Maria's Staff Picks
"I Have Some Questions For You offers a fresh perspective on the typical boarding school novel. Makkai propels us through this part true crime part high school drama which at times reads like a Kim Barker podcast. Cleverly written and addictingly engaging; I inhaled this book!"
"So yes, I chose this book by its title but what mystery lover wouldn’t and that is precisely why you, Dear Reader, should too. Stevenson has written a contemporary novel in “old school” style…dropped clues and red herrings plus a whole lot of fun in the telling. But, don’t worry, there are also gruesome murders, devious characters and the best part: Everyone snowed in together at a past -its -prime ski resort in the Australian mountains. Perfect!! Pay close attention, Dear Reader, the story moves swiftly. A family reunion gone dead wrong with not a dull moment to be had. Cozy up and enjoy!"
"Eleven years ago, William Landay gave us the gripping courtroom drama: Defending Jacob. This March, Landay returns with another phenominal book- 'All That Is Mine I carry With Me'. Set in 1975 and spanning two decades it is a story of a mother's sudden disappearnce, a father's seeming indifference and the children left to endure. What happened to Jane Larkin?
When her remains are found twenty years later it will reopen the investigation, sides will be chosen, family loyalties tried. Landay takes some time unspooling his latest legal thriller and it’s well worth it to accompany him on this riveting ride."
"The book opens with a crash, followed by a lie and an unspoken agreement to never speak of it again. A profound and haunting narrative of family secrets and memories not shared, Shapiro’s thoughtfully rendered Signal Fires holds the reader in awe of its surpassing beauty. A story not easily forgotten; to say I loved it would be an understatement."
"Set in 1970’s Detroit Babysitter is a compelling account of an overlooked (well to do) housewife having a (sordid) affair with a dangerous man the same time as a serial killer is on the loose preying on the city’s (vulnerable) children.
A propulsive read; Oates is a master at pulling you in to her stories, and you are trapped, (like it or not)."
"Rita Cameron’s The House Party explores how a small town – composed of wealthy and working class families- deals with (or ignores) the destruction of a new but unoccupied home after a party of reveling local teens goes horribly wrong.
Smartly written and set in fictional “New Falls” PA town across the bridge from Lambertville, NJ this story is sure to resonate with its readers."
"Hannah is spiraling out of control…
Ten years after her vibrant & captivating best friend was found dead in the dorm room they shared everyone has moved on with their lives. When the man convicted of the killing dies in prison, Hannah now married (and pregnant) to the dead girls former boyfriend), cannot let go that he proclaimed his innocence to his dying day. Knowing it was her testimony that put him away, Hannah is convinced she must unearth the truth, even if it means upending old friendships, her own marriage and putting her health and that of her unborn child in peril. Stellar fun!"
"Three families raising four adopted biological siblings embark on a two week vacation in hope of growing closer…
Let the wild rumpus start! Brown’s latest novel is an insightful, endearing and keen observation on adoption, parenting and the ties that bind us together."
"Marissa and Jack are made for each other, soul mates you might say; a bright future awaits…so when financial setback strikes they both agree it would be helpful to take on a lodger. Enter Kate, who at first seems ideal but soon Marissa is finding her too pushy, too flirty and too much in their business. Kate must go. Magpie is a riveting psychological thriller with a terribly terrific plot twist."
"In her latest novel, Mercy Street, Haigh's main characters are not living the life they'd expected for themselves or even imagined...failed relationships, lost jobs and a general dissatisfaction with themselves and the world around them.
As their lives intersect and tensions build encircling each of them, Haigh pulls us into the personal and political , while blending their stories and outcomes with both clarity and humor."
"It's 1964 and Hollwood star Kate Barstow, recently wed, has brought a group of friends along for her honeymoon photo shoot in Tanzania.
What begins as an idyllic getaway in the wilds of Africa turns quickly to a nightmare reality when Russian mercenaries kidnap the group; killing the guides in cold blood.
The groups only hope is to somehow survive their captors. the blistering sun and the wild animals of the Serengeti.
Told through each character's eyes; Bohjalian capture you from the start of this fast-paced thriller."
"The best thing about beginning a T.C. Boyle novel is knowing you’re in for a terrific read. His books raw and full of human emotion. Boyle is able to capture people and places in such a way that long after you finish reading, you still recall them…and behind these stories a steady drive of a larger message. Talk To Me centers around animal behaviorist Guy Schermerhorn and the chimp Sam he has raised since infancy (and taught Sign language). Guy, on a mission to keep his funding, agrees to a TV spot to “show off” Sam. College student Aimme comes on board to help care for Sam. Soon, Guy, Sam and Aimee are completely smitten. What ensues is both hilarious and thought provoking…positing questions like: can we talk to animals; can they answer and reveal deep emotions and feelings? I highly recommend T.C. Boyle’s Talk To Me."
"It’s 1971 and America is at a moral and political crossroads and so is the Hildebrandt family. Assistant Pastor Russ Hildebrandt, scorned by his own kids as well as the church youth group who have turned to a younger hipper leader, finds himself obsessed with an attractive widowed parishioner. His wife Marion is coming to terms with her hidden sordid past and Russ’s waning attention. The three oldest kids are at odds with the direction their lives are taking and the youngest son seems oblivious to the family fracturing around him.
Franzen’s detailed charecterizations and robust storytelling are at full throttle in this latest book."
"'Ghosted: When someone cuts off all communication with no explanation and disappears without a trace.' Nice, huh.
The 1st time I heard of this term (and its implicated consequences) was from my youngest daughter. It made me reflect on the downward spiral of civilization.
Alderton is both hilarious and poignant in the telling of this modern day tale. Her irreverent 'Brit humor' and precise observations lend themselves seamlessly to this topic…love and loss…sudden loss…gut wrenching loss. This book is just so well done: the characters, the plot line, the ending. Brilliant! You should read it!"
"Delta Dawn (yes, like the song) is a popular children’s party photographer for NYC’s elite. She has a talent for capturing and editing these moments the way the parents envision their lives- perfect…no tears or tantrums. But, Delta has a problem with boundaries. After shooting Natalie Straubs 11th Birthday party, Delta becomes captivated by The Straubs…and finds ways to insert herself into their ebullient lifestyle. Soon, she is minding Natalie, drinking their expensive wine while bathing in the master bath. As she blurs the line between what’s real and what’s not, how far will she go to be a part of their lives."
"Harris’s innovative debut novel is a suspense/scifi mash-up with razor sharp social commentary. Terrific satire and compelling characters set in the workplace of a successful NYC publishing company, this genre-bending book will have you thinking…Wait, what? A crazy good read."
"You remember The Crucible, right? Well, talk about a witch hunt…
Sarah Langen’s Good Neighbors searing commentary on suburbia will have you riveted, a bit repulsed, and giving your own neighbors a second look. Set in the near future, the story focuses on a cataclysmic event that took place in 2027 and the subsequent fallout that followed. Clever, funny, and sometimes wrenchingly sad Good Neighbors is a good read."
"Female adolescence, in all its potent and scary splendor, is on display in this impressive new book from author Vendela Vida. The story is set against the backdrop of San Francisco’s Sea Cliff Neighborhood in the 1980s… Eulabee who is “13 going on 14” has had a falling out with her best friend, the popular Maria Fabiola. She finds herself alone, an outcast amongst her once closest confidantes. When Maria Fabiola disappears one day, as in Poof. Gone. Eulabee is shaken but suspicious. What ensues is a readers delight! A compelling book. I highly recommend it."
“'Mom blogs, Juggling jobs & Personal probs- Oh My!'
J. Courtney Sullivan’s latest novel will certainly resonate with parents raising kids in today’s busy and ever-changing world. On a deeper level it speaks to the isolation one can feel mothering a young child; the strain of dealing with aging parents and difficult family dynamics; overstepping boundaries in the name of helping out. In other words, Sullivan writes the everyday and ordinary life and she does it extremely well. Insightful and LOL funny, I very much enjoyed this read."
"Ah…but Tana French can spin a tale… characters charming yet menacing with a plot as twisting as the Irish country roads. Cal Hooper-former Chicago detective has moved into a small Irish village snuggled next to the mountains. He’s in search of a simple and quiet life, no drama, maybe get a dog. Trey Reddy-a young impoverished mountain kid is in search of answers, a brother gone off missing and no one seeming to care much. So much for Cal’s peace and quiet. The Searcher is an atmospheric jewel of a read. As with all French’s books it will be hard to put down. To quote a line: ‘S only gorgeous!"