Heat Wave by Penelope Lively


This beautifully written novel chronicles romance and love in all its forms: deep friendship between a man and woman, passionate romantic love, infidelity, and the deep love of a mother for her child: infant and that same infant grown to adulthood. The setting is a country village in England during an extremely hot summer. Pauline observes her daughter (and toddler grandson) as the summer progresses and sees her daughter’s marriage disintegrate. An example of the writing: “There is a silence–a silence in which a wordless conversation takes place, a product of years of intimacy and of intuitive interpretation of the set of a mouth, of the flavour of a glance–the undertow of all that is unspoken.”

~ Cheryl

Poetry, Young Adult

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

This book was a 2017 National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature and appears on numerous award honor lists! Fifteen year old Will enters an elevator, headed out to seek revenge for the fatal shooting of his brother. In 67 seconds, as the elevator descends, different people/ghosts get on…each with a piece of the story. WOW! A powerful novel in verse!


Historical, Mystery, Romance

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood


I confess to having FONER’s disease (Fear Of Nothing to Read; also known as FONTER’s disease). Faced with a long airplane trip, shuttle, ferry, etc., I went to a bookstore and bought the biggest book I could find. It was Atwood’s “Alias Grace.” Well worth it. I think it would qualify as a Romance, or Literary Romance, since it has the undercurrents of suspicion, doubt, uncertainty, sexual tension, and so on that seem characteristic of the genre. A cut above, though, way above. Highly recommended!




Cruel Prince by Holly Black

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This book grabbed me immediately! Set in Faerie land, there’s adventure, intrigue, and of course romance. Jude’s parents are murdered and her, her twin sister, and her half sister are stolen away to Faerie by Jude’s step father, Madoc, Captain of the Guards. This story is entertaining and absorbing, you won’t want to put it down. I can’t wait for the next installment.


Humor, Romance

The Ice House by Laura Lee Smith


What a pleasant surprise this little gem of a book was. It concerns a husband and wife who are attempting to run an ice house in Florida when seemingly sabotage is afoot. The characters are very likable and their dilemmas difficult: to wit, an impending lawsuit and physical and medical problems on the husband’s part. Complications arise and the husband takes off to his native Scotland with his next door neighbor. The wife goes through a searching moral inventory when she is missing/resenting him. Funny and delightful. I recommend this book as a good read.



The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce


This book is a great big hug for record shops, vinyl records, and misfits everywhere. Like Monsieur Perdu in “The Little Paris Bookshop” who is able to prescribe just the right book for the people entering his bookshop barge, Frank, owner of a small indie music shop, is also able to find just the right song or record to lift up, help, or inspire his customers. Frank is confident helping other people, but not so good at helping himself. As a reader, I rooted for Frank to see the obvious, the woman in love with him. Love lives in the silences, whether they be in music or in the quiet between two people, and in listening to these silences, we learn about ourselves and open up to the possibilities.

This was a quick read and like the author’s previous book, “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry” is another book full of love, empathy, and hope for its quirky cast of characters. It’s a life affirming read. And there’s lots of great music throughout the book with a playlist on Spotify! How cool is that?!



The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce


A wonderful novel set in 1980s London about a record store and its odd owner, a kind of music “whisperer”, amid the stagnation and economic decline of his community.
Actually it’s a story of two romances; the romance between the shop owner and a mysterious customer and their love of music. It has a cast of quirky characters that one can easily imagine inhabiting the time and place.
As an added benefit for music lovers, the novel will introduce you to genres of music that you may not have considered listening to before. In fact a “Music Shop” play list would result in an eclectic mix of music for all moods and tastes!

~ Steve