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|Marla has worked for Horizon Books since 2000, when she walked away from a lucrative career co-hosting alongside Conan O'Brien. Previously known around these parts as a seasonal worker, we are pleased she will now be with us year-round!|
John Irving is my favorite author, I think... at least he is the answer to many security prompts on my web accounts. I think everyone, especially young men, should read The World According to Garp. That said, I think this title represents Irving's best female protagonist (...except maybe Garp's mom Jenny). There aren't many books I reread (so many books so little time) but I confess I have read this one three times
There are a couple of plot themes I chose never to explore. When our book buyer strongly suggested this title I dragged my feet. I foisted my copy on to a friend who trusts and reads my recommendations. When I started getting feedback from others I encouraged her to put it on the top of her pile. The week before Christmas she texted me that she had put the holiday on hold until she finished this title. Her strong reaction pushed it to the top of my pile and I spent my holidays reading this "page turner". A satisfying roller coaster of a read!
Not exactly Nick and Nora (The Thin Man) but the similarities are too numerous to ignore. A mystery of manners set in a 1930's seaside resort and populated with British aristocrats, this first installment has me hooked and pining for a fourth title.
The plot detail that keeps the reader turning pages is the questionable relationship between wealthy Amory and her playboy husband Milo.
This summer I read this author's most recent novel, a contemporary Ohio version of Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Titled Eligible...what a hoot! I was so impressed with the skillful play on the much loved classic I wanted to try her original fiction.
Born in Southeast Missouri I am familiar with the New Madrid fault that is the seed of her storyline. Sisters who share "extra" senses beyond their twin-ness are caught up in national attention from an imminent earthquake prediction. Sisterhood, parenthood, friendship and marriage are all deftly explores. I'm still chewing this.
Populated by British Colonials, Kenya's Kikuyu and Maasai native tribes and kind Scottish missionaries, this mystery evokes all the diverse interests at play in 1911 Africa.
The murder of the white doctor at the Mission Hospital appears obvious to authorities who wish to protect the British expats by railroading the local witch doctor. The missionaries' daughter, born in Africa and raised among the natives, along with Assistant District Superintendent Tolliver are dedicated to finding the truth, wherever that leads.
Set in the scenic splendor and exotic wildlife we witnessed in Out of Africa (Denys Finch does appear) The sentiments and resolutions are unexpected.
I am currently enjoying THE BAKER'S GUIDE TO COUNTRY LIVING by Louise Miller, a fun "foodie" read. When I took the time to review the jacket blurbs by other authors, Ms. Bauermesiter's comments reminded me of my pleasure in reading this gem.
Related stories of why and how people took cooking classes tweak the imagination and the palate.
Though not a fan of short form fiction, these individual stories tie to each other in a chapter-like format, rewarding me with a pleasing denouement.
Many of us anxiously await the next installment of the Maisie Dobbs series of mysteries set in WWI and the run up to WWII.
In this stand alone novel, Winspear gives us a new heroine, the proper young village woman who marries into a rural farming family, only to be left to tend the farm when WWI claims her new family for war duties. She sees her duty to plant and harvest, mind the locals left at home, and write happy letters to those at the front lines to boost the spirits...
A gentle, melancholy anti-war tale.
Gillian Flynn (GONE GIRL), Tana French (THE DUBLIN MURDER SQUAD series) and Kate Atkinson are authors often linked in discussions of talent and (dark) voice in contemporary mystery fiction.
Kate Atkinson is most recently known for her two related literary novels LIFE AFTER LIFE and A GOD IN RUINS but earned her loyal fans in this unlikely series featuring Jackson Brody.
"A moving novel about families and loss, wrapped up in a witty whodunit." Glamour
I'm betting that a blurb like the one on the front cover from Stephen King is priceless...
I happened upon this title searching for narration by my favorite audio performer, the late Anna Fields. Seeking out her vast collection of work has led me in diverse directions, introducing me to many writers off my radar. This is a warm and witty saga about agribusiness, environmental activism, family and community - from the author of My Year of Meats and A Tale for the Time Being. Reminiscent of Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres.
"With a combination of humor and pathos that is all her own, Ozeki brings the American pastoral into the age of agribusiness and genetic engineering. The result is a smart compelling novel about a world we don't realize we live in."
- Michael Pollan, author of Omnivores Dilemma, Cooked, and Botany of Desire.
I hand sell this book so often I was surprised to find it to be a good candidate for a current suggestion. The author has a new title out, The Summer Before the War, which is always a good reminder of the past reads I have enjoyed.
Major Pettigrew's friendship with a local shopkeeper comes under scrutiny from friends and family. Mrs. Ali is not of his social class, not of his faith or ethnic origin and the Major must certainly need the advice of his peers. This is a novel of manners and millennial realities. A kind and thoughtful approach to more than one kind of prejudice.
The adventures of park ranger Anna Pigeon have filled the pages of 16 books, and now her legion of fans can find out how her story began. Grieving the death of her husband in 1995, Anna leaves NYC to take a seasonal position (cleaning toilets and hauling trash) in Glen Canyon National Recreational Area.
This prequel takes readers where they've wanted to go for years - to Anna's beginnings as a park ranger.
Anna emerges from this canyon escapade as a strong, determined woman who plans to return to the park service as a law enforcement ranger.
I started this series because of the National Park settings and continued for Anna - this is the missing piece.
"We need books for children that us words like justice, ally, freedom and advocate." - Rona Renner, host of Childhood Matters radio show.
Certainly sums it up. Wish I could claim that I discovered this gem, but a customer brought it to my attention.
My recent reading of fellow staffers' pick The Little Book Store of Big Stone Gap by Wendy Welch reminded me of this, my favorite Pat Conroy novel. In her memoir Welch lamented the loss of her appreciation for fiction after the pursuit of her doctorate, an affliction professed by many pursuing scholars. Beach Music is the title that returned her love of fiction. It was my first Pat Conroy novel and remains my favorite. I have read all his fiction to date, but this is the one that haunts me 20 years later.
I have often opined that Conroy's writing has excised most of his demons and his work might suffer from good cheer. Unfortunately, Mr. Conroy has been dealt a new challenge.
Smack dab in the middle of a Midwestern winter is the perfect time to indulge in one of my favorite sections of the bookstore, Armchair Travel. This section doesn't need any explanation, but it does need steerage occasionally. Many hit movies come from this genre. Eat, Pray, Love and A Walk in the Woods, A Year in Provence and Under the Tuscan Sun all originated with a book of travel adventure. Extra Virgin is the tale of two British sisters who leave the London winter and travel to a small Italian village to work the season grafting roses.
Taste the food, climb the terraced groves, drink the wine. Book your your trip...
I jokingly commented that I liked this book because each chapter is only a couple pages long. This tactic makes the book a very compelling read as you always think you can read another couple pages. That said, this story of an aging feminist writer and speaker, who suffers no fools, put me on the hunt for more books by this writer, much to my continued pleasure.
A debut legal thriller featuring a mother and daughter attempting tofind a shooter in a small West Virginia town and mend their own fragile relationship. Bell Eikins is the prosecutor for the county where she has lived her life and buried her past. Sheriff Nick Fogelsong knows that past and supports Bell's efforts to fight the drug trade thet has replaced mining in the local economy. "...Keller does a superb job showing both the natural beauty of Appalachia and the hopeless anger of the people trapped there in poverty." --Publishers Weekly
Ann@booksonthetable wrote "Small Blessings" had the misfortune of being published on the heels of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikery". Both novels evoke serendipitous events that change the lives of good people. My staff pick this month is unconventional as we usually try to market little or unknown titles. Since my initial enthusiasm wiped out the store inventory, it no longer fits that category - but I want everyone to know what a delightful read it is.
Casey Han's four years at Princeton gave her many things, "but no job and a number of bad habits." Casey's Korean immigrant parents, lifing in Queens, working in a dry cleaner, are trying desperately to hold on to their culture and identity. Their daughter, has entered into rarified American society via scholarships. After graduation, Casey sees the reality of expensive habits without the means to sustain them. As she navigates Manhattan, we see her life and the lives around her, illuminating a portrait of New York City and its world of haves and have-nots. Inspired by 19th century novels such as Vanity Fair and Middlemarch.
The author's 20th title in this "Deborah Knott Mystery" series titled Long Upon the Land is newly released and reminds me how much I have enjoyed the character and locale over the past 24 years. Deborah has grown from the rebellious baby sister of 11 brothers and only daughter of the infamous Kezzie Knott to become an elected Judge. This is the first in this series and I am envious of those of you who start now - how delightful to find a new series, knowing many more are available.
Broken and vulnerable from depression and grief, artist Rae Newborn chooses to isolate herself to heal and rebuild a family cabin on Folly Island. Soilitude and physical work enable her to set aside much of her paranoia, but the sensation of being watched persists. The author of The Beekeeper's Apprentice series, this is a great one-off.
So, my standard spiel when hand selling this title is "vegan journalist goes to interview an organic farmer, he cooks her a hamburger...and she never goes home". Not exactly the sequence of events, but close enough to grab your attention. Kristen and Mark embark on this farming adventure with youth, muscles, and few assets. Using age old implements, horses instead of tractors, manure instead of fertilizer, their goal is "to provide everything needed for a healthy and satisfying diet year round".
This is my #1 go-to fiction recommendation. this is the novel that brings back customers requesting more of my suggestions. This is the story of the choices not made and the what ifs never answered. This is the book that will make you remember heady young, uninhibited love. This is off the radar, no hype, no publicity, the one you won't hear about from anyone else.
Have you ever heard those radio commercials making fun of the family with no emergency plan? Me too. I keep thinking that I (we) should have such a plan, and then continue on my merry way without committing to or formulating The Plan.
This book will not make a disaster plan for you and your family, but perhaps it will start the dialogue and provide some ideas for probable scenarios and the basic equipment for many types of emergencies from power outages to severe weather and more that we don't even want to imagine on a nice sunny day.
None of us want to believe we are in jeopardy and some of the suggestions here fall outside individual boundaries, however I bet we can all imagine ourselves needing one of the 13 survival kits outlined here.
What would your world be like if you woke after a 100 year sleep? A research vessel exploring Arctic surfaces uncovers a frozen human form buried deep in the ice. Successful thawing and "reanimating" reveals Judge Jeremiah Rice, lost overboard in the Arctic Ocean in a 1906 expedition. In today's media driven information frenzy, the discovery and recovery become an international sensation and Jeremiah's re-entry is tabloid fodder. Told fromeopposing points of view, this is a thriller, a love story, and a provocative look at exploitation and the human spirit.
Sherlock Holmes is very cool, again! I must confessI was never a Sherlockian enthusiast before I read this series and I started this reluctantly. I was a fan of other works by this author (the Kate Martinelli mystery series) and a stand alone novel titled Folly, so I jumped in.
In Sherlock's retirement in the English countryside, he meets and befriends a young American girl he believes to possess the intellect and discipline to train in his detection methods. Well....some ten years later I am anxiously awaiting the thirteenth installment of this series of far flung locales, disguises, and historical intrigues.
In a not so distant future, where the US is not the dominant world power, positive contact is made with life in another galaxy by a radio telescope in Puerto Rico. The Jesuits (who else?) mount an expedition to investigate the discovery.
The reader is engrossed in the building of the ship, interested in the recruitment and training of the church and lay personell, and spellbound by the tale related by the only surviving member of the expedition.
This title has been my go-to suggestion for readers who are ready to step outside their normal fiction boundaries or those readers who never venture into the SciFi/Fantasy genre.
Mary Doria Russell is an anthropologist by education and her storytelling reflects those disciplines and observations. A powerful and haunting novel.
Before Lisbeth Salander (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) and Dexter Morgan (Darkley Dreaming Dexter) entered the thriller/suspense genre Kathy Mallory was the sociopath with the power and skills to dole out cokeyed justice.
The street urchin rescued and mentored by one of New York's finest, Mallory's wits and fierce loyalties wreak havoc with the criminals and politicos of NYC. No computer program, locked door or regulation impedes Mallory's investigations, and only her NYPD Special Crimes partner and her poker-playing godfathers garner her respect
NOVEMBER 2014 (Pt. 2)
By now most of us Pride and Prejudice aficionados have revisited Austen's most famous novel through the many prequels, sequels, and contemporary rewrites. Favorites among these include: Mr. Darcy Takes a Wifeby Berdoll, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman Trilogy by Aidan, and Austenlan by Hale. My title pick this month looks at the "downstairs" side of Regency society, ... who washes all those petticoats, cleans those muddy boos and carries all that water for a houseful of women? The Darcy and Bennet narrative is lightly woven into this tale of service, secrets, choices and consequences. Those Bennet girls had it pretty good!
Time to 'fess up - one of my guilty pleasures is contemporary romance novels. I justify reading this genre by utilizing audio editions only. I can multi-task while cleaning, gardening, driving - you get the gist...
This is the title that started it all. I have since read (listened to) every book this author has written. Predictable "damsel in distress" situations that are smart and funny with well developed characters and modern themes. Strong women and evolved men populate all her novels.
I confess my enjoyment of these bonbons at this time because her latest, Heroes are My Weakness, promises to be the best yet.
SEPTEMBER 2014 pt. 2
Did you know...before the TV mini-series this book was a best selling saga of Australia? Before Dan Brown detailed the papal hierarchy in Angels and Demons, McCullough exposed the politics and policies of the College of Cardinals. Before preistly misconduct became a worldwide scandal, Father Ralph and Maggie shared a connection we all rooted for. If you've never read this classic romance, treat yourself now. Envision Richard Chamerlain and Rachel Ward as Father Ralph and Maggie - inspired casting!
I've read most everything McCullough has written throughout the years: Australian historical novels; Detective Carmine Delmonico mysteries; and even a Pride and Prejudice spin-off. I am saving her First Man in Rome series for my old age (haha!). She also has a new Australian novel, Bittersweet, her first romance since The Thorn Birds.
I hope this book has been a commercial success for Tomsky because he burned a lot of bridges publishing this memoir! This army brat with a degree in philosophy was ill prepared for gainful employment when he entered the "hospitality" workforce in New Orleans as a parking valet. The bright boy quickly moves trhough the ranks to hold the position of Front Desk Agent where he deftly directs the epicenter of customer service.
This book will tell you more than you want to know about the ins and outs of high end hotels, the tricks for freebies and upgrades, and the dos and don'ts of tipping. An inside tell-all a la Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential.
No...it's not Wuthering Heights but this contemporary story instills a tension and drama reminiscent of that classic.
Set in the same moors and frought with wrong choices and childhood loves.
This is just a fun read that tickles your memories of the Brontes and Wuthering Heights and pretends at melodrama.
For over 30 years my husband has witnessed my reading habits with little comment. When I first read this little gem he observed"you finish one book, put it down, pick up and start another, and never say a word...but you have giggled through that whole book."
It is not smart or sophisticated or even very witty - it just makes you chuckle! This is the first title in a much loved series we all thought was finished. Good news - a new "Mitford Years" title Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good arrives September 2nd. For those never exposed to the to the gentle folk of Mitford and Father Tim - you're in for a treat!
This 2002 National Book Award winner is not about three women named June. Three months of June over a ten year span is the structure to tell this tale of family bonds, those we are born with and those we aquire. This novel is one from my "all time top ten" list and my quick perusal to write this recommendation has drawn me in again. The author's latest title, And the Dark Sacred Night returns one of these characters to the story, so if you have already read Three Junes - try the new title.
A big Italian family in New York City's Greenwich Villiage, a fiesty matriarch who still runs the family custom wedding shoe business, a designer competition to display in the window of Bergdorf's, a handsome restauranteur boyfriend, a buying trip to Tuscany - did I mention shoes yet?
My recommendation sounds pretty flippant, but you will immerse yourself in this family, root for Valentine's aspirations and want more of this story as soon as you close the book.
Rash's storytelling of Appalachia evokes time and place insulated from daily life.
In this novel set at the end of WWI, a mute stranger changes the lives of lonely siblings eking out an existence on a farm isolated by superstition and circumstances.
As Charles Finch wrote in his review in USA Today, "Both the land and the country have changed. If you squint your eyes, The Cove can show you what they used to look like."
Fly fishing in Montana - a good premise for a new mystery series. Dead floating bodies, hand-tied flies as distinctive as a fingerprint (the titled Royal Wulff) and damsels in distress.
To quote Henry Winkler's blurb on this book, "What fun it is to visit my favorite fishing spots, not in a guide book, but in a wonderful murder mystery".
I spent many hours sitting on the banks of the Madison River in Yellowstone Park and the Gallatin Valley reading a book, while my angler husband cast his line. It's all here, including Bud Lily's Trout Shop where I purchased my favorite hand thrown coffee mug - 30 years ago!
To my mind, Kingsolver's novels are distinctly divided between before and after The Poisonwood Bible.
The more recent works exhibit obvious social, political, and environmental themes tightly woven in personal dramas flawlessly executed.
Perhaps just finding her activist voice, the earlier novels and essays deliver compelling social narrative with a more subtle tone.
Kingsolver works have a strong sense of place and landscape, this one the desert southwest, as lush and colorful as her African rainforest or hills of Appalachia.
Much like Downton Abbey and Maisie Dobbs, the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt mystery novels are about the changing social classes of women in Victorian London.
Society girl Charlotte Ellison is from an upper class family and Thomas Pitt from a working class background when they first meet during an investigation of the death of a maid in the Ellison household. Utilizing her high-brow connections, Charlotte is able to insert herself into the police investigation.
Best of all, there are 27 more titles in the series.
Gee, I am such a sucker for a house building saga; House by Tracey Kidder, and Woodswoman by Anne LaBastille are early favorites.
What circumstances, what goals, what fortunes (or lack of) generate the desire to build something from the ground up intrigues me.
Although it is the last thing I would ever want to do, I devour the tales of site selection, floor planning, construction hiccups and mishaps, improvising and adaptation that are the daily requirement to fulfill the dream.
A great gift for many on your list!
An exquisitely gifted cook at Cafe Nadia, where homesick Middle Eastern ex-pats gather to drink coffee and savor her perfectly spiced food, Sirine is loved by all. She has never been in love herself when she meets exiled professor Hanif Al Eyad through her uncle's matchmaking, but it is the scents, flavors, and textures of Sirine's cooking that advance their relationship.
This writing lingers in all my senses many years after I finished this book. "...love, lust, and Lebanese cooking commingle to create a deliciously romantic romp about l'amour and the quest for identity." - VANITY FAIR
Nearly my favorite John Grisham novel, this one is not the courtroom legal thriller we regularly expect. Instead, this is a coming of age drama set in the mid-1950's on a cotton farm in the rural Mississippi River delta of Arkansas.
The tensions are many, from migrant worker conflict to the continual lure of good money and jobs in the industrial North, and extended family living under one roof.
The book is personal to me. I lived there, and then.
What if...you found your soulmate on a dating site so good it worked the first time every time?
What if...said soul mate was able to mine the digital droppings from the "cloud" and create an intuitive, responsive algorithm enabling continued communication with loved ones now gone?
What if...this is a tech savvy, quirky love story that explores the all-too-believable potential in this modern data/download/app focused life?
What if...it could really happen?
The thrice-divorced, affable member of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), who reports to Lucas Davenport , operates pretty much on his own as he tackles only the worst cases.
Virgil Flowers has made his debut as a secondary character in Sandford's Invisible Prey (2007) is a low-key loose cannon whose wardrobe consists of alternative rock-n-roll t-shirts, and usually towing his fishing boat to the crime scene.
It's my pleasure to introduce to you one of my favorite new characters.
Okay, all you Nora Roberts fans have already read this one...and the two sequels in the Boonsboro trilogy, but maybe this will capture some of the die hard, "no romance" readers out there.
What can I say? If you like restoration of historical buildings, family drama filled with smart, hunky, sensitive men raised by a wise (cracking) mother, strong women with healthyself-esteem and good judgement, then nobody writes romance better than Nora and I promise you will want to finish this trilogy.
(Little) Bit is the first child born to the newly founded agrarian commune, nurtured and guided by all. His world is filled with nature, goodwill, hard work and good times.
As with most grand social experiments, the politics and practicality of this live style versus outside forces eventually destroy the community and Bit's sheltered life.
Grown up Bit finds himself raising his daughter alone and looking for guidance from his elders.
Geoff's writing style gracefully evokes the sensitivity and compassion that is Bit's character. Enchanting.
If you check out the reviews on Goodreads.com or Librarything.com you will find that most have something snotty or snobby to say about this book, like "sappy", "purple prose", and "predictable", and usually comment on the lack of editing... yet give it high marks for characters and relationships, drama, inspiration, and setting. "This book spreads its energy and passion with very little help. Fueled by characters you don't want to leave and a story of contemporary Montana you don't want to end."
Commonly recognized as the Mark Twain of our century, T.C. Boyle chronicles the contemporary human condition. Whether you are a naturalist, riparian, environmentalist, or just believe in action for cause, you will find yourself able to see both sides of the political hot button topic in this coastal California drama. I promise you will never perceive a raven the same way again. Available in bargain hardcover or quality paperback.
The fifty-year-old English language newspaper published in Rome is circling the drain and the executives and staff struggle to continue the publication and maintain their livelihoods as the era of print journalism gives way to the Internet age and the decline of traditional reporting.
From the obituary writer to the foreign correspondent, Cairo stringer, business reporter and corrections editor, the story unfolds in revealing personal stories of each employee in this debut novel, a comprehensive tale of the eminent demise of an institution.
This title was pressed upon me many years ago, and so totally outside of any genre I was accustomed to reading that I paid no attention for several years. When I finally picked it up I was immediately captivated and mindful of the genre fusion exhibited. Readers of Burdett, DeMille, Ludlum, Clancy and Lee Child will appreciate this classic novel by the one-name author also known for his novel The Eiger Sanction.
I am not a reader or browser in the "Religion/Inspiration" section of the bookstore, so I consider it serendipitous that I found this little gem.
Whether you practice the Golden Rule or Pay-It-Forward or need a gift or stocking-stuffer, this little book is a gentle reminder of small kindnesses that have great impact on both giver and recipient.
Happy Holidays to all!!!
I am currently reading Cabin by Ureneck which reminds me how much I loved the feature title.
I have read many other books by Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy Kidder and my book club has read at least 4 different Kidder titles but this one is the one I have purchased over and over to give to friends building homes.
Long before HGTV and the Discover Channel made everyone want to build a house a beware their builder, Kidder chronicled the entire process from choosing a contractor to building a staircase.
I sure wish I had read this earlier in the summer to stimulate all the road trippers and National Park-bound tourists while the anticipation or memories were fresh.
A frank collection of anecdotes and adventures that puts the current state of our National Park system in fresh perspective.
Aging rock'n'roll star buys a ghost on-line and gets one! A wild ride with lots of pop culture, scary close encounters, and family baggage.
Maybe the best thing about this fast-paced thriller is knowing who the author is and appreciating his own talents, never trading on his famous lineage.
If you're a fan of Tony Hillerman, Margaret Coel, and J.A. Jance, here is another contemporary western hero (with a badge) for your indulgence. Set along the I-25 corridor from El Paso TX to Santa Fe NM, this mystery series honors the Native Americans and the ranchers, the land and environment, as well as the varied law enforcement units required to secure the vast territory.
Rancher turned lawman, Kevin Kearny will limp his way to the top of your list of good guys, and the bad guys are really, really bad!
As a diehard fan of this author, I first read this novel when it was published in 1981. Recently reprinted with new cover art, I am reminded of the passions and commitment exhibited in this tale of revolution and exile.
Known for her feminist novels (Woman on the Edge of Time is still used in university studies) and poetry, Ms. Piercy's work has evolved with contemporary times and themes. This title, however, is firmly rooted in the political undeground of the 80's.