Tuesday, December 27, 2022
Tuesday, December 20, 2022
Reprinted from auburnpub.com
It’s the time of year for the Most Compelling Books of 2022. These are books that I still think about even months after I finished reading them, books with unforgettable characters and writing that takes my breath away.
Barbara Kingsolver is a writer whose works I never miss, and her new novel, Demon Copperhead is her best one yet. She takes on a classic- Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield- and sets her story about an orphan boy in Appalachia, as she tackles the topics of addiction, poverty, the foster care system, and the beginnings of the opioid crisis. I am not the only reviewer to pick this as the best book of the year.
I read a great deal of historical fiction, and Adriana Trigiani’s moving epic about the importance of family stories The Good Left Undone, takes the reader from WWII Italy, France, and Scotland as Matelda, the matriarch of the Cabrelli family, shares her mother’s long-lost love story with her children and granddaughter so that it will not be forgotten. Every detail here is perfect.
Anthony Marra’s Mercury Pictures Presents is also an epic about a young Italian woman who flees WWII to Los Angeles where she ends up working in the motion picture industry. Marra’s characters are so well-drawn they feel real, and his story is engrossing.
Melissa Fu’s Peach Blossom Spring is set in 1930s China as Japan’s aggression forces Meilin and her young son to flee their home. They become separated from their family and Meilin does anything she has to in order to keep her son safe. When he grows up, he moves to the United States but Meilin stays behind. It’s a powerful story of a mother’s sacrifice for her son.
John Searles’ superb suspense novel, Her Last Affair is set at an abandoned drive-in theater as a blind widow rents out a cabin to a mysterious man, and a married woman reconnects on Facebook with a high school boyfriend. How Sayles cleverly connects these three characters at the end had me gasping.
Another book that connects its characters in a clever manner is Fiona Mozely’s brilliant Hot Stew about a group of people who are affected when a developer decides to sell a building in Soho in London to put up luxury condos. The tenants, including two women who run a brothel there, band together to defeat his plan.
Matt Cain’s charming The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle is the feel-good book of the year. Albert is a lonely postman facing retirement in a small English town. He decides to confide in his coworkers about his life and makes a friend in a young single mom on his route. This beautiful story restores your faith in humanity.
Jennifer Close’s Marrying the Ketchups is a wonderful story about a family who owns an Irish family restaurant in a Chicago suburb. When the patriarch passes away suddenly, there is a void and a decision about who should run the restaurant- the cousin who has been doing most of the work or the daughter who returns home from New York? I love a good Irish family story and throw in a family business and I’m in.
Another foodie-novel I liked is Natalie Caña’s romance A Proposal They Can’t Refuse about two grandfathers who play matchmaker with their grandchildren- Kamilah, who is trying to save her family’s Puerto Rican restaurant, and Liam, who runs his family’s brewery next door. I love the combination of food, family businesses, and hot romance in this enemies-to-lovers novel.
I read two nonfiction books that are outstanding. Laura L. Engel’s heartbreaking You’ll Forget This Ever Happened is a memoir about her experience after becoming pregnant in high school in the 1960s. She was sent to a home for unwed mothers where she was forced to give up her baby and it scarred her for life. It’s a searing book.
Vanity Fair writer Marie Brenner was given unprecedented access as she wrote The Desperate Hours about the beginnings of the COVID pandemic in New York City as seen through the eyes of doctors, nurses, administrators, and patients on the front lines at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. It’s a harrowing story well-told.
Three books I read in 2022 to look for in 2023- Amy Poeppels’ charming The Sweet Spot, Lauren Willig’s fantastic historical novel, Two Wars And A Wedding,
and Mary Beth Keane’s amazing novel The Half Moon.
I wish you all a very happy holiday season.
Sunday, December 18, 2022
Friday, December 16, 2022
Friday, December 9, 2022
|The town has a pizzeria among its eateries|
|The best book sellers in the business!|
4) When we travel I like to pick up an ornament for our Christmas tree, and this year we have two new additions. We visited Edinburgh, Scotland and picked up a Royal Yacht Britannia ornament from the decommissioned royal yacht when we toured it. If you watched season five of The Crown on Netflix, you'll know what I'm talking about.When we visited our younger son in Boston, we toured the JFK Library and I picked one up there as well.
Thursday, December 8, 2022
Monday, December 5, 2022
Monday, November 21, 2022
It looks like the holiday shopping season is in full gear already, so it’s time for our annual Books Are Great Gifts Guide. Books make great gifts because they are never the wrong size or color and they’re easy to wrap. And if you’ve been invited to Thanksgiving dinner this year, why not bring a book as a host gift instead of the usual flowers or wine?
In Nonfiction: For your father-in-law who wakes up to CNBC everyday, When McKinsey Comes to Town by Walt Bogdanich and Michael Forsythe about how the consulting company has become the major player in the world (for good and bad) is a good choice.
Your uncle the history buff would enjoy Stacy Schiff’s new biography The Revolutionary- Samuel Adams that takes a fresh look at an historical figure. Jon Meacham’s And There Was Light is his latest book about Abraham Lincoln.
For your aunt the movie buff, give her the Paul Newman memoir The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man.
The sister who listens to True Crime podcasts will want to read Kathryn Miles’ Trailed about the murder of two female hikers in the Shenandoah National Park, and the journalist who tries to find the killer.
Sharon Gless’ memoir Apparently There Were Complaints is for someone who read Matthew Perry’s recent memoir Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing. Both share their stories of Hollywood and addiction that almost destroyed them.
Baseball is over, but if your son can’t wait until pitchers and catchers report in February, give him three-time Major League Baseball Manager of the Year’s Joe Maddon's memoir (written with Tom Verducci) The Book of Joe.
Your nephew the musician will appreciate Bono’s memoir Surrender- Forty Songs, One Story. For your best friend who just turned fifty and could use a good laugh, Laurie Notaro’s Excuse Me While I Disappear is just the ticket.
For the cook on your gift list, it’s that time of year for Ina Garten’s new cookbook, Go-To Dinners filled with recipes she made during pandemic. The baker in the family would appreciate a copy of The King Arthur Baking School, and maybe you’ll get some delicious treats as a thank you.
In Fiction: Historical Fiction is a perennial favorite and Susan Elia MacNeal’s WWII story Mother Daughter Traitor Spy about a mother and daughter team who spy on the growing Nazi movement in Los Angeles is for fans of Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale.
Allison Pataki’s The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post fictionalizes the life of a woman of major accomplishments whom most of us don’t know about but should, and your mom would love it.
For your sister-in-law who enjoys watching all the Hallmark Christmas movies starting the day after Halloween, Susan Mallery’s Home Sweet Christmas takes readers back to the holiday-loving town of Wishing Tree for romance and holiday atmosphere.
Romance fans have been patiently waiting for Lyssa Kay Adams newest in her Bromance series and it’s holiday-themed- A Very Merry Bromance; your best friend would love it.
For the Mystery reader, Patricia Crisafulli’s The Secrets of Ohnita Harbor has a librarian sleuth, a missing historical icon from an Italian saint, and a setting that stands in for Oswego- what more could you want?
Deanna Raybourn’s Killers of a Certain Age has movie written all over it. It’s about four 60-something female assassins who upon retirement find themselves targeted for assassination. It’s fast-paced and clever.
Books are wonderful to put in children’s stockings, and if you have a wee one, Mo Willems’ Pigeon Will Ride The Roller Coaster is a good one. Beginning chapter book readers love Nick Bruel’s funny Bad Kitty series.
The A to Z Mysteries series by Ron Roy is popular with chapter book readers, and for fans of the popular Netflix series, The School of Good and Evil, the books by Sonan Chainani would make great stocking stuffers.
Rick Riordan’s newest series, The Trials of Apollo is filled with action and mythology.
You can support your local bookstore by purchasing books from them in person, online, or through Bookshop.org, which has raised over $23 million for independent bookstores. If you buy any book of your choosing at my Bookshop page, (use the search bar to find any book) my 10% commission goes to The Book Cellar, a used bookstore run by volunteers and whose proceeds benefit branch libraries of the New York Public Library. Happy Thanksgiving to all!