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Liza's Picks

 

Liza Bernard has had many careers including weaver, cookbook writer, art show director, graphic designer, and bookseller. All of these taught her the different skills needed to do the many things necessary to keep the Norwich Bookstore afloat. She lives in Pomfret with husband Brian and daughter Rachel (when she is home from college), who was known as the "bookstore baby" because she spent a lot of time here when both the bookstore and she were under a year old!

 


 

 

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The Underground Railroad Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9780385537032
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Doubleday Books - September 13th, 2016

​Bringing to life the stories of individuals: slaves and freemen, plantation owners and bounty hunters, this novel is a creative blend of history and fantasy.​ The Underground Railroad is presented as an actual iron track with odd trains that run through tunnels underground ​rather then the historically secret paths taken by slaves, ​so called because they passed from "platforms" to "stations" ​assisted by "conductors​.​" ​​The relationships -- loving or hateful, close or distant -- between the characters is steeped in the racism and social understanding of the period, that sadly, is still reflected in modern times. Whitehead's writing is vivid and thought-provoking.


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A Meal in Winter: A Novel of World War II Cover Image
By Hubert Mingarelli, Sam Taylor (Translator)
$19.95
ISBN: 9781620971734
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Press - July 5th, 2016

The paths of three German soldiers, a Pole, and a Jew cross in the frozen Polish countryside during WWII. The reader experiences their cold and hunger through the narrator, one of the Germans. The men's complex relationships, power struggles, and fears are disturbing, exaggerated by the extremely dire and isolated setting. This haunting yet beautiful novel demands an examination of the moral dilemma of choice.


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As Good as Gone Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9781616205713
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Algonquin Books - June 21st, 2016

As in Watson's other novels, Montana is more than simply the location, it is a character in this engrossing novel set in the 1960s. Though roles and relationships are complicated and messy, hidden emotions run high, and misunderstandings are abundant, the people in this novel are noteworthy.
 


Willnot Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781632864529
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Bloomsbury USA - June 21st, 2016

A quiet examination of all the quirks and connections in small town America from the perspective of the local doctor. Yes, dead bodies are found and people disappear, but this is not a who-done-it kind of mystery. This novel explores the mystery of life, and loyalty, and death involving the police, the school. the hospital and the unknowable and unknown effects we have on each other. A large story is packed in less than 200 pages.


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Soft in the Head Cover Image
By Marie-Sabine Roger, Frank Wynne (Translator)
$14.95
ISBN: 9781782271581
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pushkin Press - June 28th, 2016

45-year-old Germain, who lives at the bottom of his mother's garden in a caravan, is reluctantly brought into the world of books and ideas after meeting 85-year-old Marguerite while counting pigeons. They strike up a conversation one day and it continues over time. She gently introduces him to language and concepts, and is among the few - including Germain himself - who don't see him as a "brainless moron." Along with a great story of strangers connecting, this novel is a wonderful homage to the power of books.

 


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Homegoing Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9781101947135
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - June 7th, 2016

Fully realized characters spanning eight generations paint a deeply human portrait of history. Gyasi explores how we comprehend who we are to our family, our community, our past, and our future. The reader understands from the beginning that a family heritage will intertwine: there is a family tree on the first pages. The surprises lie in the things - both tiny and monumental - that alter the course of the lives portrayed.

Beginning with the stories of half-sisters born into different tribes in Ghana in the 1800s, the reader witnesses how power and fear have driven much of history through to the present day. Inter-tribal conflict, the slave trade, migration, racism, wealth disparity, and hate co-exists with caring, connection joy, and love. Each chapter is dedicated to one member of the family and much wisdom is expressed in their voices:

"The need to call this thing 'good' and this thing 'bad.' this thing 'white' and this thing 'black,' was an impulse that Effia did not understand. In her village, everything was everything. Everything bore the weight of everything else."

And five generations later:
"She said it had something to do with forgiveness, but Yaw wasn't certain that he believed in forgiveness.... But the older he got, the better he understood. Forgiveness was an act done after the fact, a piece of the bad deed’s future. And, if you point people's eye to the future, they might not see what is being done to hurt them in the present."

This novel is a powerful story of cultural evolution and an important reminder that our personal choices matter.


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The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America's National Parks Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780374280093
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Sarah Crichton Books - May 31st, 2016

As suggested by the subtitle: A Personal Topography of America's National Parks, this a thoughtful and thought-provoking journey across our landscape. Personal history - William's family are "oil men" - meets current issues of drilling in the western parks. Cultural biases are challenged when touring Gettysburg. Acadia, where land meets water, offers society a breathing place. And beyond the stunning descriptions of the landscape and vistas; birds, animals; plants and "witness trees," this book is a deeper exploration of our place on the continent, the planet. The stories related are as complex and conflicted as the individuals who have lived on the land in the past and who visit it today. In reflecting on personal and political conflicts, Williams searches for - and finds - universal themes. An important book that underscores the power of storytelling, The Hour of Land should be required reading for everyone!


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Britt-Marie Was Here Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781501142536
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Atria Books - May 3rd, 2016

"How should you live your life?" Britt-Marie has been wondering this since losing her sister as a child. And her husband to an affair. Not having answers, she keeps a semblance of control with cleaning and following a set way of being in the world. Suddenly adrift at 63, she stumbles upon a small and withering village to take a temporary job. In her attempts to keep herself together, she ends up bringing the townspeople together. Sly humor, profound moments, and universal questions keep this novel bright and engaging

 


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Booked Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780544570986
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hmh Books for Young Readers - April 5th, 2016

Nick, the 12-year-old protagonist, is faced with his parent's divorce, his best friend being on
the opposing soccer team, a first crush, and middle school bullies. Told in verse with humor and grace, this novel grabs readers right at the kickoff and scores some great vocabulary words along the way.


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Raymie Nightingale Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780763681173
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Candlewick Press (MA) - April 12th, 2016

Like many whose life seems to changing rapidly or out of control, 10-year-old Raymie thinks she can set things right if she can win a beauty & talent contest: her father would return home, her mother would be happy... In reality, she gains control of how she can cope with life events through unlikely friendships and daring adventures.


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My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781501115073
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Washington Square Press - April 5th, 2016

The most important person in 7-year-old Elsa's life is her grandmother who tells her fantastical stories to help explain the world. When her grandmother dies, she is tasked with delivering a series of letters to occupants of the apartment building. This leads to revelations about the characters in the stories she has heard, and about the people who surround and love her. A magical story of interwoven lives.


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The Kaminsky Cure Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781883285678
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Delphinium Books - April 12th, 2016

An Austrian child who was born in 1933 to a Jewish woman who converted to Christianity and her husband, a Lutheran clergyman, narrates this historical novel. From his young perspective, we learn of the coming war and the society that both enabled and fought it. We watch his family dynamics and the role his various siblings play in the conflict and experience his evolving perspectives on history.


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The Widow Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781101990261
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New American Library - February 16th, 2016

An addictive read about obsessions and the lengths some will go to bend reality to their wish for the truth. Told from four points of view, this fast-paced novel delves into the murky areas of online contact from Facebook to porn and the horrible fact of child abduction.


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In a Different Key: The Story of Autism Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780307985675
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Crown Publishing Group (NY) - January 19th, 2016

A disturbing history of how we deal with "others" in our midst, and how we have alternately ignored, judged, tried to "fix," and accept ‘differences’ now labeled autistic. We played the blame game (frigid mothers!) and the power game (my theory is better than yours). In the process, we hurt many innocent children and we helped many others... We all know someone on the spectrum; this book helps us understand how much we don't know!


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Salt to the Sea Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780399160301
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Philomel Books - February 2nd, 2016

"Did war make us evil or just activate an evil already lurking within us?" muses one of the four young adults Sepetys portrays in this powerful novel. Fleeing from Poland, Prussia, and Lithuania at the end of WWII, carrying guilt and secrets and fear, three meet up on the road and band together with a few others to try to survive the journey to the sea. The fourth is a German soldier they encounter when they reach the doomed evacuation ship. The short chapters and the story's tension propel the reader through the characters’ varied back stories and shed light on the connections and caring that managed to survive the horror of war.


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All the Birds in the Sky Cover Image
$25.99
ISBN: 9780765379948
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tor Books - January 26th, 2016

Technology and witchcraft, the end of the society, time warps -- sounds crazy! Yet this is an engaging novel of two young people helping each other fit in, going separate ways for years, and then finding each other again as the world descends into chaos. Will these two different, gifted, and human be able to figure out their place in the scheme of things?


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On My Own Cover Image
$23.95
ISBN: 9781101875285
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - February 2nd, 2016

Diane Rehm writes honestly about the decline and death of husband of over half a century. She does not sugarcoat their marriage, nor does she spare herself as she describes making tough decisions about his care as Parkinson's steals his abilities. She also ponders the next phase of life now that she is on her own: home, family, career, retirement, and priorities. An important book about the end of a life, and those who are affected.


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Front Lines Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780062342157
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Katherine Tegen Books - January 26th, 2016

A gripping reimagining of WWII. Young women enlist or are drafted to fight alongside the young men and face the same challenges plus discrimination from those who think they should not be there. As in the '40s, the troops are also segregated by race. From the perspective of three diverse women, this gritty novel explores the complex issues of battle and group dynamics -- for males and females alike -- in a wholly believable way. The first book of a series, so we will be able to follow these engaging heroines.


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Zeroes Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781481443364
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon Pulse - September 29th, 2015

Special powers, high adventure, good guys doing bad things, bad guys doing good things... They are not Heroes, they are Zeroes, and until a falling out a year ago, they had been honing their special skills. After a series of bad coincidences, the must join forces again to put things right. Westerfeld hooked me in the first chapter and I could not put this book down!


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Full Cicada Moon Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780525428756
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dial Books - September 8th, 2015

It's 1969 and 12-year-old Mimi has just moved to Vermont from California. She is a shy but strong girl who dreams of becoming an astronaut, who is interested in woodwork at a time when shop class was open only to boys, and wants to be accepted for herself, not seen as odd because her father is African-American and her mother Japanese. Written in verse, this is the story of family, friendship, and self-discovery that sheds a gentle light on the intentional and unintentional bigotry in our culture.


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The Thing about Jellyfish Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780316380867
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - September 22nd, 2015

Powerfully told in the first person, this is the story of grief and healing, friendship and remorse. The Worst Thing might be learning that your best friend drowned, or is it the worst because you had a major disagreement, or that you are growing up and apart. Middle school is bewildering for Suzy, but she finds her way in unique and unexpected ways.


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The Hummingbird Cover Image
$25.99
ISBN: 9780062369543
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: William Morrow & Company - September 8th, 2015

This fast-paced novel explores human strengths and shortcomings in two alternating storylines. ​​A hospice nurse learns about healing from her patient, while he, an aging professor, learns about living from her. ​The other story is his last manuscript about ​a Japanese bomber in ​WWII​ ​that he asks the nurse to read aloud. Meanwhile, she applies the lessons learned to helping her husband, newly returned from a third tour of Iraq and suffering  with PTSD, reenter civilian life and rebuild their relationship. Lots of important content...


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Between the World and Me Cover Image
$24.00
ISBN: 9780812993547
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Spiegel & Grau - July 14th, 2015

Coates writes about fear and it's corrosive effects on our culture from a very personal perspective. He persuades us that we need a new way of understanding American history, a new story, and new names for ourselves and others in order for humanity to survive and thrive.

Between the World and Me is urgently needed! It should be required reading for everyone in America: high schools and colleges; church groups and businesses; and especially all law enforcement and justice department personnel.

This is a book I wish had not needed to be written... and I am grateful to Coates for the courage to share his views.


The Love Object: Selected Stories Cover Image
By Edna O'Brien, John Banville (Introduction by)
$30.00
ISBN: 9780316378260
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Little Brown and Company - May 5th, 2015

Don't be put off by the size of this book -- it is a collection of stories that you can dip into as time allows. Some of the shorter ones will blow your socks off! A few of the longer stories, I returned to the beginning as soon as I finished them to enjoy the masterful storytelling again. O'Brien's use of language with the Irish turn of a phrase, her surprising plot twists, and the unique yet universal characters she introduces create small universes in which readers may immerse themselves for a short while.


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The Distant Marvels Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781609452520
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Europa Editions - April 7th, 2015

Set in 1963 Cuba, our narrator is an 82-year-old woman looking back on her life and the revolution. It is a novel about aging, regrets, and the power of stories. The teller and the listeners are all transformed by the haunting tales of family and love, war and loss woven into the story.


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Listen, Slowly Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062229182
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperCollins - February 17th, 2015

A 10-year-old southern California girl travels to Vietnam with her grandmother to find closure about her grandfather and the war. Contemporary issues, cultural differences, and history are explored. At it's heart, this is a story of family ties and the importance of true friends.


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The Marvels Cover Image
By Brian Selznick, Brian Selznick (Illustrator)
$32.99
ISBN: 9780545448680
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scholastic Press - September 15th, 2015

Histories within stories within drawings... Selznick's portrait of the theatre and the lure of the sea offer the structure and movement to this magically complex novel presented partly in prose and partly in full page detailed illustration. But the "true" story in this exceptional book is about connections with family and and friends; and the power of love and trust and understanding. 


Our Souls at Night Cover Image
$24.00
ISBN: 9781101875896
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - May 26th, 2015

Craving company during the long nights, an older widow invites a neighboring widower to help her alleviate their loneliness by sharing her bed, as friends, nothing more. They fend off gossipy townsfolk, and their unique and tender relationship is deepened by the extended stay of a grandson. Challenges are mounted by extended family and heart wrenching decisions must be made.

A long time fan of Haruf's writing, I am only disappointed that this poignant and eloquent novel is his last.


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The Maintenance of Headway Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9781632860361
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Bloomsbury USA - May 19th, 2015

A quirky novel that takes on important issues in the guise of the work-a-day world of a London bus driver. The relationship between drivers and management, the problem of showing up early, and conflicting ideas on how to improve the system, especially for those who do not believe the "only true path is the maintenance of headway." Dryly witty and thought provoking.


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The Maintenance of Headway Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9781632860361
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Bloomsbury USA - May 19th, 2015

A quirky novel that takes on important issues in the guise of the work-a-day world of a London bus driver. The relationship between drivers and management, the problem of showing up early, and conflicting ideas on how to improve the system, especially for those who do not believe the "only true path is the maintenance of headway." Dryly witty and thought provoking.