winning trilogy on the life of Thomas Cromwell is well worth the nearly eight year wait! While much of the historical fiction written about Henry VIII and his court has been told from the perspective of the King or one of his six wives, Mantel’s wise decision to tell the story from the point of view of Cromwell, the King’s chief minister and an extraordinarily powerful man, gives us a different view of the Tudor court.
Based on the WWII French Resistance spy Nancy Wake, this is an incredibly moving story that's impossible to put down. Code Name Hélène is a passionate love story that will have you longing for France; and, although there are a few harsh war scenes, the persevering spirit of this amazing woman makes this a must read!
You’ll never read anything else that is similar to a N. K. Jemisin book. Unsurpassed in creativity, present day New York is intricately folded in and upon itself resulting in a stunning monument to the city and all its boroughs.
As a newborn city, New York is in danger of invasion by another city from an alternate universe. Together, the avatars of The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and Staten Island must work together to eradicate the possible extinction, and eventual disappearance of the city from the face of this earth and history. A thrilling “stay up all night to finish” book by an author who is in a league of her own!
Steinhauer is the finest spy novelist writing today; I happily devoured this latest on vacation. Current global issues and political controversies are expertly woven into this tale of Milo Weaver, a rogue ex-spy. Characters, working with and against Weaver, collected from around the globe, became so real I found myself looking over my shoulder in the airport. Not to be missed!
The Herd positively brims with fascinating female characters--and even better, because it's a thriller, each woman is hiding her own delicious secret. Bartz fingers the pulse of a very distinct and recognizable moment in contemporary feminism--all the language, behaviors, and accompanying dangers. I loved sinking deeper past the classy cosmopolitan exterior of the elite co-working space where this mystery unfolds. The Herd feels like a real place--one you'd walk past on the street and speculate about what might happen behind its doors. Now, thanks to Andrea Bartz, you can find out.
If you thought you knew the events leading to the American Revolution, think again. You will feel personal connection with the Hancock, Quincy, and Adams families as you learn of their individual trials and heartaches. A work so well researched, everyone should read about the rebels from Boston. Did you know Washington, to save Boston, fooled the British by erecting a wall of hay that resembled a fort? Did you know the Boston Massacre was five years before the war started? Did you know of the illnesses that tormented these people and in many cases took their lives too soon? Read and learn how these key people used their wealth, intelligence, friendships and most of all God to lead us all to liberty.
I don't know why I so enjoyed this, but maybe that's what happiness is about. A simple, charming story of 'the electric' coming to a tiny town in the west of Ireland. A young man come to stay with his relations and finding out about love, humanity, regret, and happiness. Lovely, peaceful, and real - it made me happy.
This book is absolutely DELIGHTFUL! There wasn't one page without something to make me laugh or smile or tear up, or all three. Linus Baker is a rule follower working for Extreme Upper Management by investigating orphanages to be sure the magical children who live there are being taken care of properly. He truly cares about the children and because of that believes his job is important. But he is a lonely man who wishes for more. When he is sent on a secret mission and meets a family of even more unique, wonderful people, he begins to look beyond the rules and see the world as it truly is ... and what it could truly be. A sweet love story, a tale of family and transformation, I loved every second. The House in the Cerulean Sea is also an important book for our times that shows how fear and prejudice can affect the lives of both adults and children.
When young ER doctor Alexis and her boyfriend Austin head off on a romantic bike tour of Vietnam, she has no idea what the charming young man is concealing. From the grimy alleys of New York City to the lush Vietnamese countryside, Bohjalian’s latest is a gripping, fast-paced story of two sides of a devastating biological weapon. The race to create it, and the race to destroy it.
I finished this book in a day- it was that compelling! A Good Neighborhood is a modern day Greek tragedy. Narrated in third person by “the Neighborhood” it is a gripping story of a small suburban town forever changed by the heartbreaking and inevitable issues of our times. Forbidden love, racism, class, and a cast of unforgettable characters culminate in a stunning conclusion that will stay with you for a long time!
Admittedly, I hesitated picking up this book, thinking Pilgrim and Anglican settlers in early Plymouth Massachusetts might not be for me. I was so wrong! Brought to life is the true historical event of the first murder in Plymouth colony. Told from the perspective of two strong women characters, one on each side of the murder. I love that it was local history, told from female perspectives and that it makes you realize history as we know it-or her-story, is dependent on which side of the story you are receiving. I am left thinking about how everyone has a story and collectively our stories make up history. Every story is important!
Racing over 200 mph with no seat belt, helmet, or safety... this is the true story of Rene' Dreyfus, a Jewish driver and Lucy Shell, the American heiress who financed him. Suspenseful action and a fascinating history of European motorsport during Hitler's rise to power.
If we tell ourselves stories in order to live, Vanessa has been telling herself the same one since she was 15, when she was involved with her predatory English teacher at boarding school. As the story of Vanessa's past unfurls and present-day accusations against this teacher gain momentum, she begins to see the events that shaped her adolescence in a new and different light. My Dark Vanessa is the haunting, relentless, and necessary story we need today. If you read just one book this year, make it this one.
Given an afternoon, you will read this book cover to cover, as I did. Engaging, fun, and beautifully written, Lily King gives us Casey Peabody, a heartwarming protagonist who is just struggling to get by. While dealing with anxiety, mounting bills, and finishing her novel, Casey discovers that she is a risk taker and is willing to put it all on the line for her writing. Of course, there are friends and lovers who round out the story beautifully. A book that will make you smile and might make you consider changing your life.
Wonderfully rich characters and soulful writing took me to 1969 Harlem, where the complex and perennially drunk 71-year-old Deacon shot Deems, a young drug dealer who was like a son to him. Well, it’s complicated. After reading this novel, I will read anything by James McBride, and I recommend you do too.
When Shay, a lonely young woman, witnesses a suicide in the New York City subway, she becomes obsessed with the victim. Attending the memorial service, she meets the glamorous and successful Moore sisters who have everything Shay does not. When the sisters take her under their wing, what follows is a riveting thriller with a complete surprise ending. Another terrific book by the authors of The Wife Between Us and An Anonymous Girl!
The 1989 varsity field hockey team of Danvers, MA, will do anything to win the State Championship. Even add their names to an Emilio Estevez notebook, tie a piece of blue sock around their arms and dabble in black magic and troublemaking. A powerful story of friendship and teamwork, told in a unique group narration from sometime in the future, I loved seeing each team member get their time in the spotlight as the season progressed. By telling the story this way the author was able to subtly, and wonderfully, acknowledge and address things that were normal in 1989 that are now considered problematic.
Did Emilio really make them do the things they did that year? Or was it just an opportunity each team member took to find out who they truly wanted to be in life? Nostalgic and delightfully funny, this is a book not to be missed!
Zigman’s gift at looking at a troubled, contemporary marriage will resonate with every reader. An inability to cope with the many losses she is facing leads Judy to find comfort in carrying her dog in a baby sling. It really doesn’t sit well with some at her son’s Montessori school or the dog park, but it comforts Judy while facing her writer’s block, her husband’s anxiety, her son’s tween years and, oh yes, the puppet people. Humor and heart-felt empathy will make this a must read.
This book is the literary equivalent of a long walk alone at twilight. Percy contemplates pregnancy, technology, marriage, art, identity, and living in a newly post-9/11 New York City. Threaded through all of this is an unnerving mystery: who sent her the photographs from her ex-fiance's upcoming art exhibit--and why can't anyone else see that the woman in the photos is her? A poignant book for anyone who wonders about their place in the world or sometimes feels a little lost.
In this soul-searching novel set in Ireland, Norah delves into her mother’s past as a famous, eccentric actress in the '50s and '60s. “Was she crazy?” everyone asks. Long hidden secrets are uncovered and the consequences of stardom revealed. Ultimately, this is the story of incredible love between a mother and daughter.
A brilliant, unique premise allows Oona to avoid a decision she doesn't want to make. But is it worth the consequence? Oona Out of Order is the kind of novel that forces you to reflect on your own life and how much you may be ignoring the present when it's happening right in front of you. I love how this novel weaved the main character's life into something so perfectly disordered. A truly fun, saddening story that will hook you from the beginning, middle, and back again.
Told in that perfectly gritty style, how I love a noir private eye story! This one is not so graphic and might even feel uplifting at the end. Duck into a back alley with Walter Mosley and you won’t be disappointed!
Told in short essays, small paragraphs, and sometimes just one sentence per chapter, this poetic portrayal of the clash between Israel and Palestine will break your heart into pieces, and then with a thin thread of hope begin to stitch it back together. Two fathers from opposite sides are brought together by tragedy and bring their stories to the world in the hopes that the conflict can be ended, and others will not need to endure the same suffering. I found the breaks between each chapter allowed me to absorb and contemplate of each word. I was so moved – this will not be a book I forget any time soon.
In this spectacular collection on identity politics, Hong also makes us privy to her process in a way unlike any other essayist I've read: discussing different stages of the draft, wondering whether she should have worded the sentence you're reading differently, even including whole conversations about why she's removed certain details from the finished book. If you're wondering where to start, there's a great essay in here about female friendship--I dare you to read it and put the book down after.
Out of work and desperate, shy, socially awkward film editor Marissa Dahl takes a job on a remote island, where a legendary and temperamental director is filming a true crime, never solved, that happened on the island. Told in flashbacks and present time, which cleverly takes the form of a true crime podcast, this is a novel with a great cast of characters, interesting details about filmmaking, and an unexpected twist!
House of Trelawney is a wildly entertaining narrative of a dysfunctional family at a crumbling Cornwall castle. Characters include eccentric ancient parents who insist on “dressing for dinner,” banished heirs with questionable paternity, and an aged entomologist aunt who studies fleas! How will this multi-generational family survive and keep the estate going? Or will they?
Masterfully combining both dystopian and sports fiction, this is a novel that blew me away in singular fashion. Gwen faces the conflicting priorities of fighting for what she's been raised to believe in and playing the sport she's come to love. Filled with great characters and cautionary lessons for the direction of technology and society, this was a book I couldn't put down!
Flying under the radar, this book is a must read for anyone. With his tongue-in-cheek wit, Wilson’s tale reflects on who we are today, and how we got here. Laugh out loud with this one, because if you don’t you might burst into flames.
With both fantasy and reality...yes, just go with it, you will be both moved and entertained by this insightful book about loyalty, parenting, and self-worth.
If you need a book to recommend, try Nothing to See Here! It engages right from the start despite the odd premise. For fans of smart, contemporary fiction. As an added bonus, it has a great cover! - Laura's extremely well-read, librarian sister, Alicia.
(All right already, I'm reading it! - Laura)
"Hi Roxanne. Listen, I'm going to be late today. I know, but I'm reading Nothing to See Here and I can't put it down, it's just so great! Yes, the one where the kids burst into flames when they get upset. No, I don't know why. The stepmother hires an old 'frenemy' to keep them out of sight. Yes, very funny, but also so poignant. Sure, you get it next!"
Kevin Wilson certainly has an imagination and wit. This seemingly preposterous story has lessons for us, and along the way we get to read a rollicking take that had me glued to the book.
After reading author Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s rave review of Kevin Wilson’s latest, I had to read it! While I wondered how a novel that includes two children who are able to spontaneously combust would actually work, trust me, it does, and it’s terrific!
Sarah Pinborough follows up her best-selling novel, Behind Her Eyes, with an equally twisty psychological thriller. This time, the setting is a wealthy enclave of southern society in Savannah during a hot, steamy summer... and that’s not just a description of the weather! First wives, trophy wives, and their husbands, all with secrets, keep this an addictive page turner with another shock ending!
As dark as it is funny, I found this novel to be brilliantly written and uniquely observed. Thomas captures the angst of teenage girlhood (in today's particularly social media obsessed world) with a bleak humor that still manages to treat the young, flawed protagonists with tenderness. Elements of mystery and folklore give this very contemporary work a timeless edge. Scarlett Thomas is an author I will be returning to again and again.
Jess Kidd’s stories are mesmerizing and miraculous with bizarre and captivating characters. My favorite of her incredible characters is Detective Bridie Devine, an extraordinary woman who unearths strange secrets amongst the grimy and dangerous streets of Victorian London in search of a missing child (a very strange child indeed). Please add the wildly imaginative Jess Kidd to your “must read” list as I have!
Fans of Elin Hilderbrand, Jojo Moyes, and Jenny Colgan will find much to love in this clever British-based book! The novel begins as a lonely old man attempts to share his 'real' self by writing in a notebook, and leaving it for someone else to pick up and add to it. And they do. The characters each have hope and needs that, as a group, they begin to answer. A fun twist, love interests, and wry humor create a thoroughly enjoyable book.
This novel ticks all the boxes for a historical fiction lover like me. Beginning and ending in 1964 England, with a middle full of danger, mystery, and romance in WWI and WWII France, it is full of surprises from start to finish.
— Laura B.
At first you think this is a typical boy meets dragon story, but in this case, not just any dragon, but the LAST dragon! Relentlessly funny, Colfer brings the wit and humor of his Artemis Fowl series to adults and will leave you wanting more (I hope there’s more!).
I have a very large soft spot for heroes who are not the epitome of society’s idea of “typical,” so when Zelda declares she’s a Viking, I’m right behind her. When she finds out her brother has gotten into deep water, she decides to break all the rules (her rules!) and take things into her own hands, making her own legend despite all odds. For fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, and The Rosie Project.
One of my FAVORITE authors! Paul Yoon has the ability to combine both the devastating and the beautiful throughout his storylines and characters. Every word is felt and absorbed on the pages of his books. In Run Me to Earth, three orphans in 1960’s Laos must do what it takes to survive devastating times. A simple yet complex story in one. Also, read Snow Hunters by Yoon….my absolute favorite of his books!
Imagine if someone you loved was killed and their killer never brought to justice. Imagine if there was a secret, shadowy, vigilante group hidden deep within the dark web that offers to help, but you will owe them, and you will never be rid of them until you fulfill your obligation. Would you accept? C.J. Tudor’s third novel is a thriller with a touch of the supernatural in a riveting tale of love, loss and hope. You will not be able to put it down!
Uniquely haunting, this debut novel weaves together a strong dose of folklore with modern themes and fresh twists. It defies characterization along the typical literary fault lines, and will have you spellbound by both its story and its prose. Absolutely captivating.
Sometimes, you read a book that is so astounding it pulls you in with the first sentence and doesn’t let you go until the last. This is that book. A heart-wrenching account of migrants, mother and son, sisters, brothers and complete strangers, together attempting to cross the Mexican border with the hopes of living a life of safety in the U.S. The author began her novel in 2013, it is even more timely now. A powerful must read.
From 1791 Haiti to 1857 Louisiana to current day, three strong and resilient women with special "gifts" fight their way to freedom and acceptance. This debut novel is raw and yet tender...a mystical adventure of slavery, the Underground Railroad, survival, suspense and mostly hope!