Need Book Suggestions

texanjanaJanuary 19, 2013

I am usually quite an avid reader, but the only thing I have been reading lately are travel books. What have you read in the last month or two that you enjoyed? I always love the book recs here.

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The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton. Loved it. Also read Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood..... Wolf Hall was excellent.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2013 at 10:53PM
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The End of Your Life Bookclub.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2013 at 11:02PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I keep waiting for the author to write her 2nd as I so enjoyed her first, but none so far...other than rumors of a novella that may be published this year: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Sutterfield...

    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 7:37AM
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I'm addicted to historical fiction and other writings on Medieval England. It's so bad, I was given some interesting books for Christmas on other topics, but I keep ordering books about this period. I think I need an intervention. lol.

Right now I'm reading books on the 15th century about the Wars of the Roses which is fascinating. I avoided the story for a long time but I finally gave in and I'm glad I did.

It all began with Allison Weir's "The Six Wive's of Henry VIII."

    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 7:48AM
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Bestyears, I was going to recommend The End of Your Life Book club too. Got it from the library Friday and inhaled it, finishing (late) last night. Wonderful, wonderful book.

I also just finished The Fault in Our Stars which is a love story about teenagers facing a serious illness. A tearjerker but excellent. Only caveat is the dialogue which is mostly composed of lines spoken by no teenager ever, but that's relatively minor in the context of a very moving book.

Oakley if you don't mind graphic sex and violence check out the Song of Ice and Fire series (aka Game of Thrones). I got sucked into them this summer although I am not a fantasy genre fan. The books are based on the War of the Roses era and have incredibly well written plotting and characterization. This is independent of the HBO series which I've not watched because I tend to prefer to have my own images of literary characters.

Recently finished The Odds, A Love Story by Stewart O'Nan--what an unfortunate surname! A novella about a long married couple facing financial ruin and relationship angst. Very well written and a quick read.

The Light Between Oceans was also a good read, and thought provoking. A novel about a couple living on a remote island off Australia post WWW-I, and a fateful decision they make that affects many lives.

Cooking for Gracie was very sweet. A memoir from a NYT editor and enthusiastic amateur chef about the first year or so of his daughter's life.

I have already recommended Where'd You Go Bernadette but I'll mention it again. Loved this one; a comic-with-serious-undertones book about a misfit mom in Seattle, her genius Microsoft husband and their teenage daughter. Wonderful send up of private school helicopter parents, as well as a serious look at choices people make, and relationships including the mother-daughter bond. Cleverly written too in epistolary style that includes notes, email, FBI reports(!), etc.

Beautiful Ruins was also excellent. This made quite a few best books of the year lists and deservedly so. I wasn't sure I"d like it but it was wonderful.

The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving-about a former SAHD(ad) who has literally lost his entire family and is now eking out a living as an attendant to a teenage boy with CP. A road trip novel and one that had moments of humor amidst a very serious theme.

Would it Kill You to Stop Doing That, A Modern Guide to Manners was just so funny! That along with some good advice and insights puts that on the list as a good read too.

The titles above are ones I've finished. On my bookshelf or next to my bed waiting are:

Behind the Beautiful Forevers, a non fiction book about life in the slums of India that is supposed to be almost a Dickensian look at people surviving in terribly difficult circumstances.

Quiet, the Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking-would probably be of great interest to many here who write about being on the introversion end of the scale.

Hope some of these are of interest...reading is the gift that keeps on giving isn't it?!


    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 9:51AM
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Thank you for that great list Ann! Off to update my Goodreads now... I have "Where'd You Go Bernadette" out from the library, on audio CD, waiting for me in my sewing room right now. Behind the Beautiful Forevers is already on my list, as is Quiet, but I'm eager to add the others. Thanks!

    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 10:36AM
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I'm getting ready to read "The Bronze Horseman" by Paulina Simons. Anyone read that one yet?

    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 10:50AM
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Ann, we watch GOT, and everyone in my family read all the books except me. Come to think of it, GOT is like War of the Roses, or I prefer "Wars" because it went on and on. lol I'm glad you mentioned it because I never would have put 2 & 2 together.

Two Christmases ago I bought my son a "Stark" family insignia for his study, and he loves it!

    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 12:23PM
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Based on recommendations from one of these book threads, I bought the first GoT book for my Nook. I like to get lost in a series so I had high hopes after reading so many of you liked the books. I stopped reading about half way through the book. I just wasn't interested but kept reading for another 300 pages hoping I'd get hooked. It's been weeks, if not months, since I put it aside and I doubt I'll ever get back to it.

For book club, I'm reading Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore. It's odd but also funny and I'm enjoying it.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 1:09PM
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I see a couple I want to check out! Here's a few I've enjoyed lately.

Death of an artist
Wilhelm, Kate

Bailout : an inside account of how Washington abandoned main street while rescuing Wall Street
Barofsky, Neil M.

Dear life : stories
Munro, Alice,

The Black house
May, Peter

Creole belle
James Lee Burke

    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 1:38PM
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Thanks for all of the great recommendations. I really need to take a break from trip planning.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 3:54PM
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I've just started Nassim Nicholas Taleb's Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder. I'm not very far into it, but so far, so good.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 5:40PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Lately I've been reading Frederick Forsyth whom I haven't read before, and am really enjoying his books. I just finished Icon and it was great.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 7:52PM
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I'll join Ann in recommending The Light Between Oceans. It's heartbreaking, beautiful, and ultimately very satisfying.

If you like mysteries at all, consider the Armand Gamache series by Louise Penney. A delightful hero, well written characters, interesting relationships, and charming setting in Quebec.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 10:49PM
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Am currently reading Ken Follett's Winter of the World, the sequel to his Fall of Giants, and am loving this story! Five fictional families, Brit, Welsh, American, Russian, and German, caught up in 20th century Big History (WW1, the Russian Revolution, WW2, and the Cold War), for me, very excitingly told. Family members meet, sometimes in unlikely circumstances, amidst romances, feuds, heroics, and betrayals, all described within the context of well and clearly-written history.

Follett also writes thrillers; I remember very much enjoying The Key to Rebecca.

DeeDee - you read Kate Wilhelm? She's a favorite mystery writer of mine; I loved her Barbara Holloway series.

Bubblebeez - Have you read Forsyth's The Day of the Jackal? That's a great book, and so is the movie made from it!

    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 3:05AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

A most touching book I read was "In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer" by Irene Opdyke....her story of how she managed to save some Jews from the Nazis. Amazing stuff.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 9:28AM
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Hey sable_ca, I started reading Kate Wilhelm (along with her dh, Damon Knight) years ago when I was on a Sci-fi kick. I hadn't read her for quite some time and was so pleased with her newest (which was not Sci-fi). Thanks for the heads up about the Barbara Holloway series. I'll look for those soon.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 11:43AM
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Just joined a book club, and since we live in Central OH I believe the host chose this book because it was based here and by a local author. "The Things That Keep Us Here" by Carla Buckley

It was actually quite good and thought provoking. I would recommend it - it's about how a family survives during a pandemic, makes you do some thinking about what you would do if this occurred in your lifetime. Choices you'd make etc.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Things That Keep Us Here

    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 12:46PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Hi Sable, actually I am in the middle of Day of the Jackal and am finding it incredibly dull. I know it's his most lauded work, along with the Odessa file- which I haven't read- so I'm trying.
I gave up on Ken Follet after Pillars of the Earth ( and I even watched some of the horrible ministries because I like Matthew McFadyen) but I loved all his earlier works. I've read all his books though but I think my taste has changed.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 6:13PM
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Deedee - Not being a reader of sci-fi, I didn't know about that Wilhelm genre when I discovered her. I found her after a family member moved to Eugene, OR, and there was a Barbara Holloway mystery in a local bookstore. All the Holloway stories are set in Eugene and its environs, and my own attachment to the town is no doubt a major reason why I liike her so much. In the best books of the series Holloway reveals the perp via a devastating take-down during cross-examination. I read the series from the beginning - the first, Death Qualified, does involve sci-fi - chaos theory come to life. Although the action can be pretty cold, there is a "cozy mystery" sense as well, as Holloway has a very close relationship with her father, and there is a fair amount of cooking, eating, and cat-petting that goes on!

Bumblebeez - Good that we aren't in the same book club! : > ) I had heard only raves about Pillars of the Earth, but decided to skip it because of the setting in the Middle Ages (not my favorite era), and skipped the miniseries because I'd read that it was very violent. I read Fall of Giants because of an interest in WW1 and the Russian Revolution, and have continued along, what with his cast of characters getting themselves into so much trouble.

Am not sure that your taste has changed - quite a few online reviewers write that it's Follett's style that has changed, slower and not as complex. I hope that you enjoy The Odessa File - a story taken from actual events in the Middle East and Europe.

Here is a link that might be useful: Holloway series in order

    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 11:02PM
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sable_ca, that series looks like something I would enjoy. Cooking, eating, and cat-petting are perfect partners in a mystery novel. Thanks again!

    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 11:47AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Sable, Pillars was great! Imo, that was his last great book although maybe my taste has changed...

    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 12:15PM
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I read The Kitchen House two summers ago and it's still one of the best books I've ever read. I may even read it again someday.

Just finished "Heads In Beds" about the hotel industry, sort of an expose I guess. The author isn't the most likable guy, but as a frequent traveler, I found it interesting and eye-opening.

I have loved Lisa Genova's books: Still Alice, and Left Neglected. I think she may have a third one out, but not sure.

Defending Jacob was great, as was Gone Girl. Both kept me up reading too late at night!

    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 12:51PM
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sueb20, too funny, I just started The Kitchen House last night. Love it!

    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 4:11PM
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Speaking of House books, I forgot to mention one I haven't read but am waiting for: The Round House by Louise Erdrich. It has gotten rave reviews.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 4:40PM
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Glad to see so many suggestions. The last few books I've read were just ok, nothing I'd highly recommend. Not horrible, just not great.

Sueb, I loved The Kitchen House! I read that this summer. I also read Defending Jacob and Gone Girl this summer. I liked Defending Jacob, but did not like Gone Girl at all. Started off well, but could not stand the characters and it started to get too contrived as it got closer to the end. Another thriller I read that I did like was Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson.

Oh, I forgot one that I read recently that I did like - The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay.

Books I read this summer that I liked: The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley and Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa. Mornings is written from the Palestinian perspective so some might not appreciate it but it really affected me. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh and The History of Love by Nicole Krauss.

I love these book threads!

    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 4:41PM
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Another book thread. Yay! I have recently been adding "to read"s to my Goodreads list and now can add some more.

I just finished Three Came Home by Agnes Newton Keith. It's a memoir of life in a internment camp in Borneo during WWII. Very interesting.

Over the past month I have begun and then abandoned two books. I don't like not finishing books but sometimes it just seems the right thing to do. I'm looking forward to reading To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf next.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 5:22PM
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Another fan of the Kitchen House.

Recent books I've read and loved are
My Name is Mary Suter a story of a midwife who would like to be a physician and comes to Washington during the Civil War to help heal the soldiers.

The Flight of Gemma Hardy
One Thousand White Women

The Leisure Seeker, about an 80 year old couple who go cross country in their Leisure Seeker ( like a Winnebago) for one last vacation in Disney Land. I Loved, loved ,loved this book. It was recommended by someone here.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 7:00PM
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Rosesstink, I used to force myself to finish books even if I didn't like them. However, now that my time to read is much more limited, I've decided that there are too many good books that I want to read that if I can't get into a book, I'll put it aside and try something else.

Denali, I liked the Flight of Gemma Hardy also. I forgot about that one!

I have The Leisure Seeker on my goodreads list after reading about it on this board. Can't wait to read it.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 7:09PM
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I just started The Leisure Seekers! Very cute so far.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 7:28PM
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I think I suggested The Leisure Seeker, after reading another book by the same author that someone else recommended-Second Hand. Both were very good.

I actually read Gone Girl twice, once for myself then again when my book club picked it. I enjoyed it very much and on second reading picked up a lot more depth. Thought the author did a masterful job in writing about the ways in which couples view each other, what we 'show' our partners, how we reveal the essence of our selves, how our families affect how we behave in our marriages etc etc. Then too once I could read already knowing the plot details and thus not eagerly gobbling to find out what would happen next, it was easier to appreciate just how cleverly written the book really is. Quite a few of the book club members didn't like it because they detested the couple, but that didn't bother me as much. I've read both of Gillian Flynn's other books, which were dark dark dark. This one really was a corker.

I liked Defending Jacob also. For those who enjoyed it, you might want to try We Need to Talk about Kevin. Chilling and spellbinding. Another dark but wonderful book was Cost by Roxane Robinson. This is about a family with a son who is a heroin addict. I can't say I know from direct experience but the writing is incredibly evocative and I suspect must capture the essence of this awful and tragic experience.

Speaking of suspense, I"m on the library wait list now for Michael Connelly's latest The Black Box. If anyone enjoys great, suspenseful and exceedingly well written series fiction of the hard boiled lawman genre, the Harry Bosch series is absolute perfection. Connelly's protagonist has been on the LA police force for 20 or so years, and books, now. The character has deepened as he has aged and every book is a deserved best seller.

I'm also waiting for Tell the Wolves I'm Home which is about a girl whose uncle dies of AIDS, and Canada which is Richard Ford's latest. Both got excellent reviews.

Just downladed my first library ebook, Barbara Kingsolver's latest Flight Behavior. I find her work hit/miss and didn't really care for Animal Vegetable Miracle. Oh well, I'll see how I like this one.

For historical fiction, Sarah Dunant has written some great books. I know she also does a series but I liked The Birth of Venus and In the Company of the Courtesan. Sacred Hearts is good as well. I enjoy well written history with a woman's perspective. My all time favorite is Great Maria by Cecelia Holland. I first read it as a teenager and have returned over the years and every reading is as enjoyable as the first. Actually probably better as I've gotten older, had children of my own, and so on. It was out of print for years but is out again. Well worth reading.

In non fiction I liked Killer Stuff and Tons of Money: Seeking History and Hidden Gems in Flea-Market America. A fascinating look at a guy who has been in the business for decades and how he operates. I suspect many on this forum will enjoy a peek behind the scenes of this business!

    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 9:14PM
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Collections of short stories are nice for a change of pace, especially if you only have time to read in spurts here & there. I'm enjoying The Stories of John Cheever, 61 stories mostly set in my neck of the woods, all beautifully written. (I predict reading another biography after finishing the short stories: Cheever led interesting overt & covert lives.)

    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 8:30AM
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Bumblebeez, sorry you're not enjoying the novel, but the Fred Zinnemann movie of The Day of the Jackal is one of my all-time favorites. (And to think Fred Zinnemann did "Oklahoma!" too! -- fantastic director who could do any genre). Don't feel guilty if you want to ditch the dull novel for a great movie version of it :P

    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 8:43AM
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The first few books in the Odd Thomas series by Dean Koontz are great if you like a dry sense of humor. The books toward the end of the series that are out right now are getting a little too weird.

Also, although considered fantasy books, the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne are great. Also a dry sense of humor and the mind conversations he has with his dog are hilarious.

I've been checking out the Virgin River Novels by Robyn Carr from the library's digital catalog. Quite a few books in the series. Might be considered romance books but I love the way they describe the scenery and way of life in a small mountain town in CA. Sounds like a wonderful way of life.


    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 11:20AM
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awm03 - I enjoy short stories too. Tobias Wolff and Alice Munro are two of my favorite short story authors. Who are yours?

Anyone else care to share their favorite short story writers?

    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 7:02PM
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roses, actually this is the first time in years that I've read short stories, which is why I'm enjoying them so much. It's a rediscovery. So no favorites as of yet. Will definitely take look at Tobias Wolff and Alice Munro after finishing Cheever. Thanks for mentioning!

    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 7:28PM
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Sorry I haven't read the other replies.

Here's a few -
Casual Vacancy
Cloud Atlas
The People of Paper.

BTW, Goodreads is a very good place to get ideas.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 8:14PM
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Just finished The Fault in Our Stars. Sad but really enjoyed it. And protagonist quotes Prufrock.. Guaranteed to draw me in. "Let us go now, you and I"

    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 3:00AM
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Also a fan of The Kitchen House. Couldn't put it down!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 7:41AM
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For those who like short fiction and nonfiction, I thought I'd mention that Amazon has the Kindle versions of seven titles in the "Best American" series (short stories, essays, mystery stories, science & nature writing, travel writing, etc.) on sale today only for $1.99 each.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 4:22PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I have to say, I tried The Kitchen House last year and didn't like it. I did read it all but can't remember any of it. To me, unremarkable- I read favorites over and over, and over... What I learn from these book threads, is like decorating, we all have different tastes!
But I so appreciate the input here and I do make book lists from these threads.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 4:38PM
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Awm03 - Yes yes yes to mentioning the film of The Day of the Jackal! Edward Fox is one the great villains of all time - such class, such efficiency, such evil. A great film that is never "dated".

    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 6:06PM
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Kiki_thinking, I lovvvve that poem. A Prufrock quoter would draw me in too.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 6:12PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Awm, after chapter three, the book really took off for me (he's heavy on the acronyms) and I ended up thinking overall it was great. I finished it last night and will eventually watch the movie.
The writing was so good, so many current thrillers don't even come close.
It wasn't a book that I had to spend 2 days reading like a rabid dog but something I read every night and greatly looked forward to that reading time.
And I appreciated his lack of personal fuzziness with the characters.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 9:40PM
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I've just finished reading Barbara Walter's autobiography, "Audition". I've always been a huge lover of good biographies and autobiographies and have read too many to count over the years. But, I have to say that this one by Barbara Walters is by far the best, most interesting one I have ever read . . . hands down! It's an easy read with many , many great photos. Long, although it was so interesting that I wished it had gone on for another 100 pages. She has met , interviewed and befriended some of the world's most fascinating people and, after finishing her book, I'm convinced that she's the most fascinating person of all of them. I totally loved this book!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 12:30PM
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For those who like historical novels with an excellent story line, read ATONEMENT by Ian Mcewan. Incredible writer and wonderful story.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 1:19PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Didn't you mean to post that under the "weepers" thread yayagal? ;-)

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 2:47PM
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Some great suggestions here! Thanks for helping me plump up my reading list, including Heads in Beds and The Kitchen House.

Just finished The Round House last night, loved it. Also liked Where'd You Go, Bernadette and Beautiful Ruins.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 9:10PM
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