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 enjoys occasional visits from her grown daughter Rachel, 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!
When we are upset, it is important to be heard! Often our well-meaning friends try to sooth, distract, or even plan revenge. What we need is a Rabbit in our lives: some one who is present, who listens, who understands, rather than trying to fix things for us. An important book in these times of breakage and shouting; an oasis of healing and comfort. The uncluttered illustrations pair perfectly with the simple text creating a clear yet complex tale.
O'Farrell writes fascinating, personal - and yet somehow universal - stories of her brushes with mortality. She relates being in the wrong place at the wrong time, contracting an unusual illness, and genetically risky combinations with restrained humility and grace.
A bittersweet collection of Mosher's last writings about his beloved Kingdom. Set again in the Northern Vermont community he called home and completed just weeks before his death, he gracefully ties up all the loose ends in the Kinneson family's history.
This novel for middle grade readers handles the effects of war, the reaction to grief, families coming apart - hard topics for all ages - with grace and hope. Many questions surround young Henrietta "Henry" after the family moves following a traumatic event. She turns to fairy tales, the classics, her own imagination, and a mysterious neighbor to make sense of her world.
In writing this colorful homage to her father, Anne Fadiman paints a portrait of a specific time, location, and culture. Much of what drove Clifton Fadiman was leaving the poor, Jewish, Brooklyn neighborhood of his childhood. She explores the meaning of family, friends, wine, and the power of words.
Gregory Maguire is a master at re-imagining our best-loved stories. Once I became immersed in this backstory for the Nutcracker legend, I couldn't put it down. A foundling and the odd couple who raise him; issues of class and privilege; childhood and family; and society in the 1800s in Bavaria all add to this intriguing novel.
A comedy of families with a serious twist. The rambunctious Vanderbeekers have been told they have to move out at Christmas by the recluse landlord who lives on the top floor of their building. Each of the five siblings has a plan to get him to change his mind, with one disastrous result after another! Yet, they are well-meaning and good intentions are not for nought…
In an unnamed English village, life is going on as usual when 13-year-old girl on holiday with her parents goes missing. McGregor explores how this tragedy affects - and does not affect - the family and village over the next 13 years. Written in short, intense vignettes that are sketches of the people and their relationships, the seasons and the weather, the wildlife and the landscape that combine to immerse the reader in this time and place. Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2017.
A fictionalized account of British history. A young orphan working as a scullion in a pub is taken by a mysterious friar. He is taught manners and skills to act the part of a prince, and challenges the King of England to the throne. The colorful vocabulary and the descriptions of medieval England and Ireland combine with the intrigue of the overthrow plot to paint a vivid picture of 15th century life.
Trace features a more complex plot than usual and Joe Gunther is on the sidelines, which lets his team share the spotlight. And shine they do! Each of the detectives’ personalities and quirks are tested and celebrated as they tackle three disparate cases that reach into MA and NY. Once again, a police procedural I gulped rather than sipped.
Somehow, I never got around to reading Lu's earlier novels, but a few pages in, I was hooked on Warcross! Fast paced, scary, computer games drive the plot, but the characters drive the story. Hidden identities, self-images, and relationships all play a part. Highly recommended.
A delightful celebration of creative thinking! The gentle words paired with softly colorful images are welcoming to the reader, especially a quiet one like Sarabella. Yes, math is important but it is hard to do when there is a bear or a flock of birds taking up all the space in your brain.
I usually avoid books with Losers or Idiots in the descriptive title, but Andrew Clement's school stories are among the best and this new novel for middle grade readers is no exception. The Losers Club is so named by the 6th grade protagonist to discourage anyone from joining so he could read in peace during the after school activity period. But it turns out that he is not the only bookworm in school and the friendships that form are heartwarmingly realistic.
1945, a pregnant teenager is literally kicked out of church in her small village in Ireland. A little hunchbacked nun places the baby with a wealthy couple in Dublin. And this novel follows the child at 7 year intervals for 7 decades. People are cruel and kind, selfish and generous, perhaps most importantly, resilient. Much in Ireland - and the world - changes in that time period though much stays the same, and we explore the social norms through the charming characters we get to know in this big-hearted novel.
Oh my... What a heart-wrenching reminder to appreciate health and life. When the author is diagnosed with ALS, he boldly and loudly choses love and connection. In this small book, written with an eye-controlled computer, Fitzmaurice talks about his wife and children, his passion for film-making, his experiences in hospitals, and more, with much clarity and kindness. He is an inspiration.
A family in disarray: Dad has dementia and is rebelling, Mom is not quite handling it, grown daughter has just broken up from a long-term relationship and goes "home" for the holidays and grown son is floundering. Sounds depressing, but in the able hands of Rachel Khong, this novel is touching and funny and hopeful... New, unexpected connections - albeit tenuous - are forged within the family. The short passage format paints a realistic portrait of a challenging time filled with love.
This quiet portrait of one teacher and one student who is sent to prison puts a very personal face on the greater issues of our prison system. Why so many poor, black men - and women - are jailed is a question we should all be asking. If the purpose of incarceration is rehabilitation and we offer education and therapy, it can make our society stronger. And it hurts our society as whole if the purpose is solely punishment, giving inmates few options when they are released. The positive affect this dedicated teacher has on a specific young man could be amplified and utilized by others. Instead, lives are wasted and people are not given a chance to succeed.
What happens when a mystery writer is mysteriously killed? His manuscript had just been delivered to the publisher; does it reveal clues or was he clueless about his fate? A who-done-it within a who-done-it and lots of characters - both fictional and real - are suspects. A humorous page-turner for a hot summer weekend...
A story of love and discrimination and family and war - what more could a reader want? What I thought was going to be the "usual story" of love and loss turned into anything but! The Spanish Civil War and the politics of conflict provide the launching point for this engaging multigenerational story and much food for thought in the current political climate.
What role must one play in a conflict? Hidden in plain sight, Emmanuelle, the young village baker, is seemingly going along with the occupying army and yet works tirelessly to make sure her community survives. The supporting cast of characters are varied and colorful, making this a welcome addition to the literature about the resistance in 1944 France.
A sweet story of wanting and trying, failing and yet succeeding! Being young and inexperienced with big dreams, makes Isabelle perhaps overreach her abilities at the art of being a Fairy Godmother in training. But her good intentions and creative reactions to challenges help her shine.
In Before We Sleep, Jeffrey Lent explores a time stretching from just before WWII to the late 60s. He portrays how historic events and cultural shifts affect individuals, shining the spotlight on three generations of one family. Beautiful, descriptive writing reflects how we think and talk: connected fragments and complete sentences, simple observations to complex realizations and understandings.
The fourth in the FunJungle series, Panda-monium is fun, kid-propelled, high adventure novel for readers 10-12-years-old. I learned about zoo animal upkeep and exotic animal collectors. High intensity mystery and sap-stick, middle school humor are a winning combination in this book. This was my first taste of Gibbs writing, and I will go back for more!
I hesitated to start reading this novel written from the perspective of a 14-year-old autistic girl who was badly neglected and abused until the age of 9... but Ginny quickly stole my heart! She is a quirky, determined character who just wants to do the right thing - as she understands it. Her communication challenges create some muddled messes with her teachers, counsellors and her adoptive "Forever" parents, especially when her birth mother contacts her. Genuine, frustrating, and brave Ginny shows the reader a truly different perspective of the world.
Set mainly in Germany before, during, and after WWII, this sweeping novel focuses on the lives of three women and their children. Each comes from a different background and, while experiencing the same shattered world, bring to it their prejudices and perspectives. Relevant to our current political troubled times of cultural divisions, Shattuck explores the big questions of good and evil, right and wrong, along with love and loyalty. We meet the the characters in a time a crisis and only later learn their back stories. Moving into the present day, we are with them as they question what they claimed was fact, only to have bigger truths shake their very foundations. I wish I could meet these thought provoking women.
In a strangely circular plot, we learn about art, discrimination, betrayal, and love! The reader comes to appreciate the odd connections between the main characters that propel this novel set in Halifax in 1977 with many flash-backs to WWII. Our narrator has a unique perspective on the story and the droll manner of the noir genre is used to great effect.
Friedman, the great explainer, focuses on the exponential growth in technological advances, global interactions, and climate changes. The rate at which humans can evolve is much slower in comparison, creating a high level of discomfort in our world. A hundred years ago, it might take a few generations for a new idea to catch on, or for a landscape to change; now it can be a matter of a few years. Much food for thought…
In the early 1920's, Count Rostov is sentenced to house arrest in a Moscow hotel for the crime of being a gentleman. We spend the next thirty years with him, learning of his past, and meeting his friends and compatriots who bear witness to the changes in politics of that era. Amazingly, he remains 'a gentleman of purpose' in this thoroughly engaging and witty story of thriving despite the imposed constraints.
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.