The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

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Wonderful characters and a unique crisis make this novel an enticing read, but solid writing and a great plot will keep you reading to the end. Single mom, Janie, struggles to keep herself together and protect her four year-old son, Noah, as his bizarre behaviour destroys their lives. Noah panics when Janie tries to wash him, constantly shares information that he can’t possibly know, and begs to be returned to his real home and mom. In desperation Janie contacts Dr. Jerome Anderson, whose life and career is ending tragically, creating an alliance that offers hope and resolution for them all. Supernatural elements are intelligently explored and rooted in research so the mystery is solid and believable. I strongly recommend this captivating story (Submitted by Pippa).

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The Brightest Sun by Adrienne Benson

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In Benson’s debut novel, we are swept away to the world of Africa, where European settlers in the big cities live alongside traditional villages with its inhabitants and culture. Throughout the stories in this book, the thread that ties it all together is the theme of motherhood.

We meet Leona, a woman traveling from the United States to study and live among the villagers. After accidentally getting pregnant and giving birth to her daughter Adia, Leona decides to hand off raising the child to Simi, the only villager who can speak English and who yearns for a child of her own but cannot have.

Meanwhile, Jane, another Westerner, has arrived to photograph the horrors of elephant poaching. She winds up falling in love with a fellow ex-pat and the two have a daughter of their own: Grace.

Eventually, the stories of Leona, Simi, Jane, and Grace all intertwine like the gnarled roots of an African tree rising high from the desert ground. This is an epic tale of mothers and daughters, friendship, culture and colonization, family secrets, and the need to belong, all set against the backdrop of the blazing African sun (Submitted by Alan).

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The People Could Fly by Virginia Hamilton

Virginia Hamilton (a woman of colour) writes a heart-rending tale about Africans who forget how to fly on the slave ships on the way to America. But will they be able to remember? The poetic prose and soft illustrations are equally touching, and anyone who has wished they could remember how to fly will love this book. (Submitted by Rebecca O.)

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Force of Nature by Jane Harper

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Jane Harper’s first book, The Dry, took us into the punishingly hot Australian outback. Now, Detective Aaron Falk and his new partner, Carmen, are sent into the heavy, close, jungle-like Giralang Mountain Ranges.

Alice Russell, one of five women on a corporate team-building trail retreat, has disappeared. Tensions between the returning survivors are high, and Aaron and Carmen must get to the bottom of what happened – as well as hope to find Alice in a race against time and nature.

I can’t convey how excellent Harper is at creating tension and atmosphere, and I can’t convey how masterfully she balances the mystery with a sense of simmering tension. I should also mention that each of her mysteries is impressively real. The situation and characters (and detectives!) all feel natural and organic – nothing far-fetched to be found.

Engaging, human mystery with a real sense of pervasive danger set against nature’s stunning (and vicious) backdrop – this should be on your reading list. (Submitted by Veronica)

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The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

 

 immortalistsHow would your life change if you knew the date on which you will die?  This is the premise of Chloe Benjamin’s novel, The Immortalists.  It follows the lives of the Gold Family from 1960’s New York City to San Francisco in the 1980’s, Vegas in the ‘90s, to the present day in Upstate New York, and everything in between.  The trajectory of the lives of the Gold siblings is permanently altered when they meet a psychic who reveals to each of them the date they will die.  Benjamin takes us along for the ride as they grow from curious and innocent children in the summer of 1969, to adults with full and complex lives.  One by one, we discover how their lives unfold, and how knowing when the end will come both burdens and frees them in unimaginable ways.  Benjamin tackles the question of fate with clarity and heart, and I highly recommend The Immortalists for fans of thought-provoking, sweeping family sagas. (Submitted by Sarah J.)

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The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen

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As a mystery reader and audiobook fan, I love it when both combine to create the perfect literary experience. The Keeper of Lost Causes, and other works by Jussi Adler-Olsen, are available in four formats but I highly recommend the audio narrated by Erik Davies. The Keeper of Lost Causes introduces Carl Morck, a crusty Danish cop who’s recovering from a brutal shootout  that has left one of his partners dead and the other paralyzed. Unpopular with his peers, Carl is assigned to lead the newly created Department Q in Copenhagen to work on cold cases. There he battles his superiors, his guilt, personal life, and the complex, years-old case involving the disappearance of a young female politician.

All the characters, from the victim to Morck and his quirky team, quickly develop into people you want to know more about. None disappoint as they lead you through a satisfying plot to a knuckle-whitening conclusion. The great news is that there are more titles in this series, all equally as enthralling. (Submitted by Pippa)

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Circe by Madeline Miller

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I am not a Greek mythology buff by any stretch of the imagination, so you can understand my reluctance to pick up this book about the Greek goddess Circe, daughter of Helios (the Sun God).  Much to my surprise however, Madeline Miller’s Circe was completely accessible. I thought, oh boy I’m going to get confused with all the long Greek mythology names and places, but I did not have any issues at all with it. In fact, I could not put the book down and would rush home just so I could keep reading it. I wanted to keep going but at the same time, I didn’t want it to end! This is a fantastic epic about a forgotten Goddess, who truly deserves this homage. Circe is the Goddess of magic who turns men into pigs. What more do you need to know? This book delves into a wonderfully constructed backstory with cameos by some of your favourite Greek gods and goddesses. Without a doubt, Circe is a spellbinding read! (Submitted by Alan)

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