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!
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.