I think I am at the point in my reading career to want to find new and exciting novels about war. I have read so many stories about the two world wars and so many of them are simply fantastic. But because I have read so many, it has made me wish for a writer to do something different. Simply put, wow me. Sarah McCoy has done just that.

THE BAKER’S DAUGHTER has two points of view—a small town in Germany, during the war, and a family run bakery and a modern day story in Texas. How do they have anything in common? Elsie, the teenage daughter of the German baker, is now elderly and  living in Texas running her own bakery. The novel is about what happened to her and her family and how she came to Texas. But we also meet Reba, the young woman in Texas who befriends Elsie…we see two women, in different time periods, who have life changing decisions to make.

There are so many things that work well in this story, and it still amazes me that after all this time, there are still war stories that are fresh and new, and credit goes to McCoy for doing this. When young Elsie slowly discovers the truth about Hitler and that the rumors about the camps, it all seems so believable and painful. Once again, the dilemma is do you have the courage to risk your life to save another? Do you have the courage and faith to change the course of your life? For those of you looking for a book that begs for discussion, this is a perfect choice.

Now let us take a leap into something completely different. GONE GIRL is a thriller and a mystery, but there is nothing traditional about this novel. This is a story that is so radical and unique that you will not believe how Gillian Flynn came up with this idea and how well she pulled it off.

All I will say about this story is that it is about a marriage, a missing wife, an accused husband and who is telling the truth? Who can you root for when Flynn has created characters who do not have many redeeming qualities? The brilliance of this book is that you don’t really care who is right or wrong, you just love and love this story. You turn pages and then remember to breathe. You end a chapter and try to think about what you just read and then give up, and just keep going. This is runaway train and you must get on board.

Rachel Joyce has created characters that we feel could be our neighbors in THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY. Harold, a quiet retiree, steps out of his British home to mail a letter. Once he reaches the mail box, he just keeps walking and walking. He decides that it would be best to see the woman he is writing to and not just reply with a letter. That morning he has received a note from a woman he had briefly worked with many years ago and she is now in hospice. Harold thinks that if he walks the 500 miles to her, he can save her life.

This unusual novel is not just about a man having a walking adventure, but it is also about his past, his marriage and family and it is also about the people he meets along the way. This is a gentle story that quietly makes you think about your own journey in life. Joyce has created very real characters in Harold and his wife, Maureen. But as the story unfolds, we find out there is more and more to this quiet, mild man. A very satisfying read.

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