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Lisa's Picks

Lisa Christie lives in Norwich with her two active boys, Hank and Mateo and her husband Chris. A nonprofit consultant, Lisa is the founder of Everybody Wins! Vermont, a program that brings reading mentors into local schools. She and Lisa Cadow - a former Norwich bookseller - created The Book Jam, a fun blog about books to "alleviate book jams (e.g., what to read tonight, what to take on that trip to Italy, what to get your mom, your best friend, your brother)". The Book Jam also supports the Norwich Bookstore and other independent booksellers through links to indie web sites and periodic live events.

 

 

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The War That Saved My Life Cover Image
$8.99
ISBN: 9780147510488
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Puffin Books - May 31st, 2016

When Gary Schmidt (one of my favorite authors) blurbs a book with the words, "I read this in two big gulps", I pay attention. This tale of two of the many children who were sent from London to the countryside for safety during WWll (think The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) is full of adventure, hardship, and ultimately love. I especially loved Ada and her feisty fight for her place in the world.


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Triangular Road: A Memoir Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780465019229
Availability: Special Order
Published: Basic Civitas Books - January 26th, 2010

This small gem of a memoir about Marshall's life as a female African-American author began as a series of lectures at Harvard. The organizing theme is the role of water to the African-American experience. The words will leave you thinking.  


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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9780140384512
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Speak - November 27th, 2001

THANK YOU Marion Cross School for featuring this as one of your Battle of the Books choices.  Because of you, I have finally read this classic, and I am so glad I did. Ms. Taylor's writing is superb, and apparently brought out my southern accent as I read this aloud to my son. The tale of dangerous race relations in the USA is gripping, leaving my son to ask for one more chapter over and over again. Alone this book is superb, as a way to talk about today's headlines with a 4th grader, priceless.


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Just My Luck Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062330659
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: HarperCollins - February 23rd, 2016

Truly a superb book that illustrates what it is like to be a 4th grader, have an autistic older brother, a distracted teacher, and feel as if you were the cause of your father's life-altering accident. Basically it shows what it is like to be loved and to love.


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Men We Reaped: A Memoir Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781608197651
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Bloomsbury USA - September 16th, 2014

This coming-of-age memoir shows what it is like to grow up smart, poor, black, and female in America. Ward's starting point is a two-year period shortly after she graduated college during which five boys who she loved and grew up with along the Mississippi Coast experienced violent deaths. While the material is brutal, the memoir is not; it is insightful, introspective, beautifully written, and important. Ward states that the series of deaths is "a brutal list, in its immediacy and its relentlessness, and it's a list that silences people. It silenced me for a long time."


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Anna and the Swallow Man Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780553513349
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers - January 26th, 2016

This slim YA (young adult) novel looks at life as a refugee, this time in Poland during WWII. Anna's father never comes home from work one day and she is befriended by a mysterious stranger who remains nameless throughout the book. Somehow, the author makes walking in circles in Poland compelling and meaningful, especially in light of today's headlines from Syria. A great choice for fans of The Book Thief. 


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All American Boys Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781481463331
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books - September 29th, 2015

Told in two voices in alternating chapters, this YA (young adult) novel unravels what happens to a town when a white policeman beats a black teen. The authors wrote this in response to what they saw, while on book tour together, after Ferguson. And while some of the situations are convenient, overall, the book is a superb way to get your teen to talk about today's headlines; how race, upbringing. and situations all affect one's perspective; and how hard it is to "do the right thing." Oh, the fact one of the authors is white, one black, and both are award-winning YA authors is an added bonus.


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The Crossover Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780544107717
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Houghton Mifflin - March 18th, 2014

My 13-year-old son (who self-describes as someone who hates reading) gave this to me when I was looking for a good book. I thank him. I am drawn to children's books written in verse, and Alexander's poetry did not disappoint. His lyrical, artistic, pointed, and poignant word choices expertly develop a narrative of closer-than-close twin brothers who are basketball stars, facing the first challenge to their relationship -- girls -- and trying to navigate their evolving relationship with their parents (a mom who is also their assistant principal complicates their lives quite a bit). This award-winning book is haunting me days after the last page was read.  


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The Secret Chord Cover Image
$27.95
ISBN: 9780670025770
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Viking - October 6th, 2015

While someone more familiar with the Bible and its historical figures will have to attest to the accuracy of the history in this novel, I truly enjoyed this moving and page-turning story of David. Brooks' depiction, through the eyes of the prophet (and David's conscience) Natan, allows for his flaws as well as his victories (e.g., Goliath). Brooks has created a genuine saga of faith, family, and raw ambition.Coincidentally and somehow fittingly, I finished this just as Rosh Hashanah began.


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Drowning Is Inevitable Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780553508284
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers - September 8th, 2015

Olivia's mom died days after giving birth to her, her best friend's father has unraveled with the help of endless bottles of booze, her on-again/off-again boyfriend does not understand her, and her closest girlfriend is trying to live with a mother who is both absent and an addict. Sound depressing? Perhaps, but somehow Stanley uses all four characters to create a story of friendship, loyalty, and small town life that will stay with you long after the last page is finished.


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The Fishermen Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780316338370
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Little Brown and Company - April 14th, 2015

Haunting. This novel can be read on so many level: as a straight story of brothers in trouble in Nigeria, or as a parable for Nigeria, even as a tale of how our expectations shape our reality. But on any level, it is good; perhaps my most memorable read from this summer. For me, what makes it even more amazing is that the author is 27 or 28. Catch this tale before the Booker (Prize) hype is too much.


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George Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780545812542
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scholastic Press - August 25th, 2015

An unique book told from the perspective of (and about) a transgendered elementary school student.  This is the first published middle grade book by Alex Gino and feels true to what life as a transgendered child must be like for the child and those who love them. Important, short, and a great start of a discussion about diversity and acceptance and love.


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Chasing Secrets Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780385742535
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Wendy Lamb Books - August 4th, 2015

I loved Lizzie, a young girl who loves accompanying her father on his doctor's rounds in early 1900s San Francisco, but instead must attend a school for girls to learn how to serve tea, dance, and become a lady. The influx of the plague in San Francisco's Chinatown and then beyond, changes everything as Lizzie fights to save her family's cook from the Chinatown quarantine. A great book for young lovers of historical fiction.


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Stella by Starlight Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781442494978
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Atheneum Books for Young Readers - January 6th, 2015

Told from the perspective of a young African-American girl, this is a story about life when the KKK dominates depression-era North Carolina. Every boy I read this book with -- ages 12, 10, 9 -- loved it. 


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Safekeeping Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781941493069
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Fig Tree - June 9th, 2015

A piece of jewelry unites the fates of several characters on a Palestinian kibbutz. A great debut, and a good story to help you explore the Palestinian conflict and what it takes to grow up, change, and make amends.


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Circling the Sun Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780345534187
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Ballantine Books - July 28th, 2015

I have been fascinated by Beryl Markham since reading her memoir West with the Night (a book Hemingway also praised in a letter with: "[she] can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves as writers.") In this novel, McLain creates a fictional account of Markham' remarkable life that fills in the holes her memoir left unanswered with more about her childhood, her horse training career, and her early marriage. A great beach read!


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X: A Novel Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780763669676
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Candlewick Press (MA) - January 6th, 2015

This novel looks at Malcolm X's formative years in Michigan, Boston, and New York City. Co-authored by his daughter and Magoon (author of another kids book I recommend, How it Went Down), this book humanizes a legend and illustrates how choices and your reactions to them shape your life.


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We Should All Be Feminists Cover Image
$7.95
ISBN: 9781101911761
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor Books - February 3rd, 2015

A brief treatise of why men and women should be proud to be feminists penned by an amazing writer (Americanah).


Eight Hundred Grapes Cover Image
$24.95
ISBN: 9781476789255
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster - June 2nd, 2015

So far, this is my go-to "beach book" for this summer. The title refers to the number of grapes required to make a bottle of wine; the story revolves around a Sonoma, CA, vineyard and the family who has tended it for decades. The novel launches with the narrator -- a successful LA lawyer with a lovely British architect for a fiance -- sitting, inappropriately dressed, in her brothers' bar after discovering there is more to her fiance than she thought. As she resides in the vineyard to think, she learns her fiance is not the only one with secrets. And yes, I was casting it for the inevitable movie as I read.


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The Rocks Cover Image
$27.95
ISBN: 9781594633317
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - May 26th, 2015

A fun, bittersweet summer novel set in Mallorca and spanning generations of the Spaniards and English who call it home, even if only for a few weeks each summer. Told backwards, the novel unravels what happened to cause a great love to sour, and shows all the effects of love gone awry. Be warned, the Mediterranean setting and its olive trees, beaches, succulent food, will have you booking tickets before you finish its last pages.


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Dead End in Norvelt Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9781250010230
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Square Fish - May 7th, 2013

My sons and I listened to this as we commuted to various sporting events. They LOVED the humor and the history of this Cold War-era tale for young readers. Their highlights: the grown man who rides a tricycle, the main character who is grounded for life and becomes an obituary writer, the differing opinions of the narrators parents as to how to raise him. Bonus: Dead End in Norvelt won the 2012 Newbery Medal for the year’s best contribution to children’s literature and the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction!


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Girl at War Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780812996340
Availability: Special Order
Published: Random House - May 12th, 2015

This amazing debut attaches faces and stories to the civil wars dominating today's news. Set in 1991 in Croatia and then in 2001 NYC, this novel explores war and its impact through the eyes of Croatian born Ana. What she experiences and witnesses at ten, will make your heart lurch. The impact of what she remembers at age 21 as a NYC college student will make your breath catch. How she emerges from it all will give you hope.  Infused with gifted storytelling, this novel is a superb read. Bonus -- fans of A Constellation of Vital Phenomenon will be pleases to find traces of Mr. Marra's tale in these pages.


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The Shock of the Fall Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9781250028136
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: St. Martin's Griffin - January 6th, 2015

Well, I cried at the end of this one. This 2013 COSTA book of the year is touching, heart-breaking, unbelievably moving, bittersweet, and above all compelling. Told in a completely engaging manner in the first person by the main character - Matthew - this novel explores mental illness, what triggers it, how people help and hurt the patient's prognosis, and how the mentally ill function so well for so long, until they don't. As London's Daily Mail says, you're going to love it.