Julie's Staff Picks
"I read the prologue to this book—a beautiful, heartbreaking poem—while standing in the middle of this store. And then I read it again. Bought the book before I went home and read it in a day. It’s the story of Antonia Vega. Her husband has died suddenly and she’s trying to figure out the rest of her life. As she’s confronted with various hurdles and encounters, she begins taking the first steps on the journey to what’s next."
The story is warm, funny, sad,
"If you haven’t read Ann Cleeves before, I recommend that you do (and watch the BBC shows that have been made based on her books Shetland and Vera). The Long Call begins a series centered on reserved detective Matthew Venn, his artsy husband, and the other detectives who work with him. In this first installment, the murder of a man with an albatross tattoo returns Matthew to his estranged family and strict religious upbringing. As with Cleeves’ other books, the characters are nicely developed and the plot provides intrigue and opportunities for reflection."
"Astrid Strick, her three children, granddaughter, and assorted friends and small-town characrers are the heart of this sweet and funny book. It all begins with a fatal acciddent, which triggers a snowball effect of retrieved memories, revelations, and life-changing decisions. The dialogue is quick and snappy and the writing is perfectly paced for a quick read."
"Fun! This book is fun. A whodunit on multiple levels, this novel within a novel is both an old fashioned English mystery and a more contemporary suspense novel. You’ll get your fix of rustic pubs and suspicious vicars, along with a bit of a behind-the-scenes look at the writing and publishing biz. I highly recommend this one. Settle in with a cup of tea or glass of sherry…and enjoy!"
"I really wasn’t prepared to like this book so much. It’s the story of Benedict Stone—an overly predictable, stuck in a rut jeweler—and the completely unpredictable daughter of his estranged brother, who shows up on his doorstep in the middle of the night. The relationship they forge and how they change each other’s lives is the heart of the story, but they also encounter several charming, quirky characters who make up the town of Noon Sun. Oh, and you’ll learn a lot about gem stones! Now it’s time for me to read Patrick’s first novel, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper."
"Three stories come together in this English mystery. One is the story of Alice Lake and the amnesiac man she finds sitting on the beach in her English seaside town. The second involves Lily Monrose in London whose husband has gone missing. And twenty years before, a tragedy struck a family during their holiday. I really enjoyed how all of these stories and characters converged, not really knowing until the end who to believe or trust and wondering how I’d feel when the truth was revealed."
"This is a book about family, fame, and loyalty, but not in any sort of overly sacrificial way, though sacrifices are made. Tomasina Daulair has been the personal assistant to famous children’s author Mort Lear for most of her adult life, living with him and protecting him. After he dies, she finds herself the executor of his estate, including his literary canon. Before Mort died, a movie about his life was in the works. The actor slated to play him comes to stay with Tomasina to learn more about him. Together, along with other characters important to them—and Mort—they make discoveries about themselves and the choices they’ve made. Beautifully written."
"This is the story of Dolores Price—from age 4 to 40—as told by Dolores herself. Her story is complicated, sad, and funny all at once. She’s both a victim and a heroine, both incredibly annoying and incredibly lovable. I’m a huge Wally Lamb fan, and this is the book that made me fall in love with him. For me, his writing is nearly perfect and he’s a genius storyteller. And don’t be put off by the fact that this is a book about a woman written by a man. Wally has a great talent for telling the stories of women."
"This is the story of the Birdsey twins—Dominick and Thomas. One a former teacher and now divorced and resentful housepainter, the other schizophrenic. As is typical of Wally Lamb, he reveals the story of these brothers through detailed flashbacks. And while their tale is full of tragedy, Lamb makes room for humor and hope. I recently saw Wally Lamb speak at the Philadelphia Free Library, where he announced that this book will become a short TV series starring Mark Ruffalo as both Birdsey brothers. The series which aired from May to June of 2020."
"As with most of Wally Lamb’s novels, The Hour I First Believed is full of story, including flashbacks and what some may call distractions but I find illuminating. He combines actual (Columbine and Katrina) and fictional events to tell the story of a complicated couple. Maureen survives Columbine only to suffer PTSD, drug addiction, and prison, while Caelum struggles and stumbles to sort it all out. You’ll find Lamb’s writing to be very straightforward, but also nuanced and engaging."