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Life After Life: A Novel

The characters in McCorkle's quaintly touching novel are bound to stay with you after you put it down, giving them a sort of afterlife — or "life after life" — after all.

Ordinary Grace: A Novel

Ordinary Grace is a beautifully written novel that, while also a compelling mystery, is, at its heart, a coming of age story of a boy caught in the middle of events that are beyond his control, his loss of innocence, and ultimately, how the summer of 1961 shaped his life forever.

Dirty Little Secret

Jon Stock proves with this novel that he’s a master of modern-day spy fiction, with hopefully more to come.

Angelopolis: A Novel

While I enjoyed the tie in to Russian history and the Black Sea, Angelopolis felt like it was missing some of the magic of Angelology. This second in the trilogy is worth reading but I just didn't love it like I did that first installment.

The Guilty One

This debut from Lisa Ballantyne is an immensely captivating read.

Angelopolis: A Novel

Even Angelology addicts likely face disappointment. Then again, maybe not.

Brothers Emanuel: A Memoir of an American Family

Well-written and heartfelt but short on dramatic moments and memorable anecdotes.

Leaving Everything Most Loved

Not the strongest mystery in Maisie’s ongoing saga (Elegy for Eddie, 2012, etc.), but one that delves deeply into her complicated relationships and hints at a compelling future.

What Tears Us Apart

Despite some flaws, a courageous romance that reminds us that many of our problems are of the first-world variety, and how lucky we are for it.

The Tale of Raw Head and Bloody Bones: A Novel

A little of it goes a very long way. Still, there are plenty of good moments in this rollicking, inventive and surpassing strange tale.

Shadow on the Sun

A refreshingly nondystopic sci-fi adventure.

Robert Ludlum's (TM) The Utopia Experiment

Mills offers an interesting new premise for action-adventure, albeit with the resolution one tick less than satisfying.

The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards: A Novel

The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards is mainly a book about writing — which may appeal most to literati. It is filled with clever literary allusions and insider jokes.

The Sunshine When She's Gone

Goodman’s story deepens enough to enjoyably illuminate the couple’s incompetence as well purposefully poke fun at marriage and parenting issues. In somewhat of a saving grace, John at least learns what all parents must — that clinging to the past is fruitless.

Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us

In the end, his message is about personal responsibility. We’re the ones who decide what we put in our shopping carts — and in our mouths.

Comandante: Hugo Chavez's Venezuela

To compare Chávez to allies such as Castro, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran or Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus is absurd, and Carroll does not fall into this trap. Rather, Carroll reveals a creaking authoritarian edifice that may or may not outlive its maker.

Middle C

An academic satire is a peculiar choice for a swan song, but a thoroughly entertaining one that will be remembered long after the music stops playing.

Vera Gran-The Accused

“I have the feeling of being caught, just like Vera, in this web of contradictory testimony,” she concludes. Any reader of this harrowing book is likely to feel exactly the same way.

Born on a Mountaintop: On the Road with Davy Crockett and the Ghosts of the Wild Frontier

I imagine those baptized-in-the-waters-of-the-Red-River Crockettologists may have some quibbles with this tale. But I leave that to readers who are always sure they are right. Plenty of them in Texas. I stopped worrying about what was true on Page 13, and it made for a more pleasant read, too.

The New Mind of the South

It’s as much a definable region now as it ever was, but it’s much less a state of mind.