On slowing the inevitable: Kimberly’s October suggestion

Let’s be less stupid: an attempt to maintain my mental faculties by Patricia Marx

let's be less stupidKimberly says: “This book is a very funny and yet insightful look into the middle-aged angst of declining mental faculties. Marx, who has written for Saturday Night Live, probes her own experiences when it comes to forgetting keys, names, and other important stuff. She includes some zany quizzes to test your own capabilities, but it never gets too serious.”

to read a sample of the ebook, click here

The Golden Age’s lost generation: Lisa’s September suggestion

Villa America by Liza Klaussmann

villaA tale based on the real-life inspirations for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender Is the Night finds expats Sara and Gerald Murphy sharing freewheeling days, hosting glamorous parties, and hiding heartbreaking secrets in the 1920s French Riviera.

It was, for a while, a charmed life, but beneath the sparkling veneer, the Murphys are heartbreakingly human. When a tragic accident brings Owen, a young American aviator who fought in the Great War, to the south of France, he finds himself drawn into this flamboyant circle, and the Murphys find their world irrevocably, unexpectedly transformed.

to read a sample of the ebook, click here

A rich and satisfying story – Genna’s August suggestion*

Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal

kitchens midwest coverGenna says: “I love love loved this book. The story revolves around Eva and her extremely advanced palate and cooking abilities, who we see grow up and rise to culinary success throughout the story. From the rambunctious middle schooler who grows rare chili peppers in her closet to a world class chef who hosts exclusive meals, Eva is the driving force behind the story, but the story isn’t all about her. Instead, author Stradal shows the reader a host of characters and their interaction with the foodie culture. A uniquely woven narrative places the reader in the eyes of a different character every chapter, somehow that character is distantly connected to Eva.

I especially loved closing the last page and flipping it around to look at the book cover again. All the images on the cover represent different chapters in the book, a beautiful touch to the novel. Would like to test some of the recipes tucked into the pages of the book; the author took them from a church cookbook.

If you still don’t believe me, read the NY Times Book Review by clicking here.

To read a sample of the ebook, click here.

*Lisa suggested this title, too!


Family secrets – Lisa’s August suggestions

Tiny Little Thing by Beatriz Williams

tiny little thing coverIn the summer of 1966, Christina Hardcastle — “Tiny” to her family — stands on the brink of a breathtaking future. She and her husband Frank make the ultimate power couple: intelligent, rich, and impossibly attractive. But as the season gets underway on Cape Cod, three unwelcome visitors appear in Tiny’s perfect life. As she struggles to maintain the glossy facade on which the Hardcastle family’s ambitions are built, Tiny begins to suspect that Frank is hiding a reckless entanglement of his own — one that may unravel both her own ordered life and his promising political career.

to read a sample from the ebook, click here

The Rocks by Peter Nichols

rocks coverSet against dramatic Mediterranean Sea views and lush olive groves, “The Rocks” opens with a confrontation and a secret: What was the mysterious, catastrophic event that drove two honeymooners apart so suddenly and absolutely in 1948 that they never spoke again despite living on the same island for sixty more years? Centered around a popular seaside resort club and its community, The Rocks is a double love story that begins with a mystery, then moves backward in time, era by era, to unravel what really happened decades earlier.

to read a sample of the ebook, click here

Newport by Jill Morrows

newport coverJill Morrow transports readers to the dazzling, glamorous world of the Roaring Twenties, and to a mansion filled with secrets. Having sheltered in Newport during his misspent youth, attorney Adrian de la Noye would prefer to forget the place, but returns to help a well-heeled client. Bennett Chapman’s offspring have the usual concerns about their father’s much-younger fianceé — but when they learn of the widower’s firm belief that his late first wife, who “communicates” via séance, has chosen the stunning Catharine Walsh for him, they’re shocked. And for Adrian, encountering Catharine in the last place he saw her decades ago proves to be a far greater surprise.

to read a sample from the ebook, click here

Lisa’s July Suggestions – a celebration of words & images

Gustav Klimt: Complete Paintings by Tobias Natter

A book so beautiful, it’s almost a work of art unto itself! Dive into Klimt, in both word and image.

gustav klimt cover

The Weird World of Words: A Guided Tour by Mitchell Symons

weird world of words coverA fun collection of English-language trivia facts about words and language usage — from “almost” being the longest English word with its letters in alphabetical order, to “stewardesses” being the longest word typed with the left hand. Or that fireflies aren’t actually flies — they’re beetles?

From information about words and their uses, to useful lists of things you never knew had names, palindromes, famous lines from literature and film, bizarre test answers and more, The Weird World of Words is bursting with oddball facts — and will have you hooked from the very first page.


Lisa’s May Recommendations

Emma    by Alexander McCall Smith

EmmaEmma Woodhouse arrives home in Norfolk ready to embark on adult life. Not only has her sister, Isabella, been whisked away on a motorcycle up to London, but her astute governess, Miss Taylor is at a loose end, abandoned in the giant family pile, Hartfield, alongside Emma’s anxiety-ridden father. Someone is needed to rule the roost and young Emma is more than happy to oblige. But there is only one person who can play with Emma’s indestructible confidence, her old friend and inscrutable neighbor George Knightly — this time has Emma finally met her match? – from publisher

Paris Red by Maureen Gibbon

paris redAt seventeen, Victorine Meurent abandons her old life to become immersed in the Parisian society of dance halls and cafés, meeting writers and artists like Baudelaire and Alfred Stevens. As Manet’s model, Victorine explores a world of new possibilities and stirs the artist to push the boundaries of painting in his infamous portrait Olympia, which scandalizes even the most cosmopolitan city. – from publisher

Dead Wake by Erik Larson

dead wakeThe #1 New York Times best-selling author of In the Garden of Beasts presents a 100th-anniversary chronicle of the sinking of the Lusitania that discusses the factors that led to the tragedy and the contributions of such figures as President Wilson, bookseller Charles Lauriat and architect Theodate Pope Riddle. – from publisher

Click here to read a sample!

At The Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen 

at the water's edgeWhile her brother, Ellis, and his friend try to find theLoch Ness monster in an attempt to get back into her father’s good graces, Maddie is left on her own in World War II-era Scotland and experiences a social awakening. – from publisher

Click here to read a sample!

Lisa’s January Recommendations

The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams

the secret life of violet grant“This follow-up to One Hundred Summers is the story of two women whose dreams are challenged by society and familial expectations. Violet Schuyler is an intelligent young woman who is naïve to the ways of the world when she meets Dr. Walter Grant, the noted physical chemist, who champions Violet’s scientific career, and her gratitude leads her to fall in love with him. But she soon finds herself trapped in an unhappy marriage. Then Violet’s husband’s former protégé, Lionel Richardson, arrives, leading her to a crisis point. In 1960s New York, Vivian Schuyler wants to write magazine articles instead of spending her days fetching coffee for her editor. When she receives a suitcase that once belonged to her scandalous Aunt Violet, rumored to have murdered her husband in 1914 and run off with her lover, Vivian is determined to uncover the truth. VERDICT Williams’s latest is another absorbing page-turner filled with romance and secrets but with some flaws. While Violet’s narrative will captivate readers with its intrigue and the protagonist’s struggles, Vivian’s story is less compelling and the plot strains believability toward the end. Fans of the earlier work will be delighted by the cameo appearance of Lily and other characters from that novel.” – Library Journal

Does this sound interesting?  Click here for a sample!

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The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian

The Ashford Affair by Lauren Willig

The Beautiful American by Jeanne Mackin

the beautiful american“As recovery from World War II begins, expat American Nora Tours travels from her home in southern France to London in search of her missing sixteen-year-old daughter. There, she unexpectedly meets up with an old acquaintance, famous model-turned-photographer Lee Miller. Neither has emerged from the war unscathed. Nora is racked with the fear that her efforts to survive under the Vichy regime may have cost her daughter’s life. Lee suffers from what she witnessed as a war correspondent photographing the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps.” – Goodreads (note:  this book is not available at the River Forest Public Library.  It may be held via SWAN)

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