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Great Reads – October 2020

Mexican Gothic

By Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Fans of Shirley Jackson will love this thriller set in a glamorous mansion in the Mexican countryside during the 1950s. Noemí Taboada receives a desperate summons from her newlywed cousin for help. Her letter is frantic and speaks of a mysterious doom in her husband’s family home. Noemí heads to High Place, an isolated mansion owned by her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman. Noemí is a glamorous socialite, more used to going to parties than investigating, but she will do anything to help her cousin and she is determined to discover what secrets are lying in the fading glory of the house, and within the family’s past.

The Sun Down Motel

By Simone St. James

Carly never understood what happened to her aunt Viv, why she disappeared, or why no one looked for her. Reeling after her mother’s death, Carly decides to drive to the small town of Fell, New York; the town her aunt had escaped to 35 years ago, and the place she was last seen. Told from the dual point of view from Carly in 2017, and Viv in 1982, the story of the Sun Down Motel unravels, a seedy little place that Viv quickly discovers is haunted. The ghosts return in the night, and one of them needs help. Viv wants to know who killed the woman in the purple dress. 35 years later, Carly’s journey into her aunt’s life finds her unraveling the same mystery. This creepy story is a perfect combination of ghost story and murder mystery. 

 

Conjure Women

By Afia Atakora

A sweeping story set in the South following the lives of three women before and after the Civil War. Miss May Belle, a healing woman with mysterious abilities; her daughter Rue, who is reluctant to become a midwife like her mother; and their master’s daughter Varina. The fates of each of are tied as war comes closer and changes their lives forever. A haunting tale with inexplicable magic, Rue recalls her childhood and her own struggles as an adult, attempting to care for the free people of her community after the war. Secrets from Rue’s past come back to haunt her with the birth of an accursed child, who upsets their whole community as suspicion and fear threaten to unravel their tenuous position in the postwar South. 

 

““The person who could be truly alone, in the company of no one but oneself and one’s own thoughts—that person was stronger than anyone else. More ready. More prepared.”

Simone St. James, "The Sun Down Motel"

Great Reads – September 2020

Notes from a Young Black Chef

By Kwame Onwuachi

Kwame Onwuachi became a household name after competing on “Top Chef” in 2015. Before the age of thirty he ran the gamut of culinary honors, including cooking at the White House. Growing up in the Bronx and Nigeria, food was Onwuachi’s passion. He launched his own catering company with twenty thousand dollars he made selling candy on the subway and trained in the kitchens of some of the most acclaimed restaurants in the country. As a young chef, Onwuachi was confronted with just how unwelcoming the world of fine dining can be for people of color, and his first restaurant, the culmination of years of planning, shuttered just months after opening. The road to success was not easy, and despite the odds, he shares in his memoir the remarkable story of his culinary coming-of-age.

Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune

By Roselle Lim

Natalie Tan left San Francisco’s Chinatown to pursue her dream of becoming a chef without her mother’s blessing. Now, seven years later, she receives word that her mother died. The two women hadn’t spoken since their argument all those years ago. Natalie is shocked to see that the neighborhood she remembers so well is fading as businesses close their doors and families move away. But even more surprising is when she discovers she has inherited her grandmother’s restaurant. Natalie struggles to reconcile her memories of her mother and her neighbors when the neighborhood seer instructs her she must help her neighbors by cooking some special recipes from her grandmother’s cookbook. But all is not as it appears as Natalie learns more about her past and the neighbors she thought she knew.

The Secret, Book & Scone Society

By Ellery Adams

Bookstore owner Nora Pennington knows just what book her customers need to read next. She is well known for easing someone’s pain with the perfect novel. When a local businessman is found dead on the train tracks, Nora is stunned. She gathers her friends and they decide to form the Secret, Book, and Scone Society. In order to join the club, each member must divulge their darkest secret. The women decide to work together to unravel the mystery behind the businessman’s death, and in the process find the strength to heal themselves. A great cozy mystery for cool fall nights about the bonds of sisterhood set within a quirky small town. Warning: you may need to stop and bake something while reading.

“Eating was a selfish act, and sometimes one requiring privacy. True consumption was carnal.”

Roselle Lim, "Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune"

Great Reads – April 2020

The Family Upstairs

By Lisa Jewell

“The Family Upstairs” is a thrilling mystery about a young woman named Libby Jones, who was adopted as an infant. On her 25th birthday, she discovers that she has inherited a large home in the high-end Chelsea neighborhood of London that has sat vacant since her birth parents mysterious deaths nearly 24 years ago. What Libby discovers is that not only did she inherit a house, but her parents and a third man killed themselves in the home, and that she has two older siblings who have been missing all these years. At the same time, we meet Lucy Smith, a single mother in France, struggling to provide for her two young children and protect them from her abusive ex-husband. Lucy is out on the street when her phone gives her the ominous notification, “The baby is 25.” The two women must face demons past and present to discover just what happened all those years ago.

Reporting Always:

Writings from The New Yorker

By Lillian Ross

Lillian Ross wrote for “The New Yorker” for more than 60 years, beginning her career there in 1945. She established working relationships with some of the greats in entertainment, especially Ernest Hemingway and John Huston, both of whom she wrote about extensively during her career. Her articles run the gamut from interviews with actors such as Robin Williams and Al Pacino, to tagging along on a senior class’s field trip to New York City. Some of the best articles capture snippets of life in NYC during the 1950s, which can feel very far away to us in 2020. My favorites include a surprising and introspective piece about Hemingway titled, “How Do You Like It Now, Gentlemen?” and a piece about an American bull-fighter titled, “El Único Matador.” Truly a book with something for everyone, and the collection is great for those who don’t have the time to devote to an entire book.

Waiting for Tom Hanks

By Kerry Winfrey

“Waiting for Tom Hanks” is a light, contemporary romance novel about young, freelance writer Annie Cassidy. Annie went to school for film studies and is obsessed with romantic comedies, especially Nora Ephron’s. Annie has been working on her own screenplay and dreams of one day making a movie of her own. When a movie is going to be filmed in her Columbus-area neighborhood, she jumps at the chance to work on a movie set. Unfortunately, she manages to spill coffee all over the leading man, the notoriously cocky actor Drew Danforth. Drew is anything but Tom Hanks-material, but Annie can’t help but feel drawn to Drew, even if he is leaving town in a matter of weeks. Annie and Drew’s story is a light, fast paced romance and, overall, a really fun read. I recommend this for anyone that enjoys a cute romance with plenty of pop-culture references.

Sure, it’s absolutely ridiculous to turn down a real-life guy because of a movie star, like saving myself for one of the Jonas Brothers in junior high, but it’s how I feel.”
Kerry Winfrey, "Waiting for Tom Hanks"