Inspired by the true story behind the subject of Andrew Wyeth’s iconic painting Christina’s World (1948), we get to see a picture of mid-century Americana in all of its beauty. Christina (the main character of the novel) is a powerful character, crippled by a childhood illness, who refuses to give up and lives her life as well as she can. As readers, we can see that Christina struggles with how much she needs the family farm and lifestyle, and how much it needs her.
I was most keen to the author’s appreciation for the lack of amenities and the resourcefulness of the family. It definitely made me want to get away from the world, shut off the internet, ignore the cars driving by, light a candle and wrap up in a blanket and just read.
I had dinner with Christina Baker Kline in Minneapolis, and she discussed her new novel A Piece of the World. She is a bundle of energy. Her enthusiasm for this book is unbridled. She immediately gained a fan in me. I don’t always read historical fiction, but when I do, I love it. This book is no exception.
Delicate but powerful. At its core, this is a love story, yet it is so much more. Each word is power and the story slowly unfolds into this beautiful flower. It is not what I would typically find myself reading, but I am so happy that I did. I wanted to hold the book when I wasn't reading just so that I could stay with the story.
So many things about this book feel like the sensational Stranger Things meets The Rosie Project. Set in 1987, three boys set off on a quest to acquire a copy of Playboy with Vanna White on the cover. The resulting adventure involves love, video games, and doing anything to see a naked celebrity. It is sweet and delightful and also captivating.
Kris, one of our co-owners, was an early advocate for this book. She forced it into my hands and said that this was a book for me. She was not wrong. Dark and atmospheric with its setting, looming characters, and sense of upcoming doom, the book starts dramatically pulling the reader in.
I was fascinated by the many stories being told simultaneously in the book. Each chapter bounces from the past to the future with dazzling grace. The narrator, Linda, gives us a glimpse into the backwoods of Minnesota and the seclusion that comes with it.
I devoured this book in two sittings during the a near miss of an ice storm in St. Louis. It was the perfect excuse to not leave the house.
Historical fiction, police procedural, and civil rights! This gripping mystery will keep you coming back. This story is based on the first 8 African American police officers in Atlanta after World War II. The varying perspectives jump around to multiple policemen and give different views of the world. I found the characters and the scenerio so fascinating that I hope it becomes a series or a movie or television show or something. I want more from this world.
As a child of a certain generation, I found much inspiration from the movie Mean Girls. I connected with so many of the characters including Rajiv Surendra's Kevin G, captain of the Mathletes. Rajiv's book continues to inspire me as an actor. Spending years trying to get cast in his dream role as the lead in the Life of Pi, Rajiv takes us deep into his life and goals. It is a wonderful journey that we get to take as he discovers himself, and the reader gets to discover more about themselves.
I watched a YouTube video on the rules of cricket and how a game is played. I recommend doing that and then throwing yourself into this book. I was fascinated by the sport and the two boys that are the focus of the book! Manju and Radha were raised to be cricket stars in India, but fate has a way of making things difficult. It is not a story about cricket but about the brothers and their lives growing from the slums to promising stars. And the ending blew me away.
This book belongs on your shelf. Such a wonderful collection of essays from Hamid's career. He is such an eloquent author (his novels are among my favorite books). The essays on politics captivated me with a wealth of information about the world and especially Pakistan. This could only be written by someone that has claimed three continents as his home. I highly recommend this for reading groups because you will want to discuss so many different parts of the book.
I was drawn to this book from an interview the author did with NPR. It is such a well-told, interesting story. Charlie Freeman is a chimpanzee that a family is hired to adopt and treat like a member of the family. It is bizarre, striking, and creates a dialogue about race through glimpses into the past. --Shane's Staff Pick April
This is entirely possible to read in one sitting, but I would not recommend it. I should have learned my lesson with any of his three previous books and not finished it in public either. The lessons that I have learned from Fredrik Backman are tear streaked. I have read all of his books and can recommend them for anyone. -Shane's Holiday Staff Pick, 2016
I cannot believe that this is a debut novel. It is such a beautifully crafted story with such stunning characters. The Mothers are a collective of mothers from the church that act as a type of Greek chorus looking in at the story. Even though this is a book about the church and abortion, it does not get preachy or judgmental about the situation. This is life after certain choices have been made. Bravo Brit Bennett! -Shane's Holiday Staff Pick 2016
Such breadth and yet so intimate.Mahajan looks at the lives of many people affected by a bomb set off in a marketplace in India. The characters are more intertwined than they first appear. Muslim and Hindu, friend and foe, their lives are drastically changed in ways that they might not even realize until years afterwards. Stunningly beautiful! -Shane's Holiday Staff Pick, 2016
Dave Eggers never fails me! This book is about a woman running away from wildfires both literally and figuratively. Josie has run away with her two children to Alaska to escape her lawsuit-ridden dental practice, her ex-husband who suffers from excessive bowel movements, and the grief from the death of a young soldier. Much like Eggers other books, the setting plays a large part in the book. Alaska is the backdrop and also a beautiful character. Full of emotion, humor, and action, Heroes of the Frontier is a beautiful read. -Shane's Holiday Staff Pick, 2016
If you loved Americanah or Twelve Tribes of Hattie, you must read this book. It is an epic family saga that will make your heart ache. So beautifully conceived and flows through history with you furiously turning pages. I could not put this down.
An epic family drama with a backdrop of the AIDS crisis. This book is wonderfully constructed bouncing around in time and character. There is so much heart and gravity to the story. I am drawn to so many of the characters and their interesting storylines. The way that Murphy weaves the stories between characters was magnificent.
I devoured this book! I love Ann Patchett and think this book is phenomenal. The weave of the family's story is so magical and poetic. The depth of character is beautiful. The reader is thrown into this family like you are one of their own.-Shane's November Staff Pick, 2016
Such an interesting gem. This journalist takes you on an adventure around the world in quest for a rare and extremely expensive aquarium fish. It was fascinating with little diversions of intriguing facts. I did not know that the longest civil war is still happening in Southeast Asia in what is now Myanmar. The author takes you there in her quest. For fans of adventure books like Lost City of Z. -Shane's October Staff Pick, 2016
Struggling Cameroonian immigrants attempt surviving New York during the economic crisis in this captivating debut novel. This is definitely in my top 5 books for the year. I fell in love with the characters and want so much for them to succeed. This novel gives such a view of the trickle down impact of the collapse starting at the top of Lehman Brothers. Jende and Nini's story is one that will stay with you for a long time. -Shane's October Staff Pick, 2016
I loved so many things about this book. The characters were heartfelt, the plot was intense, the historical story it was inspired by is insane, and everything pays off so well. The story revolves around the making of a horror film set in the Amazon. The way Wilson captures the dangerous feel of the jungle, the drug trade, and humans, in general, is so thrilling. Pick it up and let the fear wash over you. -Shane's Pick September 2016
I could not put it down! This is the perfect blend of everything I love about mysteries. The story starts nearly 20 years ago when twin girls are abducted from the yard of their historic Keokuk, Iowa mansion while their older sister picks them flowers from the backyard. For years, the family ran from this terrible crime but now Arden, the protagonist, has returned to the small town in Iowa to face her demons after her father's death. This book is about true crime enthusiasts (which I am), family in a small Midwestern city (like where I am from), and struggling to figure out your life (who isn't struggling with this?). I think readers of all ages can truly connect to the idea of where you are from not being the same as it is today. I get this feeling every time I go back home. But getting back to the mystery of the book. McHugh does a great job of making the book super spooky, unpredictable, suspenseful, and haunting. I loved the characters in the book. I think McHugh is really growing into a suspense author powerhouse. -Shane's August Staff Pick, 2016
I love the literature that is coming out of Nigeria right now. This debut novel tells the story of four brothers and the fate that awaits them. As much as I loved the prose and thought that it was captivating, I also thought it was going to be predictable. I was WRONG. The ending had my heart in its grip. If you love Chimamanda Adichie, read this book.
Incredible illustrations. The story almost has a songlike quality to it. And it is educational teaching children how different animals see the world. So clever. So stunning. -Shane's July Staff Pick 2016
Again, Ruth Ware writes the book of the summer! This is one that you will not be able to put down. Such a expertly crafted mystery with drunken journalists, an outrageously expensive and luxurious private cruise, beautiful surroundings, and an entire boat of suspects. It is perfectly British and perfectly wonderful. --Shane's Staff Pick July 2016
This is my favorite coloring book! The Bad-Ass Bitch Unicorn is my spirit animal. -Shane's July Staff Pick, 2016
Since reading, I have seen the effects of Lindy West everywhere I look. She has touched not only my life (in ways that I wasn't aware), and made my online life less scary, but also strengthened and motivated me to assist with her mission. I only hope that one day I will be as strong as Lindy West. I have been telling strangers that I meet that they need to know the name Lindy West. -Shane's Pick May 2016
I LOVED this book. I think Fredrik Backman is quickly becoming my favorite author. His range of emotion and his depth of character is just stunning. Britt-Marie is a minor character in My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry. And you will fall in love with all of her quirks. You will laugh and cry. I want to describe it as a really intelligent "feel good" book. What do you need from life? What happens when everything you know is no longer relevant? What is your favorite cleaning product is no longer manufactured? How do you begin again? -Shane's May Staff Pick 2016
Dark humor, fairy tales, grieving, and love. I did not expect this book to make me weep in the San Francisco airport at 4am, but it did. It was really beautiful. The way the narrator's grandmother wove fairy tales into her own world is just stunning. This book is full of optimism in such a strange way. -Shane's Staff Pick April
Zac keeps getting better and better. Blood Between Us will keep you on your toes and keep you guessing the whole way through.
Such an incredible tale. Very well translated and researched. Hong Gildong is less the Korean Robin Hood as he is the Korean Hercules. He can do anything.
Nature and adventure and robots! This is great to read with your parents or by yourself. This book has everything.
I learned so much reading this book about (obviously) the Middle East, journalism, and a behind the scenes view of both. Engel happened to be in the wrong place at the right time. His writing style is just incredible. It allows the reader into the emotions of what is happening but also filling the reader with so much information.
Kwame's style is so wonderful and well-crafted. This is a perfect book for reluctant readers and for reading lovers. I enjoy soccer, but I am not a huge fan, and I still appreciated the sport and the passion that the characters hold for it. My only wish is for someone to compile a list of all the book references into a reading list for kids.
Super spooky. Super atmospheric. Not just for lovers of the Longmire series (this was my first foray outside of the TV series). Craig Johnson makes me want to go to Montana.
Chimpanzees, religion, Portugal, pathology. How do these make a beautiful novel? I don't have the answer, but they do. I loved Life of Pi (who didn't?) and could not wait for this novel. It is so magical, so well crafted, so much beautiful detail. It is a must read. -Shane's Pick April 2016
This book will make you so angry. Want to revolt. Want world peace. Want so many things. It is a beautifully woven tale of a protest. As a reader, you see all sides of the protest. All the characters are struggling to achieve their strongest passions. Finding your son. Fighting for what you believe is right for the world. Fun fact, the author had the original manuscript stolen. When rewriting it, he focused on the characters that he really had passion for. I believe this is one of the reasons why you will find this book so amazing. -Shane's March Staff Pick, 2016
It starts with a disaster that ripples into the world of so many different people. This is a continuous story told from the people that are knowingly and unknowingly involved. It sounds incredibly depressing, but I promise that it is not gut-wrenching. The story moves across so many people, so many places, and so many emotions that it is hard to describe it entirely. It is stunningly beautiful. -Shane's March Staff Pick, 2016
I fell in love with Okparanta's short stories a couple years ago and very much looked forward to her first novel. This book has a stunning voice and a heartbreaking story. Set in war-torn Nigeria, it explores Ijeoma's life and love. It is a book examining a lesbian relationship in the most unforgiving of circumstances but speaks to so much more. For fans of Americanah and The Fishermen. -Shane's February Staff Pick, 2016
SO EPIC!!! I am telling you that you are going to love a series of books set during the Opium Wars in China in the 1830s. I never knew that a havildar was something I could be so interested in. So many incredible characters to fall in love with. Each book stands alone in its brilliance, but, all together, it is an opus of magnificence. 1st book- Sea of Poppies 2nd book- River of Smoke. -Shane's February Staff Pick 2016
This book is full of so many dichotomies. Love and loss. Humor and sadness. Youth and growing old. Truly stunning and beautifully written. Alexandra grew up in Africa but moved to America. This book asks the question "where are you truly at home?" I laughed and cried and contemplated. -Shane's February Staff Pick, 2016
You are going to have to forgive my language, but this book is super f---ked up. It should probably come with trigger warnings. All that included, I am still recommending this book for dark mystery readers. Fans of Gillian Flynn type readers. The main character is absolutely despicable, but you can tell there is some reason for it. And then it all comes crashing down. The shit hits the fan and you cannot put it down. -Shane's Holiday Staff Pick, 2015
The narrators of this book are a mother, her son, and the drug that controls the mother. I feel like this does as good a job as any to describe the book. To convince you to read it, I want to tell you that you just should. It came highly recommended, and I want to pass that on to you. It was moving and haunting and disturbing and hopeful. Read this book. -Shane's August Staff Pick, 2015
This is the mystery your friends all need to read so that you can talk about it over a bottle of wine. It starts off with a huge bang and keeps going as you wonder just what in the world happened deep in the woods. Unlike other psychological mysteries, you will like the characters and honestly fear for their safety. This debut novel from a debut publisher will make you fall in love with both the author and everyone who made this book happen. Read it and give a copy to your friend. -Shane's August Staff Pick, 2015
I have stayed in my fair share of seedy motels and completely feel like the mind can immediately go to the darkest places. In Little Pretty Things, we are taken to one of those dark places with the death of an estranged best friend who has returned to her small town holding secrets (and a very large diamond). I am a HUGE fan of Lori Rader-Day. She just keeps getting better. Her twists and turns keep you on the tips of your toes. Also, her characters are so vivid like you have known them for years. If you want to read a great mystery that really makes you feel, read this book! -Shane's July Staff Pick, 2015
Not only is the title great, but the book is too! The plot run-down kinda says what you need to know, but you should know that this book delivers on its promises. It is funny, sweet, and adventurous. The characters are perfectly created (especially if you know a professor from a liberal arts university). It reminded me so much of my college days. Oh the shenanigans! -Shane's June Staff Pick 2015
I picked up this book to get a feel for the type of short stories Liam was writing. I was about to host his event, but I didn't have time to read the whole thing. So, I read Listen, the title story, and immediately knew that this was an amazing book. I started at the beginning and could not put it down. These stories are beautiful, shocking, concise, and compelling. Each story has its own reasons to read and love, but the collection as a whole gives such a breadth of human existence and style. I found it irresistible. For something not being on my to-read list to being one that I feel urged to recommend is surprising to me. Read Listen & Other Stories. -Shane's June Staff Pick, 2015
This is a definite must for historical fiction fans. This book was not at all what I thought it would be. And that is a good thing. I thought this would be a book wholly about the child molestation scandal in the church. But it was so much more. The beauty of a historical novel set in recent history is how current and yet far away the world seems. Spanning several decades in modern Ireland's rocky history, we get a picture of a man, a family, the church, the world around us. And the ending was so powerful. -Shane's June Staff Pick, 2015
BETTY! In so many ways, this is almost a story of my life. I grew up gay in a small Missouri town. It is not easy, but it is often amusing. I did something I have not done in so many years. I dog-eared pages in the book because I knew that they were something I would want to come back to again and again. Read this book! -Shane's May Staff Pick, 2015
Not your run-of-the-mill mystery. At the core is a teenage girl who has disappeared while on a run. Her family had been vacationing in Colorado. The story lies with how her family copes with the everyday struggle of living with hope. It is beautifully crafted and works with present day and flashbacks. This book was not what I was expecting, but I was not disappointed. -Shane's April Staff Pick, 2015
If you want to read an incredible, epic, globetrotting, character driven book, then read this book! I found this book when it popped up on several "best of 2014" lists and the synopsis intrigued me. It is hard to say what I loved most about this book. I would like to say that it all just worked so well. Art, the Odyssey, sports, travel, anarchy, and a sprawling quest. Read it and love it. -Shane's March Staff Pick, 2015
Richard Blanco's memoir Prince of Los Cocuyos surprised me with how much I loved it. Full of humor and genuine heartfelt moments, Blanco describes his childhood growing up in a first-generation household. I think the best message the book gives is how to overcome misunderstanding. Definitely one of the best books I read this year. -Shane's February Staff Pick, 2015
There are so many important things about this book. Racism, hazing, sexual identity, family relationships. You will want to pass this on to your friends so that you can have someone to talk to. I think the third and fourth chapters contain some of the most personal and significant moments in the book. The power of Blow's writing and how raw his story is will make you open your eyes to the world of deep South post-Segregation lives. Fire Shut Up In My Bones has a place in history. -Shane's January Staff Pick, 2015
You will want to become a stage actor and perform all of these wonderful short gems to all of your friends. They, of course, will need to buy tickets to your performance and bring at least a dozen roses to throw at your feet when they finally stop crying from all the laughing they have done. They will praise you and your comic genius. You will then have to come clean and tell them that you did not write this. Bob Odenkirk did. They will still thank you. But they will never trust you again. -Shane's Holiday Staff Pick, 2015
The thrilling conclusion of the Elemental Series by Antony John is the perfect way to wrap things up. I am recommending that you read this entire series (if you haven't already). Antony is a local author that we LOVE. Pirates, supernatural powers, plague, and love. It is a wonderful book. The author said he wrote the book for the 14 year old version of himself, but I feel like it reaches out to the inner-teen in everyone. -Shane's November Staff Pick, 2014
Stunning, moving, & beautiful. I could not put this down. I took it everywhere for two days, popping it out every opportunity I had. Maybe not the best idea since I ended up crying in my car in a parking lot. So crying happened. -Shane's November Staff Pick, 2014