Skip to main content

September 20, 2019 - October 4, 2019

Linda
This is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

4
Rosie and Penn have four sons, and try once more for a girl. Claude is born, and at three years old, says he wants to be a girl when he grows up. This is the story of how the family tries to help Claude, who becomes Poppy, be who he/she wants to be. How could you not love this quirky family? The love shines through constantly. They move to Seattle, thinking that life will be easier for Claude/Poppy there, but then keep his secret, and he goes to school as Poppy. Inevitably, this eventually blows up. This is a beautiful story, beautifully told. Favorite quote from the book: “Usually boys don’t wear dresses to preschool,” Rosie admitted carefully. “Or tights.” “I’m not usually” said Claude. This, Rosie reflected, was true.

Margie
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

5
I loved this extraordinary novel about Cussy Marie, a "book woman" for the Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project in the 1930s, crossing treacherous terrain on her mule almost every day to bring used books, pamphlets, magazines and scrapbooks to areas where grinding poverty kept the inhabitants isolated and sometimes illiterate. It was a dangerous job, made even more perilous by the fact that Cussy Marie was also one of the "blue people," a group of people whose genetic defect made their skin blue and was the cause of immense prejudice against them. The story, based on real life, immerses the reader in the setting and the dialogue of the hill people and is often heartbreaking, resulting in an authentic look at this largely unknown story.

Karen
We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartels

5
Good storyline. It went back and forth between characters and time periods. Very likeable characters. I really like the author’s style of writing.

Cindy
Our House by Louise Candlish

4
While mysteries are not my usual go-to, someone gave me this book and I really liked it. Very well written, fast moving, unexpected twists. Interesting story of a husband who makes bad decisions and a wife left to pick up the pieces. I will read another book by this author.

Elizabeth
The Girl Who Lived Twice by David Lagercrantz

4
Love this series!

Nancy
Tidal Flats by Cynthia Newberry Martin

4
I read this book in two sittings. It is a haunting and memorable read. As character Cass wrestles with the demons of her past and the uncertainties of her present, she must decide what kind of future she wants to choose for herself - sticking to her plan or learning to forgive and embrace the life she may not want, but needs. Cass marries Ethan. He is enough for Cass. But Ethan needs Cass and his photography work in Afghanistan and he leaves her for weeks at a time. On the Tidal Flats they had agreed Ethan would stay home in three years. And that Cass would consider having the child she knew she could never properly mother. A cast of vivid supporting characters help Cass navigate the treacherous waters of doubt, guilt, and love.

Kristine
The Beautiful Strangers by Camille Di Maio

5
A beautiful story of family surrounding the Hotel del Coronado with 2 threads - one beginning in the late 1800s and the other in the 1950s.

Laurie
Carnegie Hill by Jonathan Vatner

3
A coming-of-age novel filled with the antics of life on elegant Carnegie Hill, set on the upper east side of New York City. The residents and staff of Chelmsford Arms provide the reader with tales of family entanglement. You’ll laugh and cry along with the diverse characters.

Nancy
In West Mills by De’Shawn Charles Winslow

3
Interesting book. Knot Centre is an independent woman of incongruous interests (moonshine, literature and the company of men) living in a small southern town. The book spans 1941 to 1987 and focuses mostly on the small town and people immediately surrounding Knot.

Karlie
The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz

4
THE FUTURE OF ANOTHER TIMELINE is a fun and unique read. It involves an alternate history, time travel, punk rock, and feminism...so you really can't go wrong here. I absolutely enjoyed the incorporation of true historical events with a twist. There's also an inclusion of some real science mixed with a dose of science fiction. While the story follows two specific timelines, it contains a number of diverse and awesome characters (including some great LGBTQ+ representation). I highly recommend this book. If anything I have said above appeals to you, you definitely won't be disappointed. I've already recommended it to my sister and cousin. I would love to see this book made into a movie one day.

Karlie
Dead Voices by Katherine Arden

5
DEAD VOICES gave me the chills, and not just because the ski lodge was freezing. The second book in Katherine Arden's middle-grade series was just as good as SMALL SPACES, possibly even better. Ollie, Coco, and Brian are back again in a creepy story that reminded me of GOOSEBUMPS mixed with ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK? and THE SHINING. I absolutely loved it. I heard a rumor that there's going to two more installments to this series to round out the remaining seasons (Spring and Summer). I really hope that's true because I can't wait for more. 

Karlie
Lost and Found by Orson Scott Card

4
"He never allowed any of the what-ifs to become a plan, because he knew that absolutely nothing was under his control." I was originally drawn to this book because of the cover, and then I realized the author is Orson Scott Card. ENDER'S GAME and ENDER'S SHADOW are two of my most favorite books so I had to check out LOST AND FOUND. A middle-grade read with less of a touch of science fiction than Card's other books, this story was still a lot of fun. Orson Scott Card is so versatile in his writing. His books are always so engaging and absorbing no matter the intended audience. I wouldn't rank this book up there with the ENDER'S series but it definitely warrants the read.

Karlie
The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee

5
I absolutely loved THE DOWNSTAIRS GIRL. It's a little over 350 pages but it's a surprisingly quick read. The main character's quick wit and sharp tongue had me laughing out loud multiple times. This book was a great foray into YA historical fiction, and made me realize how much more of this genre is needed. We can't expect Ruta Sepetys to write them all, so special thanks to Stacey Lee. She touches on multiple pertinent societal norms from a time when life was difficult for anyone who wasn't a white male. She specifically makes note of how there was a time before the Jim Crow laws that our country was beginning to move in a much more progressive, tolerant and inclusive direction, but then we went backwards.

Karlie
The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa

4
THE MEMORY POLICE is an older book that was recently translated into English. I really enjoyed this dystopian story about an island where things regularly disappear (from perfume, to birds, to roses, to boats, etc.) Everyone accepts the disappearances due to a phenomenon that causes them to forget the feelings these items conjure. However, some people are able to retain these memories and that's where the Memory Police get involved, disappearing certain people, as well. Very "big brother" with a focus on women's voices, this 200ish page book is an important and thought-provoking read.  ⁣

Shelly
This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

5
This book should come with a warning - you are not going to get anything else done while reading it! I couldn't put it down, I dreamt about it, I wanted to finish it but didn't want it to end. Beautifully written, wonderful story!

Claudia
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

5
This book was so informative about the Japanese-Korean culture conflicts. The author tells the story through four generations of a Korean family.

Pat
When All Is Said by Anne Griffin

5
Wow! Maurice Hannibal, now in his eighties, reflects back on the most important people in his life and raises his glass in a toast to each one of them at his pub in his Irish village. In each toast we learn the backstory of each person and their meaning to Maurice. He acknowledges his flaws and and sees how they have influenced his life and decisions. Kinda makes you thinks about who you would toast... Anne Griffin tells a very poignant story of love.

Peg
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

4
CITY OF GIRLS will draw you in and keep you wanting more and more. A story well told with an ending leaving one satisfied to have read it.

Peg
Old Bones by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

4
A novel which will revive your memories of the fate of the Donner Party journey. The many twists and turns will keep you reading long into the night.

Elizabeth
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

3
Although you’ll find THE SILENT PATIENT in bookstores on shelves with psychological thrillers, it isn’t. THE SILENT PATIENT is a character study.

Marsha
Summer of '69 by Elin Hilderbrand

4
Tale of the Levin family as they vacation on the island of Nantucket and try to survive the chaotic summer of 1969. One son in the war, one daughter pregnant with twins, and others connected to the moon launch, Woodstock and the Ted Kennedy incident. Book 1 in a trilogy and I wanted more answers in this one.

Jennifer
Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson

5
I loved this book from the first page to the last. I am looking forward to seeing Joshilyn Jackson today at the St. Louis Bookfest.

Patricia
The Storyteller's Secret by Sejal Badani

5
I normally don't give a 5 unless it is a profound book. This rated a 5. The story of love, forgiveness, family and consequence are portrayed in this story of a young woman in the U.S. going to India to find the history of her heritage and she finds that and so much more. This story is powerful.

Linda
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

5
Well plotted, lots if twists and turns that really do keep you guessing. Nice generational interaction of characters as well as engaging characters. Had not read anything of hers but look forward to opening another book by Kate Morton.

Tina
Under Currents by Nora Roberts

5
Such an emotional story (keep your Kleenex handy). Not only will you fall in love with Zane and Darby but with many of the secondary characters as well. It definitely shows when you have amazing friends and family (and sometimes acquaintances) supporting you how well things can go.

Gretchen
The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis

4
Story of a decades-long friendship between two talented women and the McCarthy era.

Gretchen
The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams

5
It tops the list of my favor books this year! Wonderful historical novel.

Rosa
The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall

5
I loved this book and I am so impressed that it is a debut novel. About two couples, Charles and Lily and James and Nan. Charles and James are ministers who are hired to co-lead the Third Presbyterian Church in New York City. It is the 1960s. It is story about faith and hope and love, and I did not want it to end. I cried and empathized with aspects of each of the four characters. Cara Wall's writing is gorgeous prose, so poetic in describing emotions that will resonate with all readers. I look forward to her future work. This book is definitely one for book club.

Patricia
Chances Are... by Richard Russo

5
Fantastic book! Mr. Russo sure knows how to write a novel. About four college friends meeting after many years (in their sixties now).

Jay
Educated by Tara Westover

4
Quite the compelling story, Westover writes about her very unconventional upbringing, with an emotionally-removed mother and a violently fundamentalist Mormon father. In addition to her terrible parents, a brother is physically and emotionally abusive. There's much here to absorb and think about.

Patricia
The Islanders by Meg Mitchell Moore

5
This was a tender, moving story about those that live on the island and those that just come for the summer! Authors, mothers, business owners and whoopie pies. I won this book from Bookreporter.com this summer. Thanks so much, I really enjoyed reading it while camping. Perfect vacation read!

Donna
This Tender Land by William Kent Kreuger

5
I've waited patiently for this book to come out since ORDINARY GRACE was one of my all-time favorites. This book did not disappoint. It's a little like Huckleberry Finn for grown-ups, but I had such a good time going on this adventure with the "vagabonds". Very thought-provoking as well as enjoyable.

Susan
Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

5
Peter and Kate grew up together and they are best friends; their father are both cops. Then one night a terrible incident happens to both families that breaks them apart. How they find each other again makes for a fascinating read.

Betty
An Unorthodox Match by Naomi Ragen

5
I have been a fan of Naomi Ragen’s books for many years. I loved all of her earlier books, until around 2010. The three books after that date I did not care for. But I still am a fan and am thrilled to report that I loved AN UNORTHODOX MATCH. This is a beautiful story of faith, love, forgiveness, second chances, and acceptance. Note: The cover has nothing to do with the story inside. This is a clean romance between two Orthodox people.

Francisca
Divining Women by Kaye Gibbons

4
I like the way Gibbons writes her characters. There are some very unpleasant goings on, and much of it makes me in turns uncomfortable, despairing, and angry. Set in 1918, this is at a time when women had few rights on their own, and yet Mary refused to be cowed by her uncle. And her strength empowered Maureen to fight for the freedom and respect she was due. Brava, ladies!

Darlene
Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner

5
Very good, lots of layers, following sisters through the years.

Sandy
Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule by Jennifer Chiaverini

5
Even though some of this book is fiction I did learn a lot about General/President Grant. This is one of my favorite authors so I knew I would enjoy this book.

Pam
This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

5
Loved this book. It's full of heart as well as grit with a strong sense of time and place. The main character is funny, naïve, and determined. The pacing is perfect, the plot moves along with some suspense and danger throughout - kept turning the pages well into the night.

Dianne
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

4
Loved the suspense. We needed a change.

Thomas
The Whisper Man by Alex North

5
An excellent book to read. Would recommend to anyone.

Lisa
The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of the Donner Party by Daniel James Brown

4
Almost put it down during the first 30 pages, but so glad that I hung in there. Fascinating story and the psychological analysis really added to my reading experience.

Donna
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

3
Well researched. Took me a lot of pages to get into it and the story began to move. Overall, I thought it was just okay.

Alyson
Secret Service Dogs by Maria Goodavage

5
Thorough book which gives you an insiders view of what those dogs are doing at stadiums, arenas, malls and protecting dignitaries and the White House. Some are looking for explosive devices while others are looking for drugs.

Ruth
This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

5
One of best books I have read this year! Krueger is an outstanding author - prolific writer!

Janet
Attracted to Fire by DiANN Mills

4
Fast-paced Secret Service mystery/thriller focusing on protecting the daughter of POTUS; hampered in multiple directions by conspiracy and emotions throughout. Good read.

Cindy
Walden by John David Thoreau

4
I remember reading this book as a college student with an awe for the author. Now with 60 years of reading behind me, I find myself wanting to tell JD to “grow up” in several passages. Ah, the arrogance of youth.

Tessa
Bittersweet by Colleen McCullough

3
A mini-series soap opera of a novel, following four sisters (two sets of twins) in early 20th century Australia. McCullough does a great job of crafting this sweeping novel. I was engaged and interested in the story and in exploring life in Australia at this time frame. However, I did get frustrated by the way that Grace and Kitty behaved, and felt that a few of the many story threads were abandoned and then quickly resolved just to wrap up.

Theresa
Where the Light Enters by Sara Donati

5
This sequel to THE GILDED HOUR was an absorbing, interesting read. It continues the story of the Savard cousins and their families and friends in New York City late in the 19th century. The story is told with glimpses of old New York and a number of the figures of the time. Fascinating and historically accurate, it is both a mystery and a tale of family life and love in a time gone by. I sincerely hope that Sara Donati is hard at work on the next installment.

Sheree
The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall

4
I really enjoyed the story and I wanted to keep reading to find out what happens to the characters. I even felt that my personality was one of the characters and I could really relate!

kim
The Other Wife by Claire McGowan

5
A women who can't help but have an affair moves to a very isolated place. with her husband. Months later a women moves into a cottage next door. And so the story begins and we get to know the characters. I feel like if I explained anymore it would spoil the story. This was a very Intriguing, entertaining book. One I couldn't put down. The author did a great job keeping me entertained and wanting to know whats going to happen next. Even though I guessed a couple of the things happening in the story it did not wreck the story in any way. Many twists and turns in the book I never expected and kept me wanting more.

kim
Remember by Patricia Smith

5
This starts out with the main character in high school. We learn that she has severe social anxiety disorder. And that her mom and sister died in a car accident. She meets the boy across the street and the story pulls you into their world. The book takes you from present day back to five years ago and back again to present throughout. It is what really kept the book exciting. I recommend starting this book when you have the day to just read, because you will not want to put it down. It was a super, fantastic, exciting story. First of all, I understood what it feels like to have anxiety and how hard it is to go out in public. That was one of the reasons this book pulled me in. Also the characters are written to make the reader really care.

ILene
Rules For Visiting by Jessica Francis Kane

5
May Attaway is approaching 40, still living with her aged father, and working as a gardener for a university and knowing everything about all plants and trees where she gets along with them better than relationships. She gets a surprise windfall of a surprise with a one month vacation. May is inspired to broaden her life by reconnecting with four of her once-close friends. So off she goes with her suitcase, named Grendel, and her Emily Post book. Each of her friends is happy to see her, although each has a problem that she amazingly fixes. What a great adventure and friend she turns out to be. She is somebody I would want as a friend.

Beth
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

4
I loved this tale of a dysfunctional family and how they survive in Alaska. I just thought the ending was a bit too neat and unrealistic.

Charlene
Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

5
Real juice!

Betty
The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea

4
Story of a family gathering for the matriarch's funeral. Heartbreaks, deaths, sex, life in general drive the book.

Liz
Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan

4
Nora and Theresa are young adults in the late 1950s when they leave their farm in Ireland to start a new life in America. Nora is the oldest, more serious and reliable. Theresa is a bit of a wild child wanting to experience everything life has to offer. Theresa becomes pregnant and the sisters devise a plan to save face. It is now fifty years later and Nora is the matriarch of a large Catholic family and Theresa has become a cloistered nun. A tragedy brings them together as they try to reconcile their pasts with each other.

Sean
A Test of Wills by Charles Todd

5
Charles Todd, who I've learned is actually a mother/son writing duo, does a fantastic job of creating a mystery that's intriguing. Seeing multiple characters in the waning days of WWI dealing with the ramifications of the war is spectacular. Seeing PTSD manifest in different ways and how the world treated the ailment in the early 1920s. The main character, Ian Rutledge, is one such character. He battles his own inner demons while solving a murder. The suspects are all fleshed out well and the guilty party made sense even with the twist. Overall, a very good mystery.

Linda
Life on Loan by Ashley Farley

4
Two women, each running from their lives for different reasons, and who haven’t seen each other since college, 30 years previously, meet by chance in an airport. A spur of the moment decision, they agree to exchange homes for a month. They each need to take control of their lives and re-invent themselves. We watch as they each find their way to a new life. This is a charming story, a delightfully light read, which includes family drama and romance. This is the first book by Ms. Farley that I’ve read, but when I find myself needing light entertainment, I’ll check out some of her other books. Thanks to NetGalley for a digital copy of the book.

Jan
The Wrong Man by Kate White

4
A woman on vacation meets a very nice man. They both live in NYC and he makes a date with her for a few days after they return. She goes to his apartment and is greeted by a different man with the same name! Whoa -- what is happening? The entire book plays on this situation but she hears from the Miami police that a man with this name was killed, run down in Miami. She goes down to identify him, expecting to see the first man (the vacation man) but it is the second man. She finally figures out that something is very wrong. Then the vacation man contacts her and wants to explain. Her office and home are burglarized. Later, a client who came to the office late one day is never seen again. A thriller.

Jan
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

5
This is a young adult book but all ages can learn from it, if we will. The narrator is a black teen girl, pretty normal in a lot of respects with very strict parents. By accident, she is the only witness to the murder of a childhood friend by a white policeman. She struggles with friends (?) who make racist statements. For a long time she pretends to ignore the racist statements but eventually she realizes that her reluctance to speak the truth about the murder is disrespectful to her lifelong friend. She also realizes that speaking out can harm her family as race riots are always a concern. The official police statement is that the murdered friend was a drug dealer and that he had a gun. A wonderful book - we can learn a lot.

Robin
Vanishing in the Haight by Max Tomlinson

5
Max Tomlinson’s skill as a writer shines through the pages of this story. From the down-on-her-luck heroine to the atmosphere of the brooding city of San Francisco, this story will capture you completely. It’s been a long time since I found myself actually rooting for a character in a book, so mesmerizing is the plot. This is the first book by Tomlinson that I have read, but I am already searching out his others and putting them at the top of my “To Be Read” list. Well done Mr. Tomlinson. Set in San Francisco during the time of hippies and free love, this tale of suspense and intrigue has the heroine, Colleen Hayes, trying to do the impossible - find a killer in a cold case.

Robin
A Bittersweet Surprise by Cynthia Ellingsen

4
Thoroughly enjoyable and charming, this story will delight the reader with its perfect ending. Like a warm hug on a cold winter night, the reader will enjoy snuggling into this story.

Richard N B
Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey

3
I hardly know what to write about this classic of the Western genre. It’s full of adventure, violence, strong men and women, tenderness, brutality and an abiding sense of justice.And, of course, there is the landscape, which Grey paints so vividly it is practically a character. The storyline and dialogue are a bit melodramatic. but Grey’s story still captured this reader’s imagination. I was reminded of the many western movies I watched with my Dad in the ‘50s and ‘60s. They were exciting and the good guys always won. Glad I finally read it.

Deby
Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

4
Not sure why I thought this wouldn't contain erotic stories, but it sure did. And it wasn't awkward to discuss in public at my book club...not at all. Ha, ha! Enjoyable story about merging cultures.

John
Rage by Cora Carmack

5
A girl must decide between a kingdom and a dude! Tough decision!

Martha
This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

5
The story of four children on the run in Depression-era Minnesota is a great piece of historical fiction, encompassing the many national and local problems of the time. The plight of Native Americans, the popularity of faith-healers, the Hoovervilles, hatred and kindness, poverty and pleasures, are held together in a well-spun tale of those days. The story of people living on the edge of the Mississippi River in Minnesota corresponds well to all I have read about that time. Hooray for Krueger's effort!

Martha
Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson

5
In a turn away from her previous novel, Jackson has written a thriller. It's a tale of conniving women which might belong in a genre with GONE GIRL. A stranger to the neighborhood turns up at the neighborhood book club meeting, a woman who seems to know too much information about some of the individual women in the club. A threat to expose the truth of these women casts an ominous shadow over them all...but one woman schemes to undo this intent.

Joy
The Pioneers by David McCullough

5
The settling of the Northwest territory by pioneers.

Eileen
The Women of the Copper Country by Mary Doria Russell

5
Beautifully written. The story of one woman's quest to improve the lives of the copper miners and their families. Based on historical facts, Russell has recreated the world of the copper miners and the hardships they and their families endured.

Bonnie
Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America by Michael Ruhlman

4
If you care about food and what you eat or have ever been curious about grocery stores, then this is the book for you.

Betty
Paranoid by Lisa Jackson

4
I hadn’t read a book by Lisa Jackson in a while but I’m glad I read this one. It was one with several coincidences that occurred which you knew they could not just be a coincidence. The setting was just creepy enough to be believable. The characters were written by someone who has been with a group planning for a class reunion. I was totally surprised by the killer. I really did enjoy the book.

Katrina
Verity by Colleen Hoover

5
I was hooked from the first page and finished this in two days. It was everything I could hope for in a psychological thriller. From what I understand, this was her first psychological thriller she wrote and it was outstanding. A lot of twists and turns that keep you guessing until the very end. I wish there could be more books written this way!

Richard N B
Honeymoon by James Patterson and Howard Roughan

3
Patterson and his team can sure churn out the fast-paced suspense/thrillers! The action is quick and the target ever-moving. The writing may be simple, but the plot holds the reader’s attention. Good beach/vacation read.

ILene
The Woman In Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

5
Journalist Lo accepts an assignment to cover the maiden voyage of a luxury cruise line through the fjords of Norway. She is happy to accept the assignment to escape her apartment that was recently burglarized, that left her with bad nerves and periods of panic attacks. Finally getting to sleep after a heavy night of too much drinking she is loudly awakened by a scream and a loud splash. This needs to be investigated! She climbs over the next-door railing and finds a large blood stain and the cabin empty. How could this be, since earlier she met the lady in the next cabin? It makes me wonder if I want to take a cruise vacation.

Thomas
Contraband by Stuart Woods

4
I enjoyed reading this book very much.

Brady
Not Without My Daughter by Betty Mahmoody

5
Published in 1965, this book is a blockbuster as to interest, horror of how some people live and facts of life in the country Iran. The mores of the Iranian citizen are so different from that of an American it is very difficult to understand why a man living in the USA for 20 years wants to go back to Iran to live the rest of his life. While reading this book, you wonder...oh my...what is going to happen next? In my top 10 books of lifetime reading.

Jane
Deadly Christmas Pretense by Dana Mentink

5
Watch for it. As with all Dana's books, be ready for suspense from beginning to end. Real love is so much more. Maggie, Tammy's twin sister, finds trouble the moment she arrives to help her sister out. Liam is out riding and saves Maggie from driving in front of a train. Car damaged. Liam finds himself protecting Maggie over and over again. Tammy and Maggie are very different. Liam was Tammy's ex-boyfriend. I kind of figured some one was helping Virgil try to get jewelry back. Didn't feel he was trustworthy. The surprise where jewelry was hidden very unique. We can all relate to troubles but not near-death ones.

Mary
A Fire Sparkling by Julianne MacLean

5
Loved this book. The characters were so real and you could feel their pain and fear. I have read a lot of war books but this one is up there in the top.

Kathy
The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy

5
I love this book! Read it years ago, but now it was my book club choice for September so read it again. Pat Conroy has a way of getting you right into his life...and this book really does it! The pain he suffered with his dysfunctional family is sometimes hard to bear. The reader feels the emotions. This is truly one of my favorites, but it isn't always pleasant reading!! Family life at its worst!

Anita
Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

5
This was a wonderful book based on historical facts. In 1939 in Memphis, Tennessee 12-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live with their parents on a River shantyboat. One night when her mother is in labor with her 6th child and has to be rushed to the hospital, Rill is left in charge. Soon after, the children are kidnapped and taken to the Children's Home Society Orphanage. They believe they will return home when their new sibling is born. In present day South Carolina, wealthy Avery Stafford, an attorney and the daughter of a senator meets a woman who compels her to look into her history and finds some hidden secrets no one expected. Is she related to the Foss children in anyway?

Jessica
The Mountain Goat by Jim Trainor

4
In reading THE MOUNTAIN GOAT, one must suspend disbelief just a bit to go along for the ride; once you do, it’s a lovely trip. This is the story of Ryan and Amanda, two strangers who embark on a spontaneous cross-country road trip in a tiny RV during which they explore small towns, art museums and national parks. Each has private reasons for wanting to run away from the real world. This story has many themes woven throughout. Yet, at its core, THE MOUNTAIN GOAT is a touching (and at times dangerous) exploration of grief, love and personal discovery. It is a thought-provoking read that would lead to great book group discussion.

Janet
Singularity by Eldon Farrell

4
Futuristic cops and robbers.

Rachel
Above the Bay of Angels by Rhys Bowen

5
Excellent historical fiction.

Susan
A Secret History by Donna Tartt

5
This was a rich novel that was very hard to put down. The writing is exquisite.

laurie
The Last Train to London by Meg Waite Clayton

5
Fictional history at it's best. THE LAST TRAIN TO LONDON is set in the pre-WW II era and based on the true story of the kindertransport rescue of thousands of children from Nazi-occupied Europe.

Linda
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

4
It helps to read the prequel, THE HANDMAID'S TALE, before learning what leads to the downfall of Gilead and who/what happens to the three main characters in THE TESTAMENTS. This dystopian story is more timely than ever - very scary. Some readers will be offended by the religious and political tones.

Pat
Rival’s Break by Carla Neggers

5
Love, love, love Carla’s books. The unique love affair/marriage continues between Colin and Emma and art, FBI, etc. Love her settings in Maine and Ireland as well. Just keep writing, Carla‼️

Pat
The Bookshop on the Shore by Jenny Colgan

4
I have enjoyed all of her books that I’ve read so far...I am a glutton for any books regarding libraries/books - always learn something!

Pat
The Oysterville Sewing Circle by Susan Wiggs

5
Title definitely isn’t what you think the book will be...nice surprise. Had pleasure of meeting Susan recently at book signing. She does a lot of research for her books - doesn’t limit herself to 1 or 2 subjects, nor does she limit herself to one area of the country. She’s a great author. (I am in process of reading through all her books.)

Emily
Father of Lions: One Man’s Remarkable Quest to Save the Mosul Zoo by Louise Callaghan

4
Read an advanced readers copy, thanks to Bookbrowse. I found it to be a remarkable account of one man’s determination to beat harrowing odds. Well written and thoroughly researched. I highly recommend it.

Julie
Sanibel Flats by Randy Wayne White

5
Good suspense novel with great descriptions of Sanibel Island and surrounding areas of Florida. When his high school friend is murdered and his son goes missing Doc Ford goes into action to solve the murder and bring the young son home. Full of local police corruption and foreign government intrigue, Randy Wayne White spins another page-turning tale. Good book and first in the Doc Ford series.

Gladess
Backlash by Brad Thor

5
As usual Brad gives a thrilling page-turner. Havardv is captured at a meeting and his new bride is murdered in front of him and his two dearest friends. He is blindfolded and taken. His escape and adventure getting out of Russia into Finland takes us on many suspenseful encounters. After being set upon by wolves, he breaks into a clinic and meets Christine, a doctor who helps him escape once more and goes with him. Meanwhile his team back home is also getting ready to help.

Betty
The Honey Bus by Meredith May

4
Part memoir and part beekeeping odyssey, this is the unforgettable story of a child whose life is rescued by her beekeeping grandfather. A wonderful story.

Carolann
The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal

5
Mr. Stradal visited our library in Angola, IN. He did a reading from this book. I read his first book, KITCHENS OF THE GREAT MIDWEST. One thing he said made me want to read this one. His books are about family. I truly enjoyed this book, because I was reading it with this in mind. He said he did a lot of research at small breweries. My husband and I enjoyed going to small breweries and tasting the beers. But the family part of the book made it great.

Deb
Things You Save In a Fire by Katherine Center

4
A great story about unforgettable characters you’d want to really meet. Cassie’s admirable, inspirational kick-ass attitude helped her to not only survive, but to excel as a first responder/ firefighter. The camaraderie shared by her coworkers helped her to not only break down boundaries in a male-dominant profession, but also break down her own personal boundaries regarding family and friends, love and loss, forgiveness and acceptance. Katherine Center’s writing style made it easy to become absorbed in the story. I especially liked her constant use of contrasts, comparisons and contradictions to illustrate the challenges Cassie faced, from who she was at the beginning of the story to who she became at the end - and is still becoming.

Linda
A Girl Named Anna by Lizzy Barber

4
Emily Archer disappears from a Florida theme park when she is three years old. Her family (who live in England) never gives up hope of finding her. The story alternates being told by Emily (now Anna) and Rosie, her sister in England. On Anna’s 18th birthday, she disobeys her mother and visits that same theme park with her boyfriend, and feels that she’s been there before. This is Lizzy Barber’s debut novel, and she did a really good job of depicting Anna’s desire, or need, to know more, as she begins to suspect that her “mother” is not really her mother, and Rosie’s need to find her sister as the anniversary of her disappearance approaches.

Elizabeth
The Widow by Fiona Barton

4
THE WIDOW is good, not great. We know right away that a woman is being hounded by the press because her husband, who has done something bad that everyone is interested in, has died suddenly. So the rest of the book is mostly flashback. Turns out the police and most other people believe the husband kidnapped a 2-year-old girl and probably murdered her. His wife (the widow) stood by him for four years. The police and most other people believe she has been lying for him. But now that he is dead, will the widow come clean? Not only is the story told mostly in flashbacks but also from various points of view. So the reader has to pay close attention to the date at the beginning of each chapter. But I found it easy to follow.

Beth
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

4
A great story about a dysfunctional family surviving in Alaska.

Margie
The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult

4
Very emotional family drama, excellent dialogue of current issues.

Brandon
ACID by Emma Pass

5
Great book! One of (if not the) greatest books I have ever read! I would give it six stars if I could! It will have you hooked from the beginning!

Francisca
The Passover Murder by Lee Harris

3
Book 7 in the Christine Bennett mystery series. I really like this main character. Christine is intelligent, calm, deliberate, tenacious and compassionate. She gains the trust of those she interviews and manages to ferret out information that even the police failed to uncover. I also like that the setting is in a time period before cell phones, computers and Googling. The person doing the detecting has to rely on lots of tedious footwork and research, as well as keen observation and a well-honed intuition when interviewing suspects/witnesses.

Michelle
Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust

2
Can only assume that people who have rated this novel as “one of the best” did so from a penchant for super-lengthy philosophical musings. This work really needed a stringent editor.

Mary
Nanaville by Anna Quindlen

5
Quindlen gives the reader valuable insights into how to be a good grandmother and shares the joys of grandparenting.

Virginia
The House Children by Heidi Daniele

5
This book is about a young girl, Mary Margaret Joyce, who is sent to an institutional school in Ireland. The children are either orphans or illegitimate are known as "House children". Peg describes what life is like living at the school with the other children and the nuns. She is able to go once a year to another town to visit with a lovely woman who has been vaguely involved with her from her early years. As the story progresses we find out more about Peg's origins and her struggles with that. It was a very moving book and describes what Ireland was like back in the 40s and 50s when the nuns and priests ran most of the institutions and provided the social services in Ireland.

Kay
The Women of the Copper Country by Mary Doria Russell

4
This historical fiction account of the union miner's strike in northern Michigan led especially by a woman, Annie Clements, caught me immediately. It was a part of the labor movement in this country in 1913. Mary Doria Russell is one of my very favorite authors.

Michelle
Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

3
For all the hype this book got, for me, it was like a deflated balloon. The story had potential. I enjoyed the beginning and build of the story. But after the turning point, it went south and never rebounded. I felt like the author couldn’t figure out where to go from there. The ending was especially unsatisfying. Ask again, a big "No" for me.

Linda
Heiress by Susan May Warren

4
Interesting period piece of the rich at the beginning of the 20th century.

MH
The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn

4
Very intriguing book. Although I guessed a couple of elements of the plot before the end, the ending of the book was a complete surprise. I loved that! The book did a good job of exploring agoraphobia. I was surprised that the main character was able to go outside a couple of times and liked the explanation of her coping mechanisms. This was the best book I’ve read in a while. I’ll be recommending it to my book club.

Lori
Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok

5
Enjoyed this book about a Chinese immigrant family taking place in both NY and The Netherlands. It had a missing person and it was very suspenseful trying to figure out what happened.

Lori
The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes

5
I liked this book of historical fiction about Chinese immigrants in the Seattle area. I appreciated learning about policies that took place in the U.S. I hadn't known about. Readers find out at the end that the historical events actually took place in CA, not WA, and I found that misleading. I enjoyed the book but some of the coincidences in it weren't very believable.

Richard N B
Turning Angel by Greg Iles

2
Book Two in the Penn Cage series. Iles can write a compelling story with lots of suspects, many twists and turns in the plot, complicated motives and subplots, and a fast pace that keeps the reader turning pages. Penn’s background as a prosecuting attorney in Houston serves him well. Murder is always a violent crime, of course, and the sexual component herein is particularly disturbing. But I have a major problem with THIS book due to the basic underlying relationships. So the basic “thriller genre” gets 3 stars, but loses a star for the particularly distasteful – and disgraceful – underlying theme here.

Wendy
A Better Man by Louise Penny

5
This is the fifteenth Inspector Gamache mystery but I continue to find surprises and insights in the series and the characters. It is April in Quebec and after a snowy winter the rivers are bursting their banks. Even the normally peaceful Bella Bella River in Three Pines is threatening the little village. While most other officers of the Surete are dealing with the flood situation Gamache and Agent Cloutier are searching for a missing woman. She phoned her father to say she was leaving her abusive husband but she never turned up at her father's house. The father is a friend of Agent Cloutier and asked her for help. When they eventually find the woman's body all signs point to the husband as her murderer. Surprises ensue.

Sheree
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

5
It was such a good story I didn't want the book to end. I would highly recommend this book.

Dottie
The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth

5
I loved this book. I expected not to like the MIL character, but I really did. Very suspenseful, kept thinking I had it figured out, but didn't. Best kind of book.

Peggy
Outfox by Sandra Brown

4
FBI agent pretending to be a writer to spy on a man whom he believes is a serial killer.

Carolyn
Ellie and the Harpmaker by Hazel Prior

5
Ellie meets Dan, who makes beautiful harps. He is a loner and she is a lonely housewife with a controlling husband. She befriends Dan behind her husband's back and their friendship over harps, music and eventually life and a bigger world than Dan is used to, becomes more than they both could have ever thought of. A quiet, lovely read.

Jan
American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson

3
This is a mystery - but it is overwritten. A good editor would have taken out the repetition and the endless description. A woman is awakened by a strange noise; her boys are in another room, she gets her gun and waits - someone comes in, they fight, both lose their guns and he tries to choke her to death. She reaches out and finds his gun and shoots him in the face. There! You have the beginning. She calls the police. She knew who sent the assassin so she runs to her mother with the two children and asks her to keep them safe. The rest of the book is about her actions and why someone wants her dead. Oh, along the way, we learn about the father of her children. This muddled story takes too long to read.

Jan
Heartland by Sarah Smarsh

4
One more book that has a lot to say but needed an editor to take out some words. The book was so overwritten I had to push myself to finish it. I expected more insight. Smarsh pulled herself up from poverty and writes about the systems of government and social class that hold so many women down. She also pours water on the myth that people can better themselves if they only work hard enough. She grew up in the farmland of middle America. I think that some of the issues she defines could make good discussion points for a book group but I am not certain that most would read the entire book. I did. In retrospect, I did not like a single character. I don't think the author did either, although she claims to love most in her family.

Becky
The Last Train to London by Meg Waite Clayton

5
Truus, a Dutch woman, works to save children from sure death in Nazi Germany in the run up to WWII. This story is based on the real Truus Wijsmuller and the Kindertransport. Well written and researched it will live with you long after you finish reading. While the subject is terrifying, the book itself is full of hope, love, bravery, altruism and redemption. The fiction part of the book details life in Nazi Germany for two young people, one Christian and one Jewish. Fifteen-year-old Stephan works hard on writing plays, stories and poems. Zophie-Helene’s mother is a well-known newspaper journalist.

Barbara
The Horse Dancer by Jojo Moyes

5
Historical details regarding specialized French horsemanship group still ongoing during the 1960s is the setting of this book, plus information about the small areas in major cities where horses were kept. Personal and family relationships explored in multiple levels.

Tessa
Hero of the Empire by Candace Millard

4
Subtitle: The Boer War, a Daring Escape and the Making of Winston Churchill. Millard writes an interesting and detailed biography of the young Winston Churchill. Serving as a war correspondent during the Boer War in South Africa, he was a young, somewhat rash man eager to make his mark in the world. It’s a fascinating story and gives a somewhat different picture of the man most of us know only from his prominence during WWII.

Susan
My Name is Eva by Suzanne Goldring

4
Loved the way this book started and loved the whole story. Quite a different view of WWII and some of the effects it had on the people involved. Really enjoyed the main character.

Christine
The Boy in the Woods by Carter Wilson

4
This is a thriller about murder, blackmail, and revenge. This book held my attention the entire time, which is a feat considering my short attention span. (Don't get me wrong, I am totally capable of reading a 1000 Stephen King novel, but if a story doesn't grab hold of me, it could be a 10 page short story, and I still won't read it.) There are a few disturbing parts that could bother some, but not many, and none of it is gratuitous. I enjoyed the book, and look forward to reading more from this author.

Sharon
The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni

5
I could not put this book down. A story of what love, faith, family and friends can achieve throughout their lives. I laughed and I cried. This book is my favorite for this year. Everyone should read it. I’m going to recommend it to all my friends and family. Thank you, Robert Dugoni, for a most memorable read.

Karen
A Dictionary Of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton

5
A intriguing storyline that involves the bombing of Nagasaki as it effects the past and present of a Japanese family.

Deby
Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

3
Good book about the melding of cultures. Led to some interesting conversation at our book club.

Bonnie
Girls Like Us by Cristina Alger

4
Interesting mystery/police procedural that kept me interested and kept me guessing.

Bonnie
Been There, Married That by Gigi Levangie

2
Chick lit for fans of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

ILene
Manderley Forever by Tatiana de Rosnay

5
Fiction writer Tatina de Rosnay writes a wonderful biography of Daphne Du Maurier, claiming the novel REBECCA exerted a similar influence on her work. What I like is that de Rosnay tells us that many of Du Maurier‘s books are about her life and ancestors. We learn about all the important people that influenced her, and what a great description of the mansion Menabilly, which she rented, that gave her the inspiration to write REBECCA where we first read, “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again”. What a great writer - so glad I read so many of her books.

Lana
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

3
Was slow in beginning and in middle, but overall good. I had an inkling in back of mind who the killer was, but ending was still twisty.

Tessa
The Great Train Robbery by Michael Crichton

4
What a rollicking good story! I was entertained from beginning to end. Crichton starts out with a recitation of the facts and sprinkles the text with details of Victorian life. The way he imagines the lead characters, especially Edward Pierce (the gang leader), is what really breathes life into the story. I've read it before but now it's a selection for my F2F book club. And I still love it!

Liza
The Chain by Adrian McKinty

5
Couldn't put this one down, kept me up too late! A single mother's daughter is kidnapped. The kidnappers give her one non-negotiable task to complete in order to get her daughter back alive: kidnap another child. With her and her daughter's lives at stake, she decides to find who is behind "The Chain". Oh, and she just learned that her breast cancer has returned, also.

Liza
Some Choose Darkness by Charlie Donlea

4
A good read, the premise is a bit creepy: an auto-erotic strangulation serial killer is loose. The protagonist is a woman on the autistic spectrum, which was a really interesting character. I learned about this book on "Word of Mouth", and I will seek out Charlie Donlea's other books.

Jan
I Know You Know by Gilly Macmillan

2
This book is not up to the author's usual high standards. It rambles, it is unfocused and the ending is very rushed. I am still uncertain who the killer was and distrust the detective who wavers (fluctuates) between doing the legal and ethical act or going for the lie and the money. Two young boys are murdered; twenty years later another dead body is found in the same area. The man convicted of two of the murders died in prison. There is one evil character throughout. Easy to dislike. But not many good characters to like. I will read anything by Macmillan but I do not recommend this one.

Kimberley
Southern Lady Code by Helen Ellis

5
A collection of hilarious essays which explain life according to Ms Ellis. Raised in Alabama, she explains how the South views motherhood, life as a woman and survival in the big city. It's a short and humorous adventure. It is not meant for young eyes. I appreciated the messages and the sharing of lessons learned.

Francisca
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

3
One of Hemingway’s earliest novels, this was first published in 1926, and has never been out of print since that time. It is loosely based on the author’s own experiences with a circle of friends frequently known as “The Lost Generation.” In general, I am a fan of Hemingway, but this novel missed the mark for me. The ennui with which these people live their lives just doesn’t interest me very much.

Ruth
The Light Over London by Julia Kelly

5
One of best books I have read this year!

Linda
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

5
I read this book for our book club. It was probably one I wouldn't have chosen on my own. What could be so exciting about a man who was banished to a hotel for the rest of his life? It started out a bit slow for me but I kept reading. About halfway through it really picked up. That was when I couldn't put it down. The characters were so well developed. They felt like old friends. The plot was amazing and the ending blew me away. This is a must-read for everyone. I still find myself thinking about this book frequently. I recommend it whenever I can. We will be discussing it at our next meeting and I know it will bring much discussion. I'm so glad I read this book. And yes, it is about a true gentleman.

Elizabeth
The Real Lolita: A Lost Girl, an Unthinkable Crime, and a Scandalous Masterpiece by Sarah Weinman

4
THE REAL LOLITA by Sarah Weinman tells the true story of Sally Horner and shows again and again how that story influenced Vladimir Nabokov and his creation LOLITA. I can’t imagine a more tragic story than Sally Horner’s. She was kidnapped in New Jersey when she was just a child and repeatedly raped by a 50-year-old man for nearly two years before she was rescued at the other end of the country. This occurred in the 1950s, when Nabokov was writing LOLITA, although under another title. He began the book, but then was stuck and could not finish it until he read a newspaper account about Sally Horner.