Summer Reads – Any Genre (2011)

Jan Resnick

Genre: Romance
Forbidden Falls – Robyn Carr

Appeal Factors: Pace – relaxed; character – well developed w/in genre stereotypes; Language – engaging; Story – plot driven; Tone – Heartwarming; Frame – Northern California, contemporary, Virgin River series #8

Ordained minister Noah Kincaid, estranged son of a TV evangelist father, bought the boarded-up church in Virgin River. His new assistant Ellie Baldwin is looking for a job that will help her regain custody of her children lost to a controlling husband. Her job as a dancer is replaced by hard work and earns
her a place to call her own.

Similar authors: JoAnn Ross, Sandra Brown, Debbie Macomber, Susan Wiggs

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Dark Paradise – Tami Hoag
Appeal Factors: Fast paced; Characterization – multiple points of view, although
mostly Marilee; Language is compelling; Story – plot-driven; Tone – suspenseful; Frame – contemporary Montana

Marilee Jennings heads from a career as a court recorder in Sacramento to a vacation in New Eden Montana and an opportunity to reevaluate her life. When she arrives at her friend’s home, Lucy is dead, the house is trashed, and a monosyllabic cowboy is feeding the stock. Was Lucy’s death an accident or murder? What was she into? Who wants her ranch? Is Marilee in danger? Issues: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, gentrification of working ranches, violence.

Similar authors: Sandra Brown, Linda Lael Miller, Catherine Coulter (FBI series), Carla Neggers

Genre: Mystery
The Spellman Files – Lisa Lutz
Appeal Factors: Quick-paced; Characters – a little over the top, but good and
funny; Style – engaging, lots of dialogue; Plot-driven; Tone – upbeat, humorous; Frame – Contemporary San Francisco.

In this, Book 1 of the Spellman Files series, we meet an odd family of Private Detectives and learn about their bizarre practice of investigating one another, potential boyfriends, girlfriends and clients. Isabel investigates her possible ex-boyfriend #10; Rae tails Isobel. Mom tails both. Spellman Files #1.

Similar authors: Donna Andrews, Janet Evanovich, Rita Mae Brown, Parnell Hall

Genre: Thriller
The Unsung Hero – Suzanne Brockmann
Appeal Factors: Appeal: quick paced; Characters – likeable, enjoyable with a
strong supporting cast; Language – engaging, suspenseful; Story – plot-driven; Tone – suspenseful, romantic; Frame – MA North Shore, contemporary.

Lt. Tom Paoletti commands an elite SEAL special ops squad. He’s on his way home to recover from a head injury received during a hostage extraction when he spots a major terrorist, presumed dead, at Logan Airport. He sees ‘The Merchant’ again in Baldwin’s Bridge MA, his home town, a few days before a WWII commemorative ceremony to be attended by world dignitaries. Tom’s head wound makes him doubt what he has seen, and naval politics force him to work unsupported by anyone other than his team, his long lost love Kelly, two aging war heroes, and two teenagers. There is a flashback back story of love and danger in France during WWII. Series: Troubleshooters #1

Genre: Suspense
With a Vengeance – Eileen Dreyer
Appeal Factors: Pacing – quick, relentless; Characters – dramatic, frightening;
Language – compelling, gritty; Story – plot-driven; Tone – menacing

Nurse, EMT, and SWAT team member Maggie O’Brien discovers that patients, usually violent, evil ones, are dying when they shouldn’t. Is it one person wreaking vengeance or more? When she investigates, patients die at her hand – she’s being set up to discourage her search for the killer(s). She can’t trust co-workers, police or friends. How many people will die? Will Maggie be among them?

Similar authors: Suzanne Brockmann, Tess Gerritsen, Lee Child, Jeffrey Deaver, Lisa Gardner, Michael Palmer

Genre: Mystery
Long Time Coming – Robert Goddard
Appeal Factors: Relentless/compelling pacing; intriguing characters; compelling style; intricately plotted, plot-driven storyline; bittersweet, disturbing tone; frame – Devon, Antwerp. Dublin, 1940 and 1976.

Steven Swan, unemployed oilman due to an ill-advised argument, returns to Devon to visit his mother and reevaluate his life. His uncle, who Steven thought was dead, has been released from prison after 36 years. Who is paying him to uncover art fraud and how does that connect to Uncle Eldritch’s “crimes”? The IRA, espionage, Nazis and global WWII politics affect this story occurring in 1940 and 1976.

Similar authors: Dennis Lehane, Steig Larsson, Karin Fossum, Kate Atkinson, J.A. Jance, John T. Lescroart

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Over the Edge – Suzanne Brockmann
Appeal Factors: relentless, quick pacing; detailed, engaging characters with good secondary characters; compelling language; intricately plotted and plot-driven; suspenseful and steamy tone; frame – San Diego and Kasabek, Kasbekistan, late 1990’s.

A plane from Athens is hijacked and diverted to Kasabek with American students on board. SEAL Team Sixteen and FBI troubleshooters are dispatched for the rescue. Conflicts and romance between men and women, between SEALS and FBI heighten the already considerable tension. A diplomat with impending Alzheimer’s with ties to team members and a victim of the Holocaust adds dimension to the story. There are multiple romances. As one character says, “It’s like the Love Boat on this mission.” The romances seem a little unrealistic in the context, but do not diminish the tension or the engaging nature of the story. Series: Troubleshooters #3 Red flags: Language, sexual tension, hostage violence.

Similar authors: Suzanne Brockmann, Sandra Brown, Julie Garwood, Cindy Gerard, Sherrilyn Kenyon

Genre: Romance
Tall, Dark and Dangerous – Suzanne Brockmann
Appeal Factors: quick-paced; Characters – very familiar, but likeable stereotypes;  Language – engaging, easy read; Story – plot-driven, but obvious; Tone – steamy; Frame – diplomatic tour, USA, Hatboro Creek SC, contemporary

This book includes #1 and #2 of Brockmann’s Tall, Dark, and Dangerous series: Prince Joe and Forever Blue. In Prince Joe, Navy SEAL Lt. Joe Catalanotto is a look alike for the Crown Prince of Ustanzia who is the target of an assassin. Joe takes the place of the Prince on a diplomatic tour to draw out the assassin and becomes entangled with media consultant Veronica St. John. Forever Blue is the story of SEAL Blue McCoy, who on a reluctant visit home to attend his step-brother’s wedding, is accused of his brother’s murder. Rookie Police Officer Lucy Tait helps Blue solve the mystery.

Similar authors: Suzanne Brockmann, Catherine Mann, Elizabeth Lowell, Anne Stuart, Lori Foster, Rochelle Alers.

Genre: Romance
On a Wicked Dawn –  Stephanie Laurens
Appeal Factors: Pacing – slow; Characters – engaging, familiar; Language –
engaging; Story – character-driven; Tone – Steamy; Frame – London 1825.

Amelia Cynster offers to rescue poverty stricken Lucien, Viscount Calverton, with her dowry. Lucien agrees even though he has, through skillful business dealings, restored his family fortune. The two work towards marriage and consummation during a full courtship. There is a bit of mystery of suspicious thefts. Bar Cynster series #10.

Similar authors: Stephanie Laurens, Mary Balogh, Julie Garwood, Sabrina Jeffries, Lisa Kleypas

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Out of control – Suzanne Brockmann
Appeal Factors: Pacing – quick, relentless; Characters – detailed, good
backstories; Language – engaging; Story – plot-driven; Tone – suspenseful, steamy; Frame – Jakarta, Indonesia 2002, Berlin, NYC 1940 – 1945.

Alex von Hopf, twin son of Rose and Heinrich von Hopf, is kidnapped in Jakarta and held for $250,000 in ransom. His niece Savannah enlists Navy SEAL and troubleshooter Ken ‘Wild card’ Karmody for the payoff. Political terrorists and Russian mobsters compete for the money. Ken and Savannah are kidnapped; missionaries are threatened. Multiple romances and storylines occur including Rose’s WWII romance with an Austrian prince. Troubleshooters series #4.

Similar authors: Suzanne Brockmann, Sandra Brown, Lee Child, Stella Cameron, Christine Feehan, Cindy Gerard, Linda Howard

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Into the night – Suzanne Brockmann

Appeal Factors: Pacing – fast; Characters – familiar, multiple POV, strong
secondary characters; Language – engaging; Story – plot-driven; Tone –
dramatic/steamy; Frame – San Diego CA Naval Base, 2002; memories 1944.

The story followsthree relationships and a plot to assassinate the President on a U.S. Naval Base. The primary story is Joan DaCosta’s growing love for a younger man, Navy SEAL Mike Muldoon. Sam and Mary Lou Starrett’s marriage continues to unravel, and the WWII romance and lengthy marriage of Charlie and Vince DaCosta gets reexamined.  Troubleshooter series #5.

Genre: Regency Romance
Title: The Perfect Lover – Stephanie Laurens
Appeal Factors: Pace – fast; Characterizations – familiar and well-developed;
Language – engaging; Story – plot and character-driven; Tone – very steamy; Frame – English country house, 1835.

“Not every day one attends a house party and finds oneself embroiled in murder.” Simon Cynster, self-appointed protector, and Portia Ashford, almost spinster who’s decided to marry in order to have children, attend a house party. During the days and nights, Simon tutors Portia on the relationships shared by men and women, and in spite of their years of irritation with one another, they fall in love. A murder occurs, and Simon and Portia must protect themselves for real. Series: Cynster #10

Similar authors: Stephanie Laurens, Mary Balogh, Catherine Coulter, Julie Garwood, Lisa Kleypas, Julia Quinn

Genre: Romantic Suspense/Regency
Dancing at Midnight – Jula Quinn
Appeal Factors: Pace – fast; Characterizations – familiar and well-developed;
Language – witty; Story –character-driven; Tone – steamy, funny; Frame –
Oxfordshire, London, 1816.

Lady Arabella Blydon is reading under a tree when she is informed she is on Lord Blackwood’s property. John Blackwood was injured during and is haunted by memories of the Peninsular War. Arabella becomes his friend and then his lover, teaching him that friends and family can be a comfort…and when you are being stalked by a murderer, they can be even more helpful. Series: Splendid Trilogy #2

Similar authors: Julia Quinn, Mary Balogh, Catherine Coulter, Julie Garwood, Lisa Kleypas

Genre: Romantic Suspense/Paranormal
The Perfect Poison – Amanda Quick
Appeal Factors: Pace – fast; Characterizations – familiar and well-developed;
Language – witty; Story – plot and character-driven; Tone – steamy, suspenseful; Frame – London, 1880’s.

Botanist spinster Lucinda Bromley helps Scotland Yard with a poisoning case and realizes one of her plants could link her to the murder. She hires Caleb Jones to help her identify the plant thief. Their paranormal talents lead them to love and the solution. Series: Arcane Society #6

Similar authors: Amanda Quick, , Mary Balogh, Catherine Coulter, Julie Garwood, Jayne Ann Krentz, Jayne Castle, Kay Hooper

Genre: Romantic Suspense/Paranormal
Fired Up – Jayne Ann Krentz
Appeal Factors: Pace – fast; Characterizations – familiar and well-developed, good secondary characters; Language – witty; Story –character-driven; Tone – steamy, suspenseful; Frame – Seattle, contemporary.

Jack Winters believes he is developing a second paranormal talent and, that when he does, he will either lose his mind or become a target of the Arcane Society. He hires Chloe Harper, dreamlight talent and P.I., to help him find a family artifact and manipulate his psi energy to save him. Series: Dreamlight Trilogy #1; Arcane Society #7.

Similar authors: Jayne Ann Krentz, Suzanne Brockmann, Kay Hooper, Julie Garwood, Heather Graham, Nora Roberts

Genre: Romance
Charlie All Night – Jennifer Cruisie
Appeal Factors: Pace – fast; Characterizations – familiar and well-developed, good secondary characters; Language – witty, funny; Story –character-driven; Tone – steamy, funny; Frame – Tuttle OH, contemporary.

At the request of his father and the station owner of WBBB, Charlie comes to the station to find the truth about an anonymous letter indicating hinky stuff going on at the station. Allie McGuffey is pulled off the primo drive time show to help temp DJ Charlie make a success of the 10 – 2 a.m. show.

Similar authors: Jennifer Crusie, Melody Carlson, Janet Evanovich, Rachel Gibson, Jayne Ann Krentz, Susan Donovan, Julie James, Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Genre: Thriller
Gone Too Far – Suzanne Brockmann
Appeal Factors: Pacing – fast; Characters – familiar, multiple POV, strong
secondary characters; Language – engaging; Story – plot-driven; Tone – very
suspenseful/steamy; Frame – Sarasota FL, five days in June 2003; Backstory WWII.

Sam Starrett travels to Sarasota to find out why Mary Lou never signed and returned the divorce papers she filed and to see their baby Haley. He finds Mary Lou’s (?) body, three weeks dead, on the floor of the house she shared with her sister. No sign of her sister or baby Haley. Simultaneously and while SEAL Team Sixteen is ‘wheels up’ and unavailable, Lt. Tom Paoletti is taken into custody to answer additional questions about the plot to assassinate the President on a U.S. Naval Base. Both Tom and Sam’s careers with the SEAL’s are finished by these events. Lots of relationships resolve in this one. The tension is much more thriller like as the primaries look for Haley and the mystery blond terrorist.  Although the backstory is filled in, especially about Sam’s youth, this is one title in the series that it would help to read Over the Edge and Into the Night beforehand. Troubleshooter series #6.

Similar authors: Suzanne Brockmann, Catherine Coulter – FBI, Elizabeth Lowell, Nora Roberts, Beverly Barton, Julie Garwood, Cindy Gerard, Lori Foster

Genre: Romantic Suspense/Paranormal
Burning Lamp – Amanda Quick
Appeal: Pace – fast; Characterizations – familiar and well-developed, good
secondary characters; Language – engaging; Story -character-driven; Tone –
steamy; Frame – London, late 1880’s.

Crime lord Griffin Winters fears he has inherited the ‘Winter’s Curse’ of becoming a ‘multitalent’ and will become insane. He finds Adelaide Pyne, a dreamlight reader, and the burning lamp in the hope of a cure. Attempts are made to kidnap Adelaide. Who else is hoping to use her and the lamp for their own ends? ‘Mr. Smith’ and a rival crime lord conspire together for their own ends. Adelaide and Griffin overcome their odds, fall in love, and emigrate to San Francisco. Series: Dreamlight Trilogy #2; Arcane Society #8

Similar authors: Amanda Quick, Jayne Ann Krentz, Suzanne Brockmann, Kay Hooper, Julie Garwood, Heather Graham, Nora Roberts. Christine Feehan

Genre: Fantasy/Science Fiction
Irresistible Forces – Edited by Catherine Asaro
Appeal Factors: Pace – quick; Character – engaging, familiar; Language – engaging; Story – character driven; Tone – romantic; Frame – other worlds, other times.

Irresistible Forces is a collection of six short stories of science fiction/fantasy combined with the irresistible power of romance. The story quality varies, but the collection will appeal to many romance readers and some scifi/fantasy readers. “Winterfair Gifts” Lois McMaster Bujold: Miles Vorkosigan gets married in spite of an attempt on his bride’s life. Roic, one of Miles’ bodyguards, falls in love with genetically designed and exceptional Sgt. Taura. This story will definitely appeal to Vorkosigan fans who have all the back story, but it should appeal to others as well. “The Alchemical Marriage” Mary Jo Putney: A Scots laird and an English mage join hearts and powers to conjure a massive storm to protect England and Scotland, bringing down the Spanish Armada. “Stained Glass Hearts” Catherine Asaro: Vyrl loves Lily and elopes with her, but is still betrothed to an older woman as a political match. Devon Majda. General and ruler of another great house, learns from Vyrl’s devotion and abdicates her role to marry her librarian clerk lover, thus Vyrl is free to stay married to Lily. The story feels gimmicky – all role reversals, Vyrl dreams of being a dancer which is something men don’t do on his world. “Skin Deep” Deb Stover: Nick Riley has been dead for 2 years and stll hasn’t progressed past the lower levels of Heaven. His wife Margo has also not been able to get on with her life. Seamus, Nick’s ‘guard’ian angel sends Nick back to help Margo move on and to atone for some of his earthly mistakes. Nick, as buxom woman Raquel, helps reunite Margo with her first love Jared (and incidentally Nick’s brother). Strip clubs and undercover DEA agents ‘flesh’ out the story. “The Trouble with Heroes” Jo Beverly: Gaia is an earth-like planet, perfect in every way, except for the occasional attack by a ‘blighter’, an invisible something that reduces people to ash. Only fixers like Dan can combat them – only now suddenly there are more blighters, perhaps thousands. Are people their food source? Can the fixers stop them in such numbers? Can Dan’s childhood friend Jenny fix Dan after the war? Will the town accept him when he returns? The trouble with heroes is they just want to come home. A very touching story. “Shadows in the Wood” Jennifer Roberson: England 1202, Robin Hood and Maid Marion inadvertently release Merlin from a tree where he has been trapped for centuries.  Merlin asks for their help restoring Excalibur to its rightful place which also changes the future of the band in Sherwood Forrest. Series: Vorkosigan Sage #16

Simlar authors: Claire Delacroix – To weave a web of magic; Piers Anthony, Ray Bradbury, Lois McMaster Bujold, Graham Joyce

Genre: Historical Romance/Paranormal
Wizard’s Daughter – Catherine Coulter
Appeal Factors: Appeal: Pacing – quick; Characters – engaging, well-developed with in the genre stereotypes; Language – engaging; Story – plot-driven; Tone –
atmospheric/steamy; Frame – London 1835.

As an 8-year-old, Rosalind was found beaten and left for dead; Ryder Sherbrooke found her and raised her as his ward – no one knows her name or background. At a ball ten years later Nicholas Vail, back from years in Macau, claims her as his own. The two misfits fall in love and set out to resolve a century’s old mystery of ghosts and wizards. Bride series #10.

Similar authors: Catherine Coulter, Mary Balogh, Jayne Castle, Jayne Ann Krentz, Lisa Kleypas, Nora Roberts

Genre: Mystery
Twelve Sharp – Janet Evanovich
Appeal Factors: Pace – fast; Characterizations – eccentric, engaging; Language – witty, funny; Story – character-driven; Tone – steamy, funny; Frame – Trenton NJ, contemporary.

Stephanie and Lula are skip tracing when they learn of Ranger’s daughter Julie’s kidnapping. Stephanie helps Ranger look for her as well as try to find who killed Carmen who claimed to be Ranger’s wife. There is a pretend or wannabe Ranger trying to order the world to match his fantasy. Lorelei King has created a whole range of wonderful voices for Evanovich’s quirky cast of characters. She captures the tension and humor of the stories without making the recordings burlesque. My particular favorite voices are those of Lula and Ranger. This CD set also included an interview with Janet Evanovich.

Similar authors: Janet Evanovich, Jennifer Crusie, Rachel Gibson, Jayne Ann Krentz, Harley Jane Kozak, Lisa Lutz

Michelle Deschene-Warren

Genre: Mystery (Cozy)
Murder By Mocha – Cleo Coyle
Appeal Factors: Character – Storyline – Pace

Clare Cosi’s Village Blend, one of New York’s finest coffee houses, has been roped into a new online enterprise that pairs the Blend’s coffee beans with gourmet chocolate and a special, top secret blend of herbs that act as an aphrodisiac. When one of the online site’s staff dies, and then another, and yet another is framed for both murders, Clare dons her amateur detective cap once more and sets out to find the killer.

The bread and butter of this fun, entertaining cozy mystery series, especially this far in (Murder By Mocha is the tenth installment), are the many relationships that have formed and deepened; each adds a touch of humor and sweet, sigh-worthy moments to the (tame) murder and mayhem mix. Quick pacing pulls each book along, making “just one more chapter” an absolute must. This series is best read in order, starting with On What Grounds.

Genre: Young Adult (Fantasy)
Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor
Appeal Factors: Character – Language – Storyline – Frame

“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well.” Independent, artistic Karou knows that monsters exist: in a little shop, full of teeth, she was raised by chimaera, fearsome creatures that are at once human and animal. When handprints start appearing on doors, scorched directly into the wood, doors that lead to her adopted family’s home, Karou’s natural curiosity gets the better of her, thrusting her into the heart of a battle between chimaera and seraphim. Forced to choose between the monsters who nurtured her and the angel who loves her, Karou will have to face hard truths, and make harder decisions.

Laini Taylor is one of the most imaginative, evocative writers of YA fantasy today. Her stories are visual feasts that transport you from your home, your car, your doctor’s office to faraway Prague, the woods, or wherever her characters live and breathe and play. And they do: her characters are vital, well-r0unded individuals. Karou exhibits an indomitable spirit, confidence in her skills and ability to take care of herself, and has an underlying core of strength that will appeal to readers who enjoy smart, kickass girls. And the angel who loves her? Akiva doesn’t just scorch Karou’s adopted family’s door; he heats up every page he is on. Well-written doesn’t begin to cover Taylor’s work; her style is whimsical, occasionally offbeat, but always, always beautiful, lyrical, and atmospheric. Highly recommended not just for young adults, but adults who enjoy contemporary fantasy.

Similar Authors: Catherynne M. Valente

Genre: Urban Fantasy
One Grave At a Time – Jeaniene Frost
Appeal Factors:

Genre: Science Fiction
Aftermath – Ann Aguirre
Appeal Factors: Character – Storyline – Frame – Pace

In the throes of war, every decision carries an immeasurable cost. Thinking she won’t survive the gambit, Sirantha Jax goes AWOL, shifting the navigational beacons in grimspace to cut the enemy off at the pass. When she learns that her successful mission resulted in the loss of six hundred soldiers’ lives, she does not resist arrest, does not try to run from the trial that may demand a forfeiture of her own life. In the aftermath of all that’s come before, Jax will look down splintering roads; she will discover that, however uncertain her future, the possibilities ahead of her are as bright as her beloved star saturated sky.

Ann Aguirre continues to pull no punches in this excellent science fiction series featuring an imperfect, ever-growing and maturing heroine. These books, this one included, break your heart, patch it up again, and set about the whole process over again. The characters are that real, the plots that messy (in the best way), and the pacing that tense, that fraught with emotion and peril and blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moments of peace. The science fiction label should not deter anyone from reading these books; the science and technology, for the most part, are very accessible, and never unnecessarily bogs down the action or story developments. Each book builds beautifully on the one before it, and it truly is rewarding to see Jax’s evolution, to watch the relationships and bonds form from the beginning, which leads me to strongly suggest that this series be read in order.

Genre: Urban Fantasy
One Salt Sea – Seanan McGuire
Appeal Factors: Character – Storyline – Frame – Pace

Dealing with the aftermath of events in Late Eclipses, Toby Daye earned her newfound knowledge regarding her heritage, but at great cost. Things look to be settling down for her when word reaches her that the Duchess of Saltmist’s sons have been kidnapped, and that Toby’s Queen may be responsible. Once more pressed into action, Toby must find the boys before war is declared.

That summary doesn’t begin to do this fresh urban fantasy series justice. As I mentioned at the UF meeting, Toby quickly became one of my favorite UF heroines, and Tybalt, the local King of Cats, one of my major UF crushes. These books are a great fit for readers who want something a little more thoughtful, something with depth and meaningful reveals in each book, and for those who read for wonderful, fully developed characters. Can’t recommend–excuse me, suggest – these books highly enough. 🙂

Tricia Arrington

Genre: Science Fiction
The Quantum Thief – Hannu Rajaniemi
Appeal Factors: Worldbuilding –  Character – Storyline – Pace

Jean le Flambeur, the ultimate thief, lives in a prison where he is forced to battle an attacker and be shot to death several times a day. As in a video game, he has several lives. He must participate and he can’t just shoot himself. The game goes on and on until one day when he is rescued by Mieli. Le Flambeur is not sure what Mieli wants of him, but he’s more than willing to play along.

Rajaniemi creates a fascinating world based in part on game theory. I didn’t always understand the science, but the characters were so appealing, I didn’t much care that I didn’t figure out every detail. The pace was fairly brisk for Sci-fi aided by parallel narratives that collide wonderfully at the end.

Diane Giarrusso

Genre: Cozy Mystery
On What Grounds (Coffeehouse Mystery #1) – Cleo Coyle
Appeal Factors:: light, quick read, smart protagonist, upbeat and mildly suspenseful, budding romance, coffee recipes

Clare goes back to manage a coffee shop in Greenwich Village only to find her barrista severely injured in an apparent fall. The police believe it’s an accident, but Clare believes otherwise and embarks on solving the mystery.

A light, quick read with the promise of romance and further character development as the series progresses. Also includes much coffee chatter: history, best ways to brew, recipes… Clare is a likeable character and I look forward to reading another one in the series.

Similar Authors: Laura Childs, Maggie Sefton, Diane Mott Davidson, and many other hobby/special interest specific mystery writers.

Genre: Thriller/Mystery
Trespasser – Doiron, Paul
Appeal Factors: fast paced, action oriented, good main and secondary character development, descriptive setting, authentic Maine “voice” with the blunt speech of the area and living conditions in rural Maine, suspenseful and inevitable tone, somewhat grim, setting is described in detail but using concise language

Stumbling on a case that suggests a man convicted of murder 7 years earlier may have been framed, game warden Mike Bowditch (again) ignores warnings by local authorities and risks his relationship with his girlfriend to conduct a secret investigation into a recent murder with details suggesting a connection to the past murder. Doiron includes compelling subplots about ATV trespassing and the effect on the land and homeowners of this sport; the after
effects of losing his father who let Mike down at every point in his life, and Mikes worry that he’ll turn out similarly.

A satisfying, descriptive, action-oriented, suspenseful, AND character driven novel. Sequel to “Poacher’s Son” which concerns Mike’s father and his quest to prove his father innocent of murder.

Genre: Suspense–Teen
Tighter – Griffin, Adele
Appeal Factors: engrossing, suspenseful, surprising ending (for me, anyway!), fast paced, page turner, detailed descriptions of protagonist’s thoughts, plot driven, chilling tone, psycholigical thriller

Jamie, recovering from a sports injury and addicted to pain pills (well, any pills she can get, actually!), spends the summer as an au pair at a seaside home in the wealthy island community of Little Bly. Once there, she learns of the horrific deaths of the previous au pair and her boyfriend. As she unravels the story, she begins to feel connected to the dead couple. She believe that she can see and hear the ghosts. Jamie begins to push the limits between the living and the
dead until the shocking ending. This book was “un-put-downable”! I could not wait to entice others to read it and then talk about it. I think the way the mystery unfolds and details are revealed plays a big part in the enjoyment of the story. I never saw the ending coming (but then again, I usually don’t…) and was an instant fan of the book.

Genre: Narrative Non-fiction
The Psychopath Test: A journey through the madness industry – Ronson, Jon
Appeal Factors: entertaining, journalistic, easy pace, concepts are made accessible, popular treatment, details of the mental health industry and history

Ronson, who wrote “Men Who Stare at Goats” and “Them”, wanders into an exploration of the history, characteristics and clinical treatment of psychopaths after being asked to investigate a potential hoax being played on the world’s top neurologists. Fascinating, entertaining and chilling accounts and interviews with psychopaths and those who treat them. I enjoyed the book, but did feel that it was over-hyped in the media. It was an entertaining, but somewhat light treatment of the subject. Ronson often focused on how HE was dealing (very anxiously!) with the information he was seeking and people he was meeting in relation to their “psychopathic” personalities. If you like medical histories, you will probably like this book (I do and I did–but “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Skloot was a far superior book)

SIMILAR AUTHORS: Jon Krakauer, Mary Roach, Sebastian Junger, Bill Bryson

Genre: Survival/Adventure, Teen
Revolver – Sedgwick, Marcus
Appeal Factors: mystery, survival by wits, detailed natural world and character
descriptions, Historical (1899-1910 Alaska)

Sig Andersson is 14 in 1910 and watching over his father Einar’s corpse when a stranger arrives demanding the gold he claims his Einar stole from him 10 years earlier. Story is told through a series of chapters that alternate between 1889 and 1910 Alaska. Central moral decision of the book is whether Sig will use the Colt revolver that his father owned to kill the stranger. A suspenseful, mysterious survival story with deliberate and steady pacing and direct, descriptive and straightforward style. The tone is bleak, suspenseful, but thought provoking. The setting–location and weather–is essential to the story as is the time frame just after the Yukon Gold Rush. Surprising ending.

SIMILAR AUTHORS: Gary Paulsen in both tone, setting and characterizations; Paul Fleischman in emotional tone. This is a quiet, steady survival story.

Genre: Literary Fiction–Teen
Angry Management – Crutcher, Chris
Appeal Factors: intense, humorous, engrossing, intense, fast-paced, authentic,
smart and wisecracking protagonists, emotionally-charged, emotionally- hopeful, bittersweet, blunt–nothing is sugar coated, Frame: HS students facing moral and life challenges, usually in a school setting, sports is often the vehicle to assist these teens, usually one adult on the character’s side against other adults who are hypocritical and in positions of authority, Storyline: character centered, complex situations among the right and wrong, thought provoking writing.

Three interrelated stories about teen participants in Mr. Nak’s Angry Management class. Once introduced to the characters, we see them interact outside of his class, not in it. Each story is different and each centers on how these characters live with, heal from emotional and physical abuse and unbearable life circumstances. If one reads Crutcher’s work, you’ll have met these characters before. It is not necessary to have read his books to enjoy this one, however.  Crutcher is a master at writing these teens characterized by smarts, humor and compassion who are working to get on the other side of bad times. I can’t really think of other authors like him, but Gary Paulsen and his emotionally real characters fits, as does Gary Schmidt’s book “Okay for Now” (I haven’t read his other book(s).)