Abandoned Ship

Title: Abandoned Ship: An Intimate Account of the Costa Concordia Shipwreck

Author: Benji Smith. This is his first book.

Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir

Readers: Consultant Alila, prosecutor Rochelle, teacher Ninian and policy wonk BakingSuit

Summary: On January 13, 2012, the Costa Concordia — a thousand foot long luxury cruise ship, twice the size of the Titanic — ventured into shallow water and smashed into the rocks of a tiny island off the coast of Italy, throwing the four thousand passengers and crew members into a state of chaos. The captain and officers all abandoned ship, leaving the few remaining castaways to fend for themselves as the boat toppled onto its side and water flooded into the passenger decks.

In the wee hours of the night, newlyweds Benji Smith and Emily Lau feared for their lives, desparate and terrified after a malfunctioning lifeboat left them stranded on the sinking ship. By this point, the other lifeboats had all gone. They had been left behind.

This thoughtful memoir — hailed by The Daily Telegraph as “a compelling, minute-by-minute account of the chaotic evacuation” — tells the remarkable story of the couple’s harrowing escape, as they clung to a rope and rapelled down the hull of the doomed vessel.

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A Demon Lies Within

Title: A Demon Lies Within

Author: Tony Hubbard. This is his first novel.

Genre: Horror

Readers: Professor Michal, editor Kristina, victim advocate MJ and prosecutor Rochelle.

Summary: Following his murder, Andrew McMurray finds himself transported to the depths of hell. There he is indoctrinated as an apprentice to a demon master, Sonneillon. Exposing Andrew to the dark reaches of his evil powers, Sonneillon demonstrates a demons’ ability to posses, torment and control the thoughts and actions of the living. Andrew’s ultimate goal following his apprenticeship? Revenge on his wife, Katelyn and young son, Joshua, both of whom he holds responsible for his murder.

As Katelyn rebuilds her life, following her husbands’ death, she meets Michael Gordon, a recent escapee from Corporate America, who has his own troubled, tragic past. As their relationship grows, they realize they share something more than their burgeoning love for one another — the powers of hell have deeply impacted their pasts. Evil continues to insinuate itself into the pair’s lives, bringing with it haunting and unspeakable horrors.

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The Comfort of Lies

Title: The Comfort of Lies

Author: Randy Susan Meyers. She is the author of a previous novel, The Murderer’s Daughters.

Genre: Commercial Fiction, Chick Lit (but more on the serious side)

Readers: Prosecutor Rochelle, consultant Alila, project manager Andrea,  and stay-at-home Mom Megan V.

Summary: Five years ago, Tia fell into obsessive love with a man she could never have. Married, and the father of two boys, Nathan was unavailable in every way. When she became pregnant, he disappeared, and she gave up her baby for adoption.

Five years ago, Caroline, a dedicated pathologist, reluctantly adopted a baby to please her husband. She prayed her misgivings would disappear; instead, she’s questioning whether she’s cut out for the role of wife and mother.

Five years ago, Juliette considered her life ideal: she had a solid marriage, two beautiful young sons, and a thriving business. Then she discovered Nathan’s affair. He promised he’d never stray again, and she trusted him.

Riveting and arresting, The Comfort of Lies explores the collateral damage of infidelity and the dark, private struggles many of us experience but rarely reveal.

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The Explorer

Title: The Explorer

Author: James Smythe. He has published some previous novels through independent presses.

Genre: Science-Fiction

Readers: Administrative coordinator Cyn,  and lawyers Cait, Elizabeth H. and Rochelle. (Lawyers and sci-fi, who knew?)

Summary: When journalist Cormac Easton is selected to document the first manned mission into deep space, he dreams of securing his place in history as one of humanity’s great explorers.

But in space, nothing goes according to plan.

The crew wake from hypersleep to discover their captain dead in his allegedly fail-proof safety pod. They mourn, and Cormac sends a beautifully written eulogy back to Earth. The word from ground control is unequivocal: no matter what happens, the mission must continue.

But as the body count begins to rise, Cormac finds himself alone and spiralling towards his own inevitable death … unless he can do something to stop it.

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Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker

Title: Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker

Author: Jennifer Chiaverini. She is the author of the 10-book Elm Creek Quilts series.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Readers: Professor Michal, consultant Alila, teacher Julie S., daycare teacher EMarie and prosecutor Rochelle.

Summary: A stunning account of the friendship that blossomed between Mary Todd Lincoln and her seamstress, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Keckley, a former slave who gained her professional reputation in Washington, D.C. by outfitting the city’s elite. Keckley made history by sewing for First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln within the White House, a trusted witness to many private moments between the President and his wife, two of the most compelling figures in American history.

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