Written in lush and lyrical language complimenting the North Carolina forest setting, the novel is a thriller, romance, and character study. Luce is a spunky loner who has abandoned social interactions and lives as a caretaker for an abandoned summer lodge miles from town. Her solitary existence is drastically interrupted as a social worker delivers the children of her murdered sister. The children are mute and unresponsive. Without any experience in the care of children, she must be their protector and savior. Meanwhile the father is lurking in the background freed from the murder of his wife and trying to find hidden sums of money. If Luce is the heroine, Bud the father, is the villain of the narrative. In capturing the mind, motivations and self-pitying justifications of this psychopath, Frazier’s words glow.  Luce cares for the children, a stranger visits and a romance begins. As the action advances, Bud, the children, and Luce become entwined in fearful suspense. Providing the welcome escape that readers crave, Frazier journeys to another time and place. Lovers of Cold Mountain will not be disappointed with Nightwoods.

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Akin to Deanna Raybourn and her Lady Julia Grey series and Anne Perry’s William Monk series, Charles Finch puts together a smart, fresh historical mystery series with a debonair gentleman detective Charles Lenox.  In this book, the fourth in the series, Lenox begins working as a Member of Parliament in 1860s London, but called upon to do some investigating when the servant of a fellow MP turns up murdered.  Sadly, his new wife, Lady Jane Grey, is not too pleased his sleuthing…she would rather he be home with her, so that leads to some tension.  Mostly, Lenox is an easy-going and dapper fellow who appeals to all.  I think most mystery readers, especially those who like historical or British mysteries (or both) will like Finch! 
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Following the overwhelming success of The Millennium Trilogy (The Girl….series) by Stieg Larsson and the recent success of The Snowman by Jo Nesbo, it’s no wonder American publishers are clamoring to get new Scandinavian authors out on the crime fiction shelves.  Sometimes, this leads to less than stellar works…published just for the sake of being published.  That is NOT the case with this book by Kepler, a Swedish husband and wife writing team.  The Hypnotist is one of the strongest thrillers I’ve read in ages…since The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo…and even gives that first book of Larsson’s trilogy a run for its money.  Most of the way through (up until the very end — maybe the last 50 pages) was some of the best suspense ever!  Kepler knows just how to reel the audience in and how much or how little to give away…letting the chills mount until they just HAVE to be released.  The ending was a bit of a disappointment, which is why it was not able to surpass The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as my favorite crime story in a decade.  Unlike Girl, which has a very strong ending, The Hypnotist’s story and writing seems to drag on unnecessarily at the end, which is a shame since most of the book was so taut and fine-tuned.  But, the ending should not keep you from reading this one.  The first 450 pages are superb and need to be savored and remembered as you read to the end.  I’m sure you will not be disappointed with this one!  A MUST for all crime readers!

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Not one of Berg’s best but still a strong tale of woe among 50-something divorcees.  The main female character, Irene, got a little tiresome after a while since I so disagreed with a lot of choices in both parenting and dealing with her ex-husband.  But, John, the ex, is a strongly written, interesting male voice in modern-day America.  I felt John had his feet planted more in the real world than Irene, especially when dealing with their 18-year-old daughter.  If you’ve read Berg (and other women’s fiction) and liked her, you will mostly like this one.

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Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
By Foer, Jonathan Safran
2005-04 – Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH)
0618329706 Check Our Catalog

Winner – 2006 ALA Notable Fiction Selection
A BookPage Notable Title
Oskar Schell is an inventor, Francophile, tambourine player, Shakespearean actor, jeweler, pacifist. He is nine years old. And he is on an urgent, secret search through the five boroughs of New York to find the lock that fits a mysterious key belonging to his father, who died in the attacks on the World Trade Center.
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The Usual Rules
The Usual Rules
By Maynard, Joyce
2004-02 – St. Martin’s Press
0312283695 Check Our Catalog

Thirteen-year-old Wendy lives in Brooklyn. Her world is transformed one day in September 2001–her mother goes to work that morning and doesn’t come back. Through Wendy’s eyes, readers follow her slow and terrible realization that her mother has died, and the family’s struggle to move forward with their lives. …More

The Submission The Submission
By Waldman, Amy
2011-08 – Farrar Straus Giroux
9780374271565 Check Our Catalog

Cool, eloquent, raising two fatherless children, Claire has emerged as the most visible of the widows who became a potent political force in the aftermath of the catastrophe. She longs for her husband, but she has found her mission: she sits on a jury charged with selecting a fitting memorial for the victims of the attack. …More


Terrorist Terrorist
By Updike, John
2007-05 – Ballantine Books
9780345493910 Check Our Catalog

BookPage Notable Title
Born of an Irish-American mother and an Egyptian father long since disappeared, 18-year-old Ahmad craves spiritual nurture and is drawn into an insidious plot.
…More


Ground Zero Ground Zero
By Wilson, F. Paul
2010-09 – Tor Books
9780765362797 Check Our Catalog

Jack finds the secret behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks, in the new dark thriller in the bestselling Repairman Jack series. …More


Absent Friends Absent Friends
By Rozan, S. J.
2008-08 – Dell Publishing Company
9780440241850 Check Our Catalog

The secrets of a group of childhood friends unravel in this haunting thriller by Edgar Award winner Rozan, set in New York in the unforgettable aftermath of September 11. …More

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Akin to titles by fellow Scandinavians Henning Mankell and Stieg Larsson, Norwegian author Nesbo spins an exciting, edge-of-your-seat thriller with a whole lot of punch.  The “creep” factor is high here so don’t read at bedtime…nightmares of snowmen staring through the window at you are almost guaranteed.  Telling the story of a serial killer who is hunting prey in Norway and leaving a snowman at or near the scenes of his crimes, Nesbo weaves terror and strong writing together to tell his teeth-clenching tale.  The police detective investigating, Harry Hole, becomes personally attached to the killer after Hole begins to get messages from the killer.  A solid, intense thriller by an author who will give fans of Mankell’s Wallander series and Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy a run for their money.
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Set during both WWII and in the mid-1980s, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an exceptional novel about a time in history American we are too willing to forget…the internment of Japanese Americans during the war. Set in Seattle, Hotel focuses around main character Henry, who is a young 12-year-old Chinese American boy in 1942, where much of the book takes place. During these historical chapters, he meets Keiko, a Japanese girl who is a second generation American. They both start out apprehensive of each other (Henry’s father loathes the Japanese) but eventually grow to care deeply for each other. When Keiko and her family, along with all of the other Japanese families, are rounded up and moved to camps set up by the American government, Henry is not only unhappy but confused…confused since Keiko is more American than he is. Keiko does not even speak Japanese. This contrasts with Henry’s background…where his parents speak only Chinese and they force him to speak only “his English.”
I really liked this novel. It has one of the best, most moving stories I’ve read. Ever. Now, mind you, I am not saying this is the best book I have ever read. Why? What is the difference between “best story” and “best book?” Simple: the way it was written. As I was reading Hotel, I found myself thinking about another book I had read that was also set in the Pacific Northwest about Japanese Americans: Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson. Even though Snow takes place AFTER WWII and Hotel focuses on events that happen DURING the war, I continued to make comparisons between the two while I was reading Hotel. Comparisons to the story and the location and the romantic elements…NOT comparisons to the writing. Guterson’s novel from 1994 is filled with lyrical prose that I remember submerging myself into and not wanting to escape from…vivid from page one to the end, brilliantly bringing to life an entire setting through the pages. The love story in Snow between the main characters is enhanced by the poetic words given to describe both them and their surroundings. Jamie Ford’s writing in Hotel is good…very good. It’s just not excellent. It’s the story in Hotel that you want to savor, not the prose. Had Ford brought to Hotel the expressive, inspired language Guterson used, Hotel might just have been a true literary masterpiece. But, having a minor masterpiece is still pretty good! It’s a great, page-turning read and a story that will stay with you long after the final page.

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A true tearjerker, Night Road, is a perceptive novel on motherhood, friendship, family relationships and the devastation of loss. Jude Farraday is a super overbearing mother of twins, Mia and Zach. On the first day of high school Lexie Baill, newly adopted by her grand aunt, befriends Mia who is shy and insecure in contrast to her popular and athletic twin Zach. Jude grateful that Mia has found a friend opens her home to Lexie. The friendship flourishes.

As the action fast forwards to senior year, Jude beset by college applications and drinking parties becomes obsessive in her control of the twins’ lives. The timing for this novel is just right for Mother’s Day since the characterization of Jude relates so well to every mother who feels the pressure and concern for the happiness of her children. Adding to the tenderness of the novel Lexie and Zach fall in love.
On one tragic night on Night Road Jude’s fears are realized. In the explosion of Jude’s grief, guilt and rage lives are broken and dreams destroyed.
Setting and strong insightful characterization contribute to a realistic heartbreaking story.

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