I Love You More by Jennifer Murphy

I love you moreA man with a closet full of secrets can only keep them hidden so long.  Sooner or later your wife finds out a secret, discovers things don’t add up, and your house of cards comes falling down piece by piece. Unless you don’t let it fall.  In this fast paced, story we first meet Diane, beautiful and put together, mother of a daughter named Picasso. She is married to Oliver, desperately in love, yet desperately unhappy. You cannot quite figure out what is going in her marriage, and either can Diane. The story is told from the perspective of Diane, Picasso, and a small town detective.  If you liked Gone Girl you will love the twists and turns and psychological layers. However, I thought this book far surpassed Gone Girl in writing, character development, and depth. The writing is fresh, beautiful, and creative. The pacing and plot are impeccable.  The story is told by different characters, the reader gains the perspective of the story from many different angles. This is the best murder mystery I have read in a long time, I could not walk away from it until it was over. It is haunting, masterful, and a stunning success.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: I Love You More

The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brokenbrough

love and death

The Game of Love and Death melds history, philosophy, and love seamlessly. In the forefront are the two main characters, Henry and Flora. They have both known the dulling pain of death in their young lives. Henry copes through hard work, following the rules, and playing beautiful music. Flora copes as she sings her heart out in the jazz clubs. When she is not singing she flies away over Seattle with dreams of following the path of Amelia Earhart. Their lives intersect as children and again as teenagers. In the background, Love and Death are brought to life as people, as opponents in the ultimate game, to shape the destiny of Flora and Henry.

The story envelopes the reader, historical events are paired with the fictional story of Henry and Flora in 1930’s Seattle. The jazz scene is huge, segregation is a harsh reality, and aviation is in its inception.  Life is simple, yet incredibly complicated.  The author captures the 1930’s without flaw, from the clothing, to the jazz clubs; the essence of the era is felt in every turn of the page.

I loved the story, but moreover the deeper questions it asks.  It delves into race relations, social status, the definition of family, and defying one’s chosen path.  It is a beautiful love story, endearing, tender, and dazzling.  Read it with your high school class to exemplify the injustice of segregation, the excitement of early aviation, and the uniqueness of the Seattle jazz scene.  Read it if you love Seattle history, read it if you need a love story to make your heart sing.

You will hear the music, fly with Flora, play bass with Henry, and long to know how it all ends.  I consider it a must read of 2015.

To Order this on Amazon, click here:  The Game of Love and Death

The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel

theboundlessIf you are looking for a book full of suspense and twists, read ‘The Boundless.’ The protagonist, William, is the son of a railroad worker. When the book opens the race to complete the railroad through the deep wilds of the United States is heated. The works is dangerous, the men are desperate, and William is caught in the madness of men seeking fortune, power, and immortality.

While William waits for his father to come down off the mountain from his job laying train tracks, he stumbles upon a traveling circus. A cunning girl catches his eye and lodges herself in his heart for good. William lets her convince him to meet his father in the mountains. He can simply board the train going up and ride the train back down with his father. However, a simple plan rarely remains simple. William heads into the snowy mountains and is reunited with his father. As soon as he thinks he is safe and sound, the crew is about to drive the last stake into the track, his plans are destroyed. A bloodthirsty Sasquatch, a gold hungry railroad worker, and an intricate conspiracy take William on an untamed ride in unchartered territory. Part magical realism, with historical references to the first railroads, there is suspense on every page. It is thrilling, wild, and touching.  Perfect for a 6th-8th grade reader looking for an adventure novel, with full adult appeal as well.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here:  The Boundless

Josie Jameson and the Stone Witch by Jennifer Hotes

Josie-Jameson-and-the-Stone-Witch-CoverJosie Jameson delves deeper into the supernatural, her mother’s unknown powers, and her destiny in the second installment of the Stone Witch Series. When our story opens Josie is in distress, emergency surgery has her in pain, and wracked with confusion. She has all too realistic dreams of old England, with a clear connection to some long hidden secret in her family’s past. This book travels in time through Josie’s dreams. The dreams both explain her present day circumstances, and leave her with unanswered questions. Through her dreams she knows there is an ancient curse drawing her into a world of spiritual mystery. She has a calling of deep purpose, but must seek out answers and find her mother’s hidden secrets. Josie seeks the truth about her mother, and her own identity. In the middle of her spiritual journey she still finds time to graduate from 8th grade and go through ups and downs of friendships and romances.

I loved the historical mystery component, if historical mystery is not a genre, I think Jennifer Hotes just created it. The friendships are more mature, but with a tender coming of age spin. The book is just a touch creepy, in an intriguing and compelling way. A great read, especially if you like history, folklore, and ghost stories woven together.

To purchase this book on amazon, click here: Josie Jameson and the Stone Witch (The Stone Witch series) (Volume 2)

If you liked The Book Thief…

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan

echoIf you liked The Book Thief or All the Light We Cannot See, this is your next book, without the sadness.  The value of this novel is two fold; it is a brilliantly written and powerful historical fiction. The story is about three children facing different life circumstances as World War II is unfolding. All the children are musical prodigies, with their own hardships to overcome. The children’s lives follow an invisible magical trail as a harmonica is passed around the world.  Music plays an integral role in the novel; it is the background character orchestrating the life paths of each child.

Their stories seem separate, yet there is a magical and invisible tie that connects their lives. It exemplifies for children the complicated and devastating rise of Adolf Hitler, the irrational and unfair treatment of the Japanese, and the people who never stopped working for good in the face of evil. These hard themes are balanced with the hope of love and family, and the power of music to comfort and create beauty in hard times. The beautiful writing and finely crafted story make this a read for a voracious grade school reader, or any adult.

To Purchase this book from Amazon, click here: Echo