When I have trouble deciding what to read next, I like to skim the opening pages of the books on my night stand to see which one calls to me. Here are five books that caught my eye this month. Based on these quotes, which one would you read first?
The After Wife
by Gigi Levangie Grazer
I am trying to remember to do two things: eat and sleep. Per Chloe’s advice (also posted on her blog at NoMoMama.com — named for our neighborhood), I’d started leaving Post-it Notes for things I’ve forgotten. Like where my daughter is. Or did I eat breakfast? Or where did I leave those darn Post-it Notes? Widowhood was sort of like Alzheimer’s, without the funny. I put Post-it Notes with the words EAT and SLEEP in big black letters on my bathroom mirror. I’m bone tired but I don’t sleep at all. My brain is on overdrive, tracking every memory of John and pinning it down, saving it to be filed, alphabetically and chronologically. I’m beyond the point of exhaustion, but still I strive to remember; I’m a walking coma, but am afraid to forget. (p. 33)
About the book
Southern California isn’t interested in tragedy or death, unless it’s on the silver screen. Hannah Bernal, a couple of decades past her 20s and mother to a toddler, discovers this firsthand when she is unexpectedly widowed. Despite having a support network of quirky friends, Hannah has trouble holding on to her job and her sanity. Nearing the breaking point, Hannah asks the heavens for help. Help does come, but from an unexpected source. Can Hannah really see ghosts? Or is her grief causing hallucinations? When Hannah starts following the advice of the dead, she gets herself into some crazy situations. Gigi Levangie Grazer’s The After Wife is a satisfying mix of madcap and serious, as Hannah learns to trust the strength of love and friendship while coping with her newfound paranormal abilities.
The Inquisitor’s Key
by Jefferson Bass
By the time I boarded at Dulles, I felt sure Miranda was out of surgery, but my half dozen phone calls got no answer or return message. The silence was terrifying.
As the aircraft climbed out of Washington and wheeled toward the Atlantic, the ten-thousand-foot chime sounded, reminding me of the church bell I’d heard tolling a few hours before. Please, I prayed, though I could not have said to whom or what I prayed. Please not for Miranda. (p. 25)
About the book
In Jefferson Bass’s seventh entry in the Body Farm series, Dr. Bill Brockton, a forensic anthropologist in Knoxville, Tennessee, rushes to France when his protege, Miranda Lovelady, is hospitalized. Once in Europe, Brockton is stunned to discover he has been summoned overseas for a more serious matter — Miranda has uncovered bones in the Palace of the Popes in Avignon that may turn all of Christendom on its head. When evidence suggests that the 2,000-year-old skeleton may be the remains of Jesus, Brockton and Miranda find themselves at the center of an international controversy over the interpretation of their findings and control over the data. The Inquisitor’s Key, a fast-paced, suspenseful mystery/thriller, can be read as a standalone for those new to the series.
The Homecoming of Samuel Lake
by Jenny Wingfield
John Moses couldn’t have chosen a worse day, or a worse way to die, if he’d planned it for a lifetime. Which was possible. He was contrary as a mule. It was the weekend of the Moses family reunion, and everything was perfect — or at least perfectly normal — until John went and ruined it. (p. 3)
About the book
Every summer without fail, the Moses family gathered on their 100-acre farm in Arkansas, and the June 1956 reunion started off just as expected. Everyone welcomed the preacher Samuel Lake; his wife, Willadee Moses; and especially his 11-year-old daughter, Swan. They had traveled all the way from Louisiana to be there. Thanks to a streak of bad luck, the Lakes end up staying on at the family farm. As they adjust to their new life in Arkansas, they become involved in local affairs. Everything is not happy in Columbia County, and Swan especially is exposed to some of the uglier things that humans can do to each other. Jenny Wingfield’s The Homecoming of Samuel Lake is a moving story of loss, faith, friendship and loyalty. The fully developed characters, nostalgic Southern setting and emotional journey will stay with you for a long time.
by Susan Fales-Hill
From downstairs she heard her mother scream. The last time she’d heard her mother let out such a howl had been when she’d had the misfortune of visiting during the royal engagement of Prince William to “commoner” Kate Middleton. Her mother had felt robbed, as if the “upstart” “Waity Katie” had stolen the position that rightfully belonged to one of her four beautiful, American daughters. “It should have been us!” she’d wailed at the time. Now Bliss wasn’t just visiting, she was stuck listening to these rants. Grabbing her knapsack, books, and Bella’s hand, Bliss ventured down the slightly tilted and creaking staircase of the two-and-a-half story Tudor cottage to discover the source of her mother’s latest wrath. (p. 4)
About the book
Bliss Harcourt and her three unmarried sisters are the bane of their mother’s existence. How can four such beautiful, eligible young women still be single? Among the dreams of Forsythia Harcourt, of Chevy Chase, Maryland, is to find the perfect (rich and famous) man for each of her girls. When a reality TV show comes to town, Bliss’s younger sister Diana gets the starring role and is set up on a series of dates. Although Bliss tries to keep her feet firmly planted in the real world, she can’t help but be caught up in her family’s dramas. Susan Fales-Hill’s Imperfect Bliss, a kind of modern-day Pride & Prejudice, explores family, love and marriage in the 21st century. Like her classic counterpart Elizabeth Bennet, Bliss Harcourt is a smart woman who remains loyal to her family while recognizing all their many flaws.
The Prisoner of Heaven
by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
That year at Christmas time, every morning dawned laced with frost under leaden skies. A bluish hue tinged the city and people walked by, wrapped up their to ears and drawing lines of vapour with their breath in the cold air. Very few stopped to gaze at the shop window of Sempere & Sons; fewer still ventured inside to ask for that lost book that had been waiting for them all their lives and whose sale, poetic fancies aside, would have contributed to shoring up the bookshop’s ailing finances. (p. 3)
About the book
In the late 1950s, Daniel Sempere’s Barcelona bookstore is barely making enough to stay open, but he’s happy in his marriage, his newborn son, and his friend Fermin’s upcoming marriage. When a stranger buys a copy of The Count of Monte Cristo, which had been banned by Franco, and then sends a dark, mysterious message to Fermin, the two men are caught up in a terrifying journey in which the past catches up to the present. The Prisoner of Heaven is the third book in a planned quartet by Carlos Ruiz Zafon that has at its center the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a hidden place seen by only the privileged few. Fans of Gothic fiction, dark tales and beautiful writing will be drawn to Zafon’s series.