Book Picks from Elaine & Luisa

Book 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.

Click here for an archive of Elaine and Luisa's previous picks!

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March 2020

Staff Pick Badge
The Adventurer's Son: A Memoir Cover Image
$28.99
ISBN: 9780062876607
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: William Morrow - February 18th, 2020

When Roman Dial receives an email from his son, Cody, saying that he was solo hiking into the Costa Rican wilderness, he trusted that his son would safely return. But when Cody goes missing, his disappearance becomes embroiled in the politics of Costa Rica, and Roman begins to wonder what role his parenting has played in Cody’s misadventure. This memoir often reads like a thriller, and it is a testimonial to a son’s adventurous spirit as well as a moving tribute to all parents who share their passions with their children. —Luisa


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The Animals at Lockwood Manor Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780358106401
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - March 10th, 2020

This gothic WWII-era mystery will thrill any reader looking for a dark and evocative read. As German bombings loom over London, a taxidermist removes a highly regarded museum collection to the relative safety of a countryside manor—but the manor comes with its own threats. An overbearing Lord, his somewhat strange daughter, and things that go bump in the night seem intent on exacting a price of their own. —Luisa


Staff Pick Badge
Deacon King Kong: A Novel Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780735216723
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - March 3rd, 2020

It’s 1969 and 19-year-old drug dealer Deems Clemens is lounging with his “associates” at a Brooklyn public housing project. Along comes 71-year-old Sportcoat, aka Deacon King Kong, who pulls out an ancient gun and shoots him. Turns out Sportcoat coached Deems and is furious that Deems chose drug dealing over what could be a stellar baseball career. Now, everyone in the project knows that Deems' drug bosses will kill Sportcoat, but what everyone doesn’t know is that there’s an undercover cop who witnesses the shooting. McBride brings us a fast-paced—at times laugh-out-loud—gem of a novel that covers serious issues of race, poverty, and corruption. —Elaine


Staff Pick Badge
Writers & Lovers Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780802148537
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Grove Press - March 3rd, 2020

In Writers & Lovers, Lily King has written her most personal story yet, that of a young woman finds writing as her lifeline to emotional equilibrium. As she struggles over the manuscript, she is torn between lovers and still processing the death of her mother. This is a novel about the journey many face when all seems lost. King is the author of the highly acclaimed Euphoria. —Luisa


Staff Pick Badge
Rebel Cinderella: From Rags to Riches to Radical, the Epic Journey of Rose Pastor Stokes Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9781328866745
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - March 3rd, 2020

Did you know about Rose Pastor Stokes? I didn’t, but I should have. She was born in 1879 in the Russian Empire, but by age eleven, she was supporting her mother and siblings by working in a cigar factory in Cleveland. Her letter about the horrific conditions of the workers led to a job with the Jewish Daily. She fell in love with the scion of a wealthy family, and they became two of the leading activists of their day. Because she passed out birth control information, she had the honor of being called “one of the most dangerous influences of the country” by President Woodrow Wilson. I’ll let one of the great writers of history, Adam Hochschild, finish the story. —Elaine


Staff Pick Badge
Apeirogon: A Novel Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9781400069606
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Random House - February 25th, 2020

Israeli Rami Elhanan’s daughter, Smadar, was shopping when she was mortally wounded by a suicide bomb. Palestinian Bassam Aramin's daughter, Abir, was mortally wounded when an Israeli soldier fired rubber bullets into a crowd. Colum McCann didn’t make this up—the novel is based on a Palestinian and an Israeli man who would be expected to hate each other. Instead, they meet every day to talk about their daughters, their land, their pain, and the senseless killings. Together, they become committed peace activists. The title, Apeirogon, refers to the imaginary polygon with an infinite number of sides, and McCann’s multi-faceted novel soars as he immerses us in a collage of memory, fact, politics, photos, music, regret, and determination. —Elaine


Staff Pick Badge
The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz Cover Image
$32.00
ISBN: 9780385348713
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Crown - February 25th, 2020

Do you think you already know more than enough about Churchill? I thought that too, but Erik Larson changed my mind. Accessing recently declassified intelligence reports and newly available diaries, Larson brings us an illuminating portrait of the period May 1940-May 1941. We are with Churchill as he works to bring Roosevelt along and to unite Great Britain in the midst of daily bombings. Through these many diaries, we get to see what they were seeing during this crucial year. —Elaine


Staff Pick Badge
The Yellow Bird Sings: A Novel Cover Image
$25.99
ISBN: 9781250179760
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Flatiron Books - March 3rd, 2020

A woman and her young daughter are the only Jewish people left in their small Polish town during WW II. They hide in a neighbor’s barn, until they are forced to change their plans. Throughout their ordeal, she quietly tells her music-loving daughter stories of a magical place and the bird that sings for her there. This moving novel is a testament to the power of imagination and love that can survive in the darkest times. —Luisa


Staff Pick Badge
Sharks in the Time of Saviors: A Novel Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780374272081
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: MCD - March 3rd, 2020

This debut novel combines Hawaiian myths and history with the story of an unusual family. Augie and Malia are trying to make enough profit from their small Hawaiian plantation to support their 3 children. In 1995 their 7 year old, Noa, falls into the ocean and is rescued by a school of benevolent sharks. From that time on, the dynamics change in the family. Noa exhibits healing powers that come and go. Washburn’s lush depiction of this working class Hawaiian family is mystical, terrifying, funny, and riveting. —Elaine


Staff Pick Badge
Oona Out of Order: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250236609
Availability: Backordered
Published: Flatiron Books - February 25th, 2020

In this challenging tale, 19-year-old Oona awakens on New Years Day to discover she’s now inhabiting the life and the body of a 51-year-old version of herself. The story deftly weaves together many decades, past and present, as Oona tries to navigate a life that is out of sync with the world around her. This delightful debut novel reminds us of the importance of embracing life as we live it and love as we find it. —Luisa