Still Life Louise Penny
First in the Inspector Gamache Three Pines series. Well developed, believable characters, a carefully plotted mystery and a vivid sense of place (Quebec) are evident in Penny’s books. Think Agatha Christie and Donna Leon with deeper psychological overtones and a world that is enchanting and real. Great for a winter evening…
Shelter Harlan Coben
Harlan Coben’s first YA novel featuring Mickey Bolitar is fast-paced suspense with believable “odd ball” teen characters who become friends in order to solve the mystery of a classmate’s disappearance.
The Cat’s Table Michael Ondaatje
An adult narrator tells of his adventures as an 11-year old boy traveling on an ocean liner from Sri Lanka to England in the 1950s. The child’s perceptions of being abroad ship and the adult world around him are captivating. I enjoyed the reflections of the narrator as a child rather than as an adult.
Naomi’s Gift: An Amish Christmas Story Amy Clipston
Part of a family-oriented Amish community, 24-year-old Naomi King has given up her dreams of finding true love. But when a young widower stirs surprising feelings in her, Naomi cautiously opens her heart to him and receives an unexpected response.
Be Different: Adventures of a Free-Range Aspergian: With Practical Advice for Aspergians, Misfits, Families & Teachers (CD audiobook) John Elder Robison
John Robison (Look Me in the Eye), diagnosed with Asperger’s at the age of 40, narrates his book with an enjoyable,strong, engaging voice. His positive, matter-of-fact tone in relaying his life-experiences is inspiring and also reflective of his very analytical way of thinking. An eye-opening look at how aspergerians perceive social situations.
The House at Riverton Kate Morton
Set at a great manor house in post WW I Britain, Morton’s story is told primarily from the point of view of Grace, a servant who comes to the Great House at age 14. It is now 1998, and Grace is recalling events that led to a death on the estate in 1924, and her role in it. Riverton is similar to PBS’s Downton Abbey… same time frame, similar themes and settings.
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter Tom Franklin
Set in rural Mississippi, with flashbacks to the 1970′s, Larry Ott and Silas “32″ Jones were boyhood friends back then. But Larry has been ostracized by the community ever since high school, when his date disappeared and was never found. Larry is still under suspicion 20 years later. Now another girl has disappeared, and Constable Silas is investigating Larry as a suspect… Layers of the past are gradually uncovered. A satisfying read but slow read.
Baking Cakes in Kigali Gaile Parkin
Parkin’s book reminds me of McCall-Smith’s No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. Angel Tungaraza is a Tanzanian immigrant living in a Ruwandan apartment complex with residents from many cultures. She has her own cake business and tries to match each special cake to a special occasion while also finding time to advise her clients, rear five grandchildren and cope with life in Kigali. Though descriptions are scant and discussion of social issues is not overbearing, the reader is presented with constant references to the aftermath of genocide, AIDS, corruption, and other complexities of daily life. Quick, enjoyable read.
The Swerve Stephen Greenblatt
Professor Greenblatt’s book reads like an expanded thesis on the birth of modernity and the Renaissance. The storyline is based upon the discovery of Lucretius’s “On the Nature of Things” by15th century Vatican humanist Poggio Bracciolini.The story line is both fascinating and confusing as Greenblatt often swerves from one topic to another. A worthwhile read for humanities majors and those willing to follow the author’s somewhat plodding style.
The Memory Chalet Tony Judt
The Memory Chalet is a metaphor for author/journalist Tony Judt’s mind from which flows wonderful associations and remembrances throughout his enchanting book. A particular London bus route, the 1968 Paris student riots, road trips across America and rail journeys spill across the pages as the author arranges lifelong reflections for the reader’s enrichment…don’t miss it.