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The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain

The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain (2006)
This is an interesting fictional tale about a 16-year-old girl who trusts the wrong person and finds herself in a very dangerous situation. After a horrible tragedy occurs, she must go “underground” and assume a new identity to protect herself.

As the story unfolds, we see how this impacts her life and the lives of those she loves. It kind of grabs you and holds your interest after the first few chapters. You feel as if you really get to know the characters.

Visit the author's website and read reviews at Amazon.com.

The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter

The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter (2009)The Financial Lives of the Poets is a recent novel of one man's attempt to save his family from economic disaster, his marriage from ruin, deal with job loss and a father with Alzheimer’s.

It's gutsy to write fiction quite this up-to-the-minute, but Jess Walter has written a very enjoyable novel that is remarkably astute; a comic fable for the current hard times. Watch the author's YouTube video below, read the New York Times review and check out the author's website.

La’s Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith

La’s Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith (2009)
After losing her husband, La (short for Lavender) goes to live in a small house in the English countryside owned by her in-laws. The time is the late 1930s and when WWII begins, La occupies herself by helping a local farmer with his chickens and leading an amateur orchestra made up of locals and men from the local airbase.

This is a quiet story about a woman who lives a simple life yet touches the lives of many.


Visit the author's website and read a review from the Washington Post.

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (1929)
Originally published in 1929, the title was republished in 1991 with a corrected text. One cannot call this a fast read due to the lengthy prose and "Southern English" writing. If a person wants to know about Mississippi classes of society and the prejudices of people, this is the book for you!

The pre-civil war race relations of slavery, the anti-Yankee attitudes and the Southern lifestyle are detailed in the lives of the Compson family. Each family member serves the purpose of telling the story about a wealthy Mississippi family's fall into poverty after the Civil War due to poor choices and fate. This book has literary value over enjoyable reading. People who like Faulkner probably read this book over and over, but I think once is enough.

Discover more about this Nobel Prize author's works, read more about his life, and see what Amazon.com has to say.

The Merlin Trilogy by Mary Stewart

The Merlin Trilogy by Mary Stewart (1980)
The story of Merlin has been told often. Mary Stewart’s account, however, has Merlin's point of view and his magic. It is full of detail, vivid images and realistic characters in a time far from our own. The Crystal Cave (Book 1) shows Merlin, at age five, living in his grandfather's household with his mother. Merlin helps defeat the High King Vortigern by using his powers to foretell the future. The book continues the story of his young life until the conception of Arthur.

The Hollow Hills (Book 2) picks up with Merlin taking care of Arthur, teaching him and helping him attain the throne by setting the sword Caliburn in the stone. It ends with Merlin in middle age and Arthur as High King. In The Last Enchantment (Book 3), readers learn of Merlin's last years before he disappears from the legend.  Truly memorable books!

Preview the trilogy and read an interview with the author.

Ironweed by William Kennedy

Ironweed by William Kennedy (1983)
In 1938, Francis Phelan returns to Albany to confront his past. He is a heavy drinking, but big hearted bum. He beguiles you with his wit, wisdom, and the sordid story of a runaway past. The author evokes empathy for all his characters.

Visit the author's website, check out the reading group guide, and read reviews at Amazon.com.

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (2009)
Before the Great War, a small child ends up on the wharf in Australia. She won't say or doesn't know her name and no adult seems to be responsible for her. The kindly wharf agent takes her home to his childless wife, and there she remains.

Named Nell, and growing up in Australia unaware that she is not the biological daughter of her parents, Nell is a happy young woman until her father feels he must reveal to Nell her origins, or what he knows of them. Many years later Nell, and later her granddaughter, return to England to try to find out Nell's true birth parents and how she came to be on that wharf in Australia. Their only clue a book of illustrated fairy tales packed into the small child's suitcase Nell had with her when she was found.

Read a review at Bookreporter.com and read an excerpt at Google Books.

The Pig Did It by Joseph Caldwell

The Pig Did It by Joseph Caldwell (2008)
The pig did it and he REALLY did! The fat porker caused the characters to get into turmoil and...LOVE! Set in Ireland's West coast, this novel will bring a smile to your face.

Read reviews at Amazon.com and EW.com.

Tabloid Dreams by Robert Olen Butler

Tabloid Dreams by Robert Olen Butler (1996)Tabloid Dreams provides refreshing tales of ordinary people in their ordinary lives when the quirky and unusual comes knocking at the door. I’d recommend this for anyone who wants something a little different from the rest.

Read the reviews at Amazon.com and visit the author's website.

A Trace of Smoke by Rebecca Cantrell

A Trace of Smoke by Rebecca Cantrell (2009)
This first novel follows an undercover crime reporter in 1931 Berlin as she searches for her brother's killer, a trail that leads from the city's dark underbelly to the top ranks of the rising Nazi party. It is one of several suspense or mystery stories set in Germany or Austria between the two world wars that I have been reading lately, and what a perfect backdrop for suspense it is!

This one is a good read and is a good mystery with a little tragedy, a little romance and some interesting history in the mix. Learn more about the author, check out the reviews at Amazon.com and read an excerpt from the book.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford (2009)
Middle aged and recently widowed Henry Lee remembers the time during WWII when his best friend, Keiko, a Japanese American girl, was taken away to the internment camps. Henry's father was stubbornly, nationalistically Chinese and disowned Henry--refusing to speak to his son for years. Alternating in time between the war years and the 1980s, the story is a simply told gem about friendship and love transcending both time and distance.

Join our discussion of the book at the library on Wednesday, February 10 at 7:30.

Visit the author's website, check out the reading group guide, and read reviews at Amazon.com.

The Last of the Husbandmen by Gene Logsdon

The Last of the Husbandmen by Gene Logsdon (2008)
Husbandry
is the farming of animals and produce using resources wisely. This book explains how families have struggled to maintain animals and produce in the 20th century. It’s a fast read about farming in Northern Ohio from the 1930s to 1970s. The book includes factual information about how families could earn a living from farming through the generations to when a family could no longer support itself farming.

You'll find the impact of supply and demand along with politics interesting. The farm machinery and growth methods using fertilizers that caused changes in farming from the family to corporations is a reminder of today's dilemma about farm produce. Today people are revisiting organic farming. Get a great overview of farm information in the USA today without a dictatorial presentation.

Read reviews at Amazon.com and read an excerpt from the novel.

The Illuminator by Brenda Rickman Vantrease

The Illuminator by Brenda Rickman Vantrease (2005)
A luminescent and readable portrait of a dark time in history. Set in the 14th century, a time of religious strife, a medieval illuminator with radical views finds himself sharing quarters with a widow struggling to preserve her independence in this enthralling historical novel.

Check out a review and reading guide at Bookreporter.com. Visit the author's website and read an excerpt from the novel.

The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult

The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult (2006)
This interesting page-turner explores the deep love between a father and daughter. It also shows the horrible aftereffects following a date-rape.

Read an excerpt and check out the reading group guide at Bookreporter.com and be sure to visit this popular author's website.


The Devil’s Company by David Liss

The Devil’s Company by David Liss (2009)
This is third in a series about Benjamin Weaver, a thief taker in 1720s London. Benjamin Weaver is blackmailed into working for a mysterious Mr. Cobb. The exact nature of what Benjamin is hired to do is kept a mystery even from Benjamin himself. As the plot becomes more and more complicated and more and more people seem to be embroiled in the scheme, Weaver must figure out who is working for whom and whom he can trust. A fun and rewarding adventure. You need not have read the first books in the series. I have not.

Read an excerpt from the book, check out the Washington Post review, and visit the author's website.