December is a busy time of year, so some book suggestions wouldn't be out of order. I contacted a few blog readers to seek inspiration for holiday gifts and books that travel well.
Here they are, and what an eclectic mix!

All can be ordered directly from this blog. Click on the Amazon Search Box in the Sidebar and shop  away! In the spirit of the season and actually all year round, a percentage of sales goes to charity.

All Days Cover FINAL

All Days are Night by Peter Stamm

Gillian is content with her marriage to Matthias, even if she feels restless at times. One night following an argument, the couple has a terrible car accident: Matthias, who is drunk, dies in the crash. Gillian wakes up in the hospital completely disfigured. Only slowly, after many twists and turns, does she put her life back together and reconnects with a love interest of the past who becomes a possible future --- or so it seems.

The Perfect Mother: A Novel

The Perfect Mother by Nina Darnton

A midnight phone call shatters Jennifer Lewis’ carefully orchestrated life. Her daughter, Emma, who’s studying abroad in Spain, has been arrested after the brutal murder of another student. Jennifer rushes to her side, certain the arrest is a terrible mistake and determined to do whatever is necessary to bring Emma home. But as she begins to investigate the crime, she starts to wonder if she ever really knew her daughter. 

The Escape (John Puller Series #3)

THE ESCAPE by David Baldacci

In ZERO DAY and THE FORGOTTEN, readers met John Puller. A combat veteran and special agent with the U.S. Army, Puller is the man they call to investigate the toughest crimes facing the nation. But all his training, experience and skills will not prepare him for his newest case, one that will force him to hunt down the most formidable and brilliant prey he has ever tracked: his own brother. 



FAMILY FURNISHINGS brings us 24 of Alice Munro’s most accomplished, most powerfully affecting stories, many of them set in the territory she has so brilliantly made her own: the small towns and flatlands of southwestern Ontario. These stories illuminate the quotidian yet extraordinary particularity in the lives of men and women, parents and children, friends and lovers as they discover sex, fall in love, part, quarrel, suffer defeat, set off into the unknown, or find a way to be in the world. 



Part love story and part survival story, this novel, about an Australian doctor who endured Japanese POW camps but remained haunted by his affair with his uncle's wife, is the kind of sweeping epic classic we all long for. This year it won the England's Man Booker Prize and instantly swept on the best-sellers lists. Our advice: After page 70, be prepared to cancel the rest of your life—there is no stopping 'til the end....or shopping!


Here's two debuts in time for the holidays and it appears to be an unconventional mix...History,  crime, and good old dysfunction...What more could anyone want?  Well, maybe a few things, but these will keep you entertained for awhile. 

GOD'll CUT YOU DOWN by John Safran 

This stranger-than-fiction true crime story finds Safran—a white, Jewish documentary filmmaker from Australia—relocating to Rankin County, Miss., to dig deep into the grisly stabbing murder of a 67-year-old white supremacist in April 2010. A 23-year-old African-American man named Vincent McGee pleaded guilty in the case, but this was no run-of-the-mill race crime. With allegations swirling of a money-for-sex relationship between the founder of a white nationalist organization and his black neighbor, the lure was too great for Safran (a self-proclaimed “Race Trekkie”) to resist. Armed with his Dictaphone and a thirst for the truth, Safran tracks down and interviews nearly all individuals associated with the case, resulting in wildly opposing accounts of what happened that spring evening. The result is a bizarrely unsettling, yet often witty book that paints a disturbing picture of the deep South today.    



SINS OF OUR FATHERS by Shawn Lawrence Otto 

This stylish novel from Otto concerns J.W., a smalltown bank president whose gambling addiction causes his life to spiral out of control. One year after his son Chris’s dies in an auto crash while driving stoned, J.W. abandons his harried wife, Carol, and his teenaged daughter, Julie. When J.W.’s embezzlement of bank funds to cover his betting losses is uncovered, his boss fires him and then coerces him into spying on the local competition. J.W. relocates to live in a trailer and spies on Johnny Eagle, who is establishing a new tribal bank on the Ojibwe reservation. Otto's wonderfully vivid debut culminates in a rousing and satisfying climax. 

Sins of Our Fathers

ISABEL'S WAR by Lila Perl 

(This book is appropriate for YA readers as well as adults)

Published posthumously, Perl’s moving WWII novel set in the Bronx traces a Jewish girl’s growing awareness of the atrocities occurring overseas. At first, 12-year-old Isabel views the war as an inconvenience, bemoaning new rationing rules and the growing shortages of luxury items. Similarly, she resents the arrival of Helga, a beautiful German refugee with “a swanlike neck, and luminous gray-green eyes,” who ends up living with Isabel’s family when Helga’s American guardian turns ill. But as Isabel gleans bits of information about Helga’s horrific experiences in Germany and in England, where she was delivered as part of the Kindertransport, Isabel’s heart gradually softens. Now her problem is getting others to believe Helga’s tales and persuading Helga that she is not to blame for what her family suffered. This coming-of-age story offers an authentic glimpse of the 1940s American war effort and corresponding sentiments while introducing a realistically flawed heroine whose well-meaning efforts sometimes backfire.

ISABEL'S WAR by Lila Perl

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I just started US by David Nicholls and so far it's a mish-mash of humor, angst and drama. US was  long listed for the Mann Booker Prize, the main reason I decided to read it. The characters are annoying, but the humor is making them tolerable. I'm hoping things improve on many levels...except for the unusal writing style and format, both engaging...the only reasons I haven't totally abandoned this book.

US by David Nicholls (Fiction)

Douglas and Connie live more or less happily in the suburbs of London with their moody 17-year-old son, Albie. Then Connie tells Douglas she thinks she wants a divorce. Hoping to encourage her son’s artistic interests, Connie had planned a month-long tour of European capitals, a chance to experience the world’s greatest works of art as a family. Douglas is privately convinced that this landmark trip will rekindle the romance in their marriage and might even help him to bond with Albie. That remains to be seen.....

Blog readers have been recommending MY SISTER'S GRAVE by Robert Dugoni, labeling it an intriguing and exciting thriller...So if you're in the mood for a Grisham-like book, this is a good choice.
Here's what had to say.....

MY SISTER'S GRAVE by Robert Dugoni (Mystery/Thriller)

I have been a longtime fan of Robert Dugoni, and his talent has only improved with time. MY SISTER’S GRAVE has everything: terrific plotting, well-drawn characters and solid writing. It’s a cross between a legal thriller and a police procedural. While reading it, I was dropped into a zone with a fast-paced story that grabbed me and wrapped me up in the adventure and storyline.

In it, Tracy Crosswhite is a Seattle homicide detective who is convinced that the man who was convicted of murdering her sister, Sarah, is not the right person. When Sarah’s remains are found in a lake bed 20 years after her death, Tracy’s theory becomes more sound. Her childhood friend collaborates with her to take a fresh look at the crime, and the action ramps up fast....

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SO WHAT ELSE IS NEW? (November 2014)

Stephen  King is releasing a new book, which is no surprise. Although it's been touted as a departure from his usual horrifying storylines, it's still pretty horrifying! King followers will revel in REVIVAL. Critics have labeled it "one of King's most disturbing and satisfying books."

If you're into history, ISABELLA by Kristen Downey is an engaging and detailed biography of the fascinating, controversial ruler of Spain. This biography has been labeled a "dramatic page-turner" by critics, so If you're in the  mood for a well researched bio this would be it....

By Stephen King
King mines deeper territory—the transformative power of grief—in a thriller that showcases his unmatched ability to evoke sheer terror through prose. Six-year-old Jamie Morton and the new minister of his church, the Rev. Charles Jacobs, have a shared obsession: the power of electricity. Their lives will intersect strangely over the next 50 years—when Jacobs' life is shattered by a tragic accident and much later when Jamie reaches his own rock-bottom of despair and addiction. King explores the dual meanings of "revival" as the story spins its way to a horrifying conclusion.   


By Kirstin Downey
Most schoolchildren know Queen Isabella of Spain as half of the royal couple that financed Columbus' expedition to the New World. But Downey, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, asserts that Isabella was a far more forceful and influential leader than her husband Ferdinand. This engaging biography brings readers all the facets of a remarkable but overlooked woman: from the farsighted ruler who helped to unify Spain to the ardently devout Catholic who pursued a brutal religious Inquisition.

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