Welcome to my Book Club page! Reading is a great way to relax and destress and for those in retirement, you may find you have a lot more time to read. I love hearing about books and authors that I have not yet come across and I love sharing the ones that I have enjoyed as well.
I will pick a book each month that I personally have read and one a client has recommended. Please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your book ideas and thoughts! Remember, one lucky reader each quarter who sends in a book suggestion will be chosen randomly to receive a gift card to a local bookstore in your area!
April - Carol A.
July - Nancy L.
October - Ron M.
January - Nancy L. (the other Nancy L.)
April - Jess K.
July - Palma
October - Karen
January - Sharon
This month I am recommending a biography I read a couple of years ago by journalist Ben Montgomery. Grandma Gatewood's Walk is the inspiring story of the woman who saved the Appalachian Trail. Emma is an unassuming but gutsy 67-year-old Ohio grandmother who in 1955 became the first person to walk all 2,050 miles of the Appalachian Trail and did it two more times after that!
This month our client Nancy recommends the autobiography Hello Darkness, My Old Friend by Sanford D. Greenberg. At the age of 19, during his junior year at Columbia University, the author lost his eyesight. Despite this overwhelming handicap at such a young age, Sanford (Sandy) went on to continue his education with the help of his girlfriend and eventual wife, Sue, and his roommate and best friend, Art Garfunkel. (Garfunkel not only convinced Sandy to return to Columbia but promised to help him in any way he could...a promise he faithfully kept.) Sandy not only graduated from Columbia but went on to further his education and have a distinguished career in Washington D.C. Nancy found the account of his struggles and triumphs very inspirational.
This month I am recommending The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan. Frida is the mother of a 1-year-old daughter, Harriet, for whom she shares joint custody with her ex-husband. On a particularly overwhelming day, Frida leaves Harriet alone for a few hours. To Frida's horror, she's soon been reported for neglect and an investigation into her capacity as a mother begins. Soon, Frida is thrust into an intrusive, dystopian program to assess her mothering abilities, and her custody over her child hangs in the balance.
While I don't often read dystopian novels, I enjoyed going outside my comfort zone with this thought provoking book.
Our client Palma recommends While Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams. Avery Keene, a brilliant young law clerk for the legendary Justice Howard Wynn, is doing her best to hold her life together--excelling in an arduous job with the court while also dealing with a troubled family. When the shocking news breaks that Justice Wynn--the cantankerous swing vote on many current high-profile cases--has slipped into a coma, Avery's life turns upside down. She is immediately notified that Justice Wynn has left instructions for her to serve as his legal guardian and power of attorney. Plunged into an explosive role she never anticipated, Avery finds that Justice Wynn had been secretly researching one of the most controversial cases before the court--a proposed merger between an American biotech company and an Indian genetics firm, which promises to unleash breathtaking results in the medical field. She also discovers that Wynn suspected a dangerously related conspiracy that infiltrates the highest power corridors of Washington.
This month I highly recommend All The Broken Places by John Boyne. It is a sequel of sorts to the Boy in the Striped Pajamas which I have not read yet. Ninety-one-year-old Gretel Fernsby has lived in the same well-to-do mansion block in London for decades. She lives a quiet, comfortable life, despite her deeply disturbing, dark past. She doesn’t talk about her escape from Nazi Germany at age 12. She doesn’t talk about the grim post-war years in France with her mother. Most of all, she doesn’t talk about her father, who was the commandant of one of the Reich’s most notorious extermination camps. All The Broken Places moves back and forth in time between Gretel’s girlhood in Germany to present-day London as a woman whose life has been haunted by the past. Now, Gretel faces a similar crossroads to one she encountered long ago. Back then, she denied her own complicity, but now, faced with a chance to interrogate her guilt, grief and remorse, she can choose to save a young boy. If she does, she will be forced to reveal the secrets she has spent a lifetime protecting. I really enjoyed this book!
Our client Nancy recommends The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles. In June, 1954, eighteen-year-old Emmett Watson is driven home to Nebraska by the warden of the juvenile work farm where he has just served fifteen months for involuntary manslaughter. His mother long gone, his father recently deceased, and the family farm foreclosed upon by the bank, Emmett’s intention is to pick up his eight-year-old brother, Billy, and head to California where they can start their lives anew.
But when the warden drives away, Emmett discovers that two friends from the work farm—the wily, charismatic Duchess and earnest, offbeat Woolly—have stowed away in the trunk of the warden’s car. Together, they have hatched an altogether different plan for Emmett’s future, one that will take the four of them on a fateful journey in the opposite direction to the city of New York. Nancy says this book was full of surprise twists and was a fun summer read!
This month I recommend The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. A.J. Fikry's wife has died, his bookstore is in trouble, and now his prized rare edition of Poe poems has been stolen. However, when a mysterious package appears, its arrival gives him the chance to start his life over and see things anew. I loved it! It's also been made into a movie, but I must say the book is much better.
Our client Nancy, whose book club is reading banned books, recommends Monday's Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson. This young adult story centers around two black girls, Claudia and Monday, who are very close friends and about to enter 8th grade in current day Washington, D.C. When Monday fails to show up for the first day of school and for weeks thereafter, Claudia desperately tries to get someone to investigate. This book provided a very thought provoking discussion and Nancy highly recommends it.
For this month, I recommend Finlay Donovan is Killing It by Elle Cosimano. Finlay is a stressed-out single-mom of two and struggling novelist, Finlay’s life is in chaos: the new book she promised her literary agent isn’t written, her ex-husband fired the nanny without telling her, and this morning she had to send her four-year-old to school with hair duct-taped to her head after an incident with scissors.
When Finlay is overheard discussing the plot of her new suspense novel with her agent over lunch, she’s mistaken for a contract killer, and inadvertently accepts an offer to dispose of a problem husband in order to make ends meet . . . Soon, Finlay discovers that crime in real life is a lot more difficult than its fictional counterpart, as she becomes tangled in a real-life murder investigation. Fast-paced, deliciously witty, and wholeheartedly authentic in depicting the frustrations and triumphs of motherhood in all its messiness, hilarity, and heartfelt moment, Finlay Donovan Is Killing It is the first in a brilliant new series from YA Edgar Award nominee Elle Cosimano.
Our client Heather suggests Allie and Bea by Catherine Ryan Hyde. Bea has barely been scraping by since her husband died. After falling for a telephone scam, she loses everything and is forced to abandon her trailer. With only two-thirds of a tank in her old van, she heads toward the Pacific Ocean with her cat—on a mission to reclaim what’s rightfully hers, even if it means making others pay for what she lost.
When fifteen-year-old Allie’s parents are jailed for tax fraud, she’s sent to a group home. But when her life is threatened by another resident, she knows she has to get out. She escapes only to find she has nowhere to go—until fate throws Allie in Bea’s path.
Reluctant to trust each other, much less become friends, the two warily make their way up the Pacific Coast. Yet as their hearts open to friendship and love from the strangers they meet on their journey, they find the courage to forge their own unique family—and begin to see an imperfect world with new eyes.
For September, I recommend Goodnight Irene by Luis Albero Urrea. In 1943, Irene Woodward abandons an abusive fiancé in New York to enlist with the Red Cross and head to Europe. She makes fast friends in training with Dorothy Dunford, a towering Midwesterner with a ferocious wit. Together they are part of an elite group of women, nicknamed Donut Dollies, who command military vehicles called Clubmobiles at the front line, providing camaraderie and a taste of home that may be the only solace before troops head into battle.
After D-Day, these two intrepid friends join the Allied soldiers streaming into France. Their time in Europe will see them embroiled in danger, from the Battle of the Bulge to the liberation of Buchenwald. Through her friendship with Dorothy, and a love affair with a courageous American fighter pilot named Hans, Irene learns to trust again. Her most fervent hope, which becomes more precarious by the day, is for all three of them to survive the war intact.
Taking as inspiration his mother’s own Red Cross service, Luis Alberto Urrea has delivered an overlooked story of women’s heroism in World War II. With its affecting and uplifting portrait of friendship and valor in harrowing circumstances. I did not know anything about the Donut Dollies and I was amazed to learn what these woman did for our country.
Our client Kate recommends Room by Emma Donaghue. To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.
Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not enough...not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son's bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.
Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.
This month I chose The Chain by Adrian McKinty for its unique and chilling plot. It's something parents do every morning: Rachel Klein drops her daughter at the bus stop and heads into her day. But a cell phone call from an unknown number changes everything: it's a woman on the line, informing her that she has Kylie bound and gagged in her back seat, and the only way Rachel will see her again is to follow her instructions exactly: pay a ransom, and find another child to abduct. This is no ordinary kidnapping: the caller is a mother herself, whose son has been taken, and if Rachel doesn't do as she's told, the boy will die.
"You are not the first. And you will certainly not be the last."Rachel is now part of The Chain, an unending and ingenious scheme that turns victims into criminals—and is making someone else very rich in the process. The rules are simple, the moral challenges impossible; find the money fast, find your victim, and then commit a horrible act you'd have thought yourself incapable of just twenty-four hours ago. But what the masterminds behind The Chain know is that parents will do anything for their children. It turns out that kidnapping is only the beginning.
Our client Rick recommends The Perfectionist by Simon Winchester. The Perfectionists is a story about the progress of precision and how it shaped the modern world and is an essential component of many things we often take for granted. The book chronicles the path of many of these stories such as how things were once weighed in measurement of "stones" to now being weighed at the atomic level. Many of us are familiar with the fact that navigation was dependent on knowing longitude, which was dependent on the ability to accurately measure time. Everything we know in the modern world was made possible by precision in measurements of weight, time, distance, etc.
The subject matter is technical however the book is written as a historical story but does get rather technical in parts. The author tends to "wax poetic" at times, which draws out some parts of the book. Towards the end, the author questions where all this precision has brought us in our pursuit of the ultraprecise. For those with an interest in engineering, technology, or just how our modern world came to be, this book may be of interest.
This month I recommend Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate. It's Memphis, 1939 and twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge—until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents—but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.
Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.
Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals—in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country—Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.
Our client Laurel suggests The Teachers by Alexandra Robbins. The author goes behind the scenes to tell the true, sometimes shocking, always inspirational stories of three teachers as they navigate a year in the classroom. She follows Penny, a southern middle school math teacher who grappled with a toxic staff clique at the big school in a small town; Miguel, a special ed teacher in the western United States who fought for his students both as an educator and as an activist; and Rebecca, an East Coast elementary school teacher who struggled to schedule and define a life outside of school.
Interspersed among the teachers' stories--a seeming scandal, a fourth-grade whodunit, and teacher confessions--are hard-hitting essays featuring cutting-edge reporting on the biggest issues facing teachers today, such as school violence; outrageous parent behavior; inadequate support, staffing, and resources coupled with unrealistic mounting demands; the "myth" of teacher burnout; the COVID-19 pandemic; and ways all of us can help the professionals who are central both to the lives of our children and the heart of our communities.
For June I chose a book I read about a year ago, In an Instant by Suzanne Redfearn. Life is over in an instant for sixteen-year-old Finn Miller when a devastating car accident tumbles her and ten others over the side of a mountain. Suspended between worlds, she watches helplessly as those she loves struggle to survive.
Impossible choices are made, decisions that leave the survivors tormented with grief and regret. Unable to let go, Finn keeps vigil as they struggle to reclaim their shattered lives. Jack, her father, who seeks vengeance against the one person he can blame other than himself; her best friend, Mo, who bravely searches for the truth as the story of their survival is rewritten; her sister Chloe, who knows Finn lingers and yearns to join her; and her mother, Ann, who saved them all but is haunted by her decisions. Finn needs to move on, but how can she with her family still in pieces?
Heartrending yet ultimately redemptive, In an Instant is a story about the power of love, the meaning of family, and carrying on…even when it seems impossible.
Our client Terri chose, The #1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. Fans around the world adore the bestselling No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series and its proprietor, Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s premier lady detective. In this charming series, Mma Ramotswe—with help from her loyal associate, Grace Makutsi—navigates her cases and her personal life with wisdom, good humor, and the occasional cup of tea.
Terri says the books are endearing. They are supposedly a detective series but it is more about life’s lessons. It was also turned into a three season drama on HBO!
For May I have chosen Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano. It is the story of a 12-year-old boy who is the lone survivor of a plane crash that kills 191 others, including his family. As Edward struggles to cope with the tragedy, letters from others affected by the crash spark a journey of healing and self-discovery. While this is a sad book, I enjoyed it quite a bit! As a Mom of four boys, I always enjoy a story with the male adolescent point of view. Bring the tissues...
Our client Palma recommends The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray. In her twenties, Belle da Costa Greene is hired by J. P. Morgan to curate a collection of rare manuscripts, books, and artwork for his newly built Pierpont Morgan Library. Belle becomes a fixture in New York City society and one of the most powerful people in the art and book world, known for her impeccable taste and shrewd negotiating for critical works as she helps create a world-class collection.
But Belle has a secret, one she must protect at all costs. She was born not Belle da Costa Greene but Belle Marion Greener. She is the daughter of Richard Greener, the first Black graduate of Harvard and a well-known advocate for equality. Belle’s complexion isn’t dark because of her alleged Portuguese heritage that lets her pass as white—her complexion is dark because she is African American.
The Personal Librarian tells the story of an extraordinary woman, famous for her intellect, style, and wit, and shares the lengths she must go to—for the protection of her family and her legacy—to preserve her carefully crafted white identity in the racist world in which she lives.
For this month's recommendation I have chosen Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt. So many people told me about this orginal story with a big heart, that I had to give it a read. This novel is a heartwarming, charming, and unconventional story about the friendship between a lonely widow (Tova), a down on his luck young man (Cameron), and a giant Pacific octopus (Marcellus). I really enjoyed this book for it's creativity and lovable characters. It sounds a bit quirky, but it's a wonderful read!
Our client, Sharon suggests My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout. Lucy Barton is recovering slowly from what should have been a simple operation. Her mother, to whom she hasn’t spoken for many years, comes to see her. Gentle gossip about people from Lucy’s childhood in Amgash, Illinois, seems to reconnect them, but just below the surface lie the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of Lucy’s life: her escape from her troubled family, her desire to become a writer, her marriage, her love for her two daughters. Knitting this powerful narrative together is the brilliant storytelling voice of Lucy herself: keenly observant, deeply human, and truly unforgettable.
This month, I'd like to share Dolen Perkins-Valdez's Take My Hand which is set in Montgomery, Alabama 1973. Fresh out of nursing school, Civil Townsend has big plans to make a difference, especially in her African American community. At the Montgomery Family Planning Clinic, she intends to help women make their own choices for their lives and bodies. But when her first week on the job takes her down a dusty country road to a worn down one-room cabin, she’s shocked to learn that her new patients are children—just 11 and 13 years old. Neither of the Williams sisters has even kissed a boy, but they are poor and Black and for those handling the family’s welfare benefits that’s reason enough to have the girls on birth control. As Civil grapples with her role, she takes India, Erica and their family into her heart. Until one day, she arrives at the door to learn the unthinkable has happened and nothing will ever be the same for any of them.
Our client Nancy suggests The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivy. Set in 1920's remote Alaska, it is the story of a childless couple who have given up their dream of being parents. Then a young girl mysteriously shows up at their door. Who is she, where did she come from...questions that should be simple but are not! She didn't want to say more as she didn't want to give away the plot! She says that one of the highlights of the story is the author's description of the Alaskan landscape.
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus follows Elizabeth Zott: a one-of-a-kind scientist in 1960s California whose career takes a detour when she becomes the unlikely star of a beloved TV cooking show.Elizabeth has dealt with it all. Plenty of misogyny and people doubting her skills. All she wants to do is work on her scientific research but the patriarchy keeps standing in her way. Everything changes for Elizabeth when the most unlikely event happens—she falls in love with a fellow scientist, Calvin. But as life is unpredictable, Elizabeth eventually finds herself as a single mother and without a job. Through an extraordinary set of events, she ends up becoming the host of a TV cooking show. And while she takes cooking very seriously, she also embarks plenty of lessons to her mostly female audience. I found this book quirky and heartwarming!
Our client Karen recommends The Measure by Nikki Erlick. Eight ordinary people. One extraordinary choice. It seems like any other day. You wake up, pour a cup of coffee, and head out. But today, when you open your front door, waiting for you is a small wooden box. This box holds your fate inside: the answer to the exact number of years you will live. From suburban doorsteps to desert tents, every person on every continent receives the same box. In an instant, the world is thrust into a collective frenzy. Where did these boxes come from? What do they mean? Is there truth to what they promise? As society comes together and pulls apart, everyone faces the same shocking choice: Do they wish to know how long they’ll live? And, if so, what will they do with that knowledge? The Measure charts the dawn of this new world through an unforgettable cast of characters whose decisions and fates interweave with one another: best friends whose dreams are forever entwined, pen pals finding refuge in the unknown, a couple who thought they didn’t have to rush, a doctor who cannot save himself, and a politician whose box becomes the powder keg that ultimately changes everything.
My pic is a long one this month, with almost 900 pages. Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati takes us to late eighteenth-century America, where Elizabeth Middleton arrives from England to fulfill her dream of creating a schoolhouse, serving all the children of a remote New York mountain village, regardless of sex or skin color. But her father has other plans for her. He has a scheme to give Elizabeth substantial property—if she agrees to marry Richard Todd, a man to whom he owes substantial debts. Elizabeth has always treasured her independence, valuing her freedom and integrity above all else. The only man who seems to speak the truth to her is Nathaniel Bonner, a fiery outsider known to the Mohawk people as Between-Two-Lives. Soon Elizabeth realizes that Nathaniel is the only match for her. A saga of adventurous new beginnings, Into the Wilderness is a breathtaking journey through the heart and soul of one couple’s epic fate—and the destiny of a young nation.
Our client Nancy L. recommends The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian This psychological thriller is set in present-day Vermont, it follows a college student named Laurel Estabrook who is assaulted while on a bike ride. Traumatized from the incident, the formerly extroverted Estabrook becomes timid and private, shifting her focus to photography and working at a homeless shelter. At the shelter, she meets a man named Bobbie Crocker, and becomes entwined in an investigation into his dark family history. The novel heavily relies on narrative doubt and the suspension of evidence to call into question Estabrook’s tenuous grip on reality, including the memory of her own assault. The novel is resonant with recent discourse in America on the sexual assault of women, and society’s tendency to privilege men’s judgments, allegations, and memories over theirs.
This month's pick is from Yola! Yola shares Bill Geists' Lake of the Ozarks. She says she loved it and it was a quick read. Before there was "tourism" and souvenir ashtrays became "kitsch," the Lake of the Ozarks was a Shangri-La for middle-class Midwestern families on vacation, complete with man-made beaches, Hillbilly Mini Golf, and feathered rubber tomahawks. It was there that author Bill Geist spent summers in the Sixties during his school and college years working at Arrowhead Lodge -- a small resort owned by his bombastic uncle -- in all areas of the operation, from cesspool attendant to bellhop. What may have seemed just a summer job became, upon reflection, a transformative era where a cast of eccentric, small-town characters and experiences shaped (some might suggest "slightly twisted") Bill into the man he is today. He realized it was this time in his life that had a direct influence on his sensibilities, his humor, his writing, and ultimately a career searching the world for other such untamed creatures for the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, and CBS News. In Lake of the Ozarks, Bill Geist reflects on his coming of age in the American Heartland and traces his evolution as a man and a writer. He shares laugh-out-loud anecdotes and tongue-in-cheek observations guaranteed to evoke a strong sense of nostalgia for "the good ol' days." Written with Geistian wit and warmth, Lake of the Ozarks takes readers back to a bygone era, and demonstrates how you can find inspiration in the most unexpected places.
This month's client pick is from Carol, who recommends Mr. Emerson's Wife by Amy Belding Brown. In this novel about Ralph Waldo Emerson's wife, Lidian, Amy Belding Brown examines the emotional landscape of love and marriage. Living in the shadow of one of the most famous men of her time, Lidian becomes deeply disappointed by marriage, but consigned to public silence by social conventions and concern for her children and her husband's reputation. Drawn to the erotic energy and intellect of close family friend Henry David Thoreau, she struggles to negotiate the confusing territory between love and friendship while maintaining her moral authority and inner strength. In the course of the book, she deals with overwhelming social demands, faces devastating personal loss, and discovers the deepest meaning of love. Lidian eventually discovers the truth of her own character and learns that even our faults can lead us to independence.
I have to share Katherine Center's Things You Save in a Fire. Who doesn't enjoy a feel good, well written book once in a while? Cassie Hanwell was born for emergencies. As one of the only female firefighters in her Texas firehouse, she's seen her fair share of them, and she's excellent at dealing with other people's tragedies. But when her estranged and ailing mother asks her to uproot her life and move to Boston, it's an emergency of a kind Cassie never anticipated. I have also read her Happiness for Beginners and recommend that as well.
Our client Ron picked Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri. While this slim book reads more like a first person memoir, it is a work of fiction that follows the life of the narrator (a middle-aged woman who is both a literature professor and a writer) for about a year as she makes her way around an unnamed town/city in Italy where she lives. As the title suggests this is a story about a place, both geographical and emotional, and Lahiri's writing is so well crafted. The inner monologue of the narrator reveals much about her character, yet the events of the narrative are everyday, prosaic. Another interesting point of the book is the fact that for the last decade or more, Lahiri has lived in Italy. Concurrently, her published writing is only in Italian (this work was then translated to English by Lahiri herself).
For this month I chose American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins. American Dirt is a social issues thriller. It tells the story of a mother and son, Lydia and Luca, fleeing their home in Acapulco, Mexico, for the US after the rest of their family is murdered by a drug cartel. It was hard to read at some points, but that's also why the book was so good. My heart went out to Lydia and the unimaginable circumstances she had to deal with during her journey.
Our client Kate chose The Last Bookshop in London by Madeline Martin. The story was inspired by the events that occurred during the blitz in 1939. Grace Bennett had always dreamed of living in the city, but what she found when she finally arrived was not what she expected. The story follows Grace as she initially set out to work in the bookshop for six months to get her letter of recommendation for a better position as a shop girl. She has never been a reader, but quickly discovers her love of books and how books can bring a community together during some of the most horrific times in our history.
This month I chose an author, Jennifer McMahon. I have recently read three of her paranormal fiction books, The Night Sister, The Invited and The Winter People. Jennifer is a noteworthy author who was born in Hartford but now resides in Montpelier, VT. If ghost stories are to your liking, then give her books a try!
For our client's pick, we have Karen's choice of The Engineer's Wife by Tracey Enerson Wood. It's a powerful and poignant story of Emily Warren Roebling, the compelling woman who played an instrumental role in the design and construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. This is necessary fiction for our time-paying tribute to women's overlooked contributions and reminding us of the true foundations of American history
For August I have chosen The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, which is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette's brilliant and charismatic father captured his children's imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn’t want the responsibility of raising a family. I found it difficult to read at times, but overall it was fascinating.
Our client Ann recommends The Last Flight, a thriller by Julie White. Some people disappear every day, but very few of us actually understand how difficult it is to truly vanish. After a chance meeting at an airport, Claire and Eva are just desperate enough to take that risk. They switch tickets, leaving their troubled lives behind. But what happens if their new identity proves more deadly than their old one? This book is full of surprise twists and a great summer read!
For this month, I chose a book I just finished, The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. This month's pick is a fictionalized biographical account of the Grimke sisters as they become trailblazers in the abolition movement and early leaders in the fight for women's rights. The story takes place in the pre Civil War era and begins on a plantation in Charleston. The story alternates being told by Sarah Grimke and Handful, the slave given to her on her 11th birthday. Kidd writes so beautifully about the relationship between Sarah and her family, Handful and her mother and how they are all interwoven.
For our client's pick this month, Jess recommends The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. It's a psychological thriller that tells the story of three women and how their lives intersect. Jess said it was a great book and she couldn't put it down!
I have to share Robert Dugoni's The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell for July. Sam Hell is an inspiring tale about a boy born with ocular albinism, which makes his eyes appear red. His mother enrolls him in a Catholic school, where he quickly earns the nickname "Devil Boy." Sam faces bullies of all sizes and ages, and stands up to them with remarkable strength throughout his adult life. It's a spectacular book! I have also read The World Played Chess by Dugoni and really enjoyed that coming of age tale as well.
Our client Carol suggests a great beach read by Karen White, The Attic on Queen Street. This is book #7 of the Tradd Street series and I look forward to giving this series a try! A malevolent ghost seems determined to stop Melanie from investigating the decades-old murder of a friend's sister, and this spirit will stop at nothing to protect its secrets—even from beyond the grave. Carol says it's pure escapism!
Again, I had a lot of books to choose from this month! I decided to share Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. It is a historical novel set in nineteenth-century China. An 80-year-old woman named Lily narrates the novel. From her present time in 1903, she recounts the story of her life. Lily’s story centers on her profound, but ultimately tragic relationship with a woman named Snow Flower. The two met as girls, when they were arranged as a laotong pair, which refers to a strong, sisterly bond meant to provide long-term emotional and spiritual fulfillment outside of marriage. Both women experienced a reverse of fortune over the course of their lives. Against a turbulent backdrop of personal suffering and historical violence, the women’s bond unravels. I found it to be an excellent read!
For our client recommendation, Palma suggested Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley which is young adult fiction. The book is about a young indigenous woman who is part of the Ojibwe community in Michgan's Upper Penisula. The author is a member of the Chippewa tribe that reside in that area. The book centers around the life of an eighteen-year-old young woman who is trying to fit into the indigenous and non-indigenous world around her. There is mystery, relationships, crime solving, and a big glimpse into modern life for the Indian peoples both on and off the reservation.
I had lots of books to choose from this month! I thoroughly enjoyed my first book by William Kent Krueger, Ordinary Grace. It's a of coming-of-age novel about a boy set in a small town in Minnesota during the summer of 1961. This book holds a mystery when one of the five deaths is a murder, but it also speaks of wisdom, secrets, forgiveness, the love of family, faith and miracles. I was really touched by this book and loved the simplicity of the 1960's. I also just finished reading This Tender Land by the same author, which is a great story as well. He is such a wonderful storyteller!
Our client picks this month is from Elaine, who recommended so many books, one of which is Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. It's about a young woman named Kya, who's left to raise herself in the marshes of North Carolina when her family abandons her at a young age. There is so much to her story: romance, mystery, and a murder… and it takes place in the breathtaking backdrop of the South. I too have read this book and really loved it!
I picked a thriller this month by Mary Kubica called Local Woman Missing. It was the first book I have read by Kubica and I really enjoyed all the twist and turns. A woman disappears and then another woman and her six-year-old daughter vanish in the same community. Are these incidents connected? After an elusive search that yields more questions than answers, the case eventually goes cold. Now, 11 years later, the young girl shockingly returns. Everyone wants to know what happened to her, but no one is prepared for what they’ll find..
For our client pick this month, Nancy recommends A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. Nancy says it takes place in post Revolutionary Russia and centers on a former aristocrat who has been tried and found guilty of being on the side of the aristocracy. He is sentenced to life confined in a high class hotel in Moscow. Nancy found it to be very well written.
This month was a toss up for me between two of Kristin Harmel's historical fiction books. The Book of Lost Names is inspired by the true story of a young woman with a talent for forgery who helps hundreds of Jewish children flee the Nazis and The Forest of Vanishing Stars which is about a young woman who uses her knowledge of the wilderness to help Jewish refugees escape the Nazis. Both excellent reads about WWII.
This month our client Nancy picks The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett. Nancy says it takes place in the 1950's to 1960's and it's about identical twin sisters growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age 16. It tells the tale of how as adults their daily lives, families, communities and racial identities become different.
My first recommendation for 2022 is a book I read last month, small great things and my first by Jodi Picoult. So impressed with her writing and I've since read The Storyteller and I'm almost done with Leaving Time!
small great things is a superb story of an African American labor and delivery nurse who cares for the newborn of a white supremacist couple. I really admired the main character Ruth's strength and I was surprised how Picoult portrayed Turk the white supremacist.
For our client's choice of the month, I randomly picked Clementine: The Life of Mrs. Winston Churchill. Terri says, "Her writing style is a little wordy and it takes a while to get into it but when you do it is fascinating." This book is a tribute to the wife of Winston Churchill who was his closest confidant and shrewdest advisor.
This month I am highly recommending The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah which is historical fiction. It starts in 1974 and revolves around Vietnam POW veteran, his wife and 13-year-old daughter Leni as they move to Alaska to start a new life. Hannah creates many believable characters who capture your heart but please be warned that there are passages of domestic violence.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more of Hannah's work. Of note, the author and her family also have a connection to Alaska.