A good book makes you want to live in the story. A great book gives you no choice.
Wow! Googins has created a GREAT speculative cross-genre story. Society and innovation has saved the world from climate change. Now what? At the core this is a heart-rending family story with great characters. I loved the differing points of view and Googins cleverly tells of past and present through their voices. Themes of starting over, accountability and cooperation for the greater good are well done. This is a work of great visionary scope ultimately filled with hope. Good for anyone, especially if you liked Migrations or were a fan of Hunger Games.
Set aside a few hours for this great thriller. Dark Ride is fast paced with a character you won’t forget. Hardly is bumbling through life with no real ambition until a chance sighting of two kids spurs him to action. Along with some quirky big-hearted friends this is a wild ride with some subtle humor. I’ve loved all of Berney’s award winning books.
Hannah delivers another amazing story. This time about the overlooked story of women who served in the Vietnam War. Deeply immersed in the tumultuous 60’s, the novel shows the horrors and romance of war, the power of friendships and how women can be forces to reckon with. This is powerful and Hannah’s talent continues to shine. Don’t miss this!
As with her other novels, Jiles throws the reader into post-civil war Texas and surrounding territories. John returns home from battle injured and learns of a devastating loss, which leads him on a quest of redemption. Great writing, characters and depictions of the lawless West. I loved the inclusion of the infancy of the telegraph. This is a story of true grit.
This is a great love story with emotional depth, in the vein of Sally Rooney’s books. This is real and messy and flawed love. I fell for Will and Rosie immediately as they navigate their young lives. The writing in this debut is sparse at times yet feels immensely personal and perfect. Outstanding!
I had a hard time putting down this suspenseful book. It is in the vein of Tana French and Jane Harper – well written with good character development. A mix of thriller, mystery and coming of age. Themes of forgiveness and redemption abound as three friends reconnect in their hometown and try to keep the past from replaying. A gritty heartbreaking debut.
Classic Patchett, who explores relationships and family dynamics with subtle grace. This is a story of three sisters, told through the mother’s voice, learning of the history of their parents, how their views are perceived differently and why some secrets are best kept. Patchett’s writing moves seamlessly back and forth - she is a literary genius. The audio with Meryl Streep is excellent as well – check it at Libro.fm.
Told through four generations of strong Italian women this is heartfelt and poignant. The Cabrelli family experiences love, loss, and secrets; they mourn the dead and celebrate the living. I appreciated the interesting perspective of Italian/Scottish history. Good for a broad audience of historical fiction lovers.
Kreuger is one of my favorite writers. The River We Remember is filled with great characters fighting demons from their past. It examines wounds from wars and childhood trauma and the ways in which we heal. It’s a mystery, a character study, and a portrait of small-town rural America. Top-notch storytelling!
Like candy for your rom-com cravings. Harriet and Wyn are the perfect couple until they’re not. This is a look a friendship and loving someone no matter what and shows the messiness or relationships. Can love conquer all? Great beach read.
A racy rom com – a mix of Bridget Jones and Daisy Jones. Jane is a talented one-hit wonder with some baggage and in need of work. On a plane to London she meets handsome professor Hardy. From there it’s a rollercoaster ride with a great playlist and literary references. Will past relationships and fame get in the way of true love?
A mother-daughter saga that chronicles three generations - from 1960s Vietnam to present-day Florida. As the patriarch states, secrets are a menace, yet all three are protecting life-altering ones. The rambling slightly dilapidated Banyan House is almost another character; the cracks and messiness mirror the fractured relationships. This is a journey of acceptance, reconciliation and forgiveness. An impressive debut. Good if you liked Black Cake.
This is a great period piece, mystery and study of complex characters. Has a modern feel of Dashiell Hammett. I loved following detective Sullivan and his niece as they track down suspects in a celebrity killing at the infamous Claremont hotel, as well as navigate their family circumstances. Shows how race and class define justice and power. I really enjoyed the interspersed tidbits of California history and hope to hear more from Sullivan.
Told with candor, Davis speaks of her childhood filled with poverty and abuse. There is passion on every page, and Davis’ grit and determination shine in her examination of painful memories. We learn of her struggles and successes as she works her way to the top of the acting pinnacle. A forthright memoir and very moving.
If you believe in first loves, soul mates and second chances this is for you. Also, a story of the mistakes people make, and the lengths they'll go to make things right. Good character development and their growth over 20 years felt authentic. It’s a love story but much more. Good if you like Every Summer After or are a Hoover fan.
A debut story that is unputdownable and charming. I was immediately invested in the lives of Cristabel, Flossie and the cast of memorable, eccentric, characters that inhabit Chilcombe manor. This is a grand story set on the Dorset Coast and war-torn Paris. Bohemian artists and spirited kids put on elaborate stage productions which train them for undercover jobs during the war. Filled with love and sorrow, bravery and toughness, and small moments of levity I thought this was delightful from Act One. Good if you liked Atonement.
My favorite type of beachy read filled with a strong, feisty young protagonist, love in the hands of fate, summer-island life and espionage. Post WWII and Russian-American rivalry finds Cricket navigating a web of romance, intrigue and events that have long-lasting implications. Tension is achieved by a duel time-line and the tangled threads that are resolved in a page-turning ending. I loved it.
Inspired by true events, this is a great story of Mary (Goes First) from the Crow tribe who marries a fur trader, survives brutal attacks, single-handedly saves others and raises her family on a ranch in Montana. As with all great historical novels there is much to learn, and this is a wonderful telling of her story, the spirit of the Crow people and landscape of Montana and neighboring Canadian territories. I couldn’t put this down as she fights for her life and true identity.
I have learned something from each of Lisa’s See’s historical novels. Here I was transported to China during the Ming dynasty. Lady Tan Yunxian, a real historical figure, lived a sheltered but privileged life in Southern China. Her grandparents trained her to become a female doctor – an unusual occupation for women especially from an aristocratic family. She navigates family dynamics, endures painful foot binding has little freedom yet somehow becomes a revered and trusted physician. Her lifelong friendship with a local midwife adds much love and insight to her life. This is a historical detailed story where women’s friendships are central.
A behind the scenes look at the film industry where you feel Tom is imparting his wisdom and knowledge. From plot inspiration to writing to directing to mega-star actors to crewmembers Hanks has created a fun read with realistic characters. I found this an enjoyable ramble with the feel of being on set.
Titus is a wonderful complicated character – a black Sheriff in his small Southern hometown. He must navigate small town politics, white-supremacy issues, and his own demons, all while rushing to solve a string of murders before the serial killer strikes again. This is an excellent study of all walks of life and police procedures. As good as his two previous stories. It is gripping and gritty; a great Southern noir.
I found this to be an unputdownable, messy, multi-charactered family drama that is very satisfying. Brilliant Adam is at a crossroads, his children are damaged characters who both love and drive each other crazy. With themes of jealousy, self-absorption, infidelity, and mental health this is great if you like sweeping family dramas and contemporary novels with substance. Brodeur’s descriptive writing of coastal nature adds to the beauty of this novel. Good if you liked Paper Palace.
The perils and hardships of seafaring in the mid 1700’s is brilliantly told in this outstanding non-fiction story. With great narrative and vivid descriptions of life at sea and survival in the most difficult of circumstances I found this a thrilling read. With themes of British Empire dominance and greed this is a good choice if you liked Grann’s previous works, The Perfect Storm or Endurance.
This is my favorite book by Urrea. Dot and Irene were young American women who became fast friends when they joined a branch of the Red Cross, commanding military vehicles called Clubmobiles. They were steps behind the frontlines after D-Day. Their charge was to provide solace by serving a slice of home in the way of donuts and coffee, friendly smiles and banter. Their work was grueling and they endured some horrific battles, ambushes and the liberation of Buchenwald. “The women were called upon to piece a broken world back together.” This magnificent story has a biographical feel as it closely follows the life of Urrea’s mother and he infuses his story with poignant moments, bits of humor and colorful characters.
An astonishing epic story – as good as Cutting for Stone. Verghese’s characters are full and vibrant and his depictions of southern India are lush. Medical procedures, artistry, political and religious convictions play a central role through three generations of a cursed and blessed family. The winding waterways that nourish the land mirror the meandering storylines that come together in a satisfying wonderful way. So good you won’t want it to end.
This is a surprisingly sharp and witty debut. Life in Brooklyn is told through three related female characters from an uber-wealthy family. It is full of subtle race and class issues and I found myself both smirking and falling for their antics in equal measure. Filled with love and quirkiness, and the ups and downs of privilege this is a light read with substance.
An impressive debut, both tender and brutal. Boarding schools boys become men through the atrocities of war. A combination of raw emotion similar to A Little Life and the frontline trench warfare of Birdsong. Excellent themes of the British Empire, privileged boy superiority and forbidden love. The addition of letters and the school newspaper added depth. I found it incredible that this was written by such a young woman, as her writing is stellar. In Memoriam is impossible to forget, very memorable and destined to greatness.
Suspenseful! Kelly draws upon her extensive research to bring the lives of Josie and Arlette to life. Set during their time as Resistance spies during WWII and their quest for redemption in the years after. Filled with many real people and circumstances this is a page turner with lots of surprises. A great companion to A Woman of No Importance.
A light comedy for those who like reality/music shows. Two piano prodigies are pitted against each other, and the emotional stakes are high. I found the descriptions of the music excellent. Themes of trusting your heart and taking chances.
This is a slice of a child’s awakening. Set in rural Ireland Keegan’s young narrator is sent to relatives for the summer when there are too many mouths to feed. Life is quite different – full of abundance. Written with a keen sense of empathy and lovely writing this is a gem of a novella.
With lovely literary references to Little Women and Walt Whitman this is an enjoyable exploration of family and strong sister connections. Napolitano expertly shows the ebb and flow of relationships, and sensitively deals with depression issues. Her use of differing points of view helps the reader and her characters understand their strengths and weaknesses. This is a tender and heartfelt character driven story. Very good!
This will tug at your heartstrings in all the good ways. A friendship of a lifetime is forged when their lives are near the end. Young Lenni is searching for answers from Father Arthur and instantly finds a kindred spirit in Margot. Her straight-forward way is wonderful and she ends up living through Margot’s well-lived life. Full of wisdom and heart and shows that joy and love can come in unusual ways. Heartbreak and loss are skillfully interspersed with friendship and happiness. Good if you liked The 100-year Old Man...& The Fundamentals of Caregiving.
Finally translated from French, award-winning author Berest, delivers an excellent autofiction story. After receiving an anonymous postcard Anne and her mother search for the sender. This search brings back horrors, loss and bundles of memories. Expertly woven through time Anne learns of her family’s history and at the same time her own identity. I found this an excellent depiction of anti-Jewish sentiment throughout time.
My favorite read-aloud book. I love the sing-song rhythm and wonderful illustrations – my grandson too. This is one book I’m happy to read every day. Guaranteed you’ll learn something.
Seeking adventure and connection to the earth Kristen and Ville bike pack the length of the Americans – 18,000 miles! Having endured long-distance hikes but never any distance on a bike this seemed a fool's journey. Kristen writes of their steep learning curve as well as mountain passes, grueling weather and all the unknowns around each bend. Their connections with wonderful people along the way are highlights as well as her scenery descriptions and their voyage together. Great reading for adventure seekers, even armchair ones.
This is a what if, second chances story; similar in feel to The Midnight Library. Emma’s story is told through first-person accounts of her busy family/work life – the same day relived, and Dan’s story is told through his amazing annual love letters. A bit emotional, but in a good way. This is a reminder to find joy in family and friends and the small things that make a good life.
This debut is not your typical mother/daughter story, it is unsentimental and raw. Teenage Lara craves for normalcy, but she and her theatrical Russian mother move a lot – when things get tough or overdue notices pile up. I LOVED the opening of each chapter with life lessons to follow. Shows the hopelessness of poverty, the spiral of drugs, and the desperation of wanting to belong. Told with passion and just enough humor to not be depressing. Excellent portrayal of both main characters – you’ll be cheering for them.
For fans of Jam Jenoff and Kate Quinn. I found this an engaging and poignant historical fiction story. Viv has had pivotal moments in her life, but none more harrowing than sending her daughter away from Liverpool during WWII. She learns how to fight societal norms, how family can be more than blood, and navigate being a single mother. The Lost English Girl has well developed characters, numerous points on view, and is quick to get immersed in.
As in her remarkable debut novel, The Mountains Sing, Ngyuen Phan Que Mai offers another novel revealing the history of Viet Nam. She brings to life Vietnamese women who bore Amerasian children and the American soldiers who left. Dust Child shows the cruel indignities that children of war suffer, the horrors of war and how all are affected by conflict. Searing and full of heart.
Young and naïve Rachel is looking for a summer of fun and adventure – a way to break her boring compliant life. An idyllic island in Greece is just the place - sun-soaked, lovely and full of worldly people. Is her new-found friends and love-interest more than she bargained for? Her choices reverberate through her life for the next 20 years. The Girls of Summer is a timely exploration of young-woman on the cusp of adulthood.
This is a very strong debut and all the more special as it takes place on the Western slope of CO. Victoria is a strong, resolute, lonely young woman growing up on a peach farm; she has known tragedy first hand and like a river forges on. An unlikely encounter causes ripples in her life, both love and friendship. The landscape and beauty of nature shines in Read’s writing. Reminiscent of Crawdads and highly recommended.
This is a romcom – outlandish yet compelling. A gym bag mix-up causes lives to upend and craziness to ensue. A story about friendships, hardships and starting over. Fun reading!
Carley Fortune has written another heart-warming, well-written romance with wonderfully flawed characters. A chance encounter turns into a bittersweet night to remember with hopes for the future, but life gets complicated… An honest second-chance romance with a Dirty Dancing setting. Great lakefront escape reading.
Several social topics told through different eyes. I found this fast-paced and was especially drawn to the good courtroom scenes. Full of secrets that are cleverly exposed and great character development this is a page turner. Great for engaging conversations.
Teenage pilot Stella is racing for England against other young pilots from Europe in the name of peace. It’s 1937, aviation is all the rage and pre war tensions are high. Does Stella witness a murder? Could the perpetrator possibly be another racer? Lots of secrets and history - this is a good historical thriller.
A short compelling little Robin Hood story filled with likable characters. Shows the caste system in India, how love and compassion can make a difference and that the message of hope can lift spirits when all else is lost.
A poignant and wonderful debut. When Bea is sent to America to escape the blitz in London her life becomes divided between families. Told through the lens of all family members I found myself totally immersed in this lovely transporting story. I can’t wait for you to read this.
Classic Irving on steroids with a semi-biographical feel. Legendary author delivers again – a tome filled with eccentric characters and political and moral/social issues and non-traditional families. I found this tender and the ties to Aspen and Hotel Jerome make it all the more enjoyable. If you are an Irving fan this is a book to sink into and enjoy the ride.
This is Charlotte’s Web for grownups - charming and enjoyable. Tova and Cameron have pasts that are filled with grief and loss and clever Marcellus can sense their connection. A wonderful, heartwarming debut with strong writing. For fans of Music of Bees, Good Eggs and Lessons in Chemistry.
Another great Australian mystery by Jane Harper. Her stories are atmospheric, simmering with secrets and well-developed characters. This is a standalone story but you may recognize Falk from other Harper stories. This is set in wine country with life-long friends struggling amidst two unsolved disappearances. Very good!
Rachel’s love is so strong - can it reconnect her fragmented family? River Sing Me Home shows interesting Caribbean history. The Emancipation Act of 1834 frees slaves, yet the forced 6-year apprenticeship is just another form of slavery. Rachel runs in search of her 5 stolen children, only then can she hope for true freedom.
Thuridur is a remarkable, resilient woman, who challenged the norms of her time. She out fished her competitors, never lost a crewmember, and fought injustices in her community. With vivid descriptions of Iceland and rich detail in writing this is an inspiring biography of an unknown woman who lived a fascinating life.
Wonderful writing that describes both the devastation and beauty of land and water after Florida is ravaged by climate change. Wanda grows as the water rises, learning to survive in this harsh environment; her life is filled with change and loss. The Light Pirate quietly sunk into my heart and soul. Weathering the storms - this has scary concepts yet is a brilliant book. Good if you liked Migrations and The Road.
A backstage pass to the colorful life of country singer, Lil. The highs and lows, loves and losses, grit and glamour of life on the road. Like a good western song this is filled with yearning, regrets, heartache, whiskey, good dogs and great prose. Off the charts good!
Antonia is a smart, ambitious young lawyer who has distanced herself from her past. Her beloved brother has gone missing and she gets drawn into her complicated adoptive small town family. Inspired by Greek Mythology, this touches on issues of immigrants from war-torn regions and family loyalties. Great for readers who like fast-paced twisted thrillers with a Netflix movie feel.
Pam Jenoff writes easy-to-read, hard-to-put-down historical novels. She writes of formidable women who are daring and brave in the face of injustice. Even though I knew the historical context of the story I was immediately drawn into the life of Hannah. Inspired by true accounts, this is great for fans of Kate Quinn and suitable for young adults.
An irresistible, entertaining story. The Depression is in full swing - times and people are desperate. Val, just out of art school, lands a job with the WPA in Wyoming. His life gets entwined with the Longs and their ramshackle ranch hands. Full of complicated relationships, cross-country travels and colorful characters this is great storytelling. Good if you liked Lincoln Highway.
Cinematic and unputdownable, Walls has woven a great story set in Virginia in the 20’s. Sallie, determined, feisty and oh so likable has to struggle with right and wrong, power and responsibility. Inspired by Elizabeth I, Sallie navigates bootlegging, messy families, and carrying on the family legacy. You won’t want to miss this.
This debut captures time and place and will tug at your heart. Well-drawn characters, intense relationships and excellent depiction of the tragedies of the religious divide and the prejudice of 1975 Northern Ireland. Kennedy’s has a unique style – her sentences are short on words yet long on emotion. This is a tender yet emotional book. Outstanding!
History repeats itself and the pain of one generation leaves its mark on the next. Four generations of women struggle with the agony brought on by dictators, war, abandonment and displacement. This is a complex read that shows the love mothers have for their children and the sacrifices they make. Gripping historical fiction.
With Dicken’s flair, Atkinson brings Jazz-age London to life. Lots of colorful characters and filled with intrigue and wit this is a quick-paced absorbing novel from an outstanding author. Many plots and storylines with a cinematic feel; I found this easy to get lost in. Plenty of sparkle and grime and a few surprises.
This is a literary exploration of escaping your past and writing your own story. Celebrated author, Li, delivers an intense, obsessive friendship between two young girls from post-war rural France. Fabienne’s imaginative storytelling casts Agnes on a worldly journey. This is a stunning and heart-rending exploration of the loss of innocence.
At the heart of this delightful, unusual story is friendship. It is a story about brilliant young game designers hitting it big and the ups and downs of their lives. Their friend Marx is the perfect balance between these two creative geniuses; the perfect friend, confidant, partner. Even though the gaming part of this story initially turned me off I loved the parallel worlds and appreciated the artistry and creativity. Zevin’s smart writing pulls off this story that can be enjoyed by many; a bit more complex and sophisticated than her previous works. Also, loved the references to Macbeth, Emily Dickinson and the Iliad. Super enjoyable.
Formidable Elizabeth Zott will capture your heart as she, Six-Thirty, Mad and others did me. It’s 1960 and Elizabeth is a woman in a man’s field – she experiences sexism, inequality, and abuse. I found this heartwarming, fun, with a sense of intelligent humor, and full of charm and hope.