Blog

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards (2005)
This story had a very interesting plot and lots of good character development. A doctor delivers his own twins during a fierce snowstorm. He keeps his infant son, but secretly gives away his daughter who has Down syndrome.

Visit the official website for an excerpt, reviews, an interview with the author, and much more. Did you know that the novel was made into a Lifetime movie starring Dermot Mulroney, Gretchen Mol, and Emily Watson? It premiered on April 12. Check out Lifetime's website for more details.

The Eye of Jade by Diane Wei Liang

The Eye of Jade by Diane Wei Liang (2008)
Present day, Beijing. A detective story that goes to the heart of modern China. Mei Wang, our first Chinese female detective, is more than just a pretty face. Hired by her uncle to find a rare piece of jade, she slips into the dark side of Beijing as well as the extremely affluent world of her younger sister, Lu.

As the plot unwinds, Mei also reveals her own inner core of isolation from her family, from her lost love, and from her former job in the Ministry of Public Security. In her quest for justice, she uncovers dark secrets and darker choices.

After reading so many novels that lack that special touch of author style, this book is as refreshing as a real spring day. Read an excerpt, other reviews, and an interview with the author.

The Wandering Hill by Larry McMurtry

The Wandering Hill by Larry McMurtry (2003)
This is the second in a series of novels about the Berrybender family’s adventures in the American West during the mid-19th century. I especially enjoyed listening to the CD version as each part is read in the character’s voice, and this book is full of characters. It is especially entertaining to watch the father pursue his two main loves: hunting buffalo and young women.

Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult

Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult (2000)

Very well-written story about Ellie, a defense attorney who is helping a young Amish girl accused of murder. I couldn’t put it down!

Visit the author's website for a synopsis, an excerpt, and discussion questions. Read a Lifetime interview where Picoult discusses her inspiration for the book and her experience living with the Amish. Compare the novel to the 2004 TV movie adaptation starring Mariska Hargitay.

It's Superman! by Tom De Haven

It's Superman! by Tom De Haven (2005)

Coming of age in rural 1930s America with unusual skills like X-ray vision and the power to stop bullets, Clark Kent takes us along on his coming-of-age journey of self-discovery. Covering years (May 1935 through February 1938), the story takes him from Smallville to New York (Metropolis). A Young Clark Kent, newly hired "Daily Planet" reporter; Lois Lane; and evil criminal mastermind Alexander "Lex" Luthor come to life in It's Superman! This is a fascinating idea. The story is as inventive and thrilling as it is touching and wise.

See what Powell's and the New York Times said about the novel. Other books by Tom De Haven include Derby Dugan's Depression Funnies (1996), Dugan Under Ground (2001), Funny Papers (2002), and the graphic novel Green Candles (1997).

Roommates Wanted by Lisa Jewell

Roommates Wanted by Lisa Jewell (2007)

Leah, while living with her Indian boyfriend, has long observed the interesting characters who live across the street from her London apartment. Leah gets involved when an elderly resident of the mystery house has a heart attack on the sidewalk. She then meets Toby and his assortment of lost souls. Now Toby has the chance to sell the house and move to the country--but he can't bring himself to abandon his housemates. Enter Leah and her ability to make all ship shape. A delightful chick lit novel with considerably more depth than the average.

--Debbie

Set in contemporary London, our gangling anti-hero, Toby, rents rooms to the needy and then passively allows his tenants to dictate his life. Whoa…along comes the girl next door, Leah.  Slowly, not suddenly, our hero falls out of love with and into love with—Ah, but that would be telling. This book is fun: a chick flick that’s tolerable to all.

--Lucille

The Dark Lantern by Gerri Brightwell

The Dark Lantern by Gerri Brightwell (2008)
In late Victorian London, young maid Jane Wilbred comes from the country to take a position with the Bentley family. Soon Jane becomes the pawn of both upstairs and downstairs. Jane’s mistress Mina Bentley has a secret past she is desperate to outrun and a mysterious woman shows up claiming to be the widow of Mr. Bentley’s older brother. Is the young man wooing Jane in love with her, or only using her for his own master’s devious plans? Wonderfully gothic and atmospheric.

At the publisher's website, you can browse inside the book, find more about the story and the author, and view a reading group guide.

Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson

Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson (1994)
A courtroom drama provides the framework for this tale of the legacy of racism following WWII in the northwestern United States.

The reading group guide for the winner of the 1995 PEN/Faulkner Award contains historical background for the  novel, discussion questions, and suggestions for further reading. You can also compare the novel to the 1999 movie starring Ethan Hawke.

The Geisha's Granddaughter by Chayym Zeldis

The Geisha's Granddaughter by Chayym Zeldis (2003)
This novel provides readers with a taste of how Japanese Americans felt while adjusting to a new world, when WWII shatters that world with the accompanying internment.

The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted by Elizabeth Berg

The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted and Other Small Acts of Liberation by Elizabeth Berg (2008)
This collection of short stories deals with women taking chances at all stage of their lives. Some of the stories will have you howling with laughter; others will bring you to tears, but all feature characters and writing that will find a place in your heart.

Today's the day! Call the Downers Grove Public Library at 630-960-1200 to reserve your tickets for An Evening with Elizabeth Berg on Thursday, May 8. Listen to the author talk about her inspiration for Dream When You're Feeling Blue, the research, and the response. Berg will read an excerpt, answer questions, and sign books.

No Graves as Yet by Anne Perry

No Graves as Yet by Anne Perry (2003)
This is the first in a five book series on World War I. This series is Anne Perry’s best work. It follows one family, telling of their feelings toward each other, the war, and how their faith is affected by the turmoil. It also is a good spy mystery. The other books in the series are Shoulder the Sky (2004), Angels in the Gloom (2005), At Some Disputed Barricade (2007), and We Shall Not Sleep (2007).

We Are All Welcome Here by Elizabeth Berg

We Are All Welcome Here by Elizabeth Berg (2006)

This story is set in Tupelo, Mississippi, in 1964. It is about three extraordinary women – Paige, a victim of polio, who is paralyzed from the neck down; Diana, her 13-year-old daughter; and Peacie, their black caregiver. The reader gets a real glimpse into each of their struggles, and also sees how hard it was for blacks to live in the rural South during this time period. As usual, Elizabeth Berg’s character development is so terrific, the reader will be sorry to see this story come to an end.

Don't forget -- starting April 16, call the Downers Grove Public Library at 630-960-1200 to get your tickets for An Evening with Elizabeth Berg on May 8.

The Eye of the Abyss by Marshall Browne

The Eye of the Abyss by Marshall Browne (2003)

In late 1938, Franz Schmidt, an unassuming, slight man and bank auditor, takes up the anti-Nazi cause as his bank is taken over by the Party.

The New York Times has an overview of this novel and other crime stories from 2003.

When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Otsuka

When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Otsuka (2002)
A spare, yet poignant, first novel about the ordeal of a Japanese family sent to an internment camp during World War II. Never melodrama— the novel's honesty and matter-of-fact tone in the face of inconceivable injustice are the source of its power.

Them by Nathan McCall

Them by Nathan McCall (2007)
Interesting human introspection story about a changing neighborhood. It makes suburbanites think about other places. As western suburbs of Chicago tear down houses and neighborhoods change, it is everywhere and good to hear about other places and circumstances. It makes the reader think.

Read a review from the Los Angeles Times or check out the official website for fun extras like reading guide questions, an excerpt, a Q&A with the author, or a video.