Featured favorites: Books that outperformed expectations
Martha's Vineyard Times File Photo
IN THE GARDEN OF BEASTS; LOVE, TERROR AND AN AMERICAN FAMILY IN HITLER'S BERLIN by Eric Larson
Larson, author of Devil in the White City, jumped onto the bestseller list and stayed there, with his latest book. Willam Dowd, a Midwestern academic, is named ambassador to Berlin in 1933, bringing his wife and two grown children with him. At first he is amazed at what Hitler seems to be accomplishing. As time goes on he becomes increasingly alarmed at what the Nazi regime is really up to. His flamboyant daughter, Martha, falls in love with the pomp of the regime and the handsome members of the Gestapo. As their first year in Berlin, the Dowds experience excitement, romance and ultimately horror.
GLACIERS by Alexis Smith
Isabel, who grew up in Alaska is a book restorer in a library in Portland, Oregon. She collects old and used postcards from faraway and exotic places, making up stories about the senders and receivers. She most longs to go to Amsterdam, which she believes is perfect. She timidly approaches coworker, Spoke, an Iraq veteran, who has very different dreams. The entire book takes place is one day, but is filled with Isabel's flashbacks and dreams as she seeks to find her own story. This lyrical small book has found its way quietly into many hands.
THE EIGHTY-DOLLAR CHAMPION by Elizabeth Letts
Harry de Leyer leaves war torn Holland to come to Long Island, New York to train horses. On his way to a Pennsylvania auction, his car breaks down and he is too late. All that are left are horses in a wagon, waiting to go to the slaughterhouse. One large gray horse attracts Harry's attention, and he buys him for the eighty dollars he has left in his pocket. His children name this gentle giant Snowman. This is the unbelievable story of this unlikely duo who make their way into the elite moneyed world of show jumping. This book has been an amazing success with not only animal lovers, but with those who like to see the little guy win.
SALVAGE THE BONES by Jesmyn Ward
Esch is fourteen and pregnant. Her mother is dead and her father is busy drinking. Hurricane Katrina is building in the Gulf of Mexico. Esch and her three brothers try to stockpile as much food as they can. Her brother, Skeetah, is sneaking bits of food out to his beloved prize pit bull's puppies, that are dying in the dirt. As they attempt to survive the storm, we see the sacrifice that these motherless children, part of the forgotten poor, have for each other. They seek to hold on to something to love, more than seeking love for themselves. This amazing book was the 2011 National Book Award Winner for fiction.
KEEPER OF LOST CAUSES by Jussi Adler-Olsen
This little gem has come from Adler-Olsen, Denmark's leading crime writer. Homicide detective, Carl Morck, has narrowly survived an ambush that has left one officer dead and the other paralyzed. Morck has been put in charge of a new department, Department Q, a one man department in part to keep this difficult officer out of the way. His job is to resolve the coldest of cold cases. Adler-Olsen has given us a flawed, but likable character who weaves his way through the threads of half forgotten cases, often finding more questions than answers.