The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

the woman in the window Anna has not left her house in a long while. She feels safe and secure at home, and that is where she stays. Her New York City home sits across from a park, looking straight into the neighbor’s window. Anna is not working right now, she is on a break from her practice as a child psychologist. With so much time on her hands, she begins to watch the neighborhood with detailed intensity. When a new family moves in across the park, something does not seem quite right. As she gets to know them more, she is convinced they are suspicious. When she believes she has witnesses a crime in the neighborhood, Anna loses all sense of reality and fiction. The story unravels in unpredictable twists, and devastating back story all woven into a suspenseful read.

If you are a lover of psychological thrillers, this is your book.

To Purchase at a local bookstore near you, click on:

IndieBound

Best Books of 2017

My Favorite Books of 2017

eleanor Oliphant is completely fineBest Overall Character: Emily Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman– Emily is the most real, quirky, and charming character I have read in a long time. She has been through very difficult circumstances, and we meet her just as she is beginning to step out of a safe, but isolated life. I was moved, laughed, cringed, and cheered for her the whole way through.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel

the other einsteinBest Historical Fiction: The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict– Did you know Albert Einstein’s wife was also a genius mathematician and physicist? This is a riveting and heartbreaking story of their love affair. It was fascinating.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: The Other Einstein: A Novel

 

wishtreeBest Middle Grade Novel: Wishtree by Catherine Applegate– Told from the perspective of a tree, the history, heartache, and hope of a little town is revealed by one little tree. Beautiful, imaginative, and wonderful.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: Wishtree

 

when dimple met rishiBest Sophisticated Brain Candy: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandya Menon– When Dimple heads to Standford for a summer program, she has no idea her traditional Indian parents have betrothed her to another student in the program. Calamity ensues, and it is funny, sweet, and light. Sometimes you just need a light read, this is it, but well written.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: When Dimple Met Rishi

 

a long walk to waterBest Non-Fiction: A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park– A simply stunning novel about the lost boys of Sudan. Everyone should read this book, and teachers or parents of 4th graders and up should add it to their read aloud list.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story

like water for chocolate

Best Re-Read: Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel- This was a book club pick, I had read it in college, and loved reading it again. It is passionate, tragic, and beautiful.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies

 

born a crime

Best Celebrity Novel: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah– Ever since the success of Tina Fey’s book, it gave license for nearly every celebrity to write a book. Most are not my favorite.  However, I learned a lot from Noah’s book. You will learn a little about slave history, apartheid, and hear Noah’s powerful life story.  A solid read, but not too challenging.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

2018 To Be Read List: (So Far) 

Peace Like a River by Lief Enger

Alexander Hamilton: Revolutionary by Martha Brokenbrough

The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

the alice networkCharlie boards a ship to Europe with her mother, pregnant, unwed, and a little angry. The Second World War has just ended, and nothing is right in Charlie’s life, or the world. Fed up with her mother, she sets out on her own as soon as she reaches England. Charlie’s cousin Rose, is missing in France.  She has one lead, a woman named Eve, and all the determination in the world.

Eve worked in a ring of women spies in World War One. Her job left her broken, bitter, and alone. Along comes Charlie, with questions Eve does not want to hear, much less answer. However, Eve must face the past eventually. Charlie and Eve form a very unlikely relationship and set out to find Rose.

The Alice Network flips back and forth between Eve and Charlie, and the First and Second World Wars. It is thrilling, distressing, and intriguing. There are many World War Two novels, however the timelines from each war weave together to deliver a fresh twist. The work of female spies is impressive, the author’s research at the end of the book is fascinating. An entertaining story from beginning to end.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: The Alice Network: A Novel

3 Books to Teach Compassion

Here are three middle grade novels that are perfect to teach compassion and lead to disucssions on empathy. I had to update this post because I read the most wonderful book, it had to be mentioned.  Please read Wonder this year, you will be glad you did.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Wonder-1 (1)It is rare that I cry while reading a book, but I did as I read Wonder.  It is rare that I am so moved by a book that by the time I am finished I resolve to be a better person.  In most of my reading I am delighted, charmed, informed, and entertained.  But Wonder moved me.  August, the main character was born with a facial deformity, a one in a million chance, but he got it.  He elicits gasps of shock from strangers when their eyes take in his physical appearance for the first time.  When we meet Auggie, he is starting school for the first time, not just school, middle school.  The story is told from Auggie’s point of view, as well as his sister, and classmates at school.  The characters are written with such sharp and strong voice, you are enveloped and rooting for Auggie from the first page.  You feel his pain deeply and triumph in his joys with exuberance.  This is a must read for every adult, every teacher of 4th grade and up needs to share this book with their students.  I loved this book from start to finish, it is brilliant.

To Order on Amazon, click here:  Wonder  (Only 6.99! Get it)

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate 

the one and only ivanThe One and Only Ivan tells the story of a Gorilla kept in the Tacoma Mall as a tourist attraction.  Told from the perspective of the animals, this books tackles issues of animal cruelty in the most perfect way.  It is honest, but heart warming.  It was moving and made you feel horribly sad and wonderfully happy all at the same time.  This book shows children that all life has value, it is our responsibility is to care for others and animals and make the world a better place where we can.  If you are an adult that loves animals, please read it, you won’t regret it.  A modern day Charlotte’s Web.

To Order on Amazon, click here: The One and Only Ivan (Only 6 Bucks!)

Absolutely Almost by Lisa Gaff 

Absolutely almost

Absolutely Almost is about Albie, a boy who is almost always striving and missing the mark.  Albie is 10 and lives in New York City.  Spelling tests are hard, reading is harder, and he is aware of every worry his parents try to hide.  Albie is at a new school, and absolutely does not need a baby-sitter; then arrives Callista , to hang out with him after school.  Callista and Ablie form a special bond.  She serves as a catalyst to show Albie his hidden talents.  Although this book is a middle grade novel, it was a superb read.  The writing was tender and relevant; it reminded me of a modern, less silly, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.  If you are a teacher looking for a book to teach show compassion, dealing with bullying, and learning to stand up for yourself, this is a good pick.  If you have a young person in your life that likes realistic fiction, this is a great book.  I loved that it was realistic, not preachy, and relatable, without inappropriate content.  Jaff is a fantastic writer; she captures emotions and struggles from a young person’s perspective with ease.

To Order this book on Amazon, click here:  Absolutely Almost (Cheap as well!)

Four British Authors to Know and Love

England has produced great works of literature through the ages.  Books set in the backdrop of the British Isles , or written by a English author are some of my favorites.  Whether you adore Jane Austin, or only use her to cure insomnia, there are many current English authors worth reading. These are the reads from across the pond (as they say) that I have enjoyed, ranging from immensely to thoroughly.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

The Unlikely Pilgramage of harold fryFrom start to finish I enjoyed the tale of Harold Fry and his Unlikely Pilgrimage.  Harold and his wife exist, but do not live; they function, but do not thrive.  It is as if a large gray cloud cover their lives with gray and shadows and they have accepted their drab life.  Unexpectedly Harold receives a letter from an old friend.   Queenie, is terminally ill in a town across the country.   He gets the letter, and begins to walk to see his old friend.  Without a  plan, and a lousy pair of shoes upon his feet, he just walks.   The strange pilgrimage shocks and frustrates his wife, but Harold begins to collect a small following to cheer him on.  Pretty soon the whole country of England begins to rally for Harold to make it to see his old friend Queenie.  Harold sets out searching to find closure with an old friend, but the journey leads him to a vastly different destination.  This is a sweet story, honest, and well written.

To Order this book on Amazon, click here:

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: A Novel

Longbourne by Jo Baker

LongbourneLongbourne is reminiscent of Jane Austin’s story telling.  You will like it If you are looking for a book will elements similar to Pride and Prejudice.  However, it is not a retelling of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy.  Let Longbourne speak for itself and tell its own story.  It is classic in its theme, tension, and hierarchy between servants and higher class.  It is romantic in its story of love hoped for, but unspoken and uncertain.   As a reader you need to attentively tune into the tension and longings of the characters.  The things that go unsaid are almost as important as what is said.  Longbourne takes you into old England, carriages, foggy mornings,  stone houses, and quiet romance.  I enjoyed this book, it is not a page turner, but a story that unfolds with quiet reserve.

To Order this book on Amazon, click here:

Longbourn (Vintage)

The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise by Julia Stuart

The tower, the zoo, and the tortoiseBalthazar Jones has lived in the Tower of London with his wife for years, along with their 120 year old pet turtle.  He is a Beefeater at the Tower and his wife is in charge of the lost and found department at the Tower of London.  This book is whimsical and completely unique. Julia Stuart is a superb writer and has a talent for strong characterization, and weaving beautifully written language.  Part history lesson and part tale of Balthazar Jones and his wife, you will get a rich feel for London’s history and the lives of the quirky characters that inhabit the tower.  It has a wonderful setting, rich characters, and an offbeat story.  It is a quality read.

To order this book from Amazon, click here:

The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise

What the Nanny Saw by Fiona Neill

What the Nanny SawWhat the Nanny Saw is a great summer beach read.  I listened to this on audio book, the advantage to the audio version is the fantastic British accent.  I highly recommend this book for a glance into extraordinary wealth, and the extraordinary fall that came to many during the 2008 financial crisis.  Alli is the trusted nanny who tells the story of Nick and Bryony, the couple with everything and more in central London. She cares for the children while maintaining a certain invisibility as the hired help.  However, she sees and hears more than she ever wanted to know.   The characters are charming and their lives are intriguing.  I think the author does a fine job with showing the good and bad in all the levels of social status.  The kind hearted nanny makes choices that are somewhat appalling, as do her employers.  This book is timely, engaging, and a good pick for summer.   

To Order this book on Amazon, click here:

What the Nanny Saw