Room by Emma Donoghue

Room by Emma Donoghue (2010)
One of my favorite aspects of this engrossing read is the narrator, a charming five-year-old boy named Jack. He and his mother, affectionately called Ma, are held captive in a tiny 11×11 room by a man identified only as Old Nick. Jack is perfectly content in this intimate environment, oblivious to the imprisonment that Ma struggles to deal with. It is Jack’s energetic voice that guides the reader through their daily routine that includes running on a homemade track, reading and watching TV. He introduces objects that are also his friends such as Rug, Bed and Dresser while showcasing his active imagination.
Gradually Jack learns that there is a whole universe outside the walls of Room and with this knowledge the novel shifts. Although I do not want to give too much of the plot away, more characters are introduced and the relationship between Jack and Ma is tested. I read this book in one sitting, glued to the couch because I had to know what happened next. Truly a beautiful and harrowing book that will stay with you long after you have finished.

Read an interview with the author and explore the Room.

Crown of Dust by Mary Volmer

Crown of Dust by Mary Volmer (2010)

A new contribution to the literature of the women who won the Wild West, Mary Volmer’s first novel is set during the California Gold Rush where daring souls labored for long days digging and panning. Each has a history and they keep their own counsel. They ask few questions and give wide berth to one another, so when young Alex arrives in town disguised as a boy her secrets remain hidden. As the story unfolds and Alex’s troubled past is revealed, the story becomes golden indeed. Mary Volmer beautifully captures rugged living and fortune-hungry optimism of the American frontier.

Read an excerpt on this book on the author's website.

Blowback by Peter May

Blowback by Peter May (2011)
Blowback is the fifth book in the Enzo Files series. May continues Enzo’s quest to solve seven cold case murders. To really appreciate this book, you need to begin with Extraordinary People, the first book in the series. That being said, May produces another absorbing mystery.

This book takes us to the world of the three star Michelin restaurants in France where we begin to realize the dark side of the culinary arts. If you like food and France and an interesting older man with plenty of appeal, you will enjoy this book. Another point of interest is the ongoing story of Enzo's personal growth in his relations with family, friends and, being Enzo, his lovers.

Check out the authors favorite recipes.

The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees

The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees (2010)
For those who have enjoyed Little Women, this imagined story of Louisa May Alcott's life is a good read. In her first novel, McNees invents a youthful love affair for the writer, who never married, and explores how Alcott struggled with the conflict of her public ambition and personal life.

The family, never financially secure, moved to Walpole, Massachusetts, in 1855, to take up residence in a house offered by a relative. The Alcott sisters begin to make a life by meeting other young people, including Joseph Singer, the son of the owner of Walpole's dry goods store. Joseph and Louisa are drawn to each other but, as you will see, their relationship is doomed. All Louisa really wants is a room somewhere in Boston where she can make a living from her writing. Marriage, as she sees it, is slavery. The Lost Summer… is the kind of romantic tale which Alcott herself might have written, one in which love is not a solution to life's trials.

Read an excerpt of the book here.

Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks

Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks (2010)
This is a rather captivating story written by Nicholas Sparks about a young woman who manages to escape from her abusive husband and start a new life in North Carolina. She meets a widower and falls in love with him and his two children. Of course, her deranged husband, who is also a police detective, never gives up searching for her. Good entertaining read!

If you like Nicholas Sparks, check out our list of other books you may enjoy.

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann (2009)
Good read about New York City in the 1970s. The descriptive writing of the author makes this book. The 1970s era was a heart wrenching time for many people  and a reminder of what the Twin Towers were and the grief brought to America with 9/11. The author hints at historical events during the time of the story, but doesn't bog down the reader.

For more about the book check out the New York Times book review.

Blackout and All Clear by Connie Willis

Blackout and All Clear by Connie Willis (2010)
These two volumes follow the adventures of Michael, Polly, and Eileen, thee time traveling historians who have gone back to 1940 to observe how the average Londoner withstood the Blitz. Armed with knowledge of the exact time and place of bombings, the three should be safe observers.

In a time of crisis, though, how can anyone remain an interested but dispassionate observer? The feel for WWII era England is wonderful and, though very long and detailed, this is the sort of book you can lose yourself in.

For even more novels set in World War II check out our bibliography.

Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke

Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke (1997)
A silver dragon named Firedrake is on a mission to find a mystical land called “The Rim of Heaven” that only dragons believe in. Firedrake meets a new friend, a human named Ben. He joins Firedrake and a brownie named Sorrel. They meet other characters along the way on their journey who help them find The Rim of Heaven. The trio also encounters some opposition to their quest.

Funke also wrote Inkheart (2003) and The Thief Lord (2002).

Shattered by Karen Robards

Shattered by Karen Robards (2010)
A young attorney returns home to Kentucky to care for her terminally ill mother. While at work, she stumbles across a cold case which, of course, leads to danger. Throw in some romance, and this is a story that’s fun to read and hard to put down.

For other romantic suspense titles, check out our bibliography. Read an excerpt on the author's website.

Tales of the South Pacific by James Michener

Tales of the South Pacific by James Michener (1947)
This is Michener’s first novel, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, inspiration for the musical South Pacific, and a quietly moving story of men and women far from home at a time of war. These tales are connected short stories in which a handful of characters appear. In the background, the invasion of a Japanese held island is being planned, but in the mean time, sailors and nurses fall in love, write letters home, drink, and fraternize with the local population.

Learn more about this ever popular author.

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson (2010)

I haven’t read such fun book for a long time, the kind you hate to see end. Major Pettigrew is a “one of kind character,” warm, human, complex yet naïve. The author artfully tells the story from Pettigrew’s perspective. What a story it is. A lovely Muslim storekeeper is the Juliette of this September romance and they make a delicious pair as they tread their way through prejudice of a small English town, their families, and their own personal hang ups.

 One of the strong points of the book is the pacing. It is a work of art the way the plots moves quickly along to a photo finish. The morality of change, good and bad, presents a fascinating dilemma but never in a boorish or boring way. Go for it.

 Drop in the library for a book discussion on Wednesday, May 11 at 7:00.

The Wrecker by Clive Cussler

The Wrecker by Clive Cussler (2009)
I’ve read many of his books and they’re all such nonstop action that I find myself listening to one of his books on CD in the car during long road trips. I hate to turn off the car in the middle of a chapter!

Detective Isaac Bell makes his second appearance (after The Chase) in this historical thriller. Preview the book--take care you may get hooked!

Spotlight: Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope Osborne

Spotlight: Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope OsborneIn Frog Creek, Pennsylvania, siblings Jack and Annie travel in a tree house. An enchantress from Camelot, Morgan, cast a spell on the tree house. Jack and Annie travel to places in time, space, and fantasy. They are fun books – I can’t stop reading them!

Start with Dinosaurs before Dark and The Knight at Dawn.

Visit the author's website and learn more about the series.

The Blind Contessa's New Machine by Carey Wallace

The Blind Contessa's New Machine by Carey Wallace (2010)
Based on the true story of a 19th century inventor and his innovation, The Blind Contessa's New Machine is a story of love and the triumph of the imagination.

In Italy in the early 1800s, the Contessa Fantoni is engaged to marry the town’s most eligible bachelor when she suspects that she is losing her eyesight. Only one person really believes and understands her; her childhood friend, Turri. With his eccentric interest in invention and in an act of love, he provides Carolina with a writing machine so that she can write and communicate with the world.

Wallace’s novel imagines the love affair that inspired a remarkable invention. Her passages which describe Carolina's dreams and memories are wonderfully written and show that although physically limited by her blindness, Carolina's world is unlimited and full of adventure. The novella was inspired by the true story of Pellegrino Turri and the Contessa Fantoni!

Check out the book group guide and read an interview with the author.

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton (2010)

Edie Burchill is at loose ends. She has lost her boyfriend and her London apartment and is sleeping on her boss’s couch. Unexpectedly she learns that her mother has spent the early months of WWII as a young evacuee at Milderhurst Castle, owned by renowned author Raymond Blythe. Blythe was the author of The True History of the Mud Man, a childhood classic and Edie’s favorite book. Now the castle is crumbling and Blythe’s three elderly daughters live there in seclusion until they invite Edie into their home. Then mysterious disappearances and deaths are revealed and Edie sees how the past has impacted not just the Blythes, but her own past as well.

 Watch the author discuss her writing of The Distant Hours and view reviews.