When She Woke

When She Woke

by Hillary Jordan

Review by Rebecca Hoetger

This novel was a huge disappointment for me. I thought When She Woke had so much potential, but didn’t really deliver in the execution; it never made it past the “meh” stage, really. For me, this novel was all about the tease. You’re given a little bit of information, but not enough to be truly satisfied, though there were some really good parts—the futuristic world, its technology, the morality laws, etc. While I thought the America created by Hillary Jordan was interesting and thought-provoking, again I didn’t get quite enough of the backstory to really be a part of that world. Continue reading

I Shall be Near to You

I Shall be Near to You

By Erin Lindsay McCabe

Review by Angela DeMott

I Shall Be Near to You is one of the rare cases where the novel itself lives up to the author reviews and jacket cover blurbs. While primarily a love story (a moving and realistic one at that), I Shall Be Near to You surprised me with its terrifying and riveting portrayal of 19th century life during war. The two main characters (Rosetta and Jeremiah) were extremely well-drawn, and Rosetta’s narrative voice was every bit as unique, engaging, and believable as any in the literary canon. Throughout the novel, I kept thinking, “I really wish Rosetta could somehow share a meal and conversation with Ada Monroe.” Continue reading

The Nix

The Nix

By Nathan Hill

Review by: Linda Parkyn

The Nix is a great rambling family saga, alternating chapters between a mother and son. The majority of the mothers’ life is told in five chapters that take place in 1968 and the five chapters primarily about the son take place in 2011.  The chapters alternate and often enlighten each other. The story is huge, it tells the dynamics in their familial relationships as well as both of their underlying reasons for how they interpret the world. Continue reading

Under the Banner of Heaven

Under the Banner of Heaven book coverUnder the Banner of Heaven

By Jon Krakauer

Review by Rebecca Hoetger

For non-fiction, this book captivated me right from the very beginning. The title! This is the true story of the double murder of Brenda Lafferty and her 15-month old daughter, Erica, at the hands of Ron and Dan Lafferty (the older brothers of Brenda’s husband). I would have liked more information on the actual Lafferty case; that being said, Krakauer does an amazing job relating the gruesome details that we have. Continue reading

Testimony

Testimony

By Scott Turow

Review by Roberta Earle

“Life had taught me a cold truth, that the long-savored dream, when tested by reality, rarely approached expectations.”

Bill ten Boom decides to quit his lucrative job as a partner in a law form, leave his life in the U.S., and take a job with the International Criminal  Court in The Hague.  At 54 years old, he is not sure where his life is going and he is hoping that the ICC, a permanent war crimes tribunal charged with prosecuting crimes against humanity, will help give his life some meaning and purpose.    Continue reading

Camino Island

Camino Island

By John Grisham

Review by Roberta

If you are a John Grisham fan, you may be slightly disappointed in this latest novel.  It does not have quite the drama, pace, and legalese of previous novels.  However, it is a good story and worth reading.

The novel begins with an intricately planned and nearly perfect heist of rare F. Scott Fitzgerald manuscripts from Princeton University by some very clever thieves.   Although the manuscripts are insured for $25 million dollars, the university wants the manuscripts back and the insurance company also prefers this outcome. Continue reading

Orhan’s Inheritance

Orhan’s Inheritance

By: Aline Ohanesian

Review by: Shahnaz

Tragic human stories of greed under different titles of religion, land, country, resources, and freedom happen every day. This is one of them, which takes place in two time periods, 75 years apart and across two continents, old and new. We all have heard about the tragic Armenian death walks from Turkey’s northern region to the Syrian desert, under the label of displacements. Just looking at the map gives one a dizzying feeling, let alone walking it, in hard, hot weather, with no food or comforting rest, mostly women and children who were guided by violent guards. We all have read about it, but what I found in this new book is looking on this tragedy from a different angle – human common emotions of love, hate, power, and suffering. Continue reading

A Great Reckoning

A Great ReckoningA Great Reckoning

By Louise Penny

Review by Kathy Caputo (our Book Your Summer grand prize winner!)

This book is the twelfth in a series of mystery novels by a Canadian author in which the protagonist is the wise and gentle Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of a Canadian Police Agency.  He is known for his intelligence, his kindness and for his ability to see the goodness in flawed characters, often having his associates question his judgment.

The main setting is a tiny idyllic fictional village near Montreal in which several of the local residents are regular characters in the series.  Characters include a gifted artist, a retired psychologist turned book store proprietor, an eccentric aging poet and a gay couple who operate a bed and breakfast inn and a cozy bistro that functions like a community center.   Descriptions of rich French food served in the bistro add to the warm and inviting atmosphere of the community, especially when there is snow pelting the windows.  Part of the story takes place at the police academy and elsewhere. Continue reading

One Day

One Day

By: David Nicholls

Review by Stephanie Crean

When I received this book as a “blind choice” as part of TPL’s ‘Christmas in July’, I expected it to be a cute, brainless beach read. One Day chronicles the relationship between two people by visiting them on the same day, year after year. Dexter, an affluent, self assured individual struggles with womanizing, drugs, alcohol, and eventually, self esteem. He constantly relies on the kindness and support of Emma, who wishes she could have the Dexter she met in college. Continue reading

The Book of Polly

The Book of PollyThe Book of Polly

by Kate Hepinstall

Review by Kathy

This book is a delight, a laugh out loud, tear up a little, hold your breath in suspense delight!

The story is told from the point of view of Willow, the child born to a 58 year old steel magnolia who discovers she is with child within days of her husband’s death. All children fear the death of a parent, but Willow’s fear of being left an orphan is not irrational, considering the circumstances. While she has two much older siblings, they are long out of the house and Willow is like an only child. Polly is a strong, proud, snarky woman who feuds with her neighbors and her daughter’s teachers while scaring her daughter’s friends. Yet she lovingly attends to her garden and it is one of the few places she and Willow can share a space without conflict. This is a woman who loves deeply but cannot express it. Continue reading