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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (2008)
At the end of WWII, writer Juliet Ashton has just published a collection of the humorous columns she wrote about London during the war. Now she is at loose ends trying to find her next project. Through a happy accident, a used book with her name in it lands on the Channel Island of Guernsey and into the hands of Dawsey Adams. Through letters to Dawsey and others on Guernsey, Juliet learns about what occupation under the Germans was like and finds the inspiration for her next book.

The story is told entirely in letters between Juliet and her many friends and is very charming. Some might feel it is a bit too charming and even sentimental, but anyone willing to enter into the time and place of the book and who enjoys quirky eccentrics will find a satisfying read. The book is reminiscent of Helen Hanff's 84 Charing Cross Road for its depiction of England right after WWII and its discussion of literature through letters from Hanff and the friends she made at a bookshop in England. For another story of the Channel Islands under German occupation, see the British miniseries Island at War.
Visit the book's website and read reviews of the book at Amazon.com.

Light on Snow by Anita Shreve

Light on Snow by Anita Shreve (2004)
This story is told by 12-year-old Nicky Dillon, who lives in a small New Hampshire town with her father Robert. One afternoon, while walking in the snowy woods, Nicky and her father discover an abandoned newborn. As the story unfolds, we see how this discovery hugely impacts their lives. The author delves into the relationship between Nicky and her father and how they are each coping with their tragic pasts. This one is so impossible to put down!

Read about the author and her other books at BookBrowse and preview the book before you come to the library.
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Orbit by John J. Nance

Orbit by John J. Nance (2006)
A private space company sends lottery winners into orbit around the earth. Through a freak accident, Kip is stranded alone, stuck orbiting the earth. He starts journaling his life on the computer, but little does he know everyone on Earth is able to read his journal.

Preview this book before you visit the library and check out the author's website.

Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier

Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier (2008)
Raimund Gregorius teaches classical languages at a Swiss college. After a chance encounter with a mysterious Portuguese woman and the discovery of an extraordinary book by Amadeu de Prado,  he begins to question his life. Carrying with him the book by Prado, he takes the night train to Lisbon in the hope that he will begin to comprehend the author’s life. Prado turns out to be a doctor whose practice and principles led him into confrontation with Salazar’s dictatorship, and a man whose intelligence and magnetism left a mark on everyone who met him. Gregorius becomes obsessed by what he reads and his investigations lead him all over the city of Lisbon, as he speaks to those who were a part of Prado's life. Gradually, the picture of an extraordinary man emerges.

It may take a while to get involved with the story, but once there it is easy to be drawn into the events that unfolded. It is worth the effort as you begin to appreciate the thoughts that are being expressed by both Gregorious and Prado. For those who want a good, intelligent read that’s an excellent analysis of character and poses some fascinating questions about life and love, you won’t go wrong with Night Train to Lisbon.
Read the reviews at Amazon.com.

The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani

The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani (2007)
In a literal way, the title of this book refers to the dye that carpet makers make from the petals of flowers. In another more poetic way, our heroine does give her life’s blood to learn the secret of carpet making in 17th century Persia. Eventually her talented persistence permits her a spiritual rebirth and a decent life. The journey from abject poverty and helplessness to self-respect is a beautifully conceived and artfully written story. I recommend this book for its absorbing content and rich character development.

Find a reading guide, author information and reviews at Book Browse. Go to the book's website for additional interviews, reviews and related links.

The Used World by Haven Kimmel

The Used World by Haven Kimmel (2007)
Contemporary setting in small town about three women and the relationships in their lives. Fast, easy read with twists and an interesting way of life in small town USA today. The story has an interesting ending and all is well. The author's use of descriptions in her story makes for good reading flow. A person should read this book 30 years from now to know the terminology and setting of life in the beginning of the 21st century.

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

The Condition by Jennifer Haigh

The Condition by Jennifer Haigh (2008)
This story of pain, beauty, sickness and health, love and betrayal revolves around the McKotch family, a flawed but very real New England family dealing with the realities of life. The characters are so well developed in this book you can feel their pain and hope they make it even when you can barely stand the choices they make. The family dynamics are palpable and "the condition" of being human draws you in. This would be a good book discussion choice. The author, Jennifer Haigh, is an exceptional writer and I have enjoyed her previous two books (Mrs. Kimble and Baker Towers) and would recommend them too.

Browse the book before you visit the library and read the New York Times review.

A Cedar Cove Christmas by Debbie Macomber

A Cedar Cove Christmas by Debbie Macomber (2008)
Mary Jo Wyse is pregnant; she heads to Cedar Cove in search of David, the father of her baby. Following her are three overprotective brothers (the three Wyse men). Although she doesn’t find David, Mary Jo is embraced by the close knit Cedar Cove community. A nice light read that’s good for the holidays.

When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson

When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson (2008)
I really enjoyed this book, staying up until 1:00 am reading it. There is a mystery entwined in the story – what happened to Dr. Hunter? But it’s really about the characters and relationships. The four main characters are well defined and interesting. One of them, Reggie, is a 16-year-old orphan who has the determination to make it even though everything seems to be against her. This sentence sums up her current state of affairs, “Reggie got off the bus and turned the corner of the street to find that the all-too-familiar calling cards of catastrophe were waiting for her - three fire engines, an ambulance, two police cars, some kind of incident van, and a knot of bystanders – all muddled up in the street outside her flat. Reggie’s heart sank, it seemed inevitable that they would be there for her.” Flashes of wit and humor brighten the story and Atkinson’s descriptive writing will make her characters linger in your mind.

Check out the Random House website for information about the author and reviews of the book. Read another interesting review from The New York Times.

A Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson

A Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson (2008)
Mr. Malik, a widower living in Nairobi, loves his Tuesday morning bird walks--and Mrs. Mbikwa--the widow who leads them. Mr. Malik, a shy and modest man, has a dream of dancing with Mrs. Mbikwa at the annual Hunt Club Ball. First, though, he must win the right to invite her by seeing and identifying more birds species within a one week period than does his arch nemesis in life and love, the flashy Harry Khan. While Harry flies around Kenya identifying birds, Mr. Malik stays closer to home and deals with stolen cars, his lively young houseboy, and Somalian kidnappers. Will Mr. Malik’s kind and generous heart win his lady love in the end? A charming story told with affection and humor.

Read an interview with the author and reviews from Amazon.com.

Any Human Heart by William Boyd

Any Human Heart by William Boyd (2002)
Following a character through his or her life can be very absorbing. That is what this novel, written in the form of an "intimate journal," does and it includes most of the major events of the 20th century. It is fiction skillfully interwoven with history.

Any Human Heart tells the story of Logan Mountstuart through his diaries, and his experiences. Born male, rich, good looking and arrogant at the beginning of the century, he dies a modest, kinder and wiser man. Logan's life might seem preposterous but it is certainly engaging.

Find reviews, information about the author and an interview with the author at Book Browse. Read additional reviews at ReviewsOfBooks.com.

Buckingham Palace Gardens by Anne Perry

Buckingham Palace Gardens by Anne Perry (2008)
Anne Perry researches the Victorian era thoroughly so her stories are historically accurate. The real bonus in this mystery is the plot that encircles the Prince of Wales. It’s a cliff hanger. Perry also introduces a new character, Gracie into the series. Gracie infiltrates the servants’ staff of the Prince and is a source of vital information for special investigator Thomas Pitt. Perry revitalizes the historical mystery.

Visit the author's website, read reviews and an excerpt from the book.

The Serpent's Tale by Ariana Franklin

The Serpent’s Tale by Ariana Franklin (2008)
Adelia, the heroine of Ariana Franklin's bestseller, Mistress of the Art of Death, finds herself again in the service of King Henry II, who wants to know who murdered his mistress, Rosamund Clifford. Rosamund was poisoned in the tower in which she lived. Just as in her previous novel, Franklin's story is great fun. Adelia is part CSI investigator and part medieval detective. The story moves forward in this second book of the Adelia Aguilar series. Adelia has given birth to Allie whose father is Rowley Picot, king Henry's staunch supporter.

Read an excerpt, visit the author's website, and read reviews.

Caravaggio by Christopher Peachment


Caravaggio by Christopher Peachment (2002) Caravaggio was an audacious painter of the Renaissance. He was a rage-filled man who self-destructed. The blunt prose describes historical violence with candor. Peachment provides an adventure into the mind of a creative genius. But, be warned, painters can be scary people.

You can read an excerpt or go to Amazon.com to read reviews.

The Blue Religion edited by Michael Connelly


The Blue Religion edited by Michael Connelly (2008)
Mystery fans will love this collection of short stories put together by the Mystery Writers of America. It features crime/mystery stories presented by 19 different authors, designed to keep you up reading into the wee hours of the morning. A great addition to the collection!

Find out more about Connelly and read reviews.