Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff (2015)

fatesfuriesIn Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies, the story of marriage is told by multi-faceted characters Lotto and Mathilde. Lotto, who is destined to be a world famous playwright, unfolds his love for Mathilde in the Fates, while Mathilde’s dramatically different perspective of their marriage is revealed in the Furies.

While unsure of where the story is going in the first section of the book called Fates, the reader is brought into a whirlwind of discoveries and uncovered truths in the Furies. The core of this marriage lies possibly in its secrets rather than in its truths and the unfolding of this complicated duo won’t disappoint.

How to Bake Pi: An Edible Exploration of the Mathematics of Mathematics by Eugenia Cheng (2015)

bakepiWhat does Eugenia Cheng have in common with Thomas Jefferson and Descartes? Well they all believe in first principals, truths held to be self-evident. Yet Cheng is much more fun to read (or listen to) when she drifts away into cooking or engaging friends over a cocktail. Of course, she is dead serious when she uses the rules of logic to go from those first principals to a conclusion that also must be true. She sees math as an adventure, like cooking and she awakens the reader’s curiosity to new concepts like category theory. New ideas are just fine if they don’t cause a contradiction or an upset stomach.

Throughout How to Bake Pi, she helps the reader gain understanding of concepts like abstractions, generalizations, and axioms, particularly as they relate to math (or cooking). I found Cheng’s book both enlightening and a pleasure to read. And check out The New York Times review.

The Long and Faraway Gone by Lou Berney (2015)

longfarawayIn 1986 in Oklahoma City, the employees of a movie theater are murdered during a robbery. Wyatt, now a private investigator in Las Vegas, was the only survivor. When asked by a friend to travel to Oklahoma City and find out who’s been harassing the new owner of a local rock club, he finds himself revisiting the scene of the massacre, as well as unearthing long dormant memories.

Another crime in 1986, although not connected, was the disappearance of Julianna’s older sister, Genevieve, at the Oklahoma State Fair. Julianna has been in an emotional fog since, desperate to know what happened to her sister. Both Wyatt and Julianna explore their pasts, finding new clues that will hopefully bring them both some closure. The Long and Faraway Gone is a character-centered novel reminiscent of Dennis Lehane. Lou Berney’s mystery won an Edgar award for Best Paperback Original, deservedly so.

Nine Women, One Dress by Jane L. Rosen (2016)

9womenIn this charming romantic comedy, the central character is this season’s hottest little black dress. Told from various points of view, Nine Women, One Dress shares the stories of an ensemble of New Yorkers whose lives are touched by the “it” dress. Despite jumping from character to character (men and women), the engaging story flows smoothly and keeps you invested in all of the lives we visit. Jane L. Rosen’s debut is a delightfully lighthearted read.

The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman (2016)

viewfromEven when writing nonfiction, award-winning fantasy author Neil Gaiman never fails. In this first collection, Gaiman includes a variety of essays, speeches, articles, and introductions. His topics include books, fairy tales, music, authors (living and dead), and writing, just to name a few. The pieces towards the beginning, on the importance of books and libraries, is likely to warm the heart of any reader, and his thoughts on any subject are always precise, intelligent, and beautifully worded. Gaiman manages to put into words the things we’ve all been feeling, but never quite knew how to speak about.

While his introductions to other books might feel incomplete without the books themselves, they were still interesting to read because Gaiman talks about how each influenced his own life or books he’s written that I’ve loved. Additionally, some of these introductions are written for books by authors he has known and it was fascinating to read about these authors I’ve always seen on book spines, but now have a more personal understanding of through Gaiman’s eyes.

Gaiman himself reads the audiobook of The View from the Cheap Seats, and his soothing voice will make any drive more relaxing and comfortable. I personally spent 8 hours on a road trip listening to this audiobook and not once wanted to turn it off, even for a moment.

Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz (2015)

ashleybellOddly enough, Ashley Bell is not the main character of this psychological suspense novel. She is the focal point of Bibi Blair’s quest after her fatal diagnosis of brain cancer at age 22. Bibi has always been an independent, intelligent, and creative person. She began her writing career as a child. She is much loved by her parents and fiancé, who is fighting terrorism in a secret location as a Navy SEAL when Bibi is diagnosed. In Ashley Bell, the three are powerless to help Bibi in her battle as Dean Koontz weaves an intricate adventure the reader will not soon forget.

Spotlight: Guild Hunter Series by Nalini Singh

angelsbloodWouldn’t it be weird if angels and vampires were a part of our daily life? Just try to picture angels launching off skyscrapers and gliding through the air with wings as many colors as you can imagine, their feathers softly floating down for a small child to add to her collection.

For the characters of Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series, this is completely normal, average even! But what does a guild hunter do? The series namesake comes from humans who hunt down rogue vampires to protect ordinary citizens going about their day. The plot primarily revolves around the adventures of Elena, a guild hunter, and Raphael, the archangel in charge of North America. However, some books also branch out to develop other important characters without Elena and Raphael being the focus. This keeps the stories fresh and the overarching plot (that spans several books, though each individual book does have its own ending, no worries!) moving.

If you love a good fast-paced paranormal romance with plenty of action, this is the series for you! Start with Angel’s Blood.

Blood on the Water (2014) and Corridors of the Night (2015) by Anne Perry

These two Anne Perry novels feature the Monk family – William, his wife Hester, adopted son Scuff, and street urchin Worm – all working together to solve the current crime.

Ibloodwatern Blood on the Water, Commander William Monk of the River Police is on patrol when the Princess Mary explodes, sending nearly 200 passengers to their death. Soon after Monk begins his investigation, the case is transferred to the Metropolitan Police due to its “international implications.” But Monk and his family cannot leave the case alone: Hester attends the trial of the captured suspect, son Scuff (who spent his young years on the waterfront as an orphan) questions waterfront denizens like Worm to get first-hand information, and Monk continues to follow the case. After a rapid trial and conviction, Monk raises questions of guilt and the river corridorspolice is reassigned the case. Motive, access, and high level involvement are unclear as the Monk family pursues the truth.

In Corridors of the Night, Nurse Hester Monk becomes the protector of two small children who are being used to supply blood to a very ill man undergoing an experimental treatment. The scientist conducting the treatment has little regard for the children or Hester such that Monk and Scuff need to rescue her from what is a near kidnapping.

Under the Influence by Joyce Maynard (2016)

undertheinfluenceDrinking cost Helen the custody of her son. While working to overcome her addiction, an eccentric wealthy couple, Ava and Swift Havilland, befriend her. The Havillands are wealthy philanthropists who established a charity devoted to rescuing dogs. Their home is filled with fabulous friends, expensive art, and over the top parties. As Helen increasingly falls under the Havillands’ influence by running errands and doing chores for them, Ava and Swift promise to help Helen regain custody of her son—but at what cost?

Joyce Maynard’s Under the Influence is an engrossing, can’t put down read until the very last page.