The Zookeeper’s Wife

The Zookeeper’s Wife Book Cover

The Zookeeper’s Wife is a World War II story about two Polish zookeepers, Jan and Antonina Zabinski. Each person blessed with special gifts that keep the Warsaw Zoo thriving during times of peace, as well as wartime. As the war changes the lives of many, the zoo is also changed. As the majority of animals are lost to death and greed, Jan and Antonina use the zoo’s losses to save the lives of the Jewish people being persecuted. People are hidden in the zoo’s enclosures, and given names that correspond with the enclosures previous inhabitants. A touching read about the hardships and perseverance one family encountered during WWII.

This Magnificent Desolation

This Magnificent Desolation Book Cover

How do you write a book that is both sad and wonderful? O'Malley has done this in a way that is mesmerizing in plot and almost poetic in his writing style. It takes place in an orphanage in northern Minnesota and details the life of a boy named Duncan who was left there by his mother during the worst blizzard of the century. As the story develops we come to know his mother, a lounge singer in San Francisco, and her boyfriend, a Vietnam vet who works as part of a tunneling crew beneath the bay. Another interesting aspect is Duncan's reliance on a transistor radio that broadcasts the voices of Apollo mission astronauts who never came home. This novel deals with memory, imagination, friendship, and love on many levels.

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nothing Gold Can Stay Book Cover

This is a book of short stories of the Appalachian region that Rash is known for. Spanning the time of the Civil War until the present day, these are stories of hope, tenderness, fear, and violence, all written with elements of raw truth and emotion.

Mom & Me & Mom

Mom & Me & Mom Book Cover

Maya Angelou once again does not disappoint. She continues her series of auto-biographies with an incredibly well written book about her relationship with her mother. She writes with such eloquence and ease that I did not want to put the book down. The book illustrates the hardships in their relationship with respect and love and at the same time entertains.

The River Swimmer

The River Swimmer Book Cover

A book of 2 novellas, I preferred the second – The River Swimmer – which is the story of an Upper Peninsula of Michigan farm boy who is irresistibly drawn to swimming as an escape and way of coping with the injustice and pressure of coming of age. There is also a mystical element involved provided by the Native American woman who raised him. The other novella entitled The Land of Unlikeness deals with a 60yr old art history academic who returns to his family’s Michigan farmhouse to visit his aging mother. This triggers a renewal of what he holds dear and restores his lost love of painting. Both stories written in Harrison’s definitive style, fans should be pleased with this latest work.

The Orchardist

The Orchardist Book Cover

This is a stunning and captivating novel on many levels. The story takes place in the Pacific Northwest in the early 20th century. A young man who has lost the rest of his family starts an orchard and finds solace in the quiet life of the land he cultivates. Two teenage girls appear and steal his fruit from the local market and later appear at his orchard. Starving, scared, and very pregnant, he takes them in. He learns of the unspeakable cruelty and misfortune the girls have endured and vows to protect them. This starts an irrevocable course that disrupts the harmony of his ordered life. Many interesting characters and life lived in a natural world of early America. If you liked Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier you will love this one.

The Fault In Our Stars

The Fault In Our Stars Book Cover

A fast paced novel not to be missed! Award-winning-author, John Green beautifully and honesty confronts mortality and the in between moments that is our humanity. Laugh, cry, and see the color ‘orange’ in whole new way.

May We Be Forgiven

May We Be Forgiven Book Cover

George Silver is a successful TV executive with a beautiful wife, two kids and a house in the suburbs. His underachieving older brother Harry is a Nixon scholar. George’s murderous temper, held in check until now, results in acts of violence so shocking that lives are changed forever. Murder, sex and parenting and guilt are dealt with under an umbrella of dark humor and you realize just how fragile life as you know it really is. I found it very difficult to put this one down.

A Week in Winter

A Week in Winter Book Cover

Maeve Binchy’s storytelling techniques are wonderful and well known by her peers. This book is her last one as she died last July and after reading it, I think it is one of her best stories. “A Week in Winter” is about Chicky Starr who comes home from America with her secrets. She decides to renovate an old stone house by the Atlantic Sea into a welcoming and comforting small hotel with the help of some of her friends and relatives. I found myself immersed into the main story and liking all of her characters to the point where I could not put down the book. For those of you who enjoyed “Circle of Friends” , this is a must read as the characters are enchanting. “A Week in Winter “ is truly a nice read.

The Cat’s Table

The Cat’s Table Book Cover

The story is told in the voice of an 11yr old boy as he boards a ship in Colombo bound for England. At mealtimes he is seated at the “cat’s table” – as far from the Captain’s Table as he can be. Here he meets 2 other boys and a group of “insignificant” adults. As the narrative moves between the decks and holds of the ship and the boy’s adult years it tells a story that is entertaining, mysterious, magical, and heartfelt. Ondaatje’s style is innovative and emotional and leaves you with a feeling of experiencing something amazing. (I listened to some of the book on audio which is read by the author who really makes you feel like you are witnessing the story.)