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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 Leavers Cover Image
By Lisa Ko
$25.95
ISBN: 9781616206888
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Algonquin Books - May 2nd, 2017

As a white mother of Latino boys adopted in infancy from South America, this book is one of the most discomforting and difficult books I have ever read. Then when I looked at the acknowledgements and saw her thanking Transracial Abduction websites, I visited those and did not sleep for many nights. I say this to disclose this review is difficult for me to write.  Ms. Ko has crafted a well written, compelling story of Deming, an American boy born to an undocumented Chinese immigrant. After his mother mysteriously disappears one day, he is adopted by a white couple living in the NYC suburbs and renamed Daniel. In light of today's headlines about ICE and immigration, this novel puts stories and faces on those headlines and is incredibly important. The excruciating part for me was the negative way in which transracial adoption was depicted. I am so glad I found this book as it led to a well-told and important tale.  I am also glad that it reminded me there are many sides to any story. But honestly, being confronted with opinions and stories that place my life story in a negative light is tough. That said, I am willing to learn from tales that contradict and disrupt my preferred narrative. Needless to say, my teenage son and I have already started to discuss the issues in this book. And to conclude, Ms. Kingsolver's PEN/Bellwether Prize picked an amazing tale, AGAIN. It has left me reeling.
 


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The Pearl Thief Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781484717165
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Disney-Hyperion - May 2nd, 2017

If you ever wondered how Julia, the superb heroine of  Code Name Verity was able to do what she did during WWII, this prequel shows the family and upbringing that shaped her. The plot incorporates dead bodies, missing servants, life of the gentry and travellers, and the Scottish countryside of the 1930s. It made me want to re-read Code Name Verity to discover how this new information about her family changes that story for me.


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It's Always the Husband Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9781250081803
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: St. Martin's Press - May 16th, 2017

A thriller from one of my favorite people (yes, we are friends). Perfect for fans of Gone Girl or The Girl on a Train.


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Quicksand Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9781590518571
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Other Press (NY) - March 7th, 2017

This was truly an amazing thriller. Apparently I am not the only one who thinks so as it was named “Best Swedish Crime Novel of the Year”, and was recently well reviewed by the NYTimes. For fans for courtroom dramas, I am not sure you can do better than this tale of a teen accused of planning and executing, with her boyfriend, a mass murder of her classmates. The boyfriend died during the mass shooting so she alone stands on trial.  As her story unfolds, you can reflect on parenting, teenage life, immigration, first love and contemporary Sweden. Or you can just enjoy a well-told story.


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The Strays Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781455537723
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Twelve - January 3rd, 2017

This award-winning debut by an Australian author had me staying up late to discover what happened next.  Ms. Bitto uses research into depression-era Australia and an actual group of artists from that time as inspiration for a completely fictional tale of an artist colony and the ramifications of strangers living in close proximity. While I hate it when blurbs compare it to other books I love - in this case Atonement - as that sets the bar far too high, I really enjoyed this and truly look forward to what Ms. Bitto pens next. A great book for art lovers in particular, or for those interested in a novel about adolescent love, and/or the fallout from certain choices.


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The Hate U Give Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062498533
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Balzer & Bray/Harperteen - February 28th, 2017

Sometimes it takes a work of fiction to give life to current events. And sometimes it takes a book for children to give all of us a starting point for conversations about difficult issues. Ms. Thomas has done all of us a service by producing this fresh, enlightening, and spectacular book about the black lives lost at the hands of the police every year in the USA. Starr Carter, the teen she created to put faces on the statistics, straddles two worlds -- that of her poor black neighborhood and that of her exclusive prep school on the other side of town. She believes she is doing a pretty good job managing the differing realities of her life until she witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood friend by a police officer. As the jacket description of this book stated, The Hate U Give “addresses issues of racism and police violence with intelligence, heart, and unflinching honesty". Just as importantly, it is a great story, with fully formed characters who will haunt you, told by a gifted author. Please read this one!


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We Were the Lucky Ones Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780399563089
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Viking - February 14th, 2017

Yes, this is another WWII novel. But this one about the lives of a family of Polish Jews and their efforts to survive the onslaught of the Holocaust and the German and Russian armies, seems especially important in light of current political rhetoric. The fact that all the characters and their escapades, deaths and near-deaths are based on the truths of the author's own family had my heart in my throat at times. A moving debut novel about family, survival, and living.


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August Snow Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9781616957186
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Soho Crime - February 14th, 2017

I so hope there is someone like August Snow - half black, half Mexican, ex-cop with a strong sense of justice and community - looking out for Detroit. The hope this book expresses for Detroit weaves throughout the narrative and Mr. Jones's descriptions of Detroit's decline and partial resurgence make the city an actual character in this thriller. Yes, he makes mistakes and, wow, by the end his body count is way too high for my tastes, but so few books take place in modern day Detroit. Enjoy this one!
 


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The Orphan's Tale Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780778319818
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mira Books - February 21st, 2017

The author, a law school professor, discovered two true accounts while working in the archives of Yad Vashem, Israel's official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, and wove them into this novel. They are : 1. a circus that rescued Jews during WWII, and 2. untold numbers of Jewish babies taken from their families and shipped to concentration camps before they knew their own names. Yes, this is another WWII story, but knowing it is based on actual people and events imbues each page with importance. 


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The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9781501126345
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner Book Company - August 2nd, 2016

This collection of essays is a powerful way to start the year. Perhaps it will help you figure out how to advocate for equal opportunity for All. But it will definitely make you think about what life is like for those with black skin in the USA. 
 


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Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780316349291
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mulholland Books - October 11th, 2016

Apparently we have been missing some great YA novels if Ms. Marchetta's first adult novel is any indication of her ability to tell a tale. This novel is part crime story, part immigration tale, part indictment of prejudice against Muslims, part family saga, part love story, and totally gripping. Whatever you want to call it, it is worth reading - full of empathy for each and every complicated character. The tale revolves around a suspended cop’s quest to find the truth behind a devastating bombing involving his daughter. I particularly loved the fact that half-way through I was certain the book had to end, yet another twist in the plot allowed me to keep reading for another hour or two. Pick this up for "a novel of great scope, of past and present, and above all the Marchetta trademark of a fierce and loving heart" as Markus Zusak of The Book Thief fame blurbs on its back cover. 


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Indelible Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781632863942
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Bloomsbury USA - January 17th, 2017

I wasn't certain if I liked this at first, but then this debut novel about several extraordinary characters that include a girl who sees people's past, presents and future lives as written on their skin; a man whose mother, an infamous expatriate author, deserted him at birth, and his son who is delving into the history of the world from London and Paris, drew me in. If you like stories with quirky characters whose associations reveal themselves slowly, you will enjoy this novel about connecting with others and our pasts. It reminded me a lot of Bitter in the Mouth, another quirky novel I enjoyed.


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The Second Life of Nick Mason Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780399574320
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - May 17th, 2016

I had not read any of Hamilton's other award-winning detective series, but I will after devouring this debut of his new series. Nick Mason is complicated. The people he encounters are complicated. And, when feeling the need to justify the literary merit of the thriller festival I seem to be enjoying, I would describe this detective story as a novel that poses the questions: How much control do any of us really have? How fair is life for those who are born on the other side of the tracks? (in this plot literally and figuratively). When feeling the need to convince you to read this, I would say, just enjoy some time with a former(?) criminal.

 


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The Veins of the Ocean Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9780802124890
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Grove Press - May 3rd, 2016

In the latest novel by the award-winning author of Vida, Reina is the daughter of a man who threw her older brother off a bridge; a mother who thinks her ticket to prosperity is a man and who in her pursuit of men neglects/abuses her daughter; and, the sister of the brother who was thrown from the bridge and survives, only to do the same to his own daughter years later -- ending up on Florida's death row. Who Reina is herself is something she uncovers in this novel. The story moves around the Caribbean from Miami to Cartegena to Havana to the Florida Keys and uncovers what it is to be an immigrant, to dream, and to accept that your family's story is not necessarily your own.


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I Let You Go Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781101987490
Availability: Special Order
Published: Berkley Books - May 3rd, 2016

THE thriller for summer. Written by a former UK police woman, this mystery is better than than the books it gets compared to (Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train). You will like the characters, you will feel each plot twist, and you will lose a day of productivity as you finish this novel. Have fun!


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Soar Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780451470348
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Viking Books for Young Readers - January 5th, 2016

Jeremiah is a heart transplant recipient and the world's biggest baseball fan. He may not be able to play again (yet) due to his transplant, but he sure can coach. And he is just what his middle school needs after a huge high school sports scandal breaks in his new hometown. Infused with humor, baseball trivia, and a lovely adoption sub-plot, this book is all about grit, hard work, and determination. It also does an amazing job of reminding readers that kids can be truly amazing people. 


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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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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9780140384512
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
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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The Crossover Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780544107717
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
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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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).