Talk Talk by T. C. Boyle

Talk Talk by T. C. Boyle (2006)

This book about identity theft will make you stop and think. There are wonderful characters that portray how it feels to be a victim of identity theft. The plot has twists along the way which keeps the story moving along. I was surprised by the story and think it is a good one. The best quote I saw after reading Talk Talk is from the Portland Oregonian. “Yet the book as a whole still resonates beyond the end, having provided not just entertainment but also tangible new experiences for readers to absorb.”

Learn all about the author and check out the reading guide to this provocative novel.

Kings of the Earth by Jon Clinch

Kings of the Earth by Jon Clinch (2010)Kings of the Earth fictionalizes the Ward brothers of Munnsville, New York, whose story was told in the documentary Brother’s Keeper. In this novel, the four brothers become the three fictional Proctor brothers: Vernon, Audie and Creed; who in their senior years still live on the family's old and inadequate dairy farm. When the eldest brother dies, apparently after being suffocated, the local authorities take a confession from the brother, Creed, to explain the death.

Ranging from the 1930s to 1990s and back again, we hear a rural chorus of voices telling the story of three brothers. Recalling William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, each chapter is headed with a character name and told from his point of view and each releases essential information. Some of the chapters are little more than a few sentences, but effectively present the story of conflict between old versus new – rural versus modern. Inspiring and poignant, this novel by Clinch addresses one of Faulkner's favorite themes: our ability to endure.

Visit the author's webiste and view his reading guide. Read the L.A. Times review.

Memorial Day by Vince Flynn

Memorial Day by Vince Flynn (2004)
Flynn’s books are centered on very current and interesting subjects, such as terrorism and various ways to combat it. His books are nonstop action and hard to put down.

Memorial Day is the fifth book featuring CIA Agent Mitch Rapp.

Preview the book and watch an interview with the author on YouTube.

Dead Man’s Chest by Kerry Greenwood

Dead Man’s Chest by Kerry Greenwood (2010)
Phryne Fisher is a Melbourne, Australia, jazz age flapper and private investigator. This time, though, she is on vacation. Packing up her two adopted daughters and practical companion Dot, Phryne heads for the seaside only to find a house full of Surrealists next door, a film crew making a movie on the beach, a whole town looking for hidden treasure, and, oh yes, smugglers and a missing cook and butler. In short order, between dips in the ocean and scrumptious meals, Phryne has it all sorted. Don’t read Phryne for the mystery but for the delightful collection of characters that make up her world.

Don't miss the delightful Phyrne Fisher website!

New York by Edward Rutherfurd

New York by Edward Rutherfurd (2009)
This book traces New York history from the 16th century to 9/11 by following three or four fictitious families. Their ambitions, loves, and disappointments involve the reader, making it hard to put down.

Visit the author's website and view the YouTube trailer for the book.

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen (2010)
If you’re looking for a novel you can really “sink your teeth into,” you’ll like this story of a liberal Minneapolis family dealing with themselves, each other, and the political climate during the Bush years. Well drawn, multidimensional characters and the author’s smart, sometimes humorous and often irreverent writing, add to the book’s appeal.

Listen Jonathan Franzen discuss his book on All Things Considered and read the New York Times review.

Echo Park by Michael Connelly

Echo Park by Michael Connelly (2006)
A good L.A. crime story featuring Harry Bosch. Harry has been trying to prove who murdered a young girl for several years. Now out of retirement and working in the Open-Unsolved Unit with his current partner Kiz Rider, Harry has a chance to prove who murdered Marie Gusto. This is a good story which reveals the behind the scenes information one never gets from a newspaper about murders. The author is excellent at describing details without boring the reader. An enjoyable read for mystery fans.

Watch a video depicting the opening chapter and read the New York Times review.

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown (2000)
The prequel to The Da Vinci Code contains almost every element of a good story. Its suspense will make you turn the pages like wildfire, and the plot twists and turns enough to keep you guessing until the end. The romance adds interest, and the history is fascinating. CHECK IT OUT!

If you like the book, be sure to watch the movie and visit the Angels and Demons website.

Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen

Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen (2010)
I have been anxiously awaiting the start of this new series by Anna Godbersen (thanks to the kind teen patron who alerted me to it!) and I was not disappointed. Set in 1929s NYC at the height of Prohibition, the book chronicles the lives of three young women from very different backgrounds as they try to make their mark in society.

Astrid is a socialite, home from boarding school on holiday, and living the life of parties and country club lunches. Letty and Cordelia have come to New York from Union, Ohio, so Letty has her chance to make it big as a singer. Once they arrive in New York, Cordelia reveals her actual motivation for coming along (to search for her father, a famous bootlegger); she and Letty argue and go their separate ways.

Godbersen’s strength is in her historical writing – depicting the lives of fictional characters against actual historical events, and making the frivolity and decadence of the time period come alive for teen readers. This was a fun, engrossing read left wide open for a sequel (or more) that I look forward to reading!

Check out the Bright Young Things/Luxe blog to discover more about the author and this intriguing series.

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin (2009)
An immigrant tale set in the early 1950s, Brooklyn follows Eilis Lacey as she journeys from Ireland to New York City to escape economic hardship and begin a new life. This heartwarming coming of age story filled with grit and determination may move too slowly for some, but features interesting characters and lovely writing.

 Brooklyn was the Chicago Public Library’s selection for “One Book One Chicago” in spring 2010. Read more about the book and visit the author's website.

Roses by Leila Meacham

Roses by Leila Meacham (2009)
What’s longer and more involved than an epic saga? Roses by Leila Meacham! This multigenerational novel set in Texas is engrossing to the conclusion. It’s a big book – but it’s worth the time spent reading!

Read the New Yorker review and take a peak at the novel.

Rag and Bone by James R. Benn

Rag and Bone by James R. Benn (2010)
Billy Boyle, currently assigned to Eisenhower's staff, was formerly a cop in South Boston. When "incidents" (such as inconvenient dead bodies) occur that threaten the Allied alliances, Billy and his driver, a former Detroit cop, investigate. In this case, it is late 1943. Eisenhower is about to come to England to plan the D-Day invasion. It is very important that the Russian allies keep up their fight on Germany's eastern front while the US, Canada, and England plan invasion from the west. So, the dead body of a Soviet spy which might be linked to the recently discovered dead Polish officers in the Katyn Woods could cause big problems for the Allied cause. Part mystery, part spy thriller, the Billy Boyle series has a great feeling for wartime England.

Read a review and visit the author's website.

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith (1998)
This series is easy reading because Smith keeps you interested, guessing and solving the mystery without taxing your brain power! The author interweaves a view of African culture and geography amidst the detective agency's business of solving its clients' problems. Precious Ramotswe sets up her No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency after she grows up and survives a young marriage. This mystery series is not for the hard-core mystery reader. Most enjoyable is the African setting for a change of pace from other mystery stories.

Watch the TV series based on the book, visit the author's website and learn more about Botswana.

Box 21 by Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom

Box 21 by Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom (2009)
Swedish crime is intriguing. If you liked the Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson, this book is for you. It is second in the Ewert Grens thrillers, a series with cutting edge crime and dark characters. I suggest reading the first book, The Beast, because two stories converge in Box 21 – an unfinished thread from the first book and a brand-spanking new blockbuster in the second. Although much of the plot circles around the sex slave trade, the authors show restraint in portraying this grueling subject.

Starred reviews indicate that this series could really fly. Time will tell.

For more on the authors, check out their website.

Finding Noel by Richard Paul Evans

Finding Noel by Richard Paul Evans (2006)
This story was very touching. It illustrates the beauty and power of love, particularly the special love that exists between siblings. The reader becomes wrapped up in the plot from the very beginning.

Read a review at and visit the author's website.