The Bone Houses

Seventeen-year-old Aderyn, “Ryn,” has the unique problem of being young for a gravedigger — and that the dead won’t stay dead. After her parents’ passing, Ryn supports herself and her siblings by managing the recently deceased of the village of Colbren, as her father did before her. Colbren sits at the edge of a forest full of old magic, which stretches beyond the memory of anyone alive now to see it — that is until Ellis, a young apprentice mapmaker from the Prince’s court, arrives to survey it for himself.

As long as anyone has known, the occasional risen corpse, known as a “bone house,” has kept to the forested lands, never venturing into Colbren. Bone houses had become such rare sightings that many doubted their existence, though Ryn knows them all too well. Upon the mysterious new arrival of Ellis to Colbren, the bone houses begin attacking with a new ferocity, venturing farther past the limits of the forest and into town than ever before. 

To stop the onslaught of bone houses, Ryn and Ellis know the journey must take them on a path more treacherous than either of them bargained for, deep into the heart of the forest, into the dark secrets of the past.

Confessions by Kanae Minato

Revenge can have a long shelf life, and often leads to all sorts of unintended consequences. This twisty and often disturbing tale is full of surprises, revealed in the successive confessions of the protagonists involved in the murder of a middle school teacher’s four-year-old daughter.

Minato starts slowly and then gradually intensifies the suspense. She’s an expert at creating intricately plotted stories that dare you to predict the outcome.

The author clearly understands human nature, especially the often muddled and emotion tinged thinking of middle-schoolers, not to mention distraught mothers. The story casts light on the shadows beneath the perfect veneer of Japanese society, resonating across cultures and raising a host of moral issues.

On more than one occasion I found myself gasping, oh my god! You might gasp too as the revelations build and build to an explosive conclusion.

Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch

First in a series about Peter Grant, a mixed-race London constable who seems doomed to a life of low-stakes departmental paperwork…until he interviews a murder witness who just happens to be a ghost.  Before he knows it, he finds himself apprenticed to Scotland Yard’s resident wizard, learning magic, and mediating disputes between the city’s gods.  Think Harry Potter, but multiply the wit and grit by a factor of 10.

In addition to the novels in the series, check out the graphic novels based on the characters, starting with Rivers of London:  Body Work.

Kendra Robinson’s Best Reads of 2016

December 29, 2016

kendra robinsonMy name is Kendra Robinson. My family moved to Evanston five years ago from Chicago because our daughter attends Baker Demonstration School. My husband and I work in the private aviation industry and spend much of our time working on our fixer-upper house.

1) The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North (2014)

This is a wonderful twist on a time travel story, with shocking twists and a wonderful main character. Beautifully written and structured.

Continue reading “Kendra Robinson’s Best Reads of 2016”

Peter Ferry’s Best Reads of 2016

peter ferryMy name is Peter Ferry, and I live in Evanston. I am the author of the novels Travel Writing and Old Heart which was named the Chicago Writers Association Novel of the Year for 2015. I am a frequent contributor to the travel pages of the Chicago Tribune, and my stories have appeared in McSweeney’s, Fiction, StoryQuarterly, Chicago Quarterly Review and the current issue of Fifth Wednesday.



1) The Mirror Thief by Martin Seay (2016)

A tour de force! A masterpiece! The best book I’ve read this century. Honest!

Continue reading “Peter Ferry’s Best Reads of 2016”

Virginia Quiñonez’s Best Reads of 2016

virginia quinonezMy name is Virginia Quiñonez, and my partner and I just moved to Evanston this fall. Besides reading, I love hiking, music, and film festivals. I work at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

1) The Time in Between by Maria Dueñas (2012)

This is one of my favorite books in recent years. A classic romance and mystery novel with a different kind of heroine.

Continue reading “Virginia Quiñonez’s Best Reads of 2016”

Interview with Mary Higgins Clark

May 22, 2012

The qualities that make her books so appealing can be seen in this delightful interview in the NY Times. Higgins Clark comes across as down to earth, “normal,” and as a woman with much life experience. Her most recent novel just came out recently. The Lost Years is a mystery in which one of the characters commits a serious crime in order to claim the only known existing letter written by Christ.

Shira S.

Police Technology Solves Case of Invisible Ink

April 17, 2012

When 59 year old Trish Vickers went blind  from diabetes, she began writing a novel hoping to find a publisher.  But her dream was short lived after her son discovered that the pen she used had run out of ink and that 26 pages of her manuscript were completely blank. In good detective fashion,  she appealed to the forensic service of the Dorset County, England police.  Using a technique which shines light on the indentations in the paper made by the pen, the text was recovered.  Agatha Christie couldn’t have written a better plot. Read the full NYT article here.


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