The Children by Ann Leary

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With remarkable wit and insight, Ann Leary pulls back the curtain on one blended family, as they are forced to grapple with the assets and liabilities – both material and psychological – left behind by their wonderfully flawed patriarch.  Told from the perspective of the reclusive 29 year old daughter who has a secret life on the Internet.

“In this deeply satisfying novel about how unknowable people can be, intrigue builds with glass shards of dark humor toward an ending that is far from comic.” ―Kirkus, starred review

“Ann Leary’s latest novel, The Children, delivers the same page-turning story telling and complexity of characters as her last book, The Good House…As always, Leary makes dysfunction, pathology and even tragedy completely compelling.” The Huffington Post

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How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran

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A teenage girl living in England is desperate to become a music writer, even if it means she finds herself in some unusual and embarrassing situations. This is a really funny, sometimes profane, and surprisingly poignant novel.

“The earnestness with which Johanna goes about constructing a new persona gives the novel an almost irresistible verve, and the reader continues to root for her even during the most embarrassing episodes.” (The New Yorker)

“A smart, splendid, laugh-out-loud-funny novel.” (Boston Globe)

“Vivid and full of truths…. There’s a point in midlife, when you’re already built, as it were, when the average coming-of-age story starts to feel completely uninteresting. But Moran is so lively, dazzlingly insightful and fun that “How to Build a Girl” transcends any age restrictions.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

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The Little Paris Bookshop: A Novel by Nina George

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Jean Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary: a “reader of souls” with the knowledge to suggest books to his patrons that will heal what they don’t even know that ails them. His bookshop-on-a-barge (including cats and an Italian chef) travels the canals of Paris, Champagne, Burgundy, Lyons, and Marseilles. This is an uplifting, joyous read. By the book’s end, I was looking for barge travel options in France!

“If you’re looking to be charmed right out of your own life for a few hours, sit down with this wise and winsome novel…Everything happens just as you want it to… from poignant moments to crystalline insights in exactly the right measure.”—Oprah.com

“The settings are ideal for a summer-romance read…Who can resist floating on a barge through France surrounded by books, wine, love, and great conversation?”Christian Science Monitor

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Twelve Dogs of Christmas by David Rosenfelt

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This was the first mystery that I read that was written by David Rosenfelt, but it won’t be the last. The title drew me in and what kept me reading was his brisk pace and upbeat sense of humor. I think animal lovers and mystery lovers alike will enjoy his Andy Carpenter series and other titles.

“Rosenfelt’s 15th mystery featuring Paterson, NJ-based defense attorney Andy Carpenter (Outfoxed) takes on the case of Martha “Pups” Boyer, who earned her nickname after years of rescuing and placing stray puppies. However, a neighbor complained to the city about the dogs, and now Pups is due in court to fight the zoning law. Although she wins that battle, she’s soon hauled off to jail for allegedly killing the complainant. To make matters worse, that case calls into question the death of Pups’s husband. Now Andy will have to prove her innocence and avoid the killer. The wisecracking, dog-loving attorney still has plenty of appeal in this fast-paced Christmas mystery that avoids any holiday sentimentality.” – Library Journal

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Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild

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Hochschild is a sociologist and liberal professor from Berkeley, California, who was trying to understand conservatives in the South for the purposes of finding common ground. She searches for the “deep story” of what drives them. It’s a fascinating account of her interviews with residents in Louisiana and their feelings and views about what is happening in modern society and politics.

2016 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST FOR NONFICTION

Strangers In Their Own Land is by far the best book by an outsider to the Tea Party I have ever encountered.Forbes

 “Satisfying…[Hochschild’s] analysis is overdue at a time when questions of policy and legislation and even fact have all but vanished from the public discourse.”—Nathaniel Rich, The New York Review of Books

“Arlie Hochschild journeys into a far different world than her liberal academic enclave of Berkeley, into the heartland of the nation’s political right, in order to understand how the conservative white working class sees America. With compassion and empathy, she discovers the narrative that gives meaning and expression to their lives–and which explains their political convictions, along with much else. Anyone who wants to understand modern America should read this captivating book.”—Robert B. Reich, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley

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A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

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Five book leaders at the Wellesley Book Store posted that this was the best book they had read this year.  I join the chorus. Utterly absorbing – I read this book only when I had carefully set aside chunks of time to read uninterrupted –  to be immersed in the world of Count Rostov and his sentence to captivity for life in the grand hotel, the Metropol.  It’s been a very long time since I hugged a book to my heart at its conclusion with utter gratitude to the author for this gift of story, characters, and an ending that does not disappoint  – only that it is the final page.

-novelist Amor Towles continues to explore the question of how a person can lead an authentic life in a time when mere survival is a feat in itself . . . Towles’s tale, as lavishly filigreed as a Fabergé egg….—O, The Oprah Magazine

“Who will save Rostov from the intrusions of state if not the seamstress, chefs, bartenders and doormen? In the end, Towles’s greatest narrative effect is not the moments of wonder and synchronicity but the generous transformation of these peripheral workers, over the course of decades, into confidants, equals and, finally, friends.  With them around, a life sentence in these gilded halls might make Rostov the luckiest man in Russia.” –The New York Times Book Review

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Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft & Mary Shelley by Charlotte Gordon

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9780812980479_p0_v3_s192x300This biography follows writer and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter, novelist Mary Shelley, in alternating chapters. It is worth the time to savor their vivid journey across Revolutionary France and Victorian England, from the Italian seaports to the highlands of Scotland. I knew only a little about these women before starting this book and was engrossed by their fascinating life stories.

“By linking these two lives, Ms. Gordon’s biography stretches over a fascinating era in history, characterized by great flux in political and cultural thinking and involving some of the main figures in English literary and philosophical history.”—The Wall Street Journal

“Gordon unfolds the two stories in tandem, deftly balancing the gossipy aspects of her subjects’ lives with their serious intellectual concerns.”The New Yorker

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Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

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A short but powerful novel about a girl growing up in 1970s Brooklyn. The story explores family, gender, race, and the narrator’s coming of age in beautiful, poetic language.

“The novel’s richness defies its slim page count. In her poet’s prose, Woodson not only shows us backward-glancing August attempting to stave off growing up and the pains that betray youth, she also wonders how we dream of a life parallel to the one we’re living.” (Booklist (Starred Review))

“Woodson crafts a haunting coming-of-age story of four best friends in Brooklyn, New York…Here is an exploration of family—both the ones we are born into and the ones we make for ourselves—and all the many ways we try to care for these people we love so much, sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing. A stunning achievement from one of the quietly great masters of our time.” (Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review)

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The Dig by John Preston

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A little historical fiction find!  On an English grassy plain at water’s edge, a small group of unremarkable persons is about to probe into the mysterious mounds assumed to be previously robbed.  It is 1939, the eve of the start to WWII, no one here is looking up to the skies as their focus turns to the little copper and gold specks sparkling in the sun at a farm called Sutton Hoo.

“The Dig offers both a vividly reimagined slice of history and a tantalizing rumination on what remains after we cease to exist” Booklist 

“Shimmers with longing and regret . . . Preston writes with economical grace . . . He has written a kind of universal chamber piece, small in detail, beautifully made and liable to linger on  in the heart and the mind. It is something utterly unfamiliar, and quite wonderful.”—The New York Times Book Review

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The Shop on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber

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Are you looking for a leisurely-paced gentle read?  You may want to try this heartwarming novel about Lydia Hoffman, a young woman who takes a giant step of faith in opening her own yarn store after recovering from a serious illness. Along the way, Lydia makes discoveries about herself while helping others to do the same.  This is the first in a series.

“Fans of Debbie Macomber’s contemporary romances and novels of women’s lives prize her inspirational stories, domestic settings, and sympathetic heroines. Macomber’s protagonists are ordinary women who are sometimes caught in difficult situations, but remain optimistic through every adversity.” – Novelist

“Macomber is a master storyteller; any one of these characters could have been a stereotype in less talented hands. Instead, these women and their stories are completely absorbing.” -RT Book Reviews

“Debbie Macomber tells women’s stories in a way no one else does.” –BookPage

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