Books I Love

"The habit of regular reading awakens something inside a person that makes him or her take their own life more seriously and at the same time develops the sense that other people's lives are real." - NEA chairman Dana Gioia

This list is in no particular order, click on the title to get your own copy:

The Historian -Elizabeth Kostova
The story opens in Amsterdam in 1972, when a teenage girl discovers a medieval book and a cache of yellowed letters in her diplomat father's library. The pages of the book are empty except for a woodcut of a dragon. The letters are addressed to: "My dear and unfortunate successor." When the girl confronts her father, he reluctantly confesses an unsettling story: his involvement, twenty years earlier, in a search for his graduate school mentor, who disappeared from his office only moments after confiding to Paul his certainty that Dracula--Vlad the Impaler, an inventively cruel ruler of Wallachia in the mid-15th century--was still alive. The story turns out to concern our narrator directly because Paul's collaborator in the search was a fellow student named Helen Rossi (the unacknowledged daughter of his mentor) and our narrator's long-dead mother, about whom she knows almost nothing. And then her father, leaving just a note, disappears also.
As well as numerous settings, both in and out of the East Bloc, Kostova has three basic story lines to keep straight--one from 1930, when Professor Bartolomew Rossi begins his dangerous research into Dracula, one from 1950, when Professor Rossi's student Paul takes up the scent, and the main narrative from 1972. The criss-crossing story lines mirror the political advances, retreats, triumphs, and losses that shaped Dracula's beleaguered homeland--sometimes with the Byzantines on top, sometimes the Ottomans, sometimes the rag-tag local tribes, or the Orthodox church, and sometimes a fresh conqueror like the Soviet Union. - Synopses from

By The Sword- Mercedes Lackey
Granddaughter of the sorceress Kethry, daughter of a noble house, Kerowyn had been forced to run the family keep since her mother's untimely death. Yet now at last her brother was preparing to wed, and when his bride became the lady of the keep, Kerowyn could return to her true enjoyments - training horses and hunting. But all Kerowyn's hopes and plans were shattered when her ancestral home was attacked, her father slain, her brother wounded, and his fiancee kidnapped. Drive by desperation and the knowledge that a sorcerer had led the journey which would prove but the first step on the road to the fulfillment of her destiny.- Synopses from

The Devil in the White City-Eric Larson
Author Erik Larson imbues the incredible events surrounding the 1893 Chicago World's Fair with such drama that readers may find themselves checking the book's categorization to be sure that The Devil in the White City is not, in fact, a highly imaginative novel. Larson tells the stories of two men: Daniel H. Burnham, the architect responsible for the fair's construction, and H.H. Holmes, a serial killer masquerading as a charming doctor. Burnham's challenge was immense. In a short period of time, he was forced to overcome the death of his partner and numerous other obstacles to construct the famous "White City" around which the fair was built. His efforts to complete the project, and the fair's incredible success, are skillfully related along with entertaining appearances by such notables as Buffalo Bill Cody, Susan B. Anthony, and Thomas Edison. The activities of the sinister Dr. Holmes, who is believed to be responsible for scores of murders around the time of the fair, are equally remarkable. He devised and erected the World's Fair Hotel, complete with crematorium and gas chamber, near the fairgrounds and used the event as well as his own charismatic personality to lure victims. Combining the stories of an architect and a killer in one book, mostly in alternating chapters, seems like an odd choice but it works. The magical appeal and horrifying dark side of 19th-century Chicago are both revealed through Larson's skillful writing. - Synopses from

Letters to a Skeptic-Dr. Gregory Byod
Edward Boyd's agnosticism rested "not ... too much on any positive position ... but rather on a host of negative ones" about Christianity. In an attempt to address these negative issues, his son Greg, a professor of theology, asked his father, a strong-willed, highly intelligent, and stubborn 70-year-old, to enter into a correspondence in which "all of their cards would be laid on the table." Greg would give his father the opportunity to raise all his objections to the veracity of Christianity, and Greg would "answer these objections as well as give positive grounds for holding to the Christian faith."
Three years and more than 30 letters later, Letters from a Skeptic was published and Edward Boyd came to accept Christ. During his journey, he and his son hash through such topics as why the world is so full of suffering; why an all-powerful God needs prayer; how you can believe in someone who rose from the dead; and how another man's death can pardon others. Despite their brutal honesty, both men exhibit respect and love toward one another as they address these volatile subjects. In Edward's second response to Greg, he boldly says, "Well, your distinction between the 'Christian Church' and 'Christians' is interesting and novel, but frankly, I don't buy it." Greg responds, saying, "I've got to admit that you are raising some extremely good points in your letters. You are raising the most difficult questions a theist can face." - Synopses from

The O'Malley Series - Dee Henderson
(Start with the prequel)The O'Malleys are a close-knit clan of seven men and women who have held together against all obstacles by depending on one another. They have each successfully taken on the challenge of a high-risk profession, heroically dealing with life-and-death situations every day. But when cancer strikes their sister Jennifer, can the family survive a crisis that threatens one of their own? The Negotiator , Book 1 FBI Agent Dave Richman never intended to fall in love with Kate O'Malley. As a hostage negotiator, Kate is willing to walk into any situation to save lives. When an airliner explodes, Kate is faced with the shocking evidence that the bomber may be someone she knows. And Dave is about to discover that loving a hostage negotiator is one thing, but protecting her is another matter entirely. The Guardian, Book 2 A federal judge has been murdered. There is only one witness, and someone wants her dead. U.S. Marshal Marcus O'Malley has been the guardian of the O'Malley family for twenty years. Now he'll have to risk everything to protect a woman being hunted by an elusive assassin. Marcus thought he knew the risks of the assignment going in...until he fell in love. The Truth Seeker, Book 3 Women are turning up dead. And when forensic pathologist Lisa O'Malley digs into the crimes, trouble is soon to follow. U.S. Marshal Quinn Diamond needs Lisa's help with an investigation, but he never planned to put her in danger. Where their cases intersect is a killer who will stop at nothing to see his secret remain buried - Synopses from

In the Time of the Butterflies - Julia Alvarez
During the last days of the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic, three young women, members of a conservative, pious Catholic family, who had become committed to the revolutionary overthrow of the regime, were ambushed and assassinated as they drove back from visiting their jailed husbands. Thus martyred, the Mirabal sisters have become mythical figures in their country, where they are known as las mariposas (the butterflies), from their underground code names. Herself a native of the Dominican Republic, Alvarez ( How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents ) has fictionalized their story in a narrative that starts slowly but builds to a gripping intensity. Each of the girls--Patria, Minerva and Maria Terese (Mate) Mirabal--speaks in her own voice, beginning in their girlhood in the 1940s; their surviving sister, Dede, frames the narrative with her own tale of suffering and dedication to their memory. To differentiate their personalities and the ways they came to acquire revolutionary fervor, Alvarez takes the risk of describing their early lives in leisurely detail, somewhat slowing the narrative momentum. In particular, the giddy, childish diary entries of Mate, the youngest, may seem irritatingly mundane at first, but in time Mate's heroism becomes the most moving of all, as the sisters endure the arrests of their husbands, their own imprisonment and the inexorable progress of Trujillo's revenge. Alvarez captures the terrorized atmosphere of a police state, in which people live under the sword of terrible fear and atrocities cannot be acknowledged. As the sisters' energetic fervor turns to anguish, Alvarez conveys their courage and their desperation, and the full import of their tragedy. - Synopses from

Sherlock Holmes - By Sir Arthor Conan Doyle (and most others who have written about the Famous Detective like this Minnesota guy) (I have read all 4 novels and 56 short stories twice once as I bought them and then again in order of how they were written.) As the reader wades past the tense introductions of A Study in Scarlet and moves towards such classic tales as The Hound of the Baskervilles, "The Adventure of the Speckled Band," and "The Final Problem," she is sure to draw her own conclusions about Holmes's veiled past and his quirky relationship with his "Boswell," Watson. Doyle never revealed much about Holmes's early life, but the joy of reading the complete Holmes is assembling the trivia of each story into something like a portrait of the detective and his creator. By the end of the long journey through London and across Europe (with a long stopover at Reichenbach Falls), one is apt to have found a friend for life. - Synopses from

Cathy Marie Hake: This author's books are a great light read. She specializes in Christian romance. Normally romance is not my first choice in book genres, but Hake keeps me coming back. Her series set in Texas makes me want to figure out a way to live in that fictional town. Start with Fancy Pants and read all of them
Back cover of Fancy Pants: When "Big Tim" Creighton spies the mincing fop headed toward Forsaken Ranch, he is appalled. Thankful his boss isn't around to witness the arrival of his kin, Tim decides he'll turn "Fancy Pants" Hathwell into a man worthy of respect. Lady Sydney Hathwell never intended to don men's attire, but when her uncle mistakenly assumed she was a male, the answer to her problems seemed clear. Her disguise as "Syd" was meant to be temporary...but the arranged marriage she's fleeing, her uncle's attitude toward the fairer sex--and her own pride--compel her to continue the guise far longer than she had intended. When her deception is exposed, will she be forced to abandon her hopes for family...and true love?

I am sure I will add to the list.

This is not a paid endorsement.
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