Winter House by Carol O’Connell
As Mallory and her official and unofficial partners, Riker and Charles Butler, investigate, a remarkable story begins to emerge – one of murderous greed and family horror, abandonment and loss, revenge and twisted love – a ghost story peopled by all-too-real flesh and blood. And in the end, though more people will die, and not well, it is Mallory herself will be most changed. Filled with the intricate plotting, resonant characters, and extraordinarily rich prose that are her hallmarks, Winter House is O’Connell’s most powerful – and most astonishing – novel yet.
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Those memorable days of push lawn mowers, corner grocery stores, big-band music, burning leaves and filling stations that check the oil and wash the windshield. On this nostalgic canvas, Stanley West has set his riveting and heartwarming novel, the devastating story of young Sandy Meyer. Bright and outgoing, having grown up through the Great Depression and the World War II year, she is suddenly give one perplexing clue to her past that sets her on an incredible and harrowing journey in search of her lost family. A pilgrimage that brings her face to face with nerve-shattering suspense, unbearable terror and the magnificent capacity of the human heart. Surrounded by juicy and wacky characters, and without the knowledge of her adoptive parents, her devil-may-care friends or the boy she desperately loves, she summons the courage to doggedly follow where the faint trail leads. When she stumbles upon the buried past and long-hidden treachery, she is confronted by and evil that knows her by name and drawn into a darkness she never knew existed. Tenaciously refusing to quit, she discovers a heart-breaking heroism and an extraordinary triumph that changes her life forever.
With the elegant economy of scenes glimpsed from a moving train, this extraordinary novel portrays one woman’s trajectory through life in episodes as haunting as dreams remembered. A single image – fine leather gloves strewn across the landscape by Nazi soldiers – speaks to us as powerfully as the more sweeping events of Anna’s life. Not since D. M. Thomas’s The White Hotel has there been a novel of such elegiac, heart stirring beauty. It is a portrait with all the richness and exactitude of a Vermeer and the resonance of Anna’s own music.
Jessica is beside herself when Mr. O’Brien chooses her to be Daphne’s partner in the seventh grade Write-a-Book contest. All the kids at school think Daphne is strange. She dresses bizarre, mismatched clothes and she never speaks to anyone. Jessica is in for a pleasant surprise, though, when she spends magical afternoons working on the book with Daphne and her little sister, Hope. As their friendship deepens and Jessica begins to see beyond Daphne’s surface, she also comes to discover a tragic secret that Daphne must keep hidden from the world. Jessica promises never to tell anyone. But when the secret becomes a serious threat to Daphne and Hope, Jessica is torn between protecting her friendship with Daphne, and doing what she knows she must do. With warmth, humor, and finely wrought characterizations, Mary Downing Hahn weaves a poignant story that explores the limits of caring and responsibility.
Taking us from Afghanistan in the final days of the monarchy to the present, The Kite Runner is the unforgettable, beautifully told story of the friendship between two young boys growing up n Kabul. Rasided in the same household and sharing the same wet nurse, Amir and Hassan nonetheless grow up in different worlds: Amir is the son of a prominent and wealthy man, while Hassan, the son of Amir’s father’s servent, is a Hazara, member of a shunned ethnic minority. Their intertwined lives, and their fates, reflect the eventual tragedy of the world around them. When the Soviets invade and Amir and his father flee the country of a new life in California, Amir thinks that he has escaped his past. And yet he cannot leave the memory of Hassan behind him. The Kite Runner is a novel about friendship, betrayal, and the price of loyalty. It is about the bonds between fathers and sons, and the power of fathers over sons – their love, their sacrifices, and their lies. Written against a backdrop of history that has not been told in fiction before, The Kite Runner describes the rich culture and beauty of a land in the process of being destroyed. But with the devestation, Khaled Hosseini also gives us hope: through the novel’s faith in power of reading and storytelling, and in the possibilities he shows for redemption.