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Page Turners

Every other week, we invite local booksellers to submit suggestions for the best books on shelves now—it’s all part of our mission to keep our readers informed, up-to-date, and entertained.

  • California by Edan Lepucki

    One of my favorites of the year, California lives up to the hype and praise bestowed by Stephen Colbert. The story follows Cal and Frida in post-apocalyptic California. When Frida finds out that she’s pregnant, they move to a nearby community but their adjustment is hard after being on their own so long. Very thought-provoking. You won’t be able to put it down.

    —Liz of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison

    1 of 8


  • The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

    I love this novel. It features New England and New York enclaves, writers, musicians, and artists. Self-actualization begins at summer camp with bonds forming for a lifetime. I know these people, beautifully flawed, only sometimes talented. Being "the interestings" is poignant rather than ironic. Figland, a South Park-ian fictional animation by character Ethan Figman, originates in a shoebox under his bed. It’s a brilliant device. Heroes fail. The beautiful can be ugly. Success is painful to measure. Love is not.

    —Linda of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities, Essex

    2 of 8


  • The Joy of Drinking by Barbara Holland

    Plunge into history and reexamine an ancient appreciation for the illustrious "drink." This short read will alter your perception of infamous figures past and civilization from the Aztecs to the Prohibitionists. An enjoyable, comprehensive progression from primitive (yet tasty!) ethanol to the artistic and elite prowess of the martini. Garnished with an appendix to "Make Your Own," it’s an essential for modern-day cocktail connoisseurs.

    —Sara of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities, Essex

    3 of 8


  • Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid

    Hudson, Bree, Elliot, and Sonia are complete strangers and live nowhere near one another. The one thing they have in common is a mysterious girl named Leila, who is driving 4,000 miles across the country in an attempt to leave the past behind her. Along her journey, Leila meets and befriends each of these teens at a pivotal time in his or her life. When she drives out of their lives as quickly as she drove in, each of their lives is forever changed because of her. In the end, what Leila has been looking for all along is actually where she least expected it. Told in five parts, this great contemporary young-adult fiction is perfect for fans of John Green or Rainbow Rowell. For readers aged 14 and older.

    —Kaley of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison

    4 of 8


  • Lucky Us by Amy Bloom

    It’s so rare to find an adult book with a strong, wise young woman character! Like Swamplandia!, this novel soars as Eva takes in the world that is laid at her feet and tries to make the best of it both for herself and those around her. A wonderful novel!

    —Jamie of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison

    5 of 8


  • A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

    Just like the homeless cat that works its way into your heart, so will this grumpy old man, Ove. At times humorous and yet thoughtful, this story is about the power of friendship and love to turn a life around. Fans of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand will love this heart-warming story.

    —Barb of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison

    6 of 8


  • The New England Life of Cartoonist Bob Montana by Carol Lee Anderson

    Surprise! Archie is the work of Bob Montana, longtime resident of Meredith, New Hampshire, born into a banjo-playing Vaudeville family that retired to New England in the Roaring ’20s and rode out the Depression as farmers and restaurateurs. Archie begins in Bob’s high school journals and his love of pranks. This is wonderful slice of American history and family legacy, bringing insight to the beloved world of the Archie comic strip.

    —Linda of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities, Essex

    7 of 8


  • This is Not a Book by Keri Smith

    If I were stranded on an island and could only bring one thing, this would be it: a 221-page experience offering time travel, imaginary places, reflection, and far-out prompts. Best put—this is a playground of prose! Smith reigns as queen of creative jump starts, and there’s her Wreck this Journal and Pocket Scavenger to work your way through as well—enjoy!

    —Ellen of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities, Essex

    8 of 8


Past Page Turners

An Abridged Portrait: A Biography By Phillip K. Lu

 July 29, 2014

What happens when the son of Chinese immigrants becomes an astronomer and poet? This is blissful and soulful reading and reflection. The poems display the author’s humility and sharp awareness of life here and as part of the universe. You can rest your burdens here for a while.

—Linda of Burgundy Books, Westbrook

1 of 9

Bears in the Backyard by Edward R. Ricciuti

 July 29, 2014

Everything from bears to serpents and cougars are covered in these chapters. Discovering bears in the backyard is a daunting experience. But how does one survive a meeting with one in the wild? This is science writing that will make you think more about nature and our changing landscape. This is for city folk, too.

—Linda of Burgundy Books, Westbrook

2 of 9

Atlas of Remote Islands by Judith Schalansky

 July 29, 2014

Cartography, art, and literature align in the stories of 50 islands far beyond their mother countries—literally off the map. Though they’re historically rich and unadulterated, I wouldn’t plan your expedition just yet. Mutineers, exiles, and descendants of forgotten colonies are likely to haunt them, and the voyage itself could kill! With coordinates, back stories, and sketches sifted from ancient rare documents, this is undoubtedly the most poetic atlas to date.

—Ellen of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities, Essex

3 of 9

The Care and Management of Lies by Jacqueline Winspear

 July 29, 2014

An exquisite stand-alone novel about World War I from the creator of the Maisie Dobbs series. Winspear breathes life into best friends Kezie and Thea who are swept away and torn apart by their very different wartime roles. Kezia’s lovely letters to her soldiering husband are the heart and heartbreak of the novel. I never tire of this genre as there are endless stories to tell and Winspear is one of the best storytellers of all time.

—Mary of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison

4 of 9

Duck & Goose Go to the Beach by Tad Hills

 July 29, 2014

They’re back. Duck and Goose are going to the beach. But of course, it’s not straightforward. Beautifully illustrated with ducks wearing cute hats, walking through lush greens and unto a beautiful beach, this book is perfect for children. It’s filled with the beauty of nature, humor, and good storytelling.

—Linda of Burgundy Books, Westbrook

5 of 9

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

 July 29, 2014

Jojo Moyes fans—here you go! Another wonderful story filled with smiles and joy and more characters to love. I loved this book and all its quirky twists and turns. Have fun with it!

—Lori of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison

6 of 9

Shucked: Life on a New England Oyster Farm by Erin Byers Murray

 July 29, 2014

A city girl unplugs from her life as a Boston food and lifestyle writer to apprentice for 18 months in the business of oysters—yes, those oysters you eat in Grand Central Oyster Bar and hundreds of top American restaurants. It’s a terrific personal narrative. A mouth-watering dynamic tale with history and recipes about the New England farm community of Island Creek defying convention and succeeding .

—Linda of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities, Essex

7 of 9

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

 July 29, 2014

After reading the first Cormoran Strike mystery, I fell in love with the detective and the series. I couldn’t wait for a sequel—and The Silkworm does not disappoint. It follows Cormoran as he investigates the disappearance of the author Owen Quine, who recently attempted to publish a scandalous novel that has the ability to ruin many lives—and possibly end some.

—Katherine of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison

8 of 9

The Things You Kiss Goodbye by Leslie Connor

 July 29, 2014

Like any other teen, Bettina Vasilis struggles to balance her love for her family with her desire for independence. Her strict Greek parents don’t give her much freedom, until she surprisingly starts dating the high school football star. By all appearances, Brady seems like the perfect boyfriend. But as Bettina and Brady grow closer, his true colors start to show through. After a particularly rough encounter, Bettina runs off and happens upon Cowboy. He turns out to be the perfect safe place for her, and it seems like things are finally looking up when tragedy strikes unexpectedly. A great book for readers 14 and older.

—Kaley of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison

9 of 9

Balls on the Lawn: Games to Live By by Brooks Butlers Hays

 July 16, 2014

I love this book and now want a big lawn. Horseshoes, badminton, bocce, KanJam?…It’s all here. Illustrated history, rules, necessary equipment, and recommended cocktails for 10 iconic games. Written with a grin, for grins. Lawn games make you think, move, laugh, form alliances, build friendships, and connect you to an ancient global history of pastimes. Fill the cooler; call your friends. Summer is waiting for you.

—Linda of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities

1 of 8

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, by Roz Chast

 July 16, 2014

Roz Chast, a veteran cartoonist for The New Yorker, takes on a subject painfully familiar to many of us—the decline and demise of elderly parents—but the genius in her work is the application of her trademark candor and wit and even a four-color cartoon format to the whole dire predicament. Though the parental quirks may be personal, not so the theme of mortality and its final indignities. You don’t know whether to laugh or cry, but you can’t walk away unscathed. I loved it.

—Maureen of Breakwater Books, Guilford

2 of 8

Cardboard Gods: An All-American Tale by Josh Wilker

 July 16, 2014

A memoir? Baseball? I was totally captivated by the family narrative despite an embarrassing lack of baseball knowledge. This gem of a novel is about growing up in liberal ’70s hippie New England, a fascination for baseball heroes, a card collection, and an adored big brother. Each chapter leads with a color reproduction of a Topps "god," tying an unconventional, often-funny childhood to the larger world of Vietnam, Watergate, rock concerts, and waiting for that winning game.

—Linda of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities, Essex

3 of 8

Euphoria by Lily King

 July 16, 2014

This is a novel that sneaks up on you. King’s prose is effortless, and halfway through Euphoria, I wondered how she got me so involved. Set in New Guinea and loosely based on the life of Margaret Mead, this is an enthralling love story.

—Andrew of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison

4 of 8

The Quick by Lauren Owen

 July 16, 2014

The promise of a sister to take care of her brother begins this extraordinary debut novel. Fragments of diaries and bits of knowledge are intertwined until I realized their story is just a small part of an old dark secret in Victorian London. Foggy lamp-lit streets are the perfect backdrop for the moral and philosophical questions and the quiet intense love stories. Owen is a mesmerizing storyteller!

—Jamie of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison

5 of 8

Sparta by Roxana Robinson

 July 16, 2014

This is a moving portrait of one U.S. Marine’s struggle to survive in civilian life after he returns from war. Conrad Farrell has served a four-year tour in Iraq and returns home whole in body but damaged mentally. He must learn to deal with his traumas while struggling to reconnect with his family and girl friend. Sadly, the author’s depiction of the incompetency of our Department of Veterans Affairs brings to light the shameful treatment of our returning soldiers.

—Sue of Breakwater Books, Guilford

6 of 8

The Strenuous Life of Harry Anderson by Roger Vaughan

 July 16, 2014

A sailing and racing treasure, this biography spans the life and legacy of the man many consider "America’s greatest living yachtsman." Harry Anderson is New York Yacht Club commodore, America’s Cup judge, Yale scholar, yacht owner, world traveler, and a character of high caliber. Documentary photographs and personal anecdotes complete a journey of 80 years at the vanguard of sail, inspiring young yachters in its wake. Anderson is man of unwavering integrity whom I’ve known for 24 years; he’s my great-uncle. Meet him yourself at the store’s booksigning on Saturday,
July 26.

—Ellen of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities, Essex

7 of 8

The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman

 July 16, 2014

At this point, if you ask me, anything Neil Gaiman touches turns to gold. Here, Neil has collaborated with renowned artist Eddie Campbell to bring to life his unbelievable story of family, the otherworld, and an epic search for hidden treasure. Unlike anything you’ve ever seen before, Truth pieces together a spectrum of storytelling tools—from panels to paintings, rough sketches to smudged charcoal—to deliver one of the most unique pieces to add to your ever-growing Gaiman collection.

—Courtney of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison

8 of 8

Bathing Costume by Charlotte Moundlic and Oliver Tallec

 July 2, 2014

A humorous picture book about spending summer with grandparents. Inviting illustrations. The adventures are in diary form, and the water is the bluest of blues. A cool read for hot summer days.

—Linda of Burgundy Books, Westbrook

1 of 10

The Farm by Tom Rob Smith

 July 2, 2014

The Farm is a psychological thriller of the highest order with some depraved Scandinavian-style evil thrown in. Daniel is told by his father that his mother is insane, but she counters that accusation with claims of a terrifying conspiracy. Whom to believe? You will be kept in page-turning suspense until the conclusion you didn’t see coming.

—Julie of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison

2 of 10

How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes Are Untied by Jess Keating

 July 2, 2014

What is it like to live in a zoo? If you’re a teen and love animals, you won’t mind the elephant droppings, right? Find out what is making Ana’s life miserable in junior high school. An unusual and fun summer read.

—Linda of Burgundy Books, Westbrook

3 of 10

Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving

 July 2, 2014

In that inimitable Irving style, one incident sparks a 50-year journey and meditation on love and revenge. A 12-year-old boy mistakes the town constable’s girlfriend for a bear and shoots. His father, Angel, protects him and their secrets. From a logging camp in New Hampshire, into Vermont, down to Boston’s North End, up to Toronto, and back, it is a New England tour (de force) with great heart.

—Linda of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities, Essex

4 of 10

I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

 July 2, 2014

Killed in the heat of passion, a girl is found with her face missing! The main character is similar to Jason Bourne—no identity and a past filled with uncertainty. It is certain, however, that he has written a book, and the crimes described in it are now being committed! Can he track down the person who is committing the perfect crimes? Or will he fail? Read this bone-chilling mystery.

—Kat of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison

5 of 10

The Last Kind Words Saloon by Larry McMurtry

 July 2, 2014

Once again, Larry McMurtry comes through with the most colorful characters and wittiest dialogue as the aging Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday "take their ease" on the saloon porch often—rehashing their heyday and occasionally trying to recreate it. This book had me wanting to belly up to a bar for a whiskey and a slab of antelope rump, find a high-stakes poker game, and then mosey on outback to smoke with a cowpoke.

—Val of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison

6 of 10

Nobody’s Secret by Michaela MacColl

 July 2, 2014

Connecticut author MacColl’s protagonist is 15-year-old Emily Dickinson, an original thinker, a little plain, often in trouble. A Puritan heritage and propensity for Yankee thrift mean hard work and restrictions. With a nod to Little Women, a murder to solve, a little romance, and clean prose, this is truly young adult historical fiction. Each chapter begins with a script snippet of Dickinson’s work, aptly chosen and lovely to read. Perfect for a new generation of power-reader girls.

—Linda of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities, Essex

7 of 10

The Pilot and the Little Prince by Peter Sis

 July 2, 2014

Enjoy the life of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of The Little Prince, in a colorful picture book. The drawings and Illustrations are beautiful, bringing the reader’s imagination well into the clouds over the planet. A very special children’s book.

—Linda of Burgundy Books, Westbrook

8 of 10

That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo

 July 2, 2014

A book about summers on the Cape seems like perfect seasonal reading. Being a novel by Russo, it’s entertaining, cynical, and funny. Have patience with the protagonist’s mid-life crises and stand by for his return to the Cape with the urns of his un-reconciled parents’ ashes in the car trunk, his marriage on shaky ground, his daughter’s wedding to attend, and a lifetime of New England snobbery and yearning to revisit. You will laugh before the fat lady sings.

—Linda of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities, Essex

9 of 10

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly by Jeremy Holmes

 July 2, 2014

Based on the beloved nursery rhyme, this odd skinny book catches your eye across the store. Divided into thirds, at top is the Old Lady’s spectacled face, the middle a belly of pages, and at bottom, stocking feet. The illustrations are fresh, perfectly fitting the rhyme in a twisty, tasteful way. Just when you think it’s creepy enough, the last page is engineered so her pale blue eyelids close (she swallows a horse, of course.)

—Ellen of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities, Essex

10 of 10

Around Essex by Robbi Storms and Don Malcarne

 May 7, 2014

I’m an Ivoryton native and was oblivious to the more than 300-year history of this area. Contributing authorship from the Ivoryton Library Association offers rich accounts of Essex, Centerbrook, and Ivoryton—which comprise Essex village, or "The Point" of Petapoug Quarter. Filled with 19th-century photography, history, and storytelling at its best. Come read about and visit this village still steeped in a ship-building, inn-dwelling, British-raiding past.

—Ellen of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities, Essex

1 of 9

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One Book, One Region Book Discussion — 6:30 pm; Thu., Aug. 21

Meet Derron Wood — 5:30 pm; Fri., Aug. 22

Free Guided Tour of the Arboretum's Native Plant Collection — 10:00 am; Sat., Aug. 23

Guided Tour of Connecticut College Arboretum's Caroline Black Garden — 10:00 am; Sat., Aug. 23

Schemitzun at the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation Mashantucket Reservation — 10:00 am; Sat., Aug. 23

The Executive Session — 5:00 pm; Sat., Aug. 23

La Amistad 175th Anniversary Commemoration, Aug. 25, N.London — 6:00 pm; Mon., Aug. 25

Summer of Science Movie Series — 5:00 pm; Wed., Aug. 27

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