Return Policy by Michael Snyder

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Willy Finneran is a grieving novelist that has no problem adjusting the truth to avoid conflict. Ozena Webb is a customer service rep and single mother who spends her evenings playing board games with her disabled son. Shaq is a homeless man with a temper who can’t remember who he is. When Willy is sentenced to community service in the homeless shelter where Shaq lives, their lives all intersect in a life-changing and powerful way. The story of three people doing the best they can with what they have, Return Policy demonstrates the glimmer of hope that exists even in the darkest parts of our lives.

Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel by Jeannette Walls

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How the west was won with the help of women comes to mind as I read Jeannette Wall’s latest novel. The Glass Castle, an award-winning memoir by Jeannette, told her hardscrabble life story. Now Jeannette tells the story of Lily Casey Smith, her maternal grandmother born in 1901 in the southwest. The trials Lily had growing up during those hard times will make any one appreciate life today. Her unconventional father kept the kids running the ranch while he wrote letters to congressmen and pursued his own interests. Lily took to ranch life and yet knew there was more to life. She loved school and was able to teach school at the age of 15 when she traveled on horseback 500 miles to her first teaching post in the Arizona frontier. Lily became known as “the mustang-breaking, poker playing, horse-race-winning school marm of Coconino County”. She married twice, once to a bigamist with several children, the second time to a solid older man that was a highly respected rancher. The thousands of acres of land they ranched for owners in England, kept them leading a very hard, lean existance as they saved money for their own ranch. To make money, Lily tried everything from selling bootlegged whiskey, to driving a hearse as a taxi and school bus, she learned to fly planes, trained horses and raced horses and taught school at numerous isolated locations sometimes taking her two children with her.
Jeannette ends Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel explaining that she didn’t think of the book as fiction, ” Lily was a very real woman and to say that I created her or the events of her life is giving me more credit than I am due. However, since I don’t have the words from Lily herself, and since I have also drawn on my imagination to fill in details that are hazy or missing…..the only honest thing to do is call the book a novel.”

By Invitation Only

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Looking for a fun book and great escape reading? Try Jodi Della Femina’s By Invitation Only. Toni Fratelli has left New York City after the demise of her restaurant and the break-up of a relationship, and has moved back to the Hamptons to help in her father’s Italian restaurant. She hopes to begin a catering business, but the competition for jobs with the rich and famous is tough. She is offered the job of catering her best friend’s wedding, but the groom’s socialite mother has other plans. Filled with romance, friendship, laughs and hilarious insights into the world of the rich who summer in the Hamptons, this book is engaging and entertaining.

Deeper than the Dead

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In her new book, Tami Hoag begins with four fifth-graders walking home from school, who stumble across a woman’s body. Their discovery leads to the hunt for a serial killer in their small town. The story follows the affects of the their experience on the children and their families, as well as on their teacher. As the police and FBI hunt for the killer, family secrets are revealed and the list of suspects grows. The characters are compelling and the action is intense–Deeper than the Dead is another page-turning thriller by Tami Hoag.

Spice Up a Dreary Day

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January can be so dreary. We haven’t seen the sun for days and it’s too cold to go anywhere. It’s the perfect time to make a cup of tea and curl up with a fun read.

In Desperate Duchesses by Eloisa James, Lady Roberta St. Giles has been locked away in the country with her eccentric father, unable to meet anyone with which to make a suitable match. After glimpsing the man of her dreams, she escapes to a distant cousin in London, the Duchess of Beaumont, to ask for assistance in coming out to society. Together they plot to match her with the Duke of Villiers, whom Roberta is convinced would be the perfect husband, regardless of the fact that he is a confirmed rake. The only problem is Damon Reeve, the Duchess’s handsome brother, who is doing everything in his power to thwart their plans.

Desperate Duchesses is a witty romance, full of spice, that will leave you hoping for more bad weather so that you can finish the rest of the series.

Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind by Ann B. Ross

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A story filled with eccentric characters and small town southern charm, Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind is a funny and touching story. Miss Julia’s husband, pillar-of-the-community Wesley, has died and Miss Julia is conducting herself as befits a very proper southern widow. When a woman turns up at her door with Little Lloyd, a young boy that happens to be her late husband’s offspring, Miss Julia begins questioning all that she has accepted as being true about her life, her position in the town and church, and her friendships. She finds hypocrisy abounding around her but also realizes who her true friends are and that she can have a mind of her own. The book is filled with warmth and humor and I found it entertaining and enjoyable. Manhattan Public Library has several “Miss Julia” books in our collection and I look forward to reading them!!

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby

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Ah, the joy that fills my soul whenever I discover that Nick Hornby has written a new book. I finally got my hands on Juliet, Naked and settled in for what I knew would be a great book, and I was not disappointed.

Juliet, Naked is the story of Annie, Duncan, and Tucker. Annie & Duncan have been together for 15 years, not exactly happy, but content enough to avoid braving the waters of being alone. Duncan has long been obsessed with a rock star who has been in hiding for 20 years, Tucker Crowe. Annie has tolerated this obsession with some appreciation for Crowe’s music, but also with mockery for Duncan’s hours on the Tucker Crowe fan web site. Meanwhile, Tucker lives a quiet life, disappointing others and himself. When Tucker e-mails Annie in response to a negative review she has posted on the web site, all of their lives experience an irrevocable shift.

Hornby’s books are the perfect balance between laugh-out-loud humor and in-depth investigation of the stuff of life. I laugh at his characters because they are so real. I know these people and in their vulnerability, meanness, and absurdity, I often see glimpses of myself. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Rekindled by Tamera Alexander

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Struggling to establish a ranch in Colorado, Larson and Kathryn Jennings have a troubled, if loving marriage. So when Larson doesn’t return from what was supposed to be a short journey, Kathryn mourns their inability to overcome the obstacles that separated them as much as she mourns him. Larson wakes in an unfamiliar place, cared for by strangers, and disfigured beyond recognition. He struggles to find his way back to Kathryn and to make up for the years of unhappiness they’ve had. A story of love, spiritual transformation, and the struggles of life, Rekindled will have you rushing to get the next installment of the compelling Fountain Creek Chronicles.

Witch Way to Murder

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In Witch Way to Murder, by Shirley Damsgaard, you will enjoy a light touch of the paranormal. In this cozy mystery, Ophelia Jensen is a sassy, savvy librarian who just happens to be a reluctant witch, an unwanted “gift” she considers inconvenient at best and at worst downright dangerous.

Her kindly old grandmother Abby, however, has no compunctions about the paranormal, being a practicing witch with unique abilities of her own. And sometimes the otherworldly arts do come in handy — like when the arrival of a mysterious, good-looking stranger seems to trigger an epidemic of catastrophes, from the theft of bomb-making materials to a corpse dumped in Abby’s backyard. Luckily Ophelia and Abby are on the case and determined to make things right. But it’ll take more than magick to get out of this boiling cauldron of lethal trouble.