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.

 

 

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July- August 2014

$26.99
ISBN-13: 9780062220509
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Harper, 7/2014
It’s 1914, and Kezia, who has been teaching in London, at first refuses to see the war fever that is sweeping through England. She marries a farmer named Tom, who is also the brother of her dearest friend, Thea. Kezia has no preparation for life on a farm, but when Tom enlists, Kezia must learn to manage on her own. Despite being a pacifist and suffragette, Thea can’t avoid the war. I keep thinking of the people in this outstanding novel. I see them in France and England during the “Great War” that in hindsight was clearly avoidable, and still profoundly impacts our world today. Some signed first editions
 
 

$25.99
ISBN-13: 9780062315281
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: William Morrow & Company, 7/2014

Welcome to Chicago in the 1960s. Sophia is peeking through the curtain of the Blue Angel Club as her mother, Naomi, a famous jazz singer, takes center stage. Naomi is talented and stunning, but a casual mother. Naomi counts on Jim, a photographer who is smitten by her, to take care of ten-year-old Sophia. They live in a seedy hotel where Naomi entertains men and women until the wee hours of the morning.  Sophia will break your heart, but I promise you will adore her. As we learn more about Sophia’s life and then about Naomi’s early years in Kansas, we are treated to a beautifully drawn, nuanced picture of this period.  Some signed first editions

 

 


$26.00
ISBN-13: 9780446578936
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Grand Central Publishing, 6/2014
We meet Malka early in the 20th century when her Russian Jewish family has immigrated to New York’s lower East Side. After an ice cream cart runs over her, she is permanently separated from her family and taken in by the Italian ice cream man. When this family excludes her from their ice cream business, she goes into competition with them. By the time we meet her in the 1980s, she’s a national phenomenon. Behind closed doors, she’s a hard-driving, hard-drinking, self-involved, impossible woman. In public she’s the lovely, wholesome model for any young girl. She’s the darling of the media—until everything falls apart.  Some signed first editions
 
 
 

$26.95
ISBN-13: 9781594205712
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Penguin Press HC, The, 6/2014

Lydia is dead. The authorities say it was suicide. How can this be? She was every parent’s dream. Her mother, who still wishes she had gone to med school,  hoped Lydia would become a doctor. Professor Lee, Lydia’s father, was born in the U.S. but is often mistaken for a Chinese immigrant. This mixed-race couple is not quite accepted in their 1970s Ohio town. As her parents and siblings search for Lydia’s killer, we are drawn into the intricate lives of each member of the family.  Some signed first editions

 


The Red Room (Hardcover)

$26.95
ISBN-13: 9780399163746
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Putnam Adult, 6/2014

Private security contractor John Knox and his partner, the former Chinese government spy, Grace Chu, are sent to Turkey for what is described to them as a simple operation. They are to deliver an ancient sculpture of Harmodius to an Istanbul restaurant owner.  This assignment doesn’t smell  right, but Knox needs money for medicine for his brother, so the job is accepted. As soon as Knox and Chu arrive in Istanbul they spot operatives following them. When Grace is kidnapped, Knox has to make some very hard choices. The pages fly by in Pearson’s heart-stopping thriller.  Some signed first editions

 


$27.00
ISBN-13: 9780804136631
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Crown, 7/2014
There’s never been a spy story like that of Kim Philby, and there has never been anyone who could tell it better. Ben Macintyre has previously captured the brilliant high-wire act of British espionage during World War II in books like Agent Zigzag and Double Cross. But here he shows that in the post-war duel with the Soviets all of the strengths of the Bristish old-boy network were suddenly turned against them. In the midst of it all sat the charming, well-bred, and utterly ruthless Mr. Philby, who disclosed every secret and betrayed every friend. This is an astonishing story.
 


$25.95
ISBN-13: 9781101874196
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Knopf, 6/2014
Kevin, a NASA astronaut, is trapped. He isn’t on a spaceship, he’s chained to a post in a shed at an abandoned Army base. The kidnapper, Thomas, says he just wants answers to a few questions. He complains that Kevin never answered his letters or calls. Wait, Kevin isn’t Thomas’s only captive, there are others, each in a different abandoned shed on the base. The novel is all dialogue, yet we always know who is speaking. As Thomas interrogates his captives about abandonment, disappointment, war, police brutality and pedophilia, Eggers unveils a deeply flawed soul and brings us a spellbinding thriller where personal history, psychology, and politics collide. 
 

$25.95
ISBN-13: 9780385534833
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Doubleday, 7/2014
A meltdown in a nuclear plant has devastated a huge area in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. Emily’s father was in charge of the plant, and although both of her parents died, she is tainted with suspicion. Now Emily is homeless and on the run.  When she encounters another lost child, 9-year -old Cameron, she takes him under her wing. Emily speaks  directly to us as she does what she must so that she and Cameron can survive the frigid New England winter.  She tells us about life before the meltdown, speaks of her own destructive acts, and finds strength from her favorite poems by Emily Dickinson. Bohjalian writes about difficult subjects with elegance and sensitivity. This is a book to devour and discuss.
 

Flying Shoes (Hardcover)

$26.00
ISBN-13: 9781620403013
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Bloomsbury USA, 6/2014
Welcome to Mississippi. It’s 1996, and Mary Jane Thornton is about to help her husband woo a semi-important photographer for his art gallery. Things get complicated when Mary Jane is contacted by  a detective who is looking into the 40-year -old cold case of Mary Jane’s stepbrother’s murder. As we and Mary Jane learn more about the murder investigation, we meet some fabulous characters, including; a quasi-homeless Vietnam vet, an heir to a chicken empire, and a smooth guy no one should trust.  As the unsolved  case lurks in our thoughts, we get to cry and laugh with some fascinating Mississippi characters. Some signed first editions 
 

$24.95
ISBN-13: 9780385350846
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Knopf, 6/2014
After an accident that left their bright teen-aged daughter brain damaged, Arturo and Alma Rivera leave their comfortable life in Mexico so that Maribel can attend a special school in Delaware. Arturo had his own contracting business in Mexico, but now he labors for long hours on a mushroom farm. Their dilapidated apartment building is filled with families from Central America. When the son of a Panamanian neighboring family becomes infatuated with Maribel, both sets of parents are furious. As the story unfolds, Henriquez brings in the voices of other neighbors who tell us why they fled their homes and the fear and alienation they confront in the U.S. The result is an exquisite, nuanced, and moving novel. Some signed first editions  
 

Abroad (Hardcover)

$26.00
ISBN-13: 9780374100360
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Sarah Crichton Books, 6/2014
Don’t be turned off by the cover, Abroad is a terrific, ripped-from-the-headlines, thriller. Crouch takes us to Grifonia Italy, a small university town where Tabitha has just arrived from Ireland. Tabitha has always been an outsider, so she is surprised when she is noticed by Jenny, one of the popular girls she barely knew when they were in college back in Ireland. Tabitha is soon swept into Jenny’s circle. There are plenty of drugs, lots of drinking, and not much studying. The more Tabitha gets involved with this new group, the more she learns and the more dangerous her world becomes.
 
 
 

$25.00
ISBN-13: 9780345548955
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Ballantine Books, 8/2014
Anyone who has ever planned the “perfect” wedding will devour this one. Olivia and Brody picked a lovely little inn in Provence for their small wedding. The gardens are gorgeous. The food will be wonderful. And since they are only inviting their dearest friends and family to the reception, it’s going to be stress free. Hah! Olivia’s oldest daughter from her first marriage brings a charming but rather frightening date. Olivia’s youngest daughter decides now is the time to give up being so perfect and to do something wild. The best man is on the prowl and the mother of the bride has her own marital problems. Pour a glass of great wine, go sit in a garden, and be glad you can enjoy this wedding without having to attend. Some signed first editions
 
 
 

$26.95
ISBN-13: 9781594204432
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Penguin Press HC, The, 6/2014
Carpenter, the author of Farm City, is the offspring of 1970s hippies. Perhaps she got her desire to grow food on land that wasn’t hers from George, her reclusive father. Her family was living in Idaho when back-breaking work and too much “free love” caused Novella’s mother to leave her unconventional marriage. She took her children to Washington, where they lived a much more conventional life. Thirty years later, when Novella is thinking of having a baby, she learns her 73-year-old father has gone missing. She goes to Idaho both to find him and to learn more about her own background. What she learns is shocking, but she writes with such wit and compassion that we come away caring for this strange feral man. Some signed first editions

 



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