Vicky’s Best Reads 2017

BEST READS 2017

 by Vicky Calmes, Colby Community Library Director

 

FICTION

  1. The Breakdown    Author:  B. A. Paris

 Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods with the woman sitting inside—the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; but since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby.  The things she can’t seem to forget are that woman, the silent calls she’s receiving, and the feeling that she’s being watched…

 

  1. The Stolen Marriage    Author:  Diane Chamberlain

 In 1944, young Tess DeMello abruptly ends her engagement to the love of her life when she marries a mysterious stranger and moves to Hickory, North Carolina, a small town struggling with racial tension and the hardships imposed by World War II. In her new life, Tess suspects people are talking about her, plotting behind her back, and following her as she walks around town. What does everyone know about her new husband that she does not?

 

  1. The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley    Author:  Hannah Tinti

 After years on the run, Samuel Hawley moves with his teenage daughter, Loo, to Massachusetts. Loo struggles to fit in at school and begins to grow curious about her mother’s mysterious death. Haunting them both are twelve scars on Hawley’s body, from twelve bullets in his criminal past; a past that eventually spills over into his daughter’s present, until together they must face a reckoning yet to come and explore the cost we pay to protect those we love. 

 

  1. The Choices We Make    Author:  Karma Brown

Hannah and Kate became friends in the fifth grade and have been close as sisters ever since.  However, Hannah can’t help but feel envious of Kate’s family—complete with two perfect little girls—while she and Ben have been trying for years to have a baby.  Hannah is devastated when she receives news that she will likely never get pregnant, until Kate comes to her rescue and together the families embark on an incredible and tragic journey toward parenthood.

  1. I’ll Take You There    Author:  Wally Lamb

Felix, a film scholar who runs a movie club in an old vaudeville theater, is confronted by the ghost of Lois Weber, a trailblazing director from Hollywood’s silent film era. Lois invites Felix to revisit and relive scenes from his past as they are projected onto the cinema’s big screen.  In these magical movies, the medium of film becomes the lens for Felix to reflect on the women who profoundly impacted his life. At first unnerved by these ethereal apparitions, Felix comes to look forward to his encounters and begins to understand the trials of the women closest to him.

 

  1. Into the Water    Author:  Paula Hawkins

In the days before her death, Nel called her sister. Jules didn’t pick up the phone, ignoring her plea for help.  Now Nel is dead. They say she jumped and Jules has been dragged back to the one place she hoped she had escaped for good.  Jules is afraid of her long-buried memories of this place, of the old Mill House, of knowing that Nel would never have jumped.  Most of all, she’s afraid of the water, and the place they call the Drowning Pool…

 

  1. The Address    Author:  Fiona Davis

The Dakota is a notorious, castle-like building on 72nd Street off Manhattan’s Central Park—but 130 years ago, this location was the muddy middle of nowhere. “The Address” is the story of two women a century apart whose tumultuous lives become part of the Dakota’s sometimes unhappy history. 

 

  1. Marathon    Author:  Brian Freeman

 On a rainy June morning, thousands of people crowd into Duluth for the city’s biggest annual event: Grandma’s Marathon. An explosion along the race course leaves many people dead or injured and within minutes, a manhunt begins for the person who planted the backpack filled with explosives.  FBI special agents take over the case while the public spreads media that this was radical Islamic terrorism.  As the evidence falls together, the agents begin to believe this isn’t terrorism at all—can they find the truth before more innocent people are killed?

 

  1. A Piece of the World    Author:  Christina Baker Kline

To Christina Olson, the entire world was her family’s farm in the small coastal town in Maine. Increasingly incapacitated by illness, Christina seemed destined for a small life. Instead, for more than twenty years, she was inspiration for the artist Andrew Wyeth, and became the subject of one of the best known American paintings of the twentieth century.  Kline vividly imagines the life of the woman behind the portrait complete with complicated relationships and a special bond with one of our greatest modern artists.

 

  1. Don’t Let Go    Author:  Harlen Coben

 Detective Napoleon “Nap” Dumas hasn’t been the same since high school, when his twin brother Leo and Leo’s girlfriend Diana were found dead on the railroad tracks—and Maura, the girl Nap considered the love of his life, broke up with him and disappeared without explanation. For fifteen years, Nap has been searching, both for Maura and for the real reason behind his brother’s death. Now, it looks as though he may finally find what he’s been looking for, but the deaths and disappearances may be darker and far more sinister than Nap ever dared imagine.

 

  1. Heartbreak Hotel    Author:  Jonathan Kellerman

At nearly one hundred years old, Thalia Mars is far from the patients that child psychologist Alex Delaware normally treats. But the witty woman convinces Alex to meet with her to discuss unsettling questions—about guilt, patterns of criminal behavior, and victim selection. When Alex asks the reason for her morbid fascination, Thalia promises to tell all during their next session; however, when he shows up, Thalia is dead in her room.  Alex then works to peel back the layers of her elusive life and embarks on a baffling investigation when he realizes that Thalia is a victim like no other.

 

  1. Every Last Lie    Author:  Mary Kubica

 Clara Solberg’s world shatters when her husband and their daughter are in a car crash, killing Nick while Maisie is remarkably unharmed. The crash is ruled an accident…until the coming days, when Maisie starts having night terrors that make Clara question what really happened on that fateful afternoon.  Clara is plunged into a desperate hunt for the truth where she will stop at nothing to find out that the truth is only the beginning of a twisted tale of deceit. 

 

13. Not a Sound    Author: Heather Gudenkauf

When a tragic accident leaves nurse Amelia Winn deaf, she spirals into a depression that causes her to lose everything. Now, two years later she is finally getting back on her feet until she discovers the body of a fellow nurse near her cabin in the woods and she is plunged into a disturbing mystery that could shatter her life all over again.

 

  1. The Secret Diary of Hendrick Groen, 83 ¼ Years Old    Author:  Hendrik Groen, Hester Velmans

 Hendrik Groen may be old, but he is far from dead and isn’t planning to be buried any time soon. Granted, his daily strolls are getting shorter because his legs are no longer willing and he visits his doctor more than he’d like. Technically speaking he is…elderly. But surely there is more to life at his age than weak tea and potted geraniums?  Hendrik sets out to write an exposé of his endeavors in Amsterdam home care, including the anarchic Old-But-Not Dead Club and love.

  1. A Mother’s Promise   Author: Sally Hepworth

Alice and her daughter Zoe have been a family of two all their lives. With no other family to speak of, and the identity of Zoe’s father shrouded in mystery, their team of two works fine until Alice gets sick and is given a grim prognosis.  Desperate to find stability for Zoe, Alice reaches out to her oncology nurse and a social worker for support. As the four of them come together, a chain of events is set into motion and all four of them must confront their sharpest fears and secrets—secrets about abandonment, abuse, estrangement, and the deepest longing for family.

 

  1. Faithful   Author: Alice Hoffman

Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is just an ordinary girl until one night her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt.  A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby must fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls—including an angel who’s been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night.

  1. Saints For All Occasions    Author: J. Courtney Sullivan

 Responsible Nora and her gregarious sister Theresa are young adults when they leave their small village in Ireland and journey to America.  When Theresa ends up pregnant, Nora is forced to come up with a plan—a decision with repercussions they are both far too young to understand.  Fifty years later, Nora is the matriarch of a big Catholic family while Theresa is estranged from her sister and cut off from the world as a cloistered nun.  After decades of silence, a sudden death forces Nora and Theresa to confront the choices they made so long ago. 

 

  1. The Orphan’s Tale    Author: Pam Jenoff

Young Noa has been disgraced and forced to give up her baby after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier.  She lives above a rail station, where she discovers a boxcar containing Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp.  In a moment that will change her life, she snatches one of the babies and flees into the night.  Noa finds refuge with a German circus, but she must learn the trapeze to blend in which leads to interactions with lead aerialist, Astrid.  In the end, Noa and Astrid must decide whether their friendship is enough to save one another or if the secrets between them will destroy everything.

 

  1. The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane    Author: Lisa See

 Li-yan and her family align their lives around the seasons and the farming of tea. Then one day a jeep appears at the village gate—the first automobile any of them have seen—and a stranger arrives.  Li-yan, one of the few educated girls on her mountain, translates for the stranger and is among the first to reject the rules that have shaped her existence. When she has a baby outside of wedlock, she wraps her daughter in a blanket and abandons her in the nearest city.  Her daughter, Haley, grows up a privileged and well-loved California girl. Despite Haley’s happy home life, she wonders about her origins; and Li-yan longs for her lost daughter. They both search for and find answers in the tea that has shaped their family’s destiny for generations.

 

  1. Natchez Burning    Author: Greg Iles

 Growing up in rural Natchez, Mississippi, Penn Cage learned everything he knows from his father, Tom. But now the beloved family doctor is accused of murdering the nurse with whom he worked in the early 1960s. A fighter who has always stood for justice, Penn is determined to save his father.  The quest for answers sends Penn deep into the past where he must follow a bloody trail that stretches back forty years, to one undeniable fact: no one is ever truly safe. 

 

  1. The Sleepwalker   Author: Chris Bohjialian

 When Annalee Ahlberg goes missing, her children fear the worst. Annalee is a sleepwalker whose affliction manifests in ways both bizarre and devastating.  A search party combs the nearby woods where the police discover a nightshirt, ripped and hanging from a tree branch.  It seems certain Annalee is dead, but Annalee’s daughter works to peel back the layers of mystery surrounding Annalee’s disappearance and finds herself asking the questions: Why did Annalee leave her bed only when her father was away? And if she really died while sleepwalking, where was the body?

 

  1. The Bones of Paradise    Author: Jonis Agee

 Ten years after the 7th Calvary massacred more than 200 Lakota men, women, and children at Wounded Knee, J. B. Bennett, a rancher, and Star, a young Native American woman, are murdered in a remote meadow on J. B.’s land. The deaths bring together the members of the Bennett family: his cunning and hard father, estranged wife, and young sons. As the mystery of these twin deaths unfolds, the history and secrets of the dysfunctional family are revealed exposing the conflicted heart of a nation caught between past and future.

 

  1. The Lost Girls    Author: Heather Young

 In the summer of 1935, six-year-old Emily Evans vanishes from her family’s vacation home on a remote Minnesota lake. Her disappearance destroys her mother, who spends the rest of her life at the lake house, hoping in vain that her favorite daughter will walk out of the woods.  Sixty years later Emily’s sister, Lucy, lives in the lake house alone. Before she dies, she writes the story of that devastating summer in a notebook that she leaves, along with the house, to her grandniece, Justine.  In a house steeped in the sorrows of the women who came before her, Justine must overcome their tragic legacy if she hopes to save herself and her children.

 

  1. Love and Other Consolation Prizes    Author: Jamie Ford

 For Ernest Young, a charity student at a boarding school, the chance to go to the World’s Fair feels like a gift. But once there, he discovers that he is the one who is actually the prize. Raffled off to the madam of a high-class brothel, Ernest befriends the madam’s daughter and a scullery maid.  Their friendship forms the first real family Ernest has ever known and gives him the sense of home he’s always desired until their world of finery begins to crumble.  Fifty years later, in the shadow of Seattle’s second World’s Fair, Ernest struggles to help his ailing wife reconcile who she once was with who she wanted to be, while trying to keep family secrets hidden from their daughters.

 

And the #1 Fiction Selection for 2017:   Lilac Girls   Author:  Martha Hall Kelly

 New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon until Hitler’s army invades Poland with sights on France.  Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement.  For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life.  The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten.

NON-FICTION

 5. Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness   Author:  Susannah Cahalan

 One minute Susannah Cahalan is watching PBS with her boyfriend; the next she is having a seizure straight out of “The Exorcist”.  What followed were days of violent seizures, terrifying hallucinations, intense mood swings, insomnia and fierce paranoia. Cahalan spent a month in the hospital, barely recognizable to her friends and family, before doctors diagnosed her with a rare autoimmune disorder.  In “Brain on Fire,” the journalist reconstructs her experience as a victim of anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. The result is an account of a young woman’s fight to survive one of the cruelest diseases imaginable.

 

  1. The Jew Store: A Family Memoir   Author:  Stella Suberman

 In 1920s small-town America, the dry goods store—selling everything from work clothes to towels to yard goods—was usually owned by Jews and often referred to as “the Jew store,” which is how Bronson’s Low-Priced Store, Stella Suberman’s father’s retail establishment in Concordia, Tennessee, was known.  Like other enterprising Jewish immigrants of the period, Aaron Bronson set out from New York City in search of a place to settle his family and prove himself as businessman and provider. He proved that…and much more.

 

  1. An Accidental Athlete: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Middle Age    Author:  John Bingham

Known by fans as “The Penguin” for his back-of-the-pack speed, John Bingham is the unlikely hero of the modern running boom. In this warm, witty memoir, the best-selling author and columnist recalls his childhood dreams of athletic glory, sedentary years of unhealthy excess, and a life-changing transformation from couch potato to “adult-onset athlete.”

 

  1. Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother’s Quest   Author:  Beth Macy

The year was 1899 when George and Willie Muse were two little boys born to a sharecropper family. One day they are kidnapped into the circus and the Muse brothers become global superstars in a pre-broadcast era. But the very root of their success was in the color of their skin and in the outrageous caricatures they were forced to assume: supposed cannibals, sheep-headed freaks, even “Ambassadors from Mars.” This novel tells the true story of the African-American brothers and their mother who endured a 28-year struggle to get them back.

 

And the #1Non-Fiction Selection for 2017:  Born Survivors: Three Young Mothers and Their Extraordinary Story of Courage, Defiance, and Hope   Author:  Wendy Holden

Eastern Europe, 1944: Priska, Rachel, and Anka believe they are pregnant, but are torn from their husbands and end up at the Auschwitz concentration camp before they can be certain. Although the Nazis murder their husbands and families, these young wives are determined to hold on to all they have left—their lives, and those of their unborn babies.  Born Survivors celebrates three mothers who defied death to give their children life, and the extraordinary story of three children united by their mothers’ unbelievable fight for survival.