Staff Picks

Cartier's Hope

Summary: 
In this new historical novel set in New York City in the year 1910, the main character is a young woman named Vera Garland, whose father established an elegant department store near Fifth Avenue. Vera comes from a very wealthy family, but she insists on working as an under-cover journalist of modest means. When the story opens Vera has just lost her father, and she suspects his demise was due both to blackmail and a broken heart. She vows to avenge her beloved father's death. Woven throughout the story are other characters, such as the well-known jeweler Pierre Cartier and his assistant, the mysterious Russian Jewish man named Jacob Asher, as well as the famous Hope Diamond itself. With lively interactions and complex relationships, this novel is a riveting page-turner you will not be able to put down.

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The Confession Club

Summary: 
The prolific Elizabeth Berg has written a new novel, the third in a series featuring the people of the sleepy little town of Mason, Missouri. Recurring characters from the previous books include a group of women who meet on a monthly basis in each other's homes, to share food, laughter, and secrets they have never dared tell another soul. There is also Iris, who befriends a homeless man, Maddy and her five year old daughter Nola, and Monica, who runs the popular local diner. At once touching and funny, with lively conversations, this is Elizabeth Berg at her best.

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Gods of Jade and Shadow

Summary: 
This novel tells the story of a young woman named Casiopea from Yucatan, Mexico in the 1930's, who lives with her extended family in the house of her wealthy grandfather, but is confined to doing housework while she dreams of a life of freedom. Then one day she finds the key to the wooden chest in her grandfather's room which she opens, magically releasing the soul of Hun-Kame the deposed Lord of the Underworld, who has been locked in the chest for over five decades. Casiopea and the god Hun-Kame then travel together on a journey across Mexico, trying to locate the missing elements which will allow the god to regain his place on the throne of Xibalba, the Mayan underworld. Weaving together pre-Columbian mythology with her own vivid imagination, the author tells an absorbing tale of the rivalry between two twin brothers and a young woman's quest for adventure and self-realization.

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The Book of Joy

Summary: 
In April 2015 these two Nobel Peace Prize Laureates spent a week at the Dalai Lama's home in Dharamsala, India, to celebrate his eightieth birthday. The most pressing theme of their dialogue was how to find joy in the face of life's inevitable suffering. Through stories, tears and laughter, these two venerable souls share their wisdom and knowledge about such topics as the importance of gratitude, forgiveness and compassion. This is a marvelous little jewel of a book that illuminates the basic teachings of Tibetan Buddhism and Western Christianity in a simple and down-to-earth language.

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The Improbability of Love

Summary: 
A high-spirited romp through the London art world, this novel shines a light on big money, high fashion, culinary arts, etc. through an appealing wannabe chef who happens to purchase an old master in a junk shop. Frothy and fun with a page-turner plot, a self-explaining painting, and a soupçon of romance.

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The Secrets We Kept

Summary: 
This double narrative sets forth the struggle to get _Doctor Zhivago_ published, the toll it takes on Pasternak and his muse, and the machinations through which the CIA weaponizes the novel in the Cold War. The secret keepers are all women, in the East and the West, and their lives are forever altered.

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Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? Big Questions from Tiny Mortals About Death

Summary: 
Hilariously written and immensely fascinating! If you have any interest in how death works (and how it doesn't) this is a great read. Written in a Q&A style for each chapter, Doughty breaks down some of the more interesting and unusual questions many of us have about death, decomposition, cremation, and funerals. Did you know it's illegal to have your pet buried with you? Or that there are different methods of dealing with an astronaut's body if they die in space? Neither did I! I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to expand their knowledge on something that we all go through but rarely discuss.

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The Topeka School

Summary: 
This semi-autobiographical novel encompasses the family stories of a psychologist couple and their son Adam, gifted debater/public speaker high school student and their circle of friends. The overheated atmosphere of senior year, being liberals in a conservative place, relationships that cross boundaries, idealistic beliefs that are inconsistently practiced, produces a combustion similar to the tornado pictured on the front cover, and a portrait of coming-of-age in the 90s. Brilliant.

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A Woman is No Man

Summary: 
Three generations of Palestinian women, two immigrants and the first generation daughter- granddaughter, wrestle with their duties as Arab women and the desire for selfhood that conflicts with the culture. In this poignant novel, tragedy haunts each of them in their struggle to survive, and they fear passing on a tortured existence to the next generation because other ways are unknown. A brilliant page-turner.

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A Single Thread

Summary: 
NY Times bestselling writer (author of "Girl with a Pearl Earring") has written a new novel. Set in the town of Winchester, England in 1932, it tells the story of a thirty-eight-year-old woman, Violet Speedwell. Having lost her fiance during the first world war, she is now considered a "spinster" by the current social mores. She works for an insurance company as a typist and then learns to create needlepoint designs for kneelers and cushions to be used in the grand Winchester Cathedral. Violet befriends two women who also do needlepoint, as well as an older married man in his sixties who introduces her to the art of ringing the bells at the cathedral. The narrative unfolds at a fast clip and includes a very surprising and heartfelt ending. It is a very engaging read.

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