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March 18, 2016 Newsletter March 18, 2016
Spring Has Sprung
Bookshelf: Spring Cookbooks 2016 Spring Fling 2016 Feature + Contest
More Reviews
Spring Has Sprung

It’s no secret that this week is simultaneously everyone’s favorite and also the most hated of the year. Daylight savings means we’re getting longer hours of light in the evening, but we all lost an hour of sleep, which really did us in. In fact, we’re still feeling the effects. The upside is that those chill rays are giving us some much-needed vitamin D. Once we recover from this grogginess, we’re sure we’ll hit the streets fast and loose. Not to mention this unseasonably warm NYC weather --- no one tell Leo, but global warming is real. We hear street crime goes down during daylight savings time, so we have no more excuses for not getting out there and finding some spring hunnies. Spring got us #sprung, so to speak.

In the spirit of optimism, we are ignoring the snow predictions for Sunday into Monday!

Speaking of no more excuses, now that “The Bachelor” finale has finally aired, we can get two hours/week of our lives back. We’re not saying this season bored us to no tears, but we’re not saying it didn’t. It was so uneventful, we almost decided we were going to quit the franchise after Monday’s most undramatic ever final rose. The shenanigans are starting to get old, and TBH Ben is a little vanilla for our taste. But then those genius execs at ABC gave us another rose: Jojo. The feisty brunette is our brand-new bachelorette, which means next season will not only be livelier than this one, but will also bring back the real star of the show: Jojo’s mom. We can’t wait to see how many bottles of wine she’s going to down now that she has to meet three of her daughter’s suitors. Fingers crossed they’ll have more personality than that cardboard cutout Ben.

Although we’re no longer students --- don’t tell the people who work at Topshop, where we’ve been copping that student discount without proper identification for years --- we still get residual excitement this time of year for spring break. Maybe we’ve all been programmed from so many years of schoolwork and spring play, but even post-college 20somethings still have that itch to get away when March rolls around. In the same way that fall means pumpkin-flavored everything, spring means vacation. If only we still had Jerry Springer hosting “MTV Spring Break,” a.k.a. Springer Break. Let us know if you want us to produce a grown-up version, where we all wake up real early to get comfortable seats by the pool, OD on SPF 70, unsuccessfully try to send Snapchat stories from the beach, and then aggressively hydrate for the two tequila shots we plan to take at 9pm and no later. We can even get Kurt Loder to man the Hydration Station.

Listen, we know how to throw down with the best of ‘em, we’re just getting into some conscious unpartying now that we’re in the second half of our 20s. Sometimes sitting by the fire and playing cards with friends and sipping some nice, expensive Scotch is all you want out of a weekend. Gin rummy > gin and rum. It’s not that our days of partying are over, it’s just that we find ourselves more interested in other things --- namely, not having monster hangovers for 48 hours. We’ll take our hard liquor in cake form, thanks.

This past Monday, a few of us were lucky enough to score some tickets to the NYC premiere of Allegiant, the third installment in the Divergent movies. All the stars were in attendance, including Shai Shai the Golden Goose, Theo James and his stunning lips, Ansel Elgort (who turned a ripe 22 years of age that day and in the theater) and Nikki’s new bae, Bill Skarsgård. Not to be outdone by all the movie stars, Damn Daniel and his white Vans sat right in front of us with Josh Holz, his buddy who voices the viral video and has a nice head of hair IRL. But despite all the distractions in the theater, as soon as the movie started, we were drawn right back into the world of Tris and co. as they attempted to navigate the world on the other side of the wall. Whether you’re a fan of the books or not, this action-packed movie is must-see! Daaamn, Daniel. Read a bit more about it here.

Here are three books you should check out during your non-spring break:

Joyce Maynard tells the story of Helen, a woman whose drinking cost her her marriage and custody of her seven-year-old son, in UNDER THE INFLUENCE. Once an aspiring art photographer, she now makes ends meet taking portraits of school children and working for a caterer. Recovering from her addiction, she spends lonely evenings checking out profiles on an online dating site. When she meets wealthy philanthropists Ava and Swift Havilland, the vulnerable Helen is instantly enchanted. As she increasingly falls under their influence, Ava and Swift hold out the most seductive gift: their influence and help to regain custody of her son. But the debt Helen owes them is about to come due.

WHAT IS NOT YOURS IS NOT YOURS: Stories by Helen Oyeyemi is built around the idea of keys, literal and metaphorical. The key to a house, the key to a heart, the key to a secret --- Helen Oyeyemi’s keys not only unlock elements of her characters’ lives, they promise further labyrinths on the other side. In “Books and Roses” one special key opens a library, a garden and clues to at least two lovers’ fates. In “Is Your Blood as Red as This?” an unlikely key opens the heart of a student at a puppeteering school. And in “If a Book Is Locked There’s Probably a Good Reason for That Don't You Think,” a key keeps a mystical diary locked (for good reason).

In THE SOUND OF GRAVEL: A Memoir, Ruth Wariner tells her story as the 39th of her father's 42 children. After her father is brutally murdered by his brother in a bid for church power, her mother remarries. In need of government assistance and supplemental income, Ruth and her siblings are carted back and forth between Mexico and the United States, where Ruth’s mother collects welfare and her stepfather works a variety of odd jobs. As she begins to doubt her family’s beliefs and question her mother’s choices, Ruth struggles to balance her fierce love for her siblings with her determination to forge a better life for herself.

In a book group? We have the reading group guide for THE SOUND OF GRAVEL here and the one for UNDER THE INFLUENCE here.

Enjoy the warmer weather and don't forget to wear your sunnies!

5 Things We’re Obsessed With at This Very Moment, in no particular order:
1. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice opening soooo soon
2. Kim K. breaking Instagram with her nude selfie
3. The trailer for Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, starring Eva Green and directed by Tim Burton
4. Successfully recovering from St. Patty's Day
5. Nike's self-tying sneakers! Say what?!

Nicole Sherman ( + Emily Hoenig (


Bookshelf: Spring Cookbooks 2016

Spring is arguably the best season of the year. For those of us in the northeast, it's a sign of warmer days ahead, frequent rain showers that bring May flowers, and no longer eating soup or stew for every single meal (although we wouldn't blame you if you still wanted to)! Along with one of the best seasons comes a slew of brand new cookbooks, and this year's batch is sure to get your mouth watering and your tongues wagging.

This season, more so than others, gives us a handful of cookbooks for niche food preparation, and we're totally loving it. If there is one thing to take away from the current cookbook scene, it's that all-inclusive compendiums are on the out and highly specialized cooking of one kind of food is in. The burger pics in PORNBURGER (look it up) have us salivating morning and night and EGG will show you the 1.5 million and counting ways to cook and serve an egg.

That's not to say that there's any shortage of celebrity cookbooks this season. Tastemaker, actress and lifestyle guru Gwyneth Paltrow graces our kitchens once again with IT'S ALL EASY. If you're already a Gwyneth fan, we guarantee this won't disappoint; if you're new to the "Goop" scene, then you're in for a treat.

British Instagram stars Jasmine + Melissa of @hemsleyhemsley give us a taste of their simple and wholesome dishes in their first cookbook foray, HEMSLEY HEMSLEY. If you're unfamiliar, they are a super duo (think Martha Stewart and Nigella Lawson meets Haylie Duff and Sakara) who focus on health and wellness for the millennial crowd. Needless to say, we're wildly pumped to get these girls' recipes on paper.

Just like any other season, there is an excellent representation for ethnic cuisines. SIROCCO and THE MIDDLE EASTERN VEGETARIAN COOKBOOK tell us about all of the wonderful flavors from the Middle East. KOREATOWN caters to our growing East Asian palettes, and THE INDIAN FAMILY KITCHEN gives us an easy-to-use, modern spin on classic Indian dishes we may already be familiar with (editorial note: Try the "Smokin' Ribs").

Whether you're a cooking novice or you've hopped, skipped and jumped around the kitchen plenty of times, there's really a buffet of cookbook choices for you this spring. Braise, bubble, roast, temper, stir, spread, slice and sauté away!

Click here to see the bookshelf. Spring Fling 2016 Feature + Contest

Spring is finally here, and with it comes warmer weather, blooming flowers...and the chance to win some great new YA books! From now through Monday, May 2nd at noon ET, readers will have the chance to win one of five Spring Fling prize packages, which includes one copy of each of our featured books and a signature tote bag.

The featured Spring Fling titles are:

Click here to enter the contest.



13 WAYS OF LOOKING AT A FAT GIRL: Fiction by Mona Awad (Fiction)
Growing up in the suburban hell of Misery Saga (a.k.a. Mississauga), Lizzie has never liked the way she looks. She starts dating guys online but is afraid to send pictures, even when her skinny friend, China, does her makeup. So she starts to lose. With punishing drive, she counts almonds consumed, miles logged and pounds dropped. She grows up and gets thin, navigating double-edged validation from her mother, friends, husband and reflection in the mirror. But no matter how much she loses, will she ever see herself as anything other than a fat girl? Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

ALL THINGS CEASE TO APPEAR by Elizabeth Brundage (Psychological Thriller/Mystery)
Audiobook available, narrated by Kirsten Potter
Late one winter afternoon in upstate New York, George Clare comes home to find his wife murdered and their three-year-old daughter alone in her room. And he is the immediate suspect --- the question of his guilt echoing in a story shot through with secrets both personal and professional. While his parents rescue him from suspicion, a persistent cop is stymied at every turn in proving Clare a heartless murderer. The pall of death is ongoing and relentless; behind one crime are others, and more than 20 years will pass before a hard kind of justice is finally served. Reviewed by Megan Elliott.

THE CARDINALS WAY: How One Team Embraced Tradition and Moneyball at the Same Time by Howard Megdal (Sports)
Despite years of phenomenal achievements, including going to the World Series in 2004 and again in 2006, the St. Louis Cardinals reinvented themselves using the "Cardinal Way," a term that has come to represent many things to fans, media and other organizations --- from an ironclad code of conduct to the team's cutting-edge use of statistics and analytics, and a farm system that has transformed baseball. Howard Megdal takes fans behind the scenes and off the field, revealing how the players are assessed and groomed using an unrivaled player development system that has created a franchise that is the envy of the baseball world. Reviewed by Ron Kaplan.

THE CONSIDERATE KILLER: A Nina Borg Thriller written by Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis, translated by Elisabeth Dyssegaard (Mystery/Thriller)
Audiobook available, narrated by Katherine Kellgren
In an attempt to save their marriage, Nina Borg and her husband traveled to a beach resort in the Philippines for a dream vacation. Only now, six months later, does Nina begin to understand the devastating repercussions of that trip --- repercussions that have followed her home across the globe to Denmark. On an icy winter day, she is attacked outside the grocery store. The last thing she hears before losing consciousness is her assailant asking her forgiveness. Only later does she understand that this isn’t for what he’s just done, but for what he plans to do. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

FAR FROM TRUE: A Promise Falls Novel by Linwood Barclay (Thriller)
After the screen of a run-down drive-in movie theater collapses and kills four people, the daughter of one of the victims asks private investigator Cal Weaver to look into a recent break-in at her father’s house. Cal discovers a hidden basement room where it’s clear that salacious activities have taken place --- as well as evidence of missing DVDs. Meanwhile, Detective Barry Duckworth is still trying to solve two murders --- one of which is three years old --- that he believes are connected, since each featured a similar distinctive wound. As the lies begin to unravel, Cal is headed straight into the heart of a dark secret as his search uncovers more startling truths about Promise Falls. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

A GIRL'S GUIDE TO MOVING ON by Debbie Macomber (Romance)
Audiobook available, narrated by Nancy Linari and Allyson Ryan
Nichole is recovering from a broken heart after learning that her husband was having an affair and separating from him. The twist is that her mother-in-law, Leanne, is the one who told her that her son was cheating. Leanne has looked the other way for decades as her own husband cheated, and can’t bear to see her son repeating the same pattern. In telling Nichole, she also gathers the courage to leave her husband, and the two women rent apartments across the hall from each other, supporting one another in rebuilding their lives and embracing surprising new romantic endeavors. Reviewed by Susan Miura.

GONE AGAIN: A Jack Swyteck Novel by James Grippando (Legal Thriller)
Audiobook available, narrated by Jonathan Davis
Jack Swyteck is called to action when teenager Sashi Burgette vanishes on her way to school. The night after Sashi’s disappearance, ex-con Dylan Kyle was stopped for drunk driving and a piece of her clothing was found in his truck. A police videotape of his drunken explanation under interrogation sealed his fate at trial. Now, just days from Kyle’s execution, Sashi’s mother visits Jack and delivers shocking news: “Sashi called me.” Unconvinced that the case is closed, Jack jumps into the investigation. But the deeper he digs, the more he discovers that nothing is what it appears to be. Reviewed by Ray Palen.

GOODBYE TO THE DEAD by Brian Freeman (Psychological Thriller)
Audiobook available, narrated by Joe Barrett
Detective Jonathan Stride is haunted by his first wife Cindy’s death, even as he maintains a relationship with fellow detective Serena Dial. When Serena witnesses a brutal murder outside a bar, she stumbles onto a case that goes back to the last year of Cindy's life. At the time, Stride and Cindy were on opposing sides of an investigation that ended up sending Cindy’s friend, Janine, to prison for shooting her husband. During the current investigation, Serena finds a gun used in the murder of a woman connected to an organized crime syndicate --- a gun that turns out to be the same one used to kill Janine’s husband. Two unrelated cases years apart suddenly have a mysterious connection, and Stride must not only investigate, but also confront his past. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

HIDDEN BODIES by Caroline Kepnes (Psychological Thriller)
Audiobook available, narrated by Santino Fontana
Joe Goldberg is no stranger to hiding bodies. In the past 10 years, this thirty-something has buried four of them, collateral damage in his quest for love. Now he’s heading west to Los Angeles, determined to put his past behind him. But the problem with hidden bodies is that they don’t always stay that way. They re-emerge, like dark thoughts, multiplying and threatening to destroy what Joe wants most: true love. And when he finds it in a darkened room in Soho House, he’s more desperate than ever to keep his secrets buried. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

ICE CHEST by J.D. Rhoades (Comic Thriller/Adventure)
Clarissa Cartwright is about to take the stage wearing a fortune in jewels. In the wings, a motley crew of bumbling crooks is scheming to make off with the biggest heist of their careers: five and a half million dollars in precious stones. When the robbers find themselves pursued by both the intimidating ex-cop tasked with protecting the world’s most valuable piece of lingerie and Clarissa's insanely jealous and mobbed-up ex-boyfriend, things get ugly. Especially when Clarissa decides she's had quite enough of being an object and resolves to turn the tables on both the crooks and the fashion world. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

INTERIOR DARKNESS: Selected Stories by Peter Straub (Literary Horror/Short Stories)
"Mr. Clubb and Mr. Cuff" is a darkly comic masterpiece in which a stern estate lawyer known as the Deacon hires a pair of "Private Detectives Extraordinaire" to investigate and seek revenge on his unfaithful wife. In "The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine," a man and his much younger lover explore their decadent and increasingly sinister fantasies on a luxurious yacht in the remotest stretch of the Amazon River. "Blue Rose" finds violence and power in the hands of the most innocent among us, leading to a conclusion that is fully surprising and devastating. The stories assembled here represent Peter Straub’s astonishing range and his ability to terrify, transport and hold a reader hostage. Reviewed by Ray Palen.

INTO OBLIVION: An Icelandic Thriller by Arnaldur Indridason (Thriller)
Audiobook available, narrated by George Guidall
A woman swims in a remote, milky-blue lagoon. Steam rises from the water, and as it clears, a body is revealed in the ghostly light. Miles away, a vast aircraft hangar rises behind the perimeter fence of the US military base. A sickening thud is heard as a man's body falls from a high platform. Many years before, a schoolgirl went missing. The world has forgotten her, but Erlendur has not. Erlendur is a newly promoted detective with a battered body, a rouge CIA operative, and America's troublesome presence in Iceland to contend with. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE LEGENDS CLUB: Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Valvano, and an Epic College Basketball Rivalry by John Feinstein (Sports)
Audiobook available, narrated by John Feinstein
On March 18, 1980, the immensely powerful Duke basketball program announced the hiring of its new coach --- the man who would resurrect the team, restore glory to Duke and defeat the legendary Dean Smith, who coached down the road at UNC Chapel Hill and had turned UNC into a powerhouse. The table was set nine days later, when on March 27, Jim Valvano was hired by North Carolina State to be their new head coach. In the skillful hands of John Feinstein, this extraordinary rivalry --- and the men behind it --- come to life in a unique, intimate way. Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman.

THE LION’S MOUTH: A Hanne Wilhelmsen Novel by Anne Holt (Mystery)
Less than six months after taking office, the Norwegian Prime Minister is found dead. Was it a politically motivated assassination or personal revenge? Hanne Wilhelmsen, Chief Inspector of the Norwegian Police, is on leave in California, but when this death shakes the country to its core, she knows she can’t remain on the sidelines of such a crucial investigation. When secrets begin to unravel from the Prime Minister’s past, Hanne and her partner, Billy T., must piece together the crime before a private tragedy becomes a public outcry. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE LONELY CITY: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone by Olivia Laing (Memoir/Cultural Criticism)
When Olivia Laing moved to New York City in her mid-30s, she found herself inhabiting loneliness on a daily basis. Increasingly fascinated by this most shameful of experiences, she began to explore the lonely city by way of art. Moving fluidly between works and lives --- from Edward Hopper's Nighthawks to Andy Warhol's Time Capsules, from Henry Darger's hoarding to David Wojnarowicz's AIDS activism --- Laing conducts an electric, dazzling investigation into what it means to be alone. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

A MIDSUMMER'S EQUATION by Keigo Higashino (Mystery)
Audiobook available, narrated by P.J. Ochlan
Manabu Yukawa, the physicist known as "Detective Galileo," has traveled to Hari Cove, a once-popular summer resort town that has fallen on hard times. He is there to speak at a conference on a planned underwater mining operation, which has sharply divided the town. The night after the tense panel discussion, one of the resort's guests is found dead on the seashore at the base of the local cliffs. As the police try to uncover where Tsukahara was killed and why, Yukawa finds himself enmeshed in yet another confounding case of murder. In a series of twists, Galileo uncovers the hidden relationship behind the tragic events that led to this crime. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

A MOTHER'S RECKONING: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold (Memoir)
Audiobook available, narrated by Sue Klebold
On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Over the course of minutes, they would kill 12 students and a teacher and wound 24 others before taking their own lives. For the last 16 years, Sue Klebold, Dylan’s mother, has lived with the indescribable grief and shame of that day. In A MOTHER’S RECKONING, she chronicles with unflinching honesty her journey as a mother trying to come to terms with the incomprehensible. Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott.

MOVIE FREAK: My Life Watching Movies by Owen Gleiberman (Memoir/Entertainment)
Audiobook available, narrated by Owen Gleiberman
What molds a critic? Perhaps it takes parents willing to buy nine-year-old Owen Gleiberman drive-in tickets for Rosemary's Baby. Like millions of us, Gleiberman loves movies, and in MOVIE FREAK, he not only reveals the details of how he became a critic but attempts to show why we find cinema so defining as a society. As one of the premiere tastemakers for more than three decades, Gleiberman, a self-confessed movie freak, explains why he and so many others equate film with life. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.

THE NARROW DOOR: A Memoir of Friendship by Paul Lisicky (Memoir)
Lisicky’s memoir provides a compelling collage of scenes and images from two long-term relationships, one with a woman novelist and the other with his ex-husband, a pot. Denise and Paul, stretched by the demands of their writing lives, drift apart. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill, earthquake in Haiti and local disturbances make an unsettling backdrop to the pressing concerns of Denise’s cancer diagnosis and Paul’s impending breakup. Lisicky’s survival --- hard-won, unsentimental and authentic --- proves that in turning to loss, we embrace life. Reviewed by Jesse Kornbluth for

NO CURE FOR LOVE by Peter Robinson (Mystery/Thriller)
Audiobook available, narrated by Jeff Harding
Sarah Broughton, the star of a hit cop show on TV, has put her dark past behind her…as well as her old name, Sally Bolton. When Sarah begins receiving letters mysteriously signed with the letter “M,” she thinks they’re from a harmless admirer…until her real name appears in the third letter. And then she finds that name inscribed in the sand near her home --- next to a body. The message is clear: Someone is watching Sarah’s every move. Someone so obsessed with her that he won’t stop at just one murder in order to prove his love. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

OPENING BELLE by Maureen Sherry (Fiction)
Audiobook available, narrated by Julia Whelan
In 2008, Isabelle appears to have it all: an Upper West Side apartment, three healthy children, a handsome husband and a high-powered job. But her reality is something else. Her work environment resembles a 1980s frat party, her husband feels that employment is beneath him, and the bulk of childcare and homecare still falls to Belle. As she deals with her former college fiancé, Henry, becoming her biggest client and a group of sexually harrassed women beginning to organize, Belle can sense the financial markets heading toward their soon-to-be historic crash and that something has to give. Reviewed by Jesse Kornbluth for

THE PASSENGER by Lisa Lutz (Psychological Thriller)
Audiobook available, narrated by Madeleine Maby
Forty-eight hours after leaving her husband’s body at the base of the stairs, Tanya Dubois cashes in her credit cards, dyes her hair brown, demands a new name from a shadowy voice over the phone and flees town. She meets Blue, a female bartender who offers her a place to stay. With dwindling choices, Tanya (now Amelia) accepts. It’s almost impossible to live off the grid today, but Amelia (now Debra) and Blue have the courage, ingenuity and desperation to try. Hopscotching from city to city, Debra especially is chased by a very dark secret. Can she outrun her past? Reviewed by Maggie Harding.

PEACEKEEPING by Mischa Berlinski (Fiction)
Audiobook available, narrated by Ben Williams
When Terry White, a former deputy sheriff and a failed politician, goes broke in the 2007–2008 financial crisis, he takes a job working for the UN, helping to train the Haitian police. He is sent to the remote town of Jérémie, where he is swept up in their complex politics when he befriends an earnest, reforming American-educated judge. Soon he convinces the judge to oppose the corrupt but charismatic Sénateur Maxim Bayard in an upcoming election. But when Terry falls in love with the judge’s wife, the electoral drama threatens to become a disaster. Reviewed by Jane Krebs.

PERFECT DAYS by Raphael Montes (Psychological Thriller)
Teo Avelar is a loner who only feels honest human emotion in the presence of his medical school cadaver --- that is, until he meets Clarice. She's almost his exact opposite. An aspiring screenwriter, Clarice is working on a screenplay called Perfect Days about three friends who go on a road trip across Brazil in search of romance. An obsessed Teo begins to stalk Clarice and ultimately kidnaps her, at which point they embark upon their very own twisted odyssey across Brazil, tracing the same route outlined in her screenplay. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

REASONS TO STAY ALIVE by Matt Haig (Memoir)
Everyone’s lives are touched by mental illness: if we do not suffer from it ourselves, then we have a friend or loved one who does. Matt Haig’s frankness about his experiences is both inspiring to those who feel daunted by depression and illuminating to those who are mystified by it. Above all, his humor and encouragement never let us lose sight of hope. Speaking as his present self to his former self in the depths of depression, Matt is adamant that the oldest cliché is the truest --- there is light at the end of the tunnel. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

SCANDALOUS BEHAVIOR: A Stone Barrington Novel by Stuart Woods (Thriller/Adventure)
Audiobook available, narrated by Tony Roberts
After a series of nonstop adventures, Stone Barrington is eager for some peace and quiet in a rustic British setting. But no sooner does he land in England than he’s beset by an outrageous demand from a beautiful lady, and an offer he can’t refuse. Unfortunately, Stone quickly learns that his new acquisition comes with some undesired strings attached --- namely, a deadly mystery involving the complex relationships of the local gentry, and a relentless adversary who raises the stakes with every encounter. Reviewed by Judy Gigstad.

THE SOUND OF GRAVEL: A Memoir by Ruth Wariner (Memoir)
Audiobook available, narrated by Ruth Wariner
Ruth Wariner was the 39th of her father’s 42 children. After Ruth’s father is brutally murdered by his brother in a bid for church power, her mother remarries. In need of government assistance and supplemental income, Ruth and her siblings are carted back and forth between Mexico and the United States, where Ruth’s mother collects welfare and her stepfather works a variety of odd jobs. As she begins to doubt her family’s beliefs and question her mother’s choices, Ruth struggles to balance her fierce love for her siblings with her determination to forge a better life for herself. Reviewed by Rebecca Munro.



More Reviews

Audiobook available, narrated by John Keating
It is springtime, and two outcasts --- a man ignored, even shunned by his village, and the one-eyed dog he takes into his quiet, tightly shuttered life --- find each other, by accident or fate, and forge an unlikely connection. As their friendship grows, their small, seaside town suddenly takes note of them, falsely perceiving menace where there is only mishap; the unlikely duo must take to the road. Reviewed by Kate Ayers.

THE STEEL KISS: A Lincoln Rhyme Novel by Jeffery Deaver (Thriller)
Audiobook available, narrated by Edoardo Ballerini
Amelia Sachs is chasing a killer through a department store in Brooklyn when an escalator malfunctions. The stairs give way, with one man horribly mangled by the gears. Sachs is forced to let her quarry escape as she jumps in to try to help save the victim. She and famed forensic detective Lincoln Rhyme soon learn, however, that the incident may not have been an accident at all, but the first in a series of intentional attacks. They find themselves up against one of their most formidable opponents ever: a brilliant killer who turns common products into murder weapons. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THIS WAS NOT THE PLAN by Cristina Alger (Fiction)
Audiobook available, narrated by George Newbern
Widowerhood at 33 and 12-hour workdays have left a gap in Charlie Goldwyn’s relationship with his quirky five-year-old son, Caleb. The only thing Charlie has going for him is his job at a prestigious law firm, where he is finally close to becoming a partner. But when a slight lapse in judgment at an office party leaves him humiliatingly unemployed, stuck at home with Caleb for the summer, and forced to face his own estranged father, Charlie starts to realize that there’s more to fatherhood than financially providing for his son, and more to being a son than overtaking his father’s successes. Reviewed by Jana Siciliano.

THE TRAVELERS by Chris Pavone (Thriller)
Audiobook available, narrated by Paul Michael
Meet Will Rhodes: travel writer, recently married, barely solvent, his idealism rapidly giving way to disillusionment and the worry that he’s living the wrong life. Then one night, on assignment for the award-winning Travelers magazine in the wine region of Argentina, a beautiful woman makes him an offer he can’t refuse. As he’s drawn further into a tangled web of international intrigue, it becomes clear that nothing about Will Rhodes was ever ordinary, that the network of deception ensnaring him is part of an immense and deadly conspiracy with terrifying global implications --- and that the people closest to him may pose the greatest threat of all. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

UNDER THE INFLUENCE by Joyce Maynard (Fiction)
Audiobook available, narrated by Joyce Maynard
Drinking cost Helen her marriage and custody of her seven-year-old son, Ollie. Once an aspiring art photographer, she now makes ends meet taking portraits of school children and working for a caterer. Recovering from her addiction, she spends lonely evenings checking out profiles on an online dating site. When she meets wealthy philanthropists Ava and Swift Havilland, the vulnerable Helen is instantly enchanted. As she increasingly falls under their influence, Ava and Swift hold out the most seductive gift: their influence and help to regain custody of her son. But the debt Helen owes them is about to come due. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

VERSION CONTROL by Dexter Palmer (Science Fiction)
Audiobook available, narrated by January LaVoy
Rebecca Wright has found her way out of grief and depression following a personal tragedy years ago. She spends her days working in customer support for the Internet dating site where she first met her husband. However, she has a persistent, strange sense that everything around her is somewhat off-kilter. Her husband Philip's decade-long dedication to the causality violation device (which he would greatly prefer you do not call a "time machine") has effectively stalled his career and made him a laughingstock in the physics community. But he may be closer to success than either of them knows or imagines. Reviewed by Christine M. Irvin.

WE LOVE YOU, CHARLIE FREEMAN by Kaitlyn Greenidge (Fiction)
Audiobook available, narrated by Cherise Boothe, Karole Foreman and Myra Lucretia Taylor
The Freeman family has been invited to the Toneybee Institute to participate in a research experiment. They will live in an apartment on campus with Charlie, a young chimp abandoned by his mother. The Freemans were selected for the experiment because they know sign language; they are supposed to teach it to Charlie and welcome him as a member of their family. Isolated in their new, nearly all-white community not just by their race but by their strange living situation, the Freemans come undone. And when daughter Charlotte discovers the truth about the Institute’s history of questionable studies, the secrets of the past begin to invade the present. Reviewed by Maya Gittelman.

WHAT IS NOT YOURS IS NOT YOURS: Stories by Helen Oyeyemi (Fiction/Short Stories)
WHAT IS NOT YOURS IS NOT YOURS is built around the idea of keys, literal and metaphorical. The key to a house, the key to a heart, the key to a secret --- Helen Oyeyemi’s keys not only unlock elements of her characters’ lives, they promise further labyrinths on the other side. In “Books and Roses” one special key opens a library, a garden and clues to at least two lovers’ fates. In “Is Your Blood as Red as This?” an unlikely key opens the heart of a student at a puppeteering school. And in “If a Book Is Locked There’s Probably a Good Reason for That Don't You Think,” a key keeps a mystical diary locked (for good reason). Reviewed by Norah Piehl.


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