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Cover art for The Girl Next Door: A Novel

The Girl Next Door: A Novel

Written by Ruth Rendell

In a London suburb during World War II a murder is committed; decades later, gruesome evidence of that murder is discovered and a group of men and women who were children at the time of the murder are reunited during the course of the investigation. As you read this story, you already know who committed the crime, so the mystery revolves around if and how and when the characters will realize what happened over 60 years ago, and how becoming reacquainted with each other affects them all, in both positive and negative ways.

Ruth Rendell is an amazing, prolific mystery author, and if you've never read any of her work, this is a fine place to start. If you're already a Rendell fan, her first-chapter reveal of the culprit breaks the usual whodunit mold.

Recommended by Catherine
Cover art for The Queen of the Tearling

The Queen of the Tearling

Written by Erika Johansen

William Tear crossed the sea to found a new utopia, but during the voyage, certain knowledge and technologies were lost, and since then, things have gone from bad to worse. For over a decade, since the assassination of Queen Elyssa, The Tearling has been without a crowned leader, but now Elyssa's daughter Kelsea has come of age and is to take the thrown. However, opposition abounds from various quarters, and despite her training, 19-year-old Kelsea has a lot to learn about being in charge.

This coming of age story has fantastical elements, political intrigue, violent action, mysterious magic and is an unusual mixture of contemporary social values (and the villains who oppose them) in a setting that is in many ways distinctly medieval. While you're puzzling out the unusual combination, you'll become hooked and need to know what will happen next. Book two is due out June 2015!

Recommended by Catherine
Cover art for The Magicians: A Novel

The Magicians: A Novel

Written by Lev Grossman

Imagine a cross between Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia for grown-ups and you have a sense of this fantasy thriller.

Quentin Coldwater, long-obsessed with the magical fictional world of Fillory, is suddenly transported to Brakesbill College where he gets to study actual magic and become a real wizard. Unfortunately, it turns out that studying magic is not all that different from studying anything else, and adjusting to the real post-school world is just as difficult as it is for graduates of regular non-magical college, or perhaps even more so, since real-life magic jobs involve defeating evil forces. Quentin and his gang of friends go between the greatest and the worst situations (and back and forth). The author does a great job of portraying the reality of Quentin's world. If you loved all the classic children's fantasy novels, check out The Magicians (and the sequels The Magician King and The Magician's Land).

Recommended by Robert
Cover art for The Ghosts of Tom Joad:  A Story of the #99 Percent.

The Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the #99 Percent.

Written by Peter Van Buren

Earl lives in Ohio and tells his story from a metaphorical bus. As the bus moves along he introduces us to people he has known in his life. Some are living, most are dead. This is a story of dreams deferred until they vanish. It is also a story of middle America; if you've followed the impact of globalization on the manufacturing centers in America you should be familiar with what has happened to our friend Earl. Factories that towns depended on for employment were closed and the manufacturing was moved overseas. Earl's story is the story of many of the people left behind.

Don't expect a happy ending here, you won't find one. What you will find is a story of lost lives. When jobs move away they create a vacuum filled with alcoholism and drug use. Sure, some jobs appear but they are the low-paying and soul-destroying minimum wage big box store jobs.

The book gives us a look into Earl's childhood and the town he grew up in when there was hope in the future. We are able to see what happened and how everyone was affected.

Not an easy or comfortable story but relevant and thoughtful. Having been raised in Cleveland, Ohio I saw many of the factories close and leave and the impact it had and is still having on that City and its citizens....

Recommended by Suzi
Cover art for The Boreal Feast: A Culinary Journey Through the North

The Boreal Feast: A Culinary Journey Through the North

Written by Michele Genest
Illustrated by Cathie Archbould

There are lots of books out there about wild foods, but The Boreal Feast is much more interesting from a recipe perspective. This wild food cookbook is very applicable to Juneau; Michele Genest, who is from Whitehorse, writes about ingredients that are abundant in our region. The author is an amazing food writer and chef. Particularly delicious recipes include smoked Labrador tea short bread and rosehip jelly. The attractive photographs included in the book are an added bonus.

Recommended by Ani
Cover art for The Novel Cure: From Abandonment to Zestlessness: 751 Books to Cure What Ails You

The Novel Cure: From Abandonment to Zestlessness: 751 Books to Cure What Ails You

Written by Ella Berthoud

Not sure what to read next? How about this book about books? Specifically, this book about which books to read to cure all your troubles. Organized by an alphabetical list that contains the whole range of human emotions, conditions, and conundrums, including jealousy, looking for Mr./Mrs. Right, burning dinner, nameless dread and even the common cold, The Novel Cure proposes to alleviate them with the proper prescribed reading material.

For example, a person suffering from hypochondria ought to pick up The Secret Garden, and be inspired by Mary's fierce determination that her cousin Colin is merely suffering from imagined illness. Or, if you find yourself in a jam, try The Life of Pi, in which young Pi survives being stranded at sea with a ravenous tiger; if Pi can get himself out of that pickle, you can extricate yourself from
your own tricky situations.

You can dip in to this excellent, creatively written book, or read it straight through, and be reminded of great books you have read (or have yet to read), get ideas for what to read next, and have a chuckle at the same time.

Recommended by mj
Cover art for The Rosie Project: A Novel

The Rosie Project: A Novel

Written by Graeme Simsion

Genetics professor Don Tillman, in his usual highly logical but completely socially clueless manner, has decided to find a wife. How will he do it? By creating a lengthy scientific questionnaire, of course. As with all best-laid plans, Dr. Tillman doesn't find a woman with all the qualities he specified; instead he finds Rosie, who is on a search of her own, for her biological father.

This story is a romance, but it's also an instruction manual for learning to care about other people. Instructive but not pedantic, this is a delightful read.

Recommended by mj
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True Detective: The Complete First Season

Written by HBO

True Detective is a gritty, difficult, and totally engaging drama starring Matthew McConaughey (Rust Cohle)and Woody Harrelson (Marty Hart) as partners investigating a bizarre and disturbing murder in rural Louisiana. The story unfolds as two new detectives are investigating a recent murder that echoes the seventeen year-old crime that Rust and Marty solved back in 1995. The new investigation opens old wounds and brings the two partners back together. At the time of the 1995 crime, Woody Hart is a good old boy while Rust Cohle is newly arrived in the Louisiana Criminal Investigation Division. We watch them connect, view their lives, marriages and history against a backdrop of murder and corruption.

Like many HBO productions, this show is not for the faint of heart. I saw the series as a character study of the McConaughey and Harrelson detectives. If you are looking for a Midsomer Murder type series, this may not be the one for you, but it's compelling and very well-produced. I found it thought-provoking and intelligent.

Recommended by Suzi
Cover art for Big Little Lies

Big Little Lies

Written by Liane Moriarty

Somebody died at the Pirriwee Public School trivia night but we don't know who or how or why. Liane Moriarty, author of the bestseller The Husband's Secret, has written a tale of interconnected parents and children and their secrets and lies, which begins six months before the trivia night, interspersed with the testimony of witnesses, and builds to the fatal evening. Big Little Lies is the story of families, friendships, love, rivalries, bullying (by both adults and children), and cruelty, both intentional and accidental. It is fast-paced, surprising, and very hard to put down.

Recommended by Catherine
Cover art for The Secret Place: A Novel

The Secret Place: A Novel

Written by Tana French

I've recommended Tana French before, and I'm sure I will again. The Secret Place is another gripping mystery from the Irish author, this one set in St. Kilda's boarding school for girls. Last year, Chris Harper, a student at a neighboring school for boys, was found dead on the grounds; his murder was never solved. The Secret Place opens with a new clue, and Detective Stephen Moran leaps at the chance to advance his career, and so finds himself knee-deep in the best friends, worst enemies, first loves and first heartbreaks of the teenaged students of St. Kilda's. Chapters alternate between the detectives chasing each new clue over the course of a long school day, and the events of the previous year, which lead up the the murder and its eventual solution. French keeps you guessing up to the very end.

Recommended by Catherine

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