My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira

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This historical novel tells the story of an Albany midwife who longs to be a surgeon during the Civil War.  You follow her as she struggles for acceptance in the medical communities of Albany, Washington, D.C. and finally the battlefields of the war.  For history buffs, the descriptions of battlefield medicine are fascinating (though not for the faint of heart!) as well as the depiction of the early days of the nation’s capital.  For local readers, 1860s’ Albany has some familiar place names.  I appreciated the strong female character as well as the history of the Civil War told from the nurse/surgeon’s view.

Homer’s Odyssey by Gwen Cooper

One of the best cat stories ever.  Homer loses his eyes to an infection at only a few weeks of age.  When Gwen Cooper adopts this adorable kitten, she thinks she is doing him a favor, but it turns out that Homer gives much more than he gets.  Since all he has ever known is blindness, Homer doesn’t know that he has a handicap, so he lives his life with fearlessness and joie de vivre.  His huge personality and zest for living inspire everyone who has the privilege to meet him.  A true story that will touch your heart.  Don’t miss it.

The Line by Teri Hall

Rachel and her mother, Vivian, have lived on The Property as long as she can recall.  Vivian works for Ms. Moore, who owns The Property and runs a greenhouse in which she grows orchids.  The Property is very quiet and secluded, but it is located adjacent to the infamous Line — a border protection system which separates the U.S. from Away.  To stop an approaching foreign enemy, the U.S. had activated the Line without warning, trapping many U.S. citizens in Away.  Then, Away was blasted with atomic bombs.  The Line is always on to keep Others from crossing the border.  Anyone who speaks out against the government and/or the Line is considered a traitor, and almost everyone lives in fear of the oppressive government.

The Widower’s Tale by Julia Glass

Seventy-year-old Percy Darling is an affable curmudgeon who enjoys swimming in his pond and cheerfully criticizing the neighbors in his well-to-do Massachusetts town.  When he allows a high-end preschool to move into his barn, Percy finds his quiet routine shaken–in a way, he realizes, that is not altogether unwelcome.  Glass gracefully weaves Percy’s story with those of others in his circle: Sarah — Percy’s new love interest, Percy’s daughters Clover and Trudy and environmentalist grandson Robert, Celestino —  an immigrant worker with connections to a prominent academic family, and Ira, a preschool teacher longing for acceptance.  The result is a compelling, memorable read.

Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen

Letty Larkspur and Cordelia Grey have run away from their small Ohio town and are determined to make it big in New York City.  Letty is sure that she will be a star, if only she can get the chance to audition for a role, and Cordelia plans on tracking down the man she believes to be her father — infamous bootlegger Darius Grey.  Full of larger-than-life characters and jam-packed with action, this story begs to be read in one sitting.  Now, if only I knew when the next book was supposed to come out… (I’ll be keeping an eye out on http://www.bytseries.com)

Ash by Malinda Lo

Aisling’s father did his best to care for her after her mother died, but his protection ended when he died, and her jealous stepmother did her best to make up for lost time.  Horrible living conditions?  Check.  Too much hard labor for one person to complete?  Check.  A dream that she will some day escape this hellish existence?  Check.  Sure, this is a Cinderella story . . .  but it’s not your mama’s Cinderella story!  More than just a coming of age story and a fairy tale with a twist, this is a beautifully written tale about what it truly means to live and love.