Monday, December 5, 2016

Read-Alike Monday: Jack Reacher series

The Jack Reacher books by Lee Child are always popular at Lake Forest Library. The books feature former military police officer, Jack Reacher, who is now something of a drifter. Reacher finds trouble wherever he goes, but he always finds a way to make things right. The 21st book in the series just came out, Night School, which is actually a prequel to The Killing Floor. 

If you are a fan of the Jack Reacher series, try one of these first in a series next. 


Night School by Lee Child
It’s 1996, and Reacher is still in the army. In the morning they give him a medal, and in the afternoon they send him back to school. That night he’s off the grid. Out of sight, out of mind. Two other men are in the classroom—an FBI agent and a CIA analyst. Each is a first-rate operator, each is fresh off a big win, and each is wondering what the hell they are doing there.

Then they find out: A Jihadist sleeper cell in Hamburg, Germany, has received an unexpected visitor—a Saudi courier, seeking safe haven while waiting to rendezvous with persons unknown. A CIA asset, undercover inside the cell, has overheard the courier whisper a chilling message: “The American wants a hundred million dollars.”

For what? And who from? Reacher and his two new friends are told to find the American. Reacher recruits the best soldier he has ever worked with: Sergeant Frances Neagley. 



Series Read-Alikes:


Bob Lee Swagger series by Stephen Hunter
Point of Impact is the first in the series. 

In the jungles of Vietnam, Bob Lee Swagger was known as 'Bob the Nailer' for his high-scoring target rate at killing. Today the master sniper lives in a trailer in the Arkansas mountains, and just wants to be left alone. But he knows too much- about killing. The mission is top secret. Dangerous, patriotic, and rigged from the start. One thing goes wrong: double-crossed Bob has come out alive. Now he is on the run. His only allies: an FBI agent in disgrace and a beautiful woman. His only hope: find the elusive mastermind who set him up. Multi-layered with non-stop action, this hot-shot torcher of a thriller is addictive, exciting and right on target. A high-tech, high-ride reading experience.






John Rain series by Barry Eisler
A Clean Kill in Tokyo, previously called Rain Fall is the first in the series. 

Name: John Rain.
Vocation: Assassin.
Specialty: Natural Causes.
Base of operations: Tokyo.
Availability: Worldwide.

Half American, half Japanese, expert in both worlds but at home in neither, John Rain is the best killer money can buy. You tell him who. You tell him where. He doesn't care about why...

Until he gets involved with Midori Kawamura, a beautiful jazz pianist--and the daughter of his latest kill.







The Ranger is the first in the series.

Northeast Mississippi, hill country, rugged and notorious for outlaws since the Civil War, where killings are as commonplace as in the Old West. To Quinn Colson, it's home -- but not the home he left when he went to Afghanistan.

Now an Army Ranger, he returns to a place overrun by corruption, and finds his uncle, the county sheriff, dead -- a suicide, he's told, but others whisper murder. In the days that follow, it will be up to Colson to discover the truth, not only about his uncle, but about his family, his friends, his town, and not least about himself. And once the truth is discovered, there is no turning back.




The Dark Tide is the first in the series.

An explosion rips through New York City's Grand Central Station one morning, destroying the train Karen Friedman's husband, a successful hedge fund manager, is riding in to work. Days later, with many bodies still unidentifiable, Karen resigns herself to the awful truth: her husband of eighteen years is dead.
On that same day, a suspicious hit-and-run accident leaves a young man dead in Karen's hometown of Greenwich, Connecticut. Ty Hauck, a detective, becomes emotionally caught up in the case and finds a clue that shockingly connects the two seemingly unrelated events.
Months later, two men show up at Karen's home digging into Charles's business dealings. Hundreds of millions of dollars are missing—and the trail points squarely to Charles. With doubt suddenly cast on everything she has ever known, Karen, with Hauck, steps into a widening storm of hedge fund losses, international scams, and murder. And as the investigations converge, these two strangers touched by tragedy are pulled into a deepening relationship and unwittingly open the door to a twisted—and deadly—conspiracy.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Read- Alike Monday: Stephanie Plum Mysteries by Janet Evanovich

Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum mysteries are always a hit. The latest in the series, Turbo Twenty Three, is #1 on the New York Times best seller list this week. We rounded up some other series you may enjoy if you love Stephanie Plum. All of the descriptions below are for the first book in the series. If you are new to the Stephanie Plum series, start with One for the Money.

Stephanie Plum Mysteries, One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
Pestered by her close New Jersey family, Stephanie Plum offers to catch high-school crush Joe Morelli, cop turned bail jumper, for her cousin Vinnie's company. She questions "working girls" to find the missing girlfriend of vicious prizefighter Benito Ramirez while Joe secretly watches her back. Ranger mentors her and supplies vehicles when hers explode.













READ-ALIKES:
The Spellmans Series, The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz
Meet Isabel "Izzy" Spellman, private investigator. This twenty-eight-year-old may have a checkered past littered with romantic mistakes, excessive drinking, and creative vandalism; she may be addicted to Get Smart reruns and prefer entering homes through windows rather than doors -- but the upshot is she's good at her job as a licensed private investigator with her family's firm, Spellman Investigations. Invading people's privacy comes naturally to Izzy. In fact, it comes naturally to all the Spellmans. If only they could leave their work at the office. To be a Spellman is to snoop on a Spellman; tail a Spellman; dig up dirt on, blackmail, and wiretap a Spellman. 

Part Nancy Drew, part Dirty Harry, Izzy walks an indistinguishable line between Spellman family member and Spellman employee. Duties include: completing assignments from the bosses, aka Mom and Dad (preferably without scrutiny); appeasing her chronically perfect lawyer brother (often under duress); setting an example for her fourteen-year-old sister, Rae (who's become addicted to "recreational surveillance"); and tracking down her uncle (who randomly disappears on benders dubbed "Lost Weekends"). But when Izzy's parents hire Rae to follow her (for the purpose of ascertaining the identity of Izzy's new boyfriend), Izzy snaps and decides that the only way she will ever be normal is if she gets out of the family business. But there's a hitch: she must take one last job before they'll let her go -- a fifteen-year-old, ice-cold missing person case. She accepts, only to experience a disappearance far closer to home, which becomes the most important case of her life. 

Mall Cop Mysteries, Die Buying by Laura DiSilverio
Emma-Joy Ferris likes mall cop work, even though it's a bit more humdrum than the military policing she did in the army. But there's no time to be bored when someone 'liberates' a 15-foot python from the Herpetology Hut, and a mannequin turns out to be a very real corpse.















Meg Lanslow Mysteries, Murder with Peacocks by Donna Andrews.  
So far Meg Langslow's summer is not going swimmingly. Down in her small Virginia hometown, she's maid of honor at the nuptials of three loved ones--each of whom has dumped the planning in her capable hands. One bride is set on including a Native American herbal purification ceremony, while another wants live peacocks on the lawn. Only help from the town's drop-dead gorgeous hunk, disappointingly rumored to be gay, keeps Meg afloat in a sea of dotty relatives and outrageous neighbors.

And, in a whirl of summer parties and picnics, Southern hospitality is strained to the limit by an offensive newcomer who hints at skeletons in the guests' closets. But it seems this lady has offended one too many when she's found dead in suspicious circumstances, followed by a string of accidents--some fatal. Soon, level-headed Meg's to-do list extends from flower arrangements and bridal registries to catching a killer--before the next catered event is her own funeral...
 






Heather Wells Mysteries, Size 12 is Not Fat by Meg Cabot
Heather Wells Rocks! Or, at least, she did. That was before she left the pop-idol life behind after she gained a dress size or two — and lost a boyfriend, a recording contract, and her life savings (when Mom took the money and ran off to Argentina). Now that the glamour and glory days of endless mall appearances are in the past, Heather's perfectly happy with her new size 12 shape (the average for the American woman!) and her new job as an assistant dorm director at one of New York's top colleges. That is, until the dead body of a female student from Heather's residence hall is discovered at the bottom of an elevator shaft.

The cops and the college president are ready to chalk the death off as an accident, the result of reckless youthful mischief. But Heather knows teenage girls . . . and girls do not elevator surf. Yet no one wants to listen — not the police, her colleagues, or the P.I. who owns the brownstone where she lives — even when more students start turning up dead in equally ordinary and subtly sinister ways. So Heather makes the decision to take on yet another new career: as spunky girl detective! 

But her new job comes with few benefits, no cheering crowds, and lots of liabilities, some of them potentially fatal. And nothing ticks off a killer more than a portly ex-pop star who's sticking her nose where it doesn't belong . . .

Monday, November 21, 2016

Read-Alike Monday: Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks

Nicholas Sparks' latest, Two by Two has been on the Best Seller list since it came out in early October. Sparks' books are always popular for his poignant love stories with characters who face great challenges. If you like Two by Two or Nicholas Sparks, try one of these next.

Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks
At 32, Russell Green has it all: a stunning wife, a lovable six year-old daughter, a successful career as an advertising executive and an expansive home in Charlotte. He is living the dream, and his marriage to the bewitching Vivian is the center of that. But underneath the shiny surface of this perfect existence, fault lines are beginning to appear...and no one is more surprised than Russ when he finds every aspect of the life he took for granted turned upside down. In a matter of months, Russ finds himself without a job or wife, caring for his young daughter while struggling to adapt to a new and baffling reality. Throwing himself into the wilderness of single parenting, Russ embarks on a journey at once terrifying and rewarding—one that will test his abilities and his emotional resources beyond anything he ever imagined.







READ-ALIKES:


Whole World Over by Julia Glass
Greenie Duquette lavishes most of her passionate energy on her Greenwich Village bakery and her young son. Her husband, Alan, seems to have fallen into a midlife depression, while Walter, her closest professional ally, is nursing a broken heart. At Walter’s restaurant, the visiting governor of New Mexico tastes Greenie’s coconut cake and decides to woo her away to be his chef. For reasons both ambitious and desperate, she accepts–heading west without her husband. This impulsive decision, along with events beyond Greenie’s control, will change the course of several lives around her.








Happiness Sold Separately by Lolly Winston
Elinor Mackey has always done the right things in the right order -- college, law school, career, marriage -- but now everything's going wrong. After two painful years of trying, Elinor has learned that she can't have children. All the doctors can tell her is that it's probably because of her age. As she turns forty, she withdraws into an interior world of heartbreak. Elinor's loving husband, Ted, a successful podiatrist, has always done the right thing, too. Then he meets the wrong woman at the wrong time, and does the wrong thing. Ted's lover, Gina -- a beautiful and kindhearted nutritionist -- always eats the right thing, but is unlucky in love and always falls for the wrong men. Soon Ted has to fight to make everything right again. Can Elinor and Ted's marriage be saved? 






Home Front by Kristin Hannah
Like many couples, Michael and Jolene Zarkades have to face the pressures of everyday life--children, careers, bills, chores--even as their twelve-year marriage is falling apart. Then an unexpected deployment sends Jolene deep into harm’s way and leaves defense attorney Michael at home, unaccustomed to being a single parent to their two girls. As a mother, it agonizes Jolene to leave her family, but as a soldier she has always understood the true meaning of duty. In her letters home, she paints a rose-colored version of her life on the front lines, shielding her family from the truth. But war will change Jolene in ways that none of them could have foreseen. When tragedy strikes, Michael must face his darkest fear and fight a battle of his own--for everything that matters to his family.





The Walk by Richard Paul Evans
What would you do if you lost everything—your job, your home, and the love of your life—all at the same time? When it happens to Seattle ad executive Alan Christoffersen, he’s tempted by his darkest thoughts. A bottle of pills in his hand and nothing left to live for, he plans to end his misery. Instead, he decides to take a walk. But not any ordinary walk. Taking with him only the barest of essentials, Al leaves behind all that he’s known and heads for the farthest point on his map: Key West, Florida. The people he encounters along the way, and the lessons they share with him, will save his life—and inspire yours. 










Nicholas Sparks Read-Alikes:
Jan-Philipp Sendker
Karen Kingsbury
Jeffrey Stepakoff






Monday, November 14, 2016

RA Monday- Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years' experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she's been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don't want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy's counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other's trust, and come to see that what they've been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn't offer easy answers. 




READ-ALIKES:

The time is 1981, and Sibyl Danforth has been a dedicated midwife in the rural community of Reddington, Vermont, for fifteen years. But one treacherous winter night, in a house isolated by icy roads and failed telephone lines, Sibyl takes desperate measures to save a baby's life. She performs an emergency Caesarean section on its mother, who appears to have died in labor. But what if—as Sibyl's assistant later charges—the patient wasn't already dead, and it was Sibyl who inadvertently killed her?

As recounted by Sibyl's precocious fourteen-year-old daughter, Connie, the ensuing trial bears the earmarks of a witch hunt except for the fact that all its participants are acting from the highest motives—and the defendant increasingly appears to be guilty. As Sibyl Danforth faces the antagonism of the law, the hostility of traditional doctors, and the accusations of her own conscience, Midwives engages, moves, and transfixes us as only the very best novels ever do.
 




One unremarkable June morning, Alice Goodwin is, as usual, trying to keep in check both her temper and her tendency to blame herself for her family's shortcomings. When the Goodwins took over the last dairy farm in the small Midwestern town of Prairie Center, they envisioned their home a self-made paradise. But these days, as Alice is all too aware, her elder daughter Emma is prone to inexplicable fits of rage, her husband Howard distrusts her maternal competence, and Prairie Center's tight-knit suburban community shows no signs of warming to "those hippies who think they can run a farm." 

On this particular day, Emma has started the morning with a violent tantrum, her little sister Claire is eating pennies, and it is Alice's turn to watch her neighbor's two small girls as well as her own. She absentmindedly steals a minute alone that quickly becomes ten: time enough for a devastating accident to occur. Her neighbor's daughter Lizzy drowns in the farm's pond, and Alice - whose own volatility and unmasked directness keep her on the outskirts of acceptance - becomes the perfect scapegoat. At the same time, a seemingly trivial incident from Alice's past resurfaces and takes on gigantic proportions, leading the Goodwins far from Lizzy's death into a maze of guilt and doubt culminating in a harrowing court trial and the family's shattering downfall.

A rich, beautiful novel about three unlikely, complex characters who meet in a chic Manhattan café and realize they must sacrifice everything they ever knew or cared about to find authenticity, fulfillment, and love.

A Place at the Table tells the story of three richly nuanced characters whose paths converge in a chic Manhattan café: Bobby, a gay Southern boy who has been ostracized by his family; Amelia, a wealthy Connecticut woman whose life is upended when a family secret finally comes to light; and Alice, an African-American chef whose heritage is the basis of a famous cookbook but whose past is a mystery to those who know her.

As it sweeps from a freed-slave settlement in 1920s North Carolina to the Manhattan of the deadly AIDs epidemic of the 1980s to today’s wealthy suburbs, A Place at the Table celebrates the healing power of food and the magic of New York as three seekers come together in the understanding that when you embrace the thing that makes you different, you become whole.




Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
In a series of essays, written as a letter to his son, Coates confronts the notion of race in America and how it has shaped American history, many times at the cost of black bodies and lives. Thoughtfully exploring personal and historical events, from his time at Howard University to the Civil War, the author poignantly asks and attempts to answer difficult questions that plague modern society. In this short memoir, the "Atlantic" writer explains that the tragic examples of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and those killed in South Carolina are the results of a systematically constructed and maintained assault to black people--a structure that includes slavery, mass incarceration, and police brutality as part of its foundation. From his passionate and deliberate breakdown of the concept of race itself to the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement, Coates powerfully sums up the terrible history of the subjugation of black people in the United States. A timely work, this title will resonate with all teens--those who have experienced racism as well as those who have followed the recent news coverage on violence against people of color.





Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.

So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos. 

A profoundly moving story of family, secrets, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.










The Mothers by Brit Bennett
A dazzling debut novel from an exciting new voice, The Mothersis a surprising story about young love, a big secret in a small community—and the things that ultimately haunt us most. Set within a contemporary black community in Southern California, Brit Bennett’s mesmerizing first novel is an emotionally perceptive story about community, love, and ambition. It begins with a secret.

“All good secrets have a taste before you tell them, and if we’d taken a moment to swish this one around our mouths, we might have noticed the sourness of an unripe secret, plucked too soon, stolen and passed around before its season.”

It is the last season of high school life for Nadia Turner, a rebellious, grief-stricken, seventeen-year-old beauty. Mourning her own mother’s recent suicide, she takes up with the local pastor’s son. Luke Sheppard is twenty-one, a former football star whose injury has reduced him to waiting tables at a diner. They are young; it’s not serious. But the pregnancy that results from this teen romance—and the subsequent cover-up—will have an impact that goes far beyond their youth. As Nadia hides her secret from everyone, including Aubrey, her God-fearing best friend, the years move quickly. Soon, Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey are full-fledged adults and still living in debt to the choices they made that one seaside summer, caught in a love triangle they must carefully maneuver, and dogged by the constant, nagging question: What if they had chosen differently? The possibilities of the road not taken are a relentless haunt.



Dana Clarke has always longed for the stability of home and family--her own childhood was not an easy one. Now she has married a man she adores who is from a prominent New England family, and she is about to give birth to their first child. But what should be the happiest day of her life becomes the day her world falls apart. Her daughter is born beautiful and healthy, but no one can help noticing the African American traits in her appearance. Dana's husband, to her great shock and dismay, begins to worry that people will think Dana has had an affair.

The only way to repair the damage done is for Dana to track down the father she never knew and to explore the possibility of African American lineage in his family history. Dana's determination to discover the truth becomes a poignant journey back through her past and her husband's heritage that unearths secrets rooted in prejudice and fear.









If you like Jodi Picoult, there are several authors not listed above that you may also like: