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The Kitchen Boy by Robert Alexander

The Kitchen Boy by Robert Alexander (2003)
A man leaves his granddaughter a taped account of his time serving the Russian royal family during their imprisonment. How much of his recollection is the truth? Did any of the Romanovs survive? Find out in this riveting fictionalized account of the months leading to the execution of the Romanov family.

The Legend of Fire Horse Woman by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston

The Legend of Fire Horse Woman by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston (2003)
Sayo, born under the disastrous sign of the Fire Horse, comes to California from Japan for an arranged marriage and years later during World War II is imprisoned with her family in a Japanese internment camp. A story which skillfully re-creates the limitations and loneliness of life in the Manzanar camp.

Run by Ann Patchett

Run by Ann PatchettThis is the story of two families who first come together during an accident in which a woman intentionally throws herself in front of a car to save the life of a “stranger.” It shows the power and commitment of parental love, whether by birth or adoption. Great character development.

There are several places to find more reviews on this novel: check out the New York Times, listen to NPR, or read the Washington Post. For more information on the novel or the author, listen to an interview with NPR or visit Ann Patchett's website.

The March by E. L. Doctorow

The March by E. L. Doctorow (2005)
Characters as diverse as freed slaves, Confederate and Union soldiers, a Southern lady, German-born Union surgeon and General Sherman himself populate this very unromantic view of Sherman’s march through the South.

Doctorow was awarded the 2007 Chicago Tribune Literary Prize for lifetime achievement. The Tribune features an October 28 profile article of the author, a 2005 review of The March, and archived articles. Doctorow was presented with the award on November 4 at the Chicago Humanities Festival. You can also listen to an NPR interview about the book.

The Circus in Winter by Cathy Day

The Circus in Winter by Cathy Day (2004)
From 1884 to 1939, the small town of Lima, Indiana, becomes the home in the winter to the Great Porter Circus. These interconnected short stories share the private lives of clowns, pinheads, acrobats and other circus folk during their off season.

Limitations by Scott Turow

Limitations by Scott Turow (2006)
For the uninitiated, once again Turow delves into the mystery of how the law works. George Mason is judge of the Court of Appeals in Kindle County. He is faced with three problems: his wife has cancer, he receives threatening e-mails, and finally, he must decide the outcome of a horrific case of sexual assault. Turow ingeniously resolves these issues, especially the case of sexual assault. A fascinating book.

Check out the author's website for biographical information, a reading group guide (pdf), and the author's backlist.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (2007)
This follow-up to Hosseini’s bestseller, The Kite Runner, is beautifully written and extremely powerful. It depicts life in Afghanistan during the communist takeover from the perspective of two women. Their struggles and suffering are heart-wrenching and often disturbing to read about, but I couldn’t put it down.

Tug of War by Barbara Cleverly

Tug of War by Barbara Cleverly (2007)
Joe Sandilands, a WWI vet working for Scotland Yard, is sent to France to see if a mute former soldier suffering from amnesia might actually be English. The soldier is claimed by several different families as their long lost son or husband, and Joe must wade through each story, some motivated by despair, some by greed, to find the identity of the damaged soldier.

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Sijie Dai

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Sijie Dai (2001)
During the Chinese Cultural Revolution, two teenage boys are sent to the countryside for re-education. There they find the pretty little daughter of the local tailor and a forbidden, hidden cache of western novels, which prove very educational to the little seamstress.

Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn

Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn (2007)
In 1886, Lady Julia Grey sees her husband collapse and die in the middle of a party at their London townhouse. Julia believes her husband died of natural causes, but, “not so” says Nicholas Brisbane, the mysterious and attractive private detective Julia’s husband had hired because he feared for his life. A charming, romantic book of suspense.

Love in the Present Tense by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Love in the Present Tense by Catherine Ryan Hyde (2006)
By the author of Pay it Forward, this story takes place over the course of 25 years. Three characters take turns telling their side of the story:
  • Pearl, who, at the age of thirteen, has a son, Leonard;
  • Leonard, whose mother disappears when he is 5 years old;
  • Mitch, their 25-year-old neighbor, who takes on the responsibility of caring for Leonard after his mother disappears.
  • It explores the meaning of family, the power of love, and the difficulty some people have in expressing it. The characters just draw you in from start to finish.

    Dark Assassin by Anne Perry

    Dark Assassin by Anne Perry (2006)
    In Anne Perry’s fifteenth book featuring William Monk, the detective witnesses a couple engaged in a heated debate before they fall in the River Thames to their death. Was it murder? Suicide? Monk, with help from his wife Hester, is determined to find out, which leads to the discovery of a larger issue that could destroy all of London.

    A Fine Dark Line by Joe R. Lansdale

    A Fine Dark LineA Fine Dark Line by Joe R. Lansdale (2003)
    In East Texas in the late fifties, 13-year-old Stanley Mitchel’s father owns a drive-in at the edge of town. Stanley finds the remains of a burnt out mansion and a cache of hidden love letters in the wooded area behind the theater. When he also finds out that two young girls died mysteriously the night of the fire twenty years before, Stanley investigates.

    Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo

    Bridge of SighsBridge of Sighs by Richard Russo (2007)
    Louis Lynch lives in the same small upstate New York town he has always lived in. He loves the town, his wife, his business, and the memory of his father, a big, simple bear of a man, dead many years from the cancer that haunts the polluted town. A possible visit to to see childhood friend and famous artist Bobby Marconi brings out all of Louis’s long held insecurities. A dense story of character.

    Listen to Russo's October 1 interview on NPR or read an excerpt of his latest work.

    Making Money by Terry Pratchett

    Making MoneyMaking Money by Terry Pratchett (2007)
    As one of the Discworld series, the book follows the continuing adventures of Moist von Lipwig, “reformed” con man, as he takes over Ankh-Morpork’s banking industry. With his usual flair for sadistic characters and dry humor, Pratchett has produced another book that makes you laugh out loud!

    Also check out the author's website for a Discworld travel guide, characters and themes by title, and miniseries information.