Dean and Me – A Love Story by Jerry Lewis and James Kaplan

Find in catalogThe unlikely pair of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis teamed up in 1946. The world had never seen the likes of this handsome crooner and hyperactive comic, and they soon became mega stars in night clubs, radio, TV, and movies. They spent 10 years working together, then broke up as the pressures of stardom eroded their partnership. Both men went on to have very successful solo careers but there was always sadness at the loss of their friendship. This is a fascinating look at the world of entertainment in post war America.

San Miguel, by T. C. Boyle

Find in catalogThis is the story of two families who homestead on the Island of San Miguel, the farthest of the Channel islands off the coast of southern California. The first family moves there in the 1880’s, ostensibly as a cure for the wife Marantha’s tuberculosis. This turns out to be folly as the cold, wet, fog drenched island is far from healing. Marantha struggles with her health as well as the isolation as her husband plays sheep rancher. In the 1930’s a young married couple move to the island, seeking a home during the Great Depression. The island is still a harsh environment, but they make it a home for their family. The characters are based on real people who lived on the island. I enjoyed the book, it is very honest about the difficulties of living in a remote place.

The Black House, by Peter May

Find in catalogThe Black House is the first book in the Isles of Lewis trilogy. Edinburgh detective Fin MacLeod is called back to his native island in the Outer Hebrides to investigate a murder that has similarities to a case he was working on the mainland. Fin reconnects with the people he left behind many years ago, drawing closer to the murderer, as well as events that almost destroyed his life. The writing is incredible, making the Isle of Lewis come alive. This book won’t be forgotten easily.

A Death in the Family, by Michael Stanley

Find in catalogThe father of Assistant Superintendent David ‘Kubu’ Bengu, the smartest detective in the Botswana police, is found stabbed to death in the street. Who would murder a frail old man in the early stage of Alzheimer’s disease? Kubu is forbidden to work on the case because of his connection to the victim. The detective is assigned to work on another case that is connected to mining contracts, government corruption, China’s growing influence in Botswana, and eventually, the death of Kubu’s father. This is the fifth story in the series and one of the attractions is learning about traditional and modern Botswana.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, by Jenny Lawson

Find in catalogJenny Lawson writes a popular blog “The Bloggess” and this is a memoir of her life. She grew up in a tiny Texas town, the daughter of an eccentric taxidermist who put on puppet shows with dead animals. Her childhood was far from average and her stories are achingly funny, honest, and sometimes sad. Warning: adult themes and language.

The Sound of Summer Voices, by Helen Tucker

After overhearing adult conversations, eleven year old Patrick Quincannon Tolson concludes that one of his aunts is really his mother, and that everything he has been told about his life is a lie. Patrick decides to prove his theory by spying on his family and even digging up a grave at night. This is a charming story with a very strong sense of time and place.

Along the Infinite Sea, by Beatriz Williams

Find in catalogThe year is 1966 and unmarried, pregnant Pepper Schuyer is on the run from both her wealthy family and the politically powerful father of her child. She has restored a vintage 1936 Mercedes and has sold the car to finance a new life for her and her baby. The buyer of the Mercedes has a special link to this car that reaches back to Paris and Germany a few years before World War II. The author interweaves the story of these two strong women into a most enjoyable book.

Amy Falls Down, by Jincy Willett

Find in catalogAmy is an aging novelist who hasn’t published anything in years. She spends her time teaching writing courses and generally hiding out from life. One morning she falls and hits her head, right before a scheduled interview with a journalist. In her concussed state, she comes off just witty and quirky enough to spark interest in her long ago writing career. Suddenly she is a hot commodity on the writer’s circuit, giving interviews on NPR. Most importantly, she starts writing again, and finally starts living again. This is a very funny, intelligent book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The audio version is a real gem.

Painting the Darkness, by Robert Goddard

A man claiming to be Sir James Davenall arrives at the home of William Trenchard and his wife Catherine. James had disappeared years ago and was thought to have committed suicide. Now he has returned to reclaim his inheritance as a Baron, and his former fiancee. The Davenall family categorically rejects James and deems him an imposter, but Catherine isn’t so sure. So begins a story of dark family secrets with lots of elegant twists and turns.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web, by David Lagercrantz

Find in catalogDavid Lagercrantz continues Steig Larsson’s Millennium trilogy after his death. Characters Michael Blomkvist and Lizbeth Salander are back in a mystery involving the U.S. National Security Agency. There is a lot of international intrigue, computer hacking, and violence, but somehow the story falls flat. Lizbeth Salander was one one of the most interesting heroines to be created in a long time, but she has lost her spark in this book. Stick with the trilogy and pass on the pale imitations.