Good Reads ~ Recommendations by the Friends

say-nothing-7Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and memory in Northern Ireland (2019) by Patrick Keefe (Non Fiction)
Patrick Radden Keefe’s mesmerizing book on the bitter conflict in Northern Ireland and its aftermath uses the McConville case as a starting point for the tale of a society wracked by a violent guerrilla war, a war whose consequences have never been reckoned with. The brutal violence seared not only people like the McConville children, but also I.R.A. members embittered by a peace that fell far short of the goal of a united Ireland, and left them wondering whether the killings they committed were not justified acts of war, but simple murders. From radical and impetuous I.R.A. terrorists such as Dolours Price, who, when she was barely out of her teens, was already planting bombs in London and targeting informers for execution, to the ferocious I.R.A. mastermind known as The Dark, to the spy games and dirty schemes of the British Army, to Gerry Adams, who negotiated the peace but betrayed his hardcore comrades by denying his I.R.A. past–Say Nothing conjures a world of passion, betrayal, vengeance, and anguish.


thanks-a-thousand-9781501119927_lgThanks a Thousand (2018) by A. J. Jacobs (Non Fiction)
Author A.J. Jacobs discovers that his coffee—and every other item in our lives—would not be possible without hundreds of people we usually take for granted: farmers, chemists, artists, presidents, truckers, mechanics, biologists, miners, smugglers, and goatherds. By thanking these people face to face, Jacobs finds some much-needed brightness in his life. Gratitude does not come naturally to Jacobs—his disposition is more Larry David than Tom Hanks—but he sets off on the journey on a dare from his son. And by the end, it’s clear to him that scientific research on gratitude is true. Gratitude’s benefits are legion: It improves compassion, heals your body, and helps battle depression.


38720939._SY475_A Very Large Expanse of Sea (2018) by Tahereh Mafi (Young Adult)
It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.
Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother. But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.


9781524763138_p0_v6_s550x406Becoming (2018) by Michelle Oboma (Non Fiction, Memoir)
Becoming is the memoir of former United States first lady Michelle Obama published in 2018. Described by the author as a deeply personal experience, the book talks about her roots and how she found her voice, as well as her time in the White House, her public health campaign, and her role as a mother. The book is published by Crown and will be released in 24 languages. One million copies will be donated to First Book, an American nonprofit organization which provides books to children.


Death of Mrs. Westaway (2018) by Ruth Ware (Fiction, Thriller)51yGj5z3JtL._SY346_
On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money. Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the center of it. Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, this is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.


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Need to Know (2018) by Karen Cleveland (Fiction, Thriller)
Vivian Miller. High-powered CIA analyst, happily married to a man she adores, mother of four beautiful children. Until the moment she makes a shocking discovery that makes her question everything she believes. She thought she knew her husband inside and out. But now she wonders if it was all a lie. How far will she go to learn the truth?  And does she really . .


White Houses (2018) by Amy Bloom (Historical Fiction)51kklFZP1BL
Lorena Hickok meets Eleanor Roosevelt in 1932 while reporting on Franklin Roosevelt’s first presidential campaign. Having grown up worse than poor in South Dakota and reinvented herself as the most prominent woman reporter in America, “Hick,” as she’s known to her friends and admirers, is not quite instantly charmed by the idealistic, patrician Eleanor. But then, as her connection with the future first lady deepens into intimacy, what begins as a powerful passion matures into a lasting love, and a life that Hick never expected to have. She moves into the White House, where her status as “first friend” is an open secret, as are FDR’s own lovers. After she takes a job in the Roosevelt administration, promoting and protecting both Roosevelts, she comes to know Franklin not only as a great president but as a complicated rival and an irresistible friend, capable of changing lives even after his death. Through it all, even as Hick’s bond with Eleanor is tested by forces both extraordinary and common, and as she grows as a woman and a writer, she never loses sight of the love of her life.

From Washington, D.C. to Hyde Park, from a little white house on Long Island to an apartment on Manhattan’s Washington Square, Amy Bloom’s new novel moves elegantly through fascinating places and times, written in compelling prose and with emotional depth, wit, and acuity.


Killers of the Flower Moon: the Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI (2017) by 512t4v8xYdLDavid Grann (True Crime)
In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Indian Nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, the Osage rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe.
Then, one by one, they began to be killed off. One Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, watched as her family was murdered. Her older sister was shot. Her mother was then slowly poisoned. And it was just the beginning, as more Osage began to die under mysterious circumstances.

In this last remnant of the Wild West—where oilmen like J. P. Getty made their fortunes and where desperadoes such as Al Spencer, “the Phantom Terror,” roamed – virtually anyone who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered. As the death toll surpassed more than twenty-four Osage, the newly created F.B.I. took up the case, in what became one of the organization’s first major homicide investigations. But the bureau was then notoriously corrupt and initially bungled the case. Eventually the young director, J. Edgar Hoover, turned to a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to try to unravel the mystery. White put together an undercover team, including one of the only Native American agents in the bureau. They infiltrated the region, struggling to adopt the latest modern techniques of detection. Together with the Osage they began to expose one of the most sinister conspiracies in American history.

A true-life murder mystery about one of the most monstrous crimes in American history.


9780425284681Before We are Yours (2017) by Lisa Wingate (Fiction)

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shanty boat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge — until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents — but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals — in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country — Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.


170727-hillary-clinton-book-mn-0710_355921c6f3c19d87fb2a3fa8a72a5f2c.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000 What Happened (2017) by Hillary Rodham Clinton (Biography)
What Happened is a 2017 book by Hillary Rodham Clinton about her experiences as the Democratic Party’s nominee and general election candidate for President of the United States in the 2016 election.


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Celine (2017) by Peter Heller (Mystery, Thriller, Fiction)
A luminous, masterful novel of suspense–the story of Celine, an elegant, aristocratic private eye who specializes in reuniting families, trying to make amends for a loss in her own past. Working out of her jewel box of an apartment at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge, Celine has made a career of tracking down missing persons, and she has a better record at it than the FBI. But when a young woman, Gabriela, asks for her help, a world of mystery and sorrow opens up. Gabriela’s father was a photographer who went missing on the border of Montana and Wyoming. He was assumed to have died from a grizzly mauling, but his body was never found. Now, as Celine and her partner head to Yellowstone National Park, investigating a trail gone cold, it becomes clear that they are being followed–that this is a case someone desperately wants to keep closed.


thA Gentleman in Moscow (2017) by Amor Towles (Historical Fiction)
A Gentleman in Moscow immerses us in another elegantly drawn era with the story of Count Alexander Rostov. When, in 1922, he is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him a doorway into a much larger world of emotional discovery.


30267929._UY630_SR1200,630_We were the Lucky Ones (2017) by Georgia Hunter (Historical Fiction)
Inspired by the incredible true story of one Jewish family separated at the start of World War II, determined to survive—and to reunite—We Were the Lucky Ones is a sweeping novel spanning six years and five continents and a tribute to the triumph of hope and love against all odds.


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The Alice Network: A Novel (2017) by Kate Quinn  (Historical Fiction)
During the chaotic years after WWII, an American college student seeks her missing cousin. During her search she finds a crusty former spy who tells of the contribution of female spies during WWI and WWII.


51+wiE3vHKL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The Address: A Novel (2017) by Fiona Davis (Historical Fiction, Mystery)New York’s Dakota Apartment Building takes center stage in this love story that develops during the opening of this unique landmark.


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Cork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure (2017) by Bianca Bosker (Biography, Cooking and Food)
Non-fiction account of one woman’s exploration of the world of a Sommelier and fine taste.


27276364._UY630_SR1200,630_Hello Sunshine (2017) by Laura Dave (Fiction)
When an internet taste-maker’s secret is exposed, she has to spend some time on serious self-reflection to tease out what is real and what is fiction about herself.


ParisAllOwnBA Paris All Your Own (2017) edited by Eleanor Brown
An anthology of essays written by 18 female authors who have written books about Paris about their own experience in the City of Lights.


Loving Eleanor (2016) by Susan Wittig Albert (Historical Fiction)27427416
When AP political reporter Lorena Hickok—Hick—is assigned to cover Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, the wife of the 1932 Democratic presidential candidate, the two women become deeply, intimately involved. Their relationship begins with mutual romantic passion, matures through stormy periods of enforced separation and competing interests, and warms into an enduring, encompassing friendship that ends only with both women’s deaths in the 1960s—all of it documented by 3300 letters exchanged over thirty years.


Lilac Girls (2016) by Martha Hall Kelly51YmuqIFKbL
For readers of The Nightingale and Sarah’s Key, inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, this remarkable novel reveals the power of unsung women to change history in their quest for love, freedom, and second chances. New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France. An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences. For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power. The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten.


220px-Simon_vs._Homo_Sapiens_Agenda_coverSimon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (2015) by Becky Albertalli (Young Adult)
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a 2015 young adult novel and the debut book by American author Becky Albertalli. The coming-of-age story focuses on its titular protagonist Simon Spier, a closeted gay high-school aged boy who is forced to come out after a blackmailer discovers Simon’s e-mails written to another closeted classmate with whom he has fallen in love.


Where’d You Go, Bernadette (2012) by Maria Semple (Fiction)9780316204286_p0_v9_s260x420
Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect; and to 15-year-old Bee, she is her best friend and, simply, Mom.
Then Bernadette vanishes. It all began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle–and people in general–has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.
To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, and secret correspondence–creating a compulsively readable and surprisingly touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.


The Summer Book (1972 original Swedish edition) by Tove Jansson (Biographical Fiction)th7KZ5BRNL
In The Summer Book Tove Jansson distills the essence of the summer—its sunlight and storms—into twenty-two crystalline vignettes. This brief novel tells the story of Sophia, a six-year-old girl awakening to existence, and Sophia’s grandmother, nearing the end of hers, as they spend the summer on a tiny unspoiled island in the Gulf of Finland.


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