The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

Shakespeare said it best when he wrote” what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive”   This is a taut, gripping novel of deception, financial ruin  and infidelity with lots of twists and turns to keep you guessing until the very end. Toss in a character with a major mental illness and all of this leads to a book you won’t want to put down. The kidnapping of a 6 month old baby is the catalyst for the slow unraveling of three families. This will keep you reading until well past you bedtime but it’s so worth it.

Maine by J Courtney Sullivan

A large, emotionally distant Irish Catholic family take turns returning to their childhood home to care for their elderly widowed mother. It becomes quite evident early on that the family members  have their own methods of dealing with thei issues and the overall dysfunction in the family. This dysfunction is highlighted when a secret held by the matriarch is inadvertently revealed  nvolving the Catholic Church and the family home. This is a really interesting read on family dynamics and the roles one holds in a family. There are some characters that aren’t very likable but they add an interesting angle to the story.

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

This is Milford’s latest entry in the “one book one city” series. Immigrants from a number of Latin American countries reside in one building and it’s their stories of coming to and adjusting to a new country that are the heart and soul of this novel. There is also a sweet love story  between two characters that has a Romeo and Juliet-esque  feeling to it  but with a much different ending. The reasons for the immigrants coming to the United States are as varied as the immigrants themselves: the hope for a better life, improved health care options and political freedom. This is very well written and an engrossing quick read.

The Whole Town’s Talking by Fannie Flagg

This is an enchanting tale of the founding of a small Midwestern town, its inhabitants  and a very sweet  and interesting perspective on the afterlife. Elwood Springs was founded by Swedish immigrants  and as the story unfolds the town grows along with it. This novel is full of charm and wit and a quick read. I’ve never read anything by Ms Flagg before and the question I ask myself is why did I wait so long.

While We Were Watching Downton Abbey by Wendy Wax

Come on- it’s ok to admit that you’re lost on Sunday nights  without the regal dowager countess verbally sparring with her cousin Isabel, the romantic entanglements of the Crawley daughters and the benevolent and kind Lord  and Lady Grantham trying to make sense of it all. Residents of a posh Atlanta condo building are invited by the buildings concierge to weekly screenings of this beloved series. Strangers become friends, secrets are revealed and relationships reevaluated over the course of the series run   This is a wonderful novel of women drawing strength from each other and discovering deeply buried talents

Whistling Past The Graveyard by Susan Crandall

Plucky 9 year old  Starla runs away from home to search got  her mother in Nashville. She meets Eula, a woman with her own secrets   Through their experiences Starla and Eula form a solid bond each being what the other sorely needs. There’s a lot of pain in this book but is balanced by a lot of laughter. It’s funny, sad and a sobering look at race relations in the United States: how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go.

Glory over Everything by Kathleen Grissom

Lies, deception, survival and the unbreakable bonds of love are some of the themes addressed in this novel. A follow up to her first novel The Kirchen House,  Jamie Pike is a well known  artist in Philadelphia who engages in an affair that will have ramifications for the rest of his life. This is a fast paced read as the writing is so engrossing and captivating   The novel also addresses one of the most difficult times in our nations history.

Village Books by Craig McKay

One subsection of fiction I’ve  become enamored with  is books about bookstores. Village Books is a dinosaur  in this electronic age of ereaders – an independent bookstore. Staffed by an unforgettable group of quirky bibliophiles  Village Books has an interesting mix of drama, comedy and a sweet love story. Written with humor and appreciation of the bookstore, this is a wonderful read.

The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

Pat, recently discharged from a mental institution, is struggling to rebuild his life which includes a reconciliation with his  ex-wife.. His road to recovery includes road blocks , detours and at times dead ends.   It’s a story of second chances. family ties and the search  for positivity ( silver linings) in all endeavors.

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

I love this book. Shortly before the one year anniversary of his wife’s passing Arthur discovers a  charm  bracelet in her belongings. One of the charms is an elephant which appears to have a phone number on the back. Curiosity propels Arthur to call it and there  the fun begins. Each charm represents a part of his wife’s life before they met and in the process he discovers things he never knew abut her. This is a wonderfully written book full of humor, intrigue and adventure. It’s also about growth, discovery and the hope for second chances.