August 2016 Staff Picks

"Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body." ~ Joseph Addison

Books recommended by our staff for an active mind.

Books: 
Staff Pick Logo
Sweetbitter Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9781101875940
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - May 24th, 2016

Sweetbitter is a challenging book to review because while I loved it, it is a dark, difficult story about what happens when our expectations fail us. I was blown away by this young author’s writing talent and the strength and originality of her voice. The plot follows a young woman, Tess, into the New York City restaurant world. She crosses into this world of “family,” the intense relationships that are made when working with a small group of people under stress, late into the night. She struggles with her insecurities, she does a lot of drugs, and she falls in love with the wrong person. But we love Tess anyway, and we are jealous and nostalgic for all that she experiences. With the ripeness and sharpness of her youth, Tess’s escapades are reckless and recall the desperateness we felt with our first loves, and we can’t help but feel all those old goosebumps all over again while reading Danler’s sexy and open prose. Enjoy!

-Recommended by Ella


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Leaving Lucy Pear Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781594632655
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Viking - July 26th, 2016

This novel, which takes place in 1917 prohibition-era New England, begins with a
young Jewish woman, Bea, who gives birth out of wedlock and chooses to leave her newborn under a pear tree, where she knows the tough Irish-Catholic “pear stealers” will find her. That infant is Lucy Pear, the one who gets left.

As years pass, Bea reflects on the night she left her daughter under the pear tree, wondering whatever became of her. Bea returns to her uncle’s pear farm and hires a struggling Catholic woman, who unknowing to Bea, is raising Lucy Pear. The lives of Lucy’s biological and adoptive mothers are exposed in daily life, but it’s not apparent if anyone realizes their connection. An unbelievable cast of characters, all intertwined with a common thread, complete this story. It’s a great read that kept me engaged long into the summer night!

-Recommended by Virgie


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Harmony Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780399562600
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Pamela Dorman Books - August 2nd, 2016

How does autism affect an individual, a marriage, a family, siblings? What decisions are made in the search for hope, for normalcy? What means would you go to in order to be understood, supported, allow your child to “fit in?”

This is the story of Tilly, an adolescent who has been diagnosed on the autism spectrum. It is also the story of Tilly’s family, who resorts to an unconventional family approach to support Tilly, when all hope appears to be gone.

This compelling story is told by Tilly’s mother, Alexandra and younger sister, Iris. These different perspectives give a glimpse into the many issues surrounding Autism, and its effects on the entire family structure

-Recommended by Virgie


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Kitchens of the Great Midwest Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9780525429142
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Pamela Dorman Books - July 28th, 2015

This novel is a delight. The characters are as scrumptious as the interlaced meals and recipes. Creatively structured, this novel tells the story of Eva Thorvald through the eyes of other characters who are lucky enough to come into contact with Eva throughout her life. Eva is a lovable character, humble yet talented. We get to watch her grow into a wildly successful chef. But the book also tells a few other stories along the way: the story of Eva’s father and his love for her and for food, Eva’s mother who leaves, Eva’s cousin who gets pregnant unexpectedly, Eva’s first boyfriend, and even his stepmother’s adventure into the culinary world with her famous peanut butter bars.

The story culminates at one of Eva’s famous $5000 per plate dinners, where Eva and those who know and love her eat a delicious meal together and the book comes to a conclusion that we can be content with. Life’s complexities are laid bare in this novel, but I turned the last page with a smile on my face and peacefulness in my heart.

-Recommended by Ella


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America America Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780812979893
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Random House Trade - May 19th, 2009

My book club reads at least one title from each author before Literary Sojourn. Admittedly, I wasn’t enthusiastic about reading a political novel (call it political fatigue).  However, I tore through this book … could not put it down.

The story centers around Corey Sifter, a working-class kid coming of age in upstate New York in the early 1970s. Corey takes a job on the estate of the Metareys, the richest family in the county, and soon he finds himself caught up in the presidential campaign of Henry Bonwiller, a pro-labor, anti-war senator, principled "in all the important ways." The Metarey house becomes campaign headquarters, Mr. Metarey is the principal financial backer, and Corey becomes valet and errand boy to the campaign. When a scandal hits, Corey plays witness. I highly recommend this book, especially in our current political climate.

-Recommended by Kim


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Fates and Furies Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781594634482
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - September 13th, 2016

Lotto, a golden-boy playwright, and Mathilde, a lithe, quiet woman, are married. What appears as all love and gratitude on the surface, hides the true undertones of their marriage - resentment, ghosts of their individual pasts, and sacrifice.

Groff divides the book into 2 sections - first, Lotto’s perspective of their 24-year marriage. Then, Mathilde’s viewpoint. Groff manages to illuminate all of the unsaid love and tension present in a long-term, faithful union, by wildly contrasting the two frames of reference. A highly recommended read for anyone in a relationship.

-Recommended by Victoria


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Wilde Lake Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9780062083456
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: William Morrow & Company - May 3rd, 2016

Lippman, an author who was featured at Literary Sojourn several years ago, has become one my favorite novelists. She always delivers a fast, compelling read. Her novels are set in or around Baltimore.

Wilde Lake is a book steeped in secrets. Layers of secrets are uncovered by the protagonist, Lu, a widowed, single mother who is elected the first female State’s Attorney. The author deftly navigates present time, an incident in the 70’s, and another at the time of Lu’s birth. Lu’s personal life and profession quickly become intertwined and her “perfect” family’s flaws and secrets come to light.

-Recommended by Kim


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The Light of Paris Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780399158919
Availability: Special Order
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - July 12th, 2016

Fans of Eleanor Brown’s bestselling novel The Weird Sisters should be pleased, as Brown takes the reader on a new journey in this novel to Paris. Madeleine is the novel’s likable narrator, who leaves her disagreeable life in Chicago to get back to her Southern roots and rediscover her identity.  She finds her grandmother’s journal in the attic of her childhood home, and we learn about the ways Madeleine is connected to that story. If you, like me, are often longing for Paris, then this book is a great little escape--a bit of light in the darkness.

-Recommended by Jamie


Staff Pick Logo
At the Existentialist Cafe: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails with Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Martin Heidegger, Mauri Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9781590514887
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Other Press (NY) - March 1st, 2016

Finally, an explanation of Existentialism that isn’t beyond the reach of the ordinary reader.  I loved Bakewell’s down-to-earth style and her way of accessing even the inaccessible concepts of different philosophers and their ideas. This book uses history and context to reveal the intricacies of this era in French thinking, so those who are interested in history will also find a lot to be discovered in this book. Bakewell’s sensible style contributes to the book’s readability and appeal, as she helps construct images of these thinkers.  Don’t be confused by the cover; At the Existentialist Cafe will take you to Paris and make you feel right at home among its quirky and fascinating inhabitants.

-Recommended by Jamie


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Land of Enchantment Cover Image
$22.00
ISBN: 9781101982679
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Plume Books - August 2nd, 2016

When I saw Leigh Stein speak at the Association of Writers Conference in LA back in March, she gave some of the best, most succinct writing advice I heard in those jam-packed four days. “Write your obsession,” she told us, and went on to describe the way she came to write her memoir: she was so obsessed with the wild time she spent in New Mexico with her late ex-boyfriend, that she was constantly inventing ways to send characters in her other writings to the Land of Enchantment. She needed to write this book before she could write any others. The way she described her book was so fascinating that she passed her obsession on to me, and I began the hunt to find and read her memoir, which I now highly recommend to you.

-Recommended by Jamie


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Bug on a Bike Cover Image
By Chris Monroe, Chris Monroe (Illustrator)
$16.95
ISBN: 9781467721547
Availability: Backordered
Published: Carolrhoda Books - October 1st, 2014

I just love this book. It’s so much fun to read aloud. Bug is on a mission to gather all of his friends to follow him, kind of like a round of follow the leader. Bug on a Bike has wonderful illustrations and the rhymes are so much fun. This is a great summer book to read with a surprise ending.

-Recommended by Chris


Staff Pick Logo
The Kissing Hand [With CD] Cover Image
By Audrey Penn, Ruth E. Harper (Illustrator), Nancy M. Leak (Illustrator)
$12.95
ISBN: 9781933718101
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Tanglewood Press - August 15th, 2007

The Kissing Hand is a touching story for those young preschool and primary age children who are apprehensive about returning to school after a break. It delivers a wonderful sentiment set to ease a child's fear about being away from his/her parents and home. I LOVE the secret idea of the “kissing hand.” Read it, and you will too!

-Recommended by Virgie


Staff Pick Logo
Nobody Likes a Goblin Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781626720817
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: First Second - June 7th, 2016

When adventurers invade Goblin’s cave and steal his best friend Skeleton, Goblin has to be brave to rescue his friend. People all around the kingdom are mean to Goblin just because he’s a goblin, but in the end, he learns that your real friends will love you, and have your back no matter what!

What a cute book about friends and facing your fears! If you are into adventures this is for you!

-Recommended by Jenna


Staff Pick Logo
Wolf Hollow Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781101994825
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Dutton Books for Young Readers - May 3rd, 2016

“The year I turned twelve, I learned how to lie. The year I turned twelve, I learned that what I said and what I did mattered.” So begins the story of Annabelle, whose quiet life changes when a bully named Betty moves to town. Set between World Wars I and II in rural Pennsylvania, this powerful tale resonates with current day issues: bullying, the effects of war on soldiers and communities, the impact of a lie, the power of friendship, and the need to look beyond someone’s outward appearance.

This incredibly powerful book is a must-read book for kids and adults alike!

-Recommended by Virgie


Staff Pick Logo
How to Turn $100 Into $1,000,000: Earn! Save! Invest! Cover Image
$12.95
ISBN: 9780761180807
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Workman Publishing - April 5th, 2016

This book teaches you about the basics of how to create a budget and how to stick with it! It makes difficult concepts like the trickster “compound interest” easy to understand, and it gives examples of how compound interest can work for you when you save your money, and how it can work against you when you accrue credit card debt.

Making a savings plan and saving from a young age can make a big $ difference. The all- important mantra PYF (pay yourself first) helped me to start saving for the first time in my life. Since reading this book, I pay myself first every time I get a paycheck and I even downloaded a budgeting app to help me keep track of my spending ... and I am 25! This is a book that parents can read with their kids and learn too.

-Recommended by Ella


Staff Pick Logo
Nerve Cover Image
$10.99
ISBN: 9780142422830
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Speak - July 12th, 2016

Do you have the nerve to be a player or are you just a watcher? While Vee is grounded, she discovers a very popular internet game of dares, called NERVE. Vee decides to go out on a limb and accept a dare that will be broadcast on the internet. But how far will she have to take the game, and what will she loose?

If you like this book you should also read Need by Joelle Charbonneau!

-Recommended by Chris


Staff Pick Logo
A Torch Against the Night Cover Image
$19.95
ISBN: 9781101998878
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Razorbill - August 30th, 2016

This is the second book in the Ember in the Ashes series. Laia and Elias must now head to Kauf Prison, to break her brother out. But with so many people hunting them down, things become increasingly challenging. They are able to make new friends along the way that feel what Laia is fighting for is worth fighting for too. This is a page-turning second novel!

-Recommended by Chris


Staff Pick Logo
United as One Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780062387653
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperCollins - June 28th, 2016

This is the final book of the Lorien Legacies, and wow, has it been a roller coaster. What a great series!! Now that the Mogs have earth, what is it going to take to save the planet?  How far is John going to take this and what more can he feel that he can lose? Without spoiling the book…  it has a well-rounded ending.

-Recommended by Chris