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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.

  • Factory Man by Beth Macy

    Every once in a while a book comes along on a topic you thought you weren’t interested in and then you find yourself fascinated, gripped by the facts, the story and the implication for small towns, the middle class, and, yes—globalization. I cannot stop talking or thinking about this book. In the class of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and Five Days at Memorial.

    —Roxanne of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison

    1 of 10

  • The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer Holm

    New York Times bestselling author and Newbery Honor Award winner Jennifer Holm is back with a quirky and fun new book. Eleven-year-old Ellie loves puzzles and all things logical. But science? She’s not so sure. When her cousin (or is it her grandfather??) comes to visit, she suddenly starts to see things differently. A smart book with a very unique twist, for readers aged 8 to 12.

    —Kaley of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison

    2 of 10

  • The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

    Two strong-willed women who are countries and centuries apart are the main characters, and the author develops them through a maze of connections to each other—centering on a painting by Edouard Lefevre. In light of the recent recovery of artwork stolen during the World Wars, this novel shows how involved it can be to return artwork to its proper owner!

    —Ree of Harbor Books,Old Saybrook

    3 of 10

  • Homebrew Favorites by Karl E. Lutzen and Mark Stevens

    This is not your ordinary beer brewing book. Instead of instructions to the curious novice, it offers a more experienced homebrewer ways to improve and perfect style, taste, and allure in their own brews. Delve into the kitchens of the homebrewing community across the country, with more than 200 recipes and the infinite variety (with poetic names) of this not so ordinary beverage.

    —Sara of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities

    4 of 10

  • I Love it When You Talk Retro by Ralph Keyes

    Twenty-two chapters chock full of favorite expressions, with historical origins, still found in contemporary American culture. Author and writer-motivator Keyes provides a cool look at old-school terms from "SNAFU" to "Roger that." This book is fat city, and if you don’t know what I mean, then you aren’t up on your jive. It’s a factual, funky, and fun-as-heck taxonomy. One of the top 10 from our Curious Reference Collection titles.

    —Ellen of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities

    5 of 10

  • The Queen of Tearling by Erika Johansen

    Magic, fantasy, and intrigue come together in this intoxicating debut by Erika Johansen. I was immediately drawn into this sweeping high fantasy through its vivid descriptions and engrossing plot. But what really hooked me was the likeable and oh-so-relatable main character, Kelsea. Described as plain and unremarkable, she proves that our looks do not define who we are: that comes from within. Mesmerizing!

    —Kathy of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison

    6 of 10

  • Secrets of the Lighthouse by Joy Santa Montefiore

    Ellen has never fit in with her high-society family in England. Having escaped the expectations of her mother, she is now living with Aunt Peg in the Irish countryside. What will she discover on this trip? Is her mother really the high-society woman she claims to be? What about the ghost haunting the manor? Dive into this amazing story of family, finding one’s self, and maybe even falling in love.

    —Kat of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison

    7 of 10

  • Two Coots in a Canoe by David E. Morine

    Travel the Connecticut River with two late-middle-aged gents, from Vermont to Connecticut down to the Sound in a 16-foot canoe. Determined to stay with strangers who answer their ad for shelter en route, they find issues of the nation are alive in New England: downsizing, agriculture, gay rights, water and land conservation, shifting communities, and the trials of friendship. A Bill Bryson-esque tour of home terrain with a startling conclusion.

    —Linda of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities

    8 of 10

  • Windfallen by Jojo Moyes

    Windfallen, by the author of Me Before You, engages the reader immediately. Set in an Art Deco home aptly named Arcadia overlooking the ocean in the small village of Merham, the story encompasses two romances 40 years apart. Lottie and Daisy and other carefully drawn characters representing nearly all levels of British society display the many faces of love, from passion, devotion, and responsibility to despair, disappointment, and resignation. Read it; you’ll love it!

    —Nancy of Breakwater Books, Guilford

    9 of 10

  • Wool by Hugh Howey

    This first novel by Hugh Howey is one you may have missed, if you think, as I did, that science fiction is not your cup of tea. But this is a terrific read! Howey creates a frighteningly real, underground world-—a dystopia that is self-sustaining...as long as its population is controlled in both number and behavior. Jules is an individual who can think and act, which makes her dangerous. It is not often that a female protagonist is physically, mentally, and emotionally strong. You wouldn’t want to live in a world where no one goes outside except to die, but you won’t be able to close the book on her story.

    —Nancy of Breakwater Books, Guilford

    10 of 10

Past Page Turners

A Colder War by Charles Cumming

 August 27, 2014

I’m always happy to read a good spy novel. This one is from the Brit’s perspective, with the CIA under suspicion as a possible leak in Western intelligence. Fast-paced and engaging.

—Jamie of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison

1 of 12

Breverton’s Nautical Curiosities by Terry Breverton

 August 27, 2014

This is a mine of information on oceans, ships, and explorers. Encyclopedia style, with illustrated asides and a lexicon of the unheard of and peculiar. It also explains common phrases like "Mayday" or "at the end of my rope" and "sweet Fanny Adams." Add history, marine biology, all wrapped in a gorgeous cover—it’s a fascinating reference book for those who feel the call of the sea.

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

2 of 12

How to Be A Viking by Cressida Cowell

 August 27, 2014

Not your ordinary Viking tale. There is a small and lonely Viking named Hiccup. He goes to sea for the first time with his father. Off onto the mighty waves they go, and adventures ensue. A CD of the author reading the tale comes with the colorful book.

—Linda of Burgundy Books, Westbrook

3 of 12

I’m My Own Dog by David Ezra Stein

 August 27, 2014

A wonderful children’s book for that little independent soul. Dog does not need anyone—he even walks himself...until. Humorous pictures and text of a grouchy dog finding friendship.

—Linda of Burgundy Books, Westbrook

4 of 12

In the Blood by Lisa Unger

 August 27, 2014

It is a thriller with all of the complex elements to make it a good read. Characters are strong, with a habitual liar, a troubled youth, and a mysterious disappearance, and the novel is written skillfully by this writer. This is a great psychological suspense and nail-biter.

—Linda of Burgundy Books, Westbrook

5 of 12

Rainbows Never End by Laura Lyn DiSiena and Hannah Eliot

 August 27, 2014

Did you know that rainbows never end? That’s right! A rainbow is actually a full circle, but we can’t see the whole thing because it is blocked by the horizon. So cool, right? In this super-fun fact book, you will learn all sorts of amazing things about weather and the environment, from why thunder booms to how frost flowers are formed in the Arctic Ocean. Kids of all ages (and adults, too) will surely learn something new! For readers aged five and older.

—Kaley of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison

6 of 12

The Remarkable Courtship of General Tom Thumb by Nicholas Rinaldi

 August 27, 2014

P.T. Barnum created the persona of General Tom Thumb after discovering the diminutive Charles Sherwood Stratton at age 4. Tom became the sensation of an era, meeting presidents and royalty. Nicholas Rinaldi has taken this remarkable little man and fleshed him out with authentic thoughts and feelings against the backdrop of the Civil War. His courtship of and marriage to the equally tiny Lavinia is touching. Superb historical fiction based on real, larger-than-life characters.

—Julie of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison

7 of 12

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

 August 27, 2014

Alma Whittaker is a botanist specializing in mosses and feels her only life is her study, until she meets Ambrose Pike, a naturalist and orchid illustrator. He believes there is a divine code in the natural world, which is why God created plants in certain shapes. Scientific ideas permeate the novel revolving around Alma’s complex family and her husband. This is an entirely different type of writing for Gilbert, with a similarity to Barbara Kingsolver.

—Ree of Harbor Books, Old Saybrook

8 of 12

The Strange Death of Mistress Coffin by Robert J. Begeiging

 August 27, 2014

Based on an unsolved murder in 1648 New Hampshire, this novel has characters of warmth, passion, and humor, unlike the usual stiff depiction of early New Englanders: A murdered woman, an abandoned wife, a suspect hiding among Native Americans, the strange un-English widower, and the educated newcomer who earns his place in the New World by searching for answers. An evocative and authentic read for lovers of history and true crime.

—Linda of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities

9 of 12

Vintage Beer by Patrick Dawson

 August 27, 2014

Vintage Beer? Welcome to the new world of aged beer. Learn the rules of thumb collected through the author’s own trial and error. He gracefully breaks down the components of beer, examining both science and history. And for the curious-yet-impatient reader (who may not have 20 years to properly age a stout), see Dawson’s outstanding list of "vintage beer" bars across the globe!

—Sara of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities

10 of 12

We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas

 August 27, 2014

This is the most impressive novel I’ve read all year. This story of a family in the boroughs of New York City is both expansive and inwardly personal. A major literary debut that is not to be missed.

—Andrew of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison

11 of 12

California by Edan Lepucki

 August 12, 2014

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

 August 12, 2014

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

 August 12, 2014

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

 August 12, 2014

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

 August 12, 2014

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

 August 12, 2014

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

 August 12, 2014

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

 August 12, 2014

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

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

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