The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (2014)

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is written for those of us who love and work with books. The acrimonious bookseller, A.J. Fikry, is particular about the books he carries in his bookstore and has a long list of genres he will not carry. Gabrielle Zevin incorporates the right amount of humor to transform the snobby bookseller into a lovable character. Fikry has recently lost his wife and is not that concerned with the success of his small bookstore, Island Books. However, after a strange series of events, Firky is forced to change his ways. This is a magical story with plenty of literary references for the reader to enjoy.

The Headmaster’s Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene (2014)

Here’s a novel that will keep you enthralled – I read it in three hours. The Headmaster’s Wife by Thomas Christopher Green is so well written and poetic, and yet also a thriller and a real page turner with several twists.
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The Whiskey Baron by Jon Sealy (2014)

In the early 1930s, when Prohibition was the law of the land, small time and big time bootleggers and distributors fought for control of the market. In rural South Carolina, Larthan Tull controls both. When small timer Mary Jane Hopewell tries for a cut of the business, murder ensues. As circumstances and bad judgment collide, Sheriff Chambers tries his best to prevent the worst. Jon Sealy’s The Whiskey Baron is a dense, multi-charactered historical novel.

Out of the Deep I Cry by Julia Spencer-Fleming (2004)

index.aspxOut of the Deep I Cry is another suspenseful installment of drama in the small town of Miller's Kill. This mystery spans decades and Julia Spencer-Fleming skillfully goes back and forth naming her chapters - Then and Now. Having this advantage, the reader begins to piece things together even before Rev. Clare and Russ crack the case. Jane Ketchem, mother of Mrs. Marshall from St. Alban's vestry, is still supporting the local clinic thirty years after her death. When Mrs. Marshall decides to give the money to the church, a series of events is put into motion that uncovers family secrets that have been hidden since before her birth.

As Rev. Clare and Russ work closely to uncover the truth and bring the proper people to justice, they find their friendship and their mutual attraction growing stronger. Soul mates is the only term that comes to mind as Spencer-Fleming describes the depth and pureness of their love through beautifully written dialog. The scripture passages and details of the religious ceremonies serve to solidify the morality of the characters.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford (2009)

This was a moving story of young love facing insurmountable obstacles. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet takes place in Seattle at the start of World War II chronicling the friendship between Henry, a Chinese-American boy and Keiko, a Japanese-American girl. As the war progresses and the Japanese are forced into internment camps, Henry struggles to make sense of the world around him. Jamie Ford accurately captures life on the home front during this troubled time (find more books that take place on the home front during WWII). The audiobook is a great experience as narrator Feodor Chin effectively distinguishes between each of the many characters.

This book is one of the titles we will be giving away during World Book Night on April 23 at local businesses in the community. Visit ippl.infofor information on our participation in this international event.

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (2011)

From flowers to foster care, from motherhood to mental illness, Vanessa Diffenbaugh takes them all on and creates a very special character by the name of Victoria. She creates the perfect setting for a book about the meaning of flowers - San Francisco! The reader cries for Victoria and roots for her to succeed. She is her own worst enemy. In The Language of Flowers, Diffenbaugh keeps us in suspense until the last minute as to what Victoria's fate will be.

A Circle of Wives by Alice LaPlante (2014)

Palo Alto police detective Samantha Adams is assigned to investigate the suspicious death of plastic surgeon John Taylor. Even though Taylor had a heart attack, he has a puncture wound on his shoulder. The police are also tipped off that Taylor had not just one wife, but three. He had been married to wife number one, Deborah, for over thirty years and they had three children. Wife number two, MJ, is an accountant, with whom he lived in Los Gatos. Helen, a pediatric oncologist, was much younger than John--they met when she asked him to consult on one of her patients.

In Alice LaPlante’s A Circle of Wives, the reader observes the unfolding murder investigation and has a front row seat as all the secrets of each of the four women's lives are laid bare. An engrossing novel that keeps you guessing right up to the end. A great readalike for Tana French's Broken Harbor and A. S. A. Harrison's The Silent Wife.
 

How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny (2013)

After hearing rave reviews of Louise Penny’s mystery series featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, I decided to try her latest one, How the Light Gets In. The audiobook is beautifully narrated by Ralph Cosham, who captures the quaint essence of the village of Three Pines perfectly. This is the ninth book in the series and Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is investigating the murder of the last remaining Ouellet quintuplet, Constance Pinot. Gamache is surrounded by a rich cast of characters from the little village that includes an eccentric poet with a duck for a pet.

Despite not having read any of the previous books in the series, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and I would like to go back and start at the beginning. A great novel with a cozy winter setting that draws you in.

Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher (2001)

This young adult title will make you cry both tears of joy and anguish as it explores the themes of racism, child abuse, and high school bullying. T. J. Jones, an adopted high school senior of mixed race, takes it upon himself to stop the quarterback of the football team from bullying a mentally challenged student. His plan, which involves creating a new sports team full of misfits, has wonderful highs and stunning lows. It is edgy, but rewarding.

I listened to Chris Crutcher’s Whale Talk on CD (read by Brian Corrigan).
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Oleander Girl by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (2013)

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni has written this romantic suspense novel as a young woman’s search for her parentage and consequently her identity. The heroine Korobi is both infuriating and endearing as her story unfolds with all of its complexity, crisis, and obstacle. Oleander Girl is rich with descriptions of the Indian culture. Divakaruni writes about India in a way that gives the reader an insight into traditional Indian culture.

Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron by Jasper Fforde (2009)

Shades of Grey is science fiction, suspense, and comedy rolled into one. It is set in a dystopian future in which everyone is color blind and one’s class status is determined by the amount of color that he or she can see, with the greys toiling at the bottom, the purples at the top, and several other hues in constant conflict.

Jasper Fforde has a vivid imagination, an eye for detail, and a gift for writing. I especially enjoy the clever dialogue, and each comically absurd scene outdoes the last. John Lee is excellent as the narrator of the book on CD. I would highly recommend listening to this book.

Lookaway, Lookaway by Wilton Barnhardt (2013)

Lookaway, Lookaway by Wilton Barnhardt is full of sharp insights about life in the modern South along with plenty of dysfunctional family drama, civil war rehashing, bourbon drinking, and the ongoing struggle to keep up appearances.

We follow a different member of the Johnston family each chapter as they interact with each other during doomed holiday dinners and on their own, usually unfortunate, tangents. Matriarch Jerene manages to hold the family together by wielding a formidable array of threats and lies, all while impeccable groomed, until events progress beyond even her extreme damage control skills.

Digging to America by Anne Tyler (2006)

Two families wait at the airport for two precious bundles, Korean orphans. This coincidental meeting ties these two very different families together as they every year celebrate together this anniversary. This happy situation is threatened when the widowed grandfather of one of the orphans becomes close to the widowed grandmother of the other.

Check out a copy of Digging to America, or find other books by Anne Tyler.

Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani (2003)

This is a story about a woman recalling what her life was like in the 1950s. The story she tells is all about her family, romance, and what it was like to have a career, which most women at that time did not have.

Lucia, Lucia made me laugh and cry. It touched upon both the humorous and the challenges of life. I love all of Adriana Trigiani’s books, including the Big Stone Gap series.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (2013)

This is my first taste of Neil Gaiman as a writer for an adult audience. The same master storytelling and ability to keep you on the edge of your seat is there. The Ocean at the End of the Lane seems like a child's novel at first. The main character is reminiscing about a nightmarish memory from his childhood. After a while, it becomes quite apparent that the content is straight from a nightmare and also for mature audiences.

Gaiman keeps the reader questioning. Is this reality, fantasy, or are we dealing with mythical creatures as old as life itself? As a consolation to readers, no matter how horrible the nightmare gets, we know our hero survives to recount the story as an adult.