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Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman (1995)
Three generations of a family form the core of this novel. Sisters, Gillian and Sally, are raised by their aunts Frances and Jet, also sisters. Sally’s two daughters, Antonia and Kylie, create the third generation. Magical realism is woven into the storyline which focuses on the issues of fate, trust, love, sibling rivalry, and family ties. I highly recommended Practical Magic for readers of multigenerational tales, magical realism, and stories where love, both romantic and between family members, can conquer all.

The movie has much more “magic” to show off the special effects department.

The Man Who Loved Jane Austen by Sally Smith O’Rourke

The Man Who Loved Jane Austen by Sally Smith O’Rourke (2006)
If you've read or seen the Jane Austen books/movies, you will like this witty, suspense-driven story about Jane Austen. Contemporary and historical alternating settings make for an enjoyable story. If you do not know Mr. Darcy and the other Jane Austen characters, you’ll still enjoy the novel, but you may not get the references to Austen’s novels. Fast, fun, female read for all Jane Austen's fans and new readers.

The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng

The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng (2008)
A young man is torn among loyalty to his English family, his Chinese grandfather, and his Japanese Aikijujitsu mentor during the Japanese occupation at Malaya, 1939-1945. To many he was a collaborator, to others a hero. He first tells his story 50 years later to a Japanese woman who had loved his mentor during their youth. Reincarnation and moral ambiguities drift through the story. It kept my attention.

The Gift of Rain was nominated for the 2007 Man Booker Prize. Check out the review in USA Today.

Bimbos of the Death Sun by Sharyn McCrumb

Bimbos of the Death Sun by Sharyn McCrumb (1997)
A great mystery for science fiction fans! The entire story takes place at a science fiction convention. I found the setting and the characters believable. It is just as enjoyable as McCrumb’s Ballad series.

Plus, how can you resist a title like Bimbos of the Death Sun?

Garden of Beasts by Jeffery Deaver

Garden of Beasts by Jeffery Deaver (2004)
An American hit man is hired to go to Berlin during the 1936 Olympics to take out a high ranking Nazi. Check out the author's website for more about the novel, an interview, an excerpt, and more.

The 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing start today! Visit NBC's Olympic website for TV and online listings, results, plus information about the U.S. athletes and teams.

The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani

The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani (2007)
In this first novel, author Amirrezvani introduces a Western audience to the people and customs of 17th-century Persia. The narrator, whose name is never revealed, is 14 years old when the story begins with the death of her father. Without means, she and her mother leave their village and go to live with her father’s half-brother in Isfahan. The young girl who has a gift for carpet making discovers in her uncle a mentor who helps her master the art of carpet design.

As one reviewer said: “This is a story about adversity and persistence, failure and triumph. It is a story about stories themselves, about narratives and the role of oral tradition in Iranian history and culture.” I think this is a beautifully written historical fiction.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (2005)
This book reveals more about Chinese culture in the 19th century than any book I’ve ever read. As the story unfolds, the friendship of the two main characters, Snow Flower and Lily, reflect the needs of women everywhere. We sigh with empathy for both of these women.

Visit the author's website to learn about the story behind the book, read an excerpt, or view book discussion questions.

Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian

Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian (2008)
In the waning months of World War II in Europe, the German Emmerich family makes their way across Poland and Germany in an attempt to escape the Russians. On the way they are helped by the mysterious Manfred, a German soldier who has seen too much but seems to belong to no specific army unit. This book has an involving story and characters to care about—but its real strength is its evocation of the brutality and randomness of war.

For an excerpt, backstory, and author interview, visit Bohjalian's official website.

Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland

Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland (1999)
The title of Girl in Hyacinth Blue could also be titled Life of a Painting. All who read this book will enjoy art more because of the wonderful description of the painting and the way the owners of it enjoy its beauty.

Set in Amsterdam from 1939 to 1945, the story gives a wonderful history of the life of the people during WWII. Since the story gives the historical account of the painting Girl in Hyacinth Blue from present day to its beginning, you're reading a memoir backwards to find out how the painting came to be in the current owner's home.

Enjoy an easy read while you learn.

Visit the publisher's website for a reading guide and an interview with the author.

The Master of the Delta by Thomas H. Cook

The Master of the Delta by Thomas H. Cook (2008)
Jack Branch is living in the moldering remains of his family’s plantation house. Jack, formerly a teacher at the local high school, relives events from the 1950s when his encouragement of a young boy to write about his father, a local murderer who died in jail, opens up wounds and provokes actions that end in tragedy.

Publisher's Weekly has an article about the author, and both Yahoo! and The Washington Post have reviews.

Run Silent, Run Deep by Edward L. Beach

Run Silent, Run Deep by Edward L. Beach (1955)
Beach writes a great adventure about World War II with a lot of technical details about submarines. Also, the ending has a moral question that makes you think and really wonder what is “the right way.”

The library also has the 1958 movie of the same name starring Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster.

Bad Luck and Trouble by Lee Child

Bad Luck and Trouble by Lee Child (2007)
As read by expert reader Dick Hill, Bad Luck and Trouble (#11 in the series) goes into overdrive as Jack Reacher solves the brutal murder of a former colleague. Jack Reacher reunites his old team of elite investigators into a wildly exciting assault. Not always probable, tough, mach Jack raises the level of excitement to high – fun. Listen and enjoy.

The Gunslinger by Stephen King

The Gunslinger by Stephen King (1982)
"The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed." If you can resist an opening sentence like that, you have more willpower than I. The Gunslinger begins The Dark Tower series, which follows Roland’s quest to reach the nexus of all universes. Since King finished the seven volume series in 2004, it’s safe to start reading! I also would highly recommend George Guidall or Frank Muller’s narrations.

(Nota Bene: This is NOT a horror series or story. King may be best known for writing horror novels, but he is a masterful storyteller and writer in other genres too!)

The Last Sin Eater by Francine Rivers

The Last Sin Eater by Francine Rivers (1998)
A well written novel of Christian faith. This is the story of an old Welsh custom of symbolically removing the sins of the deceased by eating a meal placed on the coffin. 10-year-old Cadi Forbes, growing up in the Smoky Mountains in the 1850s, is a child of Welsh immigrants whose old country beliefs require a sin eater when someone dies. The child becomes enthralled with this idea when she is present at the accidental death of her much beloved sibling.

Cadi looks for the sin eater, but her search is really a search for Jesus, and eventually she leads the community away from the notion of a sin eater and toward a fundamentalist faith in Jesus the redeemer.

Visit the author's website for an excerpt, a reading guide, and the author's responses to frequently asked questions. In 2007, The Last Sin Eater was made into a movie. You can request it from another library.

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom


The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom (2003)


At first I thought this book would be a bit depressing. However, I found it to be a quick, easy read that also gave me a “feel good” feeling! I truly enjoyed this book.

Visit Mitch Albom's website for everything you need to know about him or his books. You can read a synopsis or an excerpt, find a reading group guide or a teacher's guide, and learn more about the background of the author and the book.