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Kathy's Picks

In the middle of America's political tension, Saunders' collection of short essays speaks directly to this moment. My favorite short story was 'Love Letter". It was a disturbingly prescient and cautionary tale. "This destruction was emanating from such an inept source, who seemed (at that time) merely comically thuggish, who seemed to know so little about that which he was disrupting..." POW! So good! Saunders' humor is still palpable in this latest release, though decidedly darker. Buckle up!


I thoroughly enjoyed this post war story of two best friends growing up in a secluded farming district of France. Fabienne spins the tales but insists on anonymity, while Agnes commits them to paper promising to keep Fabienne's contribution a secret. When the book is published, Agnes is catapulted to success and whisked away to a British finishing school for polishing and refinement. Fabienne remains behind. The writing is sublime and undeniably alluring.


I have a few Dominican reading this book was like sitting around a table with old friends. The culture, the perseverance, the ingenuity of the residents of New York's Washington Heights was uplifting and optimistic. Follow Cara as she seeks employment after her job (of 30 years) at the factory is eliminated. The book is written as a series of interviews with her job counselor. Through these interviews the whole of Cara Romero's life unfolds. It's a beautiful and colorful life.


I absolutely loved the concept of this story. It was instantly engaging and captivating, creepy and suspenseful. Ultimately I'd hoped it would go in a different direction, but who can argue with art? Chapman is a master of suspense. I will read everything he publishes, ad infinitum!


The Willowbrook Institute was a genuine house of horrors. The aging sanitarium for the mentally handicapped was woefully short staffed and under-funded, leaving pitiful conditions for its residents. Drape over this - the true local Staten Island lore of a psychopath who kidnaps children; Cropsey. Wiseman then adds a bit of fiction: a missing Institute resident, a twin sister who shows up to aid in the search, and her accidental incarceration due to misidentification. Truly disturbing stuff.


O'Farrell has produced yet another unparalleled piece of historical fiction, this time set in the Renaissance courts of Florence & Ferrara. Her portrait of the little-known duchess Lucrezia de'Medici is meticulously put to canvas, layer upon layer, each iteration covering the last, until finally, a masterpiece is revealed. I was drawn to the period, the place, & the people. When a woman's greatest accomplishment was her ability to provide heirs, only she will bear the blame if none come forth.


"The edge is a shantytown filled with gold-seekers. We are fugitives, and the law is skinny with hunger for us." These words, a drawing, and two lonely teenagers committed to a summer of collaborative art are at the heart of this achingly tender and prescient tale. Frankie & Zeke create a poster. Her words. His drawing. What ensues is exactly what ART does. It awakens. It touches. It disturbs. It MOVES. This will be a hard book to encapsulate or review other than to say, "It should be read."


With notes of Wuthering Heights (Heathcliff), Pride & Prejudice, and the spiritualist era...comes this layered mystery/romance/gothic/ twisting turning story. Genevieve Timmons poses as a spiritualist to swindle wealthy mourners. A seance goes wrong, landing her in a jail cell awaiting the hangman's noose, when a solicitor arrives with a tempting offer: assuage a mourning lord that his bride-to-be's death was an accident, bring him peace....and he'll make sure she doesn't swing for her crimes.


This is a FANTASTIC stand-alone sequel. I did NOT read _The Family Upstairs_...and I didn't need to, in order to completely enjoy this immersive experience. Though, I promise this: you'll want to go back and grab _The Family Upstairs_ just to fill in the gaps and tickle your brain. Jewel is a gifted story-teller with fully developed characters. You'll simply drop into their lives, fully formed, and feel as if you know them. Fantastic writing. Exquisite tension. Satisfying development.


What a rich and vividly descriptive origin story for The Scarlet Letter! This beautiful tale provides an imagined window into Nathaniel Hawthorne's muse. A gifted seamstress, Isobel sees people, and their words, in brilliant colors. She sets sail from Scotland, destined for America, with her secrets and family history sewn into the hems and inseam of her cloak. Isobel grapples with what it means to be an American, and Salem's dark history, even generations beyond the infamous witch trials.


It was a dark and stormy Halloween night..... I really enjoy Feeney's style. She's the master of "reveal". This was a cozy whodunit, perfect for fans of Horowitz and Osman. Housebound on a tidal island, members of the family are dying, one by one. Clues abound, but who's to blame? As the family members dwindle to three, you'll be incapable of putting it down.


Honestly….in reviewing this book, I would flirt with ruining its surprise. Don’t read the jacket. Don’t look at reviews. Just, dive in and let it unfold. It’s a deliciously dizzying read with the most tantalizing incremental, Tetris-like reveal. An absolutely top-notch thriller!


This is a colorful, creepy, interesting, page-flipping retelling of _Fall of the House of Usher_. Sworn soldier Alex Easton rushes to the bedside of their ailing childhood friends Madeleine and Roderick Usher. A mysterious fungus is growing around the ancestral home, the lake pulses, the dead don't seem to die, strange sounds emanate from the walls...and don't get me started on the RABBITS!


As all good love stories begin: we, (the book and I) were introduced by a friend. If a book makes you sing, it's a good book. If an author compels you to read, despite the subject matter being of little-to-no personal interest, it's good writing. If a book is able to jump from the discarded pile to your nightstand, it's a book worth crowing about. This is the character-driven relationship book of the era.


I'm in love with this subtle, heartfelt and true story of the famous racehorse Lexington and the tapestry of documented and fictionalized characters that weaved through his remarkable life in the mid 1800s, to present day. Brooks explores culture and race in a non-combative and fascinating way. The many threads of this story would have unraveled in less capable hands. I highly recommend this book in audio version, as well as for book clubs. Fascinating discussion is guaranteed.


I low-key HATE time travel books...maybe because I high-key LOVE time travel stories. So few authors get it right (without being hoakie, or insulting readers' intelligence. This story gets it right. Let go of the mechanics of HOW it works, and immerse yourself in the story. Like the movie 'About Time', this story evolves from Alice's self-serving use of her remarkable gift, to one more altruistic. I adored this father/daughter tale.


If Steinbeck was the voice of the Great Depression and Kerouac the voice of the 60s…then Noah Hawley is WITHOUT A DOUBT the voice of this 'post truth' era! Incredible prose, mind-boggling reality checks, and whiplash pace will keep readers on edge and _unsettled_, from 1st page to last. Some names are changed, (not because they're innocent) but you'll know them by their acts. This is a book to GULP breathlessly, then reread at leisure, for meaningful absorption. I'm in awe. Step aside Ayn Rand!


I read a review of Remarkably Bright Creatures that sang it's praises, "even if it was a bit improbable." In a world where the worst improbabilities seem to occur with ever-increasing frequency, it was supremely refreshing to read this heartfelt, hope-filled, 'bit of improbability.' It left me walking a little lighter, my heart a little less burdened. I loved it beyond reason. It was the sweetest book I've read in ages. Kudos to Van Pelt for this sparkling debut!


Tae Keller comes along every few years and writes a book that speaks to my SOUL! This is a masterful book of childhood friendships, trust, betrayal, Queen Bees, and the devastating ways girls "subtly" bully...and yea, a bit about aliens too. This book could literally save a life, provide succor to someone currently dealing with complex middle school female relationships, or an adult nursing old wounds. I can't recommend it enough. Keller is a FABULOUS storyteller. I smell another Newbery award!


Such a sweet gentle tale of pen pals, born of a love of food and a great recipe. I was so enthralled and touched by the simplicity and beauty of the every-day-life displayed within the pages of this book. Keep a box of tissues handy. I was listening to the audio version while walking laps at the YMCA and CERTAINLY turned heads when I suddenly burst into tears!


I enjoyed the many components of this story. It was engaging and entertaining. It became a cautionary tale with a protagonist who thoroughly surprised me. Kudos to the books that keep us thinking about them, long after the last sentence is read.


I’m such a huge fan of Vuong’s writing. He’s so raw, honest, heartbreaking, and talented. This book of poetry (written after the death of his mother) eviscerates! From ‘Amazon History of a Former Nail Salon Worker’ …to the last page…I was a puddle. “I used to cry in a genre no one read.”


Fans of St. John Mandel will recognize a character or two from her latest novel. It's a wonderfully intertwining travel through time. Are we all existing in a simulation, or is time travel possible? A 'glitch in the matrix' holds all the answers as well as the questions. I enjoyed this departure from The Glass Hotel.....or is it?

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