Sunday, April 11, 2021

Staff Recommendations, Week of April 13, 2021

That's right everyone, it's time again for a roundup of recommendations from the Boswellians. Hooray!

This week sees two new brand new books coming out with staff recs - one in hardcover and one paperback original! First, we go hard, with Daniel Goldin for Katherine Heiny's Early Morning Riser.

Daniel says: "When Jane, an elementary school teacher, moves to tiny Boyne City (a real place!), Michigan, she hardly suspects the complications that will ensue when she takes up with Duncan, the older woodworker who moonlights as a locksmith. Let’s just say he has a lot of ex-girlfriends. A lot! But on the guffaw-meter, Early Morning Riser was literally off the charts in the number of times I laughed out loud. If Heiny had stayed in the romantic comedy lane, I would have been perfectly content. But she throws a curveball when Jane gets a happy ending, only not the way she expected, and that turns out to not be the end of the story. Heiny has a rare gift for bringing characters to glorious life, warts and all. Sometimes, in the case of Jane’s mother or her neighbor’s husband Gary, perhaps all warts. I love Jane’s voice and the way she can see the absurdity in the everyday. And I love the way that Heiny plays with all different emotions, not just laughter, to create this story of family and community."

Next, Rachel Copeland recommends Rachel Copeland recommends Second First Impressions, by Sally Thorne, just released as a paperback original. Rachel says, "Ruthie (responsible, hardworking young manager of a retirement community) and Teddy (flaky, hot mess son of the retirement community owner) are opposites. When once-and-future-tattoo-artist Teddy gets trapped into being a personal assistant for two demanding residents of the community, Ruthie is sure Teddy will be gone the next day. Instead, Teddy thrives, working his way into everyone's hearts with his sweet nature and impulsive, fun personality. With his inevitable departure on the horizon, Ruthie just needs to guard her heart long enough to stay safe in her protective bubble of the retirement community forever. I have to say - this one really got to me. I cared so much about each character, and when I was done reading, I immediately flipped back to my favorite parts to enjoy them again. It's rare to find a romance novel that has both heart and sizzle in equal measure, but Sally Thorne makes it seem easy."

Speaking of paperback books, there are four Boswellian recommended books out in paperback this week worth checking out! The first two are Daniel's picks.

All Adults Here
, by Emma Straub. Daniel says, "I have been reading dysfunctional family comedies since my teenage years, and Emma Straub's latest has all the makings of a classic. Astrid, who lives in a picturesque Hudson Valley town, is widowed and has secretly taken up with a new love. Her three kids, Elliot the driven builder, Porter the nurturing goat farmer, and Nick the former actor who may or may not now have a profession, all parents or parents to be, are coping with the repercussions of youthful decisions, which may or may not be the fault of their mother. When Nick’s daughter Cecelia has trouble at her Brooklyn school, the family decides to send her to Clapham to start anew, and that, as well as unexpected death of Astrid’s long-time rival, sets several runaway trains on a collision course. There’s something very circa-2019 about the story – teenage bullying, sexual assault of various stripes, and at least two LGBTQ plotlines. But in the end, the questions raised by the delightful All Adults Here is timeless; can the family come to terms with their past so they can enjoy the present? Since this is a comedy, a positive outcome is likely!"

Daniel's next paperback pick is The Ancestor by Danielle Trussoni. He says, "What if you took a DNA test and turned out to be part monster? Alberta “Bert” Monte doesn’t know this when a stranger appears at her door, telling her that she’s the last of Montebiancos, a wealthy family centered in a remote part of the Italian Alps. All she knows is that her grandparents emigrated there to the Hudson Valley, and little was ever spoken of their past, though there are rumors of children disappearing from the village. Bert’s at loose ends – she’s recently separated from her husband after a series of miscarriages – and so goes along, as much to learn the truth about herself as to claim her fortune. The twists and turns of The Ancestor are as tortuous as a ragged mountain pass, and Bert is just the companion for this exciting journey into the land of gothic horror."

Rachel also has a not-new-but-new-in-paperback pick on this week's list: Sin Eater, by Megan Campisi. Rachel says, "To be a sin eater is to take on the sins of the dead and dying through a ritualistic eating of symbolic food. When orphaned and illiterate 14-year-old May is caught stealing bread, she is sentenced to become a sin eater, never to speak to another human being except when conducting final rites. Isolated in every possible way, only May's ingenuity can see her through the tangled web of court intrigue and murder that she becomes embroiled in. By setting this novel in an alternate version of the Elizabethan era, Campisi creates her own playground, with characters based on the Tudors and their various peculiarities but without the obligation to stick to the history books. The result is a uniquely historical dystopian novel that had me guessing until the end."

Finally, how about a new recommender to end us this week? Okay! Jen Steele suggests you pick up the specially rereleased (and specially priced) edition of The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler. Rachel says, "Simon Watson is a librarian living in a run down house on the edge of a cliff. He's just received a very strange & cryptic book that will change everything he thought he knew about his family. Simon's family is no ordinary family. They are mermaids and fortune tellers. They are carnival folk, and their history is contained in this newly acquired tome. While exploring its pages, Simon soon discovers that every woman in his family has mysteriously drowned on July, 24th. Could his sister, Enola, be next? In order to save her, Simon must decipher this book before time runs out. The Book of Speculation is mysterious, dark, magical and very hard to put down."

That's it for this week. Stay tuned for more book recommendations from the Boswellians in the future, please.

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