Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan
May24

Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan

Saints for All Occasions Saints for All Occasions is a beautiful book about family, love, and home.  It is about where we came from shapes who we are, no matter how far we go and what happens to us.  We meet Nora, who is the book’s beating heart and maternal figure, on the first page, set in 2009. Quickly the book spools back in time, to Nora’s girlhood in Ireland.  We learn of her arduous trip to the United States with her younger...

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The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy
May17

The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy

The Rules Do Not Apply “Do you ever talk to yourself?” Ariel Levy asks on page one of her mesmerizing new memoir, The Rules Do Not Apply. “I do it all the time,” she continues.  “We do it, I should say, because that’s how it sounds in my head. We’re going to turn right on Vicolo del Leopardo, go past the bar with the mosaic tiles, and then we know where we are. My competent self is doing the talking; my bewildered self is being...

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A Thousand Pardons by Jonathan Dee
May10

A Thousand Pardons by Jonathan Dee

A Thousand Pardons by Jonathan Dee A Thousand Pardons begins with the story of a family’s destruction. The Armsteads are an affluent suburban family living outside Manhattan. Ben is a partner in a law firm and Helen manages the home and their adopted Chinese daughter, Sara. The novel begins with the couple setting off for their ‘date night’, rather a meeting with a marriage counsellor where, in the midst of his mid-life crisis, Ben...

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This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell
May03

This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell

This Must Be the Place This book made me cry—ugly cry—and the truth is I rarely cry when I read a novel. In fact, I can remember only one other book in the past five years that’s made me cry this hard. Paradoxically, what first drew me into This Must Be the Place was its humor—it has plenty—particularly, the self-deprecating way Daniel Sullivan, one of the main characters, describes his often-reclusive life with Claudette Wells....

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Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
Apr26

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance I might know a thing or two about being a hillbilly. Much of my growing up was in the Ozarks of Arkansas catching crawdads and eating black-eyed peas at school lunch, and my parents live in the mountains of rural Tennessee. So, when I had dinner recently with a longtime friend in New York City, and one of the first things she said was, “I read this great book not long ago and I think you would love it,” I...

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The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close
Apr19

The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close

The Hopefuls Lately, I’ve been thinking about whether or not we can ever be truly objective when reviewing a book. Of course, we can recognize excellent writing, a devastating plot, or how complex the characters are. But when it comes to really loving a book, I find that it’s always because the book rings true about something I wasn’t sure we were allowed to talk about. That’s what I loved so much about Jennifer Close’s new book, The...

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My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman
Apr12

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry This is the story of an “almost eight-year-old” girl named Elsa and her best friend: her grandmother. Elsa and her grandmother share the bond of being different, and her grandmother creates a wonderful fantasy world for Elsa to escape to when needed. When Elsa’s grandmother dies, Elsa is left with her grandmother’s stories, both real and imaginary. Through a series of letters that Elsa’s...

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Life, Incorporated by Halley Bock
Apr05

Life, Incorporated by Halley Bock

Life, Incorporated “If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” – Lao Tzu My book recommendation is a little different than what you normally see here but I think everyone can gain some valuable insight from what author Halley Bock has to say in her recently published book, Life, Incorporated. Halley (pronounced like my own name, rhymes with Sally) had been a high-level executive for the majority of...

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A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline
Mar29

A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline

A Piece of the World Immortalized in Andrew Wyeth’s painting Christina’s World, in which she crawls across a field toward her family’s Maine farmhouse, Christina Olson lived a quiet, private life. She was hampered and eventually crippled by a degenerative muscular disease, but insisted on living independently (with the help of her brother, Alvaro) for as long as she could. Christina Baker Kline delves into Christina’s story – her...

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This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel
Mar22

This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

This is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel I read Laurie Frankel’s This Is How it Always Is without knowing anything about the story. I absolutely love it when this happens. Somehow books are always better in my mind when I have no expectations. I would love for readers to approach this story in the same way so I am going to do my best to review this book without giving away too much. This Is How it Always Is is a family story. A love...

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Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Mar15

Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal by Amy Krouse Rosenthal Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal, written by, none other than Amy Krouse Rosenthal, is the kind of book most readers could complete in one sitting. Instead, I only allowed myself a few pages a day. I enjoyed Rosenthal’s voice and world-view so much that I didn’t want it to end. I began reading Rosenthal’s unusual memoir weeks before her New York Times Modern Love essay, “You May Want...

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Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen
Mar08

Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen I’ve only seen Bruce Springsteen live, in concert once, during the 1988 Amnesty Internatonal Human Rights Now! Tour. Four friends and I took a three-hour bus ride into Philadelphia on September 19th and climbed the crumbling steps of JFK Stadium to the nosebleed section. But the seats didn’t matter. All you needed that night were your ears and your heart. Tracy Chapman lifted us up and then crushed us,...

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A Country Between by Stephanie Saldana
Mar01

A Country Between by Stephanie Saldana

A Country Between Stephanie Saldana’s A COUNTRY BETWEEN is a love letter to her first son, Joseph, and a chronicle of the years she and her growing family spent living on Nablus Road in Jerusalem. Nablus Road, the “seam” between Palestinian Jerusalem and Israeli Jerusalem, is full of characters and personality, and Saldana beautifully evokes their years living there. She describes a “one-street village with thousands of visitors who...

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Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
Feb22

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett A bottle of gin. A gun. A tablet of Benadryl. A book. In Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth, these everyday objects take on resonant meanings for the blended family that is born in the wake of an adulterous kiss at a gin-and-orange soaked party. Fix and Beverley Keating are picture perfect, for a few pages, at least. He is a police detective in LA and she is a beautiful housewife. They are raising two children in...

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Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
Feb15

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly I am always on the lookout for a great new book – whether it’s at the bookstore, through a Goodreads email, or when friends talk about books they love. This time around for my recommendation here at GNB, I have gone back and forth on several books, especially one that is an important recent book, which I read, but honestly did not love. For weeks I have scoured shelves and lists to find a book to...

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