Susan’s Picks (Staff Favorites)
Susan’s Favorite Fiction
A Gentleman in Moscow
A transporting novel about a man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel. A Gentleman in Moscow immerses us in another elegantly drawn era with the story of Count Alexander Rostov. When, in 1922, he is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him a doorway into a much larger world of emotional discovery. Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.
Life After Life
What if you could live again and again, until you got it right? On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war.Does Ursula’s apparently infinite number of lives give her the power to save the world from its inevitable destiny? And if she can — will she? Darkly comic, startlingly poignant, and utterly original: this is Kate Atkinson at her absolute best.
The Trouble With Goats and Sheep
England, 1976. Mrs. Creasy is missing and the Avenue is alive with whispers. The neighbors blame her sudden disappearance on the heat wave, but ten-year-olds Grace and Tilly aren’t convinced. As the summer shimmers endlessly on, the girls decide to take matters into their own hands. Inspired by the local vicar, they go looking for God–they believe that if they find Him they might also find Mrs. Creasy and bring her home. Spunky, spirited Grace and quiet, thoughtful Tilly go door-to-door in search of clues. The cul-de-sac starts to give up its secrets, and the amateur detectives uncover much more than ever imagined.
In The Woods
As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox–his partner and closest friend–find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past.Richly atmospheric and stunning in its complexity, In the Woods is utterly convincing and surprising to the end.
The Signature of All Things
In The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert returns to fiction, inserting her inimitable voice into an enthralling story of love, adventure and discovery. Spanning much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the novel follows the fortunes of the extraordinary Whittaker family as led by the enterprising Henry Whittaker–a poor-born Englishman who makes a great fortune in the South American quinine trade, eventually becoming the richest man in Philadelphia. Born in 1800, Henry’s brilliant daughter, Alma (who inherits both her father’s money and his mind), ultimately becomes a botanist of considerable gifts herself. As Alma’s research takes her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, she falls in love with a man named Ambrose Pike who makes incomparable paintings of orchids and who draws her in the exact opposite direction–into the realm of the spiritual, the divine, and the magical. Alma is a clear-minded scientist; Ambrose a utopian artist–but what unites this unlikely couple is a desperate need to understand the workings of this world and the mechanisms behind all life.
The Snow Child
Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart — he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season’s first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone — but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees.
The Rosie Project
Broken For You
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand
Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore
Favorite Fiction with a Science Fiction or Apocalyptic Bent
Ready Player One
Favorite Fiction with a Fantasy Bent
The Bear and the Nightingale
The Girl in the Tower
The Eyre Affair
Shades of Grey
Susan’s Favorite Mysteries
One of my favorite books. Fast paced, clever, with wonderful dialogue.
Sheldon Horowitz widowed, impatient, impertinent has grudgingly agreed to leave New York and move in with his granddaughter, Rhea, and her new husband, Lars, in Norway a country of blue and ice with one thousand Jews, not one of them a former Marine sniper in the Korean War turned watch repairman. Not until now, anyway.
Home alone one morning, Sheldon witnesses a dispute between the woman who lives upstairs and an aggressive stranger. When events turn dire, Sheldon seizes and shields the neighbor s young son from the violence, and they flee the scene. As Sheldon and the boy look for a safe haven in an alien world, past and present weave together, forcing them ever forward to a wrenching moment of truth.
AMERICAN BY DAY
A gripping and timely novel that follows Sigrid–the dry-witted detective from Derek B. Miller’s best-selling debut Norwegian by Night–from Oslo to the United States on a quest to find her missing brother
She knew it was a weird place. She’d heard the stories, seen the movies, read the books. But now police Chief Inspector Sigrid Ødegård has to leave her native Norway and actually go there; to that land across the Atlantic where her missing brother is implicated in the mysterious death of a prominent African American academic–America.
Refreshingly funny, slyly perceptive, American by Day is “a superb novel on all levels”
At thirty-nine, Manon Bradshaw is a devoted and respected member of the Cambridgeshire police force, and though she loves her job, what she longs for is a personal life. Single and distant from her family, she wants a husband and children of her own. One night, after yet another disastrous Internet date, she turns on her police radio to help herself fall asleep–and receives an alert that sends her to a puzzling crime scene.
An English police procedural, with fun and witty dialog – and a good twist!
Manon has settled back into life in Cambridgeshire with her adopted son Fly. She’s perfectly happy working on cold cases until a man is stabbed to death just yards from the police station, and both the victim and the prime suspect turn out to be much closer to home than she would like. How well does Manon know her loved ones, and are they capable of murder?
THE GODS OF GOTHAM
Timothy Wilde tends bar, saving every dollar in hopes of winning the girl of his dreams. But when his dreams are destroyed by a fire that devastates downtown Manhattan, he is left with little choice but to accept a job in the newly minted New York City Police Department.
Returning exhausted from his rounds one night, Tim collides with a girl no more than ten years old… covered in blood. She claims that dozens of bodies are buried in the forest north of Twenty-Third Street. Timothy isn’t sure whether to believe her, but as the image of a brutal killer is slowly revealed and anti-Irish rage infects the city, the reluctant copper star is engaged in a battle that may cost him everything..
THE POISON TREE
A great psychological mystery!
With its hip London backdrop and expert pacing, Erin Kelly’s masterful debut, The Poison Tree, delivers all the way through to its shocker of an ending.
London, 1997. Karen meets exotic, flamboyant Biba and, spellbound, she moves into the crumbling mansion Biba shares with her enigmatic brother, Rex. Drugs and wine flow as Rex and Karen begin an affair, but their summer of freedom is about to end in blood. Ten years later, Karen and nine-year-old Alice pick up Rex from his stint in prison for murder. When old ghosts come calling, Karen will do whatever it takes to protect her family. She is a woman with everything to lose.
THE LAST POLICEMAN
Ben H. Winters
Winner of the 2013 Edgar(R) Award Winner for Best Paperback Original!
What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die soon, anyway?Detective Hank Palace has faced this question ever since asteroid 2011GV1 hovered into view. There’s no chance left. No hope. Just six precious months until impact.
The Last Policeman presents a fascinating portrait of a pre-apocalyptic United States. The economy spirals downward while crops rot in the fields. Churches and synagogues are packed. People all over the world are walking off the job–but not Hank Palace. He’s investigating a death by hanging in a city that sees a dozen suicides every week–except this one feels suspicious, and Palace is the only cop who cares.
The first in a trilogy, The Last Policeman offers a mystery set on the brink of an apocalypse. As Palace’s investigation plays out under the shadow of 2011GV1, we’re confronted by hard questions way beyond “whodunit.” What basis does civilization rest upon? What is life worth? What would any of us do, what would we really do, if our days were numbered?
I loved the whole trilogy. The other two titles are Countdown City and World of Trouble