Title: Beautiful Player
Author: Christina Lauren. This is the third book in her Beautiful Bastard series.
Readers: Day care teacher EMarie, retiree Nancy, teacher Ninian, attorney Rochelle and at-home parent Colleen B.
Summary: When Hanna Bergstrom receives a lecture from her overprotective brother about neglecting her social life and burying herself in grad school, she’s determined to tackle his implied assignment: get out, make friends, start dating. And who better to turn her into the sultry siren every man wants than her brother’s gorgeous best friend, Will Sumner, venture capitalist and unapologetic playboy?
Will takes risks for a living, but he’s skeptical about this challenge of Hanna’s…until the wild night his innocently seductive pupil tempts him into bed- and teaches him a thing or two about being with a woman he can’t forget. Now that Hanna’s discovered the power of her own sex appeal, it’s up to Will to prove he’s the only man she’ll ever need.
Our Take: It’s a split. Romance readers EMarie gives it a big thumbs up as does newbie Rochelle. But Fifty Shades lover Nancy thought it was derivative, as did Ninian, also new to romance novels. But everyone seems to agree that the male/female double narration is a great device.
Title: The Last Winter of Dani Lancing
Author: P. D. Viner. This is his first novel.
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Readers: Professor Michal, at-home parent Katie, teachers Ninian and Shannon.
Summary: Twenty years ago, college student Dani Lancing was kidnapped and brutally murdered. The killer was never found, and the case has long gone cold. Her parents, Patty and Jim, were utterly devastated, their marriage destroyed. While Jim fell apart, Patty was consumed by the unsolved case. She abandoned her journalism career and her marriage to spend every waking hour searching and plotting. She keeps contact with Tom, Dani’s childhood sweetheart, who has become a detective intent on solving murders like Dani’s. When he finds a lead that seems ironclad, he brings Patty in on it. After years of dead ends, her obsession is rekindled, and she will do anything for revenge, even become a killer herself-dragging her whole family into the nightmare once again, as lies and secrets are uncovered.
Our Take: A split decision on this tangled mystery. Most of our readers enjoyed it, though some were dissatisfied with the ending. This is a complex story that moves around in time and among characters.
Title: The Cartographer of No Man’s Land
Author: P. S. Duffy. This is her first novel, she is a science writer for the Mayo Clinic.
Genre: Historical Fiction.
Readers: Consultant Alila, bookkeeper Tykira, teacher Ninian and research assistant Rosie T.
Summary: When adventurous Ebbin goes missing at the front in 1916, Angus defies his pacifist upbringing to join the war and search for his beloved brother-in-law. With his navigation experience, Angus is assured a position as a cartographer in London. But upon arriving overseas he is instead sent directly into the trenches, where he experiences the visceral shock of battle. Meanwhile, at home, his perceptive son Simon Peter must navigate escalating hostility in a fishing village torn by grief and a rising suspicion of anyone expressing less than patriotic enthusiasm for the war.
Our Take: Straight A’s for this historical novel. Whether you’re a WWI buff or just someone who likes historical fiction or enjoys novels of family our readers heartily recommend this book.
Title: The Explanation for Everything
Author: Lauren Grodstein, she is the author of a previous novel, Reproduction is the Flaw of Love.
Genre: Literary Fiction
Readers: At-home parent ErinGoBragh, non-profit director Kimberly, and teachers Shannon and Ninian.
Summary: There is nothing inherently threatening about Melissa, a young evangelist hoping to write the definitive paper on intelligent design. But when she implores Andy Waite, a biology professor and a hardcore evolutionist, to direct her independent study, she becomes the catalyst for the collapsing house of cards surrounding him. As he works with Melissa, Andy finds that everything about his world is starting to add up differently. Suddenly there is the possibility of faith. But with it come responsibility and guilt—the very things that Andy has sidestepped for years.
Professor Waite is nearing the moment when his life might settle down a bit: tenure is in sight, his daughters are starting to grow up, and he’s slowly but surely healing from the sudden loss of his wife. His life is starting to make sense again—until the scientific stance that has defined his life(and his work) is challenged by this charismatic student.
Our Take: All our readers were enthralled by this book, that gets to some deep issues of belief (or lack thereof). We loved the characters and Grodstein’s writing. Some of us found a few plot points a little too oversimplified, but overall we found a lot to like about The Explanation for Everything.
Title: They Used to Call Me Snow White… But I Drifted: Women’s Strategic Use of Humor
Author: Gina Barreca. She is the author of several works of non-fiction focusing on women.
Readers: Stay-at-home mom Marina, prosecutor Rochelle, retiree Sulyn, teacher Ninian and publishing professional Gigi.
Summary: Snow White became an instant classic for both academic and general audiences interested in how women use humor and what others (men) think about funny women. Barreca, who draws on the work of scholars, writers, and comedians to illuminate a sharp critique of the gender-specific aspects of humor, provides laughs and provokes arguments as she shows how humor helps women break rules and occupy center stage. Barreca’s new introduction provides a funny and fierce, up-to-the-minute account of the fate of women’s humor over the past twenty years, mapping what has changed in our culture and questioning what hasn’t.
Our Take: This re-release is definitely more of an academic feminist tome than a light romp. Our readers were intrigued but wish the new edition had more current examples in it.