Posted on: February 15, 2017

The Wonder

The Wonder

by Emma Donoghue

Reviewed by Janet:

Having served as a nurse under Florence Nightingale, Lib Wright is taken aback when her current assignment doesn’t require her advanced skills. She has been brought to Ireland to merely observe an 11 year old gi...

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Posted on: February 8, 2017

Modern Lovers

Modern Lovers

by Emma Straub

Reviewed by Linda:

This entertaining domestic drama follows two families in Brooklyn during a year of surprising developments for the parents, Elizabeth & Andrew and Zoe & Jane. They have lived as neighbors since the break-up of their...

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Posted on: February 1, 2017

The Assistants

The Assistants

by Camille Perri

Reviewed by Janet:

Behind every powerful media tycoon is the executive assistant who makes things happen.  When an expense report mix-up presents Tina Fontana with the means to pay off her student loan debt in one fell swoop with n...

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Posted on: January 25, 2017

Walk Through Walls: A Memoir

Walk Through Walls

by Marina Abramovic

Reviewed by Mia:

Marina Abramovic’s early life as the daughter of Yugoslavian communist war heroes sets the tone for a memoir filled with sardonic wit and driven by a work ethic that at times seems to push her beyond the limits...

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Posted on: January 18, 2017

Nora Webster

Nora Webster

by Colm Tóibín

Reviewed by Linda:

A quiet novel of an ordinary life, which nonetheless keeps the reader spellbound. Nora Webster, an Irish mother of 4 children and young adults, learns to live anew after the death of her beloved husband. A deeply p...Read more...

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Posted on: January 11, 2017

Victoria

Victoria

by Daisy Goodwin

Reviewed by Janet:From the creator of the upcoming PBS presentation of Victoria comes a novel of the same name, tracing the young queen’s ascension to the throne and her reign before her marriage.  As this young, shelter...

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Posted on: January 4, 2017

The Heart of a Lion: A Lone Cat's Walk across America

The Heart of a Lion

by William Stolzenburg

Reviewed by Linda:

When a large mountain lion was killed on a Connecticut highway in 2011, Americans were startled. When DNA analysis revealed that the 3-year old male had walked thousands of miles from its birthplace in South Dakota ...

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Posted on: December 28, 2016

The Woman in Cabin 10

The Woman in Cabin 10

by Ruth Ware

Reviewed by Janet:

Before dinner the first night at sea on an exclusive luxury cruise, Lo Blacklock, a travel writer, borrows some mascara from the woman in the cabin next door.  Later that night, Lo is awakened from an alcohol-enhance...

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Posted on: December 21, 2016

Dimestore: A Writer's Life

Dimestore

by Lee Smith

Reviewed by Linda:

Novelist Lee Smith knows how to tell a story. In this deeply moving memoir of her Appalachian childhood and subsequent departure from all that was familiar, she describes a lost world that we are all richer for knowing. As a ...

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Posted on: December 14, 2016

The Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad

by Colson Whitehead

Reviewed by Janet:

When Cora flees a Georgia cotton plantation with a fellow slave, she discovers that the Underground Railroad is an actual railroad.  Every station brings her to a new world along the route to the elusive freed...

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Posted on: December 7, 2016

All of Us and Everything

All of Us and Everything

by Bridget Asher

Reviewed by Linda:

The three Rockwell sisters grew up doubting their mother's claim that their father was absent from their lives because he was a spy, whose very presence might endanger them. Spoiler:  It was true, and to...

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Posted on: November 30, 2016

The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living

The City Baker's Guide to Country Living

by Louise Miller

Reviewed by Janet:

When a Baked Alaska disaster forces pastry chef Olivia Rawlings to flee Boston, she never images that refuge with her best friend in rural Vermont would lead her to the Sugar Maple Inn and a new job.  Drawn into ...

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Posted on: November 23, 2016

Break in Case of Emergency

Break in Case of Emergency

by Jessica Winter

Reviewed by Linda:

Jump in to this entertaining satirical novel along with Jen, a likeable New Yorker in her early 30s, her delightfully goofy husband Jim, and her two beloved best friends. Jen has a poorly defined job at a philanthropy fo...

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Posted on: November 16, 2016

The Book of Speculation

The Book of Speculation

by Erika Swyler

Reviewed by Janet:

On the verge of losing both his home (perched on a cliff) and his job as a reference librarian (budget cuts), Simon’s life is shaken even further when he receives an old circus log book that mentions the name of his grandm...

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Posted on: November 9, 2016

Charlotte

Charlotte

by David FoenkinosReviewed by Linda:This award-winning French novel, composed as a prose poem, tells the heartbreaking life story of the brilliant artist Charlotte Salomon, who was killed by the Nazis at age 26. Salomon must, from a young age, overcom...Read more...

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Posted on: November 2, 2016

Homegoing

Homegoing

by Yaa GyasiReviewed by Janet:Half-sisters Effia and Esi were born in different villages in 18th century Ghana, and they never know each other. Alternating chapters trace the generations of Effia’s descendants in Ghana and Esi’s in the United States,...Read more...

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Posted on: October 26, 2016

Putin Country: A Journey into the Real Russia

Putin Country

by Anne GarrelsReviewed by Linda:Vladimir Putin has become a topic in the U.S. presidential election. Anne Garrels, longtime NPR foreign correspondent, believes that Americans have little understanding of why the Russian people are so loyal to him, de...Read more...

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Posted on: October 19, 2016

Before the Fall

Before the Fall

by Noah HawleyReviewed by Janet:Eighteen minutes after taking off from Martha’s Vineyard, a private plane headed for New York City crashes into the ocean. While a team of experts try to figure out what caused the crash, the survivors try to put the p...Read more...

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Posted on: October 12, 2016

The Girls

The Girls

by Emma ClineReviewed by Linda:In this rich and insightful novel, Emma Cline has re-created the infamous Charles Manson cult as seen through the eyes of a young teenage girl. Evie, who is soon to be shipped off to boarding school by her distracted par...Read more...

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Posted on: October 5, 2016

Eligible

Eligible

by Curtis SittenfeldReviewed by Janet:After her father’s heart attack, Liz Bennet comes home to Cincinnati to help out her parents, and meets Fitzwilliam Darcy, a neurosurgeon, at a barbecue hosted by the Lucases. Liz’s older sister, Jane, meets Chip...Read more...

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Posted on: September 28, 2016

Catastrophic Happiness

Catastrophic Happiness

by Catherine NewmanReviewed by Linda:Wow, can Amherst resident Catherine Newman write! She elevates her tales of parenting two children into an art form. Required reading for new parents and for any parent wanting to recall that exhausting, messy, ex...Read more...

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Posted on: September 21, 2016

The Summer Before the War

The Summer Before the War

by Helen SimonsonReviewed by Janet:From the author of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand comes a novel set in the early days of World War I. After the death of her father, Beatrice Nash finds a post as a Latin teacher in Rye on the coast of England. An in...Read more...

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Posted on: September 14, 2016

Shelter

Shelter

by Jung YunReviewed by Linda:This powerful novel, by Valley author Jung Yun, exposes the dark secrets hidden by an outwardly successful Korean American family living in a Massachusetts college town. The novel tells the story of Kyung Cho, a young husb...Read more...

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Posted on: September 7, 2016

Life Without a Recipe

Life Without a Recipe

by Diana Abu-JaberReviewed by Janet:In this memoir, novelist Diana Abu-Jaber, author of Crescent and Birds of Paradise, looks at her life as a celebration of journeying without a map, of finding one’s own way through life in a way that may not meet th...Read more...

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Posted on: August 31, 2016

The Nest

The Nest

by Cynthia D'Aprix SweeneyReviewed by Linda:The adult children in the dysfunctional Plumb family have long looked forward to the date when they will finally receive the monies in their joint trust fund. Each of the four siblings in this entertaining n...Read more...

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Posted on: August 24, 2016

Everyone Brave Is Forgiven

Everyone Brave Is Forgiven

by Chris CleaveReviewed by Janet:The author of Little Bee brings World War II London to life in his newest novel inspired by his grandparents’ love letters. Mary North is assigned to be a teacher after she volunteers at the War Office, which is how s...Read more...

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Posted on: August 17, 2016

Spill Simmer Falter Wither

Spill Simmer Falter Wither

by Sara BaumeReviewed by Linda:Language lovers, this novel will thrill you to the core with its sentences that taste and devour the gorgeous wildness of Ireland. The book takes us on a journey around that land in the company of two outcasts, one human...Read more...

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Posted on: August 10, 2016

The Girl in the Red Coat

The Girl in the Red Coat

by Kate Hamer
reviewed by JanetBeth finds herself living every parent’s nightmare – her 8 year old daughter Carmel disappears while they are visiting an outdoor festival. Their separate stories are told in alternating sections as they try to hold on t...Read more...

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Posted on: August 3, 2016

Best Boy

Best Boy

by Eli GottliebReviewed by Linda:If you enjoyed The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, then you will welcome this moving, eloquent novel about Todd Aaron, an autistic man of 50 who lives in a progressive institution. Sensitively told from T...Read more...

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Posted on: July 27, 2016

What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours

What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours

by Helen Oyeyemi
Reviewed by JanetFrom the author of Boy, Snow, Bird comes a collection of vaguely interconnected short stories, all of which have in common the theme of keys, literal and metaphorical. As doors, secrets, books, and boxes are unlocked,...Read more...

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Posted on: July 20, 2016

Vanessa and Her Sister

Vanessa and Her Sister

by Priya ParmarReviewed by Linda:I was mesmerized by this novel about the Bloomsbury Group, which is told from the perspective of the artist Vanessa Bell, sister of Virginia Woolf. In 1905 in the London neighborhood of Bloomsbury, Vanessa and her thre...Read more...

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Posted on: July 13, 2016

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper

by Phaedra Patrick
Reviewed by JanetIt’s the anniversary of his wife’s death, and Arthur Pepper diverges from his strict daily schedule to finally clear out her closet. Wedged in the toe of a boot, he finds an expensive piece of jewelry – a charm brac...Read more...

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Posted on: July 6, 2016

The Dogs of Littlefield

The Dogs of Littlefield

by Suzanne BerneReviewed by Linda:In this comedy of manners, a bitter divide forms between dog owners and dog-less residents in a Massachusetts college town that sounds very similar to our own. Someone is poisoning the town's dogs, and the regulars at...Read more...

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Posted on: June 29, 2016

When Breath Becomes Air

When Breath Becomes Air

by Paul Kalanithi
Reviewed by Janet:Paul Kalanithi was a promising young neurosurgeon on the verge of completing his residency. A talented doctor, he sought to connect with his patients as individuals, not merely problems to be fixed in surgery. Yet...Read more...

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Posted on: June 22, 2016

Horrorstör

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by Grady HendrixReviewed by Linda:This spoof of a horror tale takes place at the Ohio branch of an "Orsk" furniture store that greatly resembles a certain Scandinavian chain. The book is designed as a catalog with each chapter named after pi...Read more...

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Posted on: June 15, 2016

The Little Red Chairs

The Little Red Chairs

by Edna O’Brien
reviewed by JanetOne dark night, a self-proclaimed healer and therapist named Vlad arrives in a small Irish town. The townspeople begin to welcome him into their community, but their idyllic village is turned upside down when his true ...Read more...

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Posted on: June 8, 2016

The Evening Spider

Evening Spider

by Emily ArsenaultReviewed by Linda:Emily Arsenault, a Pioneer Valley resident, skillfully combines psychological suspense and true crime in her latest novel. A young mother named Frances is taken from her home and family, and confined to the Northamp...Read more...

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Posted on: June 1, 2016

The Widow

The Widow

by Fiona Barton
reviewed by JanetJean Taylor is plagued by the press after her husband is hit and killed by a bus, not because of his death, but rather because of the crime for which Glen was under investigation. Alternating between the aftermath of h...Read more...

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Posted on: May 25, 2016

A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy

A Mother's Reckoning

by Sue KleboldReviewed by Linda:The mother of Dylan Klebold--one of two perpetrators of the Columbine High School massacre--the author has spent the past fifteen years recalling every detail of her child’s life trying to comprehend how he became a mas...Read more...

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Posted on: May 18, 2016

American Housewife: Stories

American Housewife

by Helen Ellis
reviewed by JanetThese delightful short stories will definitely make you smile – and maybe even laugh out loud. From a war conducted via email about a co-op’s shared hallway to the unusual requirements for joining a book club, these sto...Read more...

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Posted on: May 11, 2016

Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape

Trace

by Lauret SavoyReviewed by Linda:Mount Holyoke professor Lauret Savoy, a scholar of environmental studies and geology and a woman of mixed heritage, writes lyrically of the American landscape and its troubled past. Which inhabitants of the land are re...Read more...

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Posted on: May 4, 2016

The Night Watch

The Night Watch

by Sarah Waters
Reviewed by Mia:Sarah Waters excels at revisiting iconic moments in British history and presenting these eras through unique viewpoints. In The Night Watch, she tells her story of London during WWII backwards, weaving together the lives...Read more...

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Posted on: April 27, 2016

The Lake House

The Lak e House

by Kate Morton
Reviewed by Janet:During a Midsummer’s Eve party in 1933, 18 month old Theo disappears from his nursery and is never found. Seventy years later, Detective Constable Sadie Sparrow, on leave from the London force, is visiting her grandfat...Read more...

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Posted on: April 20, 2016

The Clasp

The Clasp

by Sloane CrosleyReviewed by Linda:A debut novel from the author of I Was Told There'd Be Cake. Crosley writes entertainingly about 3 sophisticated twenty-somethings who are old college buddies. All are dissatisfied with their work and love lives and ...Read more...

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Posted on: April 13, 2016

Primates of Park Avenue

Primates of Park Avenue

by Wednesday Martin
Reviewed by Janet:This engaging and humorous memoir looks at the mothers of the Upper East Side of New York City from an unusual perspective. The author brings her expertise in anthropology and primatology to this habitat, and anal...Read more...

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Posted on: April 6, 2016

Alice in Bed

Alice in Bed

by Judith HooperReviewed by Linda:In Amherst author Judith Hooper’s fascinating work of historical fiction, it wasn’t hysteria that kept brilliant Alice James trapped in bed. Sister to the famous writer Henry and psychologist William, she suffered as ...Read more...

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Posted on: March 30, 2016

My Name is Lucy Barton

My Name is Lucy Barton

by Elizabeth Strout
Reviewed by Janet:Readers have been eagerly awaiting this new title from Pulitzer Prize winning author Elizabeth Strout, and here it is! During an extended hospital stay, Lucy Barton awakes to find her mother in the bedside chair....Read more...

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Posted on: March 23, 2016

Harriet Wolf's Seventh Book of Wonders

Harriet Wolf's Seventh Book of Wonders

by Julianna BaggottReviewed by Linda:Congratulations to Julianna Baggott of Amherst on her latest bestselling novel. Named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and widely praised by reviewers, the novel introduces us to three generations of women...Read more...

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Posted on: March 16, 2016

The Japanese Lover

The Japanese Lover

by Isabel Allende
Reviewed by Janet:While working in the Lark House nursing home, Irina becomes intrigued by the mysterious letters and gifts that resident Alma Belasco receives, never imagining a secret love affair that began over 70 years ago. As Al...Read more...

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Posted on: March 9, 2016

Between the World and Me

Between the World and Me

by Ta-Nehisi CoatesReviewed by Linda:The latest winner of the National Book Award for Nonfiction, "Between the World and Me" takes the form of a father's passionate letter to his son about racism in America. Although a short book, the devast...Read more...

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Posted on: March 2, 2016

The Witches: Salem, 1692

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by Stacy Schiff
Reviewed by Mia:If you have ever lived in Massachusetts or studied early American history, the story of the paranoia that swept through Salem in 1692 is hardly new. Rather than pointing to psychological causes that may have influenced ...Read more...

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Posted on: February 24, 2016

Fates and Furies

Fates and Furies

by Lauren Groff
Reviewed by Janet:This is the story of Lotto and Mathilde over the course of their life together, from the lean years after college to later successes. Halfway through the book, the perspective shifts and disparate story threads come t...Read more...

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Posted on: February 17, 2016

Memories

Memories

by Lang Leav
Reviewed by Cyndi:Lang Leav combines the best poems from her two previous publications in new ways alongside her latest work to create her most evocative book to date. Leav’s poems embody rather than express the complex emotions and experi...Read more...

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Posted on: February 10, 2016

This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance

This is Your Life, Harriet Chance

by Jonathan EvisonReviewed by Linda:Harriet Chance, age 78 and recently widowed, embarks on an Alaskan cruise that she was surprised to learn had been booked by her husband. On board, amid the overwhelming buffets and with views of stunning glaciers, ...Read more...

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Posted on: February 3, 2016

The Girl in the Spider's Web

The Girl in the Spider's Web

by David Lagercrantz
Reviewed by Janet:For those who enjoyed The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Lisbeth Salander’s story continues here as Stieg Larsson’s trilogy is carried on by a new author. Journalist Mikael Blomquist stumbles upon a new story about......read more...

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Posted on: January 27, 2016

Erratic Facts

Erratic Facts

by Kay Ryan
Reviewed by Cyndi:Kay Ryan’s latest book of poetry, Erratic Facts, is a real gem: small in size, multi-faceted, and a rarity to be treasured. Her poems are small and narrow, but that is a clever visual deceit as the reader can quickly devou......read more...

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Posted on: January 20, 2016

Miss Emily

Miss Emily

by Nuala O'ConnorReviewed by Linda:Just when we think we are familiar with Emily Dickinson and her family, along comes Irish writer O'Connor with a refreshingly new perspective. In this eloquent historical novel, Emily is viewed through the eyes of th......read more...

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Posted on: January 13, 2016

In a Dark, Dark Wood

In a Dark, Dark Wood

by Ruth Ware
Reviewed by Janet:It’s been 10 years since Nora has seen Clare, her best friend from school. So it’s with great surprise that she is invited to attend Clare’s bachelorette celebration. Yet once there, secrets rankle in the secluded glas......read more...

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Posted on: January 6, 2016

Twain's End

Twain's End

by Lynn Cullen
Reviewed by Cyndi:Set at the end of Mark Twain’s life, this novel features the fictionalized account of Twain’s relationship with his secretary, Isabel Lyon. Based loosely on Lyon’s diary and Twain’s writings, Twain’s End reimagines the ......read more...

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Posted on: December 30, 2015

The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard's Most Daring Sea Rescue

The Finest Hours

by Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman Reviewed by Linda:This account of one of the most heroic rescues of all time will thrill readers who enjoyed The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger. In 1952, one of the worst nor'easters of the century hit New En......read more...

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Posted on: December 23, 2015

Three Minutes in Poland: Discovering a Lost World in a 1938 Family Film

Three Minutes in Poland

by Glenn Kurtz
Reviewed by Janet:In 1938, David Kurtz filmed parts of his trip to Europe for a family film. In 2009, his grandson Glenn found the old film and became intrigued by the segment on a Jewish community in rural Poland. This memoir traces t......read more...

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Posted on: December 16, 2015

The Pursuit of Love & Love in a Cold Climate

The Pursuit of Love

by Nancy Mitford
Reviewed by Mia:Nancy Mitford’s writing career took off in the 1920s and 30s as she satirized the English country society of her youth. These two witty novels based on her own eccentric, interesting, controversial family depict the Ra......read more...

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Posted on: December 9, 2015

The Bishop's Wife

The Bishop's Wife

by Mette Ivie HarrisonReviewed by Linda:This intriguing novel takes the reader deep into the life of a Mormon family and especially its independent-minded wife and mother. Linda Wallheim struggles to fulfill her twin roles as homemaker and as unoffici......read more...

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Posted on: December 2, 2015

Balm

Balm

by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
Reviewed by Janet:Sadie, Madge, and Hemp find themselves in Chicago in the aftermath of the Civil War, each searching for something as they begin a new life. The emotional injuries suffered due to the war and its aftermath chal......read more...

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Posted on: November 25, 2015

The Girl in the Dark

Girl in the Dark

by Anna Lyndsey
Reviewed by Roxanne:This memoir traces the development of Anna's rare medical condition, which makes her intolerant of both florescent and natural light, and reveals how she combats the despair that fills her as she attempts to live he......read more...

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Posted on: November 25, 2015

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared

The 100-year-old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

by Jonas JonassonReviewed by Linda:This humorous tale, an international bestseller originally published in Sweden, revolves around the escapades of one Allan Karlsson, a centenarian who chose to escape from a nursing home and spend his birthday on the......read more...

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Posted on: November 28, 2015

Kitchens of the Great Midwest

Kitchens of the Great Midwest

by J. Ryan Stradal
Reviewed by Janet:Each chapter in this book brings a new food or ingredient into Eva Thorvald's life – and her once-in-a-generation palate. From a tragic and challenging childhood, Eva's spirit and resilience help her to thrive and s......read more...

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Posted on: November 28, 2015

The Rocks

The Rocks

by Peter NicholsReviewed by Linda:A novel of two love stories set decades apart on the beautiful Mediterranean island of Mallorca. Much of the plot takes place at "the Rocks," a seaside resort for upscale British tourists. Lulu, the propriet......read more...

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Posted on: November 28, 2015

A Little Life

A Little Life

by Hanya Yanagihara
Reviewed by Janet:For readers who want to immerse themselves in the lives of four friends and the ebbs and flows of their relationships over the course of 30 years, this novel follows the daily lives of Jude, Willem, JB, and Malcolm......read more...

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Posted on: November 28, 2015

A History of Loneliness

A History of Loneliness

by John Boyne
Reviewed by Robin:Odran Yates, a Catholic priest in Ireland, is the narrator of this fictional story about his forty years in the Catholic church. Odran is satisfied with his priestly duties at a boys' school, but when the Catholic Church......read more...

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Posted on: November 28, 2015

The Speechwriter: A Brief Education in Politics

The Speechwriter

by Barton SwaimReviewed by Linda:English language lovers will devour this true story of an unlikely spin doctor: a newly minted PhD with a family to support and no academic job prospects who goes to work for his state's governor. Here he hopes to use ......read more...

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Posted on: November 28, 2015

The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty

The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty

by Vendela Vida
Reviewed by Janet:A trip to Morocco goes off track when her backpack is stolen from the hotel lobby. Without her identification or money, she is free to become anyone she chooses. When a chance encounter with a Hollywood actress provide......read more...

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