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The Blue Moon Circus by Michael Raleigh

The Blue Moon Circus by Michael Raleigh (2003)
Lewis Tully tries his hand at circus living with his old pals before he settles down. He gets together a snake handler, an aging magician, animal trainer, a ringmaster, a nine year old orphan, and, of course, a posse of clowns to take the circus on the road one last time.

Size 12 is Not Fat by Meg Cabot

Size 12 is Not Fat by Meg Cabot (2006)
In the first book of her new mystery series, Cabot introduces us to former pop star Heather Wells. Her mom ran off with her manager and her money, and her dad’s in jail. Heather finds a job as an assistant dorm director at a New York college. Everything seems to be going well…until someone finds a dead body. Heather doesn’t think it was an accident, despite what the police say. She starts investigating, ignoring the advice of her landlord and crush (and her ex-boyfriend’s brother), P.I. Cooper Cartwright. Laugh out loud at this chick lit mystery as you follow the adventures -- and misadventures -- of Heather Wells.

If you want to read more Heather Wells escapades, check out the next books in the series: Size 14 is Not Fat Either (2006) and Big Boned (2007).

Meely LaBauve by Ken Wells

Meely LaBauve by Ken Wells (2000)
Meely LaBauve is a fifteen-year-old Cajun boy living in the swamps of 1960s Louisiana. His mother long dead and his father often away hunting gators, Meely is left to his own devices to feed himself and go to school when he wishes. When a school bully, Junior Guidry, decides to teach Meely a lesson, it takes Meely, his pa and the friends he didn’t know he had to outwit Junior and his crooked cop uncle, and triumph before the judge. This coming-of-age novel is reminiscent of Huckleberry Finn and has a fine ear for dialect and some laugh-out-loud moments. You will root for Meely.

All the Way Home by Ann Tatlock

All the Way Home by Ann Tatlock (2002) This is the story of a young girl who finds a friend and a family with the Japanese American Hatsunes; however, they lose touch when World War II breaks out and the Hatsunes are interned. Years later she is reunited with her friend while working for the civil rights movement. The story is a clever juxtaposition of the social issues—the civil rights struggle of the 1960s and the incarceration of Japanese Americans in the 1940s.

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.