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Bloomsbury Picks for October



Kazuo Ishiguro
This beautiful, haunting novel is a departure from Ishiguro’s usual fare. A combination of fantasy and myth, this compelling tale, which takes place right after the reign of King Arthur, is complete with knights and dragons. A strong theme throughout the book is of fading memories, perhaps hidden or taken by the mists that surround the countryside. Struggling behind a thin veil of confusion, an elderly couple, Axl and Beatrice, leave their village and set out on a journey to find their son who they can barely remember. Their deep love for each other proves to be tender and moving, as their adventure unfolds. So gently and alluringly written, even if you are not a lover of legends, this book may win your heart. –review by Anita

riseandfallofadamandeveRISE AND FALL OF ADAM AND EVE
Stephen Greenblatt
The two sparse Old Testament Genesis texts of the Adam and Eve creation story are perhaps the most consequential of their type in the Western world. Much of Western peoples’ relation to their physical world, the nature of Good and Evil, as well as the relationship between men and women have all been teased out from this surce material. It’s a bit of a romp for Greenblatt to get through the millennia of religon, philosophy, mythology, history, arts, and sciences that have engaged with these texts, but he is very absorbing in his approach. –John

youdonthavetosayyoulovemeYOU DON’T HAVE TO SAY YOU LOVE ME
Sherman Alexie
in this powerful and emotion-charged book Alexie examines his troubled relationship with his recently deceased mother. His recollections, like individual patches in a quilt, also speak to the trauma of his childhood on the Spokane Indian Reservation, his days as a popular boy in a mostly white, rural high school, the painful legacy of genocide and racism, and his struggles as an adult to forgive and understand. –Brandon

Robin Sloan
As a computer programmer, Lois is proficient at identifying, solving, and forgetting problems. But life takes on new shape and meaning when she receives a singing sourdough starter. Baking, she finds, is the act of continually solving the same problem because the solution is always consumed. When trying to combine computer programming and baking, Lois stumbles across a solution to both her practical problem and her existential angst: confidence. A sourdough starter that sings, a subterranean market accessed by a skeleton key, and an unknown benefactor who speaks through a fish can be perceived as the strangest elements of this novel, but strangest of all is something more elemental: immortality. Life and death clash inside the sourdough starter, battle lines are drawn, empires rise and fall, “there’s revolution, alliance, [and] betrayal.” Sloan addresses the increasing role of technology in our lives, and the need to both embrace the old-fashioned ways of living, while finding ways to marry the two in a novel that is charming and delicious. –Becky

manhattanbeachMANHATTAN BEACH
jennifer Egan
Pulitzer prize-winning author Jennifer Egan paints a moving and captivating portrait of Brooklyn in the 1940s. The war is raging, people are experiencing hard times, and the New York mob is alive and well. Anna Kerrigan, an independent and capable young woman, is working in the parts department of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, supporting the war effort. But she is determined, against all odds, to be a professional diver who repairs vessels. When her father, who was working for the mob, suddenly disappears, Anna is ultimately driven to discover what has happened to him. While devoted to her mother and severely, disabled sister, she fearlessly gets involved with the underworld to attempt to solve the mystery. Amidst a drastically changing world, Anna’s strength, resilience and passion create an extraordinary heroine. –Anita

Masked Mysteries from Libro.FM

The days are getting dark, the pumpkins are growing orange, and the ghosts are making their neighborhood debut. You know what that means: it’s October, the perfect month to cuddle up with a warm drink and get chilled by a mystery or thriller, sure to raise the hair on any black cat. We’ve compiled a perfect Halloween list to accompany that trick-or-treat bag filled with candy. Enjoy! View List

Spellbinding and Ghostly Reads in Bloomsbury Books

secrethistoryofwitchesSECRET HISTORY OF WITCHES
Louisa Morgan
From early 19th century Brittany to London during the Second World War, five generations of witches fight the battles of their time, deciding how far they are willing to go to protect their family, their heritage, and ultimately, all of our futures. After Grand-maere Ursule gives her life to save her tribe, her magic seems to dies with her. Even so, her family keeps the Old Faith, practicing the spells and rites that have been handed from mother to daughter for generations. Until one day, Ursule’s young granddaughter steps into the circle, and magic flows anew.

rulesofmagicRULES OF MAGIC
Alice Hoffman
For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1620, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man. Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique, and from the start sets down rules for her children: No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And most importantly, never, ever, fall in love. But when her children visit their Aunt Isabelle, in the small Massachusetts town where the Owens family has been blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong, they uncover family secrets and begin to understand the truth of who they are. Back in New York City each begins a risky journey as they try to escape the family curse. Thrilling and exquisite, real and fantastical, this prequel to PRACTICAL MAGIC is a story about the power of love reminding us that the only remedy for being human is to be true to yourself.

bone witchBONE WITCH
Rin Chupeco
Tea’s gift for death magic means that she is a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community, but when an older bone witch trains her to become an asha—one who can wield elemental magic—Tea will have to overcome her obstacles and make a powerful choice in the face of danger as dark forces approach.

witchesofnewyorkWITCHES OF NEW YORK
Amy McKay
New York in the spring of 1880 is a place alive with wonder and curiosity. Seances are the entertainment of choice in exclusive social circles, and many enterprising women find work as mediums. Enter Adelaide Thom and Eleanor St. Clair. At their humble teashop, Tea and Sympathy, they provide a place for whispered confessions, secret cures, and spiritual assignations for a select society of ladies, who speak the right words and ask the right questions. When seventeen-year-old Beatrice leaves the safety of her village to answer an ad that reads “Respectable Lady Seeks Dependable Shop Girl. Those averse to magic need not apply,” she has little inclination of what the job will demand of her. Beatrice doesn’t know it yet, but she is no ordinary small-town girl; she has great spiritual gifts—ones that will serve as her greatest asset and also place her in grave danger.

Stacy Schiff
The panic began early in 1692, over an exceptionally raw Massachusetts winter, when a minister’s niece began to writhe and roar. It spread quickly, confounding the most educated men and prominent politicians in the colony. Neighbors accused neighbors, husbands accused wives, parents and children one another. It ended less than a year later, but not before nineteen men and women had been hanged and an elderly man crushed to death. Drawing masterfully on the archives, Stacy Schiff introduces us to the strains in Puritan life and to the authorities whose delicate agendas were at risk. She illuminates the demands of a rigorous faith, the vulnerability of settlements adrift from the mother country, perched-at a politically tumultuous time. With devastating clarity, the textures and tensions of colonial life emerge; hidden patterns subtly, startlingly detach themselves from the darkness. Schiff brings early American anxieties to the fore to align them brilliantly with our own. In an era of religious provocations, crowdsourcing, and invisible enemies, this enthralling story makes more sense than ever.

ghostbrideGHOST BRIDE
Yangsze Choo
This stunning debut is a startlingly original novel infused with Chinese folklore, romantic intrigue, and unexpected supernatural twists. Li Lan, the daughter of a respectable Chinese family in colonial Malaysia, hopes for a favorable marriage, but her father has lost his fortune, and she has few suitors. Instead, the wealthy Lim family urges her to become a “ghost bride” for their son, who has recently died under mysterious circumstances. Rarely practiced, a traditional ghost marriage is used to placate a restless spirit. Such a union would guarantee Li Lan a home for the rest of her days, but at what price? Night after night, Li Lan is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, where she must uncover the Lim family’s darkest secrets—and the truth about her own family.

irishghoststoriesIRISH GHOST STORIES
David Stuart Davies
Blend the wild and fevered Irish imagination with their wonderful facility for recounting a dark, compelling tale, add a dash of the supernatural, and you have a potent brew of spine-tingling tales. This anthology of the best ghost stories from Ireland and Irish writers includes contributions from such masters of the art of raising as Sheridan Le Fanu, Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde, W. B. Yeats and Rosa Mulholland. Within the pages of this collection you will find strange accounts of haunted houses, death warnings from beyond the grave, and revengeful spirits, all guaranteed to stir the imagination and chill the blood.

Raina Telgemeier
Catrina and her family are moving to the coast of Northern California because her little sister, Maya, is sick. Cat isn’t happy about leaving her friends for Bahia de la Luna, but Maya has cystic fibrosis and will benefit from the cool, salty air that blows in from the sea. As the girls explore their new home, a neighbor lets them in on a secret: There are ghosts in Bahia de la Luna. Maya is determined to meet one, but Cat wants nothing to do with them. As the time of year when ghosts reunite with their loved ones approaches, Cat must figure out how to put aside her fears for her sister’s sake—and her own.

ghostlytalesGHOSTLY TALES
Bill Bragg
This collection of tales will transport you to a time when staircases creaked in old manor houses, and a candle could be blown out by a gust of wind, or by a passing ghost. Penned by some of the greatest Victorian novelists and masters of the ghost story genre, these stories come alive alongside exquisitely eerie art. Featured writers include Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

ghostlandGHOST LAND
Colin Dickey
Colin Dickey is on the trail of America’s ghosts. Crammed into old houses and hotels, abandoned prisons and empty hospitals, the spirits that linger continue to capture our collective imagination, but why? Dickey embarks on a journey across the continental United States to decode and unpack the American history repressed in our most famous haunted places. With boundless curiosity, Dickey conjures the dead by focusing on questions of the living—how do we, the living, deal with stories about ghosts, and how do we inhabit and move through spaces that have been deemed, for whatever reason, haunted? Spellbinding, scary, and wickedly insightful, Ghostland discovers the past we’re most afraid to speak of aloud in the bright light of day is the same past that tends to linger in the ghost stories we whisper in the dark.

Bloomsbury Picks for September

heartsinvisiblefuriesTHE HEART’S INVISIBLE FURIES
John Boyne
This heartbreakingly sad and laugh-aloud funny novel of Ireland is not to be missed. Cyril Avery is the adoptive son of eccentric twits, who consider themselves Irish aristocracy. His teen-aged, pregnant birth mother was shamed and banished from her rural parish by a priest who had fathered two children of his own. Cyril’s story from 1945, when the Catholic church ruled with an iron hand until 2015, when Ireland passed the Gay Marriage Act is filled with memorable, so-Irish characters, a tragic, repressive history and a droll wit, unseen in literature since Evelyn Waugh. Best novel of the year for me.

Claire Messud
Julia and Cassie are best friends as only prepubescent girls are, in a way that seems to remake the world just for two, that burns brighter and causes more obsession than lust or love, in a way that changes you indelibly and forever. But sometimes growing up means growing apart. Messud beautifully captures the formative female friendship in this suspenseful contemporary coming-of-age story set in a small town in Massachusetts. From realizing the fear inherent in inhabiting a female body, to recognizing the internal lives orbiting our own, Messud says something true about being on the cusp of womanhood. Gorgeous. –Becky
myabsolutedarlingMY ABSOLUTE DARLING
Gabriel Tallent
Turtle Alveston is a remarkable heroine, simultaneously strong and naive, with a knowledge of survival skills, weaponry, and the natural world that defies the modern age. She lives with her father, a man broken by time and life and loss, who prepares his daughter to face and survive her greatest enemy—him. Love doesn’t always make sense, and in his debut novel Tallent explores the hows and whys of loving someone who seems determined to break you. Tallent has created a world, rough and gritty but vivid with color, that will consume readers until the breathless end. Reminiscent of A Little Life, this is a book you can’t unread, but the marks the story leaves behind make us better people. –Becky

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Bloomsbury Picks for August

Emily Culliton
A fast-paced and fun read. Marion Palm runs away and leaves her family after embezzling money from her daughters’ school. She leaves behind a clueless husband, 2 young daughters, and a puzzled school board. The story is told through alternating voices of the characters involved. Marion is delightfully quirky, and easily gains the empathy of the reader. Culliton has written a sharp, humorous and clever first novel. –Anita

Lily Brooks-Dalton
An unnamed cataclysmic event strands an aging astronomer and a strange child in the Arctic Circle, while a group of astronauts returning from Jupiter lose all contact with Earth. Mission Specialist Sullivan and astronomer Augustine have one thing in common, a shared love and fascination with space. But while Augustine is content to view the stars from a distance, Sully finds herself drawn into the skies. The connections between their two seemingly disparate journeys are as far reaching and as dizzying as the universe itself. Brooks-Dalton beautifully evokes both the arctic and deep space, highlighting the isolation inherent in experiencing the alien beauty of both landscapes. Part meditative philosophy and part disaster tale, this is a book about missed connections, communication and, ultimately, what it means to be human. Breathtaking and suspenseful. –Becky

Sarah Schmidt
In 1892, Lizzie Borden hacked her father and stepmother to death with an ax. Or did she? Schmidt’s own reasons for writing a novel based on the case has a chilling element: Borden had visited Schmidt in her sleep and whispered, “My father has much to answer for.” And Schmidt found that the ghost, whether real or imagined, was right. She confronts long held assumptions about the American murder so infamous that school children still play games to a ditty based on the crime. Schmidt plunges readers into Borden’s head, which is a very dark, strange, sometimes gross and disturbing vantage point from which to view the story. I stayed up all night to finish this one. –Becky

Augustus Rose
A young, rebellious girl, a surfeit of disappearing teens, mysterious raves run by an enigmatic leader, and a centuries’ old invention. Lee is an improbable heroine, her father gone, her flighty mother remaking herself for men until she remarries. Lee turns to thievery to avoid being invisible, acquiring goods for her classmates and hoarding the money while planning her escape. Until she is caught, arrested, and starts a journey into an underworld that starts to feel Gotham-esqe. Modern and antique technology collide in this fast-paced novel with teen-crossover potential. Susan and Becky recommend this one. –Becky

Bloomsbury Picks for July

Maggie O’Farrell
Susan calls this book fascinating and disturbing. In the 1930s, Esme Lennox, a dreamy and bookish young woman, vanishes. Decades later, when the hospital where she has spent the last sixty years closes, Esme is sent to live with her great-niece, a woman who has no idea Esme existed. Atmospheric and compared to The Yellow Wallpaper and A Room of One’s Own, this is a compelling examination of the interior lives of women and the historic attempts made to control said lives.

what we loseWHAT WE LOSE
Zinzi Clemmons
For Thandi, the daughter of a South African mother and American father, growing up in Pennsylvania means always being an outsider. She is caught between not being black enough and not being white enough. In Clemmon’s beautiful, semiautobiographical, debut novel, Thandi searches for a place to belong.

donotbecomealarmedDO NOT BECOME ALARMED
Maile Meloy
This domestic thriller is a perfect summer read! The tropical cruise is everything cousins Nora and Liv want for their families during the busy holiday season, until the children go missing. Switching perspective between the adults and the children, Meloy explores the lengths to which we will go in the face of our deepest fears. This is a smart, readable, and probing novel that stays with you. –Becky

goldenhillGOLDEN HILL
Francis Spufford
NPR book critic Maureen Corrigan gave this book such a great review that I had to run out and buy myself a copy; I was not disapointed. This is an epic novel, one that comes around infrequently. This story of a disreputable Englishman in colonial New York involves a drunken mob, a duel, and a murder trial. Written in period langauge, Spufford’s novel brings history to life while never taking anything too seriously (least of all itself). –Becky

Bloomsbury Picks for June

Weike Wang

“What do you do with a sick chemist?
Or curium.
Or barium.”

What do chemistry and literature have in common? Both help us make sense of the world. Chemist Weike Wang’s first novel is an equation solving for love. Wang’s mostly unnamed protagonist is a chemist and the daughter of Chinese immigrants who struggles to let herself love and be loved in return. The writing is a cross between poetry and science—distilled and wise—and is unexpectedly funny. Pure alchemy. –Becky

norsemythologyNORSE MYTHOLOGY
Neil Gaiman
Follow the adventures of Norse gods Odin, Thor, Loki and many others in this superb retelling of classic Norse myths. Visit the northern sea where the Midgard serpent lurks, enter the great halls of the Frost Giants, and behold the wondrous creations—including Thor’s hammer Mjollnir—of the dwarfs who live underground. This at-times-dark collection is high on drama and excitement and includes the tale of the final destiny of the Norse gods. –Brandon

essexserpentESSEX SERPENT
Sarah Perry
A coterie of Londoners and Essex country-folk are drawn into the orbit of Cora Seaborne, recently widowed and freed from an abusive marriage. Cora’s desire to become a naturalist draws her to the rivers and estuaries of Essex where rumors of a water-monster have reawakened the locals’ fears of a long-ago evil The rumors fuel Cora’s hopes of discovering, instead, dinosaur fossils suitable for display in museums−and, perhaps, a living throwback to the geologic past. Author Perry is remarkable in her rich evocation of the Essex weather, earth, flora, and fauna that Cora eagerly encounters. Equally remarkable is Perry’s depiction of her late-Victorian cast who are anything but the fusty, repressed characters of modern imagination. In this work of historical fiction, ancient fears and superstitions clash with a thoroughly modern gamut of passion, science, and reason to propel Perry’s cast into one another’s lives and to the threshold of the 20th-century. –JG


Great Reads Now in Paperback

nordictheoryofeverythingTHE NORDIC THEORY OF EVERYTHING
Anu Partanen
In The Nordic Theory of Everything, Anu Partanen, a Finnish-born journalist who married an American, explores how many policies and ideals Americans believe make us more free actually do the opposite. The Nordic theory of love states that authentic love and friendship are only possible between people who are independent and equal. According to Partanen, this mentality dictates policies that support the freedom of individuals, such as equal access to health care and education. She explains how current American policies create unequal relationships between parents and children, romantic partners, and employees and employers. Far from advocating a switch from democratic to socialist values, Partanen expresses admiration and affection for her new country, and simply explores ways to make her beloved new home a “well-being” state.
review by Becky

thetroublewithgoatsandsheepTHE TROUBLE WITH GOATS AND SHEEP
Joanna Cannon
After their neighbor, Mrs. Creasy, goes missing, precocious 10-year-olds Tillie and Grace spend the summer of 1976 hunting for Jesus, believing he can keep their sleepy English village safe. Jesus is everywhere after all, at least according to the vicar, but God sometimes shows himself in unexpected ways (and places). At the beginning of their quest the girls believe wholeheartedly in the existence of goats and sheep—those who fit in and those who do not—based on the Gospel of Matthew, but they discover that most of us are a little of both. Where is Mrs. Creasy, and why do the grownups of neighborhood suspect Walter Bishop? This charming and quirky debut novel is part coming-of-age tale, part mystery, and part examination of small-town politics. Delightful! –recommended by Susan, Karen, and Becky

thenixTHE NIX
Nathan Hill
What do a a failed writer (turned college professor), his estranged (and possibly terrorist) mother, an obese video game addict, and a serially-cheating college student have in common? Their lives are about to connect in unexpected and far reaching ways. In his ambitious, funny, and provocative debut novel Hicks probes Nordic folktales, the history of political unrest in the second half of the 20th century, and the impacts of social media and video games on the psyches (and empathy) of modern Americans. Hill has the knack for writing characters readers feel like we’ve known our entire lives, and his dialog is funny, wise, and alive. Be prepared to suck in your breath, to laugh helplessly, and to lose yourself in brilliant commentary (in the guise of an engaging novel) about the state of today’s world. –review by Becky

homegoingHOME GOING
Yaa Gyasi
Stretching from the tribal wars of Ghana to slavery and Civil War in America, from the coal mines in the North to the Great Migration to the streets of 20th century Harlem, Gyasi has written a modern masterpiece that is unforgettable. This is one of my favorite novels of the year.  –review by Sheila

lilyandtheoctopusLILY AND THE OCTOPUS
Steven Rowley
“A heart is judged not by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.” Lily loves ice cream, chicken and rice, tofurky, her red ball, and her dad, Ted. She loves the beach, but dislikes being wet. On Thursdays Lily and Ted discuss which boys they think are the cutest, and when they play Monopoly she likes being the cannon. Lily and Ted are more than best friends, more than dachshund and man, and together they undergo the adventure of a lifetime hunting an octopus on the open sea. This is a charming and quirky story that gives us permission to love our animals in the consuming, over-the-top, bizarre ways that we do. Lily is the Hobbes to Ted’s Calvin, the Enzo to his Denny, the Richard Parker to his Pi, and with one slow tug of a shoelace Lily bursts Ted’s heart open, and marks herself indelibly inside of a reader’s. –review by Becky

razorgirlRAZOR GIRL
Carl Hiaasen
Raucous, raunchy, and fabulous, Hiaasen’s latest revolves around two true news blurbs: first is the eponymous Razor Girl, whose niche calling in life is that she enjoys driving around South Florida rear-ending drivers while shaving her lady bits and kidnapping the smitten and stunned drivers. Second is a massive infestation of goat-sized rats in the Keys. These premises plus a handful of rednecks and a few effete Californians provide the ingredients for a spicy read indeed. As usual, Hiassen’s writing is witty (at one point requiring the reader to translate “whore beach” from Spanish to get a travel agent’s joke), and the dialog does not disappoint.
review by Janna


labgirlLAB GIRL
Hope Jahren
Questions are the heart of science. You don’t have to be a mathematician to be a scientist; “what comes first is a question.” Lab Girl is the incredible story of one woman who dared to ask why not me, determined to carve a career in a world dominated by men. This is also an enduring, unconditional friendship between two lab partners, and a breathtaking exploration of the natural world from the perspective of trees. Jahren touches on the political aspects of science as she battles bosses who ban pregnant women from the lab, and fights for the ever-shrinking funding available for scientists—“science for war will always make more money than science for knowledge.” This is a story of academia and laboratories, of friendship and marriage and motherhood, of dancing next to glaciers and taking detours to monkey zoos. This is a story that asks the all important question: “Did the first flower make the dinosaurs sneeze?” –review by Becky

Ann Patchett
As a child, Franny’s life is changed when her parents divorce, her mother remarries, and she is suddenly part of a blended family of siblings and situations. This is a tender and heartbreaking novel about the dissolution of families, the creation of new relationships, and the effect this has on the children involved. Beautifully written in Ann Patchett’s gifted style. –review by Anita

darkmatterDARK MATTER
Blake Crouch
This is a thriller of quantum proportions based on the many-worlds theory of quantum mechanics, which states that every possible outcome can and does occur. When Jason Dessen, a physics professor at a small Chicago college, is violently attacked, drugged and kidnapped, he wakes to a world that is not his own. His wife doesn’t know him, his son never existed, and Jason has just won a prestigious scientific prize for research he stopped decades before. Or did he? The harrowing journey home will test Jason in every conceivable way, including his understanding of the universe. This is a smart, fast-paced, consuming book that gives Schroedinger’s cat a refreshing twist. Becky and Susan recommend this read. –review by Becky

Shawn Vestal
The year is 1974, the year of Patti Hearst’s kidnapping and Nixon’s resignation, the year of the Fawcett flip and the year Eval Kneval jumps the Snake River. Lorretta (Lori), caught sneaking around with her boyfriend, is married, a “sister wife” and mother, at fifteen. A desert away, Jason rattles in the passenger seat of his grandfather’s Ford pickup. What do you think? He gonna make it? Jason ponders his grandfather’s question, imagines Eval Kneval shooting across that shadowed canyon. His answer is as uncertain as his faith and both are about to be tested. Lori and Jason will take the road trip that will change their lives forever, but not how they expect. Vestal’s writing feels like the desert, gritty and raw but unexpectedly—incredibly—beautiful. He displays both keen insight into the psyche of adolescence and into the Mormon faith. This is a coming-of-age story, also one of disillusionment and the idols we must cast away to find ourselves. – review by Becky

sportofkingsTHE SPORT OF KINGS
C.E. Morgan
“We are Kentuckians first and Virginians second and Christian third,” Henry Forge tells his young daughter. The Forges are more than a family, and they are more than horse breeders. They are a legacy of true-blue blood running back 250 years. Henrietta Forge is no ordinary Southern girl, just as Hellsmouth is no ordinary racehorse, both bred for greatness and born into destinies they cannot control. Likewise, Allmon is an extraordinary groom who pulls himself from poverty only by suffering exceptional loss. Henry, Allmon and Henrietta carry the heavy burdens of the generations before them; their blood binds them to this landscape, and their futures to the fate of one horse. This Southern Gothic is a great American novel—wide in scope and alive with the ghosts that haunt our nation. The writing is sure, evocative without being overbearing. The story and characters are unforgettable. –review by Becky


Bloomsbury Picks for May

Gail Honeyman
Eleanor Oliphant is a woman of routine. She works in the office of a graphic design company, eats lunch alone, and always does the crossword in the Daily Telegraph. The only deviation in this schedule is the Wednesday night phone calls with Mummy. When we meet Eleanor she has just begun contemplating radically changing her life. When she and her coworker, Raymond, save the life of an elderly gentleman who collapses on the street, she is forced to do more than just contemplate change. Once she opens the door, Eleanor slowly faces the reasons for her deep, habitual resistance to experiencing life. Honeyman delivers a book that is smart, funny, and germane in a world so focused on appearance and differences. She also throws in a few surprises and twists, making a book that is simultaneously suspenseful, funny, and thought-provoking. Readers of A Man Called Ove, by Peter Backman, Out of My Mind, by Sharon Draper, and The Rosie Project will love this very Scottish story of coming-of-age mid-life. –Becky

extraordinaryadventuresEXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES
Daniel Wallace
Edsel Bronfman is 34-years-old, single, and lonelier than he can even admit to himself. A surprise phone call becomes the lifeline he doesn’t know he is waiting for. Now Bronfman has 79 days to find a companion to bring with him on the free weekend in Florida he has won, or lose his prize all together. Given his lack of confidence and his past, less than successful, experiences with women this is a Herculean, often hilarious (only sometimes heartbreaking), endeavor. With a cast of quirky supporting characters, including a woman who perpetually identifies people by the animal they most remind her of, and Bronfman’s mother (who was a single mother wearing red lipstick at a time when women of a certain age were supposed to be sexless house cleaners), this is the feel-good book of the spring. –Becky

Bloomsbury Picks for April

Matthew Desmond
Winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Nonfiction
Evicted chronicles the evictions of eight families in Milwaukee, families of different sizes and backgrounds with a shared circumstance. Arlene is a struggling single mother. Scott is a nurse whose back injury led to an opiate addiction. Lamar is a war veteran, recovering addict, double amputee and resident father-figure to the boys of the neighborhood. Desmond tells complex stories that explore poverty not as a structural or cultural force, but as an interaction between rich and poor. He details the business of eviction, from landlords to eviction courts to the moving crew and the storage facilities. Housing is “too fundamental a human need” to be treated as just a business, Desmond argues. He proposes solutions, including increasing funding to eviction courts and a universal voucher program, but also declares, “If our cities and towns are rich in diversity—with unique textures and styles, gifts and problems—so too must be our solutions.” I couldn’t stop reading. –review by Becky

womeninthecastleWOMEN IN THE CASTLE
Jessica Shattuck
Marianne von Lingenfels, a widow in war-torn Germany at the height of World War II, valiantly continues her husband’s valuable work in the resistance after he is executed for his participation in in a failed assassination attempt on Hitler. Following the war, Marianne joins with two other “resistance widows” to form a makeshift family. As her once black-and-white world turns to rubble, Mariane must come to terms with not only her own political history, but that of her loved ones and fellow countrymen as well. Through the three very different lives and paths of these women, Shattuck explores how war turns ordinary people into both heroes and villains, pitting the best and worst aspects of human nature against each other as survival becomes more and more difficult. –review by Becky


Bloomsbury Picks for March

strangerinthewoodsSTRANGER IN THE WOODS
Michael Finkel
A young man parks his car and disappears into the forest in Maine. For three decades he manages to survive through freezing winters with no contact with anyone. A fascinating true story of survival. –review by Karen


edgarandlucyEDGAR AND LUCY
Victor Lodato
From the very first pages, young Edgar captures the reader’s heart. He is so fragile and so vulnerable. While his bond with his grandmother is strong and loving, his relationship to his mother, Lucy, is distant and complicated. And with a father long dead and gone due to curious, unspeakable circumstances, Grandmother Florence is Edgar’s lifeline. When she dies, he finds himself gravitating toward another pair of welcoming arms – those of the man in the green truck. A troublesome entanglement ensues, and lives are shattered and rebuilt. The story brutally, yet tenderly, examines the ties, lies and secrets between parents, children, lovers and the lonely. This is an absolutely beautifully written and compelling novel. –review by Anita


Caitriona Lally
Vivian keeps her great aunt’s ashes in a box rather than an urn because “death in a box is more real than death in a jar.” She doesn’t like verbs because they expect too much. She always checks wardrobes for Narnia, and spends her days searching for the portal to take her back to her real world—wherever that may be. At the novel’s onset Vivian is advertising for a friend named Penelope (so that she can eventually ask her friend why her name doesn’t rhyme with antelope). When Penelope answers the ad, Vivian’s quest to find her rightful place in the physical world may actually begin. Hailed in Ireland for an unusual voice and creative plot, Lally’s novel is charming, quirky, and full of literary allusions. –review by Becky


exitwestEXIT WEST
Moshin Hamid
This is a beautiful and sensuous love story, told against the backdrop of war and devastation. In an unnamed city, Nadia and Saeed meet and fall in love. But as conditions in the city deteriorate, they plan their escape. In fact, “all over the world people were slipping away from where they had been, from once fertile plains cracking with dryness, from seaside villages gasping beneath tidal surges, from overcrowded cities and murderous battlefields”. The story has a mystical element where in order to escape these refugees must pass through a magic door to another location. Hamid captures the spirit, despair and longing of those forced from their homeland to places unknown. “…everyone migrates, even if we stay in the same houses our whole lives, because we can’t help it. We are all migrants through time.” –review by Anita

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