Sure, I’ll Be Your Black Friend: Notes from the Other Side of the Fist Bump by Ben Phillippe  

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I loved Phillippe’s memoir and description of growing up in Canada and eventually moving the to US.  Biting humor and moving.

“Flat-out funny…This is a great next-book for fans of What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker and We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, but if a reader hasn’t turned to either of those yet, Philippe’s disarming, illuminating, and hilarious chronicle is a great place to start.” — Booklist

“I still mute Ben’s texts, but I inhaled his hilarious book, which is so full of razor-sharp wit and punches to the gut that it almost made me sick. In a good way!” — Samantha Irby, New York Times bestselling author of Wow, No Thank You

“Philippe has created a funny, and at times harrowing, memoir of his experience as a Black man. Fans of similar memoirs, such as Damon Young’s What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker, will enjoy the irreverence and recognize themselves in these pages.” — Library Journal

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House of Trelawney by Hannah Rothschild  

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For more than 700 years, the vast, rambling Trelawney Castle in Cornwall–turrets, follies, a room for every day of the year, four miles of corridors and 500,000 acres–was the magnificent and grand “three dimensional calling card” of the Earls of Trelawney. By 2008, it is in a complete state of ruin due to the dulled ambition and the financial ineptitude of the twenty-four earls, two world wars, the Wall Street crash, and inheritance taxes. (from the publisher) Four women dominate the story and discover what really keeps a family together.  An utterly delightful and refreshing read.

“Rothschild is a witty, stylish storyteller and her overall message feels timely.”—Lucy Atkins, The Sunday Times

“A real page turner . . . sparklingly acerbic social satire . . . . Funny and absorbing, House of Trelawney is the perfect antidote to a grey, Scottish winter’s day.”—John Badenhorst, The Courier & Advertiser

“Nothing is left out in this madcap . . .  novel, which parodies British aristocracy on one hand and the social-climbing world of new money on the other. There are odd, unlikely romances, a suicide, and babies born out of wedlock . . . Ms. Rothschild is an intelligent writer and an elegant prose stylist. The first female chair of the National Gallery, she describes her characters’ physical characteristics with the eye of someone who’s spent a lifetime looking carefully at paintings . . . Britain, that “sceptered isle,” is a shadow of its former self. But one thing the British haven’t lost is their sense of humor, and Ms. Rothschild provides a large dose of it in this quirky satire.” —Moira Hodgson, The Wall Street Journal

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The Maidens by Alex Michaelides

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The Maidens contains some of the key elements that drew readers to The Silent Patient, his first novel.   Greek mythology, therapy, and a psychologist are at the center of this murder mystery. I really liked this second novel even better than his first!

“Fans of The Secret History will fall hard for The Maidens, Michaelides’ dazzling chaser to 2019’s bestselling The Silent Patient, a challenging act to follow…Layered in dreamlike references to Greek mythology and ancient ritualized murders, this clever literary page-turner firmly establishes Michaelides as an unstoppable force in the thriller space.”―Esquire

“Stunning… The intelligent, cerebral plot finds contemporary parallels in Euripides’s tragedies, Jacobean dramas such as The Duchess of Malfi, and Tennyson’s poetry. The devastating ending shows just how little the troubled Mariana knows about the human psyche or herself. Michaelides is on a roll.”―Publishers Weekly, starred review

The Maidens contains some of the key elements that drew readers to The Silent Patient, his first novel.   Greek mythology, therapy, and a psychologist are at the center of this murder mystery. I really liked this second novel even better than his first!

“Fans of The Secret History will fall hard for The Maidens, Michaelides’ dazzling chaser to 2019’s bestselling The Silent Patient, a challenging act to follow…Layered in dreamlike references to Greek mythology and ancient ritualized murders, this clever literary page-turner firmly establishes Michaelides as an unstoppable force in the thriller space.”―Esquire

“Stunning… The intelligent, cerebral plot finds contemporary parallels in Euripides’s tragedies, Jacobean dramas such as The Duchess of Malfi, and Tennyson’s poetry. The devastating ending shows just how little the troubled Mariana knows about the human psyche or herself. Michaelides is on a roll.”―Publishers Weekly, starred review

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Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest by Suzanne Simard 

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“Simard writes of her own life, born and raised into a logging world in the rainforests of British Columbia, of her days as a child spent cataloging the trees from the forest and how she came to love and respect them—embarking on a journey of discovery, and struggle. She’s been compared to Rachel Carson, hailed as a scientist who conveys complex, technical ideas in a way that is dazzling and profound. Her TED talks have been viewed by more than 10 million people worldwide.” (Amazon)

“Galvanizing . . . As Simard elucidates her revolutionary experiments, replete with
gorgeous descriptions and moments of fear and wonder, a vision of the forest as an ‘intelligent, perceptive and responsive,’ comes into focus . . . A masterwork of planetary significance.” —Booklist (starred review)
 
“Simard artfully blends science with memoir in her eye-opening debut on the ‘startling secrets’ of trees . . As moving as it is educational, this groundbreaking work entrances.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Simard has spent decades with her hands in the soil, designing experiments and piecing together the remarkable mysteries of forest ecology . . . elegantly detailed . . . deeply personal . . . A testament to Simard’s skill as a science communicator. Her research is clearly defined, the steps of her experiments articulated, her astonishing results explained and the implications laid bare: We ignore the complexity of forests at our peril.”—The New York Times

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A Ghost in the Throat by Doireann Ní Ghríofa

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A contemporary Irish woman sets out to learn more about Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill, an 18th century female Irish poet, and her famous lament for her husband. In her reading and travels around Ireland, she finds connections between her own life as a poet and mother to this woman born hundreds of years earlier. This is an unusual book, and I loved the beautiful writing and pieces of Irish poetry and history.

“A powerful, bewitching blend of memoir and literary investigation … Ní Ghríofa is deeply attuned to the gaps, silences and mysteries in women’s lives, and the book reveals, perhaps above all else, how we absorb what we love―a child, a lover, a poem―and how it changes us from the inside out.”―Nina Maclaughlin, New York Times

 “A Ghost in the Throat moves between past and present with hallucinogenic intensity as the narrator uncovers the details of the dead woman’s life, each revelation deepening her own sense of herself as a writer and a woman and creating in the process a brave and beautiful work of art.”―Republic of Consciousness Prize

“A fascinating hybrid work in which the voices of two Irish female poets ring out across centuries. ‘When we first met, I was a child, and she had been dead for centuries,’ writes Ní Ghríofa in her first work of prose―and what a debut it is. Earning well-deserved accolades abroad, the book merges memoir, history, biography, autofiction, and literary analysis… Lyrical prose passages and moving introspection abound in this unique and beautiful book.”Kirkus (starred review)

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West with Giraffes by Lynda Rutledge

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From the publisher:  “Once in a great while, a book hits my desk that is so full of memorable characters and scenes that I can’t wait to see it publish! Such was the case with West with Giraffes, the historical novel based on the incredible true story of an unlikely pair transporting two giraffes across the country during the Depression. The author was inspired by the event, which she discovered while working on a nonfiction piece about the San Diego Zoo, and this book contains so many charming details, I felt like I was along for the ride.”

This book is pure joy – a rollicking cross-country adventure through young, 17 year old Woody Nickel’s eyes who is escaping his own harrowing loss and determined to survive no matter what. I loved every bump in their journey and celebrate the grace they experienced between man and wild animal. Excellent story-telling.

“[A] larger-than-life story about the power of both animal magnetism and human connection…witty, charming, and heartwarming.” —Booklist

“A perfect balance between history and fiction.” —POPSUGAR

West with Giraffes is truly a fun read…I [can’t] imagine a reading list that would not contain Lynda Rutledge’s astonishing novel.” —Old Naples News

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The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

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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 – Amazon.   (Reese’s book club selection)

“Dave pulls off something that feels both new and familiar: a novel of domestic suspense that unnerves, then reassures. This is the antithesis of the way novels like Gone Girl or My Lovely Wife are constructed; in The Last Thing He Told Me, the surface is ugly, the situation disturbing, but almost everyone involved is basically good underneath it all. Dave has given readers what many people crave right now—a thoroughly engrossing yet comforting distraction.” — BookPage

“Dave’s neat trick is to unveil revelations at a brisk clip that does not overwhelm character development. The novel’s richness comes from the way Hannah and Bailey realize they need each other in the face of staggering loss; the mutual trust that grows between them is genuinely moving. As both daughter and stepmother come to realize, “That’s how you fill in the blanks — with stories and memories from the people who love you.”  — The New York Times Book Review

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Tangled Up in Blue: Policing the American City by Rosa Brooks

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Rosa Brooks is a law professor at Georgetown University and founder of Georgetown’s Innovative Policing Program. From 2016 to 2020, she served as a reserve police officer with the Washington, DC, Metropolitan Police Department. This is a fascinating glimpse of what modern policing (and training) is like from the point of view of a liberal feminist

“Brooks has an anthropologist’s ear for the language of policing, jumping from the reports full of passive-voice bureaucratese to the darkly humorous, profanity-laden shoptalk. She zips from hilarious descriptions . . . to bone-dry observations. . . . [Brooks’s] style recalls the work of immersion journalists like George Plimpton, Ted Conover and Barbara Ehrenreich—who happens to be Brooks’s mother. Brooks makes this part of the story, nesting in a book on policing a beautifully written mini-memoir about growing up the daughter of a famous activist and writer, who disdains the police but also values a certain toughness.” —New York Times Book Review

“Delivers a nuanced and revealing chronicle of her experiences training to be a reserve police officer in Washington, D.C. . . . [Brooks] vividly sketches her patrol partners and the D.C. residents they encounter, and highlights problems caused by mass incarceration, racial discrimination, and lawmakers turning ‘trivial forms of misbehavior’ into jailable offenses. . . . This immersive, illuminating, and timely account takes a meaningful step toward bridging the gap between what American society asks of police and what they’re trained to deliver.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)

 “A thoughtful book that offers abundant material to rile up—and edify—Blue Lives Matter and Defund the Police advocates alike.” Kirkus

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Miss Benson’s Beetle: A Novel by Rachel Joyce    

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Rachel Joyce is the author of The Music Shop and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry among others.   I loved this story about female friendship – the audio version is fabulous!

“Joyce’s sparkling latest pops with grit, resilience, and the power of friendship. . . . Joyce’s graceful touch and cutting humor . . . give the characters a rich complexity and depth. With a plucky protagonist and plenty of action, this is a winner.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

 “Whatever you may look for in a novel—adventure, fully realized characters, humor, poignancy, a chance to learn something new—is all here in Miss Benson’s Beetle. What’s also here is the particular grace and humanity that Rachel Joyce brings to her work. She reminds us that we all are broken in one way or another, but that we are capable—oftentimes in unexpected ways—of helping to make ourselves and others whole. This beautifully written novel is an absolute delight.”—Elizabeth Berg, author of The Story of Arthur Truluv

“As ever, Rachel Joyce made me laugh out loud, then weep for the battered majesty of ordinary human beings. Two unlikely heroines, their strange love, a pitiful villain, and a life-affirming search for miraculous beauty . . . all combine in a wild, hopeful picaresque journey into the soul.”—Bel Mooney, Daily Mail

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The Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian

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Since I have a Salem witch relative, I was waiting anxiously for this book.  Not Salem this time  –  Mary Deerfield’s trial all takes place in Boston. This was a riveting read. I was on the edge of my seat, gripping drama but reader take note – ** absolutely, no-matter what, read all the way to the very last page.

Hour of the Witch is historical fiction at its best… Insightful and empathetic… Thick with details as chowder is with clams… handled with great skill and delicacy. The book is a thriller in structure, and a real page-turner, the ending both unexpected and satisfying.”—Diana Gabaldon, The Washington Post

“Classic Chris Bohjalian—moments of deep dread, extraordinary plot twists, and characters you love to root for paired with characters you love to hate.”
—Writer’s Digest

“Throughout Bohjalian’s prolific career, he has rewarded readers with indelibly drawn female protagonists, and the formidable yet vulnerable Mary Deerfield is a worthy addition to the canon. Conjuring up specters of #MeToo recriminations and social media shaming, there are twenty-first-century parallels to Bohjalian’s atmospheric Puritan milieu, and his trademark extensive research pays off in this authentic portrait of courage in the face of society’s worst impulses. Bohjalian is a perennial favorite, and this Salem Witch Hunt drama has a special magnetism.”—Booklist, starred review

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