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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.

  • Bathing Costume by Charlotte Moundlic and Oliver Tallec

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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


Past Page Turners

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

Becoming Americans Edited by Ilan Stevens

 May 7, 2014

Four hundred years of a fundamental if cliché fact—we are an immigrant nation. Eighty-five writers in memoirs, letters, and fiction—among them Thomas Mann, Vladamir Nabokov, Junot Diaz, Frank McCourt, and Anita Dessai—are a remarkable convocation of voices. Puritans, Colonials, indentured servants, slaves, deportees, refugees, explorers, and entrepreneurs through time share the threads of departure and arrival. The process of being and becoming American resonates over the centuries.

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

2 of 9

The British Raid on Essex by Jerry Roberts

 May 7, 2014

A brand-new release. The forgotten battle of the forgotten war is no longer forgotten thanks to Jerry Roberts. On April 8, 1814 the British burned the American privateer on the Connecticut River in Essex. A who-dun-it with lots of research creates an exciting and informative read.

—Helen of the Connecticut River Museum Store, Essex

3 of 9

The Inventor’s Secret by Andrea Cremer

 May 7, 2014

Charlotte lives in a world in which the U.S. lost the Revolutionary War. Her family works for the resistance, making her an exile living in hiding. Life was going according to plan until a boy shows up with no memory. He doesn’t even remember his name. The secrets he keeps forces them to do the unthinkable: leave the catacombs and go above to the Empire. If you’re a fan of Steampunk, then this is definitely the book for you! For readers aged 12 and older.

—Serafina of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison

4 of 9

Living with a Wild God by Barbara Ehrenreich

 May 7, 2014

How does an atheist interpret mystical experiences? Barbara Ehrenreich’s new memoir reflects on her life in relation to a journal she kept as a precocious young woman—addressed to her future self—that posed questions still difficult to answer. By referring back and forth between her familial past and the present day, she accounts for her interest in the fields in which she is best known—feminism, politics, social science—and the reader benefits from the musings of her keen intelligence.

—Maureen of Breakwater Books, Guilford

5 of 9

New Life, No Instructions by Gail Caldwell

 May 7, 2014

New Life, No Instructions is a short, but important message of support, hope, and inspiration. After losing her best friend, her mother, and her dog in a short span of time, Gail finds a way back through friendly support and sheer physical determination. Diagnosed with polio at six months, she learned to be a fighter with steadfast encouragement from her parents. Her story shows how it changed many other things in her life as well. This book is both humorous and amazingly uplifting.

—Barb of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison

6 of 9

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

 May 7, 2014

Most of us don’t think about the Danbury Correctional Institute, a federal prison in Connecticut, or the volume of women incarcerated for non-violent, mostly drug-related, crimes. Now be glad your stupid 20-something mistakes weren’t this stupid. Careless acts hurt those you love and contribute profound harm to a larger population. This recognition is among the most redeeming aspects of Kerman’s memoir; blunt, respectful, and oddly inspiring to read.

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

7 of 9

The Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore

 May 7, 2014

A bawdy, raucous delight—don’t worry if you’ve forgotten your Shakespeare, this is an unholy remix that includes a judgmental chorus and a lurking man-eating serpent. Moore’s wit is razor-sharp and will leave you in tears of laughter.

—Jamie of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison

8 of 9

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

 May 7, 2014

You’ll love this story with its unconventional characters and many literary references. Shelf talkers even start each chapter giving you insight on bookstore owner A.J. Fikry. The story takes off when A.J. finds Maya, an abandoned baby in the store with a note pinned to her coat. With Maya, A.J.’s Island Books becomes "the" place for the whole community. It’s a fast-paced story that I read in a day. It’s also quirky and may seem unbelievable, but it always comes down to this: books have a magical way of connecting us all.

—Sue of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison

9 of 9

The Headmaster’s Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene

 April 24, 2014

I had come to disregard the cliché "I couldn’t put that book down" until I came face to face with this novel. I also avoided using "spellbinding," "riveting," and "memorable," but these words have real meaning here. Without giving too much away, this is the story of the headmaster of a prestigious boarding school and the tragedy that envelops him, his wife, and son. Greene manages to weave together the themes of love and loss wrapped in a mystery that rivals Gone Girl.
— Peggy of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison
1 of 9

Love You, Hug You, Read to You! by Tish Rabe and illustrated by Frank Endersby

 April 24, 2014

Best-selling and award-winning children’s book author Tish Rabe brings us a charming new board book for parents and caregivers to read to their young children. Educational research indicates that reading to children and fully engaging with them by asking questions while reading the story, will help to develop their reading and critical thinking skills. Rabe beautifully integrates questions throughout the story, while Frank Endersby provides precious illustrations reminiscent of all of the classic and beloved children’s books of our childhood memories. A must "Read to You" book!
— Susan K. McCann of Essex Books, Ivoryton
2 of 9

The Moustache Grower’s Guide by Lucien Edwards

 April 24, 2014

Hipster beards may be trending, but moustaches are classic. With the weather warming, it’s time to style and trim. This fantastic kooky compilation depicts ’staches from the "handlebar" to the "Fu Manchu." Complete with photographs of 30 facial hair-wears, it’s also a grower’s guide combining history with contemporary technique. The fine title Beard is also in stock, but one thing at a time, gents!
— Ellen of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities
3 of 9

Found by Salina Yoon (for ages 3 to 6)

 April 24, 2014

Salina Yoon has done it again! Her latest, absolutely adorable book Found tells the story of Bear and a lost stuffed bunny. While searching for the owner, Bear becomes quite attached to his new friend. The perfect read-aloud story with bright illustrations and heartwarming text, Found is definitely one of my new favorites!
— Kathy of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison
4 of 9

An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England by Brock Clarke

 April 24, 2014

Sam Pulsifer hides in The Emily Dickinson House looking for ghosts, accidentally starts a fire, which accidentally consumes a couple having sex on the historic grounds. Post jail-time, married with children, life is pretty regular—until someone begins burning the homes of famous writers (not Sam). Entertaining and original, this who-dunnit and literary satire is a comically profound look at life and the stories we tell.
— Linda of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities
5 of 9

Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead

 April 24, 2014

Astonish Me is Shipstead’s second novel after her successful debut, Seating Arrangements. You don’t have to be a ballet enthusiast to embrace this story of love, friendship, truth, and secrets. It’s an impressive psychological study of talent, betrayal, and parenthood. Told in alternating chapters of time and characters, we see how intense the world of ballet is through the eyes of a group of friends whose lives are entwined over a period of 20-plus years.
— Sue of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison
6 of 9

A Dog’s History of America by Mark Derr

 April 24, 2014

Hunting dogs, sled dogs, guide dogs, presidential dogs. Where would we be without our canine companions or—more aptly—the most valuable domesticated animal of the Americas? This detailed footnote is a touching, if at times difficult, read. Three hundred years of New World history can be gritty. Our humanity, or lack thereof, is linked and shaped with canine interactions. Favorite dogs to lesser-known heroes offer a striking perspective on American history.
— Linda of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities
7 of 9

And the Dark Sacred Night by Julia Glass

 April 24, 2014

And the Dark Sacred Night is one of those multi-layered family stories—under which lies a deep secret. Kit Noonan needs to find the answer to who his father is or was, a never-shared secret his mother refused to divulge, until now. This is a novel that will make you steal away an hour here and there to move through, and then be sorry to have it end.
— Barb of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison
8 of 9

The Art of Stand Up Paddling by Ben Marcus

 April 24, 2014

Last summer I saw people on the Connecticut shore enjoy a cross of surfing and kayaking. Curious, I tried stand up paddling (SUP) in Florida and loved it! I’m excited to try the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound next. This guide covers history of the sport, choosing the correct board, and step-by-step instruction. I won’t be surfing white water, but as Marcus encourages, "give the technique two weeks and you’ll be hooked!"
— Karen of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities
9 of 9

Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne

 April 9, 2014

Artist, musician, and writer David Byrne likes to travel with a folding bike that affords a slowed perspective of the world. Whether about Berlin or Buffalo, New York, the essays are an entertaining mix of travelogue, social commentary, and personal musings—American industries, indigenous art, or comparing how jeans are worn in Argentina (tight) as well as L.A. Byrne is a curious intellectual and cultural observer sharing wit and wisdom from a bicycle seat.
—Linda of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities
1 of 10

The Blue Wake by Jerry Ackerman

 April 9, 2014

With all respect to a local Connecticut author, this is guilty pleasure reading. Set in the 1970s, a Vietnam vet seeks downtime on a sloop named Wren and finds a busy summer—Essex, Connecticut, to Block Island, Rhode Island. You’ll recognize the streets, yachts, marinas, and music. With a mix of sci-fi, scary business, and lots of sex, it may not be literature, but an original capital-"T" thriller.
—Linda of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities
2 of 10

The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld

 April 9, 2014

To put it right out there, this book is dark, despairing, and there is some very tough content! Still interested? Great, because the writing is brilliant and feels very real. Go inside a prison—then go deep into the characters’ backgrounds. Enough said!
—Lori of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison
3 of 10

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

 April 9, 2014

Game of Thrones returned to HBO for its fourth season on April 6. If you’re already a devotee of the show, reading A Game of Thrones, the first of Martin’s five-volume fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, will enhance your enjoyment of the show and reveal how perfectly cast the actors are. Maps of the North and the South of fictional Westeros inside the covers help you follow the multiple plots as this saga of power struggles between kings and queens unfolds. If you haven’t seen the show, the book includes more than enough sword fights, bloody battles, plots, murders, and magic—as well as sumptuous food, gorgeous clothing, and secret trysts—to keep you turning the pages. You’ll hunger for volume two!
—Nancy of Breakwater Books, Guilford
4 of 10

House of Outrageous Fortune by Michael Gross

 April 9, 2014

If you are a voyeur of a certain ilk—obsessed with the lifestyles of the rich and famous—then this is the book for you. Granted there’s some New York real estate history to get through, but even that has a certain fascination. Once the author gets to the heart of the matter–the super wealthy who come to occupy 15 Central Park West—you won’t be able to think straight. The excess and the extravagance will make your head spin. Gross’s books are synonymous with high-falutin’ gossip, and this one is no exception.
—Peggy of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison
5 of 10

Missing You by Harlan Coben

 April 9, 2014

Warning! Beware of men from your past popping up, and if you’re thinking about giving Internet dating a try, you never will again after reading this twisted thriller. Detective Kat Donovan sees a photo of her ex-fiancée on a dating site while at the same time a teenage boy seeks her out to help him find his missing mother. What she discovers in her investigation is shocking and sinister. A page-turner to the end.
—Julie of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison
6 of 10

The New England Diner Cookbook by Mike Urban

 April 9, 2014

Time to get out of the house and the winter kitchen to try some diner food, the best of which comes from New England! Local author Mike Urban spent two years traveling New England to meet diner owners, sample their foods, and record their favorite recipes. The author has also included the names and locations of many New England diners, each one having a distinction of its own. A treat for cooks and diners—hit the road and see for yourself!
—Ree of Harbor Books, Old Saybrook
7 of 10

Oak by Stephen Taylor

 April 9, 2014

The artist chose to study one tree and paint it in all weathers, at all times of day and night, as he came to terms with loss, life cycles, and his perception of the world as a realist painter. A meditative pursuit and creative triumph, the color plates and text are a gorgeous documentation of enduring nature. This tree is, coincidentally, located in the sister county of Essex, England.
—Linda of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities
8 of 10

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