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A Ghost of Childhood Past

28 May

In Jeffrey Ford’s latest novel, The Shadow Year, a young boy’s life is forever changed when his schoolmate disappears and he and his brother decide to investigate the strange going-ons in their small town.

With shades of Stephen King and Ray Bradbury, Ford brings to life the nameless narrator’s loving, funny but dysfunctional family that includes his hysterical brother who watches out for him when isn’t forgetting about him, an alcoholic/artist mom, a dad who works three jobs and a sister who seems to know the future with the help on an invisible friend.

With the help of an unexpected visitor, they try to find out more about a mysterious man they dub Mr. White who seems to slowly be circling them even as they spy on him.

Set in the mid 60s, The Shadow Year is dark, funny and evocotive. It takes you back in time, but then sends a shiver down your spine when you discover that someone’s not what they appear to be. Kathy B

How a liar tells the truth

18 Jan

inthewoods Early one day in 1984, three twelve-year olds set off into the local woods. Late that night, only one is found – mute, with blood on his socks and no memory of what happened. Twenty years later, he’s a detective for the Dublin police and still remembers nothing. When he and his partner are sent to investigate the murder of a girl whose body is found where the woods once stood, clues lead him to believe there’s a connection to his friends’ disappearance, and he starts to remember things he’d long forgotten. Or does he? There are two things the good detective tells the reader at the start. One: He craves the truth and Two: He lies.
In the Woods, by Tana French, is a gripping and involving thriller that leaves you wondering what the he** happened in those woods? (it better not be the fairies)
Kathy B

Good Grief is right!

10 Dec

lollyRecently widowed Sophie Stanton suffers a gradual meltdown after her husband of three years, Ethan, dies of cancer. With the help of friends (old and new), family (including her mother-in-law!), a new city and job, she begins to see the light at the end of the tunnel. By helping those whose around her who, in many ways, are in worse shape than she is, she begins to heal.
I never thought a story about a grieving widow would make me laugh so much! At the same time, I was moved by her bittersweet memories of Ethan. Author Lolly Winston has written a truly funny and tender book about love, loss and recovery. Kathy B

Accidently winning the lottery?

6 Jun

milliondilemma
In Judy Baer’s Million Dollar Dilemma, preacher’s daughter Cassia mistakenly contributes five dollars to an office lottery pool and they actually win! Cassia, who is does not believe in gambling, has a crisis of faith. All her plans are in disarray and she must figure out what God has planned for her life. This Christian chick lit has a wonderful message about how God’s plans for your life may not be your plans and enriches this lesson with adventure, romance and humor. Renee

The Coulter story continues…

23 Mar

sunkissedLarge animal veterinarian Tucker Coulter meets Samantha Harrigan when they both come to the aid of an abused horse at a county rodeo in Sun Kissed by Catherine Anderson.  Samantha, a horse breeder and trainer with four older brothers, needs Tucker’s help as an enemy from her past threatens her farm.  I like how the author brings her characters to life and enriches their lives with close ties to their family.  One of my favorite scenes in the novel is Tucker’s encounter with his fifteen-month-old niece.  These are people with strong family ties and morals.  I hope you enjoy meeting the Coulters and the Harrigans as much as I did in this wonderful romance.  Renee

There’s more than one kind of ghost story.

8 Mar

Memories prove just as haunting as ghosts in The Keep, an imaginative but creepy novel by Jennifer Egan.

In castles, the keep was the inner stronghold – the last place of refuge when defending a castle. It proves an apt metaphor as the novel’s characters try to keep the past and their mistakes from destroying them.

When Danny and Howard, two estranged cousins, meet in a crumbling old German castle, the past can no longer be kept out. It returns, bringing with it a reminder of the terrible wrong done by Danny to Howard when they were teens. All this is connected to a prisoner with a violent past and his writing teacher, who develop an oddly touching relationship. Each story is compelling and how they are related gradually becomes clear.

The almost gothic atmosphere with the castle looming in the background is wonderful, and I loved the way the author ties both stories together. Kathy B
Keep

Little Women and (their father) March – Two novels

17 Feb

The Pulitzer Prize winning novel March by Geraldine Brooks, paired with a re-reading of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, is a rewarding dual selection for book discussion groups. March is Mr. March, the father of sisters Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, who leaves home to volunteer as a Union chaplain the Civil War. His experiences provide a dark picture of the war – evil and suffering that affect soldiers and civilians on both sides of the conflict.  Marriage to Mr. March, who is a “true believer” in abolitionism, is not a bed of roses for Marmee, his wife.  You may not accept Brooks’ March as the missing father in Little Women, but the author has woven solid historical research into an engrossing story. Louisa May Alcott finished her novel about the March family a few years after the Civil War, basing her characters on her childhood memories.  Re-reading Little Women as an adult lets you compare your favorite sisters or family members, then and now.  Plan on extra discussion time if your book club reads these novels in tandem! Beth
LittlewomenMarch