Recently published books I have enjoyed (getting ready for the Jan meeting)

How about you?

The Hanging Judge by local author Michael Ponsor who is a sitting judge in Western Massachusetts.  A court room drama around a death qualified trial from the view of the judge.

Lila by Marilynne Robinson – the third book centering around the town of Gilead.  This one focuses on the wife of the minister who was the lead character in Gilead.

All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr – after all the books about WWII you would think there is nothing left to say but this book by Doerr feels very fresh.  Tells the intermingled stories of two young people – a blind girl in occupied France and a very bright German orphan boy.

And Grant You Peace by Kate Flora – an entry in her Joe Burgess series which is a realistic look at how police departments really work

A Fireproof Home for the Bride by Amy Scheibe – not as the title might indicate a romance story – this one set in the 1950’s in North Dakota is about the damage done to people who are forced into molds in life where they don’t fit.

The Judges thought these were some of the best books of the last couple of years

Just in case you depend on the recommendations of strangers:

Here are a few award winners the last couple of years


The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation by Dan Fagin

The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson

Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys by Gilbert King

Man Booker Prize

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

Nobel Prize in literature

Alice Munro

Patrick Modiano

Edgar Awards (mystery/thriller)

Live by Night – Dennis Lehane

Ordinary Grace – William Kent Krueger

Nebula Awards(science fiction/fantasy)

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson

Rita Award (romance)

The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James

No good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah Maclean

Amazon’s Best Fiction book of 2014

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Good Reads Favorite Book of 2014 (not actually an award but a survey of readers)

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr


JANUARY 17 – we’ll be talking about new books that you have really enjoyed – ones published in 2014 or perhaps 2013 but pretty recent.  Obviously since we are just looking at publication date any category of book will be acceptable.

FEBRUARY 21 – classics  – an opportunity to re-read old favorites or check out that book you’ve always meant to read. Again – except that the book needs to have withstood the test of time there are no category restrictions.

Thought that looking at new books and old books in subsequent months would give us an opportunity to think (and talk) about the differences/similarities in writing over time.

We have a meeting scheduled for March 21 – no subject scheduled – this is an opportunity to let me know what you’d like to read –

Possibilities are endless but might include books made into films or TV shows, science fiction/fantasy, books by non-American authors, YA titles, bibliographies, books with a science background, short stories, graphic novels, historical fiction … and the list goes on and on.

Feedback from the Holiday Books session


The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski illustrated by P. J. Lynch – a picture book classic aimed at readers between 6 and 12 or those of us who love beautiful picture books.  It is a warm story in the mode of A Christmas Carol with an embittered man being transformed by a young boy and his mother when they hire him to carve a Christmas creche for them.

Short stories by Louisa May Alcott and L. M Montgomery and The Christmas Carol (which it was pointed out is a richer story than the movie version make it seem.)

An English Murder by Cyril Hare – classic detective story from a golden age crime writer.  Recommended as very good.

Making a list and checking it twice by George Jackson – published as an e-book and part of The Falls small town mystery series.  Not really recommended – not much of a mystery and in serious need of an editor for punctuation and word use.

No Holly for Miss Quinn – by Miss Read – enjoyable story of life in England – cozy Christmas read with some nice information about English Christmas traditions.

A Christmas Journey by Ann Perry – set in high society in the mid 1800’s but not highly recommended as the characters didn’t ring true.

Christmas Holiday by Somerset Maugham – set during the Christmas season with a young Englishman taking a vacation in Paris but not much holiday spirit – a good book though.

The Last Noel by Michael Malone – story set in the south beginning in the early 60’s featuring two children – a rich white girl and the grandson of her family’s black maid who become great friends.  The story follows them throughout their lives as it becomes obvious that they are more than friends – picking up every few years during the holidays – structured as the 12 days of Christmas.  This one is a tear jerker.

Silent Night – Robert Parker and Helen Brann – actually written by Helen Brann who was his literary agent.  It is is a Spenser and Hawk caper as they get involved with a case involving a street kid and an unlicensed shelter – they beat some people up and then Spenser goes home and cooks a turducken.

The Christmas Train by David Baldacci – if you have only read his thrillers, this one might be a surprise as it’s a romance.  Begins when a disillusioned journalist decides to take a cross country train at Christmas to write a story.  Some humor, some romance, an avalanche stranded train, a Hollywood director, some incredibly nice talented train personnel — a very light bit of holiday reading.

A Quilt for Christmas – Sandra Dallas – set in Kansas during the last days of the Civil War and the aftermath, it follows a woman who is managing the farm with her children after her husband goes off to fight for the Union.  She is surrounded by other woman in the same predicament and a few men who aren’t fighting who will help and some who aren’t fighting and won’t.  Very enjoyable – and for those who read Sandra Dallas’ Persian Pickle Club she has briefly indicated that the woman in this book are the grandmothers of the women in that one.

The Christmas Cookie Club by Ann Perlman – includes recipes and cooking information.  Cookie recipes weren’t tried – the story was described as weak.   A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas or A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote recommended as better choices.

If you are not a mystery fan, stop reading

Thursday Dec 4 at New England Mobile Book Fair –Most amazing mystery event ever! Robin Cook will be celebrated with the Robert B Parker award–and the MC will be Reed Farrel Coleman! Who else will be there, you ask? Joseph Finder Hallie Ephron Ray Daniel Daniel James Palmer William Martin Steve Ulfelder Author Barbara Ross Edith M. Maxwell William Landay Leonard J Rosen and DOZENS more. Need a signed book for a holiday gift? Need we say more? (And signed first editions of Robert B Parker will be raffled offf! Plus wine, food, and mystery-whoa.) See you there! – 6 to 9 pm. at 82 Needham Street #84 in Newton Highlands