* available from the Bret Carter Library
# 5 THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY by Erik Larson
This is the true account of the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. It is also the story of America’s first real serial killer. This book is the epitome of “truth is stranger than fiction.” While some of the greatest architects are scrambling to wow the world with buildings that would have impressed the Roman Empire, the diabolical H. H. Holmes is also making his plans. The story is so incredible, I looked on-line to make sure it was true. And every single bit of it is true. The details sometimes get a little sluggish, but all in all, it’s a wild bit of history that you never heard of. Warning: although the crimes of Holmes are not graphic, they are certainly gruesome. This book pinpoints a unique fragment of U.S. history when the nation was at its best and at its worst—at the same time.
# 4 HOOKED* by Joe S. McIlhaney and Freda McKissic Bush, MD
This is a very short book, and frankly it could have been trimmed down even more, but the information in it is invaluable. Extensive research involving MRIs and PET scans have revealed some fascinating truths about the human brain that coincide with the morals as presented in the Bible. Make no mistake, these are not eccentrics trying to stretch the information as a backdoor into Scripture (in fact, the Bible is not even brought up). The primary issue at hand is the physiological affect on the human brain—synapses in particular—as far as physical intimacy. The parameters of marriage as designed by God are clearly supported by recent discoveries.
# 3 LITTLE DORRIT* by Charles Dickens
This is a hard read, but a great story. Amy Dorrit was born in debtor’s prison because her father is an inmate there. Although Amy is allowed to come and go to do work outside the prison, it is the world she has always known. Arthur is a young man who has returned home after many years abroad working with the family business. Arthur finds himself in a position to not only help Amy and her family, but to delve into a family secret that has remained a mystery for many years. As always, it’s the characters that shine in Dicken’s work. This is one book that I would suggest you read after you’ve seen the mini-series. It is otherwise quite a challenge to keep the plot straight in your mind and to keep track of all the characters. This is one of my favorite Dicken’s novels.
# 2 SUCCESSION* by Scott Westerfield The Risen Empire The Killing of Worlds
In the far future 80 planets are ruled by the emperor and he controls this union with the gift of immortality for whomever he deems worthy. The Rix are a group of rebels who worship AI entities and are determined to overthrow the emperor. The tension escalates when the Rix plot to kidnap the emperor’s sister. This is a two-book series that is a grand space opera, stuffed with high-tech cool ideas that often went over my head. I had to start reading it twice in order to start getting my brain around it all. It is sci-fi concentrate filled with unique concepts and lots of action.
# 1 UNWIND* by Neal Shusterman
It’s hard not to strongly recommend a book without overselling it to the point of unrealistically high expectations. But I have to say, this was the best book I read this year—no contest. In the near-future, minors can be “donated” for body parts—the process is called “unwinding.” Connor‘s parents are tired of trying to discipline him. Lev belongs to a bizarre religious family that has always planned on him being a “tithe.” Risa is being raised in an orphanage, however budget cuts make it “necessary” for her to be distributed as well. Although the basic premise would be enough to make a real page-turner, this story includes other thought-provoking concepts. (WARNING: Even though this is a “clean” book, it contains one of the most disturbing scenes I’ve ever read. Many others who read it weren’t as bothered about it, but it gave me the Heebies and the Jeebies.) These kids are on the run in a world gone crazy. They escape the madness and find each other. Now if they can only survive until their eighteenth birthdays.