The three Andreas sisters, Rosalind (Rose), Bianca (Bean), and Cordelia (Cordy) grew up like no other sisters you have ever met in The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown.   Their father, a college professor who speaks to them the majority of the time by rattling off Shakespearean quotes, instilled a love of books in his three daughters.

Raised in the college town of Barnwell, Ohio, the sister’s lives took dramatically different directions after leaving their childhood home.  Their lives are as different as their personalities and although they are sisters, they realize that they truly love each other, but actually don’t like each other that much.  The three reunite back in Barnwell for a variety of reasons, most importantly, their mother’s battle with cancer.

In addition to their mother’s illness, each of the Andreas sisters has their own personal struggle to deal with whether it be running away from their past lives or struggling with their future and its choices.  The engaging characters and witty dialogue make The Weird Sisters a treat to read.  You will find yourself immersed in the lives of the sisters as a member of the Andreas family and you will find yourself caught up in their triumphs and in their failures.

Confession:  I am majorly geeking out over George R. R. Martin’s epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire.  I just finished the first book in the series, called A Game of Thrones, and even though it is very long and very intense, all I want to do is start reading the next book!  I’m really not sure how to briefly summarize a nearly 900 page book in a way that will make sense, but here goes nothing.

In the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, seasons can last for decades, and a long period of summer is about to end and lead into winter.  Lord Eddard Stark has just been paid a visit by the King of the Seven Kingdoms with a request:  he would like Eddard to come to King’s Landing and take a new position as the Hand of the King (sort of a second-in-command).  Though reluctant, Eddard accepts so that he can go to King’s Landing and investigate the death of the previous Hand, his good friend Jon Arryn.   The story involves a lot of mystery and intrigue, as well as romance, violence, adventure, action, direwolves, and swordplay.

The story is told in alternating viewpoints, so the reader gets to hear not just Eddard’s viewpoint, but also those of his illegitimate son Jon Snow, the queen’s sharp-tongued dwarf brother Tyrion, Eddard’s wife Catelyn, their willful daughter Arya, and more.  My favorite character, however, has to be Daenerys Targaryen.  She and her brother are the rightful heirs to the throne, but they have been in hiding ever since the current King usurped the throne from their father.  Daenerys (or Dany) starts off as a meek young girl succumbing to her brother’s every temper-fueled demand, but grows stronger and more confident as the book progresses.  I love seeing her transformation and am eager to find out what happens to her next.

My little summary is really just the tip of the iceberg.  There’s a lot going on in this book, and it’s all done with fantastic world building and engaging character development.  I’m pretty eager to pick up the next book, called A Clash of Kings.  Plus, HBO just made the book into a series, but I haven’t been able to watch it because I unfortunately don’t get that channel.   Have YOU watched the show, and if so, how is it?  Does it live up to the book?

I really wanted to read this book, but I kept putting it back on the shelf.  At nearly 1000 pages (985 to be exact) I knew I could read three books in the same time it would take me to finish just this one.  I shouldn’t have waited.  Turns out, it really was a pretty quick read — but that’s because I hardly ever put it down!

Fall of Giants isn’t Ken Follett’s first historical fiction book, nor will it be his last.  Readers will no doubt remember his Pillars of the Earth, which was an Oprah Book Club choice, plus its sequel, World Without End. And of course, this title is just the first in a planned Century trilogy.   But let’s get to the book.  It covers five families — Welsh, Russian, German, American and English.  Some are wealthy aristocrats, like the Fitzhuberts, and others, like Billy Williams and his sister Ethel, are on the opposite end of the socio-economic scale.  Rounding out this mix are the orphaned Peshkov brothers in Russia, an American lawyer working in the White House, and, oh yes, a German spy.  So you see, there’s a little something for everyone –political intrigue, scintillating sex and romance, and some action-packed battle scenes.  Plus the multiple story lines (arranged chronologically) keeps you turning those pages.

What’s most intriguing is how the lives of all these diverse characters somehow logically interconnect.  Though I’m certainly no expert on the World War I era (the book spans the years 1911 to 1924) I was familiar enough to recognize that Follett had meticulously researched this tome, and his inclusion of real historical figures, such as Winston Churchill, seems to enhance it’s believability.  Believe me, even if you think you don’t, you really do have time to read this book.

house-of-daughters1Ready for an escape this winter? How about a little literary trip to a champagne vineyard in France? Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? And yes, I realize it still gets cold there, but you have to admit, the idea of it is pretty romantic.

In House of Daughters by Sarah-Kate Lynch, the story revolves around Clementine, the daughter and rightful heir to the House of Peine, a vineyard that has been in the family for generations. However, after her father dies, Clementine soon discovers that she must share her inheritance with a half-sister she’s only met once and with another she didn’t even know existed! Needless to say, all is not happy in the Peine household. The sisters struggle not only with each other but with trying to keep the vineyard afloat financially. Secrets, scandals and long lost loves all keep this story bubbly and upbeat, but robust enough to savor long into the night. Share a toast to sisterhood and celebrate this read with your own bottle of champagne. C’est la vie!

Set in England the years surround World War I, The House at Riverton by Kate Morton follows the decline and fall of a once-proud English family. Devastated by the ravages of the war, torn apart by secrets, disgraced by a very public scandal, the family unravels against a backdrop of war and the Roaring Twenties.

David, Hannah and Emmeline grow up in an idyllic, privileged atmosphere at the beginning of the century. When Grace Reeves begins service as a housemaid at Riverton, she becomes witness and confidant to the siblings and keeper of their secrets. Told in flashback many years later, an elderly Grace relives the tragedy that changed them all forever.

Part Upstairs Downstairs, part Brideshead Revisted and even a little Sense and Sensibility, The House at Riverton will keep you guessing with it’s twists and turns until its shocking end.