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!
Fearing it would be too dark, I avoided this incredible novel for months. Though heart-wrenching at times, it is an amazing exploration of how the heart can expand to accept - if not heal from - the hurts we inflict and experience. Giddy first love is contrasted with violent jealous rage. Dubus writes about the loneliness and isolation of a man in prison, and of his daughter growing up in the care of her grandmother, essentially an orphan. The author's first novel in a decade is well worth the wait!
I had been meaning to read Stephen Mack Jones' first mystery, August Snow, when the second book landed so I read both in one weekend! Like Lee Child' Jack Reacher, Mr Snow is an ex-cop working for good outside of the system. Unlike Reacher, Snow is firmly grounded in the Detroit neighborhood in which he was raised and honors the connections and relationships his family have built. The first book centers on a financial institution gone rogue, the second on ICE and immigration including human trafficking. Both are page turners!
An inkblot escapes from the sketchbook of a graphic novelist and mighty high jinks ensue! But really this is a story of family, and friendship, loss and recovery, and the power of imagination.
Once again, Jodi Picoult takes on a hot-button issue! In A Spark of Light, she shows readers multiple perspectives on the issues of abortion through interwoven stories. Set during a hostage crisis in a clinic in the south, the commonalities between the anti and pro forces are highlighted as much their differences. A teenager looking for birth control as a step toward being responsible is trapped alongside a right-to-life activist who was spying for incriminating materials. A Catholic doctor is wounded by a distraught father. The line between hero and villain is not clear and the reader is asked to bring understanding and compassion...
The main characters in Kingsolver's new novel could be our neighbors, struggling to make sense of the world: job loss, aging, politics, responsibilities for extended family... The secondary story line, set in the late 1860s, gives the novel context and color. That there is a role in the narrative for nearly everyone on the political spectrum, from Trump supporters to Occupy participants - mirrored by 19th C developers who are petty tyrants to Darwin's supporters - makes this a great book for reading groups!
Joe Gunther has his team back together for this 29th book! Set in Vermont in a grocery warehouse, at a ski resort, and in a small hospital, Mayor has built a complicated plot. Arson, deadly refrigeration chemical leaks, a tractor trailer crash, a pregnant corpse, and a deadly infectious outbreak might all be connected. But it is the strong relationships between the main cast of characters that propels this series. Witty and quirky as always, the detectives and their families are the real story behind the mysteries they unravel.
Sy Montgomery celebrates her animal friends and family in thirteen essays that are essentially love letters! Starting with Molly, the Scottish terrier who was her big sister, and Christopher Hogwood, who we met in The Good Good Pig, we learn about the personalities and quirks of a weasel, an octopus, a trio of emus and others. Interspersed with these stories are delightful drawings by Rebecca Green and the book closes with a collection of photos of the author and her four-legged and feathered friends. A good read for all ages!
George Howe Colt takes a moment 50 years ago and, by examining the lives of participating individuals, paints a richly detailed portrait of a particular slice of history. College students, coaches, fans, their extended families, and friends all add color to the picture. He writes about what shapes a person, an institution, and society in general by telling the personal stories of veterans and conscientious objectors, rich and poor, jew and Christian, white and black... For football fans, history buffs, and anyone interested in the quirky history of our culture. Colt is a genius storyteller!
World building is taken to new heights in this first volume of The Mirror Visitor Quartet! After a cataclysm on earth, society is now dispersed among floating islands known as arks. A young woman with the skill to read the history of objects is taken from her home to marry into another ark. Family squabbles and jealousies are manipulated by masters of illusion and mind control - to name just two of the powers - challenge her sanity and very survival. I am eager for volume 2 coming in April!
Beautifully told in short, episodic passages - sometimes I could read just one in a sitting - we follow the horrific experience of a young woman eagerly looking forward to her secondary studies who is kidnapped by the Boko Haram. After witnessing the murder of her father and uncles, she and her little brother are taken along with several of her friends to a camp. She is a slave, starved and beaten, until "married" to a Boko Haram fighter. This horrific tale, based on real crimes, portrays strength and resilience in the face of deeply troubling atrocities.
Hiassen combines an environmental message, kid-propelled adventure, and goofy adult behavior for a rollicking middle-grade novel, again! As in Hoot, Scat, etc., the bad guy is really bad and the good guy comes out on top, though until the last chapter the reader is not sure how that will work. In Squirm, snake-loving Billy Dickens and his sort-of step-sister Summer Chasing- Hawks have to figure out how to help his father stop the poaching of endangered species. Science facts and high stakes escapades, drones and eagles, are all part of this lively story.
Dare You to Lie is a fast-paced, suspenseful story of one spunky high-school student's mission to get her wrongly-accused father freed from prison while trying to clear her name from a sexting scandal in her own past. The FBI, dirty cops, evil teachers, a gentle grandfather, bullies, victims, friends, and crushes all have a role in this page-turner!
In this powerful novel, Woodson paints stunning portraits of six "special" 5th and 6th graders. Given the opportunity to have an hour every Friday just for themselves, they learn that by sharing who they are, their fears - and their dreams - become manageable. One boy's father has been detained and may be sent back to the Dominican Republic. One girl's mother is dead and her father is in prison. Another boy is bullied every day on the way home from school. A “rich" girl struggles with behavioral issues... The messages about the importance of friendship, of empathy, of understanding and accepting others has never been more urgent than now.
"It's not that. It's just that I don't want to be sad and mad when I think about it all. I just want to think about the good stuff."
"Then you want forgiveness, for forgetness..."
I was drawn into the author's world of fatherhood through these essays that touch on so many facets of being a parent in today's world. He ruminates on when to support the child and when to challenge. He admits being bored sometimes, and reflects on his relationship with his own father. Serious at times and humorous at others, these short pieces have been previously published, though were new to me and I am a fan. A gem!
Local and global issues are explored in this intimate and intense novel by Melanie Finn. From East Africa to the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, love and cruelty abound. Kay, a journalist struggling with the constraints of a marriage and family, searches for meaning and discovers other, ugly realities surrounding her. Perceptive and perplexing portraits of unique and sometimes damaged individuals illuminate universal dilemmas of love and belonging.
Check out Melanie Finn's interview on VPR!
During the period that Shakespeare wrote most of his plays, criticism of rulers was forbidden for fear of shutting down the theater or worse! So the bard reached back into history to draw portraits of individuals whose hunger for power, insecurities and corruption led to the the rise of tyrants and the terrible consequences that followed. Not once does Greenblatt mention the current resident of the White House though he acknowledges writing this book in reaction to the 2016 elections. Shakespeare's tales continue to be relevant!
Though it was nearly a dozen years ago that we were introduced to this wonderful family in Becca at Sea, only a few years has gone by on the island and 11-year-old Becca is staying with her grandmother, aunt, cousins and other assorted characters. In this moving novel for middle-grade readers, Baker shows us the beauty and occasional brutality in nature, how to see beyond a person's outer mask, the consequences of rash behavior, and the importance of caring family and friends. And Shakespeare's The Tempest is staged!
Sisters Alix and Jools, along with their parents, spend a summer week at the beach. We have the pleasure of experiencing the sea for the first time through their eyes - and ears and hopes and fears! A refreshingly wonderful interlude in the otherwise tumultuous array of chapter books written for this age group. No parent dies, no one is abused, there are no floods: just caring and sharing, learning and growing with wonder about the world around them.
Amazing, personal stories from 24 Young Adult authors and how they chose hope when faced with challenges: discrimination, fear, injury. and more. An exploration of the power of hope as well as an expose of contemporary culture. Most importantly, a great example of writing that offers "windows and mirrors" to foster understanding and empathy. (I highly recommend the audio version of Hope Nation - available from us through Libro.fm.)
A collection of essays to savor! Alexander Chee explores issues of identity, family, art, gardens, life as a writer, and so much more. He shares his discoveries about himself and our culture in these thoughtful - and thought-provoking - essays. His perspectives on the creative process are intensely personal and at the same time universal. I found myself backtracking to re-read passages for the combination of simple beauty of the language he used to express the truth he revealed.
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…