After spending her adolescent years in England, Rachel has longed for her family’s Kenya farm, where she roamed the land, worked and loved the family’s slaves, that she left behind after her mother’s death. Now, no longer a child, Rachel comes to see the harsh challenges of British-occupied Kenya in the 1950s, both from the native Kenyans to the extremist Mau Mau fighters to the white settlers. It’s like a Gone with the Wind, set in Kenya, where the stark contrast of slaves and owners – along with the dramatic political climate, make this an intense, emotional and thoughtful read. I loved it!
On house arrest in Moscow’s grand Metropol Hotel for being a Former Person in the new Soviet Union, Count Alexander Rostov once wrote a poem that inspired revolutionary fervor, and cannot, apparently, simply be shot at dawn. He is instead removed from his old suite of rooms and confined to the attic, where he builds a new life full of the kind of characters you can only hope to meet in your own. It’s a novel of fully-realized tragedy that somehow doesn’t get lost there, instead brimming with optimism and hope. With Rules of Civility, Towles had me for life– I looked up from the ending ofthat gem feeling as if it were impossible that I could be somewhere besides 1930s New York– and once again, Towles wins me over. Wonderful prose, characters, and plot, the holy trifecta for any writer, complete with literary, historic, and cinema references. With Amor Towles, know that you are reading something from someone infinitely more intelligent than you, but who writes so that you can still enjoy it, who makes you stop and think while still plunging forward to discover what happens next.
To quote the dust jacket: “He can’t leave. You won’t want to.”
Fates and Traitors is a fictional accounting of the life (and surrounding people’s lives) of John Wilkes Booth, the infamous assassin of Abraham Lincoln. History books portray him as an evil villain and it’s not so black and white; there’s much more to the story especially from the point of view of four influential women surrounding him. Enjoy Jennifer Chiaverini’s fictional telling, and immerse yourself in the interesting and potentially true stories of a complicated man. From Booth’s childhood, his famous actor-alcoholic father, his siblings, mother – and the elite Washington DC girlfriend who knew nothing of his politics. Even when you know the ending, you’ll continue to enjoy the journey and challenges of John Wilkes Booth and the people around him and how they suffered following Lincoln’s assassination and Booth’s death, despite their differing politics.
There’s three days left to vote in the 2016 Goodreads Choice Awards for your favorite books of 2016. Even Erin and Terra at Books for Her didn’t have a chance to read them all – but we got through a lot of them and here’s our picks.
When Charlene (Charlie) returns to her Louisiana hometown to film a movie, she immediately stumbles upon a body, a recently murdered Civil War reenactor. She immediately calls on an sort-of old flame, Ethan Delaney, who happens to be part of an elite FBI team. In the third Krewe of Hunters novel, you’ll enjoy a quick-reading mystery – with great characters. And charthe best character of all is the small Southern town, with an eery, fascinating Civil War history and deep, deep roots. I’m not usually a fan of supernatural, but Graham weaves in some interesting “characters” who don’t feel hokey and instead add more drama and interest to the mystery. With three Krew of Hunters series books out just this year, Graham entertains completely with this series – and I can’t wait for the next!
In a dual plotline that ties together seamlessly, Laura Madeleine weaves together the same story 80 years apart. In the 1980s a graduate university student discovers a photograph with a note “Forgive Me,” from her beloved grandfather’s things. At the same time a weasely biographer tries to tarnish her grandfather’s memory. Putting her graduate research aside, the girl investigates what happened 80 years ago at the famous Patisserie Clermont, a pastry shop in Paris, and you’ll become immersed in the pastry shop and the passion its people have for creating desserts. You’ll love both storylines and how they dramatically come together. A must-read for anyone who enjoys history, fiction and drama.
When you think of Nike, you don’t think of bad management, bad decisions and bad products – you think of money, brand and tons of success. In Phil Knight’s Shoe Dog, the creator himself will tell you what a terrible boss he was, how many mistakes he made, and how often the company almost went broke. In fact you’ll keep wondering how he held on so long – and how his marriage survived so many company and person attacks. Which is why you’ll want to read Shoe Dogs until the end. It’s refreshingly honest into the man who created the biggest brand on the planet.
A small town in North Carolina is rocked when a teenage girl disappears – and friends and family are left with scars that still haven’t healed 10 years later. Nicolette Farrell left Cooley Ridge right after the tragedy and hardly returned until now, 10 years later, as she’s starting to pack up her family home after her dad moves to assisted living. Only another young girl disappears, and the tragedy brings back old suspects and new ones, haunting the town and it’s people all over again. Who’s to blame for the latest disappearance – and the one from 10 years ago?
All the Missing Girls is scary good: Cleverly written and intricately plotted. The story begins on Day 15 of when Nic returns home and works its way backwards to Day 1, when it all comes together for the reader. And the way it comes together is unpredictable and completely shocking if a little ironinc too. The group of friends are so haunted – and the town of Cooley Ridge and specific locations like the Ferris Wheel and the woods behind the Farrell home take on a personality of their own as events come to life as Nic traverses her 15 days in Cooley Ridge.
Previously a young adult writer, All the Missing Girls is Megan Miranda’s first adult novel – and I can’t wait to see what’s next.
While I don’t pick them up nearly as often as I ought, I have always enjoyed short stories: the all-to-brief glimpse into somewhere else; that vague feeling of unease and dissastifaction that comes with but a hint, or even a lack, of resolution. In You Know When the Men are Gone, Siobhan Fallon gives insight into the experience of soldiers and their families at war: men and women, officers and enlisted, in Iraq and at home. Set in Fort Hood, Texas, this series of interconnected short stories weaves together the small details of lives at war– separation and return, strained relationships, fear, loneliness and more– in a manner salient, spare, and devastating. It’s spot on, raw, edgy truth laid out in fiction, and goes onto my required reading list.
Laura Griffin is my favorite go-to, never-fail mystery-action-romance author. Even without being my favorite genre, I absolutely fly through her books. Of the last three Tracer Series books I’ve read, she’s nailed it with each one. With just the right amount of action, thrills and love. In Deep Dark, Griffin takes the action to the digital world as detective Reed Novak digs into a murder and solicits the help of white-collar cyber crime gal Laney Knox. Only Laney has a history that Reed begins to uncover also. If you love watching CSI, Laura Griffin’s Deep Dark is going to keep you up all night (or at least past your bedtime).