Elaine & Luisa's Picks


Elaine PetrocelliBook Passage President Elaine Petrocelli and Book Passage buying director Luisa Smith select their favorite new books and provide reviews about their selections in each issue of the Book Passage News & Reviews.

These books are also displayed in each branch of the Bank of Marin, as part of the program Partnership for Literacy sponsored by Book Passage and Bank of Marin. Visit any branch of the bank to find out more about this program.



July-August 2016

All the Missing Girls Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501107962
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster - June 28th, 2016

Nica Farrell returns to the small North Carolina town where she grew up. She is still attracted to Tyler, her high school
sweetheart. Ten years ago, on the night of their high school graduation, Nica’s best friend, Corinne, disappeared. Now, Tyler’s current girlfriend has disappeared too. Merandell tells the story in reverse chronology, and as each chapter takes us further back in time, Nica faces unsettling truths about herself and her best friend. This emotional and complex thriller is full of surprises and fascinating characters. -- Elaine

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

Can there be anything more powerless than watching a loved one struggle to fit in the world? Love, worry, frustration infuse every situation, and Carolyn Parkhurst does an absolutely beautiful job bringing this to life in her new novel. Told in alternating voices of Iris, the younger daughter, and Alexandra, the mother, we follow the Hammond family as they uproot their lives in a desperate attempt to help Tilly, the oldest daughter, whose behavior violently swings between brilliant and alarming. The charm of the storytellers, together with the building suspense of the plot, create a powerful novel of familial love and inner strength. -- Luisa

Underground Airlines Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316261241
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Mulholland Books - July 5th, 2016

The Edgar Award winning author brings us a thriller that imagines that Lincoln was assassinated enroute to his inauguration and the Civil War never happened. Instead the US Marshall Service is charged with catching and returning “peebs” (Persons Bound to Labor). Victor, a young black man, is a bounty hunter sent north to infiltrate the Underground Airlines, an abolitionist cell that hides slaves in cargo to fly them out of the country. He tries not to think about his own childhood as a slave. But as he learns that his boss is hiding something, he wonders what’s really going on. Don’t start this book at bedtime, because it will keep you up all night.  -- Elaine

Homegoing Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101947135
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - June 7th, 2016

There is nothing quite as wonderful as reading a stunning debut novel, one that you know in your bones you will be discussing for years to come. Homegoing, with its powerful story and beautiful writing, is exactly that. The story follows the generations of descendants from two Ghanaian half sisters, one married into privilege, the other sold in to slavery. We experience the heartbreak, devastation, and triumphs of their children as they navigate a world that is sometimes beautiful but too often cruel. Spanning almost 300 years, this is both an intricate map of slavery and an intimate portrait of a family. Amazing! -- Luisa

The Girls Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812998603
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Random House - June 14th, 2016

In a novel that sizzles, we follow as Evie,now middle aged, tells us about 1969 when she was a lonely Petaluma high school girl who fell into the clutches of an innocent seeming cult. Wandering in the park one day, she comes across a group of girls who seem so carefree. Mesmerized, she begins spending more and more time with them at the ranch where the cult leader, Russell, controls all their lives. We hold our breath as the girls are led step by step into a horrific crime. If you have wondered how Charles Manson convinced young girls to participate in hideous acts, Evie, will show you how it was done. -- Elaine

Wintering Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101946466
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - June 7th, 2016

Peter Gaye writes with shocking clarity and beauty of the age-old struggles between man and nature—both the nature of the wilderness that surrounds him, and the nature of his own conflicted soul. Wintering is the story of Harry, who has twice chased adventure into the wilderness, perhaps as an escape from his life, perhaps as a way to fulfill his deepest desires. Gus, Harry’s son, recounts the first feat, in which the remote Minnesota wilderness both entrances and threatens the two of them when they try to re-enact the journeys of some ancient voyagers. But the second disappearance of Harry is a mystery to those who love him—one they struggle to unwind. Glimmering through the snow and ice, there is a tale of love and hate and the threats to their way of life. -- Luisa

Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393245448
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - June 7th, 2016

The author of Bonk, Stiff and several other books that make science irresistible, takes us into the world of the military scientists who are devoted to the survival of our troops. Her topics? How about “the art and science of keeping people safe in a vehicle that other people are trying to blow up.” If you’re squeamish, you may want to skip the parts about using maggots to heal wounds (I thought that stopped at least a hundred years ago). But Roach’s fascination with oddball facts, her sympathetic humor, and her genuine scientific curiosity make Grunt fascinating. -- Elaine

We Could Be Beautiful Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385540599
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Doubleday Books - June 28th, 2016

At 43, Catherine West owns a small business and a West Village apartment. She’s attractive, she has a trust fund, and she tries to be a caring person. She has it all—almost. When she meets William Stockton, she’s pretty sure she’s found her missing piece. But things change when she mentions him to her mother. Although she suffers from dementia, her mother has a violent reaction. Not understanding the reason for her mother’s strong feeling, she pursues the relationship anyway. Then she starts to discover unsettling things, and soon she is in the midst of a truly scary situation. -- Elaine

My Last Continent Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501124709
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Scribner Book Company - June 21st, 2016

Suspense and love intertwine against the starkly beautiful backdrop of Antarctica in this wonderful debut. Deb is a researcher, devoting her life to the penguins that populate this remote corner of the world. We see the beauty of these creatures and their environment through her eyes. The ice choked waters are vividly described, setting the stage for the tragic collision of a huge cruise liner and a mountainous iceberg. When Deb discovers the man she loves is aboard the doomed ship, the poles of her world shift. She must now focus on rescuing the one person who has rescued her from her self inflicted solitude. Raymond does a masterful job building the suspense, while the drama of both the past and present unfold -- Luisa

You'll Grow Out of It Cover Image
ISBN: 9781455531189
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Grand Central Publishing - July 12th, 2016

As a child, Jessi Klein refused to fit into the mold of the sweet little feminine flower. Of course the adults thought she’d grow out of it. Fortunately she didn’t, and she grew up to be a wise, funny, thoughtful, and insightful woman. Today she is the head writer of “Inside Amy Schumer”. Her captivating collection of very personal essays will have you laughing and crying. Don’t miss her disastrous attempt to buy French lingerie or the piece about the conservative Jewish wedding she attended at Disney World. -- Elaine

Carousel Court Cover Image
ISBN: 9781476791272
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster - August 2nd, 2016

I cannot remember the last time I read such a brutally perfect portrayal of modern American life. Carousel Court begins with the decline of a marriage, as the Maguire family finds themselves in the suburbs of L.A. They struggle to hold on to the few scraps of power that they have left to control what feels like the free fall of their lives. Examining the paradox of our both over-connected and disconnected world, McGinnis’s clarity of voice is balanced with the dark desperation that is often the silent partner of our lives. This is a powerful book that should not be missed! -- Luisa

The House at the Edge of Night Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812998795
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Random House - July 12th, 2016

Pull up a comfy chair and dive into life on Castellamare, a remote Southern Italian island accessible only by fishing boat. Have some limoncello as you discover the life, family and neighbors of the island’s doctor, Amedeo Esposito. Born at the end of the 19th century, Amedeo was an orphan who was tutored in medicine by his foster father. Just after he finally found his place on Castellamare, he was conscripted as a medic in WWI. When he returned, fascism was already growing and reaching even his tiny island. This is a sweeping novel full of intrigue, long arguments in the island bar, gossip, lust, forgiveness and love. -- Elaine

How the Post Office Created America: A History Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594205002
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Press - June 28th, 2016

The creation of the US Postal Service was one of the first acts of the nation’s founders. From the beginning there were huge
challenges, including competitors such as The Pony Express which ran the following: “Wanted: Young, skinny fellows not over 18. Must be expert riders willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred.” During the Civil War the South set up its own postal service but maybe it worked too well. In fact, a slave managed to get in a crate with plenty of stamps on it and get himself delivered to abolitionists in the north. Gallagher shows that the world’s best postal system is vital to our country even in the age of the internet. -- Elaine