For what seems to be forever, earthlings have looked up towards the stars and only imagined what travel to another planet might be like. Such a possibility comes to life in author Andy Weir's debut novel, "The Martian". NASA has successfully sent two crews to Mars, and America's space program has the world's attention. However, during the subsequent mission of Ares 3, a series of unfortunate events results in a lone astronaut being left behind. Though presumed dead, it is soon discovered that a very alive Mark Watley is stranded on the u
"The Book of Unknown Americans" by Cristina Henriquez tells the touching stories impacting the lives of a group of immigrant families sharing space in a Newark, Delaware apartment building. The immigrants have come together from various countries around the globe such as Mexico, Puerto Rico, Paraguay, Panama, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. Each of them face common and individual challenges related to assimilation into their adopted American homeland. Central to Henriquez's story are teenagers Maribel Rivera and Mayor Toro w
Jenna Metcalf's mother has been gone for 10 years. Alice Metcalf disappeared after an incident at the New England Elephant Sanctuary, where she worked as a naturalist and expert in elephant behavior. Her daughter, now a precocious thirteen year old, feels abandoned and is passionate to learn what happened to her mother. In "Leaving Time", the most recent novel from Jodi Picoult, Jenna enlists the help of a once celebrated psychic and the heavy drinking detective assigned to her mother's unsolved case ten years ago.
Marie-Laure LeBlanc lives a quiet life with her Father, Daniel LeBlanc, at Number 4 rue Vauborel in Paris, France. Daniel is a locksmith for the Natural Museum of History in Paris before the German occupation of France during WWII. Marie-Laure becomes totally blind by the age of six. Her Father fashions a miniature replica of their neighborhood from wood so that she may memorize and better navigate her surroundings while he is busy working at the museum.
"Unbroken" is the story of an undaunted human spirit presented by author Laura Hillenbrand; who chronicles the extraordinary life of Olympic runner, Louis Zamperini. When faced with supposed insurmountable obstacles, Louie proves to be a survivor and an example of the power one person can have over his own destiny.
Jamie Ford creates a poignant recollection of history with his debut novel, "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet". Henry Lee is a recent widower living in Seattle's Chinatown. The year is 1986, and yesterday's memories have assumed a place in the present with the re-opening of the majestic Panama Hotel. Artifacts found in the basement of the old hotel transport Henry back to 1942 when he was a student at Rainier Elementary serving lunch to his classmates alongside his Japanese friend Keiko Okabe. The twelve year olds attend the school on scholarship, and the
"The Rosie Project" by Graeme Simsion is best described as delightful, funny, and quirky. The central character, Don Tillman, has a reputation for being a rigid, highly scheduled, socially inept, and brilliant genetics professor at an Austrailian university. Tillman is single, 39 years old, and due to his social limitations, sees himself with no prospects for love. He moves to solve this dilemma through the development of an idea he dubs The Wife Project. The Wife Project involves a 16 page, double sided question
August (Auggie) Pullman is different from other ten year old kids. Born with a rare congenital condition resulting in startling facial deformities, he has a not so ordinary face that invites curiosity and criticism, as well as compassion. He leaves the bubble of his loving and safe home-schooled environment to attend fifth grade at Beecher Prep in New York City. For one year, readers follow Auggie as he stumbles through the minefields of adolescence: vulnerable in a school culture where being different is an oddity not
Two young girls, growing up in Charleston, South Carolina during the early 1800s, struggle to find their wings along the divergent paths they have been allotted in life. Sarah Grimke is the daughter of a wealthy Southern judge while Hetty "Handful" Grimke is the spunky slave presented to Sarah as a "gift" on her eleventh birthday by a domineering mother. Sarah reluctantly welcomes Handful into her life. Finding the practice of slavery distasteful, she uses the opportunity to teach the young black girl how to read and write. Sarah also de
Melanie Benjamin has assigned Anne Morrow Lindbergh, wife of legendary aviator Charles Lindbergh, the storyteller in her book "The Aviator's Wife." The result is that Charles Lindbergh's co-pilot in the air, and in life, relates an interesting account of the couple's adventures amidst the clouds as well as on the ground. The aviatrix exposes a marriage built upon dependence and high expectation rather than mutual love. Though it is historical fiction, the imaginary and the true are blended together successfully to form a realistic ac
Expectations of trust, loyalty, and unconditional love between parent and child are put to the ultimate test in William Landay's "Defending Jacob." The comfortable, suburban lives enjoyed by Assistant District Attorney Andy Barber, his wife Laurie, and 14 year old son Jacob are shattered when the lifeless body of Jacob's middle school classmate Ben Rifkin is discovered in a Newton, Massachusetts park. Evidence implicating Jacob Barber as the suspected killer continues to mount, and it isn't long before his father is removed from his role as prosecuto
Nora Eldridge dwells upon what she perceives as her unhappy, spinster life while she grieves the death of her beloved mother and teaches third grade at Appleton Elementary School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
A crippled hospital, an orphaned young girl, and two heroic doctors provide the axis for a powerful story set in the war weary Russian province of Chechnya during a decade of tension that begins in 1994. "A Constellation of Vital Phenomena" allows the profound despair saturating the intersecting lives of inhabitants in a small Chechen village to come alive one character, one page at a time. Author Anthony Marra also weaves a spellbinding, historical narrative to accompany his story of loss, betrayal, love, and hope.
Family. Few words evoke more emotion. In "The Burgess Boys", Elizabeth Strout introduces a trio of siblings who wear the scars of unpleasant childhood memories. Jim, Susan, and Bobby manage to keep the evidence of old wounds well hidden from each other by living relatively separate lives. There exists an obvious pecking order enhanced by sarcasm and tainted with a profound sadness permeating all areas of their lives. Change is put into motion when a nephew's unwise decision brings them together to solv
The transformative power of literary fiction is debated, challenged, and celebrated in "Reading Lolita in Tehran" by Azar Nafisi. A former professor of literature in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Nafisi uses prolific authors the likes of Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James, and Vladimir Nabokov to connect with students coming of age during a very tumultuous time in Iran's history. The Memoir illuminates the delicate fabric that is Iran by weaving a story set against the backdrop of a revolution and subsequent war with neighboring Iraq.
July 5th, 2012 was the fifth wedding anniversary for Nick Dunne and Amy Elliott Dunne. They did not celebrate the day together. In the bestseller "Gone Girl", author Gillian Flynn takes the classic elements of a good mystery novel and transforms the story into a psychological thriller by shining a provocative lens onto the intimate details of a fragile marriage. Circumstances trigger that which once was meant to be private and between husband and wife into tantalizing fodder for a hungry public.
The "Rules of Civility" is a delightful tale that parachutes the reader straight out of the Manhattan skyline into the lives of three friends poised to resurrect leftover dreams placed on hold during the era of the Great Depression. Author Amor Towles begins the story starring two best friends and one wealthy, eligible bachelor by igniting the promise of a hopeful future on the eve of New's Years 1938.