leaving timeAn unusual mystery novel written on several levels. While it is a book about a teen searching for her missing mother, it is also very much a book about the emotional lives of elephants. 13-year-old Jenna is determined to find out what happened to her mother who disappeared when Jenna was three years old after an elephant trampled an employee to death at an elephant sanctuary, owned and operated by her parents. With her father in a psychiatric facility, Jenna enlists the help of a psychic and a private investigator. A book about loss and grief in humans as well as elephants, the story has a dramatic twist of an ending.

The Good Lord BirdA highly entertaining, humorous historical novel of the fictitious Henry “Onion” Shackleford , a young slave, mistaken for a girl, who links up with radical abolitionist John Brown in 1856 Kansas for a rollicking ride with Brown’s crew of freedom fighters as he witnesses firsthand Brown’s doomed historic campaign. Along the way, he encounters the famous Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman as the John Brown gang make their way to the bloody Harper’s Ferry raid that helped spark the Civil War. Winner of the 2013 National Book award for Fiction.

The boys in a boatUplifting, inspirational story of nine young  men from the University of Washington who took the gold medal for rowing at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.  Sons of loggers, farmers, and miners with grit and determination, they overcame many disadvantages of their impoverished circumstances during the Depression era to row to victory.

The main character of the story is Joe Rantz , a member of the team who faced unbelievable  hardships  including the loss of his mother, the rejection by his stepmother, and finally the abandonment of his parents at a very young age, but who still persevered on to row for Washington.

The book captures a fascinating slice of history of the Depression time period and the Germans preparations of the games with Hitler at the helm.

Gripping  account  of perseverance  and teamwork that captures the heart.

Orphan-train4Two orphans' stories from different generations intertwine as they clean the elderly woman’s attic and memories from the boxes and trunks unlock the stories of her life when she was sent on one of the country’s Orphan Trains in the 1920’s. Niamh tells her story as a 91 year-old woman to the young foster teenager, whose story parallels Niamh's and the two find a strong bond through their shared connection. An uplifting story of perseverance and hope.

joyland2The story about a heart-broken college student in the 1970’s who gets away from New England and takes a job in North Carolina at a seaside amusement park called “Joyland” with a dark past. There he enters a new world that alters his life forever. The beginning of the book reads like a memoir and later develops into a murder mystery. Actually it’s a lot of things: part love story, part coming of age, part ghost story. One of Stephen King’s “softer” novels without the elements of horror as his others. Entertaining all the way through.

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