I like Danielle Steel, when I want a quick and easy read, so I picked up one of her latest novels. Ginny, a former TV news anchor with a painful past is now travelling the world’s most dangerous places, helping those in the direst need. On the anniversary of the tragedy of her family, she decides to end her life by jumping off the bridge into a river, but a chance encounter with a young homeless boy named Blue stops her at the last minute. She starts bonding with him, taking him in and taking care of him. Blue has no one in the whole world, except his Aunt who is not interested in taking care of him, and he does not trust that Ginny is. And on top of everything, secrets about molestations by a beloved church priest start to resurface… (Submitted by Monika).
Ava is a middle-aged woman whose content, suburban life has quietly come apart. Her husband has left her for another woman; she suspects her troubled daughter Maggie is making poor decisions while studying in Florence; and her son is far away in Africa. When Ava’s best friend Cate convinces her to join the library’s book club, Ava is dubious about how much it will help. Of course, the power of books is not to be underestimated, especially when the book club’s yearly theme is revealed: each month, a member will choose the book that mattered most to him/her in their life.
Not just a comforting book about books; this book has surprising depth. The characters are flawed and more human than I expected, and there were quite a few layers to the plot. I especially liked the different perspectives of Ava and Maggie. The loose ends were all tied up a bit too neatly and prettily (and improbably, in a few cases) but that’s what makes a comforting read comforting. A totally enjoyable read, perfect for a snowy, relaxing day off! (Submitted by Veronica).
I was told to read The Martian by outside sources which initially made me resist the idea (as did the imminent movie and general dislike for mass consumption Sci Fi novels). This was a mistake. By far my favourite read of 2015, The Martian exceeded my expectations. Told through the voice of Mark Watney, a sarcastic Botonist/Astronaut/General Fix-it Man, the reader is swept into a survival story like none before: survival on Mars! Mark Watney is abandoned on Mars after a sandstorm separates him from his crew. He must employ his considerable skills to survive and possibly make it back to earth. Andy Weir manages to combine plausible science and edge of your seat drama to write this compelling tale. The constant cliff hangers and hilarious wit of Mark Watney made this not only a read all night book, but also a read twice in one week book! (Submitted by CB).
At first this sounds like a dark story as it’s about an elderly widower who decides to commit suicide. However, it’s actually a charming, comical and heartwarming story of a curmudgeonly old man who never manages to commit suicide as his needy neighbours keep showing up at his doorstep asking him to help them. He acquiesces repeatedly providing rides to the hospital, cat sitting, driving lessons, apartment repair, etc. and after a while his life is full again. This is definitely a contender for the best book I read in 2015. Originally written in Swedish. (Submitted by KA)
Meet Me at The Emotional Baggage Claim by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella was a humorously written selection of short essays on various topics narrated by mother and daughter. If you are about to go on a road trip with your mom or daughter, this audiobook will make a great read for both of you. This book truly warmed my heart and made me laugh many times. I found myself longing to share similar experiences with mom. (Submitted by Ilona).
At the outbreak of World War 2, the blind Marie-Laure and her father escape the city to the coastal town of Saint-Malo to seek safety with her Uncle. Her story is contrasted by Werner the German orphan who is recruited into the German army because of his abilities with radios. The stories of Marie-Laure and Werner bounce back and forth between the chapters until they finally converge. What I liked most about this story was the detail into Marie-Laure’s life. The way her father designed a scale model of their neighborhood so she could memorize routes and landmarks to help her get around on her own. (Submitted by Braden)
Amanda, a Canadian freelance journalist from Alberta, likes traveling around the world. She visits Kabul, Baghdad, Addis Ababa, Cairo, and finally, Somalia, where she is a captured and kept in captivity for 460 days. The book is a moving account of how Amanda stayed alive and how strength, endurance and the spirit of forgiveness can help a person to survive even the darkest moments. I was really inspired and touched by the journey Amanda has made and her willingness to share this story and to forgive her abusers. (Submitted by Ilona)