A list of hot picks from owner Laura Cummings for the New Year!
DODGERS by Bill Beverly
Bill Beverly’s stunning debut is a dark, haunting, literary crime novel that is also a powerful coming-of-age narrative, and one that will be sure to appeal to fans of Richard Price or The Wire. Paperback Due: 1/3/17
THE GIRL IN GREEN by Derek B. Miller
This novel begins in 1991 at the end of Desert Storm. It ends 22 years later in another place and during another war. It a war story, a mystery and also a great fiction read. Due: 1/3/17
THE SLEEPWALKER by Chris Bohjalian
When Annalee Ahlberg goes missing, her children fear the worst. Annalee is a sleepwalker whose affliction manifests in ways both bizarre and devastating. Once, she merely destroyed the hydrangeas in front of her Vermont home. More terrifying was the night her older daughter, Lianna, pulled her back from the precipice of the Gale River bridge. The morning of Annalee’s disappearance, a search party combs the nearby woods. Annalee’s husband, Warren, flies home from a business trip. Lianna is questioned by a young, hazel-eyed detective. And her little sister, Paige, takes to swimming the Gale to look for clues. When the police discover a small swatch of fabric, a nightshirt, ripped and hanging from a tree branch, it seems certain Annalee is dead, but Gavin Rikert, the hazel-eyed detective, continues to call, continues to stop by the Ahlbergs’ Victorian home. As Lianna peels back the layers, she must ask herself: Why does the detective know so much about her mother? Why did Annalee leave her bed only when her father was away? And if she really died while sleepwalking, where was the body? Due: 1/10/17
THE MOST DANGEROUS PLACE ON EARTH by Lindsey Lee Johnson
In an edenic community of wealthy Bay Area families, Molly Nicholl, a replacement teacher from a poorer, scrubbier version of California arrives in the middle of the school year and soon becomes intrigued by the hidden lives of her privileged students. Unknown to her, a tragedy from middle school years continues to reverberate for “her” kids. These teens are all navigating a world in which every action may become public—postable, shareable, indelible, a world that Molly finds both alluring and dangerous. Due: 1/10/17
LUCKY BOY by Shanthi Sekaran
A heart-wrenching novel that gives voice to two mothers: a young undocumented Mexican woman and an Indian-American wife whose love for one lucky boy will bind their fates together. Due: 1/10/17
THE NOWHERE MAN : AN ORPHAN X NOVEL by Gregg Hurwitz
Spoken about only in whispers, it is said that when the Nowhere Man is reached by the truly desperate, he can and will do anything to save them. Evan Smoak is the Nowhere Man. Due: 1/17/17
LILLIAN BOXFISH TAKES A WALK by Kathleen Rooney
Set on New Year’s Eve, 1984, 85-year-old Lillian Boxfish walks the length of Manhattan and encounters a vibrant cross-section of fellow urbanites and recollects an eventful life. Due: 1/17/17
THE GIRL BEFORE by JP Delaney
A damaged young woman gets the unique opportunity to rent a one-of-a-kind house. When she falls in love with the sexy, enigmatic architect who designed it, she has no idea she is following in the footsteps of the girl who came before: the house’s former tenant. The eerie parallels in the two girls’ lives lay bare an enthralling story…and make this novel the must-read thriller of the season. Due: 1/24/17
RIGHT BEHIND YOU by Lisa Gardner
Is he a hero? Is he a killer? All she knows is that he’s back. For the first time in ten years, Gardner will check in on some of her best-selling characters, Pierce Quincy and Rainie Conner, as they become embroiled in an intense case that will capture fans old and new alike – a case tied far too closely to their new roles as adoptive parents to broken teen, Sharlah May. Due: 1/31/17
THE SILENCE OF THE SEA by Yrsa Sigurdardottir
In Silence of the Sea, the sixth installment in the Thóra Gudmundsdóttir series, a luxury yacht arrives in Reykjavik harbor with nobody on board. What has happened to the crew and the family who were on board when the yacht left Lisbon? An Icelandic thriller! Paperback Due: 1/31/17
4 3 2 1: A Novel by Paul Auster
Nearly two weeks early, on March 3, 1947, in the maternity ward of Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, Archibald Isaac Ferguson, the one and only child of Rose and Stanley Ferguson, is born. From that single beginning, Ferguson’s life will take four simultaneous and independent fictional paths. Four identical Fergusons made of the same DNA, four boys who are the same boy, go on to lead four parallel and entirely different lives. Due: 1/31/17
PACHINKO by Min Jin Lee
Pachinko is a new masterpiece from the bestselling author of Free Food for Millionaires, and is great for readers of The Kite Runner and Cutting for Stone. Sweeping in scope yet deeply personal, Pachinko follows one Korean family’s desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs across generations – from the 1910 Japanese annexation through the late 1980’s. As they experience great joy, dark yearning, victory and despair, this hugely satisfying novel explores the enduring questions of faith, family and identity. Due: 2/7/17
A DIVIDED SPY by Charles Cumming
Thomas Kell thought he was done with spying. A former MI6 officer, he devoted his life to the Service, but it has left him with nothing but grief and a simmering anger against the Kremlin. Then Kell is offered an unexpected chance at revenge. Taking the law into his own hands, he embarks on a mission to recruit a top Russian spy who is in possession of a terrifying secret. As the mission reaches boiling point, the threat of a catastrophic terrorist attack looms over Britain. Kell is faced with an impossible choice. Loyalty to MI6—or to his own conscience? Due: 2/14/17
LINCOLN IN THE BARDO by George Saunders
On February 22, 1862, two days after his death, Willie Lincoln was laid to rest in a marble crypt in a Georgetown cemetery. That very night, shattered by grief, Abraham Lincoln arrives at the cemetery under cover of darkness and visits the crypt, alone, to spend time with his son’s body. Due: 2/14/17
THE MOTHER’S PROMISE by Sally Hepworth
Alice and her daughter Zoe have been a family of two all their lives. Zoe has always struggled with crippling social anxiety and her mother has been her constant and fierce protector. With no family to speak of, and the identity of Zoe’s father shrouded in mystery, their team of two works – until it doesn’t. Due: 2/21/17
EDGAR AND LUCY by Victor Lodato
There’s his mother, Lucy, who, though she has moments where she loves him, mostly disappears at night with her various “suitors.” And then there’s his grandmother, Florence, who dotes on him to the point where she is at a loss when he isn’t around. When Florence suddenly dies, Lucy is thrown into the role of main caretaker and doesn’t know how to handle her new job. But as Edgar and Lucy adjust, they must also deal with Ron, a local butcher who wants to court Lucy, and Conrad, an unsettlingly attentive adult whose intentions are at one more sinister and more innocent than Edgar could ever know. Due: 3/7/17
NORSE MYTHOLOGY by Neil Gaiman
Introducing an instant classic—master storyteller Neil Gaiman presents a dazzling version of the great Norse myths. Neil Gaiman has long been inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction. Now he turns his attention back to the source, presenting a bravura rendition of the great northern tales. Due: 2/7/17
We have a great series of North Conway, NH book store events coming up and we keep adding on, so do check regularly! See when our book groups are meeting and what they’re reading and meet our many visiting authors – there really is something for everyone. And if you can’t make it to the event, just send us an email or give us a call and we can get a book signed for you – no problem!
We had so much fun with our Happy Hours in December that we are going to continue them each month in 2017!
The fourth Thursday of each month from 4-6pm we will have specials, munchies, beer, wine and specific help on finding that perfect book! PLUS 15% off the featured books of the night! Featured books of the night will be New Age, Health & Fitness, Self-Help and Spiritual.
– See more at: http://whitebirchbooks.com/#sthash.sb1BMcY0.dpuf
Author Afternoon with Annie Harnett
Thursday, March 16 at 5pm
Thursday Night Book Group – Thursday, March 23 at 7pm
Everybody’s Fool by Richard Russo
Happy Hour – Stop by for a relaxing, fun, late March afternoon at the bookstore!
Thursday, March 23rd – 4-6pm
Mystery Book Group – Thursday, April 13 at 7pm
An Unexpected Corpse, A White Mountain Mystery by Cathy Strasser
WILL’S RED COAT Book Launch Event
Tuesday, April 25, 7 p.m. at KHS Auditorium
Thursday Night Book Group – Thursday, April 27, 7 p.m.
The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom
The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte
One thing that we can count on when we head into a new year is year-end best of lists. For books, there are always the best-selling lists, the critic’s lists and, of course, the White Birch Books Local Top Ten list. Let’s dig right in!
Holding the top spot this year is The Finest Hours by Michael Tougias and Casey Sherman. Although not a local book per se, it was our community read selection this year. White Birch Books partnered with local libraries across the Valley to promote and discuss this book, ending with a grand finale event with the author that was attended by more than 150 people. The story of a near impossible Coast Guard rescue resonated with readers as they compared it to the amazing work our local rescuers do time and again. A great read AND a great movie!
A perennial favorite and annual chart topper, Following Atticus by Tom Ryan, sits up high again this year. For a book that was originally published five years ago, this is a pretty amazing feat. For those who do not know the book, it is the story of Tom, an unlikely hiker, and Atticus, a miniature schnauzer, and their attempt to climb all 48 of New Hampshire’s 4000-foot peaks twice in one winter while raising money for charity. We are very much looking forward to the continuing this story when Will’s Red Coat comes out in late April.
Our next author is always in the annual top ten, too. Lisa Gardner has the number three spot for 2016 with Find Her, a thriller where we enter the world of a young woman who was abducted and terrorized for 472 days. Gardner gives us an inside look at the FBI and the victim advocate’s role. This is a thriller in the truest sense. Gardner’s next book is Right Behind You. White Birch Books will once again collaborate with Horsefeathers for the debut book event. This year it is scheduled for Monday January 30, starting at 7 p.m. I suspect we will see Lisa Gardner on the list next year, too.
Desperate Steps: Life, Death, and Choices Made in the Mountains of the Northeast, written by Peter Kick, was also a late addition to last year’s list and kept the momentum to reach again this year. The book recounts 20 true tales of backcountry misadventure and misfortune, including incidents along the Appalachian Trail, and seeks the lessons to be learned. Weather is unpredictable and even the best laid plans go awry – sometimes, the best decision is to just read the book!
Other popular outdoor books, and basically staples of our local book section, are AMC’s Best Day Hikes in the White Mountains by Robert Buchsbaum and the White Mountain Guide by Steve Smith, also published by the Appalachian Mountain Club. Both books are must-haves for the region. Together they offer almost all of the hiking advice, trail descriptions and suggestions that any local or visitor might need to fully enjoy the area.
A newcomer to the list this year is Not Just A Recipe: Celebrating People, Places and Food by Pat Altomare. Pat was a guest of the Cold River Radio Show and made an appearance at the bookstore. Her cookbook is full of recipes from her family, as well as from her travels all over the world.
Another book on our list is Death at the Day Lily Cafe, set on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. We can’t even pretend that’s local, but it makes our list because the author, Wendy Sand Eckel, is related to one of our former employees. This is the second book in the series and features recipes as well as sleuthing and was given the thumbs up by our Mystery Book Club.
Two novels round out our local top ten list. The first is The Major’s Daughter by J.P. Francis (also known as N.H. author Joe Monninger). This novel is based on the true story of German prisoners of war held in Stark, N.H., during World War II. It’s a great bit of mostly unknown history and Joe has turned it into a wonderful little novel.
Breaking Wild by Diane LesBecquets takes the final spot. The book is set out west, but Diane is from New Hampshire. It tells the story of two women, one lost in the wilderness and the other working to find her. They are both complicated and strong – fantastic women characters who work and play in the great outdoors.
So that’s it!– the second annual White Birch Books Local Top Ten List for 2016. What will 2017 bring in the way of local favorites? Only time will tell!
Laura Cummings owns and operates White Birch Books, an independent full service bookstore serving the Mt. Washington Valley – and beyond – for 24 years and counting.
The Mystery Book Club meets at the store on the second Thursday of every month with Barb as the fearless leader. A small group, discussion books range from historical mysteries to contemporary thrillers. Books are usually picked a couple months in advance, but sometimes the group goes crazy and lines up books for several months. As with all of our groups, the Mystery Book Club is open to anyone interested and can be a great place to meet fellow readers. We’ve seen wonderful friendships form and grow while discussing murder and mayhem –as it should be!
Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths
Mortal Fall by Christine Carbo
OLLI – Best Books for the Holidays and Beyond by Laura Cummings – November
THE SLOW WALTZ OF TURTLES by Katherine Pancol
In this mega-bestseller from France and the follow-up to The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles, a woman contends with divorce, family trouble, and even murder in her journey to discover who she really is. As Joséphine struggles to find her voice and her confidence amidst a messy web of relationships and a string of murders, she and those around her must learn to push on with determination, like headstrong little turtles learning to dance slowly in a world that’s too violent and moving too fast. Paperback Due: 11/1/16
ORPHANS OF THE CARNIVAL by Carol Birch
London had the best freaks, always had. The Egyptian Hall, the Promenade of Wonders, the Siamese twins, pinheads, midgets, cannibals, giants, living skeletons, the fat, the hairy, the legless, the armless, the noseless, London had seen it all. In the Hall of Ugliness the competition was stiff. But no one had ever seen anything quite like Julia…. Pronounced by the most eminent physician of the day to be “a true hybrid wherein the nature of woman presides over that of the brute,” Julia Pastrana stood apart from the other carnival acts. Due: 11/8/16
SWING TIME by Zadie Smith
Dazzlingly energetic and deeply human, Swing Time is a story about friendship and music and stubborn roots, about how we are shaped by these things and how we can survive them. Moving from North-West London to West Africa, it is an exuberant dance to the music of time.
THE DEVIL IN THE VALLEY by Castle Freeman
By the author of the acclaimed novel Go With Me, which has now been adapted to a film, a modern reimagining of Doctor Faustus, set in Castle Freeman Jr.’s trademark depiction of rural Vermont. In his quiet Vermont home, a man named Taft sits and wonders what’s missing from his life. He’s at a loss until a strange voice startles him from the rocking chair, where a stranger has seemingly appeared out of nowhere: well-dressed and smooth-talking, this man offers Taft the chance to have anything he’s ever wanted—for a price. Due: 11/15/16
CONCLAVE by Robert Harris
Harris has done extraordinary research into the workings of the Vatican – Conclave is as narratively thrilling as any of Harris’s previous best-selling novels, but it also gives us an insider’s portrait of one of the most shrouded places on earth. Due: 11/22/16
I’LL TAKE YOU THERE by Wally Lamb
New York Times bestselling author Wally Lamb weaves an evocative, deeply affecting tapestry of one Baby Boomer’s life—Felix Funicello, introduced in Wishin’ and Hopin’—and the trio of unforgettable women who have changed it, in this radiant story of the American Century that is an homage to the resiliency, strength, and power of women. Due: 11/22/16
MOONGLOW by Michael Chabon
In 1989, fresh from the publication of his first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Michael Chabon traveled to his mother’s home in Oakland, California to visit his terminally ill grandfather. Tongue loosened by powerful painkillers, memory stirred by the imminence of death, Chabon’s grandfather shared recollections and told stories the younger man had never heard before, uncovering bits and pieces of a history long buried and forgotten. That dreamlike week of revelations forms the basis for the novel Moonglow. Due: 11/22/16
STORM CELL: A Lewis Cole Mystery by Brendan DuBois
Lewis Cole is back! In his tenth outing, retired intelligence analyst Lewis Cole faces his most daunting challenge yet: Trying to save his friend Felix Tinios from being sent to death row after a conviction on first degree murder—but Felix refuses to accept Lewis’ assistance. Due: 11/22/16
THE SPY by Paulo Coelho
Over the past twenty years, Germany, Holland, and MI5 in the UK have released their files on Mata Hari, and it provided Coelho with a trove of information as he was researching his novel. Using first-person narrative, Coelho reimagines Mata Hari’s life through her final letter, which was written the week before her execution. There, from prison, Mata Hari reveals the choices she made in pursuing her own truth–from her childhood in a small Dutch town, to her unhappy years as the wife of an alcoholic diplomat in Java, to her calculated and self-fashioned rise to celebrity in France. At her death by firing squad — as she stared down her executioners and refused to be blindfolded — Mata Hari famously said, “I am ready.” Coelho says of that moment, “her only crime was to be an independent woman.” Due: 11/22/16
VICTORIA by Daisy Goodwin
Early one morning, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria is roused from bed with the news that her uncle, William IV, has died and she is now Queen of England. The men who run the country have doubts about whether this tiny teenager can be the ruler of the greatest nation in the world. Her mother and her venal advisor, Sir John Conroy think that they will rule through her, and her uncle the villainous Duke of Cumberland thinks he would be a more suitable monarch than a hysterical young woman. The young Queen is no puppet. Despite have been kept in seclusion at Kensington Palace, she has very definite ideas about the kind of Queen she wants to be, and the first thing is to choose her name. Due: 11/22/16
THE WHOLE TOWN’S TALKING by Fannie Flagg
Elmwood Springs, Missouri, is a small town like any other, but something strange is happening out at the cemetery. “Still Meadows,” as it’s called, is anything but still. Original, profound, this novel in the tradition of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town and Flagg’s Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven, tells the story of Lordor Nordstrom, his Swedish mail-order bride Katrina, their neighbors and descendants, as they live, love, die, and carry on in mysterious and surprising ways. Flagg reminds us, in The Whole Town’s Talking, that community is vital, life is a gift, and love never dies. Due: 11/29/16
THE HIGH MOUNTAINS OF PORTUGAL by Yann Martel
In this allegorical novel—quixotic quest story, ghost story, and contemporary realism—all set in Portugal (in Lisbon and in the fictional High Mountains of Portugal)—in the 17th century, at the turn of the 20th century, mid-20th century, and today—Yann Martel presents us with three intersecting narratives that explore our relationship with faith. Harkens back to Life of Pi. Paperback Due: 11/29/16
A WRETCHED AND PRECARIOUS SITUATION: IN SEARCH OF THE LAST ARCTIC FRONTIER by David Welky
Based on a trove of unpublished letters, diaries, and field notes, A Wretched and Precarious Situation is a harrowing Arctic adventure unlike any other. What began as a 2 year expedition became a 5 year ordeal & disaster. Remarkable true story of adventure, betrayal and trial. Due: 11/1/16
RAY & JOAN: THE MAN WHO MADE THE MCDONALD’S FORTUNE AND THE WOMAN WHO GAVE IT ALL AWAY by Lisa Napoli
The dramatic relationship between Ray Kroc, the man who amassed a fortune as chairman of one of America’s most controversial and iconic companies–McDonald’s–and the passionate woman, his wife, Joan, who then gave that fortune away. Due: 11/15/16
A MATTER OF HONOR: PEARL HARBOR: BETRAYAL, BLAME, AND A FAMILY’S QUEST FOR JUSTICE by Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan
A gripping narrative about the downfall Admiral Kimmel, the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and his family’s 75 year fight to exonerate their father. The New York Times-bestselling authors have had unprecedented access to documents, interviewees, and other materials in their investigation, and the book is timed for the 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. Due: 11/15/16
OUR REVOLUTION: A FUTURE TO BELIEVE IN by Bernie Sanders
An inside account of Sanders’ extraordinary campaign—and a blueprint for future political action. In Our Revolution, Sanders shares his personal experiences from the campaign trail, recounting the details of his historic primary fight and the people who made it possible. And for the millions looking to continue the political revolution, he outlines a progressive economic, environmental, racial, and social justice agenda that will create jobs, raise wages, protect the environment, and provide health care for all—and ultimately transform our country and our world for the better. The campaign may be over, but the struggle goes on. Due: 11/15/16
THANK YOU FOR BEING LATE: AN OPTIMIST’S GUIDE TO THRIVING IN THE AGE OF ACCELERATIONS by Thomas L. Friedman
A BRIEF THEORY OF EVERYTHING. In this book, Friedman ties together all the major developments of the past ten years – from the rise of cloud computing to ISIS – and explains why they happened, and why they happened together. Due: 11/22/16
THE DAILY SHOW (THE BOOK): AN ORAL HISTORY AS TOLD BY JON STEWART, THE CORRESPONDENTS, STAFF AND GUESTS by Jon Stewart, Chris Smith
The complete, uncensored history of the award-winning The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, as told by its correspondents, writers, and host. Due: 11/22/16
BORN A CRIME: STORIES FROM A SOUTH AFRICAN CHILDHOOD by Trevor Noah
The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime story of a young man’s coming of age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed. Due: 11/15/16
THE PRINCESS DIARIST by Carrie Fisher
Carrie Fisher, the most idiosyncratic of Hollywood stars, again explores her life as the child of Tinseltown royalty, her adventures as Princess Leia, and her misadventures as Bi-Polar Woman of the Year—with another series of hilarious, jaw-dropping and interconnected autobiographical essays. Due: 11/22/16
Here is part of the list from Laura’s recent class she taught in Manchester. All of these books just hit the shelves in October. Stay tuned for the November list to be released soon!
TODAY WILL BE DIFFERENT By Maria Semple
Maria Semple has mined her own “deep crazy” to create another comic masterpiece. Her new novel takes place in a single day: Eleanor Flood wakes up with her life in full crisis, but is determined to somehow change her bad habits. She’s an unemployed graphic-novelist who has a sketchy marriage with a hand-surgeon, a son who fakes an illness to get out of school, and a deeply compartmentalized past that threatens to derail her life. Due: 10/4/16
THE RAIN IN PORTUGAL Poems by Billy Collins
Billy Collins’s first new book in three years contains more than forty new poems that showcase the generosity, playfulness, and wisdom that have made him one of our most widely read poets. Due: 10/4/16
THE MOTHERS by Brit Bennett
In entrancing, lyrical prose, The Mothers asks whether a “what if” can be more powerful than an experience itself. If, as time passes, we must always live in servitude to the decisions of our younger selves, to the communities that have parented us, and to the decisions we make that shape our lives forever. Due: 10/11/16
HAG-SEED by Margaret Atwood
Felix is at the top of his game as Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival. His productions have amazed and confounded. Now he’s staging a Tempest like no other: not only will it boost his reputation, it will heal emotional wounds. Or that was the plan. Instead, after an act of unforeseen treachery, Felix is living in exile in a backwoods hovel, haunted by memories of his beloved lost daughter, Miranda. And also brewing revenge. Due: 10/11/16
MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON by Elizabeth Strout
Lucy Barton, a writer, married with two young children, is in the hospital in New York City due to an infection from a simple appendix operation. Her mother, whom she hasn’t seen in years, comes from Amgash, Illinois, to visit her, and sits by her bedside, reminiscing about people she and Lucy know from Lucy’s childhood, before Lucy went off to college and never returned. The power from this extraordinary book is what remains unsaid between the lines of their gentle gossip, and what Lucy fills in for the reader about her troubled family, shamed by poverty, and how Lucy came to be a writer. Paperback Due: 10/11/16
THE OTHER EINSTEIN by Marie Benedict
A vivid and mesmerizing novel about the extraordinary woman who married and worked with one of the greatest scientists in history. What secrets may have lurked in the shadows of Albert Einstein’s fame? His first wife, Mileva “Mitza” Mari, was more than the devoted mother of their three children—she was also a brilliant physicist in her own right, and her contributions to the special theory of relativity have been hotly debated for more than a century. Due: 10/18/16
PARIS FOR ONE AND OTHER STORIES by Jojo Moyes
From the sensational #1 New York Times bestselling author Jojo Moyes, the perfect gift hardcover, timed for Christmas—a novella and short story collection never published before in the U.S. Due: 10/18/16
A DOUBTER’S ALMANAC by Ethan Canin
A spellbinding novel about one man’s search for the truth about his mysterious, famous, genius, eccentric father—and about a father and son learning to understand each other in order to understand their own selves. Paperback Due: 10/25/16
PRETTY PAPER by Willie Nelson
Willie Nelson, country music’s quintessential musician, displays all the wit and warmth of his homespun style of storytelling in an inspiring holiday novel based on his classic Christmas song, “Pretty Paper.” Due: 10/25/16
THE TERRANAUTS by T.C. Boyle
A hilarious, incisive deep-dive into human behavior through the eyes of eight young Terranauts, four men and four women voluntarily sealed inside a glass enclosure designed to serve as a prototype for a possible off-earth colony, who become entangled in much more than the game of survival. Due: 10/25/16
COCKROACHES by Scholastique Mukasonga
Imagine being born into a world where everything about you—the shape of your nose, the look of your hair, the place of your birth—designates you as an undesirable, an inferior, a menace, no better than a cockroach, something to be driven away and ultimately exterminated. Imagine being thousands of miles away while your family and friends are brutally and methodically slaughtered. Imagine being entrusted by your parents with the mission of leaving everything you know and finding some way to survive, in the name of your family and your people. Cockroaches is the story of growing up a Tutsi in Hutu-dominated Rwanda. Due: 10/25/16
THE GUEST ROOM by Chris Bohjalian
When Kristin Chapman agrees to let her husband, Richard, host his brother’s bachelor party, she expects a certain amount of debauchery. What she does not expect is the entertainment stabbing and killing their Russian bodyguards before driving off into the night. In the aftermath, Kristin and Richard’s life rapidly spirals into nightmare. The police throw them out of their home, now a crime scene; Richard’s investment banking firm puts him on indefinite leave; and Kristin is unsure if she can forgive her husband for the moment he shared with a dark-haired girl in the guest room. Paperback Due: 10/25/16
BOLSHOI CONFIDENTIAL: SECRETS OF THE RUSSIAN BALLET FROM THE RULE OF THE TSARS TO TODAY by Simon Morrison
On a freezing night in January 2013, a hooded assailant hurled acid in the face of the artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet. The crime, organized by a lead soloist, dragged one of Russia’s most illustrious institutions into scandal. The Bolshoi Theater had been a crown jewel during the reign of the tsars and an emblem of Soviet power throughout the twentieth century. Under Putin in the twenty-first century, it has been called on to preserve a priceless artistic legacy and mirror Russia’s neo-imperial ambitions. The attack and its torrid aftermath underscored the importance of the Bolshoi to the art of ballet, to Russia, and to the world. Due: 10/11/16
THE AFRICAN SVELTE: INGENIOUS MISSPELLINGS THAT MAKE SURPRISING SENSE by Daniel Menaker, Roz Chast, Billy Collins
Inspired by his tenure at The New Yorker, this collection of comical, revelatory errors foraged from the wilds of everyday English comes with commentary by the author, illustrations by Roz Chast, and a foreword from Billy Collins. Due: 10/18/16
CITY OF DREAMS: THE 400-YEAR EPIC HISTORY OF IMMIGRANT NEW YORK by Tyler Anbinder
A book about the history of NYC and the history of the people who have come to call it home for 4 centuries. City of Dreams provides a vivid sense of what New York looked like, sounded like, smelled like, and felt like over the centuries of its development and maturation into the city we know today. Due: 10/18/16
LIGHTS OUT: A CYBERATTACK, A NATION UNPREPARED, SURVIVING THE AFTERMATH by Ted Koppel
The fact is, one well-placed attack on the electrical grid could lastingly cripple much of our infrastructure. Several nation states hostile to the United States could do it, and the ranks of criminal and terrorist organizations approaching the capability are growing. Ted Koppel convincingly argues that it is not a question of if such an attack occurs, but when. The hardcover has been a very good seller! Paperback Due: 10/18/16
OF ARMS AND ARTISTS: THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION THROUGH PAINTERS’ EYES by Paul Staiti
A vibrant and original perspective on the American Revolution through the stories of the five great artists whose paintings animated the new American republic. The images accompanying the founding of the United States—of honored Founders, dramatic battle scenes, and seminal moments—gave visual shape to Revolutionary events and symbolized an entirely new concept of leadership and government. Since then they have endured as indispensable icons, serving as historical documents and timeless reminders of the nation’s unprecedented beginnings. Due: 10/18/16
THOMAS JEFFERSON AND THE TRIPOLI PIRATES: THE FORGOTTEN WAR THAT CHANGED AMERICAN HISTORY by Brian Kilmeade, Don Yaeger
When Thomas Jefferson became president in 1801, America was deeply in debt and needed its economy to grow quickly, but its merchant ships were under attack. Pirates from North Africa routinely captured American sailors and held them as slaves, demanding ransom and tribute far beyond what the new country could afford. Jefferson found it impossible to negotiate with the leaders of the Barbary states, who believed their religion justified the plunder and enslavement of non-Muslims. These rogue states would show no mercy, so President Jefferson decided to move beyond diplomacy. He sent the U.S. Navy’s new warships and a detachment of Marines to blockade Tripoli—launching the Barbary Wars and beginning America’s journey toward future superpower status. Paperback Due: 10/18/16
THE EARTH IS WEEPING: THE EPIC STORY OF THE INDIAN WARS FOR THE AMERICAN WEST by Peter Cozzens
Bringing together a pageant of fascinating characters including Custer, Sherman, Grant, and a host of other military and political figures, as well as great native leaders such as Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, Geronimo, and Red Cloud, The Earth is Weeping—lauded by Booklist as “a beautifully written work of understanding and compassion”—is the fullest account to date of how the West was won…and lost. Due: 10/25/16
PACIFIC: SILICON CHIPS AND SURFBOARDS, CORAL REEFS AND ATOM BOMBS, BRUTAL DICTATORS AND FADING EMPIRES by Simon Winchester
Winchester tackles this “oceanic behemoth of eye-watering complexity” by focusing on key moments since 1950 that speak to the greater trends and larger truths about the ocean’s significance to us today. Calling upon his many journeys throughout the Pacific and its surrounding areas, his formidable historical understanding, and his singular talent for storytelling, Pacific is a paean to this magnificent sea of beauty and myth that has long captured the imagination. Due: 10/25/16
CUSTER’S TRIALS: A LIFE ON THE FRONTIER OF A NEW AMERICA by T.J. Stiles
In this magisterial biography, T. J. Stiles paints a portrait of Custer both deeply personal and sweeping in scope, proving how much of Custer’s legacy has been ignored. He demolishes Custer’s historical caricature, revealing a capable yet insecure man, intelligent yet bigoted, passionate yet self-destructive, a romantic individualist at odds with the institution of the military (court-martialed twice in six years) and the new corporate economy, a wartime emancipator who rejected racial equality. Paperback Due: 10/25/16
APPETITES: A COOKBOOK by Anthony Bourdain
Written with the no-holds-barred, no-bullshit-allowed ethos of his beloved series, No Reservations and Parts Unknown, the celebrity chef and culinary explorer’s first cookbook in more than ten years—a collection of recipes for the home cook. Due: 10/25/16
FREEDOM FOUND: MY LIFE STORY by Warren Miller
Warren Miller is known as skiing’s greatest storyteller and as the godfather of action-sports filmmaking. Now, here at last, is the rest of his extraordinary life story—and what happened behind the camera is even more remarkable than what you saw on the big screen. Due: 9/1/16
FORTY AUTUMNS: A FAMILY’S STORY OF COURAGE AND SURVIVAL ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BERLIN WALL by Nina Willner
A powerful story of five women in one family and how they were divided by the Iron Curtain during the Cold War. It’s a tale of courage, risks, survival, defiance, strength, and above all else, family. There’s a wealth of photos. 25th anniversary of the wall coming down is next year. Due: 10/4/16
UPSTREAM: SELECTED ESSAYS by Mary Oliver
“In the beginning I was so young and such a stranger to myself I hardly existed. I had to go out into the world and see it and hear it and react to it, before I knew at all who I was, what I was, what I wanted to be.” So begins Upstream, a collection of essays in which beloved poet Mary Oliver reflects on her willingness, as a young child and as an adult, to lose herself within the beauty and mysteries of both the natural world and the world of literature. Due: 10/11/16
NOT DEAD YET: THE MEMOIR by Phil Collins
In this memoir, Collins reveals the heart and soul of what drives him as a performer and a dynamically creative individual; from his ill-fated near-big break as a session percussionist on George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass through the rise of Genesis and his emergence as the band’s leader to the height of his fame as a solo artist. Due: 10/25/16
THE ROAD TO LITTLE DRIBBLING: ADVENTURES OF AN AMERICAN IN BRITAIN by Bill Bryson
In 1995, beloved writer Bill Bryson got into his car and took a weeks-long motoring trip about England-Notes from a Small Island. Two decades later-The Road to Little Dribbling. In these pages, Bryson follows the longest straight line that is possible on the island-from Bognor Regis to Cape Wrath-and shows us, as only he can, every pub, tiny town, castle, and foible along the way. Due: 10/25/16
Today on Books in Review I have a fun young adult read that made me laugh out loud, Louise Penny’s 12th book in the Gamache series and we’ll take a look at The Muse by Jessie Burton
The Prom Goer’s Interstellar Excursion by Chris McCoy starts with Bennett pulling off the impossible – he has managed to ask his dream girl, Sophie, to go to the prom with him, and she actually said yes! Literally moments later, she is abducted by aliens in the middle of the New Mexico desert. Yes, it’s that kind of book! Faced with a dateless prom and the possibility of being arrested for kidnapping or worse, Bennett’s sole choice is to hop a ride into outer space with a band of extraterrestrial musicians – and so begins the attempt to bring Sophie back. I realize that you are probably shaking your head, but this book was so much fun. It’s a coming of age story with teenage angst and young love, surrounded by an extraterrestrial reality show, alien concert venues and outlandish egos. Does he get the girl? You’ll have to read The Prom Goer’s Interstellar Excursion to find out!
A Great Reckoning, the 12th book in the Gamache series, has just come out and it is wonderful. If you haven’t read Louise Penny yet, please do. Although her books are categorized as mysteries, they are really so much more. She has developed, over the course of the 12 books, a cast of characters that are so well drawn they feel entirely real. Three Pines, once the destination for many of Chief Inspector Gamache’s investigations, is now his home. His retirement has not lasted long, though, and he takes charge of the Surete Academy, convinced that he has to stop the evil of the police department right at its source. He is not very popular there, to put it mildly. Years of corruption and violence have produced cadets more willing to take advantage of the population than to protect them. When a teacher is killed at the academy, the fingers point at four cadets, another teacher and Gamache himself. Read A Great Reckoning and then join us in waiting not-so-patiently for book 13!
The Muse by Jessie Burton starts out in 1967 England. Odelle is a Caribbean émigré trying to make her way in London. When she lands a job at the prestigious Skelton Art Gallery, things are looking up. There, she discovers a painting rumored to be the work of Isaac Robles, a young artist of immense talent whose mysterious death has confounded the art world for decades. Flashback to Spain 1936 where Olive Schloss, daughter of a Viennese Jewish art dealer and an English heiress, follows her parents to a small village on the Spanish coast. There she grows close to Isaac and Teresa, brother and sister who help on the estate. When she enlists their help to showcase her artistic talents while hiding her identity, things are put in motion that reverberate through the decades. Although only 30 years separate the two stories, it felt like a lifetime. Full of art, history and rich locations, The Muse will fill up your senses and stay with you for some time.
Our monthly feature, “White Birch Book Corner” brings shop owner Laura Cummings on set to discuss great new books, fun gift ideas & seasonal favorites, new and old.
Today on Books in Review I have to tell you about a new middle grade novel called “The Wild Robot” by Peter Brown.
This is Brown’s debut novel, after such picture books as Children Make Terrible Pets and My Teacher is a Monster (No, I am Not), and what he did for picture books, he does equally well for middle grade readers. Roz is a robot and she has washed up on the shore of a remote island with no idea how she got there, why she is alone or how she will survive. The animal inhabitants think she is a monster and run from her. But through patience, observation and a lot of trial and error, Roz learns how to survive. But it is not until she takes in an orphaned gosling that she finally becomes part of the island. I loved everything about this book – it’s about robots, it’s a survival story, and it even has battles and bear fights, but it’s also about teamwork and family.
The Wild Robot would make a great family read aloud, as there is lots to discuss. Or just read it because it is a great story.
Today on Books in Review I have a new young adult novel that is truly a must read for all ages.
“Girl in the Blue Coat” by Monica Hesse is set in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam, and focuses on Hanneke – a girl whose life has been upended by the war. Forced by the war to grow up, she cares for her family by delivering black market goods to rich clients around the city. She has her ways for dealing with the Nazis, and it’s basically by avoiding them at all costs and enduring their presence. That is, until she is asked to find a missing girl – a missing Jewish girl. It is through this task that she meets members of the underground student’s organization working to save Jewish children and to help people get into hiding. Her eyes are opened to the deportations and the ill-treatment of the Jewish population. Now the horrors that she has previously ignored are all too obvious and she can no longer remain inactive in the face of obvious evil.
Well-researched and thoroughly engrossing, Girl in the Blue Coat brings us back to the Amsterdam we first met through Anne Frank.