My Sunshine Away unfolds in a Baton Rouge neighborhood best known for cookouts on sweltering summer afternoons, cauldrons of spicy crawfish, and passionate football fandom. But in the summer of 1989, when 15-year-old Lindy Simpson - free spirit, track star, and belle of the block - experiences a horrible crime late one evening near her home, it becomes apparent that this idyllic stretch of Southern suburbia has a dark side, too.
Set in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in the late eighties and early nineties, this rich atmospheric novel unfolds like a mystery. Gripping from the opening line, My Sunshine Away blends beautifully descriptive writing with thrilling suspense. The story comes together through the adolescent memories of the narrator, a neighborhood boy infatuated with Lindy Simpson – the athletic and popular teen that lives down just down his suburban street. Lindy is brutally raped one summer evening, and the narrator happens to be one of the four suspects in the unspeakable crime. With glowing praise from best-selling authors Katheryn Stockett and Anne Rice, this debut novel is not to be missed.
6 of 8 people found this review helpful
Audie Award, Audiobook of the Year, 2016. Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. "Jess and Jason," she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good? Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.
Looking for the next Gone Girl? This fast-paced psychological thriller from Paula Hawkins just might be it. Addictive from the start and told from the perspective of not one but three unreliable narrators, The Girl on the Train delivers engrossing twists and turns in every direction. Rachel, the self-destructive protagonist, is equally sympathetic and appalling, and you can’t help but immerse yourself into her distorted and chaotic world in an attempt to unravel this tightly woven mystery.
54 of 85 people found this review helpful
When author Jeff Hobbs arrived at Yale University, he became fast friends with the man who would be his college roommate for four years, Robert Peace. Robert's life was rough from the beginning in the crime-ridden streets of Newark in the 1980s, with his father in jail and his mother earning less than $15,000 a year. But Robert was a brilliant student, and it was supposed to get easier when he was accepted to Yale, where he studied molecular biochemistry and biophysics.
The story of Robert Peace is both heartbreaking and compelling. Written in narrative nonfiction style by Rob’s former Yale roommate Jeff Hobbs, The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace documents the life of a brilliant and big-hearted young man that rises from poverty to graduate from the Ivy League – only to struggle to shake the anchor that binds him to the streets of Newark. While the book’s outcome is a given from the title, the gripping narrative voiced by George Newbern leaves you helplessly rooting for Rob throughout every stage.
18 of 19 people found this review helpful
Madeleine Altimari is a smart-mouthed, rebellious nine-year-old who also happens to be an aspiring jazz singer. Still mourning the recent death of her mother, and caring for her grief-stricken father, she doesn't realize that on the eve of Christmas Eve she is about to have the most extraordinary day - and night - of her life. After bravely facing down mean-spirited classmates and rejection at school, Madeleine doggedly searches for Philadelphia's legendary jazz club The Cat's Pajamas, where she's determined to make her on-stage debut.
This quirky debut novel by Marie-Helene Bertino is just the right mix of despair and optimism. Set in downtown Philadelphia, the story unfolds the morning of Christmas Eve Eve and follows the interconnected lives of three charming but flawed characters over the next 24-hours. There’s Madeleine, a smart-mouthed and talented nine-year-old who recently lost her mother; Sarina, her newly divorced fifth grade teacher; and Lorca, the forlorn owner of the once legendary jazz club The Cat’s Pajamas. The events of the day gradually weave the characters closer together until they finally intersect during one unforgettable late night rendezvous at the city’s #2 jazz club. 2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas packs both heart and punches and is sure to delight readers and book clubs alike.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful
Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life - steady boyfriend, close family - who has never been farther afield than her tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex-Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life - big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel - and now he's pretty sure he cannot live the way he is. Will is acerbic, moody, bossy - but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected.
Don’t let the cover fool you, Me Before You is a gut-wrenching original novel that will repeatedly tug at your heart and then stomp all over it – only to leave you coming back for more. In this thought-provoking story, Jojo Moyes has painted unforgettable characters that are honest and captivating, challenged with the impossible, and brought to life by a brilliant multicast performance.
4 of 8 people found this review helpful
In this darkly riveting debut novel - a sophisticated psychological mystery that is also an heartbreakingly honest meditation on memory, identity, and aging - an elderly woman descending into dementia embarks on a desperate quest to find the best friend she believes has disappeared, and her search for the truth will go back decades and have shattering consequences.
Elizabeth Is Missing is a captivating and original debut novel from author Emma Healey. It’s told from the perspective of Maud, a lovable but forgetful 82-year-old woman whose grip on reality is slowly slipping away. She’s convinced herself that her friend Elizabeth has gone missing, and sets out on a scattered crusade to uncover the truth behind the disappearance. As Maud’s memory of the present fades, her past becomes more vivid and soon her efforts to find Elizabeth uncover clues to the mystery of her sister Sukey’s disappearance more than half a century earlier. The story comes together in the form of a methodically crafted jigsaw puzzle – sporadically transitioning from past to present and fully immersing the listener into the fragmented and terrifying experience of dementia.
12 of 14 people found this review helpful
When Ethan gets Alek to cut school and go to a Rufus Wainwright concert in New York City’s Central Park, Alek embarks on his first adventure outside the confines of his suburban New Jersey existence. He can’t believe a guy this cool wants to be his friend. And before long, it seems like Ethan wants to be more than friends. Alek has never thought about having a boyfriend - he's barely ever had a girlfriend - but maybe it’s time to think again.
One Man Guy is a dazzling coming-of-age tale about embracing your roots while discovering who you really are. Fourteen-year-old Alek Kherderian comes from a traditional Armenian family. He quietly goes through life following the rules until his suburban world is suddenly turned upside down by a surprise friendship with his classmate Ethan, who opens his eyes to a world Alek can't help but know he was always meant to be a part of. With the help of a few New York City adventures, a sprinkling of Rufus Wainwright lyrics, and some mouth-watering Armenian dishes, Alek soon discovers himself, love, and acceptance in the most unexpected places.
Michael Chernus expertly narrates the young teenage protagonist - his voice balancing shy hesitation with bold confidence at all the right moments. One Man Guy is a book so heartwarming and adorable you'll want to nuzzle it long after you're through.
11 of 14 people found this review helpful
August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school - until now. He’s about to enter fifth grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid, then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances? R. J. Palacio has crafted an uplifting novel full of wonderfully realistic family interactions, lively school scenes, and spare emotional power.
This book warmed my heart. Auggie's character is honest and loveable, showing courage and perception well beyond his years. Wonder develops through the viewpoints of multiple characters - each captured through a unique and fitting voice - adding depth and personality to a beautifully written story of family, friendship, acceptance, and the never-ending struggle to fit in.
24 of 30 people found this review helpful
Forrmer academic Arthur Opp weighs 550 pounds and hasn’t left his rambling Brooklyn home in a decade. Twenty miles away in Yonkers, seventeen-year-old Kel Keller navigates life as the poor kid in a rich school and pins his hopes on what seems like a promising baseball career - if he can untangle himself from his family drama.
What made the experience of listening to Heft the most enjoyable?
The multi-cast narration was spectacular, bringing the complex characters to life in all their flawed glory.
Who was your favorite character and why?
I was immediately drawn to Arthur Opp. He's loveable in his tragic loneliness and I found myself rooting for him to open up and celebrating his tiny steps forward.
Have you listened to any of Kirby Heyborne and Keith Szarabajka ’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
I've listened to Kirby Heyborne in 'Gone Girl', and his performance in Heft was equally gripping. This was my first listen from Keith Szarabajka and he's now on my radar.
26 of 27 people found this review helpful
Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret - something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive....
The Husband's Secret offers a carefully woven tale of three Australian women whose lives intersect and unfold in truly dramatic fashion. The characters are developed at length and the build-up is a bit slow, but Moriarty paints each role with unique charm and wit. Admittedly, it isn't hard to figure out the contents of the letter long before Cecilia opens it, but the ending is full of twists and turns that surely nobody can predict.
2 of 4 people found this review helpful