Tag Archives: fiction

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King (2014)

Stephen King takes a step back from horror to write a story about Bill Hodges, a retired detective who is haunted by his unsolved cases and believes he has nothing to live for now that he’s off the force. Hodges finds a new sense of purpose after being contacted and taunted by the most notorious killer he failed to catch, Mr. Mercedes. Hodges takes it upon himself to end his retirement and make it his sole priority to bring the killer he failed to catch to justice.

The novel bounces between the perspectives of Bill Hodges and the killer himself during their dangerous game of cat and mouse. This makes the story even more interesting, as getting to understand the mind of Mr. Mercedes and see the world from his point-of-view gives the book a depth that wouldn’t exist if it solely followed Bill Hodges.

The characters in this story are vibrant and full of life, which makes it all the more worrisome as their lives are approached by the ever-looming danger of the Mr. Mercedes killer.

The first novel in the Bill Hodges trilogy, Mr. Mercedes is followed by Finders Keepers and End of Watch.

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick (2016)

Arthur Pepper has lived a simple, routine, lonely life since his wife, Miriam, passed away a year ago. His children are busy with their own lives, and he is grieving the love of his life. While searching through a wardrobe, Arthur finds his wife’s beautiful gold charm bracelet with a collection of charms. His curiosity leads him from York, England, to Bath, London, and Paris tracking the origin of the bracelet and the significance of each of the charms. His journey takes him out of his comfort zone and leads to adventures; new experiences, such as coming face to face with a tiger; and meeting different people. He discovers a side of his wife of forty years that he never knew and learns about himself in the process. Arthur’s interactions with his nosy widowed neighbor, Bernadette, and her teenage son, Nathan, enhance the story.

Phaedra Patrick’s The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is a heartwarming, poignant, and amusing story.

 

Wonder by R. J. Palacio (2012)

I dare you not to fall in love with 10-year-old Auggie Pullman in this sweet, moving story about the power of kindness. Although written for a middle grade audience, Wonder is a book that readers of all ages can savor. R. J. Palacio’s debut novel follows Auggie, who was born with extreme facial abnormalities, through his first year at school: the fifth grade. One of the story’s strengths is that we get multiple points of view: we hear from Auggie, a few of his classmates, and his sister.

Some readers wanted to hear from other characters. A few years after the original novel, the author released Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories. And if you prefer reading the book before the movie, start reading: a November release stars Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, Daveed Diggs, and Jacob Tremblay.

The Risk of Darkness by Susan Hill (2009)

This is the story of a crime, not a mystery in the whodunit style, but a mystery nonetheless as to why and how it happened. In addition, Susan Hill allows new characters to walk onto the scene and the reader wonders who is this person and how do they fit into the story. As the title suggests, this is a dark tale of child abduction and crazed grief with the thought patterns of those involved clearly laid out by the author. As Ruth Rendell said, The Risk of Darkness is “a stunning tale.” Old friends of Detective Simon Serrailler and his triplet sister Doctor Cat will welcome their interplay throughout the story. Book 3 of this series (set in England).

Patsy Walker, a.k.a. Hellcat! Vol. 1: Hooked on a Feline by Kate Leth (2016)

All up-to-date on Marvel Netflix TV shows like Jessica Jones? Want to get into the comics but are too intimidated to dive in? Get your toes wet with Patsy Walker, a.k.a. Hellcat! Volume 1: Hooked on a Feline. The canon is completely separate from the Netflix shows, but still super enjoyable nonetheless. It’s great to see a different side of Jessica’s bestie, Patsy, as well as meet more super friends!

Kate Leth’s comic is ridiculously newcomer-friendly, lighthearted, and all around a good time. For people who do want to dive in further, when the comic refers to other issues, it provides you with the name and the number of the issue it is referencing! Easy peasy! The entire series is available now: check out volumes 2—Don’t Stop Me-Ow— and 3—Careless Whisker(s)— today. Go grab them, kitty-cat!

My Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith (2017)

Paul Stuart is a food/wine writer with a deadline. His focus is diverted when his live-in girlfriend of four years runs off with her trainer. Escaping to Tuscany sounds like a solution for both problems. The story starts like a madcap adventure in Italy, but develops into a study of humanity with a bit of romance thrown in for good measure.

Once his transportation issue is resolved, thus the title of the book, Paul is free to explore the beautiful countryside and research local food and wine. His route is definitely not a typical tourist package. Paul has command of the Italian language and quickly makes friends. He serves as a confidant to a few local men and even lends a helping hand in a longtime conflict. During the course of his stay, he entertains three ladies (two from his past and a new love interest). His working vacation may be just what was needed for his personal and professional dilemmas.

Alexander McCall Smith is well known for his long running series, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and others, but the standalone novel My Italian Bulldozer stands out as a feel good read.

Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar (2017)

Gwendy is a young girl that is desperate to lose weight before the start of the new school year. She spends her days running up and down what’s known as the “suicide stairs” in her hometown of Stephen King‘s fictional Castle Rock, Maine. Her responsibility and dedication is strong enough to prove to a stranger dressed in black that Gwendy should be the recipient of what he calls the “button box.” All Gwendy knows about the box is that it holds vast power and that she must do all she can to use it wisely.

In Gwendy’s Button Box, we follow Gwendy and how her life changes as she understands what it means to be the box’s caretaker. Stephen King and Richard Chizmar have written a novella that is short and lean, every moment feeling crucial to the overall tone and story. This book perfectly demonstrates King’s ability to make the reader unable to stop themselves from turning page after page while simultaneously being terrified of what they might discover when they do.

The Whistler by John Grisham (2016)

In The Whistler (that is whistleblower), John Grisham introduces us to the Florida Board of Judicial Conduct’s investigation of the most corrupt judge in Florida’s history. An elusive character named Mix or Myers or maybe something else lodges a complaint with the board in hopes of an award for himself and his undisclosed client. Thus Lacy Stoltz and her colleague Hugo become involved in the most dangerous and compelling investigation of their board career. Their adventures cross paths with the coastal mafia and corruption at the casino run by the Tappacola Native American tribe. Lacy persists with the investigation even after Hugo is killed and she is terribly injured in an unlikely accident that suggests murder. With the FBI’s help, Lacy unravels this corrupt maze of hidden wealth, obscure identities and a convict on death row who should not be there.

Check out a review from The New York Times.

The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar (2014)

Although this is not a fast-paced, action-packed book, I found it to be a page-turner due to the interesting, believable characters and how their lives and relationships are exposed throughout the story. The Story Hour touches on a number of issues, such as arranged marriage, infidelity, deception, betrayal, friendship, and secrets. Thrity Umrigar’s story is told from alternating perspectives: Lakshmi, who immigrates to America from India following an arranged marriage; and Maggie, a clinical psychologist, who starts to treat Lakshmi after her attempted suicide. An unlikely friendship unfolds, with unexpected twists and turns that kept me engaged til the end.