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.
Looking for a feel-good read? If you love Jeopardy like I do, you won’t be disappointed by this lighthearted and entertaining book.
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.
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.
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 1703 London, botanist Lady Cecile Kay is invited to be one of several guests to view Mayne’s impressive collection of jewels, specimens, books, and artifacts from all over the world. When their host is found dead in his study and an escaping assistant shouts his guilt, Cecile is not convinced. A delightful period whodunnit.
The rescue of the WWI Lost Batallion during the battle of the Argonne Forest, told from the view of the homing pigeon who helped rescue them, and from the view of Whittlesley. Two decorated heroes, but who suffered from the consequences. Poignant, original, and memorable. By the author of bestseller Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk.
This latest of Kubica’s mysteries is in production for a feature film for Netflix. Will and Sadie Foust inherit a house on an island off the coast of Maine, but their new home comes with their 16-year-old orphaned niece, who proves as unwelcoming as their new surroundings. When a neighbor turns up dead, the Fousts learn that they can’t escape the secrets of their past. Another surprise ending from Kubica!
The slow, sweet, and sometimes melancholy unfolding of the regrets and longings of Charlotte Lucas, who chose to marry the dull, repressed, and fawning Mr. Collins in exchange for security and a household of her own. A faithful depiction of the Austen characters. Make a cuppa and curl up for a treat.
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.
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.
Rookie cops in NYC buy neighboring houses in a commuter suburb in the 1970s, but each family takes a different turn. When the daughter of one falls for the son of the other, a violent event tears the families apart. The novel follows both families and the couple through the years, with heartbreak and healing. A moving, beautiful, and original novel.
This novel begs the question: Can the gift of the perfect book transform a person’s life? Juliette wanders into Paris’s Books Unlimited, where she is recruited as a book passeur; her mission is to follow strangers and observe their lives in order to give them the gift of the perfect book for that moment in their lives. A sweet little book that will charm you.
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.
Albom tenderly recounts how he and his wife brought a little girl from the Haitian orphanage they support to live with them while they sought medical treatment for her. Moving and meaningful and one of his best.
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.
Written by our country’s most important prize-winning historian, this is a brilliant biography about this obsessed, eccentric, and fascinating inventor, starting with Edison’s death and working backwards to his childhood. Detailed, but a streamlined, entertaining, and enlightening read. Sadly, this is Morris’s last book, as he suddenly passed away this year.
This Polish teen’s diary follows her life from 1939 until 1942 when she was murdered by the Nazis. Renia, full of personality, shares some of her breathtaking poetry, and it gradually dawns on her the dangers of occupation. Before going into hiding, she gives the diary to her boyfriend, which was not read or published by her family until now. The book contains postwar follow-up stories by her boyfriend and her sister.
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.
Read the first two lines and you may be hooked like I was with this highly imaginative story. Where do unfinished/unwritten stories go that authors abandon? The Library of Hell. No worries, there’s no hellfire and brimstone here. A “hero” in one of the unfinished books has escaped his book and returned to Earth to visit his author. “You mean the author is still alive? Where?” “A place called Seattle.” “The [Librarian] groaned . .” “It’s always the Americans.” Both humorous and moving.
In 1660s London, Rosamund is rescued from a life of drudge by an older nobleman who marries her, then includes her in his plans to open a drinking chocolate salon for the rich and fashionable. Historic events such as The Great Fire of London, The Plague, and the writer Samuel Pepys and his diary entries add to the richness of the story
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.
Set in Britain in the decades following WWII, by the author of The English Patient. Two young people are left with two men they’ve never met before when their parents spend a year in Singapore. Both mysterious and humorous, one reviewer wrote, “. . . this novel about secrets and loss may be Ondaatje's best work yet.” I couldn’t agree more!
An archivist discovers a satchel and its mysterious contents, leading her to an English country house on the Thames. The secrets of the house unfold with the help of a woman who has lived in the house since 1862, a clockmaker’s daughter who modeled for and fell in love with a wealthy painter. Delicious reading!
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!
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