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"The Twelve Tribes of Hattie" by Ayana Mathis

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This novel by a debut author is written in a thoughtful and very approachable style. The story is told through a series of vignettes focusing on Hattie and her eleven children and one of her grandchildren. While it is a relatively quick and easy read, it packs a big punch as the author weaves you through the years and the lives of Hattie's family. The novel is extremely compelling and I would highly recommend it to anybody who enjoys Toni Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston, Gloria Naylor or Sandra Cisneros.

"The Hobbit" by J.R.R. Tolkien

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This is the story of a reluctant adventurer who battles enormous forces. Bilbo Baggins, the protagonist, likes his creature comforts and is unsure as he sets out on an incredible journey to complete an important task. In order to succeed he needs to learn how to get along with others and stand up for what he believes in. It is an inspiring tale of adventure, fellowship, uncertainty, and strength.

"The Forgotten Garden: A Novel" by Kate Morton

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The Forgotten Garden shifts back and forth through time to solve a mystery about a four year old girl Nell; abandoned and waiting alone on a dock in Australia for parents who never come. The only link to her past is a little white suitcase the child carried when she was found.

Nell embarks on an adventure and attempts to piece together the mystery surrounding her past. Her travels lead her to Blackhurst Manor, delving deep into a family's secrets and purchasing a cottage in Cornwall near the Manor. Before she can solve the mystery of her past, Nell dies but her grandaughter Cassandra takes up the quest. This is a fairytale-like novel with old houses and hidden gardens all containing secrets and surprises.

"The Shoemaker's Wife" by Adrianna Trigianni

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​A novel about Italian immigrants and their lives in northern Italy as well as in America in the early 1900s. Enza and Ciro meet on a moonlit night in the cemetery of Sant'Antonio da Padova in Schilpario, Italy when they are just teenagers. They go their separate ways to new lives in America but they never quite leave behind their beautiful homeland. The descriptions are magically vivid and although it is a love story of sorts, it's also a powerful testimony on the strength of the human spirit and the importance of family.

"The Last Chinese Chef" by Nicole Mones

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​Charming book about a food writer who travels to China seeking the truth of a paternity claim against her deceased husband.  In addition she receives an assignment to interview the owner of a new restaurant opening in Beijing.  She soon discovers the restaurant owner is one of ten finalists for the Chinese Cultural Olympics too. These two story lines, the paternity claim and the preparation for the culinary contest, are woven throughout the book.  This will be appealing to lovers of Chinese food, romance, and anyone who enjoys historically accurate cooking.

"Gold" by Chris Cleave

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The themes of Gold are love, sacrifice and choices - on an Olympic scale. The author takes on track cycling, one of the toughest of the cycling venues. He wrote this a year before the London Olympics, so it has a very current vibe. The two main characters are Zoe and Kate, competitive cyclists preparing for the Olympics. The underlying story, involves Sophie who has leukemia, the daughter of Kate. Gold is a terrific read for sports enthusiasts who enjoy competitive events.

"The Black House" by Peter May

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Detective Finn MacLeod has been sent to the Isle of Lewis in the Scottish Outer Hebrides as a consultant to a grim murder that has the same MO as one that was committed in Edinburgh a short while ago. Having been raised on the Isle of Lewis, he is familiar with the Gaelic language, traditions, as well as, the locals and their haunts. Quickly he is at odds with the Detective Chief Inspector who is the lead investigator and he becomes enmeshed in the case which opens forgotten memories and old wounds that could destroy him. Peter May, a Scott, has written a well-crafted, dangerous, and dark mystery for those who like their reads psychologically twisted and deadly. The Black House is the first title in the Isle of Lewis trilogy.

"Born to run" By Christopher McDougall

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Removing the myth that running requires special exercises and equipment, author McDougall argues, running is at the heart of what it means to be human.  We follow the amazing Tamarahura tribe runners in Cooper Canyon to ultra marathoners; all end up in a race of fifty-miles through the heart of Tarahumara country, pitting the tribe against an odd band of Americans racers.  Fun page turning! 

"The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Frye" by Rachel Joyce

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Harold Fyre is retired, henpecked, and indifferent to life.  Then he receives a letter from a elderly friend who is dying.  Rather than mail her correspondence Harold decides to walk 600 miles to deliver his message in person.  His trek is peppered with fascinating characters who help unlock Harold's buried spirit and renew his sense of life. 

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