Book Passage President Elaine Petrocelli selects her favorite new books and provides a review about her 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.
One of Tom Brokaw’s many achievements was to immortalize the men and woman of the 30’s and 40’s as The Greatest Generation. When the story is told of the greatest generation of broadcast journalists, his own name will be at the top of the list. In A Lucky Life Interrupted he turns his journalistic skills to writing about his battle with a form of blood cancer. It is an astonishing, poignant, and hopeful memoir that allows Brokaw to reflect on his amazing life. Some signed first printings.
Don’t miss A Master Plan for Rescue. What a glorious tale! Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of books set in the time of World War II, yet this one is both unique and universal. The New York boy, trying to deny his profound loss by believing the unbelievable, is appealing, complex, and often wrong. The adults, trying to make sense of the senseless, make us wonder what we would have done. From secret code rings to the rise of Hitler, from the ship of unwanted Jews, to the wonders of photography, Janis Cooke Newman weaves a fabulous and important novel that will be read and savored for years. Some signed first printings.
Don Winslow does something amazing in his novels. In The Cartel he draws readers in with a compelling description of the drug trade in all of its brutal reality, but at the same time he never loses sight of the people involved. The main subplot concerns a group of journalists in Juarez and their daunting efforts to cover the cartel’s atrocities without becoming victims themselves. He paints a compelling picture of the tragedy that violent power struggles leaves in their wake. Booklist from the American Library Association calls it “one of the most ambitious and most accomplished crime novels to appear in the last 15 years." I agree. Some signed first printings.
The many fans of Karen Joy Fowler will be ecstatic over this collection of short fiction. She was a short story writer before she soared into prominence with The Jane Austen Book Club, and this collection shows her mastery of that genre. In her own words, “As a reader, the thing I value most is surprise, and surprise is what I work hardest to produce when I write . . . The kind of story I like best is the one that produces a short, sharp shock.” And that is exactly what you get in Black Glass – a series of delightful, unexpected shocks. Some signed first printings.
Keep your eye on this talented new writer. Three students arrive at Harvard and soon develop a tangled relationship. But just before graduation, a classmate is found murdered on campus, and they find themselves facing a cruel and unanticipated reality. A charismatic professor who has loomed large in their lives is suspected of the crime. The questions of guilt or innocence remain uncertain over the next decade, as they are forced to deal with their own deceits and shortcomings, desperately in search of answers and the chance to be forgiven.
He’s an internationally acclaimed actor, an award winning director, a brilliant writer, a spokesperson for justice, and an ordained Zen Buddhist. But he’s also the neglected child of affluent parents, the nephew of a gangster, a major figure in the counter-culture movement, and a man who struggled to find a way to support his family while overcoming an addiction to heroin. Peter Coyote takes us with him on his odyssey and we come away with new respect for this dedicated man and an appreciation for the transcendental experience that changed his path. Some signed first printings.
Readers of Kate Walbert’s A Short History of Women will devour this multidimensional portrait of two 80-something widows in New York, as they venture out of the comfort zone of their Chelsea neighborhood to take an art class. Simone and Marie, both French survivors of WWII, have been friends since meeting as young mothers on a Brooklyn playground. Walbert provides a wistful glimpse of women reaching out during their last days of independence. Publisher’s Weekly calls it “an ode to New York City, a riff on aging, and a discourse on living with a vague fear of impending catastrophe.” Some signed first printings.
The subtitle of Jessica Jackley’s book describes her work best: “Finding Inspiration From Entrepreneurs Who Do the Most With the Least.” This is an astonishing book by an inspiring woman. Jackley is best known as a cofounder of Kiva, the world’s first microlending website, allowing internet users lend as little as $25 to entrepreneurs who want to start or expand a small business. Since October 2005 Kiva has facilitated over $700 million dollars in loans among individuals across 216 countries. You can see the strength of her business background in her writing, but this is nonetheless a very personal memoir of what started her on this path. Some signed first printings.
It’s bad enough when a package arrives describing the details of your husband’s long-running affair. But it’s even worse when your 11-year-old daughter stumbles upon it first and shares it with her 15-year-old brother. That begins the break-up of the Shanley family. The husband, a successful and not unlikable—sculptor goes one way, and his wife, a former ballet dancer, goes another. The children contend with the loss, while navigating their own coming-of-age struggles. Sound grim? Well it might be if Pierpoint where not such a talented,perceptive, and – at times – downright funny writer. Some signed first printings.
This is a fascinating look inside the world of professional treasure hunters, focusing on John Chatterton and John Mattera and their quest for the Golden Fleece, a pirate ship sunk off what is now the Dominican Republic in the 1680s. Although it’s a contemporary story about the search for the ship, it’s also a story on two levels. Kurston documents not just the world of today’s treasure hunters and their painstaking, often hazardous enterprise but gives the reader as well a capsule history of the “Golden Age of Piracy,” from about 1650 to 1720, when the likes of Blackbeard, Captain Kidd, and Henry Morgan were roaming the Caribbean. Some signed first printings.
This is a great tale by the author of Perla and The Invisible Mountain. Leda Mazzoni leaves the small Italian village of Alazzano to make a new life in Buenos Aires with her cousin Dante, to whom she is promised in marriage. When she arrives, however, she finds that Dante has been killed. She’s resolved to make a living on her own but shocked to realize that the only way open to her is prostitution. Undaunted, she decides to don her dead husband’s clothes and take his name. She finds a job at a cigarette factory and playing tangos on her heirloom violin at night. De Robertis’ effortless writing style makes this a delight. Some signed first printings.
You’re gorgeous, affluent, and forty. You’ve been widowed and divorced, and you live in an impeccably restored Russian Hill mansion. Then you have a ski accident at Lake Tahoe. Enter Cavin – a handsome, kind, charming, surgeon assigned to take care of you. That’s Lara’s situation, and in the weeks it takes her to recover, Cavin sweeps her off her feet and their relationship blossoms into something she never imagined possible. But then . . . she begins to notice some strange things: a van parked outside her home at odd times, a break in, threatening text messages and emails, cracks in his seemingly perfect personality. What next? We’ll let Hopkins, author of the bestselling Collateral, finish the story for you. Some signed first printings.
When the young Berkeley physics professor Ernest Lawrence first conceived of his device, he called it “a proton merry-go-round.” But as L.A. Times business columnist and Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Hiltzik explains it, the cyclotron spun both scientific research and government involvement in that research in unprecedented directions. The achievements have been both astonishing and dangerous, and the same is true of the government expansion that followed in their wake. This is a fascinating look at Lawrence and his times. Some signed first printings.