A thriller book recommendation: Europe in Winter by Dave Hutchinson

A critic review (source Financial Times) can be read at: http://on.ft.com/2meZX4k.
A confident mix of sly satire and diffident humour with intricate jigsaw plotting and political acumen.
Book description from amazon.com:
Union has come. The Community is now the largest nation in Europe; trains run there from as far afield as London and Prague. It is an era of unprecedented peace and prosperity. So what is the reason for a huge terrorist outrage? Why do the Community and Europe meet in secret, exchanging hostages? And who are Les Coureurs des Bois? Along with a motley crew of strays and mafiosi and sleeper agents, Rudi sets out to answer these questions – only to discover that the truth lies both closer to home and farther away than anyone could possibly imagine.
The book is rated 4.11/5 at goodreads.com, from 297 ratings. See 49 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2mBHilH.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2sdrgxW.

A home-craft-hobbies book recommendation: Cat Is Art Spelled Wrong by Caroline Casey

A critic review (source AV Club) can be read at: http://bit.ly/1QhSAnt.
Cats have a hold on us—even those of us who do not consider ourselves a “cat person.” And now cat videos do too. All it takes is a click of a mouse, or, in the case of Cat Is Art Spelled Wrong, the turn of a page, to find out why.
Book description from Google Books:
“Coffee House Press, a major nonprofit publisher, recently launched a Kickstarter for a book examining the Internet’s cat video fetish. The book, if the Kickstarter campaign reaches its $25,000 goal, will be titled Cat is Art Spelled Wrong, and examine themes like what makes something art, whether art is good or bad, and how taste develops. In other words, cat videos can actually be . . . pretty serious.”—The Washington Post “Coffee House Press one-ups all boring Kickstarter campaigns with Catstarter, a campaign to fund a book on cat videos.”—The Millions “Coffee House Press’s upcoming book, titled Cat is Art Spelled Wrong, takes the opportunity to examine a seemingly irrelevant subject from new perspectives—from ‘the line is between reality/self on the internet’ to ‘how cat videos demonstrate either that nothing matters, or that any art matters if anyone thinks it does.’ Thus, it’s an earnest attempt to uncover more about human nature—especially in today’s internet-driven world.”—Cool Hunting Fifteen writers, all addressing not just our fascination with cat videos, but also how we decide what is good or bad art, or art at all; how taste develops, how that can change, and why we love or hate something. It’s about people and technology and just what it is about cats that makes them the internet’s cutest despots. Contributors include: Sasha Archibald, Will Braden, Stephen Burt, Maria Bustillos, David Carr, Matthea Harvey, Alexis Madrigal, Joanne McNeil, Ander Monson, Kevin Nguyen, Elena Passarello, Jillian Steinhauer, Sarah Schultz, and Carl Wilson.
The book is rated 3.50/5 at goodreads.com, from 60 ratings. See 13 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/1QhSCvz.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2tGuvSn.

A children book recommendation: The Best Man by Richard Peck

A critic review (source Dear Author) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2fFJJ3p.
What brief glimpses we could see of the love story were adorable in the best sense of the word. I really hope kids will like this book as much as I did.
Book description from Google Books:
Newbery Medalist Richard Peck tells a story of small-town life, gay marriage, and everyday heroes in this novel for fans of Gary Schmidt and Jack Gantos. Archer Magill has spent a lively five years of grade school with one eye out in search of grown-up role models. Three of the best are his grandpa, the great architect; his dad, the great vintage car customizer,; and his uncle Paul, who is just plain great. These are the three he wants to be. Along the way he finds a fourth–Mr. McLeod, a teacher. In fact, the first male teacher in the history of the school. But now here comes middle school and puberty. Change. Archer wonders how much change has to happen before his voice does. He doesn’t see too far ahead, so every day or so a startling revelation breaks over him. Then a really big one when he’s the best man at the wedding of two of his role models. But that gets ahead of the story. In pages that ripple with laughter, there’s a teardrop here and there. And more than a few insights about the bewildering world of adults, made by a boy on his way to being the best man he can be.
The book is rated 4.01/5 at goodreads.com, from 1819 ratings. See 536 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2ef7KJF.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2snDu72.

A current-affairs book recommendation: No Time Like the Present by Nadine Gordimer

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2dsvEBt.
The scenes in which these shifts of allegiance transpire provide a perfect example of what literature can give us that history books cannot.
Book description from Google Books:
A sharply observed new novel about post-apartheid South Africa from the Nobel Prize winnerNadine Gordimer is one of our most telling contemporary writers. With each new work, she attacks—with a clear-eyed fierceness, a lack of sentimentality, and a deep understanding of the darkest depths of the human soul—her eternal themes: the inextricable link between personal and communal history; the inescapable moral ambiguities of daily life; the political and racial tensions that persist in her homeland, South Africa. And in each new work is fresh evidence of her literary genius: in the sharpness of her psychological insights, the stark beauty of her language, the complexity of her characters, and the difficult choices with which they are faced. In No Time Like the Present, Gordimer trains her keen eye on Steve and Jabulile, an interracial couple living in a newly, tentatively, free South Africa. They have a daughter, Sindiswa; they move to the suburbs; Steve becomes a lecturer at a university; Jabulile trains to become a lawyer; there is another child, a boy this time. There is nothing so extraordinary about their lives, and yet, in telling their story and the stories of their friends and families, Gordimer manages to capture the tortured, fragmented essence of a nation struggling to define itself post-apartheid. The subject is contemporary, but Gordimer’s treatment is, as ever, timeless. In No Time Like the Present, she shows herself once again a master novelist, at the height of her prodigious powers.
The book is rated 3.20/5 at goodreads.com, from 386 ratings. See 110 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/1ETb4Rp.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2tBtZ88.

A nature book recommendation: A Brief History of Everyone who Ever Lived: The Stories in Our Genes by Adam Rutherford

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2eHtXAE.
He has produced a polished, thoroughly entertaining history of Homo sapiens and its DNA in a manner that displays popular science writing at its best.
Book description from Google Books:
This is a story about you. It is the history of who you are and how you came to be. It is unique to you, as it is to each of the 100 billion modern humans who have ever drawn breath. But it is also our collective story, because in every one of our genomes we each carry the history of our species – births, deaths, disease, war, famine, migration and a lot of sex. Since scientists first read the human genome in 2001 it has been subject to all sorts of claims, counterclaims and myths. In fact, as Adam Rutherford explains, our genomes should be read not as instruction manuals, but as epic poems. DNA determines far less than we have been led to believe about us as individuals, but vastly more about us as a species. In this captivating journey through the expanding landscape of genetics, Adam Rutherford reveals what our genes now tell us about history, and what history tells us about our genes. From Neanderthals to murder, from redheads to race, dead kings to plague, evolution to epigenetics, this is a demystifying and illuminating new portrait of who we are and how we came to be.
The book is rated 4.20/5 at goodreads.com, from 359 ratings. See 44 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2dMJ5iv.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2snnPF6.

A self-help book recommendation: Sixty: The Beginning of the End, or the End of the Beginning? by Ian Brown

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2cC4r1D.
And prose snobs will love him. To borrow a phrase he uses about Robin Williams, his writing quicksilvers along; his capsule descriptions are sublime.
Book description from Google Books:
Shortlisted for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Non-Fiction as well as a finalist for the RBC Taylor Prize, Sixty is a wickedly honest and brutally funny account of the year in which Ian Brown truly realized that the man in the mirror was…sixty. By the author of the multiple award-winning The Boy in the Moon.     Sixty is a report from the front, a dispatch from the Maginot Line that divides the middle-aged from the soon to be elderly. As Ian writes, “It is the age when the body begins to dominate the mind, or vice versa, when time begins to disappear and loom, but never in a good way, when you have no choice but to admit that people have stopped looking your way, and that in fact they stopped twenty years ago.”      Ian began keeping a diary with a Facebook post on the morning of February 4, 2014, his sixtieth birthday. As well as keeping a running tally on how he survived the year, Ian explored what being sixty means physically, psychologically and intellectually. “What pleasures are gone forever? Which ones, if any, are left? What did Beethoven, or Schubert, or Jagger, or Henry Moore, or Lucien Freud do after they turned sixty?” And most importantly, “How much life can you live in the fourth quarter, not knowing when the game might end?”      With formidable candour, he tries to answer this question: “Does aging and elderliness deserve to be dreaded–and how much of that dread can be held at bay by a reasonable human being?” For that matter, for a man of sixty, what even constitutes reasonableness?
The book is rated 3.45/5 at goodreads.com, from 309 ratings. See 75 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/1HrYj7m.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2s4FO2G.

A crime book recommendation: Idaho: A Novel by Emily Ruskovich

A critic review (source AV Club) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2mZbbtx.
Idaho is sad, but not despairingly so. Ruskovich’s prose is lyrical but keen, a poem that never gets lost in its own rhythm.
Book description from Google Books:
A stunning debut novel about love and forgiveness, about the violence of memory and the equal violence of its loss–from O. Henry Prize-winning author Emily Ruskovich Ann and Wade have carved out a life for themselves from a rugged landscape in northern Idaho, where they are bound together by more than love. With her husband’s memory fading, Ann attempts to piece together the truth of what happened to Wade’s first wife, Jenny, and to their daughters. In a story written in exquisite prose and told from multiple perspectives–including Ann, Wade, and Jenny, now in prison–we gradually learn of the mysterious and shocking act that fractured Wade and Jenny’s lives, of the love and compassion that brought Ann and Wade together, and of the memories that reverberate through the lives of every character in Idaho. In a wild emotional and physical landscape, Wade’s past becomes the center of Ann’s imagination, as Ann becomes determined to understand the family she never knew–and to take responsibility for them, reassembling their lives, and her own. Praise for Idaho “You know you’re in masterly hands here. [Emily] Ruskovich’s language is itself a consolation, as she subtly posits the troubling thought that only decency can save us. . . . Ruskovich’s novel will remind many readers of the great Idaho novel, Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping. . . .  [A] wrenching and beautiful book.”–The New York Times Book Review “Sensuous, exquisitely crafted.”–The Wall Street Journal “The first thing you should know about Idaho, the shatteringly original debut by O. Henry Prize winner Emily Ruskovich, is that it upturns everything you think you know about story. . . . You could read Idaho just for the sheer beauty of the prose, the expert way Ruskovich makes everything strange and yet absolutely familiar.”–San Francisco Chronicle “Mesmerizing . . . [an] eerie story about what the heart is capable of fathoming and what the hand is capable of executing.”–Marie Claire “Idaho is a wonderful debut. Ruskovich knows how to build a page-turner from the opening paragraph.”–Ft. Worth Star-Telegram “Ruskovich’s debut is haunting, a portrait of an unusual family and a state that becomes a foreboding figure in her vivid depiction.”–The Huffington Post “Idaho is both a place and an emotional dimension. Haunted, haunting, Ruskovich’s novel winds through time, braiding events and their consequences in the most unexpected and moving ways.”–Andrea Barrett “Ruskovich digs deeply into everyday moments, and shows that it is there, in our quietest thoughts and experiences, where we find and create our true selves.”–Hannah Tinti, author of The Good Thief “[Idaho] caught and held me absolutely.”–Leslie Jamison, author of The Empathy Exams “Ruskovich has written a poem in prose, a beautiful and intricate homage to place, and a celebration of the defeats and triumphs of love. Beautifully crafted, emotionally evocative, and psychologically astute, Idaho is one of the best books I have read in a long time.”–Chinelo Okparanta, author of Under the Udala Trees “Ruskovich has intricately entwined a terrifying human story with an austere and impervious setting. The result–something bigger than either–is beautiful, brutal, and incandescent.”–Deirdre McNamer, author of Red Rover
The book is rated 3.54/5 at goodreads.com, from 4446 ratings. See 917 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2mZ9psg.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2mgzTFP.