News Flash

Posted on: May 23, 2018

Sing, Unburied, Sing

Sing, Unburied, Sing

by Jesmyn Ward

Reviewed by Linda:

Winner of the National Book Award for Fiction, this novel follows three generations of an African American family in Mississippi over the course of a few days. Ward, a two-time winner of the NBA, writes powerfully of how p...

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Posted on: May 16, 2018

The Indigo Girl

Indigo Girl

by Natasha Boyd

Reviewed by Janet:

When her ambitious father returns to the Caribbean in 1739 to further his career, 16 year old Eliza Lucas is left in charge of their South Carolina plantations. In the face of great debt left by her father, Eliza attempts ...

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Posted on: May 9, 2018

Saving Charlotte: A Mother and the Power of Intuition

Saving Charlotte

by Pia de Jong

Reviewed by Linda:

Some people love adventure tales by mountaineers who scale the world’s highest peaks, but I savor memoirs by parents who overcome or persevere through great difficulties in the lives of their children. This volum...

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Posted on: May 2, 2018

Mrs.

Mrs

by Caitlin Macy

Reviewed by Janet:

The privileged families whose youngsters attend St. Timothy’s preschool in Manhattan seem to have it all. Yet Philippa Lye’s envied life is precariously balanced, despite her investment banker husband&...

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Posted on: April 25, 2018

When the English Fall

When the English Fall

by David Williams

Reviewed by Linda:

A very fast read, this novel will stay with you long after you close the book. An Amish farmer records the satisfying details of his daily life with his wife and 2 children and their close-knit community. But all that i...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: April 18, 2018

Something Like Happy

Something  Like Happy

by Eva Woods

Reviewed by Janet:

While visiting her mother in hospital, Annie finds herself being swept out of her unhappy life and along with the irresistible force that is Polly. A colorful, irrepressible patient with a brain tumor, Polly has chosen to ma...

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Posted on: April 11, 2018

Thanks Obama: My Hopey, Changey White House Years

Thanks, Obama

by David Litt 

Reviewed by Linda:

A sometimes very funny, sometimes bittersweet memoir by Obama's youngest speechwriter and the president's go-to writer for comedy.

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Posted on: April 4, 2018

Into the Water

Into the Water

by Paula Hawkins

Reviewed by Janet:

From the author of The Girl on the Train comes another thriller, this time set in a small riverside English town. So far this year, two women have drowned in the Beckford Pool, which has a dark history of similar tragedy....

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: March 28, 2018

Home Fire

Home Fire

by Kamila Shamsie

Reviewed by Linda:

This widely praised novel (which was on the long list for the Man Booker Prize) begins as a mesmerizing tale about a British family of Pakistani descent, and ends as a heart-thudding drama. The author, who received an MF...

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Posted on: March 21, 2018

The Music Shop

The Music Shop

by Rachel Joyce

Reviewed by Janet:

Frank always seems to know exactly which record his customers need to hear. (Yes, vinyl records – not those awful cassette tapes or newfangled shiny CDs.) Yet when Ilse comes into his shop, fixes his pencil sharp...

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Posted on: March 14, 2018

To the New Owners: A Martha’s Vineyard Memoir

To the New Owners

by Madeleine Blais

Reviewed by Linda:

Are you fortunate to have a place that means everything to you, that is central to your extended family’s identity, a place that you think about to restore yourself? For Madeleine Blais, who will be honored a...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: March 7, 2018

The Alice Network

Alice Network

by Kate Quinn

Reviewed by Janet:

Worried about the fate of her French cousin Rose in the wake of World War II, Charlie leaves her mother in London and heads to France with some unlikely companions to chase down an elusive lead. Eve, with her shadowy contact...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: February 28, 2018

Pachinko

Pachinko

by Min Jin Lee

Reviewed by Linda:

A recent favorite of the library’s Contemporary Book Club, this novel was just selected as one of the New York Times Book Review’s Ten Best Books of 2017. The author takes us into a world little known t...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: February 21, 2018

The Woman in the Window

Woman in the Window

by A. J. Finn

Reviewed by Janet:

Anna is agoraphobic, and confined to her home on a residential street in New York City. She spends her time watching classic movies, playing chess online, counselling other agoraphobics, and watching her neighbors. And drin...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: February 14, 2018

Be Frank with Me

Be Frank with Me

by Julia Claiborne Johnson

Reviewed by Linda:

Alice Whitley, publishing assistant, receives a most unusual assignment from her boss: Go and join a reclusive literary legend in her Bel Air mansion and ensure she gets her first novel in decades written on sc...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: February 7, 2018

Radio Free Vermont

Radio Free Vermont

by Bill McKibben

Reviewed by Janet:

This "fable of resistance" will make you laugh out loud as you thoroughly enjoy the exploits and reflections of Vern Barclay, who finds himself inspiring a group of Vermont patriots to consider an independent Ve...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: January 31, 2018

Who Is Rich? A Novel

Who Is Rich?

by Matthew Klam

Reviewed by Linda:

This academic satire was just named one of the New York Times Book Review’s best 100 books of 2017. The novel is a funny and disturbing look at the life of a once-sort-of famous cartoonist (named Rich) during a ...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: January 24, 2018

Caroline: Little House, Revisited

Caroline

by Sarah Miller

Reviewed by Janet:

For those who loved the Little House on the Prairie series as children, this is a perfect opportunity to revisit the Ingalls family as they leave Wisconsin and head for Indian Territory. Told from the perspective of Carol...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: January 17, 2018

Seven Days of Us

Seven Days of Us

by Francesca Hornak 

Reviewed by Linda:

The Birch Family parents--devoted mother Emma and father Andrew, a scathing restaurant reviewer--spend Christmas with their 2 adult daughters on their dilapidated estate in the British countryside. But this i...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: January 10, 2018

The Essex Serpent

Essex Serpent

by Sarah Perry

Reviewed by Janet:

This novel immerses the reader in 1893, where on the Essex coast, fear of a great sea creature has fisherman and townspeople suspicious and superstitious. News of this curiosity reaches London, and brings amateur naturalis...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: January 3, 2018

The Girl with Seven Names: Escape from North Korea

Girl With Seven Names

by Hyeonseo Lee

Reviewed by Linda:

A riveting tale of courage and a fascinating look at daily life in the world’s most secretive country. The author was only seventeen when she crossed into China, where she lived for over a decade in fear of being...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: December 27, 2017

The Little French Bistro

Little French Bistro

by Nina George

Reviewed by Janet:

After 41 years in a boring, loveless marriage, Marianne wants out.  Led to the coast of Brittany by a hand painted ceramic tile, she finds work in a bistro, starts to learn French, and meets the cast of characters ...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: December 20, 2017

The Locals

The Locals

by Jonathan Dee

 Reviewed by Linda:

I once met a librarian from the Berkshires who told me that many of the new houses in his hometown have helicopter pads in the backyards. I thought of him as I devoured Jonathan Dee’s new novel about a ...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: December 13, 2017

Beartown

Beartown

by Fredrik Backman

Reviewed by Janet:

The people of Beartown live and breathe hockey. And this year, their junior league has a chance of winning the championship and putting Beartown back on the map. Yet the events at a post-semi-finals party ripple out to...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: December 6, 2017

Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right

Strangers in Their Own Land

by Arlie Russell Hochschild 

Reviewed by Linda:

A renowned sociologist from Berkeley spends months getting to know conservatives in Louisiana bayou country. She wants to understand the feelings that drive their politics, the “deep story&a...

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Posted on: November 29, 2017

Little Fires Everywhere

Little Fires Everywhere

by Celeste Ng

Reviewed by Janet:

When things don’t go to plan in the planned community of Shaker Heights, Elena Richardson finds herself struggling to make sense of it all. The secrets she uncovers about her tenants Mia and Pearl threaten to disru...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: November 22, 2017

Magpie Murders

Magpie Murders

by Anthony Horowitz

Reviewed by Linda:

A fiendishly clever whodunit, perfect for an inter-generational car trip! Susan, an editor for a British publisher, eagerly reads the final manuscript from the firm’s bestselling mystery writer who died short...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: November 15, 2017

Lucky Boy

Lucky Boy

by Shanthi Sekaran

Reviewed by Janet:

Soli is a young Mexican woman who finds her way across the border to her cousin in northern California in search of a better life. Kavya is the chef at a UC-Berkeley sorority who realizes that her desire for a child fa...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: November 8, 2017

The Baker’s Secret

bakerssecret

by Stephen P. Kiernan

Reviewed by Janet:

Emmanuelle finds herself baking a dozen baguettes for the officers’ mess every day, by the order of the German Kommandant of the occupying forces in her village. Her secret is that she stretches this daily...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: November 1, 2017

Man at the Helm

Man at the Helm

by Nina Stibbe

Reviewed by Linda:

This charming and bittersweet novel is narrated by 10-year-old Lizzie, whose family is in perilous straits. Following her parents’ divorce in the 1970s, Lizzie, along with her beloved older sister, nervous younger...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: October 25, 2017

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

sapiens

by Yuval Noah Harari

Reviewed by Linda:

This gripping history of human beings begins 70,000 years ago by asking why we sapiens are the only species of human--there were at least six that scientists know of so far--still in existence. The author continues to...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: October 18, 2017

Class Mom

Class Mom

by Laurie Gelman

Reviewed by Janet:

Jen Dixon brings her own personal style to being class mom for her son’s kindergarten class. She takes no - um - guff from anyone, and her in-your-face approach to getting parents to volunteer for snacks and ch...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: October 11, 2017

Say What You Will

Say What You Will

by Cammie McGovern

Reviewed by Linda:

A young adult novel by Amherst’s Cammie McGovern. If you like novels by John Green, you will be hooked on this moving tale of two teens, each facing a serious disability. Brilliant, book-loving Amy was born wi...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: October 4, 2017

The Nightingale

The Nightingale

by Kristin Hannah

Reviewed by Janet:

I don't know how I missed this one when it first came out! This wonderful novel is an evocative and bittersweet story of two sisters in occupied France during World War II. Vianne’s husband is a prisoner of war, and she ...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: September 27, 2017

The Leavers

Leavers

by Lisa Ko

Reviewed by Linda:

When Deming Guo is 11, his mother, an undocumented Chinese immigrant, disappears without a trace. The boy is eventually adopted by a pair of white professors in upstate New York, who rename him Daniel Wilkinson. This timely no...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: September 20, 2017

Anything is Possible

Anything is Possible

by Elizabeth Strout

Reviewed by Janet:

For those who enjoyed Strout’s My Name Is Lucy Barton, this collection of short stories takes us back to Lucy’s hometown in Illinois, and the people who knew her there. Characters in these interconn...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: September 13, 2017

The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman

Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman

by Denis Thériault

Reviewed by Linda:

The eponymous hero lives quietly in Montreal, his only hobby secretly steaming open selected envelopes and reading the letters inside. But everything changes when he discovers a letter containing a single ha...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: September 6, 2017

The Mother’s Promise

The Mother's Promise

by Sally Hepworth 

Reviewed by Robin:

An emotional tale of a single mom with a 15 year old daughter who suffers from social anxiety disorder and those who want to help but whose own lives have their fair share of life’s struggles. Nonethe...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: August 30, 2017

Hillbilly Elegy

Hillbilly Elegy

by J.D. Vance 

Reviewed by Janet:

With family roots in the hollers of Kentucky and a law degree from Yale, J.D. Vance has achieved much. In this memoir, he describes a culture in crisis – that of white, working class Americans. Through hi...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: August 23, 2017

Swing Time

Swing Time

by Zadie Smith

 Reviewed by Linda:

Acclaimed novelist Zadie Smith writes movingly of two brown girls in Britain who whose friendship centers around their love of dance. One of the girls has great talent. Both face heartache in their home lives. As ...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: August 16, 2017

Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo

by George Saunders

 Reviewed by Matt:

This strange and unexpectedly moving novel follows President Lincoln’s 11-year-old son Willie beyond his death from typhoid fever into an intermediate realm full of restless souls in a Georgetown ceme...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: August 9, 2017

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

Eleanor Oliphant

by Gail Honeyman

Reviewed by Janet:

Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine, thank you very much. She is quite settled and safe in her routine, keeping herself to herself, moving from work to home and back, with 2 bottles of vodka on the weekend. Yet her carefu...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: August 2, 2017

Lab Girl

Lab Girl

by Hope Jahren

Reviewed by Linda:

No less an authority than the New York Times described this book as doing for botany what Oliver Sacks did for neurology and Stephen Jay Gould for paleontology. If the goal was making her subject matter fascinating for non-...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: July 26, 2017

The Devil and Webster

The Devil and Webster

by Jean Hanff Korelitz 

Reviewed by Robin: 

Set on a college campus in the Amherst area with lots of local color, this story told with irreverent wit and suspense takes on issues of class, privilege, activism and the dilemmas faced by both...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: July 19, 2017

History of Wolves

History of Wolves

by Emily Fridlund

Reviewed by Janet:

Life in rural Minnesota can be tough, especially if you are a teenager who doesn’t fit in anywhere. After a favorite teacher is fired and she is even more isolated, Linda spends her summer babysitting for the family acro...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: July 12, 2017

The Past

The Past

by Tessa Hadley

Reviewed by Linda:

Four adult siblings and their partners and children spend a long vacation together at the soon-to-be-sold family cottage in the English countryside. As the adults—each richly portrayed—wrestle with past...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: July 5, 2017

The Garden of Small Beginnings

Garden of Small Beginnings

by Abbi Waxman

Reviewed by Robin

A young book illustrator with two small children is trying to manage her life and that of her daughters after her husband’s sudden death. Although she hasn’t been doing a very good job of it, a new work a...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: June 28, 2017

Moonglow

moonglow

by Michael Chabon

Reviewed by Janet:

In this faux memoir, the narrator’s grandfather is dying of cancer and during his last weeks, shares stories of his life that his grandson had never heard. From World War II to the Challenger space shuttle, fro...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: June 21, 2017

The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give

by Angie Thomas

Reviewed by Linda:

This YA crossover is drawing lots of attention for its riveting portrayal of the shooting death of an unarmed black teen. The novel is narrated by 16-year-old Starr Carter, who is an expert at navigating two worlds: the u...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: June 14, 2017

Glory O'Brien's History of the Future

gloryobrien

by A.S. King

Review by Mia

Glory O’Brien is on the cusp of graduating from high school, and doesn’t know where her life is going next.  When she and her best friend drink the remains of a mummified bat on a dare, they begin to s...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: June 7, 2017

The Sellout

sellout

by Paul Beatty

Reviewed by Janet:

This winner of the 2016 Man Booker Prize is a satirical look at race and racial identity in the United States. Raised in isolation by his professor father, the narrator finds himself the subject of many a psychological stud...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: May 31, 2017

The Excellent Lombards

The Excellent Lombards

by Jane Hamilton 

Reviewed by Linda:

A novel about a high-spirited girl growing up on an idyllic Wisconsin apple orchard, which is owned jointly by her father and his cousin. As a child, Frankie assumes that she and her brother will inherit this be...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: May 24, 2017

Today Will Be Different

todaywillbedifferent

By Maria Semple

Reviewed by Janet:

Eleanor Flood vows to herself that today will be different – she will be present, play a game with her son, take pride in her appearance, radiate calm, and be her best self. Yet throughout the day, events arise t...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: May 17, 2017

Economism: Bad Economics and the Rise of Inequality

Economism

by James Kwak

Reviewed by Linda:

In this important book, James Kwak of Amherst refutes the prevailing economic view that the high levels of economic inequality in the United States are unavoidable. He shows how modern economic theory has been twisted into a...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: May 10, 2017

The Girl Before

girlbefore

by JP Delaney

Reviewed by Janet:

There are about 200 contractual conditions to agree to before the house at One Folgate Street can be rented.  Plus a long questionnaire.   And an interview with the architect. Through the suspenseful parall...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: May 3, 2017

A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow

by Amor Towles

Reviewed by Linda:

An utterly charming and moving tale of a Russian count, one Alexander Ilyich Rostov, who is called before a Bolshevik tribunal in 1922 for having written an incendiary poem, and is sentenced to house arrest at the Metropol,...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: April 26, 2017

Commonwealth

commonwealth

by Ann Patchett

Reviewed by Janet:

A chance encounter at a christening party forever changes the lives of two families in this new book by Ann Patchett.   As the lives of these six children and four parents are reconfigured, they explore the meanin...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: April 19, 2017

Barkskins

Barkskins

by Annie Proulx

Reviewed by Linda:

Sometimes a novel captures a historical tragedy more powerfully than does a work of history. In this instance, the author - winner of both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award - writes a heart-breaking tale of th...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: April 12, 2017

The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir

The Chilbury Ladies' Choir

by Jennifer Ryan

Reviewed by Janet:

When the vicar decides to close the church choir since all the men have gone to war, the women of Chilbury go rogue and form their own women-only community choir. These assorted women find the support, encouragement, and ...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: April 5, 2017

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk

by Kathleen Rooney

Reviewed by Amy:

A woman in her mid-80's leaves her New York City apartment on the afternoon of New Year's Eve, and begins walking the streets, stopping at her favorite restaurants and bars, and reminisces, with spot-on insights, &nbs...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: March 29, 2017

News of the World

News of the World

by Paulette Jiles

Reviewed by Janet:

Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd spends his days traveling post-Civil War northern Texas, performing readings from newspapers to citizens hungry for news of the world. He finds himself agreeing to return 10 year old Johanna, ...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: March 22, 2017

Just Another Jihadi Jane

Just Another Jihadi Jane

by Tabish Khair

Reviewed by Linda:

This gripping novel explains far more clearly than any news story why young Islamic immigrants in the West might choose to give up their freedoms and turn to Isis for a sense of belonging. Thoughtful Jamilla and rebellious...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: March 15, 2017

Sweetbitter

Sweetbitter

by Stephanie Danler

Reviewed by Janet:

In search of the rest of her life, Tess has fled to New York City and finds work as a backwaiter at a famous restaurant.  We are immersed in the richly described foodie world of wine, seafood, and tomatoes, al...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: March 8, 2017

Valiant Gentlemen

Valiant Gentlemen

by Sabina Murray

Reviewed by Linda:

Congratulations to local author Sabina Murray, whose newest novel was chosen as one of the New York Times Book Review's Best Books of 2016! Utterly engrossing, the book follows the lives of three remarkable historical fig...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: March 1, 2017

Lilac Girls

Lilac Girls

by Martha Hall Kelly

Reviewed by Janet:

The daily life of Caroline, a New York socialite, would seem totally removed from that of Kasia, a Polish teenager, or Herta, on the verge of becoming a doctor in Nazi Germany.  Eventually brought together by...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: February 22, 2017

Dog Medicine: How My Dog Saved Me from Myself

Dog Medicine

by Julie Barton

Reviewed by Linda:

A moving tale of how a soulful golden retriever helped to rescue a young woman from a severe depression.   At age 22, the author collapsed in her NYC apartment when mental illness brought on by unacknowledged chil...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: February 15, 2017

The Wonder

The Wonder

by Emma Donoghue

Reviewed by Janet:

Having served as a nurse under Florence Nightingale, Lib Wright is taken aback when her current assignment doesn’t require her advanced skills. She has been brought to Ireland to merely observe an 11 year old gi...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: February 8, 2017

Modern Lovers

Modern Lovers

by Emma Straub

Reviewed by Linda:

This entertaining domestic drama follows two families in Brooklyn during a year of surprising developments for the parents, Elizabeth & Andrew and Zoe & Jane. They have lived as neighbors since the break-up of their...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: February 1, 2017

The Assistants

The Assistants

by Camille Perri

Reviewed by Janet:

Behind every powerful media tycoon is the executive assistant who makes things happen.  When an expense report mix-up presents Tina Fontana with the means to pay off her student loan debt in one fell swoop with n...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: January 25, 2017

Walk Through Walls: A Memoir

Walk Through Walls

by Marina Abramovic

Reviewed by Mia:

Marina Abramovic’s early life as the daughter of Yugoslavian communist war heroes sets the tone for a memoir filled with sardonic wit and driven by a work ethic that at times seems to push her beyond the limits of human ...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: January 18, 2017

Nora Webster

Nora Webster

by Colm Tóibín

Reviewed by Linda:

A quiet novel of an ordinary life, which nonetheless keeps the reader spellbound. Nora Webster, an Irish mother of 4 children and young adults, learns to live anew after the death of her beloved husban...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: January 11, 2017

Victoria

Victoria

by Daisy Goodwin

Reviewed by Janet:

From the creator of the upcoming PBS presentation of Victoria comes a novel of the same name, tracing the young queen’s ascension to the throne and her reign before her marriage.  As this young, shelter...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: January 4, 2017

The Heart of a Lion: A Lone Cat's Walk across America

The Heart of a Lion

by William Stolzenburg

Reviewed by Linda:

When a large mountain lion was killed on a Connecticut highway in 2011, Americans were startled. When DNA analysis revealed that the 3-year old male had walked thousands of miles from its birthplace in South Dakota ...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: December 28, 2016

The Woman in Cabin 10

The Woman in Cabin 10

by Ruth Ware

Reviewed by Janet:

Before dinner the first night at sea on an exclusive luxury cruise, Lo Blacklock, a travel writer, borrows some mascara from the woman in the cabin next door.  Later that night, Lo is awakened from an alcohol-enhance...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: December 21, 2016

Dimestore: A Writer's Life

Dimestore

by Lee Smith

Reviewed by Linda:

Novelist Lee Smith knows how to tell a story. In this deeply moving memoir of her Appalachian childhood and subsequent departure from all that was familiar, she describes a lost world that we are all richer for knowing. As a ...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: December 14, 2016

The Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad

by Colson Whitehead

Reviewed by Janet:

When Cora flees a Georgia cotton plantation with a fellow slave, she discovers that the Underground Railroad is an actual railroad.  Every station brings her to a new world along the route to the elusive freed...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: December 7, 2016

All of Us and Everything

All of Us and Everything

by Bridget Asher

Reviewed by Linda:

The three Rockwell sisters grew up doubting their mother's claim that their father was absent from their lives because he was a spy, whose very presence might endanger them. Spoiler:  It was true, and to their as...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: November 30, 2016

The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living

The City Baker's Guide to Country Living

by Louise Miller

Reviewed by Janet:

When a Baked Alaska disaster forces pastry chef Olivia Rawlings to flee Boston, she never images that refuge with her best friend in rural Vermont would lead her to the Sugar Maple Inn and a new job.  Drawn into ...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: November 23, 2016

Break in Case of Emergency

Break in Case of Emergency

by Jessica Winter

Reviewed by Linda:

Jump in to this entertaining satirical novel along with Jen, a likeable New Yorker in her early 30s, her delightfully goofy husband Jim, and her two beloved best friends. Jen has a poorly defined job at a philanthropy fo...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: November 16, 2016

The Book of Speculation

The Book of Speculation

by Erika Swyler

Reviewed by Janet:

On the verge of losing both his home (perched on a cliff) and his job as a reference librarian (budget cuts), Simon’s life is shaken even further when he receives an old circus log book that mentions the name of ...

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Find in our catalog Staff Pick of the Week
Posted on: November 9, 2016

Charlotte

Charlotte

by David Foenkinos

Reviewed by Linda:

This award-winning French novel, composed as a prose poem, tells the heartbreaking life story of the brilliant artist Charlotte Salomon, who was killed by the Nazis at age 26. Salomon must, from a young age, overcome a ...

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Posted on: November 2, 2016

Homegoing

Homegoing

by Yaa Gyasi

Reviewed by Janet:

Half-sisters Effia and Esi were born in different villages in 18th century Ghana, and they never know each other. Alternating chapters trace the generations of Effia’s descendants in Ghana and Esi’s in the...

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Posted on: October 26, 2016

Putin Country: A Journey into the Real Russia

Putin Country

by Anne Garrels

Reviewed by Linda:

Vladimir Putin has become a topic in the U.S. presidential election. Anne Garrels, longtime NPR foreign correspondent, believes that Americans have little understanding of why the Russian people are so loyal to him, despit...

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Posted on: October 19, 2016

Before the Fall

Before the Fall

by Noah Hawley

Reviewed by Janet:

Eighteen minutes after taking off from Martha’s Vineyard, a private plane headed for New York City crashes into the ocean. While a team of experts try to figure out what caused the crash, the survivors try to put ...

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Posted on: October 12, 2016

The Girls

The Girls

by Emma Cline

Reviewed by Linda:

In this rich and insightful novel, Emma Cline has re-created the infamous Charles Manson cult as seen through the eyes of a young teenage girl. Evie, who is soon to be shipped off to boarding school by her distracted parents...

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Posted on: October 5, 2016

Eligible

Eligible

by Curtis Sittenfeld

Reviewed by Janet:

After her father’s heart attack, Liz Bennet comes home to Cincinnati to help out her parents, and meets Fitzwilliam Darcy, a neurosurgeon, at a barbecue hosted by the Lucases. Liz’s older sister, J...

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Posted on: September 28, 2016

Catastrophic Happiness

Catastrophic Happiness

by Catherine Newman

Reviewed by Linda:

Wow, can Amherst resident Catherine Newman write! She elevates her tales of parenting two children into an art form. Required reading for new parents and for any parent wanting to recall that exhausting, messy, exhilar...

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Posted on: September 21, 2016

The Summer Before the War

The Summer Before the War

by Helen Simonson

Reviewed by Janet:

From the author of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand comes a novel set in the early days of World War I. After the death of her father, Beatrice Nash finds a post as a Latin teacher in Rye on the coast of England. A...

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Posted on: September 14, 2016

Shelter

Shelter

by Jung Yun

Reviewed by Linda:

This powerful novel, by Valley author Jung Yun, exposes the dark secrets hidden by an outwardly successful Korean American family living in a Massachusetts college town. The novel tells the story of Kyung Cho, a young husband ...

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Posted on: September 7, 2016

Life Without a Recipe

Life Without a Recipe

by Diana Abu-Jaber

Reviewed by Janet:

In this memoir, novelist Diana Abu-Jaber, author of Crescent and Birds of Paradise, looks at her life as a celebration of journeying without a map, of finding one’s own way through life in a way that may not m...

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Posted on: August 31, 2016

The Nest

The Nest

by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

Reviewed by Linda:

The adult children in the dysfunctional Plumb family have long looked forward to the date when they will finally receive the monies in their joint trust fund. Each of the four siblings in this entertaining novel...

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Posted on: August 24, 2016

Everyone Brave Is Forgiven

Everyone Brave Is Forgiven

by Chris Cleave

Reviewed by Janet:

The author of Little Bee brings World War II London to life in his newest novel inspired by his grandparents’ love letters. Mary North is assigned to be a teacher after she volunteers at the War Office, which is ...

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Posted on: August 17, 2016

Spill Simmer Falter Wither

Spill Simmer Falter Wither

by Sara Baume

Reviewed by Linda:

Language lovers, this novel will thrill you to the core with its sentences that taste and devour the gorgeous wildness of Ireland. The book takes us on a journey around that land in the company of two outcasts, one human and...

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Posted on: August 10, 2016

The Girl in the Red Coat

The Girl in the Red Coat

by Kate Hamer

reviewed by Janet:

Beth finds herself living every parent’s nightmare – her 8 year old daughter Carmel disappears while they are visiting an outdoor festival. Their separate stories are told in alternating sections as they ...

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Posted on: August 3, 2016

Best Boy

Best Boy

by Eli Gottlieb

Reviewed by Linda:

If you enjoyed The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, then you will welcome this moving, eloquent novel about Todd Aaron, an autistic man of 50 who lives in a progressive institution. Sensitively told from Todd'...

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Posted on: July 27, 2016

What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours

What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours

by Helen Oyeyemi

Reviewed by Janet:

From the author of Boy, Snow, Bird comes a collection of vaguely interconnected short stories, all of which have in common the theme of keys, literal and metaphorical. As doors, secrets, books, and boxes are unlocked, the...

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Posted on: July 20, 2016

Vanessa and Her Sister

Vanessa and Her Sister

by Priya Parmar

Reviewed by Linda:

I was mesmerized by this novel about the Bloomsbury Group, which is told from the perspective of the artist Vanessa Bell, sister of Virginia Woolf. In 1905 in the London neighborhood of Bloomsbury, Vanessa and her three si...

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Posted on: July 13, 2016

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper

by Phaedra Patrick

Reviewed by Janet:

It’s the anniversary of his wife’s death, and Arthur Pepper diverges from his strict daily schedule to finally clear out her closet. Wedged in the toe of a boot, he finds an expensive piece of jewelr...

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Posted on: July 6, 2016

The Dogs of Littlefield

The Dogs of Littlefield

by Suzanne Berne

Reviewed by Linda:

In this comedy of manners, a bitter divide forms between dog owners and dog-less residents in a Massachusetts college town that sounds very similar to our own. Someone is poisoning the town's dogs, and the regulars at the...

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Posted on: June 29, 2016

When Breath Becomes Air

When Breath Becomes Air

by Paul Kalanithi

Reviewed by Janet:

Paul Kalanithi was a promising young neurosurgeon on the verge of completing his residency. A talented doctor, he sought to connect with his patients as individuals, not merely problems to be fixed in surgery. Yet a diag...

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Posted on: June 22, 2016

Horrorstör

horrorstor2.jpg

by Grady Hendrix

Reviewed by Linda:

This spoof of a horror tale takes place at the Ohio branch of an "Orsk" furniture store that greatly resembles a certain Scandinavian chain. The book is designed as a catalog with each chapter named after pieces...

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Posted on: June 15, 2016

The Little Red Chairs

The Little Red Chairs

by Edna O’Brien

reviewed by Janet:

One dark night, a self-proclaimed healer and therapist named Vlad arrives in a small Irish town. The townspeople begin to welcome him into their community, but their idyllic village is turned upside down when his...

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Posted on: June 8, 2016

The Evening Spider

Evening Spider

by Emily Arsenault

Reviewed by Linda:

Emily Arsenault, a Pioneer Valley resident, skillfully combines psychological suspense and true crime in her latest novel. A young mother named Frances is taken from her home and family, and confined to the Northampton ...

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Posted on: June 1, 2016

The Widow

The Widow

by Fiona Barton

reviewed by Janet:

Jean Taylor is plagued by the press after her husband is hit and killed by a bus, not because of his death, but rather because of the crime for which Glen was under investigation. Alternating between the aftermath of his d...

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Posted on: May 25, 2016

A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy

A Mother's Reckoning

by Sue Klebold

Reviewed by Linda:

The mother of Dylan Klebold--one of two perpetrators of the Columbine High School massacre--the author has spent the past fifteen years recalling every detail of her child’s life trying to comprehend how he became a mass mu...

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Posted on: May 18, 2016

American Housewife: Stories

American Housewife

by Helen Ellis

reviewed by Janet:

These delightful short stories will definitely make you smile – and maybe even laugh out loud. From a war conducted via email about a co-op’s shared hallway to the unusual requirements for joining a book...

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Posted on: May 11, 2016

Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape

Trace

by Lauret Savoy

Reviewed by Linda:

Mount Holyoke professor Lauret Savoy, a scholar of environmental studies and geology and a woman of mixed heritage, writes lyrically of the American landscape and its troubled past. Which inhabitants of the land are rememb...

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Posted on: May 4, 2016

The Night Watch

The Night Watch

by Sarah Waters

Reviewed by Mia:

Sarah Waters excels at revisiting iconic moments in British history and presenting these eras through unique viewpoints. In The Night Watch, she tells her story of London during WWII backwards, weaving together the lives of ...

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Posted on: April 27, 2016

The Lake House

The Lak e House

by Kate Morton

Reviewed by Janet:

During a Midsummer’s Eve party in 1933, 18 month old Theo disappears from his nursery and is never found. Seventy years later, Detective Constable Sadie Sparrow, on leave from the London force, is visiting her grandfather i...

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Posted on: April 20, 2016

The Clasp

The Clasp

by Sloane Crosley

Reviewed by Linda:

A debut novel from the author of I Was Told There'd Be Cake. Crosley writes entertainingly about 3 sophisticated twenty-somethings who are old college buddies. All are dissatisfied with their work and love lives and two ...

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Posted on: April 13, 2016

Primates of Park Avenue

Primates of Park Avenue

by Wednesday Martin

Reviewed by Janet:

This engaging and humorous memoir looks at the mothers of the Upper East Side of New York City from an unusual perspective. The author brings her expertise in anthropology and primatology to this habitat, and analyzes ...

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Posted on: April 6, 2016

Alice in Bed

Alice in Bed

by Judith Hooper

Reviewed by Linda:

In Amherst author Judith Hooper’s fascinating work of historical fiction, it wasn’t hysteria that kept brilliant Alice James trapped in bed. Sister to the famous writer Henry and psychologist William, ...

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Posted on: March 30, 2016

My Name is Lucy Barton

My Name is Lucy Barton

by Elizabeth Strout

Reviewed by Janet:

Readers have been eagerly awaiting this new title from Pulitzer Prize winning author Elizabeth Strout, and here it is! During an extended hospital stay, Lucy Barton awakes to find her mother in the bedside chair. After...

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Posted on: March 23, 2016

Harriet Wolf's Seventh Book of Wonders

Harriet Wolf's Seventh Book of Wonders

by Julianna Baggott

Reviewed by Linda:

Congratulations to Julianna Baggott of Amherst on her latest bestselling novel. Named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and widely praised by reviewers, the novel introduces us to three generations of women, fr...

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Posted on: March 16, 2016

The Japanese Lover

The Japanese Lover

by Isabel Allende

Reviewed by Janet:

While working in the Lark House nursing home, Irina becomes intrigued by the mysterious letters and gifts that resident Alma Belasco receives, never imagining a secret love affair that began over 70 years ago. As Alma’s ...

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Posted on: March 9, 2016

Between the World and Me

Between the World and Me

by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Reviewed by Linda:

The latest winner of the National Book Award for Nonfiction, "Between the World and Me" takes the form of a father's passionate letter to his son about racism in America. Although a short book, the devastatin...

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Posted on: March 2, 2016

The Witches: Salem, 1692

witches.jpg

by Stacy Schiff

Reviewed by Mia:

If you have ever lived in Massachusetts or studied early American history, the story of the paranoia that swept through Salem in 1692 is hardly new. Rather than pointing to psychological causes that may have influenced the v...

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Posted on: February 24, 2016

Fates and Furies

Fates and Furies

by Lauren Groff

Reviewed by Janet:

This is the story of Lotto and Mathilde over the course of their life together, from the lean years after college to later successes. Halfway through the book, the perspective shifts and disparate story threads come togeth...

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Posted on: February 17, 2016

Memories

Memories

by Lang Leav

Reviewed by Cyndi:

Lang Leav combines the best poems from her two previous publications in new ways alongside her latest work to create her most evocative book to date. Leav’s poems embody rather than express the complex emotions and ...

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Posted on: February 10, 2016

This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance

This is Your Life, Harriet Chance

by Jonathan Evison

Reviewed by Linda:

Harriet Chance, age 78 and recently widowed, embarks on an Alaskan cruise that she was surprised to learn had been booked by her husband. On board, amid the overwhelming buffets and with views of stunning glaciers, she ...

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Posted on: February 3, 2016

The Girl in the Spider's Web

The Girl in the Spider's Web

by David Lagercrantz

Reviewed by Janet:

For those who enjoyed The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Lisbeth Salander’s story continues here as Stieg Larsson’s trilogy is carried on by a new author. Journalist Mikael Blomquist stumbles upon a new story about indu...

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Posted on: January 27, 2016

Erratic Facts

Erratic Facts

by Kay Ryan

Reviewed by Cyndi:

Kay Ryan’s latest book of poetry, Erratic Facts, is a real gem: small in size, multi-faceted, and a rarity to be treasured. Her poems are small and narrow, but that is a clever visual deceit as the reader can quickly devour th...

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Posted on: January 20, 2016

Miss Emily

Miss Emily

by Nuala O'Connor

Reviewed by Linda:

Just when we think we are familiar with Emily Dickinson and her family, along comes Irish writer O'Connor with a refreshingly new perspective. In this eloquent historical novel, Emily is viewed through the eyes of the ho...

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Posted on: January 13, 2016

In a Dark, Dark Wood

In a Dark, Dark Wood

by Ruth Ware

Reviewed by Janet:

It’s been 10 years since Nora has seen Clare, her best friend from school. So it’s with great surprise that she is invited to attend Clare’s bachelorette celebration. Yet once there, secrets rankle in the secluded glass house...

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Posted on: January 6, 2016

Twain's End

Twain's End

by Lynn Cullen

Reviewed by Cyndi:

Set at the end of Mark Twain’s life, this novel features the fictionalized account of Twain’s relationship with his secretary, Isabel Lyon. Based loosely on Lyon’s diary and Twain’s writings, Twain’s End reimagines the last...

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Posted on: December 30, 2015

The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard's Most Daring Sea Rescue

The Finest Hours

by Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman

Reviewed by Linda:

This account of one of the most heroic rescues of all time will thrill readers who enjoyed The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger. In 1952, one of the worst nor'easters of the century hit New England...

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Posted on: December 23, 2015

Three Minutes in Poland: Discovering a Lost World in a 1938 Family Film

Three Minutes in Poland

by Glenn Kurtz

Reviewed by Janet:

In 1938, David Kurtz filmed parts of his trip to Europe for a family film. In 2009, his grandson Glenn found the old film and became intrigued by the segment on a Jewish community in rural Poland. This memoir traces the jou...

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Posted on: December 16, 2015

The Pursuit of Love & Love in a Cold Climate

The Pursuit of Love

by Nancy Mitford

Reviewed by Mia:

Nancy Mitford’s writing career took off in the 1920s and 30s as she satirized the English country society of her youth. These two witty novels based on her own eccentric, interesting, controversial family depict the Radlett...

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Posted on: December 9, 2015

The Bishop's Wife

The Bishop's Wife

by Mette Ivie Harrison

Reviewed by Linda:

This intriguing novel takes the reader deep into the life of a Mormon family and especially its independent-minded wife and mother. Linda Wallheim struggles to fulfill her twin roles as homemaker and as unofficial c...

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Posted on: December 2, 2015

Balm

Balm

by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Reviewed by Janet:

Sadie, Madge, and Hemp find themselves in Chicago in the aftermath of the Civil War, each searching for something as they begin a new life. The emotional injuries suffered due to the war and its aftermath challenge...

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Posted on: November 25, 2015

The Girl in the Dark

Girl in the Dark

by Anna Lyndsey

Reviewed by Roxanne:

This memoir traces the development of Anna's rare medical condition, which makes her intolerant of both florescent and natural light, and reveals how she combats the despair that fills her as she attempts to live her lif...

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Posted on: November 25, 2015

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared

The 100-year-old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

by Jonas Jonasson

Reviewed by Linda:

This humorous tale, an international bestseller originally published in Sweden, revolves around the escapades of one Allan Karlsson, a centenarian who chose to escape from a nursing home and spend his birthday on the run...

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Posted on: November 28, 2015

Kitchens of the Great Midwest

Kitchens of the Great Midwest

by J. Ryan Stradal

Reviewed by Janet:

Each chapter in this book brings a new food or ingredient into Eva Thorvald's life – and her once-in-a-generation palate. From a tragic and challenging childhood, Eva's spirit and resilience help her to thrive and succe...

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Posted on: November 28, 2015

The Rocks

The Rocks

by Peter Nichols

Reviewed by Linda:

A novel of two love stories set decades apart on the beautiful Mediterranean island of Mallorca. Much of the plot takes place at "the Rocks," a seaside resort for upscale British tourists. Lulu, the proprietor, ...

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Posted on: November 28, 2015

A Little Life

A Little Life

by Hanya Yanagihara

Reviewed by Janet:

For readers who want to immerse themselves in the lives of four friends and the ebbs and flows of their relationships over the course of 30 years, this novel follows the daily lives of Jude, Willem, JB, and Malcolm. Ju...

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Posted on: November 28, 2015

A History of Loneliness

A History of Loneliness

by John Boyne

Reviewed by Robin:

Odran Yates, a Catholic priest in Ireland, is the narrator of this fictional story about his forty years in the Catholic church. Odran is satisfied with his priestly duties at a boys' school, but when the Catholic Church is ...

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Posted on: November 28, 2015

The Speechwriter: A Brief Education in Politics

The Speechwriter

by Barton Swaim

Reviewed by Linda:

English language lovers will devour this true story of an unlikely spin doctor: a newly minted PhD with a family to support and no academic job prospects who goes to work for his state's governor. Here he hopes to use his ...

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Posted on: November 28, 2015

The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty

The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty

by Vendela Vida

Reviewed by Janet:

A trip to Morocco goes off track when her backpack is stolen from the hotel lobby. Without her identification or money, she is free to become anyone she chooses. When a chance encounter with a Hollywood actress provides a ...

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