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Hiya, it's Sandy.  Appreciate you "stopping by" PPB 24, our online store. Here are books we're nuts for now. See ya soon!

Me and PPB Recommend

Bomber Mafia: A Dream, a Temptation, and the Longest Night of the Second World War

Bomber Mafia: A Dream, a Temptation, and the Longest Night of the Second World War

$27.00
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An exploration of how technology and best intentions collide in the heat of war

In The Bomber Mafia, Malcolm Gladwell weaves together the stories of a Dutch genius and his homemade computer, a band of brothers in central Alabama, a British psychopath, and pyromaniacal chemists at Harvard to examine one of the greatest moral challenges in modern American history.

 

Most military thinkers in the years leading up to World War II saw the airplane as an afterthought. But a small band of idealistic strategists, the "Bomber Mafia," asked: What if precision bombing could cripple the enemy andmake war far less lethal?

 

In contrast, the bombing of Tokyo on the deadliest night of the war was the brainchild of General Curtis LeMay, whose brutal pragmatism and scorched-earth tactics in Japan cost thousands of civilian lives, but may have spared even more by averting a planned US invasion. In The Bomber Mafia, Gladwell asks, "Was it worth it?"

 

Things might have gone differently had LeMay's predecessor, General Haywood Hansell, remained in charge. Hansell believed in precision bombing, but when he and Curtis LeMay squared off for a leadership handover in the jungles of Guam, LeMay emerged victorious, leading to the darkest night of World War II. The Bomber Mafia is a riveting tale of persistence, innovation, and the incalculable wages of war.

This small book is big in scope - presenting yet another facet of WWII that is new to me.  And who can make a complex topic understandable and fascinating better than Malcolm Gladwell?!  This was a one-sitting read which is completely rare for me and nonfiction.  Here’s the gist: in the 1920s a small group of Army Airmen, the eponymous Bomber Mafia, start to imagine the possibilities of war waged entirely from the air - conceivably limiting casualties with precision bombing.  At the same time, eccentric Dutch inventor and American immigrant, Carl Norden creates the bombsight - a gadget that could “drop a bomb into a pickle barrel at thirty thousand feet.” And then WWII erupts and theory and innovation have a test site.  Gladwell presents two Army Air Corps generals, Haywood Hansell and Curtis LeMay with differing approaches at a key turning point in history - the Pacific Theater in the Spring of 1945. Because it’s Gladwell, there are a couple relevant, chatty digressions and a pinch of psychology which elevate the book from textbook history to lived narrative. I couldn’t put it down! - Carrie

Chatter

Chatter

$28.00
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NATIONAL BESTSELLER - An award-winning psychologist reveals the hidden power of our inner voice and shows how to harness it to combat anxiety, improve physical and mental health, and deepen our relationships with others.

 

"A masterpiece."--Angela Duckworth, bestselling author of Grit- Malcolm Gladwell, Susan Cain, Adam Grant, and Daniel H. Pink's Next Big Idea Club Winter 2021 Winning Selection

 

One of the best new books of the year--The Washington Post, BBC, USA Today, CNN Underscored, Shape, Behavioral Scientist, PopSugar - Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and Shelf Awareness starred reviews

Tell a stranger that you talk to yourself, and you're likely to get written off as eccentric. But the truth is that we all have a voice in our head. When we talk to ourselves, we often hope to tap into our inner coach but find our inner critic instead. When we're facing a tough task, our inner coach can buoy us up: Focus--you can do this. But, just as often, our inner critic sinks us entirely: I'm going to fail. They'll all laugh at me. What's the use?

 

In Chatter, acclaimed psychologist Ethan Kross explores the silent conversations we have with ourselves. Interweaving groundbreaking behavioral and brain research from his own lab with real-world case studies--from a pitcher who forgets how to pitch, to a Harvard undergrad negotiating her double life as a spy--Kross explains how these conversations shape our lives, work, and relationships. He warns that giving in to negative and disorienting self-talk--what he calls "chatter"--can tank our health, sink our moods, strain our social connections, and cause us to fold under pressure.

 

But the good news is that we're already equipped with the tools we need to make our inner voice work in our favor. These tools are often hidden in plain sight--in the words we use to think about ourselves, the technologies we embrace, the diaries we keep in our drawers, the conversations we have with our loved ones, and the cultures we create in our schools and workplaces.

 

Brilliantly argued, expertly researched, and filled with compelling stories, Chatter gives us the power to change the most important conversation we have each day: the one we have with ourselves.

Chilbury Ladies' Choir

Chilbury Ladies' Choir

$17.00
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NATIONAL BESTSELLER - "A delightful debut."--People

 

For readers of Lilac Girls and The Nightingale, The Chilbury Ladies' Choir unfolds the struggles, affairs, deceptions, and triumphs of a village choir during World War II.

As England becomes enmeshed in the early days of World War II and the men are away fighting, the women of Chilbury village forge an uncommon bond. They defy the Vicar's stuffy edict to close the choir and instead "carry on singing," resurrecting themselves as the Chilbury Ladies' Choir. We come to know the home-front struggles of five unforgettable choir members: a timid widow devastated when her only son goes to fight; the older daughter of a local scion drawn to a mysterious artist; her younger sister pining over an impossible crush; a Jewish refugee from Czechoslovakia hiding a family secret; and a conniving midwife plotting to outrun her seedy past.

 

An enchanting ensemble story that shuttles from village intrigue to romance to the heartbreaking matters of life and death, Jennifer Ryan's debut novel thrillingly illuminates the true strength of the women on the home front in a village of indomitable spirit.

Daisy Jones & the Six

Daisy Jones & the Six

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - A gripping novel about the whirlwind rise of an iconic 1970s rock group and their beautiful lead singer, revealing the mystery behind their infamous breakup.

 

"I devoured Daisy Jones & The Six in a day, falling head over heels for it. Daisy and the band captured my heart."--Reese Witherspoon (Reese's Book Club x Hello Sunshine book pick)

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR - The Washington Post - Esquire - Glamour - Real Simple - Good Housekeeping - Marie Claire - Parade - Paste - Shelf Awareness - BookRiot

 

Everyone knows DAISY JONES & THE SIX, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.

 

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it's the rock 'n' roll she loves most. By the time she's twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

 

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she's pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

 

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

 

The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.

Praise for Daisy Jones & The Six

 

"Backstage intrigue is the engine of Daisy Jones & The Six. . . . [A] celebration of American mythmaking."--Vogue

 

"Each character is compelling but Daisy Jones is the star. She's a blazing talent who is unapologetic in her sexuality and lives life on her own terms. . . . Like a poignant song with lyrics that speak to your soul, Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid will transport you to another place and time."--Associated Press

 

"Reid's wit and gift for telling a perfectly paced story make this one of the most enjoyably readable books of the year."--Nylon

 

"Wildly delicious." --Entertainment Weekly

What ever happened to Daisy Jones and The Six, the iconic 1970s rock band that topped the charts and sold out stadiums? It’s always been a mystery why the musicians suddenly disbanded.

Reid (The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, 2017, etc.) takes an unusual approach to dissecting the breakup of the fictional rock band by offering a narrative composed solely of transcribed interviews. At the center of the documentary-style novel is the relationship between lead singer Billy Dunne, recovering addict and aspiring family man, and sexy bad girl Daisy Jones, whose soulful voice and complex lyrics turn out to have been the missing ingredient The Six needed. When Daisy joins the band, the group catapults to fame, but not without cost. She refuses to simply fall in line and let Billy make the artistic decisions. In doing this, not only does she infuriate the band leader, she also sets an example for other members who are only too happy to start voicing their own demands. Over time the tension between Billy and Daisy grows increasingly more complicated, threatening to take its toll on Billy’s home life. He is fiercely loyal to his wife, Camila, while also being fully cognizant of his weaknesses—a torturous combination for Billy. Other band members have their own embroilments, and Daisy’s bestie, disco diva Simone Jackson, enhances the cast, but the crux of the story is about how the addition of Daisy to The Six forever changes the chemistry of the band, for better and worse. There is great buildup around answering the big question of what happened at their final concert together, though the revelation is a letdown. Further, the documentary-style writing detracts from the storytelling; it often feels gimmicky, as though the author is trying too hard for a fresh and clever approach. This is a shame because her past novels, traditionally told, have been far more engaging.

 

Despite some drawbacks, an insightful story that will appeal to readers nostalgic for the 1970s. - Sandy

Early Morning Riser

Early Morning Riser

$26.95
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A New York Post Best New Novel * An Esquire Best Book of 2021 * An E! News Best Book of April * An Apartment Therapy Best Book of April * A Popsugar Best Book of April * A Newsweek Book to Read * A New York Times Book to Watch For * A Parade Favorite Book of Spring * A Washington Post Best Book to Read in April * A Kirkus Best Book to Read in April

 


A wise, bighearted, boundlessly joyful novel of love, disaster, and unconventional family

 

Jane falls in love with Duncan easily. He is charming, good-natured, and handsome but unfortunately, he has also slept with nearly every woman in Boyne City, Michigan. Jane sees Duncan's old girlfriends everywhere--at restaurants, at the grocery store, even three towns away.

 

While Jane may be able to come to terms with dating the world's most prolific seducer of women, she wishes she did not have to share him quite so widely. His ex-wife, Aggie, a woman with shiny hair and pale milkmaid skin, still has Duncan mow her lawn. His coworker, Jimmy, comes and goes from Duncan's apartment at the most inopportune times. Sometimes Jane wonders if a relationship can even work with three people in it--never mind four. Five if you count Aggie's eccentric husband, Gary. Not to mention all the other residents of Boyne City, who freely share with Jane their opinions of her choices.

 

But any notion Jane had of love and marriage changes with one terrible car crash. Soon Jane's life is permanently intertwined with Duncan's, Aggie's, and Jimmy's, and Jane knows she will never have Duncan to herself. But could it be possible that a deeper kind of happiness is right in front of Jane's eyes? A novel that is alternately bittersweet and laugh-out-loud funny, Katherine Heiny's Early Morning Riser is her most astonishingly wonderful work to date.

The author of Single, Carefree, Mellow (2015) and Standard Deviation (2017) brings us new characters to fall in love with in this novel about love, family, and community.

It’s easy to adore the characters Heiny conjures in her novels and short stories. They tend to be quirky and smart, caring and passionate. Jane, the protagonist of Heiny’s gentle, funny new novel, is no exception. When we first meet her, the year is 2002, and she's 26. She has just moved to small-town Boyne City, Michigan, from Grand Rapids by way of Battle Creek, to teach second grade at the local elementary school. Almost immediately—in the first month she's in town and the first sentence of the novel—she meets and falls for Duncan, a handsome, divorced woodworker in his early 40s who moonlights as a locksmith (they meet when she locks herself out of her new house), looks to Jane “like the Brawny paper towel man,” and, she later learns, not entirely to her surprise, has slept with pretty much every woman in the area. Both Jane, ever hopeful, and Duncan, ever appreciative, are pure charm (as are the book’s secondary characters: their Northern Michigan neighbors, friends, and family members). She is a creative teacher and all-around blithe spirit who enthusiastically procures all her clothes and household items at the local thrift store. (“Some of her thrift-store outfits were more successful than others,” we’re told.) He’s the kind of generous, easygoing guy who still shovels out the snowy driveway of his ex-wife, Aggie, as well as that of Jane; Jane’s best friend, Freida; and, eventually, Jane’s flinty mother. Duncan’s sole employee is a sweet young man named Jimmy who was initially “described to Jane by more than one person as ‘slow learning.’ ” After an accident for which Jane feels culpable, Jimmy becomes Jane’s responsibility, too. Eventually, Jimmy will bring Jane and Duncan together in a new way. Told episodically in chapters titled by year and covering a span of 17 years, Heiny’s book finds beauty and humor in connection and community, family and friendship, and the way love can develop and deepen over time.

 

A heartwarming novel with a small-town vibe that sparkles like wine sipped with friends under backyard fairy lights. - Sandy

Fewer, Better Things: The Hidden Wisdom of Objects

Fewer, Better Things: The Hidden Wisdom of Objects

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From the former director of the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, a timely and passionate case for the role of the well-designed object in the digital age.

 

Curator and scholar Glenn Adamson opens Fewer, Better Thingsby contrasting his beloved childhood teddy bear to the smartphones and digital tablets children have today. He laments that many children and adults are losing touch with the material objects that have nurtured human development for thousands of years. The objects are still here, but we seem to care less and know less about them.

 

In his presentations to groups, he often asks an audience member what he or she knows about the chair the person is sitting in. Few people know much more than whether it's made of wood, plastic, or metal. If we know little about how things are made, it's hard to remain connected to the world around us.

 

Fewer, Better Thingsexplores the history of craft in its many forms, explaining how raw materials, tools, design, and technique come together to produce beauty and utility in handmade or manufactured items. Whether describing the implements used in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, the use of woodworking tools, or the use of new fabrication technologies, Adamson writes expertly and lovingly about the aesthetics of objects, and the care and attention that goes into producing them. Reading this wise and elegant book is a truly transformative experience.

Adamson writes 34 very brief chapters (though very brief ones) to invite a closer look at different types of objects, materials, craft and production techniques through encounters with people involved with developing, making or using them: we meet the designer of astronauts’ living spaces, a small-town hardware store proprietor, a retired corrections officer, a TV prop manager, and a tribologist who studies the friction of interacting surfaces. Along the way, we are treated to fascinating nuggets of information about how things are made: the working of a fret-saw, how the jacquard loom changed the process of weaving, how changes in automobile silhouettes reflect the drawing tools used to design them, and the technology of injection-moulding plastic. We even learn the elaborate steps of the tea ceremony, which he relates to the awareness and respect for objects, and the craftsmen who made them.

 

My favorite by far were his own family stories: from his farmer/jet-engine-designer grandfather to his math-prodigy father, his philosopher brother and his physician mother to his own experiences as a museum curator, using each story to draw analogies that make points about materiality and human relationships with objects. - Sandy

Good Company

Good Company

$27.99
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A Most Anticipated Book From: OprahMag.com * Refinery29 * Houston Chronicle * The Millions * Elle * Buzzfeed

Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney plumbs the depths of marriage, motherhood and friendship with warmth and wit. I devoured it in one gulp! Treat yourself to some Good Company. --Maria Semple, author of Today Will Be Different

A warm, incisive new novel about the enduring bonds of marriage and friendship from Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney, author of the instant New York Times bestseller The Nest

Flora Mancini has been happily married for more than twenty years. But everything she thought she knew about herself, her marriage, and her relationship with her best friend, Margot, is upended when she stumbles upon an envelope containing her husband's wedding ring--the one he claimed he lost one summer when their daughter, Ruby, was five.

Flora and Julian struggled for years, scraping together just enough acting work to raise Ruby in Manhattan and keep Julian's small theater company--Good Company--afloat. A move to Los Angeles brought their first real career successes, a chance to breathe easier, and a reunion with Margot, now a bona fide television star. But has their new life been built on lies? What happened that summer all those years ago? And what happens now?

With Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney's signature tenderness, humor, and insight, Good Company tells a bighearted story of the lifelong relationships that both wound and heal us.

A tale of two marriages and a long-buried secret.

Thirteen years ago, when their daughter, Ruby, was 5 and they were having the happiest summer of their lives, Flora's husband, Julian, lost his wedding ring in a pond. The pond was on a property in upstate New York where Julian's theater group—Good Company—was putting on their annual outdoor play. There was a photo taken of the family sitting on the steps with their best friends, Margot and David, all leaning together, arms entwined around Ruby. Now Ruby is graduating from high school, and Flora is looking for the photograph to frame as a gift. In the process, she finds something else: the wedding ring that was supposed to be in the pond. While that unfortunate situation is unfolding in the present, flashbacks take us to the history of the friendships. Along the way, the characters' working worlds are depicted in absorbing detail: Margot is a megastar on a hospital TV series, Flora is a former Broadway singer and dancer, now a voice-over artist, David is—or was, actually—a cardiac surgeon. One of the best scenes in the book is the night David and Margot meet, over the body of a heart attack victim during Shakespeare in the Park. Always the New York maven, Sweeney nails the Central Park setting—"teenagers shrieking, the occasional smash of a bottle of beer morphing into a million glittering emeralds on the pavement"—and amusingly notes the many different versions of the story that survive over years of retelling. No one can agree how David ended up onstage or how they got to the Chinese restaurant afterward, but Margot "knew her version was—if not the most accurate—the best." All that said, this novel is far quieter than Sweeney's hit debut, The Nest (2016), and the characters are less well developed. We should know Flora best, but Margot is more clearly drawn (which would be no surprise to Flora, always second fiddle).

 

While a little thin, plotwise, Sweeney's second novel lives up to its title: warm, witty, and interesting. - Sandy

Great Circle

Great Circle

$28.95
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A TODAY SHOW #ReadWithJenna BOOK CLUB PICK!

 

"Great Circle is a masterpiece . . . One of the best books I've ever read."
--J. Courtney Sullivan

 

A breathtaking epic . . . This is a stunning feat.
--Publishers Weekly

#1 IndieNext Pick

*A Most Anticipated Book of 2021 according to O, The Oprah Magazine; Lit Hub; She Reads; Town & Country; Esquire; and Bustle*

 

An unforgettable story of a daredevil female aviator determined to chart her own course in life, at any cost--Great Circle spans Prohibition-era Montana, the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, New Zealand, wartime London, and modern-day Los Angeles.

 

After being rescued as infants from a sinking ocean liner in 1914, Marian and Jamie Graves are raised by their dissolute uncle in Missoula, Montana. There--after encountering a pair of barnstorming pilots passing through town in beat-up biplanes--Marian commences her lifelong love affair with flight. At fourteen she drops out of school and finds an unexpected and dangerous patron in a wealthy bootlegger who provides a plane and subsidizes her lessons, an arrangement that will haunt her for the rest of her life, even as it allows her to fulfill her destiny: circumnavigating the globe by flying over the North and South Poles.

 

A century later, Hadley Baxter is cast to play Marian in a film that centers on Marian's disappearance in Antarctica. Vibrant, canny, disgusted with the claustrophobia of Hollywood, Hadley is eager to redefine herself after a romantic film franchise has imprisoned her in the grip of cult celebrity. Her immersion into the character of Marian unfolds, thrillingly, alongside Marian's own story, as the two women's fates--and their hunger for self-determination in vastly different geographies and times--collide. Epic and emotional, meticulously researched and gloriously told, Great Circle is a monumental work of art, and a tremendous leap forward for the prodigiously gifted Maggie Shipstead.

The intertwined journeys of an aviatrix born in 1914 and an actress cast to play her a century later.

In a novel twice as long as and an order of magnitude more complex than the well-received Seating Arrangements (2012) and Astonish Me (2014), Shipstead reveals breathtaking range and skill, expertly juggling a multigenerational historical epic and a scandal-soaked Hollywood satire, with scenes playing out on land, at sea, and in the air. "We were both products of vanishment and orphanhood and negligence and airplanes and uncles. She was like me but wasn't. She was uncanny, unknowable except for a few constellations I recognized from my own sky": These are the musings of actress Hadley Baxter. She has been familiar with the story of Marian Graves, an aviatrix who disappeared while trying to circumnavigate the globe, since she was just a little girl—before she became a pop-culture phenomenon, turned into a movie star with a mega-franchise, accidentally destroyed her career, and was given the chance to reinvent herself...by playing Marian in a biopic. The film, Peregrine, is based at least partly on the logbook of Marian's "great circle," which was found wrapped in a life preserver on an ice floe near the South Pole. Shipstead's story begins decades earlier, with the christening of the Josephina Eterna in Glasgow in 1909. The unhappy woman who breaks the bottle on her bow, the laconic captain who takes the ship to sea, the woman he beds onboard, the babies that result from this union—Marian Graves and her twin, Jamie—the uncle who has to raise them when their mother drowns and their father disappears: The destinies of every one of these people, and many more unforgettable characters, intersect in ways that reverberate through a hundred years of story. Whether Shipstead is creating scenes in the Prohibition-era American West, in wartime London, or on a Hollywood movie set, her research is as invisible as it should be, allowing a fully immersive experience.

 

Ingeniously structured and so damn entertaining; this novel is as ambitious as its heroines—but it never falls from the sky. - Sandy

Guncle

Guncle

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From the bestselling author of Lily and the Octopus and The Editor comes a warm and deeply funny novel about a once-famous gay sitcom star whose unexpected family tragedy leaves him with his niece and nephew for the summer.

 

Patrick, or Gay Uncle Patrick (GUP, for short), has always loved his niece, Maisie, and nephew, Grant. That is, he loves spending time with them when they come out to Palm Springs for weeklong visits, or when he heads home to Connecticut for the holidays. But in terms of caretaking and relating to two children, no matter how adorable, Patrick is, honestly, overwhelmed.

 

So when tragedy strikes and Maisie and Grant lose their mother and Patrick's brother has a health crisis of his own, Patrick finds himself suddenly taking on the role of primary guardian. Despite having a set of Guncle Rules ready to go, Patrick has no idea what to expect, having spent years barely holding on after the loss of his great love, a somewhat-stalled acting career, and a lifestyle not-so-suited to a six- and a nine-year-old. Quickly realizing that parenting--even if temporary--isn't solved with treats and jokes, Patrick's eyes are opened to a new sense of responsibility, and the realization that, sometimes, even being larger than life means you're unfailingly human.

 

With the humor and heart we've come to expect from bestselling author Steven Rowley, The Guncle is a moving tribute to the power of love, patience, and family in even the most trying of times.

A Hollywood star banishes himself to Palm Springs only to be thrust back into the limelight by, of all people, his young “niblings," or niece and nephew.

The children, Grant and Maisie, are 6 and 9, respectively, spending the summer with their Uncle Patrick, or GUP as they call him: Gay Uncle Patrick. One of the stars of the beloved TV sitcom The People Upstairs (think Friends), Patrick has for four years marooned himself in the desert, tetchy about his fame, his career, and his unresolved grief over the loss of his partner, Joe, the victim of a drunk driver. “He was so afraid people wouldn’t laugh if everyone knew how twisted he looked on the inside,” Rowley writes about Patrick. Self-critical but charming, suave yet insecure, Patrick is a memorable character, and it’s genuinely thrilling to read screenwriter-turned-novelist Rowley’s take on the mechanics of stardom, especially about a star who’s no longer young. Grant and Maisie are in Palm Springs because their mother has recently died and their father, Patrick’s brother, is near Palm Springs rehabbing from a drug addiction; Patrick becomes the niblings’ de-facto parent and therapist for the summer. The tension between Patrick and the kids initially manifests because their uncle doesn’t follow the same routines as their parents did, but it becomes clear that the maladjustment stems from a deeper wellspring of emotional turmoil. Patrick, meanwhile, hides his vulnerability and grief behind an armor of wit. He must learn to reveal his feelings and rejoin the world, and the children will help him do so. Although some of the plot is predictable (for example, the relationship between Patrick and young actor Emory), there’s true insight here into the psychology of gay men, Hollywood, and parenting.

 

A novel with some real depth beneath all its witty froth. - Sandy

Happy All the Time

Happy All the Time

$16.00
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"A comedy of manners that reminds us that manners are comic and should be enjoyed as such." --The New York Times

 

Guido and Vincent, best friends (and third cousins), aren't expecting to fall head-over-heels in love, but that is exactly what happens. Guido is smitten with Holly, a dazzling young woman who chafes at the idea of complacency, while Vincent falls for Misty, a work colleague with an acerbic sense of humor who seems as uninterested in romance as she is in Vincent (at first). In the months that follow, both couples will experience the rituals of courtship, jealousy, estrangement, family entanglements, and other perils of the heart as they try to find love in spite of themselves.

 

Colwin is a master of portraying the messiness of life: here, in hilarious and endearing prose, she follows these two improbable pairs, and their families, as they navigate and ultimately find happiness together--not all the time, but for most of it. A modern classic first published in 1978, Happy All the Time is as much a sophisticated romantic comedy about the love between two partners as it is a novel about the powerful bonds shared by family members, friends, colleagues and confidants.

 

With a foreword by Katherine Heiny.

Home Cooking

Home Cooking

$15.95
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Weaving together memories, recipes, and wild tales of years spent in the kitchen, Home Cooking is Laurie Colwin's cookbook manifesto on the joys of sharing food and entertaining.

 

From the humble hotplate of her one-room apartment to the crowded kitchens of bustling parties, Colwin regales us with tales of meals gone both magnificently well and disastrously wrong. Hilarious, personal, and full of Colwin's hard-won expertise, Home Cooking will speak to the heart of any amateur cook, professional chef, or food lover.

 

"As much memoir as cookbook and as much about eating as cooking." --The New York Times Book Review

Colwin's culinary reminiscences are as graceful and engaging as her fiction (Family Happiness, 1982; Another Marvelous Thing, 1986; etc.).

 

Her little three-to-five-page pieces, each one culminating in a usable, appealing, no-frills recipe, tell of feeding friends or savoring solitary eggplant dinners in her first apartment, a Greenwich Village find "a little larger than the Columbia Encyclopedia"; of feeding Irish colcannon to homeless "ladies" at a drop-in Center; and of feeding offense-free dishes to the fussy, the variously restricted, and the allergic—as "you don't want to be the death of your guests, though sometimes is seems that they will be the death of you." Colwin rhapsodizes over English double cream, too thick to pour, and shudders to recall a genius host's repulsive but mercifully stingy casserole. She boasts of the Boston Brown Bread that "I have now made so many times I could make it under general anesthesia," and confesses to a disastrous, capriciously stuffed snapper that "finally emerged from the oven looking like Hieronymus Bosch's vision of hell." Early on, in dismissing the need for an extensive batterie de cuisine, Colwin confides that "I myself once cooked spaghetti in a champagne bucket"—a confidence that well sums up both the genteel legacy and the redeeming no-nonsense composure that inform her approach to the kitchen arts. - Sandy

How Lucky

How Lucky

$25.99
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"A fantastic novel. . . . You are going to like this a lot."--Stephen King

"What's more thrilling than a fictional character speaking to us in a voice we haven't heard before, a voice so authentic and immediate--think Huck Finn, Holden Caulfield, Mattie Ross--that we suspect it must've been there all along, that we somehow managed to miss it? Daniel, the protagonist of Will Leitch's smart, funny, heartbreaking new novel How Lucky, is just such a voice, and I'm not sure it will ever completely leave my head, or that I want it to."--Richard Russo

For readers of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Nothing to See Here, a first novel as suspenseful and funny as it is moving, the unforgettable story of a fiercely resilient young man living with a physical disability, and his efforts to solve a mystery unfolding right outside his door.

Daniel leads a rich life in the university town of Athens, Georgia. He's got a couple close friends, a steady paycheck working for a regional airline, and of course, for a few glorious days each Fall, college football tailgates. He considers himself to be a mostly lucky guy--despite the fact that he's suffered from a debilitating disease since he was a small child, one that has left him unable to speak or to move without a wheelchair.

Largely confined to his home, Daniel spends the hours he's not online communicating with irate air travelers observing his neighborhood from his front porch. One young woman passes by so frequently that spotting her out the window has almost become part of his daily routine. Until the day he's almost sure he sees her being kidnapped...

The lone witness to an abduction tries to get skeptical police—and a skeptical society—to see past his wheelchair.

Like most residents of Athens, Georgia, 26-year-old Daniel looks forward to the escape of Game Week, when the University of Georgia plays football at home. Unlike most of them, however, Daniel has spinal muscular atrophy, a progressive genetic disorder that attacks the body from the core out. He can still move his left hand, which he uses to operate his wheelchair and type on an iPad that interfaces with his voice speaker and allows him to work on social media for a commuter airline. One morning Daniel sees a familiar young woman climb into a tan Camaro. After she's reported missing, he posts what he saw on Reddit and begins an email exchange with someone claiming to be the car’s driver. The members of a well-drawn, if spare, cast play supporting roles—Marjani, Daniel’s overworked caregiver; Travis, his lifelong best friend, who's “like a stoner Ichabod Crane”; Jennifer, the grad student who is “suddenly the matriarch of this weird little family”—but the story belongs to Daniel. He’s funny, often self-deprecating, and cleareyed about how many people perceive “someone who doesn’t seem to have control of any element of his body,” but he wants people to “remember there’s a person in here.” Leitch, who is abled, drew inspiration from his young son’s friend who was diagnosed with SMA as a toddler, and the best parts of the book are the reflective, informative passages when Daniel is discussing his ever evolving relationship with his condition. The resolution of the mystery is neither surprising nor terribly realistic, but it’s not really the point here.

 

A lightweight thriller contours an earnest, sincere portrait of a hero whom many insist on seeing as a victim. - Sandy

How to Wash the Dishes

How to Wash the Dishes

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Find order and beauty in the kitchen with this delightfully elegant primer on washing the dishes that elevates and illuminates a seemingly routine chore.

 

Washing the dishes is an ordinary, everyday task--but with examination and care, it can become much more. In this reverent guide to the household chore, Peter Miller shows us how washing dishes can become a joy, a delight, a meditative exercise, and an act of grace and rhythm.

 

We pay so much attention to recipes but little attention to maintenance and cleanup. Washing the dishes is as much a part of making a meal as prepping the vegetables, making the sauces, or seasoning the meats. At times it is quite routine, sometimes raucous, other times complex. It is never convenient. Despite its din and clatter, and despite its reputation, washing the dishes is the coda to the meal. It is a bustling musical of water and soap, of flow and surface, and done well, the fragile shall sit as proudly as the cast-iron.

 

There are some who do the dishes for the clarity and privacy of it, and there are some who relish the quiet isolation of putting things in order where they belong. There are some who feel the time and movement is a kind of digestive. In the evening in particular, there is a silence when it is all done. How to Wash the Dishes brings elegance, art, and a bit of mindfulness to the sink. It is the perfect gift for those who love to clean and equally as apt for those we wish would clean a bit more.

Washing the dishes is an ordinary, everyday task--but with examination and care, it can become much more. In this reverent guide to the household chore, Peter Miller shows us how washing dishes can become a joy, a delight, a meditative exercise, and an act of grace and rhythm.


We pay so much attention to recipes but little attention to maintenance and cleanup. Washing the dishes is as much a part of making a meal as prepping the vegetables, making the sauces, or seasoning the meats. At times it is quite routine, sometimes raucous, other times complex. It is never convenient. Despite its din and clatter, and despite its reputation, washing the dishes is the coda to the meal. It is a bustling musical of water and soap, of flow and surface, and done well, the fragile shall sit as proudly as the cast-iron.

- Sandy

There are some who do the dishes for the clarity and privacy of it, and there are some who relish the quiet isolation of putting things in order where they belong. There are some who feel the time and movement is a kind of digestive. In the evening in particular, there is a silence when it is all done. How to Wash the Dishes brings elegance, art, and a bit of mindfulness to the sink. It is the perfect gift for those who love to clean and equally as apt for those we wish would clean a bit more.

Huddle: How Women Unlock Their Collective Power

Huddle: How Women Unlock Their Collective Power

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Wall Street Journal Bestseller

CNN news anchor Brooke Baldwin explores the phenomenon of "huddling," when women lean on one another--in politics, Hollywood, activism, the arts, sports, and everyday friendships--to provide each other support, empowerment, inspiration, and the strength to solve problems or enact meaningful change. Whether they are facing adversity (like workplace inequity or a global pandemic) or organizing to make the world a better place, women are a highly potent resource for one another.

Through a mix of journalism and personal narrative, Baldwin takes readers beyond the big headline-making huddles from recent years (such as the Women's March, #MeToo, Times Up, and the record number of women running for public office) and embeds herself in groups of women of all ages, races, religions and socio-economic backgrounds who are banding together in America. HUDDLE explores several stories including:

  • The benefits of all-girls learning environments, such as Karlie Kloss's Kode with Klossy and Reese Witherspoon's Filmmaker Lab for Girls in which young women are given the freedom to make mistakes, and find their confidence.
  • The tactics employed by huddles of women who work in male-dominated industries including a group of US veterans/Democratic Congresswomen, a huddle of African-American judges in Harris County, Texas, and an all-female writers room in Hollywood.
  • The wisdom of huddling from trusted pioneers such as Gloria Steinem, Billie Jean King, and Madeleine Albright as well as contemporary trailblazers like Stacey Abrams and Ava DuVernay.
  • How professionals such as Chef Dominique Crenn and sports agent Lindsay Colas use their success to amplify other women in their fields.
  • The ways huddles of women are dedicated to making seismic change, including a look at Indigenous women saving the planet, the women who founded Black Lives Matter, the mothers fighting for sensible gun laws, America's favorite female athletes (Megan Rapinoe, Hilary Knight, and Sue Bird to name a few) agitating for equal pay, and female teachers rallying to improve their working conditions.
  • The bond between women who practice self-care and trauma healing together, including the women who courageously survived sexual abuse, and the women who heal together in The Class and GirlTrek.
  • The ways women are becoming more intentional about the life-saving power of friendship, including the bonds between military wives, new moms, and nurses getting through the time of Covid.

Throughout her examination of this fascinating huddle phenomenon, Baldwin learns about the periods of huddle 'droughts" in America, as well as the ways that Black women have been huddling for centuries. She also uncovers how huddling can be the "secret sauce" that makes many things possible for women: success in the workplace, effective grassroots change, confidence in girlhood, and a better physical and mental health profile in adulthood. Along the way, Baldwin takes readers through her own personal journey of growing up in the South and climbing the ladder of a male-dominated industry. Like so many women in her field, she encountered many sharp elbows on her career path, but became an early believer in adding more seats to the table and huddling with other women for strength and solidarity. In the process of writing HUDDLE, Baldwin learns that this seemingly new phenomenon is actually something women have been doing for generations--a quiet, collective power she learns to unlock in her transformation from journalist to champion for women.

I Will Judge You by Your Bookshelf

I Will Judge You by Your Bookshelf

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A look at the culture and fanaticism of book lovers, from beloved New York Times illustrator Grant Snider

 

It's no secret, but we are judged by our bookshelves. We learn to read at an early age, and as we grow older we shed our beloved books for new ones. But some of us surround ourselves with books. We collect them, decorate with them, are inspired by them, and treat our books as sacred objects. In this lighthearted collection of one- and two-page comics, writer-artist Grant Snider explores bookishness in all its forms, and the love of writing and reading, building on the beloved literary comics featured on his website, Incidental Comics. With a striking package including a die-cut cover, I Will Judge You By Your Bookshelf is the perfect gift for bookworms of all ages.

Just Like You

Just Like You

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"[A] charming, funny, touching, and relevant comedy." --The Boston Globe

"A provocative yet sweet romantic comedy." --People, Best of Fall 2020

This warm, wise, highly entertaining twenty-first century love story is about what happens when the person who makes you happiest is someone you never expected

 

Lucy used to handle her adult romantic life according to the script she'd been handed. She met a guy just like herself: same age, same background, same hopes and dreams; they got married and started a family. Too bad he made her miserable. Now, two decades later, she's a nearly divorced, forty-one-year-old schoolteacher with two school-aged sons, and there is no script anymore. So when she meets Joseph, she isn't exactly looking for love--she's more in the market for a babysitter. Joseph is twenty-two, living at home with his mother, and working several jobs, including the butcher counter where he and Lucy meet. It's not a match anyone one could have predicted. He's of a different class, a different culture, and a different generation. But sometimes it turns out that the person who can make you happiest is the one you least expect, though it can take some maneuvering to see it through.

 

Just Like You is a brilliantly observed, tender, but also brutally funny new novel that gets to the heart of what it means to fall surprisingly and headlong in love with the best possible person--someone you didn't see coming.

Love in the time of Brexit: A 42-year-old white schoolteacher falls for the 22-year-old black kid behind the counter at the butcher shop.

“It was a time when everyone was vowing never to forgive people. Politicians were never going to be forgiven for what they had done, friends and family were never going to be forgiven for the way they had voted, for what they had said, maybe even for what they thought. Most of the time, people were not being forgiven for being themselves.…And could you only love someone who thought the same way as you, or were there other bridges to be built further up the river?” Hornby’s latest focuses on an interracial, intergenerational relationship that begins a few months before the Brexit vote in 2016 and continues through the U.S.'s own bummer election, with a final chapter skipping ahead two years. Finally separated from the atrocious and not-quite-yet-recovered alcoholic she married, Lucy is ready to brave the dating pool and asks the young man who wraps up her roasts whether he knows anyone who might babysit. Her sons, devoted soccer players, are 10 and 8. Joseph is already babysitting for another family as well as coaching soccer, working at the public rec center, and DJ-ing to make ends meet—“a portfolio,” as an acquaintance encouragingly describes it—while still living at home with his mum. He takes the job, and when Lucy’s first couple of setups fizzle, the two give in to their urges. As smoothly as they fit together when it’s just the two of them (they think they’re hiding it from the boys), there’s friction galore once they leave the house. The race thing, the age thing, and then there’s Brexit. Everyone Lucy knows is voting "stay" while Joseph’s dad, who works construction, is voting "leave." The guy who owns the butcher shop wants to put up whichever poster will be best for business, and most of Joseph’s friends can’t be bothered to care. The fans Hornby has won with his comely backlist—High Fidelity (1995), About A Boy (1998), How To Be Good (2001), etc.—might not change their favorite but they won’t be disappointed.

 

Hornby is as charming as ever in this nimble, optimistic take on the social novel. - Sandy

Like Streams to the Ocean

Like Streams to the Ocean

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - "As inviting, wide-ranging, and philosophical as an all-night conversation with a best friend, and as revealing and thought-provoking as the diary of a curious adventurer."--Sasha Sagan, author of For Small Creatures Such as We

 

You can travel the world looking for yourself, but if you don't know what you're looking for, how can you find it? Like Streams To The Oceanis about examining the things that make us who we are and getting to know ourselves, our stories, and the decisions that shape our one and only life.

 

Writing with the passion and clarity that made his debut, To Shake the Sleeping Self, a national bestseller, Jedidiah Jenkins brings together new and old writings to explore the eight subjects that give life meaning: ego, family, home, friendship, love, work, death, the soul.

 

Who am I? What am I made of? How much of how I act boils down to avoiding the things that make me feel small? As he examines the experiences that shape our conscious and subconscious answers to these questions, Jenkins leads readers in a wide-ranging conversation about finding fulfillment in the people and places around us and discovering the courage to show our deepest selves to the world.

Malibu Rising

Malibu Rising

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From the New York Times bestselling author of Daisy Jones & The Six and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo . . . Four famous siblings throw an epic party to celebrate the end of the summer. But over the course of twenty-four hours, their lives will change forever.

 

"One of the most anticipated [books] of the year--and rightfully so. . . . It's a must-read."--Parade

 

Malibu: August 1983. It's the day of Nina Riva's annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over--especially as the offspring of the legendary singer Mick Riva.

 

The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud--because it is long past time for him to confess something to the brother from whom he's been inseparable since birth.

 

Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can't stop thinking about promised she'll be there.

 

And Kit has a couple secrets of her own--including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.

 

By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family's generations will all come rising to the surface.

 

Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them . . . and what they will leave behind.

Not all good writers write beautiful sentences. They are great at other things -- telling stories. 

In the early 1980s, four Malibu surfer siblings throw a raging party that forces them to confront their pasts in this new novel from the author of Daisy Jones & the Six (2019).

The Riva siblings didn’t have an easy childhood. Their father was a famous singer who came and went whenever he wanted, finally leaving for good. Their mother was an alcoholic, leaving her oldest daughter, Nina, to take on the bulk of the parenting. Nina ends up becoming a surf model to earn enough money to take care of her siblings: Jay, who becomes a pro surfer, Hud, who becomes a surf photographer, and the youngest, Kit, who hopes to follow in their surfing footsteps. Their rocky childhood led them to become extremely close as adults, and no tradition means more to them than the annual Riva party, held at Nina’s beach house. It’s typically raucous and full of celebrities behaving badly, but the real drama this time ends up coming from the secrets the Rivas are keeping from each other. Reid alternates between the siblings’ current-day party preparations and the story of their past: how their parents, Mick and June, met in the 1950s, fell in love, and had a tumultuous relationship. By the time the end of the party rolls around, the siblings each realize the many ways their pasts continue to affect their futures. Reid’s descriptions of Malibu are so evocative that readers will swear they feel the sea breeze on their faces or the grit of the sand between their toes. The Rivas have a believable sibling dynamic, and the family members are complex and delightfully flawed (especially Mick, whose bad decisions reverberate throughout the novel).

 

A compulsively readable story about the bonds between family members and the power of breaking free. - Sandy

Mary Jane

Mary Jane

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I LOVED this novel....If you have ever sung along to a hit on the radio, in any decade, then you will devour Mary Jane at 45 rpm. --Nick Hornby

Almost Famous meets Daisy Jones & The Six in this funny, wise, and tender novel about a fourteen-year-old girl's coming of age in 1970s Baltimore, caught between her straight-laced family and the progressive family she nannies for--who happen to be secretly hiding a famous rock star and his movie star wife for the summer.

In 1970s Baltimore, fourteen-year-old Mary Jane loves cooking with her mother, singing in her church choir, and enjoying her family's subscription to the Broadway Showtunes of the Month record club. Shy, quiet, and bookish, she's glad when she lands a summer job as a nanny for the daughter of a local doctor. A respectable job, Mary Jane's mother says. In a respectable house.

The house may look respectable on the outside, but inside it's a literal and figurative mess: clutter on every surface, Impeachment: Now More Than Ever bumper stickers on the doors, cereal and takeout for dinner. And even more troublesome (were Mary Jane's mother to know, which she does not): the doctor is a psychiatrist who has cleared his summer for one important job--helping a famous rock star dry out. A week after Mary Jane starts, the rock star and his movie star wife move in.

Over the course of the summer, Mary Jane introduces her new household to crisply ironed clothes and a family dinner schedule, and has a front-row seat to a liberal world of sex, drugs, and rock and roll (not to mention group therapy). Caught between the lifestyle she's always known and the future she's only just realized is possible, Mary Jane will arrive at September with a new idea about what she wants out of life, and what kind of person she's going to be.

Meet You in the Middle

Meet You in the Middle

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What happens when the person you find most impossible becomes impossible to resist? The Hating Game meets The West Wing in this hilarious across-the-aisle romantic comedy debut about America's least likely couple.

 

There's just one thing standing between liberal Senate staffer Kate Adams and passage of the landmark legislation she's been fighting for all year: Ben Mackenzie, intimidating gatekeeper for one of DC's most powerful conservative senators. After Kate and Ben lock horns in a meet-not-so-cute, they vow to take each other down--by any means necessary.

 

Their ensuing power struggle gives new meaning to the term office politicsprank mail, spying, bets gone awry--nothing's off limits in their battle of wills. She thinks he's arrogant (and doesn't deserve those gorgeous green eyes). He thinks she's too quick to judge (and irresistibly distracting). But as their endless game of one-upmanship becomes Kate's favorite part of the day, she starts to wonder if her feelings for Ben are closer to attraction than animosity...and maybe their sparring is flirting. When Kate realizes there's more to Ben than meets the eye, she's forced to confront her biggest fear: In her sworn enemy, she may have found her perfect match.

 

Perfect for fans of Sally Thorne and Jasmine Guillory, Meet You in the Middle is a modern, heartfelt and hopeful romance that hilariously explores what happens when you fall in love with your political polar opposite.

"What happens when the person you find MOST impossible becomes impossible to resist? Opposites distract in this hilarious romantic comedy about America's least likely couple.” Doesn’t that remind you of the voice-overs studios used to have at the beginning credits of a 1940’s black and white rom-com??  This book reminded me of one of those fun movies, except a bit sexier. There's just one thing standing between liberal Senate staffer Kate Adams and passage of the landmark legislation she's been fighting for all year: Ben Mackenzie, intimidating gatekeeper for one of DC's most powerful conservative senators. After Kate and Ben lock horns in a meet-not-so-cute, they vow to take each other down--by any means necessary. She thinks he's arrogant (and doesn't deserve those gorgeous green eyes). He thinks she's too quick to judge (and irresistibly distracting). But as their endless game of one-upmanship becomes Kate's favorite part of the day, she starts to wonder if her feelings for Ben are closer to attraction than animosity...and maybe their sparring is flirting. And when Kate realizes there's more to Ben than meets the eye, she's forced her to confront her biggest fear: In her sworn enemy, she may have found her perfect match. - Sandy

Music of Bees

Music of Bees

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IndieNext Pick LibraryReads Pick Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2021 by BookRiot ∙ Bookish ∙ Nerd Daily ∙ The Tempest ∙ Midwestnessand more!

"A hopeful, uplifting story about the power of chosen family and newfound home and beginning again...but it's the bees, with all their wonder and intricacy and intrigue, that make this story sing."
-Laurie Frankel, New York Times bestselling author of This Is How It Always Is

 

A heartwarming debut novel for readers of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, following three lonely strangers in a rural Oregon town, each working through grief and life's curveballs, who are brought together by happenstance on a local honeybee farm where they find surprising friendship, healing--and maybe even a second chance--just when they least expect it.

Forty-four-year-old Alice Holtzman is stuck in a dead-end job, bereft of family, and now reeling from the unexpected death of her husband. Alice has begun having panic attacks whenever she thinks about how her life hasn't turned out the way she dreamed. Even the beloved honeybees she raises in her spare time aren't helping her feel better these days.

 

In the grip of a panic attack, she nearly collides with Jake--a troubled, paraplegic teenager with the tallest mohawk in Hood River County--while carrying 120,000 honeybees in the back of her pickup truck. Charmed by Jake's sincere interest in her bees and seeking to rescue him from his toxic home life, Alice surprises herself by inviting Jake to her farm.

 

And then there's Harry, a twenty-four-year-old with debilitating social anxiety who is desperate for work. When he applies to Alice's ad for part-time farm help, he's shocked to find himself hired. As an unexpected friendship blossoms among Alice, Jake, and Harry, a nefarious pesticide company moves to town, threatening the local honeybee population and illuminating deep-seated corruption in the community. The unlikely trio must unite for the sake of the bees--and in the process, they just might forge a new future for themselves.

 

Beautifully moving, warm, and uplifting, The Music of Bees is about the power of friendship, compassion in the face of loss, and finding the courage to start over (at any age) when things don't turn out the way you expect.

 

You'll love cheering for the likeable loners in this kind-hearted, hopeful, and beautifully detailed story. I adored THE MUSIC OF BEES.
-J. Ryan Stradal, bestselling author of The Lager Queen of Minnesota

"Fans of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine will enjoy this touching and uplifting novel about the healing power of friendship."
--BookRiot: 9 Mesmerising Debut Novels You Won't Want to Miss in 2021

"I laughed, I cried, and in the end I was left with a renewed belief that there's always hope for all of us, no matter how broken or stuck we may feel. This deft, compassionate story about the enduring power of friendship and the sparkling promise of a fresh start will stay with me for a long time."
-Abi Daré, New York Times bestselling author of The Girl with the Louding Voice

Great reviews by everyday readers, less so by critics. Character you’ll never forget are Jake and the Bees - Sandy

Nothing Much Happens: Cozy and Calming Stories to Soothe Your Mind and Help You Sleep

Nothing Much Happens: Cozy and Calming Stories to Soothe Your Mind and Help You Sleep

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Based on the popular podcast, soothing stories to carry you off to deep, restful sleep

 

Busy minds need a place to rest. Whether you find yourself struggling to sleep, awake in the middle of the night, or even just anxious as you move through the day, in Nothing Much Happens, Kathryn Nicolai offers a healthy way to ease the mind before bed: through the timeless appeal of classic bedtime stories.

 

Already beloved by millions of podcast listeners, the stories in Nothing Much Happens explore and expose small sweet moments of joy and relaxation: Sneaking lilacs from an abandoned farm in the spring. Watching fireflies from the deck in the summer. Visiting the local cider mill in the autumn. Watching the tree lighting in the park with friends in the winter.

 

You'll also find sixteen new stories never before featured on the podcast, along with whimsical illustrations, recipes, and meditations. Using her decades of experience as a meditation and yoga teacher, Kathryn Nicolai creates a world for you to slip into, one rich in sensory experience that quietly teaches mindfulness and self-compassion, soothes frayed nerves, and builds solid habits for nurturing sleep.

 

A PENGUIN LIFE TITLE

Here is the perfect description of this book: “Busy minds need a place to rest. Whether you find yourself struggling to sleep, awake in the middle of the night, or even just anxious as you move through the day, in Nothing Much Happens, Kathryn Nicolai offers a healthy way to ease the mind before bed: through the timeless appeal of classic bedtime stories.” You can go with her while she (in short stories just a few pages each) explores and expose small sweet moments of joy and relaxation in a cosy small town; you’ll sneak lilacs from an abandoned farm in the spring, watch fireflies from the deck in the summer, visit the local cider mill in the autumn and watch the tree lighting in the park with friends in the winter. it is organized seasonally, beginning and concluding with winter and it’s charmed up with slow-down tips, meditation guides, recipes, quotes, and dear drawings.  I love the index at the back so that you can search for stories - what are you in the mood for, stretching and yoga, blankets and snow, knitting? A lovely relaxing read to dip into for gentle self care whenever needed. - Sandy

Of Women and Salt

Of Women and Salt

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A sweeping, masterful debut about a daughter's fateful choice, a mother motivated by her own past, and a family legacy that begins in Cuba before either of them were born

 

In present-day Miami, Jeanette is battling addiction. Daughter of Carmen, a Cuban immigrant, she is determined to learn more about her family history from her reticent mother and makes the snap decision to take in the daughter of a neighbor detained by ICE. Carmen, still wrestling with the trauma of displacement, must process her difficult relationship with her own mother while trying to raise a wayward Jeanette. Steadfast in her quest for understanding, Jeanette travels to Cuba to see her grandmother and reckon with secrets from the past destined to erupt.

 

From 19th-century cigar factories to present-day detention centers, from Cuba to Mexico, Gabriela Garcia's Of Women and Saltis a kaleidoscopic portrait of betrayals--personal and political, self-inflicted and those done by others--that have shaped the lives of these extraordinary women. A haunting meditation on the choices of mothers, the legacy of the memories they carry, and the tenacity of women who choose to tell their stories despite those who wish to silence them, this is more than a diaspora story; it is a story of America's most tangled, honest, human roots.

People We Meet on Vacation

People We Meet on Vacation

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One of the most anticipated reads of 2021 from OprahMag.com, PopSugar, Marie Claire, Newsweek, and Betches!

 

Two best friends. Ten summer trips. One last chance to fall in love.

 

From the New York Times bestselling author of Beach Read, a sparkling new novel that will leave you with the warm, hazy afterglow usually reserved for the best vacations.

 

Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She's a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart--she's in New York City, and he's in their small hometown--but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.

 

Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven't spoken since.

 

Poppy has everything she should want, but she's stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together--lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.

 

Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?

A travel writer has one last shot at reconnecting with the best friend she just might be in love with.

Poppy and Alex couldn't be more different. She loves wearing bright colors while he prefers khakis and a T-shirt. She likes just about everything while he’s a bit more discerning. And yet, their opposites-attract friendship works because they love each other…in a totally platonic way. Probably. Even though they have their own separate lives (Poppy lives in New York City and is a travel writer with a popular Instagram account; Alex is a high school teacher in their tiny Ohio hometown), they still manage to get together each summer for one fabulous vacation. They grow closer every year, but Poppy doesn’t let herself linger on her feelings for Alex—she doesn’t want to ruin their friendship or the way she can be fully herself with him. They continue to date other people, even bringing their serious partners on their summer vacations…but then, after a falling-out, they stop speaking. When Poppy finds herself facing a serious bout of ennui, unhappy with her glamorous job and the life she’s been dreaming of forever, she thinks back to the last time she was truly happy: her last vacation with Alex. And so, though they haven’t spoken in two years, she asks him to take another vacation with her. She’s determined to bridge the gap that’s formed between them and become best friends again, but to do that, she’ll have to be honest with Alex—and herself—about her true feelings. In chapters that jump around in time, Henry shows readers the progression (and dissolution) of Poppy and Alex’s friendship. Their slow-burn love story hits on beloved romance tropes (such as there unexpectedly being only one bed on the reconciliation trip Poppy plans) while still feeling entirely fresh. Henry’s biggest strength is in the sparkling, often laugh-out-loud-funny dialogue, particularly the banter-filled conversations between Poppy and Alex. But there’s depth to the story, too—Poppy’s feeling of dissatisfaction with a life that should be making her happy as well as her unresolved feelings toward the difficult parts of her childhood make her a sympathetic and relatable character. The end result is a story that pays homage to classic romantic comedies while having a point of view all its own.

 

A warm and winning "When Harry Met Sally…" update that hits all the perfect notes. - Sandy

Pretty Things

Pretty Things

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - Two wildly different women--one a grifter, the other an heiress--are brought together by the scam of a lifetime in a page-turner from the New York Times bestselling author of Watch Me Disappear.

An ID Book Club Selection - "It's Dynasty meets Patricia Highsmith."--The Washington Post

 

Nina once bought into the idea that her fancy liberal arts degree would lead to a fulfilling career. When that dream crashed, she turned to stealing from rich kids in L.A. alongside her wily Irish boyfriend, Lachlan. Nina learned from the best: Her mother was the original con artist, hustling to give her daughter a decent childhood despite their wayward life. But when her mom gets sick, Nina puts everything on the line to help her, even if it means running her most audacious, dangerous scam yet.

 

Vanessa is a privileged young heiress who wanted to make her mark in the world. Instead she becomes an Instagram influencer--traveling the globe, receiving free clothes and products, and posing for pictures in exotic locales. But behind the covetable façade is a life marked by tragedy. After a broken engagement, Vanessa retreats to her family's sprawling mountain estate, Stonehaven: a mansion of dark secrets not just from Vanessa's past, but from that of a lost and troubled girl named Nina.

 

Nina's, Vanessa's, and Lachlan's paths collide here, on the cold shores of Lake Tahoe, where their intertwined lives give way to a winter of aspiration and desire, duplicity and revenge.

 

This dazzling, twisty, mesmerizing novel showcases acclaimed author Janelle Brown at her best, as two brilliant, damaged women try to survive the greatest game of deceit and destruction they will ever play.

Carrie: This is your respectable beach read, because it is excellent thriller with lots of layers of complexity and morality. Nina Ross is a grifter along with her boyfriend Lachlan. They are sort of modern-day Robin Hoods who target rich, flashy idiots and steal and re-sell items they might not even miss (jewelry, antiques, etc.) "Wealth was a band-aid, not an inoculation," is the kind of insight that gives the story an added layer of credibility. In fact Nina has a degree in Art History and an antiques store which is a front, though she had good intentions of living life on the up and up until her mother (also a con) was diagnosed with cancer and needed major money for her med bills. Nina targets society girl and social media influencer Vanessa Liebling and her Lake Tahoe home, Stone Haven for her next big heist. This one is personal. Nina lived in Tahoe as a teenager and was involved with Vanessa's kind, down-to-earth brother Benny in high school until the snooty Liebling family put a stop to it. Nina and her mother were essentially ousted from Tahoe and this becomes a pivotal moment for her. Vanessa is vapid, superficial and gullible. Posing as Ashley, the yoga instructor, and Michael O'Brien the English professor from Portland, the con couple rents the caretaker cottage from Vanessa in an attempt to get close to her and the cash. Vanessa starts to fall for it, but gets tipped off about Nina/Ashley. Now the con changes hands and directions. This happens several times with surprising outcomes and revelations - it's books within books and by the end, I didn't know who to root for, but I liked being along for the ride. It kept me guessing through the final chapter and the epilogue ended everything smoothly, but with just a little seed of doubt. Gotcha!

Sorrow and Bliss

Sorrow and Bliss

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"Improbably charming...will have you chortling and reading lines aloud." --PEOPLE

A compulsively readable debut novel--spiky, sharp, intriguingly dark, and tender--about a woman on the edge that combines the psychological insight of Sally Rooney with the sharp humor of Nina Stibbe and the emotional resonance of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine.

Martha Friel just turned forty. Once, she worked at Vogue and planned to write a novel. Now, she creates internet content. She used to live in a pied-à-terre in Paris. Now she lives in a gated community in Oxford, the only person she knows without a PhD, a baby or both, in a house she hates but cannot bear to leave. But she must leave, now that her husband Patrick--the kind who cooks, throws her birthday parties, who loves her and has only ever wanted her to be happy--has just moved out.

Because there's something wrong with Martha, and has been for a long time. When she was seventeen, a little bomb went off in her brain and she was never the same. But countless doctors, endless therapy, every kind of drug later, she still doesn't know what's wrong, why she spends days unable to get out of bed or alienates both strangers and her loved ones with casually cruel remarks.

And she has nowhere to go except her childhood home: a bohemian (dilapidated) townhouse in a romantic (rundown) part of London--to live with her mother, a minorly important sculptor (and major drinker) and her father, a famous poet (though unpublished) and try to survive without the devoted, potty-mouthed sister who made all the chaos bearable back then, and is now too busy or too fed up to deal with her.

But maybe, by starting over, Martha will get to write a better ending for herself--and she'll find out that she's not quite finished after all.

This was the first book I put on the Champagne list as I started my Spring reading - I knew I had to bring it to the right crowd.  It put me in mind of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and Nothing to See Here, which are past PPB features.  The understated dry humor is the book’s shining quality and secret weapon because the story’s premise is painful. (Hence the title!) Martha just turned 40 and has been battling a misdiagnosed mental illness for about 20 years and a pretty unconventional childhood to boot and it has come to a head because her husband, who she has known from childhood has finally had enough. One reviewer called this an anti-love love story - Martha has built up so many defenses that she is practically a fortress.  But the hope that seeps through makes this a fab read. - Carrie

Special Place for Women

Special Place for Women

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SOON TO BE A TELEVISION SERIES

 

"One of the smartest, sharpest, and funniest books I've read in years... Some books are meant to be devoured--this one does the devouring."--Emily Henry, author of Beach Read

 

One of Summer 2021's Most Anticipated Novels
Good Morning America, Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Real Simple, E! Online, Oprah Daily, The New York Post, Bustle, Yahoo!, The Stripe, Popsugar, Medium, Lithub, Book Riot, The Nerd Daily, and more!

It's a club like no other. Only the most important women receive an invitation. But one daring young reporter is about to infiltrate this female-run secret society, whose bewitching members are caught up in a dark and treacherous business. From the author of Happy and You Know It.

 

For years, rumors have swirled about an exclusive, women-only social club where the elite tastemakers of NYC meet. People in the know whisper all sorts of claims: Membership dues cost $1,000 a month. Last time Rihanna was in town, she stopped by and got her aura read. The women even handpicked the city's first female mayor. But no one knows for sure.

 

That is, until journalist Jillian Beckley decides she's going to break into the club. With her career in freefall, Jillian needs a juicy scoop, and she has a personal interest in bringing these women down. But the deeper she gets into this new world--where billionaire girlbosses mingle with occult-obsessed Bohemians--the more Jillian learns that bad things happen to those who dare to question the club's motives or giggle at its outlandish rituals.

 

The select group of women who populate the club may be far more powerful than she ever imagined.

 

And far more dangerous too.

The Last Thing He Told Me

The Last Thing He Told Me

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A gripping mystery about a woman who thinks she's found the love of her life--until he disappears.

 

Before Owen Michaels disappears, he smuggles a note to his beloved wife of one year: Protect her. Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall knows exactly to whom the note refers--Owen's sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. Bailey, who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother.

 

As Hannah's increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered, as the FBI arrests Owen's boss, as a US marshal and federal agents arrive at her Sausalito home unannounced, Hannah quickly realizes her husband isn't who he said he was. And that Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen's true identity--and why he really disappeared.

 

Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen's past, they soon realize they're also building a new future--one neither of them could have anticipated.

 

With its breakneck pacing, dizzying plot twists, and evocative family drama, The Last Thing He Told Me is a riveting mystery, certain to shock you with its final, heartbreaking turn.

Not all good writers write beautiful sentences. They are great at other things -- telling stories. 


When a devoted husband and father disappears, his wife and daughter set out to find him.

Hannah Hall is deeply in love with her husband of one year, Owen Michaels. She’s also determined to win over his 16-year-old daughter, Bailey, who has made it very clear that she’s not thrilled with her new stepmother. Despite the drama, the family is mostly a happy one. They live in a lovely houseboat in Sausalito; Hannah is a woodturner whose handmade furniture brings in high-dollar clientele; and Owen works for The Shop, a successful tech firm. Their lives are shattered, however, when Hannah receives a note saying “Protect her” and can’t reach Owen by phone. Then there’s the bag full of cash Bailey finds in her school locker and the shocking news that The Shop’s CEO has been taken into custody. Hannah learns that the FBI has been investigating the firm for about a year regarding some hot new software they took to market before it was fully functional, falsifying their financial statements. Hannah refuses to believe her husband is involved in the fraud, and a U.S. marshal assigned to the case claims Owen isn’t a suspect. Hannah doesn’t know whom to trust, though, and she and Bailey resolve to root out the clues that might lead to Owen. They must also learn to trust one another. Hannah’s narrative alternates past and present, detailing her early days with Owen alongside her current hunt for him, and author Dave throws in a touch of danger and a few surprises. But what really drives the story is the evolving nature of Hannah and Bailey’s relationship, which is by turns poignant and frustrating but always realistic.

 

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

- Sandy
The Lost Manuscript

The Lost Manuscript

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Poignant and powerful.--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

The Lost Manuscript is a charming epistolary novel about the love of books and magical ability they have to bring people together.

 

Sometimes a book has the power to change your life...

 

When Anne-Lise Briard books a room at the Beau Rivage Hotel for her vacation on the Brittany coast, she has no idea this trip will start her on the path to unearthing a mystery. In search of something to read, she opens up her bedside table drawer in her hotel room, and inside she finds an abandoned manuscript. Halfway through the pages, an address is written. She sends pages to the address, in hopes of potentially hearing a response from the unknown author. But not before she reads the story and falls in love with it. The response, which she receives a few days later, astonishes her...

 

Not only does the author write back, but he confesses that he lost the manuscript 30 years prior on a flight to Montreal. And then he reveals something even more shocking--that he was not the author of the second half of the book.

 

Anne-Lise can't rest until she discovers who this second mystery author is, and in doing so tracks down every person who has held this manuscript in their hands. Through the letters exchanged by the people whose lives the manuscript has touched, she discovers long-lost love stories and intimate secrets. Romances blossom and new friends are made. Everyone's lives are made better by this book--and isn't that the point of reading? And finally, with a plot twist you don't see coming, she uncovers the astonishing identity of the author who finished the story.

Oooh la la!  This utterly charming book takes place in France and is one of those bring-unlikely-people-together stories that warms your heart and highlights the ways we all need each other. When Anne-Lise finds a manuscript in the nightstand drawer of the hotel she is visiting, she reads it and becomes engrossed (and a little obsessed!).  Her first move is to send it to the address listed on the last page, returning it to the author who has not seen it for 30+ years!  Thus begin the letters that comprise the novel and create a widening web of associations and friendships as they try to find out where the draft has been for so long - and who added the ending.  If you liked The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer or The Red Notebook or The President’s Hat by Antoine Laurain, this is your book. - Carrie

The Soulmate Equation

The Soulmate Equation

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The New York Times bestselling author of The Unhoneymooners returns with a witty and effervescent novel about what happens when two people with everything on the line are thrown together by science--or is it fate? Perfect for fans of The Rosie Project and One Plus One.

 

Single mom Jessica Davis is a data and statistics wizard, but no amount of number crunching can convince her to step back into the dating world. Raised by her grandparents--who now help raise her seven-year-old daughter, Juno--Jess has been left behind too often to feel comfortable letting anyone in. After all, her father was never around, her hard-partying mother disappeared when she was six, and her ex decided he wasn't "father material" before Juno was even born. Jess holds her loved ones close, but working constantly to stay afloat is hard...and lonely.

 

But then Jess hears about GeneticAlly, a buzzy new DNA-based matchmaking company that's predicted to change dating forever. Finding a soulmate through DNA? The reliability of numbers: ThisJess understands.

 

At least she thought she did, until her test shows an unheard-of 98 percent compatibility with another subject in the database: one of GeneticAlly's founders, Dr. River Peña. This is one number she can't wrap her head around, because she already knows Dr. Peña. The stuck-up, stubborn man is without a doubt not her soulmate. But GeneticAlly has a proposition: Get to know him and we'll pay you. Jess--who is barely making ends meet--is in no position to turn it down, despite her skepticism about the project and her dislike for River. As the pair are dragged from one event to the next as the "Diamond Match" that could launch GeneticAlly's valuation sky-high, Jess begins to realize that there might be more to the scientist--and the science behind a soulmate--than she thought.

 

Funny, warm, and full of heart, The Soulmate Equation proves that the delicate balance between fate and choice can never be calculated

A DNA–based dating company matches a harried single mom with the company’s gruff founder—but can their real relationship measure up to their statistics?

Jessica Davis isn’t interested in dating. She’s a busy single mom who’s raising her beloved daughter, Juno, with her grandparents (who also raised Jess since her addict mother wasn’t exactly a reliable presence). Between her job in statistics, helping Juno with school projects, and bailing her mom out whenever she gets into trouble, Jess’ plate is full enough. But one day, when she and her romance-novelist BFF, Fizzy, are working at a coffee shop, they start up a conversation with a grumpy regular they refer to as Americano (based on his drink order). It turns out he’s Dr. River Peña, the founder of a new matchmaking company, GeneticAlly, that matches users based on their DNA. When Jess capitulates to Fizzy by giving the company a spit sample, she finds out she has 98% compatibility with River, a man she already can’t stand, and she’s not interested in exploring anything. But between losing a big client and giving her mom another loan, Jess needs money, and GeneticAlly offers to pay her to date him. As Jess begins to get to know the real River, she starts to wonder if the data might be right. Lauren, the author duo behind The Honey-Don’t List (2020) and countless other rom-coms, not only introduce a fascinating and unique premise, but flawlessly execute it with their trademark humor and charm. Jess is a believable and sympathetic heroine—it’s easy to see why she’s skeptical of GeneticAlly’s promises but still willing to give it a try. And although River starts out a bit unlikable, his irritable facade conceals hidden depths and passions. As their relationship proceeds, each encounter ratchets up the sexual tension and the emotional stakes, creating a love story that keeps the pages flying. Although the romance is stellar, some of the most enjoyable scenes in the book take place between the other people in Jess’ life: her precocious daughter, her hilarious and irreverent best friend, and her sweet, dependable grandparents. Readers won’t want to leave these characters or this world.

 

A sexy, science-filled, and surprising romance full of warmth and wit. - Sandy

Three O'Clock in the Morning

Three O'Clock in the Morning

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In a real dark night of the soul it is always three o'clock in the morning. - F. Scott Fitzgerald

A coming-of-age novel--a heady union of Before Sunrise and Beautiful Ruins--about a father and his teenage son who are forced to spend two sleepless nights exploring the city of Marseilles, a journey of unexpected adventure and profound discovery that helps them come to truly know each other.

Antonio is eighteen years old and on the cusp of adulthood. His father, a brilliant mathematician, hasn't played a large part in his life since divorcing Antonio's mother but when Antonio is diagnosed with epilepsy, they travel to Marseille to visit a doctor who may hold the hope for an effective treatment. It is there, in a foreign city, under strained circumstances, that they will get to know each other and connect for the first time.

A beautiful, gritty, and charming port city where French old-world charm meets modern bohemia, father and son stroll the streets sharing strained small talk. But as the hours pass and day gives way to night, the two find themselves caught in a series of caffeine-imbued adventures involving unexpected people (and unforeseen trysts) that connect father and son for the first time. As the two discuss poetry, family, sex, math, death, and dreams, their experience becomes a mesmerizing 48-hour microcosm of a lifetime relationship. Both learn much about illusions and regret, about talent and redemption, and, most of all, about love.

Elegant, warm, and tender, set against the vivid backdrop of 1980s Marseille and its beautiful calanques--a series of cliffs and bays on the city's outskirts--Three O'Clock in the Morning is a bewitching coming-of-age story imbued with nostalgia and a revelatory exploration of time and fate, youth and adulthood.

Translated from the Italian by Howard Curtis

A father and son explore Marseilles without sleep.

This is a novel of a specific time and place that makes you sorry and even a little melancholy to leave that time and place behind. The time is 1983. The place is the grimy but lovely French port city of Marseille. Here we find a father and his 18-year-old son, Antonio, passing, by doctor’s orders, two sleepless nights as they wait to see if Antonio’s epilepsy has subsided. Like many fathers and sons, they have left much unsaid over the years: regrets, recriminations, affections, secrets. In language plain and graceful, presented in a svelte translation from the Italian by Curtis, Carofiglio quietly lays their souls bare in allowing them to see each other as human beings for the first time. They walk through sketchy neighborhoods, they indulge in wine and coffee, they see some jazz, they swim in the sea, and they visit a bohemian party. Their primary task is simple: Don’t fall asleep. Instead they walk and they talk—about love, about mathematics (Dad’s speciality), about food, about philosophy, about life. Slowly, without fanfare, they reveal themselves. Here’s Antonio, near the end of their odyssey: “Two nights without sleep weaken you, slow down your reflexes, blur your vision, but they give you a very subtle, precise sense of what really matters.” That subtle precision informs every page, as does a deceptive simplicity laden with all that happens when you’re not paying attention. The novel takes place in a sort of eternal present, a time when all senses are awake. The title comes from a quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald: “In a real dark night of the soul it is always three o’clock in the morning.” Here those dark nights arrive with shimmering, unforced beauty, filling the pages with jagged moonlight like the finest neorealist film.

 

A journey by foot: crisp, lean, yet quietly mournful. - Sandy

Whereabouts

Whereabouts

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A marvelous new novel from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Lowland and Interpreter of Maladies--her first in nearly a decade.

 

*A Most Anticipated Novel of 2021 from Buzzfeed; O, The Oprah Magazine; TIME; Vulture; Vogue; LitHub; and Harper's Bazaar*

 

Exuberance and dread, attachment and estrangement: in this novel, Jhumpa Lahiri stretches her themes to the limit. Lahiri's narrator, a woman questioning her place in the world, wavers between stasis and movement, between the need to belong and the refusal to form lasting ties. The city she calls home acts as a companion and interlocutor: traversing the streets around her house, and in parks, piazzas, museums, stores, and coffee bars, she feels less alone.

 

We follow her to the pool she frequents, and to the train station that leads to her mother, who is mired in her own solitude after her husband's untimely death. Among those who appear on this woman's path are colleagues with whom she feels ill at ease, casual acquaintances, and "him," a shadow who both consoles and unsettles her. Until one day at the sea, both overwhelmed and replenished by the sun's vital heat, her perspective will abruptly change.

 

This is the first novel Lahiri has written in Italian and translated into English. The reader will find the qualities that make Lahiri's work so beloved: deep intelligence and feeling, richly textured physical and emotional landscapes, and a poetics of dislocation. But Whereabouts, brimming with the impulse to cross barriers, also signals a bold shift of style and sensibility. By grafting herself onto a new literary language, Lahiri has pushed herself to a new level of artistic achievement.

One Amazing Thing - May Skinny Books

One Amazing Thing

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An acclaimed novel by the author of The Mistress of Spices, and Before We Visit the Goddess. Jhumpa Lahiri praises: "One Amazing Thing collapses the walls dividing characters and cultures; what endures is a chorus of voices in one single room."

 

Late afternoon sun sneaks through the windows of a passport and visa office in an unnamed American city. Most customers and even most office workers have come and gone, but nine people remain. A punky teenager with an unexpected gift. An upper-class Caucasian couple whose relationship is disintegrating. A young Muslim-American man struggling with the fallout of 9/11. A graduate student haunted by a question about love. An African-American ex-soldier searching for redemption. A Chinese grandmother with a secret past. And two visa office workers on the verge of an adulterous affair.

 

When an earthquake rips through the afternoon lull, trapping these nine characters together, their focus first jolts to their collective struggle to survive. There's little food. The office begins to flood. Then, at a moment when the psychological and emotional stress seems nearly too much for them to bear, the young graduate student suggests that each tell a personal tale, "one amazing thing" from their lives, which they have never told anyone before. And as their surprising stories of romance, marriage, family, political upheaval, and self-discovery unfold against the urgency of their life-or-death circumstances, the novel proves the transcendent power of stories and the meaningfulness of human expression itself. From Chitra Divakaruni, author of such finely wrought, bestselling novels as Sister of My Heart, The Palace of Illusions, and The Mistress of Spices, comes her most compelling and transporting story to date. One Amazing Thing is a passionate creation about survival -- and about the reasons to survive.

This was the May Skinny Book selection and I was pushing it as far as ‘skinny’ goes, but I think once the group got the names straight, all were hooked.  The premise is a bit of a trope:  a group of strangers get stuck together for a length of time and share stories.  But the author did a fantastic job of building on that to a completely fresh take with completely fresh results: 9 people trying to procure visas to India are trapped when an earthquake rocks the building and seals them in the office. The situation is dire: a couple small injuries, no electricity, water slowly trickling in, only small snacks and a few water bottles. But to pass the time and avoid panic, they each agree to tell a story about one amazing thing.  Wow!  So the book becomes two threads you care about: what each character shares, and will they get out? - Carrie