Life after Life
is AMAZING! I have been a fan of Kate Atkinson since Behind the Scenes at the Museum
. I love the Jackson Brodie mysteries. Her books are quirky and smart, with a caustic wit that is (mostly) irresistible. Life after Life
is an ambitious and wonderfully unclassifiable blend of Downton Abbey
, Connie Willis (Blackout
), Groundhog Day
(yes, the movie), and In Search of Schrodinger’s Cat
that flies with the page-turning appeal of a Gone Girl
, or Atkinson’s own mysteries. The book opens in November 1930, as Ursula Todd pulls the trigger on a gun aimed at Hitler. On a cold and snowy day in 1910, Ursula Todd dies before she can draw her first breath. And that’s just the first five pages! –Sara
Jamie Ford, author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
, again honors his Chinese heritage and Seattle through this heart-wrenching story of William, an orphan, and Liu Song, his mother, whom he believes has become an actress and singer, named Willow Frost. Set in the Twenties and Thirties, it is a book calling to be read and then shared with all of your best friends. –Sandra, Seattle
Mr. Hiaasen is in tip-top form with his latest hilarious misadventure set once again in beautiful Key West. Ex-detective Yancy (lost his badge for “vacuum hosing” his lover’s husband in public), now a restaurant inspector, tries to solve a murder that starts off with an arm found on the end of a fishing line. He hopes to get his badge back if he solves it, but what he goes through is intensely funny and creepy at the same time...magical!!! –Ron
, Los Angeles
Definitely not for the squeamish, but that is what makes this a non-stop page-turner. Hill’s descriptive creative writing style peaks when he opens the gates to Christmasland and lets all enter at their own risk. Once inside, the reader will discover the truth and leave with an open gawk. He is definitely a topnotch horror author and one to be reckoned with. No doubt the torch will be carried from the past and into the future by Joe Hill. –Mike
In this story spanning decades, Hosseini weaves an intriguing tale of how lives can be forever changed through a single event. A desperate father sells his 4-year old daughter to a wealthy couple. The separation is felt keenly by her older brother, who never quite relinquishes the dream of being reunited. The author moves the reader through the years and across oceans, teaching us what it means to love and care...and how people traverse real-life journeys. Another absorbing novel from a master storyteller. -Margaret
Once again, Lahiri gives the reader scenes of life growing up in India. The story revolves around two very different brothers. One is the parent-pleaser and the other is the idealistic, rebellious one. When one ends up a victim, the “good brother” steps in, marries his dead brother’s pregnant wife, and moves to America. Good deeds do not always bring good results. The topics of competitive siblings, parental love, and mending relationships are all addressed in this beautifully-written, riveting tale. -Margaret
says The Son
“speaks volumes about humanity—our insatiable greed, our inherent frailty, the endless cycle of conquer or be conquered.” Three generations of the McCullough family tell the story of living in Texas: Eli is captured and raised by Comanche Indians, his son Peter wants nothing to do with the world his father had forged from dirt and blood, and Jeannie ultimately inherits the family fortune. A woman running a corporation in the man’s world of oil and a son trying to break out of family dealings would make for an interesting story in the hands of a talented writer like Philipp Meyer but his tales of life with the Comanche will make your heart pound and your jaw drop. –Sydne
At first glance you expect this to be a boy-meets-girl story where love overcomes all obstacles, but author Jojo Moyes has other ideas. This engaging novel tells the story of a deeply unhappy quadriplegic and the caregiver hired by his mother to distract him from his own demons. Moyes allows us a little time to get to know the characters before introducing a deadline that lends suspense and uncertainty to the outcome. Emotionally engaging and heartbreaking. –Buzzy
Due to the continuous and excessive storms that caused devastation to the Gulf Coast, the federal government provided a declaration of a geographical boundary. The result was an apocalyptic no-man’s-land. Survival becomes a struggle against Mother Nature’s elements and the roving deadly bandits hunting for food and shelter. Michael Farris Smith tells this story with a heavy-handed grim dystopian setting balanced with beauty and hope. –Mike
The best summation of this gripping narrative came from The Boston Globe
: “the ethical complexities of making life-and-death judgments in the absence of perfect information and clear guidelines.” When Katrina hit New Orleans there were hundreds of people at Memorial Hospital – patients, staff and family members of both that took shelter there. The generators were in the basement which quickly flooded and, as a microcosm of the whole city, conditions were hectic but orderly to begin with but rapidly broke down. More than 500 interviews convey a story of confusion, heart-breaking decisions made on the fly, instances of heroism and incredible hubris. Hopefully, this can be used as a model for what not to do in a crisis but, as in life, no one is totally good and no one is totally bad. -Sydne
Focusing on the last 30 years, Packer’s book examines our nation in crisis. Packer profiles the lives of a handful of citizens at all levels of social strata in an effort to delineate the forces that are ripping our country apart. In telling these stories Packer utilizes many of the strategies of John Dos Passos’ USA Trilogy. Perhaps Packer uses these strategies because the story he is telling is so similar to that of Dos Passos work; the conditions of these times being so closely paralleled by those of the 20’s and 30’s. The effect here is similarly dazzling and dismaying, a necessary book. Here’s the first line: “No one can say when the unwinding began, when the coil that held Americans together in its secure and sometimes stifling grip first gave way.” –Matt
, Los Angeles
Mary Roach’s books are disgusting examinations of the human body—and I love every single one of them. Her latest, Gulp.
, is an examination of the human digestive system which includes: America’s terrible imported olive oil, the bacteriafighting properties of saliva, the intricacies of smuggling, the possible reason for dragon mythos, and why Elvis died on the toilet. Hilarious and highly informative, Gulp.
is a must-read. (Warning: Do NOT read Gulp.
right before, during or right after meals, but it’d probably make an interesting bathroom read.) – Laura
This is a book about cheese; about a flamboyant Spanish farmer and cheesemaker named Ambrosio; about storytelling and community; about modern American culture and Old World values; a book about an author named Michael Paterniti. It is utterly compelling and beautifully written. It ripens and transforms in its telling in the same way that does a good cheese, or wine, or history. And in the weeks since I’ve finished it, its flavors have only grown richer. I highly recommend a tasting. –Sara
“It’s amazing to see a story that for a long time existed only in my imagination become visible. The Fault in Our Stars movie is happening because of an amazing script and great producers and a wonderful director and this beautiful, awesome cast, but it is also happening because of the many people who have read and loved and shared Hazel and Gus’s story so generously. If people didn’t like the book there would be no movie and we all understand that, so please know that everyone on this set feels a tremendous responsibility to the story and to its readers.” –John Green, from the set of The Fault in Our Stars, soon to be a major motion picture starring Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Laura Dern, and Willem Dafoe.
A major motion picture in 2014
See all of the Best of 2012 here