Broken Wheel is reflective of many small towns, derelict and seemingly hopeless. Bivalve has penned a transformative novel that allows us to journey with Sara, a Swedish visitor, as she changes this community by her act of opening a bookstore to honor Amy, a pen pal she has come to visit only to find that friend dead on her arrival. Sara wants to repay the town for its kindness to her and in doing so sets off a chain reaction in the relationships between the residents. Through her love of books, she encourages her new friends to become better people, a true testament that one person who cares can make a difference. I came to love Broken Wheel and all its quirky characters, and especially Sara, who loves books. A charming story!
- Stephanie Crowe
The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko by Scott Stambach
By his own admission Ivan is difficult to view due to his physical deformities. His life in Mazyr Hospital for Gravely Ill Children is grim and tragic. These children are suffering a wide range of disabilities due to radiation poisoning at Chernobyl. Even so, I do admire Ivan’s spirit and tenacity in coping with the devastating environment of the hospital. Although his body is frail, his mind is sharp and he has a brilliant intellect which he uses to stay engaged in the world. His sense of humor wrecks havoc on his caregivers but is hilarious. Ivan even manages to become attached to Polina, a young girl terminally ill with leukemia. There is tenderness, loyalty and love on display in this landscape of pain and sorrow. Ivan is a wonderful character whose life isn’t invisible at all. I loved this story. It is unique and has lingered in my thoughts long after I finished it. A must read! -Stephanie Crowe
Will Rhodes is a nice guy, a travel writer who enjoys his job. He is happily married. But is that all he is? A one night stand throws him into a different level of play. Will’s relationships and his exploits become complicated and as he tries to manage his situation, things get really squirrelly. Pavone is a master at the CIA spook tale and he has done it again in this third novel. He takes us on a wild goose chase as Will and the reader try to figure what is going on. A great escape and terrific read!
- Stephanie Crowe
The Atomic Weight of Love
The Atomic Weight of Love is the debut novel by Elizabeth Church that is both scientific yet a love story all at the same time. It follows the life of a young girl named Meridian whom is studying to become an Ornothologist. The time span runs from World War II all the way into the 1970s. She managed to make complex thoughts easy and enjoyable to read and understand leaving you contemplating.
- Michelle Fields
The Railwayman's Wife
It’s not often that one finds a love like Ani and Max. That relationship is so special and so well defined that when disaster strikes, the blow almost feels physical. Hay takes us on the journey of grief with Ani as she struggles to adapt to life without Max. She connects us to the intimacy of the relationship and her sense of life and somehow makes us feel the experience. A lovely story of love, loss and renewal!
- Stephanie Crowe
The After Party
Another delicious novel from one of my favorite authors, The After Party is a story of deep devotion and friendship and of the secrets we all carry that shape our lives. DiSclafani powerfully captures the complexities of female relationships, particularly between mothers and daughters. I read it in one sitting and dare you to try to put it down!
- Stephanie Emrich
Meant to begin my day with a coffee and the start of Dead Investigation, yet by my second cup I was hooked for the day, my list of errands tossed aside so I could gobble this fabulous YA thriller. If you are adult who hasn't read young adult literature, Charlie Price will show you why you should. YA fans will enjoy the lightening pace, a solid dose of angst, the voices of the dead, murder, and an ending that you hope brings justice. Charlie Price is Fairhope's Writer in Residence and it's my understanding that he wrote Dead Investigation here. He's an Edgar Award winner---a really big deal!
Flight of Dreams
Lawhorn weaves a mesmerizing narrative of the last flight of the zeppelin, Hindenburg, which exploded in flames on May 6, 1937 in New Jersey. Her riveting account is focused on the passengers and extensive research was done in order to give an accurate account of the actual people on that trip. Emilie Imhoff, the only female employee on the flight serving as a stewardess, Max Zabel, the navigator who is infatuated with her and the American, Edward Douglas, play pivotal roles as well as a host of others. Although the cause of the disaster was never determined, the author offers the possibility that sabotage was the culprit. This story is gripping and the emotions of the characters intense. I was totally captivated and could not put the book down!
- Stephanie Crowe
This debut novel follows the journey of four terminally ill patients who are selected via an American lottery system to undergo an experimental FDA program — cloning humans to cure terminal diseases. Given the opportunity of a lifetime through a “rebirth,” the patients must learn to navigate their old world with their new bodies. Told from the different characters’ perspectives — a young artist, a mother, an actress and a congressman — this dystopian/sci-fi-ish novel will haunt you long after you put the book down. This journey into the unknown depths of human cloning drew me in with each of its compelling characters and story lines.The author introduces us to wonderfully fleshed out characters who ponder ideals of identity, love, humanity, and controversial scientific advancements. I’ve never been one to read sci-fi, however, I have always loved dystopian, so this novel — based on the not-so-distant-future of body cloning — intrigued me. My mind keeps wandering back to this book due to the characters and their reactions to such a bizarre —yet closer-than-we-think — reality of human cloning.
Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
Jack is charming and handsome but underneath his cool exterior is a brutal psychopath who thrives on terrifying others. His wife, Grace, loved him and found out too late that he was a monster who controlled everything she did. Even her sister, Millie, a handicapped young woman who depends on Grace, is part of Jack’s vicious plan. Paris has crafted a riveting, intense tale that makes us wish for revenge and payback for the horror that Jack perpetrates on Grace. There may be a way out but is Grace sufficient for the task? Behind Closed Doors will keep you on the edge of your seat until the last page. WOW!
Charlotte by David Foekinos
Charlotte is one of the best books I’ve read this year. It is an original telling of Charlotte’s life as she grows up in Germany during WWII and faces all the traumas of the time. In addition her family has its own history of demons that are always present and disturbing the family equilibrium. As a young adult she discovers art and painting and this gives her purpose. She is so good that she is accepted into the Berlin School of Art but later is deprived recognition because she is Jewish. This is my first experience with Foenkinos but his writing style is extraordinary; I loved the way he weaves his research experience in the present into the story of the past. I read this book in one sitting and it brought me to tears! A must read!
The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict
This is great historical fiction about the first wife of Albert Einstein, Mitza Maric, who was a brilliant physicist in her own right. Her relationship with Albert and their marriage reveal the difficulty for women during the early 20th century to have a career. Her own contributions to the field of developing science helped promote Albert’s career but as his career began to rise, she was diminished and her scientific endeavors stifled. Benedict reveals Mitza’s struggles and disappointments with sensitivity and insight. A fascinating woman! This is a must read! Loved it!
Hero of the Empire by Candice Millard
Millard details a little known event in the life of Winston Churchill, when as a young man of 25 years of age he went off to South Africa to fight in the Boer War. Churchill certainly had an extraordinary experience. He was courageous and at times impulsive and manipulative, but always a fascinating character. Millard pens a thrilling narrative of Churchill’s battle experience, his capture and imprisonment and his exciting escape. His fearlessness made him a hero in England and propelled him into life as a politician. A thoroughly enjoyable adventure and a riveting read!
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
Oh, the life of Count Alexander Rostov! Who would have thought that house arrest for 30 years would be worth living… but what a fascinating experience we get to share with the Count. And along the way he gives us a lesson in contemporary Russian history. A beautifully written piece that is both delightful and informative! The Count is a true Renaissance man and I was mesmerized by him and all of his associates. This is truly a book that must be read! I loved it!