Flesh and Spirit by Carol Berg

Flesh and Spirit by Carol Berg

Really wonderful! Stick with this one – it starts slow, the main character seems arrogant and unlikable, and the setting familiar. As the book continues, though, it becomes apparent that this was all intentional, and the gradual revelations about the characters, their world, and the mystery at the heart of it are all masterfully done. […]


The Excellent Lombards by Jane Hamilton

The Excellent Lombards by Jane Hamilton

Are we forever defined by place? Hamilton explores that question with the story of the Lombard family told by the youngest member. The Lombards grow apples among other things, but apples are the main crop of their beautiful Wisconsin farm–a farm that’s been held by the family for generations. Frankie, whom we meet first at age 10, […]


We are Called to Rise by Laura McBride

We are Called to Rise by Laura McBride

What is life like for the real community of Las Vegas, the citizens who raise their children, have jobs, grow up there? For Avis, whose mother dragged her and her brother with her from bad relationship to worse, there is the comfort of a long marriage until her husband leaves her. Her beloved and disturbed […]


The Purple Swamp Hen by Penelope Lively

The Purple Swamp Hen by Penelope Lively

In this collection of finely crafted short stories, Lively displays her wit and wisdom and some very nicely honed insights into complicated human relationships. The title story is set back in ancient times on the eve of Mt. Vesuvius’s spectacular eruption. The swamp hen–a very reliable narrator as it turns out–exposes the flawed Pompeius family which […]


The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson

The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson

Get in on the ground floor of a new, epic fantasy series! Brandon Sanderson has created a unique world – rocky, swept by magical storms, and populated by unique people and animals adapted to their harsh environment. The story follows the lives of three different characters, whose lives are slowly converging due to forces beyond […]


How Cycling Can Save the World

How Cycling Can Save the World

A terrific international review of  cities becoming more cycling friendly; this book may have changed my life. There were several key insights for me: 1) Requiring helmets significantly reduces usage of bikes; people are robbed of the terrific health benefits of biking if usage is reduced; and helmet may or may not help most folks […]


Lotus by Lijia Zhang

Lotus by Lijia Zhang

As the rich get richer in the new China, the lives of the impoverished peasants are frozen in time. Uneducated and unsophisticated, with country accents and habits, they migrate to the cities for better lives. Without any education or connections, they become underpaid factory labor or fall into petty thievery or into prostitution. Lotus is […]


City of Friends by Joanna Trollope

City of Friends by Joanna Trollope

Four London women, friends since college, are now forty-seven and have it all-or all they want. Until, bite by bite, each one’s contented life is nibbled away. Questioning what went wrong, who they have become, who they ultimately want to be, while juggling children, aging parents, partners and work, leads to self-discovery and life changes. […]


Cleopatra’s Sister by Penelope Lively

Cleopatra’s Sister by Penelope Lively

Fate. Karma. Kismet. B’schert (Yiddish). Do you believe in it? Lively’s engaging novel poses this question by creating a tale that knits three storylines. Howard, a paleontologist, Lucy, a free-lance journalist, and the ficticious nation of Callimbria all have histories that culminate in a situation best described by the phrase “wrong place, wrong time,” or, […]


The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman

The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman

Abbi Waxman is great at conveying grief and confusion while also being really funny. Her main character, Lilian, lost her husband suddenly and, after 3 years, is just getting her feet under her. She’s taking a gardening class to prep for a big illustration job at work, not to heal. But of course gardening leads […]