Many adopted kids fantasize about their birth parents. As in, “My real parent were rich and my mom was a socialite, and they died tragically in a car crash”, for example. Libby has these same fantasies, but is shocked when, on her twenty-fifth birthday, she receives a letter from a solicitor who informs her that she has inherited a mansion in a posh area of London, overlooking the Thames. However, she soon discovers the real story is more like a Grimm’s fairy tale. Her parents committed suicide in the house with an unknown man, and were apparently part of a cult. Libby was discovered alone in the house as a baby, and given up for adoption. She supposedly has an older brother and sister, but they are nowhere to be found. There were other people living in the house, but no one knows who they were, and where they can be found.
Libby connects with a reporter who had written an article about she and her parents, and the mysterious circumstances of the conditions in the mansion. How did it go from a magnificent mansion filled with elegant chandeliers and royal thrones, to a dark, creepy house with no furniture, just cobwebs, ivy-covered windows and mattresses on the floor? Why were there locks on the outside of the bedrooms?
Alternating with Libby’s story are those of Lucy and her two young children, a homeless fiddle-player living in France; and an unnamed narrator who lived in the house at the time of the suicides, and tells his version of the story. Which is the true version? Who were Libby’s parents, and how did they get to the emaciated versions of themselves when they died? Lisa Jewell has delivered a masterpiece of a mystery, and you’ll be unable to put it down until you get to the last, brilliant page. And that last page is indeed, spectacularly brilliant!
Historian Abbott is an absolute genius. She brings the Roaring 20s to life, with dialogue that not only jumps off the page, but lists it’s sources in the back of the book. Bootleggers, pearl-handled revolvers, car chases, squirt guns filled with bourbon, and GHOSTS!
The Ghosts of Eden Park reads better than the very best historical fiction -- because really, you couldn’t make this up! George Remus is a larger-than-life character who owned more than 35% of the liquor in the US at one time. His extravagances, giving cars as party favors at his New Years’ Eve party, a solid gold piano, are only matched by how far down he falls, and how hard he fought to keep what he considered his due.
It was so fascinating seeing glimpses of pre-FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, Al Capone as a protegee, and best of all, meet Mabel Willebrand. Fresh out of law school, she’s hired to investigate Remus, basically as a patsy, seen as no threat. However, she’d fit right in with the powerful women in politics today. She was powerful, determined, and blazingly intelligent. And, much like today, had to judge what she wore in court, as every detail of her appearance was reported on in the papers. Have we really not come further in almost 100 years?!
I absolutely loved being absorbed into the Sorenson family. The characters were so real, the relationships so exquisitely detailed, I became fully invested in their family. The frustration with sisters, mortification with parents, and choices made while young were incredibly real and vivid. I couldn't put it down!
There are those books where you seem to sink into them, occupying the space beside the characters as they go through their trials. The Last Romantics is one of those very special books. It begins in the year 2079, with Fiona Skinner, famed poet. Poets fill stadiums, the Second Amendment has been done away with, and Fiona is taking questions from her fans in one of her last events. A girl named Luna comes to the microphone, asks her the question Fiona has never publicly answered, and sends her back into the past to the story of she and her siblings. You become one of the Skinner siblings, a part of their feral summer in their youth when their mother is in the Pause, and when they are adults, managing the complications of family ties and responsibilities. Their challenging childhood makes them fiercely loyal to each other, and those ties remain well into their adulthood.
The Last Romantics is beautifully told, heart-wrenching, and will stay in your mind and in your heart long after you finish the last page. There are so many moments in this novel that had me thinking, eager to get home and pick up where I left off. Tara’s writing is elegant, easy to read, thought-provoking, and honest. I can’t wait for all my friends to read it so I finally have someone to discuss it with!
A book that takes place in the South of France AND about wine? Yes, please! This is the perfect novel to take on vacation - you won't be able to put it down. The story is captivating, alternating between the present day when Kate returns to the family vineyard to prepare for the Master of Wine exam, and World War II, when the family was either part of the Resistance or collaborators.
The Lost Family is a saga you won't be able to put down. It begins in WWII where Peter Rashkin experiences a devastating loss, and follows him through his emigrating to New York City and becoming a chef and owner of Masha’s in 1965. The characters are so completely drawn, flawed and real, you feel that you know them. It's the story of a marriage from beginning, with a husband who can't recover from the scars of loss, and a beautiful wife who is trying to find her way. It's both funny and sad at times, and it will stay in your thoughts long after you read the last page.
This was such a clever, enjoyable mystery! Putting himself in the novel, yet keeping his personal life personal, was brilliantly done. I also loved all the references to an author's life, from writing for movies, to the relationship with agents and editors. Super fun read - I couldn't put it down, then laughed out loud at the ending!!!
This was such a sweet and wonderful novel, and the perfect book to share with everyone.
The Escape Artist is the best new thriller I've read in a long time! I'm so glad to know it's going to be a series. The two main characters, mortician Zig, and soldier Nola Brown are so richly developed, with flashbacks to the events that shaped them seamlessly woven with the current action. They are both flawed, yet believable and utterly complex. I can't wait to see what comes next!
The Woman in the Window is a twisty, Hitchcockian, thrilling mystery, and is 100% unputdownable! Anna Fox’s solitary existence in her New York brownstone is filled with watching black & white mystery movies, drinking wine, and keeping tabs on her neighbors through her windows. She’s suffering from PTSD caused by an unknown trauma, and is separated from her family for unknown reasons. She is fascinated by the new, seemingly picture perfect, family who moves in next door, and she compulsively spies on them. Then she sees a horrific event, and must figure out how to deal with trying to figure out what’s real, and what’s part of her paranoid agoraphobia. The way A.J. Flynn crafts this brilliant novel is perfection itself, both an homage to Hitchcock and fabulously original.
This is a touching novel about mothers, daughters, and the secrets we keep from each other. Clara never returned to her hometown in the Adirondacks after she went to college. Now her mother, Tamar, is ill and Clara finally returns home. Her questions build as her mother's memory fades. This is a perfect choice for book groups!
This is the most riveting and utterly gripping entry in the Inspector Gamache series, and that really says a lot! A figure in black appears in the town square, silent and unmoving. The entire town is on edge until it disappears, and a body is found. The story builds stealthily through the trial, and the parallel challenge facing Gamache at the Surete. This is the best one yet!
All parents have had those moments when something happens and you think, "This is it. The moment my life changes." This is the story of two families who face the unimaginable: they lose their children in a foreign country. The story alternates between characters, with each fully realized and fully drawn. Maile Meloy explores what happens to each marriage, the relationship between the wives, who are cousins and close since childhood, and between the siblings who are missing. The writing is incredible, and the story is such that you can't put it down until you find out what happens. It's such a satisfying read, making you really think, wondering how you would react in the same situation.
The Girls is narrated by 14-year-old Evie, an average teenager living with her recently-divorced mother in Northern California during the 60s. She is enthralled by a group of girls she sees walking through the park who catch her eye with their careless abandon. Evie ends up befriending the girls and following them to the "Ranch", which is run by a Manson-esque leader. Evie is a heartbreaking character, so desperate to be accepted, you want to grab her and shake her - or give her a huge hug. Emma Cline perfectly captures the pain of being a teenage girl who will do anything to be part of a group.
When she was eleven years old, Rose fell into a hole while walking in the woods. What she learned later was that she fell into a giant metal hand. Seventeen years later, she is a top-level physicist leading a team of people to understand exactly what that hand is, where it came from, and what it portends for humanity. Told in transcripts of interviews with an unknown questioner, this novel is an unbelievable story that is thought-provoking and thrilling!
You won't want to start this one unless you have a whole day to spend reading; it will hook you right from the start. Nora is invited to a weekend "hen party" for a childhood friend whom she hasn't seen in 10 years. They stay in an eerie glass house in the middle of the woods. Two days after arriving, she wakes up in the hospital with no idea of what has happened. You will be riveted by how the story unravels with unexpected twists. This is one of the best mysteries I've read in a long time!
Joshilyn Jackson has a way of creating characters you would swear she must have met in real life. I have read her novels since her brilliant gods of Alabama, and The Opposite of Everyone is her best yet. Joshilyn’s truest gift is her language, the way she tells her story, and how she brings you on an emotional journey right along with the characters, making you laugh out loud along the way. Paula Vauss is a no nonsense attorney in Atlanta with a sort-of boyfriend and a mother she sends checks to each month. One month the check is returned with a message that drags her back into her childhood, to trace her mother’s journey, trying to find her before it’s too late. It’s a story about family, how we choose to present ourselves when we are adults, and how the person we are as children never really goes away. It’s also about forgiveness and second chances, and it’s one of those you wish were just a little bit longer.
Jean Taylor is reeling after the sudden loss of her husband in a freak traffic accident. Now that her husband is gone, everyone wants to know what she has to say about the crimes of which her husband had been accused. Will she keep the secrets she kept close in her marriage? Jean has never opened up to the police. She stood by her man, withstanding all the gossip and speculation. Will she tell the truth? Will she keep quiet? Told in alternating voices, this thriller will keep you on the edge of your seat. Perfect for fans of Gone Girl and Girl on the Train.
Fates and Furies is the story of a (perfect?) marriage, told first from the perspective of the husband, Lotto, then in the second half from the perspective of Mathilde, the wife. Lauren Groff writes like she is on fire - her language is beautiful and the story is thoroughly engaging. I love this book and didn't want it to end.
The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy is every bit as endearing as it's predecessor, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. In this story, we see things from the viewpoint of Queenie as she waits in hospice for Harold to get there. Between postcards, Queenie reminisces about her days working with Harold, filling in many of the questions about their friendship. If you loved Harold, you will quickly fall in love with Queenie as well.
This captivating historical novel by the author of The Paris Wife tells the story of the early life of Beryl Markham in 1920s Kenya. Abandoned by her mother, she grew up on her father's horse farm training racehorses; lessons weren't learned in school, but came from the native Kipsigis tribe who shared the estate. It is a fascinating story that makes me want to read her autobiography, West With the Night.
The story begins with Linz, a talented neurogeneticist researching memory and and decoding genes that help the brain make memories. She has been plagued by a vivid nightmare from her childhood, and is confronted by a perfect rendition of her dream in a painting in an artist's show. From this intriguing introduction, the story quickly gains momentum and doesn't quit. What if there was a drug that helped Alzheimer's patients regain their memory? What would happen if a healthy person took that drug? What if we could remember our previous lives and those we lived them with? What if those connections followed us throughout many incarnations? I highly recommend this smart thriller! You won't be able to put it down.
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell is so amazing that I couldn't wait to get home at the end of the day and start reading. Mitchell's characters are vividly detailed, crazily diverse yet so real it feels like he is channeling them. Holly, for instance is a 15 years old sensitive teenager who is contacted by voices she calls the "radio people" and she is a magnet for psychic phenomena. When you meet up with her in later chapters, it's like meeting an old friend. Once again Mitchell deftly knocks our socks or to quote Joe Hill, "The levels of awesome in this book are off the charts." It couldn't be better put.
Sophie Hannah has captured the personality of Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot so perfectly in The Monogram Murders, it's eerie. Hannah's Poirot is taking a vacation, resting the little gray cells, by staying in a lodging house in view of his home. (For Poirot travel is stimulating, but not restful). Poirot quickly takes Edward Catchpool, a fellow lodger and detective at Scotland Yard, under his wing. One evening, Catchpool comes in distressed by three murders committed in three separate rooms in a London hotel, and the partnership between the experienced, world-famous detective and his protégé takes off. The staff at the hotel, especially the general manager, Luca Lazzari, are brilliantly described. Fans of Agatha Christie will not be disappointed with this faithful yet fresh mystery starring the ever so efficient Belgian, Hercule Poirot.
Nella Oortman is a young bride, recently married to a wealthy merchant, Johannes, living in Amsterdam. Leaving her farm in the country, Nella feels uncertain with her role as wife, sharing the house with her sister-in-law, who does not welcome her warmly. Her husband is frequently away and she finds herself at a loss. Then Johannes brings home an extraordinary wedding gift - a cabinet sized exact replica of their home. Nella seeks out an enigmatic and elusive artist who creates tiny miniatures to order. As she begins to furnish the replica of their home, she also begins to understand the complexities of her situation and those in her new family, through the symbolism of the miniatures. Beautifully written, this novel will capture your imagination.
Don't be daunted by the size of Natchez Burning - Greg Iles is a master storyteller and you will be eagerly awaiting the rest of the trilogy. Penn Cage is mayor of Natchez, Mississippi, and has to use all of his considerable resources to help his father, who has been accused of murder. Penn's investigating leads to racial murders in the 60s, a group that is an evil offshoot of the KKK, and the possibility that his father is not the perfect hero as he -- and everyone else in town -- believes him to be.
I read Maisie Dobbs in one sitting and I remember being so moved by it. It has a little bit of something for everyone. It's part detective novel, part historical drama with a little romance and feminist coming of age thrown in for good measure. I loved the setting, London between the wars, the author Jacqueline Winspear really gets the feeling and the tone of the time. What more can I say - the characters are wonderful, it's an easy read, and best of all it's the first book in a series (each one is better than the one before).
This book is crazy good! A mythic quest with a 15 year-old girl and her uncle, inspired by The Odyssey with plenty of whaling mythology and adventure. An epic novel that will keep you entranced.