Robin Allen is the owner of Forever Books. A former history teacher turned entrepreneur, she opened Forever Books on April Fools Day in 1999 after the closing of a local children's bookstore. When not at the store or working for the store (rare), she enjoys reading non-fiction history, memoirs, political works, and fiction. She also loves spending time with her two nieces. Robin has served on the board and as Board President of the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association.
Doerr is the author of the bestseller, All the Light You Cannot See, this epic saga plays homage to the book and to libraries in ancient Greece, 2020 small-town Idaho, and in a 22nd-century ark-like spaceship. A gem, worth the commitment to the 600+ pages.
Groff brilliantly imagines the life of 12th-century Marie de France, the illegitimate half-sister of Henry II, and one of the first women believed to have written verse in French. In this novel, Marie subversively leads a royal abbey in England from poverty to wealth and power. Groff is the author of the bestsellers, Florida and Fates & Furies.
Philbrick retraces Washington's travels around the new country after inauguration from 1789-1791 in an attempt to unite millions of colonists. Philbrick reflects on the man (good and unfortunate) and his role in forming our nation's Capitol. This is an entertaining historical travelogue with a few suprises.
A fascinating look at the Marquis de Lafayette, hero of the American Revolution. He returned to France, only to flee execution, but served five horrific years in a foreign prison. His name may be commone knowledge, but his life story is not.
This conservation biologist takes a fascinating look at how nature deals with climate change. Without preaching or lecturing, he reveals how plants, animals, and ocean life adjust, often creating a chain reaction. Engrossing, and not to be missed by nature lovers.
A small North Carolina town during WWII is the focus of Weiss’ newest novel, with the focus on two 13-year-old girls from different backgrounds who learn to mesh. This is charming, moving, and oh-so-Southern. A joy to read and unforgettable. Weiss is one of my absolute favorite authors!
English naturalist is the author of H is for Hawk and has written another exemplary collection of essays of her observations of the intersection of animals and humans. An elegant memoir.
Macdougall left her job to start a dog-walking business and regales the reader with stories of a cast of characters and their dogs. A few tears, but mostly laughs and warm fuzzies. Thoroughly enjoyable.
A National Park Service biologist and PhD teaches, but lives in isolation in her small cabin in a Montana valley. She develops an unusual friendship with a fox, which is met with extreme skepticism and ridicule by her students and colleagues. Judge for yourself - - but it’s magical. Fascinating insights into nature adds to this exceptional book.
This is the harrowing, Belgium expedition to the Antarctic in 1898 where the ship became icebound for a year while the crew suffered madness, death, and danger. Norwegian first mate Roald Amundsen became a legendary polar explorer and the American doctor on board saved the crew from scurvy by making them eat raw penguin meat. Drama galore, and it reads like fiction.
The little-known story of the Black woman hired away from Princeton to oversee the personal library of J. Pierpont Morgan, one of the largest collections of books, rare manuscripts, and artwork in the world. This extraordinary woman became one of the most powerful women in New York.
Perfect for the Larry McMurtry fan, this western is the novelization of the 1866 Fetterman Massacre, in which a confederacy of Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes fought a detachment of U.S. soldiers from Fort Phil Kearny in present-day Wyoming. Told from the viewpoints of the soldiers, the women, scout Jim Bridger, and the Native Americans, it foreshadows the Battle of Little Bighorn. Historical fiction at its best.
A feel-good, hilarious book that will make you both laugh and bring a few tears to your eyes. Jordan is the consummate Southern storyteller. Who knew he trained thoroughbred horses in his youth and didn’t make it to Hollywood until his thirties? He’s had quite a career, but I remember him as Beverly Leslie on Will & Grace. Pure fun, and some life lessons I won’t forget.
Exceptional biography of Daniel Boone and the settling of Kentucky with fierce resistance from the Shawnee. Boone is captured, his son is massacred, and his daughter kidnapped. Not for the faint of heart, but well-written and fast-paced, and for this former high school history teacher, a real delight to read!
In Dublin, eighty-three-year-old Millie shoplifts one too many times, causing her son to hire irrepressible and upbeat Sylvia as an aide. Aideen, Millie’s teenaged granddaughter, is struggling and is thrown into the mix. Oh, the hilarity that ensues! And it ends with a caper! This is the feel-good book you are looking for.
Cape Haven, a picturesque coastal California town, is the setting about the repercussions from an accident years ago. When the driver from the accident is released from prison, a woman he was tied to is murdered, leaving her fierce 13-yr-old daughter, who is center stage in this excellent thriller.
The author of bestseller The Nightingale has written an emotionally charged epic of Dust Bowl-era Texas and the devastating choices people must make to survive. Another winner for Hannah.
13-yr-old Eulabee (“I am a daring enigma”) and her four best friends live in the trendy San Francisco neighborhood overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. Because one of the girls is beautiful, her accounts of events are believed and Eulabee is gradually ostracized. The author masterfully captures the voice of girls this age, and anyone who has ever been a teen will relate. Highly engaging.
Tiller is living with a 30-year-old woman and her precocious son, who are in a witness protection program, fraught with danger. It’s a roller-coaster ride for young Tiller who had abandoned college to hitch his wagon to a mega-wealthy businessman who lures him into his world of the rich and suspicious, where he ends up on the other side of the world to help him promote a health drink. Both stories shift back and forth to conclude in a bizarre climax. A most unusual story, full of dark comedy, both strange and wonderful.
A riveting Victorian-era murder mystery and supernatural thriller, and despite its eerie gothic atmosphere, it has a strong undercurrent of humor throughout. The writing is reminiscent of Charles Dickens.
For this book, Jerry Seinfeld has selected his favorite material, organized decade by decade. In page after hilarious page, one brilliantly crafted observation after another, readers will witness the evolution of one of the great comedians of our time and gain new insights into the thrilling but unforgiving art of writing stand-up comedy. -Recommended by Robin!
An intimate story of brotherhood, love, sacrifice, and betrayal set against the panoramic backdrop of an early twentieth-century America that eerily echoes our own time, The Cold Millions offers a kaleidoscopic portrait of a nation grappling with the chasm between rich and poor, between harsh realities and simple dreams.-Recommended by Robin
At 85, Eudora has had enough of life, enough of people, and makes arrangements to end her life. But then a 10-yr-old moves in next door and a 70-something widower intrude upon her hermetic life. Fans of A Man Called Ove will love this feel-good novel.
Looking for a feel-good read? If you love Jeopardy like I do, you won’t be disappointed by this lighthearted and entertaining book.
O’Farell imagines the life of Shakespeare’s family in Stratford-on-Avon, including how Hamnet, his son and a twin, died at 11 in 1596. A gripping drama, painfully lovely, and historical fiction at its best.
My first Louise Penny mystery but not my last, and proof that you don’t have to read previous installments involving Inspector Armand Gamache, who uses his brilliant investigative skills this time during a visit to Paris.
14-yr-old Adunni is told, by words and deeds, that she is nothing. From a small Nigerian village, she is determined to finish school and become a teacher, the only way her mother says she can have a “louding voice.” But when her mother dies, her father marries her to a much older man as his third wife. How she overcomes this and much worse is moving and inspiring, bringing me to tears. You’ll be cheering for her all the way.
The 9-yr-old narrator of this outstanding novel is enamored with detective shows and lives in a shantytown in Delhi. When classmates begin disappearing, Jai decides to play the detective and solve the cases. A wonderfully memorable book full of heart, humor, and heartbreak. One of my favorite books of 2020.
In the 2018 harrowing account of the first solo crossing of Antarctica, O’Brady is both triumphant and determined, regardless of the obstacles thrown in his path. Simultaneously, racing to achieve the same goal is British Army Captain Louis Rudd. Also is his back-story: how he survived severe burns during his collegiate years and was told he would never walk, only to become a triathlete and climb the seven highest summits on earth.
Another winner for Larson, author of The Devil in the White City. Need I say more? As much as I’ve read about Churchill and WWII, this is a fresh look at the man and his country’s bravery during the Blitz from May 1940 to May 1941.
Neumann sights her father’s name among the Holocaust dead in a Prague synagogue when she knew he was really alive. Born and raised in Venezuela, she discovers after her father dies that he was Jewish and fled Czechoslovakia during WWII. How she unearths this mystery and discovers an entire family is riveting reading; with photographs.
Because Rosenberg was a young-looking 19-yr-old when he worked for the French Resistance during WWII, he could pose as a student in order to gain access to Nazi secrets, smuggle forged documents and those fleeing France, and even worked for U.S. Army units as they overtook the enemy. Now approaching 100, Rosenberg is professor emeritus of languages and literature at Bard College, where he has been on the faculty for fifty years. Reads like a spy thriller!
Russell recounts the story of the Titanic from the perspective of six first class passengers and their families: a British countess; the managing director of the shipyard where the ship was built; a philanthropist; the vice president of the Pennsylvania railroad, and his son, Jack; and one of the highest paid actresses in the world. Meticulously researched yet entertaining. Exceptional.
A riveting memoir rediscovered 60 years after its publication about a Polish Jew who fled Berlin to France, abandoning her French-language bookstore. Frenkel endures four years of hiding, capture and imprisonment, eventually attempting to flee to Switzerland.
Morris’s novel is based on the true story of a Jewish woman who survived Auschwitz, only to be sentenced to 15 years in a Russian gulag in Siberia for fraternizing with the enemy, forced to be a Nazi officer’s mistress. An inspiring survival story about one of the prisoners mentioned in her previous book, The Tattooist of Auschwitz. Life-affirming and inspirational, not all gloom and doom.
Odie and his brother are orphaned and are sent to live in the nearby Indian School, the only white students. When their protector dies, they leave and take with them her little girl and a mute Indian boy. What follows is a escape quest down the Mississippi in 1932, encountering all manner of people surviving the Great Depression. A treasure and an unforgettable book.
Hiram Walker is the son of a slave woman and the plantation owner, who educates him to serve his white son. Hiram soon discovers he has a gift, and uses it to head north, working with the Underground Railroad, only to realize his true home and purpose is in the South. This is Coates’s first foray into fiction and it’s a treasure.
The author of The Girl with the Pearl Earring focuses on Violet, an English 38-yr-old “spinster” in 1932 who lives with her mother when her fiancé and brother were killed in The Great War. She wanders into Winchester Cathedral during her work lunch hour and is drawn into a society of women who embroider kneelers for the cathedral. I’m allergic to needlework, but I fell in love with this story based on the real-life “Broderers” and Violet’s “declaration of independence.” Charming, yet substantive.
Tom and his wife have a sheep farm in remote Australia in the 1960s and when she leaves him for weeks only to return pregnant with another man’s child. He loves the boy as his own, and is broken hearted when she leaves with him. When the charismatic Hannah, several years Tom’s senior, arrives in town (with a story of her own) to open a bookshop, Tom is hired to build the shelves. A feel-good novel with plenty of heart.
Dean’s father purchased a piece of property near Muskegon, Michigan, with the hope that his three estranged sons would help him build a hunting camp to help heal their family. Kuipers’ writing is sheer poetry as he describes the environment and our deep connection to it. I do not hunt, but no matter, that is not the focus. If you are from Michigan or have memories of your family “going up north” on vacation, you’ll enjoy one of my favorite books!
A brilliant account of the true crime book that Harper Lee, the author of her lone book, To Kill a Mockingbird, did not write but investigated and researched for over a decade, following the Alabama serial killer who murdered his wives and family members for their life insurance monies.
Part Agatha Christie, part time-travel, part Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, this stunning book is original, creative, unexpected, and totally engrossing. British author Turton is a brilliant storyteller: His main character awakens in a forest with no memory of who he is and the name of the woman he is shouting. He also discovers he is not the person he sees in the mirror and knows none of the people gathered for the 19th anniversary of the death of the owner's child. Nothing formulaic here! (Warning: 5 am reading!) Quite simply, the most astonishing mystery I've read in twenty years as a bookseller.
A novel based on Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov’s account of his harrowing experiences tattooing prisoners in the Auschwitz concentration camp where he met his future wife. Morris includes photographs, a map of the camp, and a postwar follow up on Lale, his wife, his family, some of the prisoners, and his guards. Agonizing, yet triumphant.
You don’t need a background knowledge in Greek (I have little) to enjoy this stunning novel about Circe, daughter of Helios, god of the sun. Ignored by her family as homely, banished by her father to a remote island for turning a human into a sea monster, Circe eventually meets Odysseus, turning his crew into swine. Loved this!
At the turn of the 19th century, feathers were the fashion, leading to the massacre of birds on a massive scale. Unfortunately, in 1999, the hunt began again; people clamored for rare feathers for the new fad: tying flies for salmon fishing. In 2009, an American studying in London took off with hundreds of birds from the Tring Museum. An enthralling account of a truly bizarre crime and Johnson’s hunt for the truth.
In 1922 the Bolsheviks sentence Count Alexander Rostov to house arrest in the luxurious Metropol Hotel in Moscow for political crimes; however, he is moved from his suite of rooms to a spare attic room. How he copes with the span of 30 years in confinement makes for an inspiring, moving, and thoroughly enjoyable read. I can’t rave enough about this spectacular novel!