Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

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It was the cover that grabbed me first.  But when I closed the book, I just had to know what really happened to this infamous Georgia Tann, director of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, South Carolina who made millions (in today’s dollars) kidnapping and selling children with fake papers so that families couldn’t ever find one another.  Was she caught?  Did she go to trial?

“Sure to be one of the most compelling books you pick up this year. . . . Wingate is a master-storyteller, and you’ll find yourself pulled along as she reveals the wake of terror and heartache that is Georgia Tann’s legacy.”Parade

“One of the year’s best books . . . It is impossible not to get swept up in this near-perfect novel.”The Huffington Post

“Lisa Wingate takes an almost unthinkable chapter in our nation’s history and weaves a tale of enduring power.”—Paula McLain, New York Times bestselling author of Circling the Sun

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Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s Awakening by Manal al-Sharif

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This lady’s courage and incredible story knocked me over.  A memoir by a Saudi Arabian woman who became the unexpected leader of a movement to support women’s rights describes how fundamentalism influenced her radical religious beliefs until her education, a job, and legal contradictions changed her perspectives.

“Future generations will marvel at Manal al-Sharif, whose voice is laden with quiet dignity even at its most urgent. Her gripping account of homegrown courage will speak to the fighter in all of us.” (Deborah Feldman, New York Times bestselling author of Unorthodox)

“An astonishing, humble, truthful book, more illuminating than a hundred newspaper stories on Saudi Arabia. Manal is no Chanel-draped, chauffeur-driven Saudi princess. Her account of why a single working mother’s life compelled her to confront the kingdom’s fiercely patriarchal ways is touching and revealing in equal measure.” (Azadeh Moaveni, author of Lipstick Jihad)

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The Last One by Alexandra Oliva

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A group of contestants are filming a survival reality show when a disease strikes the real world. However, isolated in the wilderness, the contestants have no idea, and believe everything they encounter is part of the TV show. This is a gripping story that is hard to put down.

“The TV show Survivor meets Cormac McCarthy’s The Road in Oliva’s stellar debut. . . Fueled by brilliantly intimate and insightful writing as well as an endearing and fully realized female lead, this apocalyptic novel draws its power from Zoo’s realizations about society and herself as she struggles to survive long enough to somehow make it back to her home.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Part wilderness-survival thriller and part dystopian pandemic story . . . a gripping portrayal of an ordinary person’s evolving survival instincts as she realizes she can’t trust the reality she sees.”—Booklist

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Out of Line: A Life of Playing with Fire by Barbara Lynch

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Named one of Time‘s 100 Most Influential People in the World

Blood, Bones, & Butter meets A Devil in the Kitchen in this funny, fierce, and poignant memoir by world-renowned chef, restaurateur, and Top Chef judge Barbara Lynch, recounting her rise from a hard-knocks South Boston childhood to culinary stardom.

“If you have an appetite for culinary adventure, you’ll devour the feisty and fun memoir by James Beard award-winning chef and philanthropist Barbara Lynch.” —Elle

“Whenever she writes about food, her passion is evident, and she appends a number of recipes that will surely send some readers straight to the kitchen. A rugged tale of a self-made woman in a high-stress profession. ” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Lynch’s love of food and hard scrabble Southie upbringing are blended into a rich and engaging narrative that sheds light on the different influences that helped shape her career. The narrative is evocative of Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential…Foodies will enjoy the vivid language used to describe Lynch’s food exploits, and old neighbors will be treated to a trip around south Boston through the eyes of a local.” (Library Journal)

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The Rules Do Not Apply: a Memoir by Ariel Levy

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When 38-year-old New Yorker writer Ariel Levy left for a reporting trip to Mongolia in 2012, she was pregnant, married, financially secure, and successful on her own terms. A month later, none of that was true.  Levy picks you up and hurls you through the story of how she built an unconventional life – reinventing work, marriage, family, pregnancy, sex and divorce for herself from the ground up and  then watched it fall apart with astonishing speed.

“Every deep feeling a human is capable of will be shaken loose by this profound book. Ariel Levy has taken grief and made art out of it.”—David Sedaris

A great memoir is not a trip through someone else’s life but a series of long looks into your own.  Ariel Levy’s book – grieving, hopeful, painful, funny – is that.” – Amy Bloom

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Camino Island by John Grisham

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John Grisham has broken away from his classic legal storytelling and has written a lawyerless, bookish thriller set in a picturesque Florida beach resort town.

Camino Island, Grisham’s 30th book in 28 years, is a story filled with book lovers – from those who write them to those who steal them, in particular the manuscript copies of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s early works which are housed in the basement vault of the Rare Books and Special Collections Department in the Firestone Library at Princeton University.  Filled with insights on the book trade, Camino Island is a fun read for those who love books!

“Tasty . . . a fresh, fun departure . . . sheer catnip . . . a most agreeable summer destination.” —USA Today

“A theft of priceless books from a library, a book dealer who dabbles in the black market of stolen manuscripts, and a novelist who is recruited for a daring mission all add up to what sounds like the ideal beach read.” – Library Journal

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The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey

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While an illness keeps her bedridden, Bailey watches a wild snail that has taken up residence on her nightstand. As a result, she discovers the solace and sense of wonder that this mysterious creature brings and comes to a greater understanding of her own confined place in the world.

“As I read Bailey’s description of how her snail moved, ate, slept, and reproduced, I felt myself shrinking and shrinking, like Alice in Wonderland, until I was snail-size myself.” – Anne Fadiman

A charming, delicate meditation on the meaning of life. — Kirkus Review

“Though illness may rob us of vitality, sometimes it can also help bring us understanding—-albeit in improbable disguises . . . Perhaps there’s something to be said for moving at a snail’s pace.” —NPR.org

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Wrong Girl (Jane Ryland) by Hank Phillippi Ryan

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Chosen by the Weston Library Mystery Group.  Now the AGATHA AWARD WINNER for Best Contemporary Mystery and the DAPHNE AWARD WINNER for Best Mystery/Suspense!

Investigating allegations against an adoption agency that is suspected of reuniting adopted children with the wrong birth parents, Jane Ryland finds her efforts suspiciously tied to Jake Brogan’s case involving a young woman’s brutal murder and the disappearance of a baby.

THE WRONG GIRL has all the right stuff! The pacing is furious, the characters are great fun, and the dialogue crackles.–Linwood Barclay

A riveting story that will hook you from page one! Unputdownable–Deborah Crombie

 

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The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel

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If you have ever dreamed of getting away from it all, then this is the book for you!

In 1986, a young man seeking a quiet and peaceful life, drove his car into the back woods of Maine, left the keys on the dashboard and disappeared for 27 years.  Where did he sleep, what did he eat, how did he survive the black fly season and the rain and the bitter cold and was he ever lonely?  All these questions and many more will be answered.  P.S. This book has a Metrowest Boston connection.

“A story that takes the two primary human relationships—to nature and to one another—and deftly upends our assumptions about both. This was a breathtaking book to read and many weeks later I am still thinking about the implications for our society and—by extension—for my own life.”—Sebastian Junger

“An absorbing exploration of solitude and man’s eroding relationship with the natural world. Though the ‘stranger’ in the title is Knight, one closes the book with the sense that Knight, like all seers, is the only sane person in a world gone insane—that modern civilization has made us strangers to ourselves.”—Nathaniel Rich, The Atlantic

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The Last Painting of Sara De Vos by Dominic Smith

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This beautifully written novel is centered around a seventeenth-century Dutch painting. It follows the story of its creator, the man who inherits it, and the woman hired to create a forgery. While the book spans a few countries and time periods, its focus always remains on its engaging characters.

Highly evocative of time and place, this stunning novel explores a triumvirate of fate, choice, and consequence and is worthy of comparison to Tracy Chevalier’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring “and Donna Tartt’s “The Goldfinch “.” . . “Just as a painter may utilize thousands of fine brushstrokes, Smith slowly creates a masterly, multilayered story that will dazzle readers of fine historical fiction. Library Journal (starred review)

Gliding gracefully from grungy 1950s Brooklyn to the lucent interiors of Golden Age Holland and the sun-splashed streets of contemporary Sydney, the novel links the lives of two troubled, enigmatic, and hugely talented young women, one of them an artist, the other, her forger. A page-turning book with much to say about the pain and exhilaration of art and life. Geraldine Brooks, author of “The Secret Chord”

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