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Terry's Traffic Light Delights

These are some of Terry's favorite books of the season:


The Last Equation of Isaac Severy: A Novel in Clues Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501175121
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Touchstone Books - March 6th, 2018

Isaac Severy knew his death was imminent, so before he took matters into his own hands, he wrote his adopted granddaughter, Hazel, a cryptic note about his work, the need to destroy it, and instructions to deliver his final equation to a person who is unknown to her. It is a complete puzzle to her (as she has never liked math), made urgent because Isaac insists that more deaths will result. Hazel has always felt like a misfit among the Severy family of geniuses, mathematicians, and physicists, especially since her bookstore in Seattle is currently failing and she is living in the backroom because she has nowhere else to go. As Hazel searches for clues that will lead her to fulfill her grandfather’s last wish, many secrets about her adopted relatives begin to unfold. This is a fun and literary mystery from a debut author to watch.

The Coincidence Makers Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250146113
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: St. Martin's Press - March 6th, 2018

It may or may not be a coincidence that you are reading this review (and possibly this book). Since every coincidence is orchestrated by the Coincidence Makers (CM), it is hard to determine if free will exists at all. Enter this world where the CM class of ‘75 consists of Emily, Eric, and Guy. “The General” leads them through the steps and the foundations that allow them to work on this parallel plane, and we will see how coincidences can be manufactured and manipulated by this highly skilled group. But to what purpose, and why? You will have to read this genre-bending, unique novel to find out.

How to Stop Time Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525522874
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Viking - February 6th, 2018

Tom Hazard is 436 years old, though he looks like he is in his 40s. He was born in 1581 and, unlike the rest of us; he ages only one year every 15 years. Not only does his condition keep him young, it protects him from illness. This may sound like the ultimate immortal life, but for Tom it has been a lonely and sad existence since his wife died of The Plague in 1623.

In the late 1800s, Tom discovers that there are other people in the world with the same condition and he joins their “society” for his protection (and theirs). He finds himself living by rules that make his life, well, unlivable. But, what keeps Tom going is the hope that he will be reunited with his daughter Marion, who he believes, has inherited his condition.

The story of Tom’s life through the centuries and the famous people he meets (Shakespeare and F. Scott Fitzgerald!) is mixed seamlessly with the narrative of his current life as a history teacher (of course!) in London. Tom’s observations are a poignant commentary about the current issues of the day and the meaning of life. This is an engaging and fun read for everyone.

Need to Know Cover Image
ISBN: 9781524797027
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Published: Ballantine Books - January 23rd, 2018

It is not a (complete) spoiler to tell you that Vivian Miller’s husband is a Russian spy. You will know this within the first 30 pages. But for Vivian, this revelation is beyond uncomfortable, because it is her job at the CIA trying to uncover the Russian spy network of sleepers that have assimilated themselves into life in the U.S. And while comparisons to “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” are inevitable, you are in entirely different territory here. Vivian and Matt have been married for 10 years and have four small children. The discovery of Matt’s background and duplicity puts Vivian and her children in jeopardy as she tries to find a way to save her family and her job. The turbulent storyline is interspersed with a recounting of her past memories of falling in love with Matt and starting their life together.This is a hard-to-put-down ingenious suspense thriller

The Immortalists Cover Image
ISBN: 9780735213180
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Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - January 9th, 2018

How would you live your life if you knew the exact date you would die? In 1969, the four children of Gertie and Saul Gold— Vayra (13), Daniel (11), Klara (9), and Simon (7)—spend what may be their last summer together in the heat of New York City’s Lower East Side. When they hear about a traveling psychic who can tell them the day they will die, they cannot resist the draw to go to her. The Immortalists is the story of this family, each of the four siblings, their lives and deaths, and the love that binds them together. It is told against the background of our own history and weaves Jewish heritage and traditions seamlessly into the story narrative. It is a moving journey through life’s choices, the acceptance of who you are, and ultimately, what is most important in life. This is an exceptional book and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

As You Wish Cover Image
ISBN: 9781492642312
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Sourcebooks Fire - January 2nd, 2018

“Be careful what you wish for” takes on new meaning in this thoughtful YA debut. In the middle of the Mojave Desert, the town of Madison, Nevada has a secret. This is a secret they guard with great fervor and intent, as they know what will happen if this secret is discovered: Every citizen in Madison gets to make a wish on their eighteenth birthday, a wish that always comes true.

But, as we all know, wishes have consequences, and Eldon Wilkes has seen the results of these unintended consequences throughout his town and in his own family. With his birthday on the horizon, he is deeply conflicted. His parents are pressuring him to wish for money, which they believe will solve many of their problems. Eldon doesn’t necessarily believe that that this is the right wish for him, and he believes that wishing is the root of many of their problems. As the countdown to his birthday reduces the amount of time he has to figure this out, Eldon’s coming of age journey takes him to some unexpected places … all the way to a satisfying conclusion … at least for some.

The Wife Between Us Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250130921
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: St. Martin's Press - January 9th, 2018

An ex-wife. A future wife. The husband of their dreams.

It is the uncertainty of who each of these three really are and who is the most unstable that drives the plot and keeps us turning the pages. Hendricks and Pekkanen do a great job of keeping us guessing and surprising us when we least expect it. Fans of psychological suspense are in for a treat.

I don’t want to say too much about the plot as the discovery is part of the pleasure.

The Lonely Hearts Hotel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780735213746
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Published: Riverhead Books - January 2nd, 2018

I am sure that comparisons will be made between The Lonely Hearts Hotel and The Night Circus. Both have a sense of magic hovering in the background and introduce fascinating protagonists with unique talents and personalities. In The Lonely Hearts Hotel, Pierrot and Rose are raised in an orphanage in 1914 Montreal in the middle of the Great Depression. Both suffered early childhood trauma at the hands of the nuns who ruled the orphanage with iron fists. But in the midst of dire disparity, they find each other, discover their (almost magical) gifts, and make plans for their future. None of this plays out smoothly and their lives take discouraging turns and twists away from each other and into the depths of the Montreal criminal underworld. Ultimately, they will reunite and move toward their dream of creating entertainment that will wow their world. This book is captivating and joyful and romance rules much of the plot despite some of the dark subject matter. 

Manhattan Beach Cover Image
ISBN: 9781476716732
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Scribner Book Company - October 3rd, 2017

Set in New York City during the Second World War, this atmospheric novel centers around Anna Kerrigan and the mysterious rich man she meets when she is just nine years old. Ten years later, at 19, Anna meets that man, nightclub owner and gangster Dexter Styles, once again. By this time, she spends her days toiling away in a factory building parts for the armed forces. What do Anna and Dexter have in common? As it turns out, Anna’s father disappeared years earlier, not long after she accompanied him on a visit to the Styles home in Manhattan Beach. It is the mystery of her father’s disappearance that drives much of the narrative and plot.

Manhattan Beach is a beautiful mix of history, fascinating characters, and an examination of decisions made in extreme circumstances. The ultimate result is a book not easily forgotten and a time that is better understood with its reading.  – Terry

Gone to Dust (Nils Shapiro #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780765391285
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Forge - August 15th, 2017

I admit it. I am a sucker for a smart, sexy, funny, damaged private detective in a small town setting. And that is what I have found in Goldman’s excellent, engrossing debut. Niles Shapiro made a reputation for himself by solving a case that eluded the police several years ago. This, in combination with his long-time friendship with Edina Police detective Anders Ellegaard, brings him into a case involving a local woman who has been murdered in her home under unusual circumstances in the quiet town of Edina, Minnesota. Niles has lived in Edina all his life, knows his way around the frozen terrain, and is in touch with most of the locals. In fact, some of the people from his past become major suspects as he investigates this crime through the freezing and icy Minnesota winter. Goldman is an Emmy Award-winning television writer whose credits include writing for Seinfeld and Ellen. All of this makes for an entertaining and lively read. I can hardly wait for the second book in this sure-to-be-a-hit series. – Terry

Ginny Moon Cover Image
ISBN: 9780778330165
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Park Row - May 2nd, 2017

​ As you might imagine, I have read a number of page turners in my time. But I can honestly say that I have never been this breathless as I read and walked in the steps of this delightful, yet damaged 14-year-old autistic girl. Ginny Moon is finally living with her “forever parents” after spending most of her life either with her abusive mother or bouncing around the foster care system.  She is a handful for her new family, but they understand her special needs and have adopted her and love her.

Ginny has a substantial support system both professionally and at school, which monitors her every move. The problem is that Ginny cannot get past abandoning her “baby doll” and there is a huge miscommunication about the importance and meaning of this issue. The resulting race against time and Ginny’s ability to circumvent those who love her will leave you breathless too.

Not only is this a compulsive read, but it is also a rare insight into the thought process of an autistic child and this is priceless. Ludwig drew from his own experiences as an adoptive father to an autistic teenager. We thank him for sharing his love and his experience.

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812989908
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Dial Press - January 30th, 2018

This literary thriller is a stunner … both for its unique format and plot and for the two unforgettable characters whose lives are both heartbreaking and violent. Samuel Hawley has a turbulent and disturbing past and is the sole parent to his daughter, Loo, following the death of his wife. The circumstances surrounding the twelve bullets lodged in Hawley’s body and the story of his life is one narrative. Alternating chapters follow Loo from the age of 11 to the present day. She is precocious, brilliant, and resilient, and has inherited some of her father’s violent tendencies. After moving erratically around the country throughout their lives together, they move back to Olympus, Massachusetts, the town where her mother was raised and where her grandmother still lives. Their integration into that town is a rocky path for both of them, but ultimately brings them together in unexpected ways.

The mystery of Hawley’s past (including the death of Loo’s mother) drives both narratives in this non-stop, beautifully paced, and elegantly written novel. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

My Absolute Darling Cover Image
ISBN: 9780735211179
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - August 29th, 2017

My Absolute Darling is amazing … and scary and unsettling and disturbing … and possibly one of the most brilliant novels of the year.

 Fourteen-year-old Julie (AKA Turtle/AKA Kibble) Alveston is being raised by two chillingly dangerous men. She lives in a house that is in complete disrepair and her diet is beyond distressful. She is proficient with guns, deficient in school, and does not socialize with her peers. She does not trust her own judgement and lives in constant fear, despite the vast love she feels for both of these men. And this is the dilemma that will keep you turning the pages of this remarkable debut.

My Absolute Darling is, in fact, a terrifying book to read, but it is so brilliantly written that you cannot possibly skip the opportunity to learn about Turtle’s journey and her growth. This may also possibly be the perfect book group book with many themes to explore, including how we take care of our world and the people in it … and how we don’t.  And, Gabriel Tallent’s love for our world shines through every page.

To read My Absolute Darling is life-changing. Tallent has poured his heart, soul, and intellect into this unforgettable novel for our time.

As an added bonus, meeting Gabriel is utterly transformational.  His background is as fascinating as his unexpected/unparalleled fiction debut. You must meet him (and you can … on September 12 at a very special Ladies, Lunch, and Literacy event!) – Terry

The Blind: A Chilling Psychological Suspense Cover Image
ISBN: 9780778330875
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Park Row - September 26th, 2017

Samantha (Sam) James is a mess. She is an alcoholic, a complicit partner in domestic abuse, and completely unstable. She knows this about herself even as she continues to drink, date her boyfriend, and show up at work sleepless and incapable of clear thought … night after night and day after day. Sam has little or no self-worth and believes that this is the only life she is entitled to.

Completely in sync with her personal life, her working hours are spent trying to save other people as a way to redeem and save herself. She is the top psychologist at Typhlos, a psychiatric institution in Manhattan, and the last stop for hard to reach psychiatric patients. She prides herself in her ability to fool all of her co-workers, her boss, her patients, and her best friend, David, while maintaining her status as a superhero on the job.

You don’t want to miss this compulsive, engrossing, and outstanding debut. But, be forewarned, you will become addicted as soon as you read the first page! – Terry

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine Cover Image
ISBN: 9780735220683
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Pamela Dorman Books - May 9th, 2017

At first glance, you might think you are in for a hilarious romp with a socially inept character who is lovable by the end of the book like somewhat similar titles, The Rosie Project or A Man Called Ove. And in some ways, this comparison would be correct. But Eleanor is a more serious character with dark past and substantial work to do before she can feel comfortable with the human race. But laugh we do, because Eleanor is extraordinarily smart and funny. More importantly, we admire her courage and fortitude as she faces both the present and the past and her own coping mechanisms. More than laughter and redemption, at the end of this fine debut, we want to give her a hug. – Terry

Something Like Happy Cover Image
ISBN: 9781525811357
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Graydon House - September 5th, 2017

This may be the feel-good-book of the year, despite its dire premise and inevitable ending. Something Like Happy begins with an unlikely friendship between terminal cancer patient Polly Leonard and the barely functional Annie Hebden, who is suffering from multiple personal tragedies.

Polly has been diagnosed with a brain tumor but is determined to live her last 100 days celebrating life and everyone she comes into contact with. Annie has had a rough couple of years dealing with the loss of her son, the end of her marriage, and her mother’s early onset dementia. They meet at the hospital where Polly is extremely popular because of the joy she spreads, her glamorous fashion sense, and her positive attitude in almost total disregard of her pending demise. Annie needs a bit (okay, a lot) of convincing to work with Polly on her 100 Happy Days project, but when she does, her life begins to change. We can’t help but laugh at their antics, and the result is a book that you will find difficult to put down. No one will be untouched by this friendship and the life (and death) lessons they teach us, especially the reader.  – Terry

Magpie Murders: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062645227
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper - June 6th, 2017

I could not be more charmed by this mystery within a mystery by a master in this genre, Horowitz. From the start, you know you are in for a treat and a mystery far beyond the latest installment from fictional English sensation, Alan Conway. When Editor Susan Ryeland sits down to edit Alan’s new Atticus Pünd mystery, we are right there with her, reading along. And by the end of manuscript for this delightful/playful/somewhat satirical romp through the English countryside, we are intrigued. It will be no surprise to any mystery reader that the manuscript is incomplete, the author is dead, and our illustrious editor turns into an amateur sleuth, but the enchantment continues as we learn more about all of the characters (suspects) known by Alan Conway. Magpic Murders is fun, creative, and simply a great read.  – Terry