The best part of a good mystery is becoming captivated and immersed in the story as readers work alongside detectives solving classic who-done-it cases. Agatha Christie’s novel, And Then There Were None, is the crown jewel of its genre, and a book I devoured in just one sitting.
The story begins with an invitation for eight strangers to attend a weekend island getaway. Upon arrival, the guests enter the dining room to find ten figurines centered on the table along with a copy of an ominous nursery rhyme. A recorded message plays, accusing each of the guests of hiding a guilty secret and by the end of the night one of the guests is found dead.
This mystery is unique because there is no detective, everyone is a target, and no one is safe. And so the story takes readers on a thrilling, twisted whirlwind of revenge and murder without motive or reason in sight. That is, of course, until there are none.
Have a favorite Agatha Christie mystery? Let us know in the comments.
Because the Gamache series does not have to be read in sequence, The Long Way Homeis a delight for not only those who are well acquainted with Gamache’s thrilling story, but also those who are picking up Louise Penny’s novels for the first time.
The Long Way Home follows Former Chief Inspector of Homicide Armand Gamache as he emerges out of retirement to search for the missing Peter Morrow, a once-famous artist. Gamache is swept out of his peaceful home in Three Pines and drawn into the city of Quebec, where he becomes entangled in an ever-thickening web of secrets. One can only hope that discovering the truth will bring Gamache and Peter one step closer to their return, though it becomes terrifyingly clear that the signs may point towards their demise . . .
As a Booklist starred review put it, “[The Long Way Home is] another gem from the endlessly astonishing Penny . . .”
Louise Penny is also a great resource for aspiring writers, providing ample advice, inspiration, and know-how to the literary community via her website, louisepenny.com.
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Most people will tell you that they have the best dad in the world. I’m no exception. I really do think I had the best dad. The only way he could have been surpassed is in fiction, and even then I’m not so sure.
Here are some of my and the Libro team’s favorite fathers in literature. From supportive side characters to crime-solving heroes, these dads love their kids and will do anything for them.
And a very happy Father’s Day to all of the real-life dads out there!
While Mrs. Bennet tut-tuts over her daughters’ marriage prospects, Mr. Bennet is as calm and refreshing as cool breeze. He believes in Elizabeth like nobody else in the family does and understands that there’s more to life than finding a rich husband. When Elizabeth refuses to marry Mr. Collins, he says, “An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do.”
Gilead opens with a letter from John Ames to his young son. In it, he explains he’s dying, gives a bit of explanation about his life, but most of all, his letter is steeped in his love for his son. Ames is old and dying, and more than anything else he regrets that he won’t be there for his son. Throughout the book he recounts his life, as well as the lives of his own father and grandfather. Of all the books on this list, this is the best choice for a thoughtful Father’s Day gift.
It’s difficult to talk about a character in such a long series without giving away too many spoilers. But I can say that Rand, the hero of the books, could never have endured or grown the way he did without the stability and good influence of his father. Tam teaches Rand to enter the void, a meditative state, focusing his energy and powers. He’s pretty handy with a sword too.
Elgin Branch might start off disengaged with his family, and way too into his job at Microsoft, but throughout Where’d You Go, Bernadette, he comes to realize that his daughter, Bee, is more important to him than anything else. Like any good parent, he wants what is best for her, but just what that is might not be what he originally planned.
When he’s not out solving crime, Alex Cross can be found in his basement teaching his kids how to box. Though he wants to make the world a better, safer place, he’s happiest out slurping icecream cones with his family. But Alex’s lifestyle often places those he loves in danger. It’s what makes kidnapping in Cross My Heart such a heart-poundingly good thriller.
Atticus Finch believes in truth and justice, and tries to instill these ideals in his children. But he’s also a tender-hearted man, and realizes that his children are young. He doesn’t talk down to them, but tries to explain the world to them in ways that they can understand. Atticus tells them, “You might hear some ugly talk about it at school, but do one thing for me if you will: you just hold your head high and keep those fists down. No matter what anybody says to you, don’t you let ’em get your goat. Try fighting with your head for a change.” It’s just one of the many pieces of his advice we could all use.
What father figures have we missed? Let us know in the comments.
Whether you’re going on a long run in the sun or a long road trip from coast to coast, whether you’re digging in the garden or prepping for a big family barbecue, audiobooks are a great companion for summer activities. To help you out, we discounted a few for the month of June. And don’t forget to check out our Book of the Month, Where’d You Go Bernadette.
In Showtime, Pearlman relates the facts, figures, and behind-the-scenes accounts of one of the most-loved (and some might say the most-hated) teams ever: The 1980s L.A. Lakers. Great for those who closely followed the Lakers at the time as well as those who know them by reputation only.
Before writing Kill Switch, Baer and Greene produced the wildly popular television show Law & Order. In using a novel format, they are able to tell a longer, more involved story. Claire, a forensic psychiatrist, faces dangerous killers; one is locked up, but the other has been following her for some time.
The things Ivy has always seen, the things she has always thought of as hallucinations, are real. When her sister is taken, she teams up with Adrian to find her. Adrian has secrets he’s keeping from Ivy, but they’ll have to face them eventually. But those secrets could lead to a war that would doom them all.
In Brothers, Rivals, Victors Jordan tells the story of Generals Eisenhower, Patton, and Bradley, whose teamwork, friendship, and leadership led to victory in World War II. Jordan uses the Generals’ own accounts to tell this story as you’ve never heard it before.
Masters of the Air is a long but engrossing nonfiction account of the American bomber boys in World War II. With the style and flair of a gifted storyteller, Miller recounts the real turbulence the bomber boys faced in and out of the air.
Pete Blaber has used his extensive military training both in and out of combat. In The Mission, the Men, and Me, he recounts stories of survival and teamwork from dangerous war zones to the everyday experiences of modern life.
Marriage, dog, kids, minivan . . . that’s the path that Dan Zevin finds himself on in his memoir Dan Gets a Minivan. His hilarious take on his own life makes for laugh-out-loud fun, and his ease creates a relatability that parents and nonparents alike can connect with.
It’s often said that children don’t come with an instruction manual. But if you want to raise your children well, this is about as close as it gets. The Extraordinary Dad lays out easy steps for parental success.
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Readers love James Patterson for his thrilling plotlines, clever characters, and seemingly never-ending drive that allows him to publish several best sellers each year. His latest in the vast Alex Cross series, Hope to Die, took fans on a riveting journey, as Cross battled criminal masterminds, undergoing a series of trials and tribulations, in order to save his family. In the YA Maximum Ride series, readers engrossed themselves in the avian-human hybrid world of the flock, which saved the world, among other things. Normal everyday issues of marriage, family, and friendship collide with gritty heroism and fast-paced mystery and in his Women’s Murder Club.
But I love him for what he’s done for independent bookstores.
Back in 2013, Patterson took out full-page ads in The New York Times Book Review, Publisher’s Weekly, and Kirkus, asking readers to consider why, given the bank and auto-industry bailouts, the government wouldn’t bail out the book industry.
In 2014, Patterson put his money where his mouth is. Not waiting for a helping hand from the government, Patterson announced that over the course of the year, he would be giving $1 million of his own money to independent bookstores across the country. All stores had to do was apply and note what they would use the money for.
The bookstores must be viable bookstores with a children’s section (Patterson is also the man behind readkiddoread.com), so sorry, your garage sale doesn’t count. But other than that, stores could decide how to spend the money.
Before cofounding Libro.FM, I worked as an independent publisher for many years. Indie publishing is in my blood, and as a publisher, I have long relied on independent bookstores to place books like Brain Rules into eager hands. But I also understand the sacrifices that go into owning an independent bookstore. Without a big operating budget, upgrades, new programs, or even raises get put off year after year.
None of the grants that James Patterson gave out will fix the publishing industry or save a bookstore from shutting its doors permanently (as I said, the stores must be viable to begin with). But they will have an impact on each store, and that’s important.
Libro.fm supports indie stores around the world. Check out our indie bookseller recommendations, including staff picks from Third Place Books (Seattle), Green Apple Books (San Francisco), and Book Passage (San Francisco). As it happens, all three of those stores received money from Patterson. Book Passage was able to buy a bookmobile, that will enable them to travel to more book fairs. Green Apple renovated their floors.
This year, James Patterson intends to keep supporting independent bookstores. (To recommend a store, visit his page here).
My dream is that we will live in a culture where extra funds aren’t needed to help bookstores distribute great books, curate reading programs, or even keep their roofs up. But I am also a businessman and a pragmatist, so, at least for now, I applaud James Patterson, and keep encouraging my friends and family to shop at their local independent bookstores.
Watch James Patterson discuss his endeavors, along with his romance novel First Love, below.
What’s your favorite indie bookstore? Let us know in the comments. To hear more about James Patterson and similar authors, sign up for our newsletter.
In 2013, the audiobook of The Cuckoo’s Calling by as-yet-unknown author Robert Galbraith, shot to number one. It was only after the book made a successful debut in its own right that the world discovered that Robert Galbraith was actually J.K. Rowling. Rowling, writing as Galbraith, is now back with The Silkworm, the second installment of the acclaimed Cormoran Strike series. This time, Strike is on the case of a missing author, whose latest manuscript is so filled with violence and thinly-veiled references to those around him, it’s been deemed “unpublishable”. There may be none of the magic of the Harry Potter novels, but the suspense, twists, and details are all still there.
Listen to a clip from the beginning of The Silkworm.
Have you read The Silkworm or The Cuckoo’s Calling? Let us know what you think or link to your review in the comments. Sign up for our newsletter to hear more about J.K. Rowling and similar authors.