Defending Jacob by William Landay (2012)

Many staff members at the library were reading this novel, so I could not wait to get my hands on a copy! It's a great novel with a surprise twist thrown in at the end.

Andy Barber, a desperate father who works for the District Attorney's office, tries his best to help his son after he is accused of murdering a fellow classmate. This book is one of those gems that will keep you up long into the night turning pages.

Read Defending Jacob by William Landay today.

Monday Mornings by Sanjay Gupta (2012)

Sanjay Gupta is a practicing neurosurgeon and his background is steeped in medicine. As a writer, he exposes the personal and professional lives of five surgeons in this fictional account, Monday Mornings.
In the medical world, the acronym M & M stands for morbidity and mortality. Sounds alarming, but it is a learning session that dissects the recent operations of the staff. Just as importantly, this session also investigates any questionable outcomes. No surgeon wants a summons to a Monday morning M & M. Five surgeons live and breathe in this book, fully human to pique and admirably maintain your interest. I listened to the book – and I liked the readers too.

David E. Kelly is developing a television show based on the book. Read more here.

Jack of Fables: The Nearly Great Escape by Bill Willingham (2007)

A spin-off of the "Fables" series that follows Jack of the Tales (aka Jack Horner, Jack the Giant-Killer, Jack Frost, etc.) after his exile from Fabletown. More action-packed and quicker-paced than the original series, perhaps because the story revolves around the titular character rather than an ensemble cast.

I was a little reluctant to pick this title up because I found Jack irritating in the "Fables" stories, but in Jack of Fables, his annoying tendencies start to become endearing, mostly because of his over-the-top, egotistic narration.

Read The Nearly Great Escape by Bill Willingham to become endeared with Jack.

A Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition by Ernest Hemingway (2009)

Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast is incomplete and somewhat non-linear, but it paints a vivid picture of his life as a budding writer in Paris. The early chapters show Hemingway taking great joy in living frugally, eating and drinking well, writing in cafes, and meeting other expats. The second half of the book touches on his eventual betrayal of first wife Hadley and the end of their magical time in Paris.

This edition published in 2009 adds extra material and corrects editing decisions that new editor, grandson Sean Hemingway, questioned in the original book published in 1964.

This year's Big Read book was The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, a fictionalized account of Hemingway's time in Paris with his first wife Hadley.


The Good Father by Diane Chamberlain (2012)

This novel, which is told by three different narrators, is fast-paced and quite intriguing. A major theme which runs through the story is "What makes a good parent?"

Travis Brown is a young single father who loves his four-year-old daughter Bella more than anything in the world. Down on his luck and out of work, he trusts the wrong people and finds himself involved in a situation that is illegal and dangerous.

Diane Chamberlain keeps getting better and better with each novel she writes. You just have to continue reading "one more chapter" to find out what will happen. Very entertaining!

Check out The Good Father by Diane Chamberlain.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (2012)

How well do you know the person you love? This becomes the central question during the disappearance of Amy, the wife of Nick Dunne. Nick and Amy are two writers that met and fell in love in New York. After economy tanks, they both lose their jobs and move back to Nick’s childhood home in Missouri. Financial worries put a strain on their already troubled marriage.

Then, on their fifth wedding anniversary, Amy disappears and Nick is the prime suspect with the evidence mounting against him. As the story moves through the days after the disappearance, you begin to question the truth as its being told from Nick and Amy’s perspective. This psychological thriller is a must read.

Read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn today and check back next month for Laura’s take on the book!

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (2008)

The White Tiger is a dark and funny novel which plunges the reader deep into the underbelly of modern India, a place where people are still very much prisoners to their own caste. The story unfolds as a series of letters to a Chinese official, and it is this device which brings the main character to life, revealing his wit, his flaws, and his deepest inner thoughts. We follow Balram through his daily life which is so oppressively frightening on the one hand but presented in such absurd scenarios that I actually laughed out loud.

Well written, and exploding with symbolism, the story is really about Balram’s struggle for freedom—freedom from “the Darkness” where most people live in subhuman conditions. It is a quick read, and after the first chapter, you won’t be able to put it down.

And since it’s such a quick read, those of you in your 20s and 30s should read it this weekend and join our GenLit Book Discussion Group on Monday, July 16 at 6:30 at Taste of India in Willowbrook. Get your copy of The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga today.

The Mysterium by P.C. Doherty (2012)

History, mixed with sinister mystery and, well plotted too, is like a jewel in the crown. Hugh Corbett in the King Edward's I service is forcibly retained to solve a series of brutal murders. The streets of Medieval London reek with bloody minded gangs and high born assassins. You do not have to read the other books in the series to appreciate The Mysterium, but you may want to after reading this.

Read The Mysterium by P.C. Doherty.

Joe Golem and the Drowning City by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden (2012)

An excellent read for fans of classic Lovecraftian horror. Whereas Mignola and Golden's last team-up, 2007's Baltimore, or the Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire, was an homage to Gothic horror in the vein of Frankenstein, Joe Golem and the Drowning City hearkens back to the horror writers of the early 20th century such as Lovecraft and Poe.

Filled with old gods and occultist pseudoscience, fans of Mignola's Hellboy series will also be charmed by the similarly gruff but deeply caring character of Joe. Though it's got plenty of monsters and creepy stuff, at its core the story is about friendship and family – and how to move on for the sake of others when faced with an inevitable loss. Mignola's skillfully haunting black and white artwork compliments Golden's descriptive (but never longwinded!) prose.

East of the Sun by Julia Gregson (2008)

If you like a good old-fashioned historical novel, this is the book for you. In 1928, three young women set out from England to India. Rose is 18 and going out to be married to a man she barely knows. Her best friend Victoria always feels like the dumpy, unattractive second fiddle. She is hoping to find her own romance. And Viva, the twenty-five-year-old woman who accompanies them as their chaperone, is hoping to find out the truth about her own childhood spent in India.

Checkout East of the Sun by Julia Gregon today.

Unwanted by Kristina Ohlsson (2012)

Kristina Ohlsson joins the ranks of Scandinavian authors who delve into the dark, sick side of the human condition. Her main character, Fredrika Bergman, is an enigmatic woman trying to find her niche in the male dominated world of police work.

The story starts with a report of a missing child taken from a train. At first, the case does not send any evil vibrations, but then events escalate. Another child is taken and then another. Fredricka intuits that her team is on the wrong track. As the case expands, Ohlsson reveals the inner turmoil and personal problems of her characters, thus pulling the reader more deeply into the story.

Although this book received starred reviews and the author limits the graphic descriptions to a minimum, the dark side is still out there.

One word of caution: the subject matter traces the path of a psychopath and his quirky, ugly reactions to being an abused child, and not everyone is comfortable with this type of material.

Read Unwanted today and share your thoughts on the book here.

The Talk-Funny Girl by Roland Merullo (2012)

This is a coming of age story of 17-year-old Marjorie, the only child of parents who are basically illiterate. Her family is caught up in a bizarre church (cult), where the infliction of humiliating punishments on children is demanded.  It is a moving and intense story, but uplifting.  I couldn’t put it down!

Check the library catalog for The Talk-Funny Girl by Roland Merullo.

Heart of a Killer by David Rosenfelt (2012)

Jamie Wagner is an underachieving lawyer without much ambition until he takes on the pro bono case of a lifetime. As he meets the plaintiff he is drawn to her and thus to her problem, which is a pip. She is in prison for killing her husband in cold blood, her daughter will die without a heart transplant, and she wishes to donate her heart to her daughter by committing suicide.

The plus side of this book is the interweaving of an old story that completely changes the facts as we know them. Wry humor and real human beings give this read a special voice. Enjoyed it immensely.

Read David's Rosenfelt's Heart of a Killer today!

Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (2011)

In the Victorian Age, every flower was believed to have a meaning. Emotional, and often romantic, arrangements communicated secret messages. The Language of Flowers, Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s first novel, uses this language of flowers to tell the story of Victoria Jones.

Abandoned at birth by her mother, she has lived in at least 32 foster homes by the time she turns 18. Using a narrative which cuts back and forth between Victoria’s tumultuous life as a foster child and her adult life as a florist, she tells a compelling story. This one was hard to put down.

Find the meaning of a flower here.

Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult (2011)

No one can get into the minds of her characters like Jodi Picoult. That’s what makes her books really enjoyable to read.

In this hard-to-put-down novel, the author explores and intermingles several complex topics, such as infertility, same-sex marriage, ultra-conservative churches, and legal battles over frozen embryos.

I felt I knew the characters so well that I was sorry to see the story come to an end. Definitely a keeper!

Check out a copy of Sing You Home today.