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Debbie

debbieDebbie says... I like mysteries, suspense, and literary fiction with a historical setting. Realistic characters and a strong sense of time and place are more important to me than plot, so don’t expect any fast paces thrillers from me!

 

As leader of the library’s Crime Readers book discussion group, I spend a lot of time reading suspense, crime novels, and mysteries with complex, discussable plots and set all around the world. I am also a sucker for a good, nostalgic coming of age story.

 

Suspense recommendations: Instruments of Night by Thomas H. Cook and The Church of Dead Girls by Stephen Dobyns.

 

Mystery recommendations: A Beautiful Place to Die by Malla Nunn and Killed at the Whim of a Hat by Colin Cotterill.

 

Coming of age story recommendations: The Cape Ann by Faith Sullivan, The Bottoms by Joe Lansdale, and Winter Wheat by Mildred Walker.

 

 

My Latest Reviews

  • The Ghost Writer by John Harwood (2004)
    A young Australian boy searches out the mysterious past of his mother in postwar England based on the clues revealed in the ghost stories composed by his great-grandmother. A few of the ghost stories are included, and it becomes increasingly hard to discern if art is following life, or life is following art in John […]
  • The Church of Dead Girls by Stephen Dobyns (1997)
    A series of disappearances of young adolescent girls in a small upstate New York town creates suspicion and violence amongst the town’s other inhabitants. From its truly creepy beginning to its end, Stephen Dobyns’ The Church of Dead Girls is one suspenseful story.

Denise

deniseDenise says... I love to read fiction for pleasure and escapism. Learning about another part of the world or culture, a time in history, or perspectives on current issues is often an added bonus! The most important factor for me is characterization. Well-developed and at least one likeable character is crucial. I love to meet new characters and see the world through someone else’s eyes, or feel like I’ve made a “connection” with a character.

 

My favorite fiction genres are mystery, suspense, thrillers, and women’s fiction. I enjoy the fast-paced intensity and sense of problem-solving found in suspense, thrillers, and mysteries. I love unexpected plot twists (the element of surprise). A few of my favorite authors are Harlan Coben, Nelson DeMille, Lee Child, and Michael Connelly.

 

Alternatively, I enjoy reading about people’s lives and relationships, and stories that touch my heart, often found in women’s fiction. I appreciate books that help me gain new insights into myself, or others, as well as books that allow me to escape to a different place or time, and open my mind to something I've never even imagined. Some favorites are The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd, Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain, Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom, and The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein.

 

 

My Latest Reviews

  • Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler (2013)
    I listened to the audio version of Julie Kibler’s debut Calling Me Home and loved it. The narration alternates between Isabelle, an 89-year old white woman, and Dorrie, an African American woman in her 30s. These two women have an unlikely friendship, which started many years earlier when Dorrie became Isabelle’s hairdresser. At Isabelle’s request, […]
  • The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (2014)
    I loved everything about this book…the superbly-drawn, complex characters; the inspirational, and often intense, storylines of each character; and the wonderful setting descriptions that made me feel like I was there with the characters! The fact that this novel was based on real-life people makes it more powerful and unforgettable. Set in Charleston during the […]

Jennifer

jenniefera

Jennifer primarily reads fiction, and loves getting drawn in to a character’s story. She enjoys both contemporary and historical novels (especially those that have strands of both such as The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes). She appreciates witty/quirky dialogue or characters (The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger) and fast-paced stories that quickly engage her attention. Within fiction, she particularly enjoys WWII tales (Elizabeth Wein’sCode Name Verity), mysteries (The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith aka J. K. Rowling), and romance (Sarah Addison Allen’sThe Sugar Queen). Series hold a special place in her heart, especially Julia Quinn’sBridgertons, Lauren Willig’sPink Carnation spies, Susan Elizabeth Phillips’Chicago Stars, and Meg Cabot’sHeather Wells.

 

Jennifer is partial to nonfiction that weaves a personal story into history (Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan).

 

 

My Latest Reviews

  • The Other Daughter by Lauren Willig (2015)
    The glittering veneer of the Bright Young Things cracks under the pressure of secrets large and small in 1920s England. After her mother’s death, governess Rachel Woodley discovers her father isn’t a long deceased botanist, but a powerful earl living in London. A chance meeting with a gossip columnist launches Rachel’s adventures as Vera, a […]
  • Signal by Patrick Lee (2015)
    With a device that can’t be explained by logic or reality, power hungry villains, and a secret government project, Signal is another fast-paced futuristic thrilling adventure. Once I got over my disappointment that we wouldn’t be seeing more of Rachel, I became engrossed in Sam’s next escapade. Brought in by his old colleague Claire, Sam […]

Jez

Jez_profile_picture2013Jez enjoys fiction, nonfiction, and graphic novels in the adult, GenLit, and young adult collections. Within fiction, she reads fantasy, science fiction, dystopias, LGBTQ, and mainstream. With all fiction, she enjoys good world-building and engaging plot, which must hold her attention and be well-paced. Within nonfiction, Jez enjoys reading biographies and memoirs, especially written by celebrities and comedians, such as Tina Fey or Mindy Kaling. She also reads many memoirs involving Asperger’s syndrome. Jez listens to many audiobooks in a wide variety of genres and has made herself very familiar with audiobook critique and narrators.

 

Some of her favorites include The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, the Hawkeye series by Matt Fraction, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, and anything by David Levithan.

 

 

My Latest Reviews

  • I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (2014)
    At thirteen, twins Jude and Noah are opposites: light and dark, wild and reserved, sporty and arty, but they’ve always on the same team. At sixteen, the two are hardly speaking to one another, and it becomes increasingly obvious that they are hiding more from each other than they are sharing. At thirteen, Jude is […]
  • The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil by Stephen Collins (2014)
    Welcome to Here, a perfectly egg-shaped island, completely isolated. Everything Here is perfect and peaceful, with all of the houses identical and no competition between neighbors. All of the men in Here are clean shaven, except Dave who is bald, save for a single hair on his chin that resists both plucking and shaving. One […]

Joan

joanJoan says... I can read most genres if the main character is likable and interesting and the writer paints a setting that you could walk right into and long to visit. I cannot tolerate lengthy descriptions that go on for pages and pages. I would rather the characters and setting details unfold as the story progresses. My reading time is often limited, but if I can get my hands on a good page turner, I cannot put it down. If I am up until 3:00am and the story resonates with me throughout the coming day of exhaustion, that is a 5 star read to me.

 

Although my preference is fiction, I have found some narrative nonfiction enthralling. Fiction based on a true story, a semi-biographical story, or a great historical fiction novel is also appealing. A good mystery is relaxing, but many other types of novels can have an element of suspense or mystery and keep my attention. For years Dean Koontz’s psychological suspense entertained me, but I could never go for Stephen King. I find myself skimming through gore and violence. I cannot believe I loved Stieg Larsson’s Dragon Tattoo trilogy. The suspense and the characters allowed me to see past the gore and violence.

 

I enjoy a plot that goes back and forth in time and draws connections between characters in different time periods. A good example of this is hard to find. It may encompass historical fiction, mystery, and/or fantasy. I like a surprise ending, but not a totally unexpected and out of sync with the rest of the book and the nature of the characters. An ambiguous ending can be frustrating and I will often make up my own.

 

Recent favorites include The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, Set the Night on Fire by Libby Fischer Hellmann, and A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True by Brigid Pasulka.

 

My Latest Reviews

  • Trains & Lovers by Alexander McCall Smith (2013)
    Three men and a woman share a train compartment between Edinburgh and London. From different age groups, backgrounds, and even countries, they prove it is sometimes easier to bare your soul to strangers, except for one coveted secret of an old love that is revealed only to readers. The travelers share their personal or family […]
  • Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood (2014)
    The incredible talent, the struggles with mental health, the madcap adventures around the globe, the drinking, the recklessness, and the many loves of the original party animal – Ernest Hemingway told through the eyes of his four wives is a revealing piece of historical fiction. Fans of The Paris Wife may be disappointed at first […]

Joe

joeJoe says... I like to read nonfiction, young adult fiction, and science fiction, but any book with a good plot will grab me.

 

Nonfiction: For many years, nonfiction has been what I like to read, especially adventure stories like Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer, The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger, Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand, and A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. More recently, I have enjoyed The Boys in the Boat by Daniel Brown, No Easy Day by Mark Owen, and Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. I like books that start in the middle or at the end and then come full circle, because these stories start in the thick of the action. Also, whereas too much detail in a fiction story seems to bog things down, I relish the minutia that nonfiction writers unearth, provided they weave it artfully into the story.

 

Young Adult Fiction: In the past two years, I have rediscovered my love of fiction, and I prefer to read young adult titles like The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Divergent by Veronica Roth, and Holes by Louis Sachar. As far as the “where” of the setting, I am not too picky. The story could take place in some fantasy realm, or it could take place today. As long as the plot grabs me, I am happy. If the author goes a step further and brings me into that world, I admit, I am even happier.

 

Science Fiction: My two favorite books are adult science fiction titles: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron by Jasper Fforde. Although I will read books from any time period, I have recently become addicted to stories set in a dystopian future where society is broken into factions. I am also enamored with tall tales like George Fitch’sThe Big Strike at Siwash. You know the story is over the top, that the characters are exaggerated, and yet you just eat it up. A science fiction version of this might be The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

 

My Latest Reviews

  • The Dog Stars by Peter Heller (2012)
    After a pandemic flu has wiped out all but a few people, a pilot named Hig finds himself teamed up, for better or for worse, with Bangley, who is armed to the teeth and would rather shoot first and ask questions later. They have staked out a valley with a small suburban airport, with Hig […]
  • Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher (2001)
    This young adult title will make you cry both tears of joy and anguish as it explores the themes of racism, child abuse, and high school bullying. T. J. Jones, an adopted high school senior of mixed race, takes it upon himself to stop the quarterback of the football team from bullying a mentally challenged […]

Mary K.

marykMary K. says... I enjoy reading literary fiction, mysteries, some suspense as well as true adventure, memoirs and history. Books about ordinary people confronted with “extraordinary” circumstances appeal to me. Although I don’t intentionally seek out books to learn something new, curiosity about a place, event, or historic timeframe will often draw me to a title.

 

I prefer novels with interesting characters and endings that are unambiguous. Some of my favorite authors include Alan Furst, Rebecca Cantrell, Anne Tyler, and Ed Gorman’sSam McCain mystery series. A few of my favorite nonfiction titles are No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose, and Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer.

 

 

My Latest Reviews

  • The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere by Pico Iyer (2014)
    Amidst the hustle and excitement of his world travels, Pico Iyer discovered that “In an age of speed, I began to think, nothing could be more invigorating than going slow. In an age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention. And in an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than […]
  • A Place of Execution by Val McDermid (2000)
    In her first standalone mystery, crime writer Val McDermid crafts a gripping village mystery concerning the disappearance of a 13-year-old girl. Lots of twists in the plot combined with an unusual community provide a fast read. Check out A Place of Execution today.

Mary P.

 

marypMary P. says... I enjoy reading historical novels, mysteries, suspense, and women’s fiction (typically written by women and read by women), literary fiction and nonfiction books. I’m delighted when I find a book with a strong sense of place and time. I guess that is why I enjoy historical stories by far.

 
 

I lead the Novel Idea book club at the library. I try to introduce less famous authors to the group hoping that they will find a new favorite and continue to read that author.
I like learning something I haven’t known about from a book.

 
 

I listen to audiobooks and find that experience gratifying. Sometimes the author will read their own book, especially in nonfiction works.

 
 

I can recommend:
Historical Fiction: Night in Shanghai by Nicole Mones
Mystery: Silent Voices: a Vera Stanhope Mystery by Ann Cleeves
Suspense: Black Skies by Arnaldur Indridason
Fiction: Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen and Falls the Shadow by William Lasher
Nonfiction: Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder and Reading Jackie by William Kuhn

 

 

 

My Latest Reviews

  • Alex by Pierre Lemaitre (2013)
    This 2013 Crime Writers International Dagger Award winner will stun you first and shock you later. A thrilling race against time story told from multiple points of view is worthy of its award. Alex Prevost is kidnapped, beaten, suspended from the ceiling of an abandoned warehouse in a tiny cage, and left for rats to […]
  • Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal (2014)
    It’s New Orleans during the Civil Rights movement. Eleven-year-old Ibby Bell has just lost her beloved father. Her mother unceremoniously dumps her on the doorstep of her Grandmother Fannie (with her father’s urn) and quickly disappears. Fannie and Ibby have never met and each has a lot of adjusting to accomplish. The black cook Queenie […]

Mary S.

marysMary S. says... I have taken pleasure in reading since childhood. I read fiction mostly for escape and sometimes to learn about other cultures. I like books that are more plot-driven than character-driven. I prefer books that are fast paced, tied up at the end, and for the most part probable. As far as characterizations, I favor a book with at least one likeable character and fairly well-developed characters. It slows down my reading when there are so many characters that I have to keep flipping back to remember who a person is.

 

The genres I read most are mystery (Nevada Barr, Michael Connelly’sHarry Bosch series, Jacqueline Winspear’sMaisie Dobbs series) and suspense (Deborah Crombie, Dennis Lehane). I read some literary (Ann Patchett, Anne Tyler, E. L. Doctorow) and issue-driven women’s fiction (Anna Quindlen, Jodi Picoult’sMy Sister’s Keeper). For the setting, I primarily prefer contemporary or where it starts in the present and relates to things in the past. I appreciate books where artwork or rare books are featured.

 

The nonfiction books I enjoy are on the subjects of memoirs about well-known people, travel, cats and other animals where they don’t die at the end, and true crime especially theft. If possible, I prefer to listen to a book.

 

Favorite books include Blessings by Anna Quindlen, The Drowning Tree by Carol Goodman, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt, Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear, Homer’s Odyssey by Gwen Cooper, The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Run by Ann Patchett, and Where Memories Lie by Deborah Crombie.

 

My Latest Reviews

Sally

sallymSally says... I read more literary fiction than anything and I enjoy mystery, suspense, and historical fiction. I enjoy stories with multiple story lines, but the plot should be engaging. I like books that focus on issues and ideas. But nothing is as engaging as a good storyteller, for instance, Elmore Leonard. I really don’t like implausibility or cliché; rather I look for ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. An author (like Barbara Vine) who makes past events unfold in the present day will always be on my reading list.

 

 

 

My Latest Reviews

  • Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver (2014)
    If you’re a fan of traditional mysteries, you’ll enjoy this one. Set at a fashionable hotel on England’s southern coast in 1932 with a cast of characters right out of an Agatha Christie mystery, Murder at the Brightwell is a witty and energetic who-done-it. Amory Ames, wealthy and dissatisfied with her life, takes a holiday […]
  • Acts of Faith by Philip Caputo (2005)
    Philip Caputo sets this fascinating tale of aid workers against the background of Sudan’s civil war, where the Muslim government in the north fights the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) for control of the Christian and animist south. Acts of Faith presents multiple stories of a group of men and women who confront their own […]

Shirley

shirleyShirley says... I have eclectic tastes and read—or listen to—whatever grabs my attention as I scan titles and book descriptions or read literary reviews. So, I have trouble pinning down my preferences. This means I read a variety of genres, although I often pick up a romance when nothing else appeals. If pressed, I’d say I prefer intelligent main characters and first-rate word craft (rich, descriptive use of language). Weak writing, overused phrases and incomplete sentences, and grammatical or editing errors annoy me and ruin my enjoyment of the work. I read mostly for the story and how the characters relate within it, and I have read a number of delightful nonfiction memoirs/biographies, especially those that speak to the human experience and connections with others and with animals (such as The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating and Conversations with a Prince). On the other hand, a page turning mystery provides escapist fun, too. I also enjoy a variety of short stories (Poe, Russian masters, Elmore Leonard), and I read some Christian and inspirational fiction.

 

As a regular listener to audiobooks, I count Barbara Rosenblat’s narration of the Nevada Barr books as among the best.

 

 

My Latest Reviews

  • Double Indemnity by James Cain (1936)
    I love the film noir Double Indemnity, one of the American Film Institute’s Greatest American Films. This taut and sparely written novella differs in a few ways but retains the power of the classic film. Greed and lust in 1930s Los Angeles, depicted by insurance agent Walter Neff and femme fatale Phyllis Dietrichson, result in […]
  • Telling the Bees by Peggy Hesketh (2013)
    Albert Honing, a beekeeper in his eighties, lives a quiet life until he discovers his two elderly neighbors, also beekeepers, murdered. Narrator Albert slowly and deliberately tells this tale of relationships and family secrets and loss. Bittersweet and wonderfully written, this tale vibrates with a mesmerizing rhythm. Albert’s bee lore regularly takes center stage and […]

Suzy

suzySuzy says... I read mostly for pleasure, and I enjoy literary fiction and chick lit. I like reading about people’s lives and their relationships with others. When I am reading, I really enjoy well-developed characters that I think about after I close the book. Some of my favorite books have unforgettable characters such as June in Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt and Dellarobia in Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver. Quirky stories and offbeat characters also really draw me into a book, such as in Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan and Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple.

 

I like to listen to audiobooks and with the right narrator, it can be a remarkable experience. Ralph Cosham narrates the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series by Louise Penny and his rich voices gives life to the many characters in the story. Wally Lamb’s latest book We Are Water features multiple narrators including the author himself. I enjoy the way audiobooks transform a story into a dynamic listening experience.

 

My Latest Reviews