Saturday, April 7, 2012


I know Volume II only came out a couple of months ago, but I've got another baker's dozen to give you.  4 of the 13 are repeat authors, and, obviously, 9 are new.  Plus, 2 are non-fiction, which sort of goes counter to the title of the blog.  But both of these are excellent books that read like fiction - similar to The Glass Castle, which was in Volume I.  Here they are.  They are listed in the order that they came to mind - in other words, no order at all.  Oh, and by the way, I had 1 book in Volume II that I forgot to name.  It was Richard North Patterson's book about abortion.  It's called Protect and Defend.  Sorry about that.

Tom Rob Smith - Secret Speech.  This is book 2 in the series about the young gung ho KGB officer who develops a conscience.  As a reminder, this takes place in the 1950's.  I loved book 1, and book 2 is every bit as good.  P.S.  I recently read book 3 and loved that one too.
Harlan Coben - Stay Close.  This is his latest and another standalone.  All 21 of his adult novels (he has started a young adult series that I haven't read) are excellent.  Why did I pick this one?  Mostly because it's the latest.  I'm hoping that this will send new readers to Coben.  I guarantee that you will not be disappointed - with this one or any other of his books.
Jodi Piccoult - The Pact.  This is, I think, my second favorite of hers, after My Sister's Keeper.  This one is about 2 high schoolers, a boy and a girl, that make a suicide pact.  Only one follows through.  What this does to the survivor and the 2 families is truly masterful writing - and reading.
Tami Hoag - Night Sins.  This is a murder mystery that's a bit rough to read.  It starts with a young child's kidnapping from an ice rink in Minnesota.  The subject matter may be a turn-off for some of you. It's an excellent book, though.  The sequel, Guilty as Sin, was just about as good.
Billie Letts - Honk and Holler, Opening Soon.  This is a book that was my favorite of the year when I read it back in the early 2000's.  It's quirky and a true delight.  I have enjoyed all of Letts' books, but this one stands out.  There's not really much of a plot, but it centers on the owner of a small cafe and his relationship with one of his female employees.  You will like it.
Nelson De Mille - Word of Honor.  I would say, like Piccoult, that this is my 2nd favorite De Mille - after Charm School.  This book patterns itself after the true-life My Lai incident from the Viet Nam war.  An officer, who has returned to civilian life, is indicted 13 years after he allegedly directed a massacre of Viet Nam civilians.  It's really well done.
Ken Follett - World without End.  This is the sequel to Pillars of the Earth.  If Pillars is one of my favorite 3 books of all time (The Source by Michener and Shogun by Clavell being the other 2), then World is one of my top 25 books of all time.  It takes place 200 years after Pillars and is, once again, a masterpiece of fiction.
Lauren Hildenbrand - Unbroken (non-fiction).  Everybody knows about this one.  It chronicles a world-class track star who ends up as a Japanese prisoner of war.  It's an amazing story and will have you on edge throughout the entire book.
Erik Larson - In the Garden of Beasts (non-fiction).  This one was not quite as popular/well-known as Unbroken but was every bit as good.  The story takes place starting in 1933 when a college history professor is appointed by FDR to become ambassador to Germany in Berlin.  It not only addresses the rise to power of Hitler, but it also talks about what being an ambassador meant in those days.  This is the same guy who wrote Devil in the White City, about the 1896 World's Fair in Chicago.  I liked this one much better.
Khaled Hosseini - Kite Runner.  Yes, I know I just wrote about this in my blog about books that started out small and became big - in this case, huge.  Regardless, it's an excellent book.  Everybody, and I mean everybody, knows what this book is about.  Enough said.
Ann Patchett - Bel Canto.  This is another one from that same list.  Even though I didn't like the ending as much as others did (although it was certainly better than Grisham's endings!), the story itself is beautifully told.  Reading about how hostages interacted with their captors made me feel like I was there in the palace with them.
George Pelecanos - The Turnaround.  I really liked this a lot.  It's a very interesting premise.  It's about teenage boys who end up in the wrong part of town, with tragic results.  The story picks up 30 years later and focuses on the fallout from that incident.
Michael Lavigne - Not Me.  I can't tell you much because I don't want to give the plot away.  Suffice it to say that it focuses on an elderly Jewish man who is very philanthropic in the community.  The book explores how this came to be.  It starts with WWII.  That's all I'm saying.  It's definitely 1 of the most interesting story lines I can remember ever reading.

Don't worry.  I have no plans for a Volume IV - yet.

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