Elaine's Picks




Elaine PetrocelliBook 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.




November-December 2014

ISBN-13: 9781101874103
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Knopf, 11/2014
A 30-page Alice Munro story can tell us more about people and their experiences over years than many 300-page novels. In this collection of some of her all-time best work, we find ourselves intimately involved in the lives of people from the small towns and flatlands of Ontario who could be our next door neighbors, our lovers, or our children.  One of my favorite pieces, “The View from Castle Rock,” is biographical. She takes us back to the world of her ancestors who left 19th-century Scotland to come to Canada. Munro’s work has been celebrated with many awards, including the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature.

ISBN-13: 9780062313768
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Ecco, 9/2014
Richard Blanco read his magnificent poem, “One Today,” at President Obama’s 2013 Inaugural. Now he tells us his story. Conceived in Cuba, born in Madrid, and raised in Miami, Blanco was blessed and torn between cultures. His parents longed to keep their Cuban traditions alive while Richard longed to be a “real” American. As a teenager, he couldn’t quite figure out why he wasn’t interested in girls. His grandmother thought working in his great-uncle’s bodega would make him more “manly”, but it was there that he came to know and love a gay man. Blanco’s memoir will break your heart, make you laugh, and inspire you. Some signed first editions.  

Citizens Creek (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9781476753034
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Atria Books, 11/2014
The author of the acclaimed novel Cane River brings us a riveting story of survival. Cow Tom, born a slave in 1810, was nine when he was sold to the chief of the Creek Indians. He became fluent in several languages, and his service as a translator enabled him to buy his freedom. A parallel story portrays Rose, Cow Tom’s granddaughter. In spite of the racism of her time, Rose inherits Tom’s courage to fight the issues facing her. Some signed first editions.

The Burning Room (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9780316225939
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Little, Brown and Company, 11/2014
Pick up a copy of Burning Room and join Detective Harry Bosch as he faces a case from hell. It’s been almost a decade since a mariachi musician was paralyzed as the result of a drive-by shooting. Now, he has died from his wounds so, after all this time, it’s a murder. Harry and his very green new partner, Lucia Soto, are trying to unravel old facts. Was the mayor involved? Did the internal LAPD wars get in the way? And what about the fire that killed nine people that day? You’ll be on the edge of your seat until the last sentence of the last page. Some signed first editions. 

ISBN-13: 9780812994520
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Spiegel & Grau, 10/2014
Today, Bryan Stevenson is Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, a MacArthur Fellow, and a law professor at NYU. But 1988, when Stevenson, a newly minted Harvard lawyer, came to Alabama, he found condemned prisoners being hastily executed because they were too poor to have competent lawyers. Although he was innocent, Walter MacMillan was put on Alabama’s death row for the murder of a white woman—even before he was sentenced. He spent six years there before being released. Stevenson’s book reads like a true crime thriller, but it is crucial reading for anyone who is interested in equal justice for all. Some signed first editions.

ISBN-13: 9781594486296
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Riverhead Hardcover, 11/2014
Anne Lamott brings us a very personal collection of essays. Anyone who has mixed feelings about a parent who has died, who has felt guilty about not being a good-enough mother, or has noticed that life isn’t perfect, will laugh and cry with Anne. Whether she’s writing about parenting, jealousy, friendship, politics, or death, Anne is intimate, wickedly funny and profound. Some signed first editions

ISBN-13: 9780307271181
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Knopf, 10/2014
They’ve been referred to as “the Cold War Elders,” but they were young right after World War II when they began meeting for Sunday dinners at the Georgetown home of anti-Soviet journalist Joseph Alcott. They drank plenty, gossiped, laughed, and argued about the U.S. role in the Cold War world. As Alsop was using his friends for fodder for the column he wrote with his brother, these friends were influencing policy from the Truman through Nixon Administrations. If you want to understand how such smart people made so many mistakes, don’t miss The Georgetown Set. Some signed first editions.

Some Luck: A novel (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9780307700315
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Knopf, 10/2014
The Langdons are Iowa farmers. They have five children, and we get to know and care about each of them as we move with the family from the 1920s through to the 1950s. We view the Depression, WWII, and the Cold War through their eyes. Readers of Smiley’s work (including A Thousand Acres) know that she is both witty and profound. Some Luck is the first of a trilogy. Don’t miss it.

The Betrayers (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9780316284332
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Little, Brown and Company, 9/2014
What lines are crossed and what choices are made that make the difference between a villain and a hero? Before he became a charismatic Israeli politician, Baruch Kotler was imprisoned as a dissenter in the Soviet Union. When he becomes involved in a scandal, Kotler and his mistress leave Israel for the Crimea. There, he encounters the man whose testimony led to his long ago imprisonment. Bazmozgis explores the nature of loyalty and revenge in a beautifully layered novel. Some signed first editions.

Leaving Time (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9780345544926
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Ballantine Books, 10/2014
Alice and her husband run a sanctuary where Alice has been researching grief and mother-daughter bonding among elephants. Alice has been missing for 10 years. Her daughter, Jenna, now 13, believes Alice is alive, and to find her mother, she engages a washed up detective and a psychic who has lost her powers. Why would Alice, who knows so much about the importance of mothers and daughters, leave her beloved 3-year-old? Picoult’s interest in the life-long commitment of elephant mothers and daughters provides the underpinnings for an enthralling novel. 

ISBN-13: 9780061692062
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Ecco, 11/2014
You may remember Frank Bascombe from Ford’s prize winning novels The Sportswriter, Independence Day, and The Lay of the Land. When Hurricane Sandy hits, Frank, now retired from his real estate business, gets a call. The man who bought Frank’s old house is devastated. Hurricane Sandy has just reduced the house to rubble. As Frank travels to meet his former client, he brings us up to date on his world. Through the eyes of this caustic, philosophical, quietly emotional and very funny guy we meet Frank’s wife, ex-wife, friends, and former friends. If you know Frank from earlier novels, or you are meeting him for the first time, you’ll love every minute you spend with him.

ISBN-13: 9780316196673
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Little, Brown and Company, 10/2014
The author of Flags of our Fathers, Flyboys, and The Imperial Cruise starts this book about American “adventures” in Asia in 1850. Prominent American’s came to China to save the people for Christ. Many also made huge profits in the opium trade. Bradley points out that among others, Warren Delano, Franklin Roosevelt’s grandfather, made a fortune as a drug dealer. Bradley sheds light on our relationship with China tover a turbulent 100 years and shows us how our interactions with China in the past continue to impact the world today.

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