“Beautiful Ruins” by Jess Walter

  This is a beautiful book – one that can be relished from cover to cover: the story, the writing, the characters – everything exudes charm, warmth, and humor.  The story begins circa 1962 in Italy during filming of Cleopatra, the notorious costly flop starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.  An unknown extra actress, Dee […]

“A Long Way Down” by Nick Hornby

  Middle-aged Martin Sharp had an enviable life:  a wife, two daughters, and a successful career as a celebrity host of a morning show “Rise and Shine with Penny and Martin.”   That was until he slept with a girl that was 15 years and 250 days old – just 115 days shy of being of legal […]

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

  Books, Technology and a Secret Society Mystery As a bookstore owner,  I was intrigued with the title “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore,”  a first novel by Michigan native Robin Sloan.  Laid-off web designer, Clay Jannon, takes a job working the graveyard shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour bookstore.  Right away, Clay realizes there is something mysterious […]

Me Before You

Memorable Love Story In JoJo Moyes’ 9th novel and international bestseller, “Me Before You”, we meet an unlikely heroine Louisa Clark, a 26-year-old unemployed waitress.  She has led a sheltered working class existence both geographically and emotionally, never living apart from her parents and never setting foot outside her tiny English village.  Under pressure from […]

The Dinner

“The Dinner” Serves Up a Five-Course Psychological Thriller “All happy families are alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” This first line from Tolstoy’s famous “Anna Karenina” is a theme and mantra of the narrator of “The Dinner” by Herman Koch.  The question the novel raises is to what length parents will […]

Villa Triste

“Villa Triste” by Lucretia Grindle begins in present day Florence, Italy with the brutal murder of a recluse recently honored as a hero working for the resistance during the Nazi occupation of World War II.  To solve the mystery, detective Alessondro Pallioti must unearth details from the past, most of which are found in a […]