Susan’s Top 6 of 2013

1. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

2. Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden
3. Secret Daughter by Shilipi Somaya Gowda
4. Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
5. The Sevenwaters series by Juliet Marillier
6. Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking by Susan Cain

Helen’s Top 6 of 2013

1. Two Graves by Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child

2. The Blood Gospel by James Rollins
3. NOS4A2 by Joe Hill
4. Joyland by Stephen King
5. Stoker’s Manuscript by Royce Prouty
6. The Black Country by Alex Grecian

Linda’s Top 5 of 2013

Bury Your Dead
by Louise Penny
Once again, Louise Penny is at the top of my list. Each installation of her Inspector Gamache series is better than the last. In her sixth mystery, she actually weaves together two complete storylines, which could stand on their own, and for a coup de gras, adds a ribbon of plotline that wraps up  her last novel, The Brutal Telling, like a gift. All of this excellently and brilliantly carried out, holding the readers interest, right up to the last page. This one is not to be missed. This is definitely a series that must be read in order, though. So if you haven’t had the pleasure of getting lost in Three Pines with Inspector Gamache, start with the first one, Still Life.

Speaking From Among the Bones
by Alan Bradley
This 5th in the series is just as delightful as the other four. Flavia de Luce, precocious and daring 11 year old, lives in a small English village in the 1950’s. Her mother died in a plane crash when Flavia was very young and is greatly missed by all.  She has two sisters who are the bain of her existence and a father who cannot keep up with her.  Thus encouraged to find her own amusement, Flavia has a penchant for finding trouble, and dead bodies. Alan Bradley does an excellent job creating this small village and populating it with interesting, some might say, eccentric characters. Yet for all this the mysteries are engaging and challenging. If you haven’t read these I suggest you start with the first installment, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, and watch the story unfold from the beginning.

Killing Floor
by Lee Child
After hearing so many complaints from Jack Reacher fans over the movie casting, I had to try this series. I was not disappointed. This thriller/mystery/action story was thoroughly enjoyable. It is the kind of book I just can’t put down. Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time! Jack Reacher, retired military policeman, loner, and stranger in town was arrested for murder. Everyone wants him to be guilty. It’s up to Jack to get himself out of this nightmare. Jack Reacher is a man’s man, tough, strong, capable, and trained in hand to hand combat. He’s also a gentlemen and has a way with the ladies. Accompanying him on his journey is some ride!

Her Royal Spyness
By Rhys Bowen
Cute! Perky! Charming! are the words I would use to describe this mystery series by Rhys Bowen. Meet Lady Georgiana, 34th in line for the British throne. Georgie, as her friends call her, is not interested in an arranged marriage to a foreign prince so she leaves the family castle in Scotland to make her own way in the world. Alone in the family home in London it’s not too long before she finds trouble, in the form of a body in her bath.  Light and easy to read, these books are the perfect companion for a day at the beach or an evening on the couch.

Dead Level
by Sarah Graves
I enjoy this series that is set in Eastport, Maine.  Jacobia Tiptree, New York transplant to the island, has an uncanny knack for finding bodies and getting in the way of killers. In this episode, the killer gets up close and personal, making Jake his main target. After all, she did get him put away. There are plenty of thrills as Jake and her BFF Ellie do their best to outwit their stalker. There is plenty of action and excitement in this one. It’s a quick read.

Winter Garden Fun

Are you finding yourself longing for green garden views during these cold and snowy Maine days?  There’s no reason why your garden can’t be a fun and inviting space during the winter months.  

We’ve put together a collection of fun ideas to help overcome the winter doldrums.

Build Snow Animals:  The National Wildlife Federation Kids has some ideas with easy instructions.  If you’d like to feed feathered friends at the same time, decorate your snow animal with berries, bird seed, and other bird delicacies.

Snow Painting: Color some water with food coloring and use spray bottles or ketchup-type squirt bottles to decorate the snow.

 Create snow land art Andy Goldsworthy style

Cover the garden with greenery snowflakes

Enjoy!  If you try some of these ideas, stop by and let us know how it turned out…

Emma’s Top 10 of 2013

1. Tenth of December by George Saunders This collection of short stories by MacArthur genius grant winner, Saunders, has really polarized opinion. People either love it or hate it and I am one of the former. The seeming simplicity of Saunder’s writing belies an ability to make the reader empathize with the downtrodden and disenfranchised and to find hope and humanity in the most desperate of situations. The title story of a young misfit who encounters a cancer patient intent on suicide on a frozen pond will stay with you long after the final page has been turned.

2. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Fans of Donna Tartt (including me) have waited 11 years for this novel and it does not disappoint. Tartt is a master and her genius lies in writing novels that are simultaneously dense in their description and tense page turners at the same time, such a combination is a rarity. The Goldfinch tells the tale of Theo, who accidentally steals a masterpiece in the most dire of circumstances, and follows his adventures while meditating on life, obsession, love and the transformative power of art.

3. Locke and Key by Joe Hill
The Locke and Key series of graphic novels is not for the weak stomached and definitely fixed in the Gothic horror genre. The Locke family move back to their family home after a tragedy and discover the house has many secrets to be unlocked.

4. Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell
Another recipient of the MacArthur genius grant, this is Russell’s second collection of short stories. From enslaved women who grow silk in their bellies like silkworms, a teenage boy who is given talismans by a seagull and a masseuse who discovers she can heal the psychic scars of a war vet, these stories are magical and strange and always original.

5. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Possibly his most personal novel to date, The Ocean at the End of the Lane tells the story, in flashback, of a young boy’s trauma at the hands of an au pair who usurps his mother and his friendship with a girl down the road, Lettie Hempstock, who may or may not be a witch. A fairytale for grown-ups, many are saying this is Gaiman’s best work yet.

6. How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
Irreverent, provocative and shocking, Moran weaves hilarious observations from her own life with a call to arms to modern feminists.

7. Glossolalia by David Jauss A
master of his craft, it is hard to believe that these stories are written by the same man. Glossolalia literally means “speaking in tongues,” and Jauss’ work spans the breadth of humanity: male and female, young and old, from cultures as disparate as a Catholic priest among Mayans to a Dominican baseball player far away from home to a Russian hunchback humiliated by his employer. Comparisons to Chekhov are justified.

8. Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
The sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Taylor continues the story of Karou and Akiva on opposing sides of an ancient war between angels and monsters. One of the most original fantasy (and YA) series out there.

9. The Tale of Raw Head and Bloody Bones by Jack Wolf An unusual historical novel set in the Enlightenment, The Tale of Raw Head and Bloody Bones tells the tale of Tristan Hart, a brilliant young doctor, sadist and madman. Unexpectedly funny, and at heart, a love story, this novel juxtaposes the language of the time with more modern attitudes.

10. Night Film by Marisha Pessl
Pessl’s second novel after Special Topics in Calamity Physics, Night Film is a dark and unsettling novel that follows a disgraced journalist as he investigates the death of Ashley Cordova and its links with her father, the reclusive Stanislas Cordova, cult film director. Pessl is so successful at world building and creating mood in this novel that you will be half convinced that Cordova and his films actually exist.

Lynne’s Top 5 of 2013

1. Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

2. Wonder by R.J. Palacio

3. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

4. Ben Behind his Voices by Ranye Kaye

5. Let’s Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

Julie’s Top 5 of 2013


1. Locke and Key By Joe Hill

A series of graphic novels about siblings overcoming tragedies in a very weird house!

2. Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews

Continuing Kate Daniels’ story in the magic-plagued city of Atlanta.  Kate is a very strong character and I love to read how she saves the world!

3. House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski

A scary book that is difficult to read but not the way you are thinking!

4. Jack Reacher (the movie starring Tom Cruise)

5. Poppet by Mo Hayder

Her books scare me but I absolutely love to read about DI Jack Caffery and Flea.  She seems to put a little otherworldliness in a world where you wish that was the explanation.