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Jen Jen's Read


Fatal Grace
by Louise Penny

I'm listening to Fatal Grace, the second in the Inspector Gamache series. What I love about the mystery genre is the variety of styles and characters that mystery authors employ. Penny has found her own niche. The setting of the books (so far!) is gentle, the characters and crimes are complex (oozing with humanity). These are not speed-read mysteries, but rather, relish-read mysteries. If you're looking for a book with a blend of crime and love affair with language, Penny is your woman! I'm dying to tell you the significance (brilliance!) of the title Fatal Grace, but you'll have to discover it for yourself!


The Conference of the Birds
by Peter Sis

I'm also re-reading The Conference of the Birds by Peter Sis. The text of this fantastic book is an adaptation of the classic 12th-century Sufi epic poem, "The Conference of the Birds." The accompanying illustrations are incredible. What I love is that the struggles of humans from the 12th-century hasn't really changed much and the poem is still relevant today in the 21st century.

Sally Sally's Reads


The Burgess Boys
by Elizabeth Strout

Jim and Bob Burgess return from New York City to their hometown of Shirley Falls, Maine, when their sister, Susan asks for their help because her son, Zach, is in trouble. The lives of the three siblings are traced, including the complex web of their relationships to one another. This is a splendid novel, written by the author of Olive Kitteridge.


Beautiful Ruins
by Jess Walters

This book is one of my two favorites this summer. (The other is The Unlikely Pilgrimmage of Harold Fry, which Ann highlights below.) One day in 1962, a beautiful woman approaches Pasquale’s tiny inn by boat. She’s taking a break from the filming of Cleopatra, in which she’s an extra. The novel covers the next 50 years of their lives, including a large cast of characters (Richard Burton makes a cameo appearance!) and a number of locations as varied as Italy, Hollywood and Idaho. It’s humorous, poignant, and romantic.

Ann ann's Reads


The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
by Rachel Joyce

Harold sets out to mail a letter to Queenie, a former coworker who is dying of cancer. On an impulse, he decides to walk the 600 miles and deliver the letter personally.  He believes that as long as he is on the way, Queenie will live.  The people that Harold meets and the events that his pilgrimage incite are an often amusing part of the story.    The more important theme is Harold's struggles with memories of his childhood, marriage, and parenting.  While the story is heart wrenching, it is ultimately hopeful. I am glad that I read this book.


The Chaperone
by Laura Moriarty

It's 1922 and Cora Carlisle agrees to chaperone fifteen year old Louise Brooks as she heads off to New York City for the summer.  That summer is the beginning of many changes for both Louise and Cora.  Louise Brooks, who was a real person, goes on to be a famous silent film star.  The fictional  Cora lives to be almost one hundred years old.  Through Cora's life events, readers gain perspective on many social issues of the twentieth century.  This would be good for a book club or just a conversation starter among friends.

Gail Beth's Reads



When Women were Birds
by Terry Tempest Williams

In a series of essays on finding a voice, Williams reflects on her own experiences finding her way, and on her observations of others. This book is thought provoking and intriguing. It would be a stimulating book for a women’s book group.



The Memory of Trees
by Gayla Marty

Marty’s book is deeply thoughtful as she describes the landscape of her family farm and the people who lived on it during her growing up years. Faith is evident throughout. Marty intersperses magical essays about individual species of tree found on the farm. Her love and respect for the farm and its inhabitants infuse the book. This was a wonderful read!

Gail Gail's Reads


The Fault in our Stars
by John Green

Though Hazel's cancer is terminal, her final chapters are rewritten when she meets a special boy at cancer support group. The author gets right inside his characters so the reader really knows how each is feeling. Good read for all ages.



The Pull of the Moon
by Elizabeth Berg

Elizabeth alternates letters and journal entries to trace a middle-aged woman's impulsive and solitary drive across country to find what she really thinks is important. This story will appeal to women of all ages. Another good travel story to add to my list.


The End of Your Life Book Club
Will Schwalbe

I think I almost enjoy reading about books as much as I do reading the actual story. This is also a story of terminal illness and how Will's mother barely has time to deal with it as she is so busy with life. Reading is a big part of her life so she wants to squeeze as many books in as she can. Her son reads the same books so they can discuss them while she receives her chemo. This is a delightful tribute to a very special mother. A list of what they read is in the back of the book.

Hannah J Hannah's Reads



by Saha Paretsky

Vic Warshawski is one of the strongest female detectives, and her books are redolent of Chicago. This book has an added layer of Chicago lore. Vic’s client asks her to find a beloved nephew who disappeared in the blizzard of 1967, right after Martin Luther King’s Chicago march. Vic is brought back to her childhood, learning things about her family and taking those of us who remember the 1960s back to our own earlier days.


Beautiful Ruins
by Jess Walter

A perfect summer read: from a tiny Italian fishing village in the 1960s to the Hollywoods of Cleopatra and today. It's easy to relate to the characters, and fun to watch them struggle with their huge flaws. It’s thoroughly enjoyable.  

Mariah's Read



The Hobbit
by JRR Tolkien

The Hobbit is a wonderful adventure story! The hobbit Bilbo Baggins and 12 dwarves encounter much during their quest to reclaim treasure, including goblins, elves, trolls, giants, giant spiders, the creature Gollum, and the dragon Smaug. This quick read is one you won't want to put down!

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