The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

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I loved this book, full of sibling love, magic, and fate. In 1969, 4 siblings (ages 13, 11, 9, and 7) living in NYC hear about a psychic who not only can tell you your fortune, but also the day that you will die. I disagreed with some turns the author took, but overall thought it was very good.

“A family saga about love, destiny, living life and making choices that will cause readers to consider what to do with the time given them on this earth.”—The Huffington Post

“Chloe Benjamin is a novelist to watch….The Immortalists weaves together philosophy and fortune-telling, to great effect….As deft and dizzying as a high-wire act…the reader is beguiled with unexpected twists and stylish, crisp prose….Unwittingly, this ambitious, unorthodox tale may change you too.”—The Economist

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Verdict of Twelve (British Library Crime Classics) by Raymond Postgate

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Since its first publication in 1940, Verdict of Twelve has been widely hailed as a classic of British crime writing. This edition offers a new generation of readers the chance to find out why so many leading commentators have admired the novel for so long.

“Verdict of Twelve is a superb piece of writing and makes other horror stories seem flat and undiscerning.” — New Yorker

The prosecution and defense present their cases, and the jury retires to consider aspects of the evidence that would startle the court. The characters are well drawn, at times frighteningly so, and the ending is perversely satisfying.  – Publishers Weekly

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The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

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Kristin Hannah, author of The Nightingale, has done it again.  A troubled family consisting of thirteen year old Leni and her parents Ernt and Cora, sets off to Alaska in the 1970’s hoping to find happiness and fulfillment.  But they find that the harsh reality of the long dark winter is an unsympathetic teacher. The family learns the terrible truth that there is no one to save them but themselves.  A classic coming of age story and survival saga that is highly readable.  This book will make you enjoy the Nor’easters of 2018!

Alaska itself and its wildness and beauty is as much a character in this book as the people who are brave enough to live there. “In the vast expanse of this unpredictable wilderness, you will either become your best self and flourish, or you will run away, screaming from the dark and cold and the hardship.  There is no middle ground, no safe place, not here, in the Great Alone.” — Kristin Hannah.   Beauty versus violence.  An excellent read.

“Hannah vividly evokes the natural beauty and danger of Alaska and paints a compelling portrait of a family in crisis and a community on the brink of change.” ―Booklist

“There are many great things about this book…It will thrill her fans with its combination of Greek tragedy, Romeo and Juliet-like coming of age story and domestic potboiler. She recreates in magical detail the lives of Alaska’s homesteaders…and is just as specific and authentic in her depiction of the spiritual wounds of post-Vietnam America. A tour de force.” ―Kirkus (starred review)

“Hannah skillfully situates the emotional family saga in the events and culture of the late ’70s… But it’s her tautly drawn characters―Large Marge, Genny, Mad Earl, Tica, Tom―who contribute not only to Leni’s improbable survival but to her salvation amid her family’s tragedy.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

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NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST

This novel is both an absorbing tale of family dynamics and a fascinating look at another culture and time. It’s a big book, but I read it quickly, unable to put it down. This book chronicles an immigrant Korean family living in Japan during most of the 20th century. You might be shocked about the treatment of Korean immigrants in Japan. The characters are well developed and I really cared about them, especially Sunja and her sister-in-law.

“An exquisite, haunting epic…’moments of shimmering beauty and some glory, too,’ illuminate the narrative…Lee’s profound novel…is shaped by impeccable research, meticulous plotting, and empathic perception.”―Booklist (starred review)

“Stunning… Despite the compelling sweep of time and history, it is the characters and their tumultuous lives that propel the narrative… A compassionate, clear gaze at the chaotic landscape of life itself. In this haunting epic tale, no one story seems too minor to be briefly illuminated. Lee suggests that behind the facades of wildly different people lie countless private desires, hopes and miseries, if we have the patience and compassion to look and listen.”―The New York Times Book Review

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Sing, Unburied, Sing: A novel by Jesmyn Ward

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Beautiful and sad, full of ghosts. Ward’s writing reminds me a little of Faulkner, a little of Eudora Welty, while at the same time being completely her own brilliance. Easy to see why she has earned so many awards.

Sing, Unburied, Sing is many things: a road novel, a slender epic of three generations and the ghosts that haunt them, and a portrait of what ordinary folk in dire circumstances cleave to as well as what they — and perhaps we all — are trying to outrun.”—New York Times Book Review

 Sing, Unburied Sing is Ward’s third novel and her most ambitious yet. Her lyrical prose takes on, alternately, the tones of a road novel and a ghost story … Sing, which is longlisted for a 2017 National Book Award, establishes Ward as one of the most poetic writers in the conversation about America’s unfinished business in the black South.”—The Atlantic

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Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Curtis Sittenfeld

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Curtis Sittenfeld is one of my favorite authors, and this book is one of her lighter and funnier ones. Eligible is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice, set in contemporary Cincinnati. The updates for the Bennets, Darcys, and Bingleys are modern and clever, but still maintain the spirit of Jane Austen’s original classic.

“If there exists a more perfect pairing than Curtis Sittenfeld and Jane Austen, we dare you to find it. . . . Sittenfeld makes an already irresistible story even more beguiling and charming.”Elle

 “[Sittenfeld] is the ideal modern-day reinterpreter. Her special skill lies not just in her clear, clean writing, but in her general amusement about the world, her arch, pithy, dropped-mike observations about behavior, character and motivation. She can spot hypocrisy, cant, self-contradiction and absurdity ten miles away. She’s the one you want to leave the party with, so she can explain what really happened. . . . Not since Clueless, which transported Emma to Beverly Hills, has Austen been so delightedly interpreted. . . . Sittenfeld writes so well—her sentences are so good and her story so satisfying. . . . As a reader, let me just say: Three cheers for Curtis Sittenfeld and her astute, sharp and ebullient anthropological interest in the human condition.”—Sarah Lyall, The New York Times Book Review

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Some Bright Morning, I’ll Fly Away: a memoir by Alice Anderson

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This woman’s story of her ordeal to escape her abusive, mentally ill husband knocked me over. She is amazing.

“Like blowtorching through silk, Alice Anderson’s alchemy is to turn the shattering pain of her life into poetry. Heartbreaking, terrifying, and shattering, Anderson’s powerful fight for her kids and her own safety becomes a story of breathtaking redemption and yes, beauty.” -Caroline Leavitt, bestselling author of Cruel Beautiful World

 “Anderson is a gifted writer who vividly describes both settings and emotions. Her powerful story gives voice and hope to women caught in similarly terrible conditions.” –Booklist (starred review)

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The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

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I loved this dark, creepy novel. The main character is an alcoholic, agoraphobic woman who lives in NYC who hasn’t been able to leave her apartment in almost a year. She spends her days drinking, watching old black and white movies, and spying on her neighbors through their windows. One day she thinks she sees something very disturbing happen, but can we, the reader, trust her point of view? If you like Alfred Hitchcock, you’ll like this one.

The Woman in the Window is a tour de force. A twisting, twisted odyssey inside one woman’s mind, her illusions, delusions, reality. It left my own mind reeling and my heart pounding. An absolutely gripping thriller.” (#1 New York Times bestselling author Louise Penny)

The Woman in the Window is one of those rare books that really is unputdownable. The writing is smooth and often remarkable. The way Finn plays off this totally original story against a background of film noir is both delightful and chilling.” (Stephen King)

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To Say Nothing of the Dog or How We Found the Bishop’s Bird Stump At Last by Connie Willis

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In the not too distant future, historians at Oxford have found a way to travel back in time to study different time periods. A wealthy patron of the program is insistent on finding an artifact that belonged to one of her ancestors, and so Ned and Verity, two Oxford academics, are sent back to 1888 England, where many funny adventures ensue. This is a great choice for people who love Victorian novels.

“Willis effortlessly juggles comedy of manners, chaos theory and a wide range of literary allusions [with a] near flawlessness of plot, character and prose.”–Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“The most hilarious book of its kind since John Irving’s The Water-Method Man and A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.”–Des Moines Sunday Register

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The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott

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A portrait of the Irish-American experience is presented through the story of an Irish immigrant’s suicide and how it reverberates through innumerable lives in early twentieth-century Catholic Brooklyn.

“This seamlessly written new work from National Book Award winner McDermott asks how much we owe others, how much we owe ourselves, and, of course, McDermott’s consistent attention to the Catholic faith, how much we owe God . . . In lucid, flowing prose, McDermott weaves her character’ stories to powerful effect. Highly recommended.” ―Library Journal, starred review

“McDermott delivers an immense, brilliant novel about the limits of faith, the power of sacrifice, and the cost of forgiveness . . . It’s the thread that follows Sally’s coming of age and eventual lapse of faith that is the most absorbing. Scenes detailing her benevolent encounters . . . are paradoxically grotesque and irresistible . . . McDermott exhibits a keen eye for character.” ―Publishers Weekly, starred review

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