Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows & Mary Ann ShafferGenre: historical, general/literary
This book combines elements I wouldn’t have thought could be combined in one book. I certainly would never have picked it up on my own, but my “literary” book club read it, and I’m glad we did.
General premise: In a series of witty letters, it tells the story of some Guernsey folk who formed a book club while under Nazi occupation. Guernsey is an island between England and France, and I believe was the only part of the United Kingdom actually occupied by the Germans during WWII. Much like the kids in the Narnia books (I'm assuming people are more likely to be familiar with those than with English history), the kids on the island were evacuated to live with strangers in England just before Guernsey was attacked.
The word I’ve heard used most often to describe this book is “charming”. And it is. It’s amazing that one could maintain such a lighthearted, humorous tone in a book about people trying to hold onto something approaching a normal life while starving alongside ill-supplied invading forces and watching their neighbors be carted off to concentration camps. I’m not describing it very well. Just give this amazing book a shot.
The Ghost Brigades by John ScalziGenre: SF
General premise Jared Dirac is a member of a unique military unit nicknamed the Ghost Brigades, cloned from the DNA of dead recruits and then seriously genetically enhanced. Unlike the others, Jared was cloned from a living person, Charles Boutin, who has defected to the enemy with secrets the Colonial Defense Force is desperate to keep. At first Jared seems like a failed experiment as he has none of Boutin's memories, but slowly they start to filter into his brain, creating conflict between the viewpoint he inherited with his DNA and the soldier he has to be.
The Ghost Brigades comes after Old Man’s War and is one of my favorite SF books. I believe it’s the only SF that’s made me cry (and no, that’s not why I love it). When people who have never really read science fiction ask for recommendations, I suggest Ender’s Game (profiled earlier) and Old Man’s War.
The Giant’s House by Elizabeth McCrackenGenre: literary/general fiction
The general premise is daring – a twenty-five-year-old librarian named Peggy (who fits all the stereotypes of a librarian, except for her sly wit) falls in love with one of her students. James, like Peggy, is a lonely misfit. When she first meets him, he’s eleven years old, already 6’4”, and would never stop growing.
There are plenty of stories about men falling in love with inappropriately-young women. Very rarely do we see the reverse, and the author wrote a fascinating story without going anywhere gross with it, focusing more on the growth and tragedy both characters experience over the course of a decade as giantism takes its toll on James.