Shelley Chick-Gravel

The Next Life Might Be Kinder by Howard Norman

The Next Life Might Be Kinder by Howard Norman

The Next Life Might Be Kinder, by Howard Norman, has one of those great first lines:  “After my wife, Elizabeth Church, was murdered by the bellman Alphonse Padgett in the Essex Hotel, she did not leave me.”

The Secret Place by Tana French

The Secret Place by Tana French

There are a few authors whose new books I anxiously await. Tana French is one of those authors, and her newest book, The Secret Place, did not disappoint.

Still Life by Louise Penny

Still Life by Louise Penny

Still Life, Louise Penny’s debut novel and the first book in a series, introduces readers to Armand Gamache, Chief Inspector of Homicide with the Sûreté du Québec. The mystery opens with Jane Neal, a 76-year-old woman living in the village of Three Pines, being found dead on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole

Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole

I don't usually choose to read romances, but the setting for Jessica Brockmole's debut novel, Letters from Skye, interested me. It is a true "old-fashioned love story," told in alternating chapters through letters written during World War I and World War II.

The Dinner by Herman Koch

The Dinner by Herman Koch

The Dinner is Herman Koch’s sixth novel. Set in Amsterdam, it is a story of two couples meeting for dinner. At first the dinner appears to be an ordinary meeting of two brothers and their wives. Soon, however, the true reason for the meeting emerges. Each of the couple’s 15-year-old sons participated in an incident that resulted in a police investigation. The boys have not been identified as the perpetrators. The couples have met for dinner to discuss the incident and its potential effect on their sons’ future.

Delicious! A Novel by Ruth Reichl

Delicious! A Novel by Ruth Reichl

Did you know that you can eat milkweed? This is one of the interesting facts I learned from Ruth Reichl’s debut novel, Delicious!

At the age of 10, Billie Breslin discovered she had a gift. She is able to recreate the recipe for a cake based on her memory of the flavors she tasted in that cake. Eleven years later, Billie finds herself in New York, far from her family in California, applying for a job, not as a chef but as an administrative assistant for a food magazine, Delicious.

While at the magazine, Billie uncovers a series of letters written during World War II between a young girl, Lulu, and Mr. Beard, a former employee of the magazine and a chef. Billie becomes fascinated with them and wants to learn more about Lulu. As Billie attempts to solve the mystery of Lulu’s letters, she works on issues in her own life.

The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan

The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan

Can it ever be morally acceptable to sacrifice one life to save many? That is one of the questions you will find yourself considering as you read The Lifeboat, by Charlotte Rogan. In the summer of 1914, Grace elopes with Henry Winter. After a stay in London the young couple is returning on an ocean liner to America to announce their marriage to Henry’s family. A mysterious explosion on board leads to the sinking of the ship. Henry sacrifices his own safety to secure a place on one of the lifeboats for Grace. There are 39 people on the lifeboat, and it becomes very clear early on that the boat is overcapacity.

She's Leaving Home by William Shaw

She's Leaving Home by William Shaw

She’s Leaving Home is William Shaw’s debut novel. Set in 1960s London, a young woman’s body is found on a residential street, near the Beatles’ recording studio on Abbey Road. Detective Cahal Breen needs to solve this case to prove he is still up to the task of being a detective, following what appears to have been an act of cowardice. Teaming up with Helen Tozer, a new policewoman, Breen begins to focus on the many young fans who congregate outside the Beatles’ studio.

The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World’s Greatest Piece of Cheese by Michael Paterniti

The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World’s Greatest Pi

In Michael Paterniti’s The Telling Room, he first encounters Páramo de Guzman while working in a deli after graduate school in the early 1990s. At $22 a pound he wasn’t going to taste it, but he wanted to know its story.