The Annual List - 2016

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Hungry for Good Books? Annual Book List for 2016
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  ©Copyright November 30, 2016 by Trina Hayes
Letters after each selection designate the book as CC: Chinese Carryout (page-turners, great for plane rides), D: Desserts (delightful indulgences), DC: Diet Coke and Gummi Bears (books for teens and young adults), G: Gourmet (exquisite writing, requires concentration), GPR: Grandma’s Pot Roast (books that get your attention and stick with you), GS: Grits (evocative of the American south), OC: Over Cooked (good ingredients, but overwritten), PBJ: Peanut Butter and Jelly (children’s books adults will like), PP: Pigeon Pie (historical fiction set at least 50 years ago),  R: Road Food (audio books for road trips and more), S: Sushi with Green Tea Sorbet (satire, irony, black humor, acquired taste), SF: Soul Food (spirituality, theology, books for your soul), SN: Super Nutrition (lots of information, yet tasty as fresh blueberries), and T: Tapas (small bites including short stories, novellas, essays, and poetry). The letters BC denote books for book clubs.  Asterisks (*) depict the most outstanding titles in each designation. The plus sign (+) is for books I recommend. The number sign (#) is for books with full reviews on my blog. All books listed were published in 2016 unless noted.
General Fiction and Poetry

+Adams, Alice, Invincible Summer is a light, light read that’s perfect for the beach yet examines what’s important in life. Tracing the lives of four 1997 British college grads through love, marriage, children, disappointments, and shattered dreams, this is an homage to the power of friendship. D/GPR, BC
+Bachelder, Chris, The Throwback Special is a testosterone-filled, satirical meditation on male relationships. A group of men gather for their annual weekend to reenact the1985 NFL game when Joe Theismann’s leg was horrifically broken in this wry, humorous, yet poignant novel. National Book Award finalist G/S
*Beatty, Paul, The Sellout, the winner of the 2016 Man Booker Prize and the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award, is a  dazzling satire that while outrageously comical is so biting that the caustic pages eat away at the reader. A young, black man reinstates slavery and segregation to bring back his town and soon sits in front of the Supreme Court because of his actions.  Prominent use of the “n” word and searing stereotyping will turn off many readers. This brilliant, scathing tale erupts like a volcano of truth that’s impossible to ignore but is just as difficult to consume. SN/G, BC (2015)
#Backman, Fredrik, Britt-Marie was Here, Britt-Marie appeared as the “nag-bag” in My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She Was Sorry. Now she’s left her cheating husband after forty years for a job in Borg, a tiny Swedish town where no one wants to live. Britt-Marie, herself, is charming, but the novel is predictable and less than entrancing.  I found it convoluted and contrived. Others disagree and love it. OC
*Burton, Jessie, The Muse links Odelle, a Caribbean immigrant in 1967 London with Olive Schloss, an English heiress, and Isaac Robles and his sister Teresa, poor villagers in Spain in 1937. When a painting rumored to be by Robles is brought to the Skelton Institute of Arts, where Odelle works, questions arise. This literary novel combines suspense with the power of words, art, and love. G/GPR, BC
*#Campbell, Ellen Prentiss, The Bowl with Gold Seams reimagines little-known history between VE Day and VJ Day when the Japanese ambassador to Berlin, his staff, and their families were held in a Pennsylvania resort which the U.S. commissioned as an internment center. The novel focuses on Hazel Shaw, an imagined young woman, working at the hotel where the detainees were kept, and on her life years later when she faces a moral dilemma. GPR/PP/SN, BC
*#Canin, Ethan, A Doubter’s Almanac  traces the lives of Milo, a mathematician, and his family from his childhood in the northeastern Michigan woods through his recognition as one of the world’s greatest mathematicians to the torment and obsessions that lead to his fall. Richard Russo fans will applaud Canin’s acrobatic artistry with words, characters, and ideas in this compelling narrative. G, BC
*#Cleave, Chris, Everyone Brave is Forgiven, Mary, an 18-year-old Londoner in the 1939 Blitz, teaches the children no one in the countryside wants to help. Meanwhile, Mary corresponds with Alistair, who’s serving in Malta, and both learn that everyone brave is supposed to be forgiven, yet in wartime “courage is cheap and clemency out of season.” My father, who served in World War II, would have loved this novel. My mother would have as well. GPR/G/PP/SN, BC
+Close, Jennifer, The Hopefuls is a beach-read look at ambition, charisma, friendship, and marriage seen through two women who meet when their husbands work together in the Obama White House. When Jimmy and wife Ash move home to Texas, have a baby and he runs for a state-wide office, Matt and Beth join them so Matt can run Jimmy’s campaign, Beth must give up her job and is less than enthusiastic as she ponders how her marriage is changing and whether the friendship is real. The author’s husband worked in the Obama White House and the book rings true. CC/D
+Doig, Ivan, The Bartender’s Tale offers Doig’s signature view of Montana’s quirky characters. Twelve-year-old Rusty listens to secrets from an air vent in his father’s bar and makes friends with Zoe, a new girl in town; Delano, an oral historian; and Proxy, a taxi dancer who Rusty thinks might be his mother. Doig captures Rusty and Zoe’s voices perfectly in this charmer. GPR. BC (2012)
*#Donoghue, Emma, The Wonder is set in 1850s rural Ireland where a young girl has supposedly gone without food for months. A scientifically trained nurse who studied with Florence Nightingale doubts the veracity of the tale and is sent to watch over the girl in a tiny village in the middle of Ireland. The Wonder is a wonder of tension and storytelling dexterity. Great voice and historical detail! If you loved Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites, this is for you. G/GPR/PP, BC
*Faulkner, William, The Sound and the Fury is a classic we all need to revisit or read for the first time to understand our world today. Read this with a book club and use an online guide as it is tough and needs dissection. G, BC (1929)
*#Fifield, Richard, The Flood Girls is a debut stunner with an ending you’ll debate for days. Recovering alcoholic Rachel returns to her unconventional small Montana town and reluctantly joins the local softball team. The cast of zany characters will make you appreciate friendship, forgiveness, and allowing others to lift you when you need it. It’s sure to make you laugh, smile, and wonder. GPR/SF/S, BC
*Gardam, Jane, The Hollow Land is an absolute charmer. The voices of the young English boys, Bell and Harry resonate. Harry is from London and his parents are renting a house on farmland owned by Bell’s family. The two very different boys explore the countryside and grow along with the land where they meet unique characters. Gardam offers wry British humor and her own brilliantly economical use of just the right words to illuminate characters, time, and place.  Lovers of the Old Filth trilogy will rejoice to hear that this novel is in print. It's set in the 1960s and is told in stories that could be read on their own but make for a cohesive novel. (Written in 1982, it won the Whitbread Prize. – US publication, 2014) GPR/PP
*#Geye, Peter, The Wintering evokes a journey in the fall of 1963 when Harry Eide (of The Lighthouse Road) persuades his 18-year-old son Gus to postpone college and canoe into the Canadian borderlands where they’ll winter over just like the early voyageurs had done. Wintering embeds the reader into the events of the past that lead to Harry and Gus’s journey then returns to today as Berit Lovig, Harry’s longtime companion, and Gus narrate their stories perfectly. Most of the novel takes place in the northern wilderness during Gus and Harry’s harrowing 1963 journey. Wintering is a humdinger of an adventure. Fans of Jim Harrison, Jack London, or Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild will love it. G/PP/SN, BC
*#Hall, Rachel, Heirlooms is a remarkable homage to families and those displaced by war. It crystalizes the story of an extended family of Jews during World War II and after, yet it could tell the story of Syrians today. Each interwoven story brilliantly highlights survival, loss, and resilience. Please read it and choose this paperback original for your next book club selection. It deservedly won the G.S. Sharat Chandra Prize for Short Fiction. G/GPR/PP/SN/T, BC
+Harnish, Kristen, The California Wife is a stand-alone, original paperback sequel to The Vintner’s Daughter. It’s 1897 and Sara and Philippe are trying to make their Napa vineyard a winner at the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris as family problems interfere. Romance, history, and wine make for an enjoyable novel. D/PP/SN
+Hoffman, Alice, Faithful explores Shelby’s survivor’s guilt as she recovers emotionally from driving the car in an accident where her best friend is left in a coma. She moves to NYC with a nice guy who loves her when she can’t love herself. The snarky characters keep this from becoming sappy and themes abound for discussion. GPR, BC
Ishiguro, Kazuo, The Buried Giant is a fantasy/allegory set in 6th century England just after King Arthur and the Saxon battles. The deep love of Axl and Beatrice was endearing and enchanting. The sadly profound ending and the meditation on memory touched me as did comparisons to today, but I wouldn’t read this unless it was with a smart, committed book group as it needs discussion. G/PP, BC (2015)
+Jackson, Joshilyn, The Opposite of Everyone features a no-nonsense, aloof, mixed-race lawyer who learns that she has a half-brother and that she can’t avoid life. Southern story-telling offers a deep connection that keeps tough lawyer Paula from falling apart. Jackson’s quirky characters and the way she leads readers into dark places with humor offer a winning combination.  GPR/ GS, BC
*#Jiles, Paulette, News of the World is pure joy distilled into a western novel set in 1870 Texas. Jiles’ melodious prose always delights, but it’s Joanna, the 10-year-old girl captured by the Kiowa, and the Captain, a veteran of two wars in his seventies who takes on the task of returning the girl to her family, that will steal your heart. A splendid story told with humor and grace! I adore this National Book Award Finalist and can’t wait to share it with a book club. G/GPR/PP/SN, BC
+Joseph, Zilka, Sharp Blue Search of Flame is a gorgeously illustrated collection of Joseph’s lush, evocative poetry. Hennaed brides meet bees, nature, and sensuality in a fine poetry collection. G/T
+#Kelly, Martha Hall, Lilac Girls is based on the true story of Caroline Ferriday and her work to help women survivors of Ravensbruck concentration camp as well as of Herta Oberheuser, one of the Ravensbruck doctors prosecuted at Nuremberg and on a teenage resistance fighter sent to the camp, Kelly makes these stories of World War II bravery and cunning come alive as she makes them human through showing romantic interests and society doings. GPR/PP/SN, BC
+#Konar, Affinity, Mischling exquisitely bears witness to the atrocities perpetrated by Josef Mengele at Auschwitz, but reading of the abuses suffered by so many children in Mischling was almost more than I could endure. Twins Pearl and Stasha’s dual narratives offer prize-worthy, lyrical language and ask deep questions about forgiveness, yet this novel is only for those able to stomach the horrors. G/PP/SN, BC
Leavitt, Caroline, Cruel Beautiful World tells the 1968-era story of two sisters and the woman who adopted them. Lucy, a teen who runs off with her teacher, is unpredictable. Charlotte compensates by being good and Inez loves them both. The engaging characters didn’t make up for the robotic narrative. CC
*Martin, Herbert Woodward, The Log of the Vigilante is an important poetic look at African-American history with the influence of the slave trade and the church voiced with literary precision in the cadence of old-time gospel and pain. Told as a log kept by the listening captain of the slave ship The Vigilante and in the voices of others of the time, it speaks to suffering and hope. Several of the poems require reading again and again, even through your tears. G/T (2000)
+Mawer, Simon, Tightrope, see Mysteries and Thrillers
+Mawer, Simon, Trapeze, see Mysteries and Thrillers
*#Mulhauser, Travis, Sweet Girl is a debut winner told in the vibrant, authentic voice of sixteen-year-old Percy James, a high-school dropout living in a fictional town resembling Petoskey, the northern Michigan town Hemingway made famous. Fast forward 100 years and the storied hills shelter meth labs and burnouts alongside fancy resorts and multimillionaires, Fargo meets Breaking Bad with a plucky teen heroine in a gritty winter setting. Only someone like Mulhauser who grew up in the area could capture the unforgiving weather and lack of opportunities that can result in criminal activity. GPR/S, BC
*Obioma. Chigozie, The Fisherman is a true heir to Chinua Achebe’s classic Things Fall Apart. Benjamin, the youngest of four Nigerian brothers, narrates this mythical, 1990s, Cain and Abel tale. The chapter headings alone are brilliant. The Man Booker finalist has so much to ponder that it almost requires that you read it with a book club to contemplate every morsel. It’s tough but so rewarding. G/SN, BC (2015)
+#Ogden, Jenni, A Drop in the Ocean, When 49-year-old Anna heads to a remote New Zealand barrier island for a year, she doesn’t know what to expect. Nesting sea turtles and other exotic species are the draw of this gem, but watching Anna find herself and love are bonuses. What an ending! GPR/SN, BC
*O’Nan, Stewart, City of Secrets embeds the reader into 1945 Jerusalem where Jewish transplants fight the British Mandate in hopes of creating an independent Israel. Brand, a Latvian concentration camp survivor, wants to do what’s just, yet moral ambiguities abound. As a taxi driver, he goes everywhere – observing changes and trying to forget the past. This spare account will keep you up all night. G/SN/T, BC
*Patchett, Ann, Commonwealth is a quotidian novel of marriage and family that resembles Anne Tyler’s writing with a winning take on what it’s like to grow up in a blended family. Patchett illuminates family difficulties in her somewhat autobiographical take on life that pulls you in and won’t let you go. Just read it. GPR/G, BC
+Rash, Ron, Above the Waterfall, Becky, a park ranger suffering from PTSD lingering after a school shooting when she was a child, and Les, a 51-year-old sheriff who’s retiring in two days, are enmeshed in two crimes. I love Rash’s previous novels, but this one can’t seem to decide if it’s a literary homage to Gerard Manley Hopkins or a crime novel. Many in my book club loved it, however. I enjoyed the descriptions and characters, but found the mystery slow. GPR/SN (2015)
*Semple, Maria, Today Will Be Different, The author of the superb Where’d You Go Bernadette? returns with a snarky, yet poignant tale about Eleanor, a woman who seems to have it all but is a complete wreck. She vows that today will be different. Today she’ll be present, she’ll play a board game with her son, initiate sex with her husband, get dressed in proper clothing, and radiate calm. Today she’ll be the person she’s capable of being -- then life intervenes. Her son says he’s sick and needs to come home, her husband isn’t at work where he should be, and an encounter with a former colleague exposes a buried family secret. This book is wickedly funny, honest, and uniquely affirmative. GPR/SN, BC
+Shaara, Jeff, A Blaze of Glory: a novel of the Battle of Shiloh, details the plans and disruptions of the 1862 Battle of Shiloh. I listened to this while driving to Shiloh. It informed me and showed the spirit and beauty of the area. SN/RT (2012)
+Sherbrooke, Katherine A., Fill the Sky, Jodi Picoult fans will enjoy this novel of women’s friendships, romantic twists, and moral dilemmas. Tess, a biotech whiz is all about logic so when friend Ellie’s last hope to fight her cancer lies with shamans in Ecuador, Tess reluctantly joins her and their other best friend, Joline, in a village where they all confront the need to heal their inner selves. The book captures unusual healing rituals and village life in Ecuador well. CC/SN
Shipman, Viola, The Charm Bracelet, Wade Rouse uses his aunt’s moniker as his pen name in this light romance. Rouse, himself, is a charmer, but the only charm in The Charm Bracelet is its setting. CC/D
+Shipstead, Maggie, Astonish Me, Joan, a young American dancer, helps Arslan Ruskov, a great Russian ballet star, defect in 1975. Later, having built a life with her husband and son, Joan teaches her neighbor’s daughter, hoping she’ll be a prima ballerina, but instead it’s her son who astonishes the ballet world. My book club didn’t love the characters but they thoroughly enjoyed discussing the twists, themes, and ending. G/SN, BC (2014)
*#Simonson, Helen, The Summer Before the War, Downton Abbey fans will thrill to this Jane Austin-like treatment of 1914 England as war looms. Heroine Beatrice Nash is Elizabeth Bennet on a bicycle carrying her teaching credentials and a determination to earn her own way. Read this thoughtful ode to enter the bright, promising summer before the war where you’ll emerge both entertained and educated. The link to Henry James is especially intriguing. GPR/PP/SN, BC
+Strout, Elizabeth, My Name is Lucy Barton, Lucy, a thirtyish wife and mother is hospitalized in New York so her mother comes from her rural home to see her. They haven’t seen each other in years and as they sit and share memories, Strout carefully reveals their inner lives with spare, concise sentences. This is a masterwork of quiet prose. G/T, BC
*#Sweeney, Ashley E., Eliza Waite is a resolute widow who moves to Alaska during the 1890s gold rush where she opens a bakery and awakens to her own needs and abilities. Tying this book to Kate Chopin’s classic The Awakening enlivens the story while the plot twists and evocative weather imagery make this a winner of a debut novel. GPR/PP/SN, BC
+Timmer, Julie Lawson, The Untethered seems like a light read, but it explores a-little-known issue, that of families and what to do about difficult adopted children. It’s well-researched and heart-felt. GPR/SN, BC
*#Towles, Amor, A Gentleman in Moscow begins in 1922 when Count Rostov is sentenced to house arrest in Moscow’s Hotel Metropol where he remains through 1954.This kind, witty, compassionate novel puts the reader into the hotel and the lives of its inhabitants. From its droll beginning to its artful ending, this novel is a sure winner. GPR/PP/SN, BC
+Waters, Sarah, The Paying Guests explores 1920s Britain as its class system begins to unravel. Frances and her mother are left with a large home and debts after the death of Frances’ brothers and father so they decide to rent out rooms to a young couple. Leonard and Lilian are of the “clerk” class, thus frightening. Frances falls for Lillian and hot, hot sex scenes ensue. An accident (or was it accidental?) happens and readers will be on edge till the last page. Whoa! G/PP, BC
+Watson, Larry, As Good As Gone takes place in 1963 in a small Montana town when Bill Sidey visits his recluse father Calvin, now living off the grid, and asks him to stay with his grandchildren for a week while their mother has an operation in Missoula. Calvin’s behavior goes far beyond the stereotypical western man’s man. He’s fearless beyond a fault. Cast Clint Eastwood or Robert De Niro as Calvin.  GPR/PP, BC
*#Whitehead, Colson, The Underground Railroad this year’s National Book Award winner is a masterpiece of invention that takes the reader into another world where slavery is made real in all its wrenching, horrific power. It's a tour de force that every American must read to understand history. That it imagines a literal below-ground railroad with stations where slaves can ride a train to freedom is fantastic imagery. Cora’s adventures feel like Gulliver is traveling in pre-Civil War America. G/PP/SN, BC
*Woodson, Jacqueline, Another Brooklyn shows a city that could became a fearful place where young girls’ dreams died. In this short novel, Woodson illustrates how it felt to grow up black, female, and too desirable in 1970s Brooklyn. August and her girlfriends work to become their future selves while trying to savor adolescence. “On a different planet, we could have been Lois Lane or Tarzan’s Jane or Mary Tyler Moore, or Marlo Thomas. We could have thrown our hats up, twirled and smiled. We could have made it after all. We watched the shows. We knew the songs. We sang along when Mary was big-eyed and awed by Minneapolis. We dreamed with Marlo of someday hitting the big time. We took off with the Flying Nun.  But we were young. And we were on earth, heading home to Brooklyn.”  I adored her Brown Girl Dreaming and this adds to that story. National Book Award finalist. G/GPR, BC 
*Yapa, Sunil, Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist is a potent, exhilarating whirlwind of a novel that will have you admonishing characters aloud. It takes place on a rainy day in Seattle in 1998 as protestors gather to stop the WTO from meeting. Told from the view of protestors, the Police Chief, a Sri Lankan delegate, and a teenager who wanders in to make a little money selling weed, this novel depicts heart-wrenching love in a changing world. It’s even more compelling given current politics. G/SF, BC

Mysteries, Suspense, and Thrillers
Carter, M.J., The Stranger Vine, While the premise of two Brits commissioned by the East India Company to find a missing author north of Calcutta in 1837 is admirable and the two are engaging characters, the slow-as-molasses first hundred pages and the very predictable climax made this a miss for me. It’s saved by the meticulously researched details particularly about Thugs and colonialism but they weren’t enough to engage this reader. Others found it enthralling. OC/PP/SN (2015)
+Eskens, Allen, The Life We Bury is a page-turning beach read centering on Joe, a college student with an assignment to interview someone and write his life story. He goes to a nursing home where he meets Carl, a dying, convicted murderer. As the story unravels, Joe finds inconsistencies in Carl’s case that may exonerate him. The ten-page chapter about Carl’s Viet Nam experience is powerful, but the rest of the novel is foreseeable and clichéd, yet entertaining. Debut author Eskens shows promise. CC, BC (2014)
+Gardner, Lisa, Find Her is a chilling thriller with a twist you can’t even imagine. Kidnapped on spring break five years previously, Flora Dane was held for 472 days and now she’s involved in a crime scene that asks more questions than it answers. Girls keep disappearing, and nothing makes sense. CC
+Grafton, Sue, X , X is vintage Grafton. As private detective Kinsey Millhone solves her 24th mystery and the series winds down, neighbor Henry and the new residents next door captivated this reader. Grafton makes ingenious criminals almost likeable and she always comes up with clever plot twists that allow better solutions than simply tracking the bad guys. So what if it’s a touch formulaic; it’s a treat. CC/GPR
+Gutcheon, Beth, Death at Breakfast is the novelist and screen-writer’s first entry in a new “cozy” mystery series. Retired school administrator Maggie and her friend Hope take a 5-day cooking class at a Maine resort in the town where Hope’s son is the Deputy Sheriff. A brash, annoying couple and her sister upset the calm inn and a guest is found dead during a fire in one of the inn’s wings. The deputy helped by Maggie and Hope discover whodunit with a touch of comedy and cozy wisdom. This is a light, quiet mystery for harried days. CC
 *Hamer, Kate, The Girl in the Red Coat, is a fabulous thriller with engaging characters. Eight-year-old Carmel’s mother’s quest to find her daughter when she disappears from a British festival is gut-wrenching. The novel showcases not just a mysterious disappearance but also the ways a mother and daughter might survive such a horrific separation. It features a complicated, evil villain and fine minor characters who set it above the usual.  GPR/CC/SF, BC
*Harvey, Michael, Brighton follows Kevin, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter for the Boston Globe, who returns to Brighton, the violent Boston neighborhood where he grew up, when several murders seem connected to his past. Kevin hasn’t returned since he unexpectedly left at age fifteen. His colorful family including his sister Bridget and his murdered grandmother haunt him. It seems almost certain that Kevin’s childhood best friend, Bobby is involved in the deaths, yet his viewpoint is captivating. Every character in this winner brings a perspective that makes the reader unsure not just about how the book will end, but also about whether to root for probable villains. The language is clear, precise, and spine-tinglingly honest. Fans of Dennis Lehane’s Mystic River or the movie The Departed will love this. It’s fabulous! GPR
+Hawley, Noah, Before the Fall tells of the crash of a private jet over the Atlantic south of Martha’s Vineyard and the aftermath featuring Scott, a recovering alcoholic painter, who swam to shore carrying the only other survivor a 4-year-old boy. Was the plane sabotaged? Was the head of a Fox news-like network a target? Despite the one-dimensional (totally evil or totally good) characters, this page turner asks some good questions about fame and human connection. CC
+Johnson, Craig, The Cold Dish is the first in the Longmire series, the basis of the Netflix hit. It’s set in a quiet Wyoming town that resembles the settings of Kent Haruf’s novels, Sheriff Longmire has only a short time left until he retires when two of the four “boys” who brutally raped a mentally disabled Cheyenne girl are murdered. Longmire and his best friend Henry Standing Bear, soon uncover clues that may lead to things they’d rather not discover. GPR (2004)
+Kubica, Mary, The Good Girl, part mystery, part Harlequin Romance (Harlequin published it.) If you’re looking for a scary thriller with a big twist that will keep you up at night, this is it, but don’t expect Shakespeare. CC (2015)
*Matthews, Jason, Palace of Treason is a sequel to the Red Sparrow in which author Matthews, a former CIA officer, introduced Dominika Egorova, a Russian intelligence agent and Nash, the US handler of a Russian mole. They’re both back in Palace of Treason.  Egorova is a synesthete; she sees a halo of color above peoples’ heads that reveals their intentions. She’s now a CIA operative in the Kremlin where she’s captured Vladimir Putin’s blue-haloed attention much to the chagrin of her evil boss. She’s in love with Nash who is now her handler thus complicating her assignments. The bad guys are quite evil and the good guys are incredibly clever in this thriller that will keep you on edge. CC/GPR (2015)
+Mawer, Simon, Trapeze, Part historical fiction, part suspense thriller in the vein of John LeCarré, this WWII spy story starts slowly as it details the life of Marian Sutro, an English woman chosen to help the French resistance. She thinks her facility with French is why she’s been selected then she realizes that she’s on her way to an even more dangerous and important mission. Read this to prepare for Mawer’s Tightrope. If the ending leaves you with questions. Tightrope, the sequel, will answer them. PP (2012)
+Mawer, Simon, Tightrope, Marian Sutro is detained in Paris in 1943 and she sees a man she recognizes but denies knowing. She later escapes from a concentration camp and returns to England, and is asked about her plans. “I don’t know. Find a job of some kind, I suppose.  I don’t have any useful skills, except my languages. And an ability to kill people. Interesting qualifications for a girl who is not yet twenty-three.” It’s a compelling sequel to Trapeze.  PP (2015)
+McCafferty, Keith, The Royal Wulff Murders is the first in a fine series featuring Montana detective Sean Stranahan, an artist, angler, and sometime detective. Fly fishermen will love these books. GPR/SN (2012)
*McCafferty, Keith, The Gray Ghost Murders, Detective, artist, angler Stranahan and Sheriff Martha Ettinger investigate the possible murder of two men found in shallow graves on Sphinx Mountain. Are these men’s deaths related to the theft of two rare, vintage hand-tied flies? Great characters like Harold Little Feather make this sing. GPR (2013)
*McCafferty, Keith, Dead Man’s Fancy brings back Detective Stranahan and Sheriff Ettinger to investigate a death and a disappearance that may be related to wolves and that keeps the series engaging and informative. GPR/SN (2014)
+O’Dell, Tawni, Angels Burning  forces police chief Dove Carnahan to confront the evil in her own background and in her small town when the burned body of a 17-year-old girl is discovered in an abandoned fire pit and the girl’s backwoods family doesn’t seem interested in finding out whodunit or why. O’Dell is at her best when showing the chaos that a lack of hope in dying rural communities can create. She also makes the reader ponder why killing seems reasonable. CC
+Overton, Hollie, Baby Doll, When Lily escapes the underground chamber where she’s been held for eight years, she thinks she’ll be okay, but her captor and her twin sister don’t seem to be following the same script. CC

+Paris, B.A., Behind Closed Doors is a British psychological thriller that readers may finish in one sitting. Grace and Jack Angel seem like the perfect couple, but Jack, the seemingly compassionate defender of battered wives, is really a psychopath who trapped Grace in their home and is using threats against her sister Millie who has Down syndrome to keep Grace in line. As readers ponder whether Grace will escape, the pacing isn’t consistent, but the plot and ending are clever and engaging. CC
*Penny, Louise, A Great Reckoning is Penny’s twelfth Inspector Gamache novel and as always it offers suspense, evil, and a shimmering glimpse of hope. Gamache has taken the job as commander of the Sureté Academy where he hopes to root out police corruption from the beginning through the minds of trainees. However, he inexplicably keeps on Leduc, the most corrupt faculty member, and brings in his nemesis, Michel Brébeuf, hoping to teach the cadets to think for themselves. When Leduc is murdered and a map from Gamache’s village is an integral clue, Gamache realizes that the rot from within is even stronger than he imagined. GPR/SF
*Price, Richard, writing as Harry Brandt, The Whites is a book I’d avoided until author Anne Patchett and a friend recommended it. I found Price’s earlier Clockers and Lush Life exceptional yet so gritty and harsh that I wasn’t sure I was ready for more. His first attempt at writing as Harry Brandt is a surefire winner and is both intelligent and accessible. Since policeman Billy Graves mistakenly killed a kid, he’s been on the graveyard shift where he patrols in relative obscurity. Once a vigilante threatens the city, Billy and other cops try to figure out who’s terrorizing Boston. Revealing the subsequent twists and turns might spoil the intrigue in this compelling thriller with heft. G/GPR (2015)
+Roy, Lori, Until She Comes Home, It’s 1958 in Detroit and things are changing so when child-like Elizabeth disappears near her home, people react out of fear. Themes of power, prejudice, and women’s changing roles make this more intriguing than the usual murder mystery. CC/GPR, BC
+Saunders, Kate, The Secrets of Wishtide is the first in an M.C. Beaton-like, cozy detective series set in 1850s England. Inspired by David Copperfield, it imagines what might have happened if a character like Little Em’ly hadn’t moved to Australia. Detective Laetitia Rodd is a capable, yet charming sleuth. GPR/CC/PP
+Tucker, K.A., He Will Be My Ruin, Maggie is certain her closest friend Celine didn’t kill herself so she leaves her humanitarian work in Africa to head to New York to prove her belief. She uncovers Celine’s secret life and tries to find a missing rare antique. Who can she trust? Ruby, Celine’s 80+-year-old neighbor, is a delicious treat in this racy whodunit that is Tucker’s hardcover debut. CC

*#Amundsen, Lucie B., Locally Laid: How We Built a Plucky, Industry-Changing Egg Farm – From Scratch, I read this book in two days, cheering for the Amundsen family, learning more about poultry than I ever thought I’d want to know, laughing out loud repeatedly, and pondering the importance of living your dream. And those eggs, they made me smile in the midst of winter. Locally Laid, I love you. (A friend who actually has an egg farm says it’s exactly as described.) GPR/SN/SF, BC
*Anderson, M. T., Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dimitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad was written for ages 15 to 21 yet it should be considered essential reading for adults interested in this period and those who fear the growing culture of evil and lack of morality. See Teen and Young Adult. G/SN, BC
*Anderson, Susan B., Susan B. Anderson’s Kids’ Knitting Workshop is the perfect book for adults and kids to use when either learning to knit or refreshing skills. The directions are simple and the patterns engaging. DC/SN See Diet Coke.
*Bolz-Weber, Nadia, Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People is every bit as wonderful as was Pastrix. Bolz-Weber combines strong theology and profane words to ask “What if the person you’ve been trying to avoid is your best shot at grace today? And what if that’s the point?” This asks questions everyone needs to ponder. SF/S, BC (2015)
+Brueggemann, Walter, Names for the Messaih: An Advent Study is a short, four-week study guide that ponders the titles Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. It asks how each of the titles in Isaiah were understood at the time, how Jesus fulfilled those titles, and how Christians see them now. SF/SN/T, BC
Carlson, Craig, Pancakes in Paris is a light memoir describing Carlson’s efforts to open an American diner in Paris. Carlson tells of his headaches and joys yet fails to delineate his inner story in this quick read. CC
+Eisenberg, Lee, The Point Is: Making Sense of Birth, Death, and Everything in Between is recommended primarily for the questionnaires at the end that will help readers assess how shaping a personal narrative can help them find meaning and purpose in life. I found the book too wordy compared to others of its type. OC/SN, BC
+Ellsworth, Scott, The Secret Game: A Wartime Story of Courage, Change, and Basketball’s Lost Triumph highlights a moment in history in 1944 when a North Carolina Negro college team played a white team composed of Duke medical students. It’s a compelling look at basketball history and race. SN (2015)
*#Fournier, Ron, Love That Boy: What Two Presidents, Eight Road Trips, and My Son Taught Me about a Parent’s Expectations is a book every parent should read. Fournier, a White House Correspondent who covered Clinton, Bush and Obama, bonded with his twelve-year-old son who has Asperger’s by visiting the homes and libraries of past presidents. His tenets for parenting every child with unconditional love are spot on. The portraits of Bush and Clinton meeting with Fournier’s son brought tears to my eyes. This guy gets it. GPR/SF/SN, BC
*Garten, Ina, Cooking for Jeffrey: a Barefoot Contessa Cookbook is a sure thing as are all Ina’s tomes. Great recipes with good ingredients are a fit every day and holiday cooking. Maple-roasted carrot salad (I only used one pound of carrots), chipotle smashed sweet potatoes, and apple and herb bread pudding were holiday hits with my family. GPR/SN
*Gay, Roxane, Bad Feminist is a collection of essays about feminism, politics, race, and criticism. Her take on the book and movie The Help is exceptional. Her insights into our culture are important yet humorously portrayed. S/SN (2015)
+Gehring, Abigail R., The Simple Joys of Grandparenting is an old-fashioned charmer offering classic fairy tales, songs, recipes, and crafts so grandparents can celebrate with children simply and joyfully. GPR/SN (2012)
*Groom, Winston, Vicksburg, 1863 brings the battle to life in a narrative history that Shelby Foote devotees must read. It’s just the right introduction to visiting the pivotal Civil War site. Groom, best known for his novel Forest Gump, makes the battle’s events and the war deeply personal. SN, BC (2009)
*Junger, Sebastian, Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging will force you to consider why the lack of closeness in modern society makes it more difficult for combat veterans to reenter life when they come home from war. Tribe examines how loyalty, belonging, and searching for meaning can make war seem better than peace. Junger’s thoughts on living in a society that doesn’t offer chances to act selflessly and that is deeply divided make this a book to read and discuss with everyone you know. This book helped me understand our political divisions too. G/SN/T, BC
*Kalanithi, Paul, When Breath Becomes Air is required reading for everyone over the age of 21. Mr. Kalanithi was a 36-year-old neurosurgeon when he was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. He began asking all the big questions about life and death and what it means to be a parent. He died while writing this life-affirming book. Just read it. G/SF/SN, BC
*Larson, Erik, Dead Wake presents the story of the sinking of the Lusitania. Showing the machinations of the German submarine commander and the heartless Brits who knew ships were in danger, Larson presents a nuanced look at the event that helped lead the US into World War I.  SN, BC (2015)
+Lawson, Jenny, Furiously Happy: a funny book about horrible things is a book for anyone who prefers sarcasm to sentimentalism. Furiously Happy is for David Sedaris, Tina Fey and Augusten Burroughs fans. It’s a searing memoir of living through depression and mental illness as seen through Lawson’s irreverent lens. Who’d think you could snort out loud when reading (or listening) to someone telling about living in darkness. Listen to the audio.. S/SN/RT, BC (2015)
*Macy, Beth, Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother's Quest: A True Story of the Jim Crow South unearths the story of albino African-American brothers who were kidnapped and displayed in circuses in the early 1900s. Highlighting the inequities of living in Virginia when the law rarely protected African-Americans, the book chronicles the people who fought for the men. GPR/SN, BC
*#Millard, Candice, The Hero of the Empire, The Boer War, A Daring Escape and the Making of Winston Churchill is a rip-roaring exploration of the early years of Winston Churchill. Quickly turn the pages as Millard illuminates the Boer War in full Technicolor and shows young Churchill in his “Indiana Jones” years. GPR/SN, BC
*Phillips, Patrick, Blood at the Root: Racial Cleansing in America, Phillips, a Carnegie medal finalist, illuminates Forsyth County, Georgia’s 1912 systemic removal of its 1,100 black citizens. It shows the legacy of racial terrorism and the terrible damage of Woodrow Wilson’s presidency that enforced segregation. Want to understand racism; read this. SN, BC
+Salie, Faith, Approval Junkie: Adventures in Caring Too Much is comedian Salie’s clever and poignant look at what it means to be a woman who wants to be liked. Her thoughtful irreverence fits striving women in their 30s and 40s. S
*Shapiro, Dani, Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life serves the reader a plate filled with wise insights and practical ideas about writing that also apply to life. Any reader would enjoy its depth and discernment whether or not they intend to write. Sentences like; “Stories are about the dropped stitch. It is the job of the writer to say, look at that.” would make anyone a better reader. G/GPR/SN (2013)
+Stahl, Lesley, Becoming Grandma: The Joys and Science of the New Grandparenting explores the ways becoming a grandmother transforms a woman’s life. Stahl investigated the phenomenon using her “60 Minutes” skills and her own experiences. Having become a Nana just six months ago, I can confirm her observations. GPR/SF/SN
*Strayed, Cheryl, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar, Strayed’s advice columns read like essays from the most brilliant writers in history, that is, if those writers had eviscerated our hearts, then reinserted them with compassionate love and humor. Gems like “forgiveness doesn’t just sit there like a pretty boy in a bar” mingle with the best and most profane writing that will poke you in the eye, get you sobbing, and then have you begging for more. Thanks to Ann Patchett for suggesting this jewel. G/GPR/S/SF (2012)
*Sweet, Melissa, Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White is a biography written for ages 7 – 12, but it’s one of my favorite books this year. The illustrations, letters, and stories of the author of Charlotte’s Web made my heart sing. If White is one of your favorite writers, you’ll want to read this book. See Peanut Butter and Jelly for more information. PBJ/SN
+Thielen, Amy, The New Midwestern Table offers 200 recipes most of which are for foods you’ll never find in most cookbooks. This James Beard winner features wild boar Sloppy Joes, delicious herb sodas (my favorites), poker buns, homemade braunschweiger, Meyer lemon angel food cake, and black bottom oatmeal pie. SN
*#Trenshaw, Cynthia, Meeting in the Margins: an Invitation to Encounter Society’s Invisible People, Trenshaw’s stories of the lives of people living on the margins will change you. It will bring you almost within touching distance of the lives of the invisible people living in the margins and it will make you realize that you need to bridge the gap – for your own well-being. A chaplain and massage therapist, Trenshaw offers profound wisdom. Understanding that our desire to fix people implies that they’re broken and defective and that’s what creates the gap between us is crucial. Read this book. GPR/SF/SN, BC
*Vance, J.D., Hillbilly Elegy is the book anyone wanting to make sense of the changing political climate must read. Vance, a Yale-educated lawyer, grew up poor in Middletown, Ohio. His mother’s drug problems meant that his grandmother, a profane, opinionated survivor, was his failsafe in a troubled world. His life story is one I saw in many families in the town where I grew up and one that we all need to heed. Condescension regarding class hurts us all. GPR/SN, BC
 *Wolff, Tobias, This Boy’s Life, I read this over 25 years ago and rereading it confirms its power. I suggest pairing it with Wolff’s brother Geoffrey’s account, The Duke of Deception, an often overlooked gem. G/GPR, BC (1989)

Peanut Butter and Jelly: Books for Children
Books for the Youngest (newborn to age 4)

*Burke, Zoe and Harper, Charley, illustrator, Charley Harper’s Count the Birds features Charley Harper’s artful birds in a book sure to make little ones enjoy counting and watching the birds from one baby bunting to ten colorful quail. PBJ Newborn to Age 5 (2015)
+Hoban, Tana, Black & White, Hoban’s clear objects will attract even the youngest baby’s attention and the accordion-style pages and Velcro closure will offer sensory delights. PBJ Newborn to Age 2 (2007)
*Hurley, Jorey, Nest is a classic style board book with calm, simple pictures of birds accompanied by one-word text showing how a pair of robins raise their baby through the seasons. From “hatch,” to “grow,” to “sleep,” to my favorite page: “snuggle,” children will settle into this sweet tale. PBJ Newborn to Age 7 (also in hardcover for older children) (2014)
*Hutchins, Pat, Good-Night Owl was my daughter’s favorite book when she was two so we were thrilled that it’s now available as a board book for her baby to enjoy. Owl can’t sleep because the bees buzz and the woodpeckers peck. At nightfall, it’s quiet until there’s a big surprise from Owl himself. PBJ Newborn to Age 4 (1972)
*Laden, Nina, Peek-a-Who?  This may be my six-month-old grandson’s favorite book. PBJ Newborn to Age 4 (2000)
*Marr, Melissa, and White, Teagan, illustrator, Bunny Roo, I Love You is perfect for new mothers as it shows babies in comforting every-day situations. The quiet color and text will soothe at bedtime PBJ Newborn to Age 4 (2015)
+Rubin, Susan Goldman, Andy Warhol’s Colors is a clever concept book kids adore. PBJ Newborn to Age 6 (2007)
*Wattenberg, Jane, Mrs. Mustard’s Baby Faces consists of seven happy faces that unfold accordion style with the same seven babies with sad faces on the other side. Babies adore looking at other babies. PBJ Newborn to Age 4 (1989)

Peanut Butter and Jelly: Books for Children
Preschool and Grade School Picture and Chapter Books

*Beaty, Andrea and Roberts, David, illustrator, Ada Twist, Scientist didn’t say a word until she was three, then she never stopped asking why –- followed by what, how, when, then back to why again. She experimented and made enormous messes. Inspiration for curious kids! I want every child to read this with parents and teachers. PBJ/SN Ages 4 - 9
*Beaty, Andrea and Roberts, David, illustrator, Iggy Peck, Architect loves to build things including “churches and chapels from peaches and apples.” His second grade teacher, however, doesn’t approve until Iggy saves the day. No one could possibly not adore this treat. PBJ/SN Ages 4 -9 (2007)
*Beaty, Andrea and Roberts, David, illustrator, Rosie Revere, Engineer is a delightful tale of a girl who loves inventing until fear of failure stops her. When she learns that a flop is just the first step in creating, she’s on her way. Rhymes and illustrations packed with things children will endlessly explore make this a sure-fire winner. PBJ/SN Ages 4 – 9 (2013)
+Cecil, Randy, Lucy is a stray dog reliant on Eleanor, the girl who feeds her from behind a red door. Told in acts and illustrated as if it were a classic film, this is a sweet charmer. PBJ Ages 5 - 8
*De la Peña, Matt and Robinson, Christian, illustrator, Last Stop on Market Street, The picture book that won the 2016 Newbery Award and was a Caldecott Honor Book illustrates a diverse world and shows that everyone can help others and see beauty in their own life despite what some might observe. The art is amazing, too. PBJ Ages 5 – 8 (2015)
+DiCamillo, Kate, Raymie Nightingale, Raymie Clarke is sad and confused. Her father ran off with a dental hygienist and she and her mother are a mess. Her quirky new friends Louisiana and Beverly have also lost parents so the three forge a strong bond in a small 1975 town. This National Book Award finalist will appeal to thinking readers. PBJ Ages 9 - 12
+Engelbreit, Mary, A Night of Great Joy celebrates the joy and laughter of children’s Christmas pageants while explaining the story of the Christ child with Engelbreit’s signature whimsy. PBJ/SF Ages 3 -7
*Gates, Mariam and Hinder, Sara Jane, illustrator, Good Morning Yoga: a pose-by-pose wake up story is a burst of color showing a child waking to the day with hands raised as he says, “My breath is long and deep.” This book offers a happy, calm approach to first yoga positions and intention and confidence for young children as they greet the day. PBJ/SN Ages 4 – 8 but younger children will love the illustrations. 
*Hobbie, Holly, Toot and Puddle are pigs. Puddle loves being at home while Toot travels the world and sends Puddle postcards. Endearing illustrations showcase their adventures. PBJ Ages 4 – 7 (1997)
+Krensky, Stephen and Graux, Amélie, illustrator, We Just Had a Baby is just the book that parents will want to share with the older brother or sister when a new baby is coming. The first lines: “We just had a baby. It wasn’t my idea.” attest to how some older siblings feel. By the end of the book: “I have great plans for us.” says it all. PBJ Ages 2 - 5
*Litwin, Eric and Dean, James, illustrator, Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes, It’s all good whether you step in mud or get all wet. Kids love Pete because “no matter what you step in, keep walking along and singing your song.” The colorful, ironic illustrations make kids laugh, too. PBJ Ages 4 – 8 (2008)
+Maddock, Irish Beth and Ouano, Lucent, illustrator, The Great Carp Escape is a short Christian book that will help children understand the acceptance of all life even of ugly creatures. The illustrations are lovely. SF Ages 4 - 7 (2014)
*Medina, Juana, Juana & Lucas, Juana loves Brussels sprouts, living in Bogota, Colombia, and spending time with her best friend, her dog Lucas. But, she detests learning English until her grandfather proposes a fantástico incentive. This book is pure delight. I can’t imagine any child not loving it. PBJ Ages 5 - 8
+Reagan, Jean and Wildish, Lee, illustrator, How to Babysit a Grandma should make the most wary child giggle at the thought that babysitting Grandma is more fun than missing Mom and Dad. PBJ Ages 3 – 7 (2014)
+Reagan, Jean and Wildish, Lee, illustrator, How to Babysit a Grandpa is silly in the best way. The child tells Grandpa not to worry, “parents always come back.” This is reassuring and fun. PBJ Ages 3 – 7 (2012)
*Rockliff, Mara, author and Bruno, Iacopo, illustrator, Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery that Baffled All of France, winner of the Cook Prize honoring the best science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) picture book published for children ages 8 - 10. When Franklin arrived in Paris, Dr. Mesmer had everyone enthralled with his magical force, but Franklin used science to debunk Mesmer’s tricks. Gorgeous, informative, and fun!  PBJ/SN Ages 6 -10 (2015)
*Sif, Birgitta, Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance and Dance, Frances loves to dance and she does what brings her joy in this beautifully illustrated tale with spare words children will love. PBJ Ages 4 – 8 (2014)
*Sweet, Melissa, Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White is a biography of the author of Charlotte’s Web. The illustrations, letters, and stories of the author offer something on every page. Sweet used an old typewriter to type words just as White would have done. White’s own handwritten edits show how even the best writers must rewrite. His difficulty in choosing how to begin Charlotte’s Web should inspire young writers. I adore this book! PBJ/SN Ages 7 – 12 and All Adults
*Vere, Ed, Max at Night tells of Max, the kitten, and his quest to say goodnight to the moon on a cloudy night. Evocative illustrations make this a winner. PBJ Ages 3 and up
*Wallmark, Laurie and Chu, April, illustrator, Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine, a finalist for the Cook Prize honoring the best science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) picture book published for children ages 8 - 10. Ada, the daughter of poet Lord Byron, wrote the first computer program 100 years before there was a computer. Beautiful illustrations and fascinating facts make learning about the forgotten mathematician entrancing. PBJ/SN Ages 5 – 9 (2015)
*Willems, Mo, The Duckling Gets a Cookie, The duckling politely asks for a cookie and gets it in the seventh wry title in the Pigeon book series. The pigeon is not happy as he wants many things and rarely gets what he wants. Then pigeon gets a big surprise in this enchanting tale that kids will love and adults will enjoy reading again and again. PBJ Ages 2 -6 (2012)
*Willems, Mo, The Thank You Book Piggie wants to thank everyone in her life who’s important to her. Gerald thinks it’s a bad idea as she’s sure to forget someone. Piggie begins her “Thank-o-Rama” and succeeds. Charming! PBJ Ages 4 - 8.

Diet Coke and Gummi Bears: Books for Tweens, Teens, and Young Adults
*Anderson, M. T., Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dimitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad details the role of Russian composer Shostakovich and the Leningrad Symphony in the long, horrific siege during which so many died. One of my adult book clubs discussed this and found the book outstanding especially as it relates to our moral dilemmas today.  Is morality in a strange way a luxury? Can you be moral when you have to survive? This is how history should be taught.
DC/G/SN, BC Ages 15 – 20 and adults 
*Anderson, Susan B., Susan B. Anderson’s Kids’ Knitting Workshop is the perfect book for adults and kids to use when either learning to knit or refreshing skills. The directions are simple. Great patterns for tweens and teens. DC/SN All ages
+Bliss, Bryan, No Parking at the End Times, Twins Abigail and Aaron live with their parents in their van in San Francisco. Their parents sold everything and moved them from North Carolina to follow an end-times preacher. They’re hungry, dirty, sad and angry, but their father still believes. What can Abigail do to overcome her parents’ zealotry and live a normal life again? DC/SF Ages 13 and up (2015)
*Lewis, John, Aydin, Andrew, and Powell, Nate, illustrator, March: Book One, a Coretta Scott King Honor Book, is the first volume of Congressman and civil rights pioneer John Lewis’s graphic novel/memoir trilogy. The stunning angles of the black and white illustrations along with the compelling historical narrative describe Lewis’s childhood and his college days in Nashville with lunch counter sit-ins juxtaposed with Lewis’s time as a Congressman when Barack Obama became President. This book will make even the most reluctant readers enthralled with history. DC/SN Ages12 and up. (2013)
+Mathieu, Jennifer, Devoted centers around a Texas teenager and her patriarchal church and family. Rachel is a teen who cares for her five younger siblings and is expected to prepare herself to marry and have children, but she’s curious, loves reading, and wonders about the rest of the world. When her father forces her to destroy her beloved copy of A Wrinkle in Time, she questions her life. DC/SF Ages 12 and up (2015)
*Pennypacker, Sara and Klassen, Jon, illustrator, Pax, This classic in the making is a beautiful tale about a boy and his pet fox. When his father joins the military, he makes Peter release Pax into the wild as Peter must live 300 miles away with his grandfather. When Peter sets off on his own to find Pax, he meets interesting humans while Pax learns about life in the wild. Children and adults should read this book about war, loyalty, and love together. DC/GPR, BC Ages 8 – 14 and adults
+Reynolds, Jason, The Boy in the Black Suit, Seventeen-year-old Matt wears a black suit every day for his job at a funeral home. He’s trying to deal with his own grief after his mother’s death and meeting a beautiful girl with a secret is exciting. Healing has many dimensions. An uplifting story of love and redemption. DC/GPR/SF, BC Ages 12 - 17
*Wolk, Lauren, Wolf Hollow shares Annabelle’s recollections of 1943 when she turned twelve and the “incorrigible” Betty moved to town and threatened to hurt Annabelle’s younger brothers if she didn’t pay her off. Odd Toby, an unkempt WWI veteran, wanders the hills and hollows and Annabelle lies to keep everyone safe. Wolf Hollow’s quiet look at unintended consequences and moral ambiguity will appeal to thinking, caring tweens. Parents: read and discuss! DC/PP Ages 9 – 13
*Zarr, Sara, Story of a Girl, Thirteen-year-old Deanna’s father caught her sleeping with a 17-year-old guy in the back of his car. The guy moved on. Deanna’s been the butt of “school slut” jokes ever since and her Dad can barely look at her much less care for her. A perfect look at forgiveness and identity. DC Ages 13 and up (2007)

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