Warm Days, Cool Nights…Crack Open a New Book and Enjoy the Last Days of Summer!

Sept. reading

New Books From Favorite Authors!

Lots of new titles released this month from some of our favorite and well known authors. It is nice to dive into books when we already know we are going to love them and this fall there are a lot to choose from. In addition, on my list I have included a debut author, a new paperback, a fun gift book, and a must read for lovers of the tv show Friends! Happy Reading!

The Marriage Portrait

The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell

After Hamnet, the bestseller and winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020, a novel set in Renaissance Italy sounds amazing! – Book Nation

Florence, the 1550s. Lucrezia, third daughter of the grand duke, is comfortable with her obscure place in the palazzo: free to wonder at its treasures, observe its clandestine workings, and to devote herself to her own artistic pursuits. But when her older sister dies on the eve of her wedding to the ruler of Ferrara, Moderna and Regio, Lucrezia is thrust unwittingly into the limelight: the duke is quick to request her hand in marriage, and her father just as quick to accept on her behalf.

Having barely left girlhood behind, Lucrezia must now make her way in a troubled court whose customs are opaque and where her arrival is not universally welcomed. Perhaps most mystifying of all is her new husband himself, Alfonso. Is he the playful sophisticate he appeared to be before their wedding, the aesthete happiest in the company of artists and musicians, or the ruthless politician before whom even his formidable sisters seem to tremble?

As Lucrezia sits in constricting finery for a painting intended to preserve her image for centuries to come, one thing becomes worryingly clear. In the court’s eyes, she has one duty: to provide the heir who will shore up the future of the Ferranese dynasty. Until then, for all of her rank and nobility, the new duchess’s future hangs entirely in the balance.

Full of the drama and verve with which she illuminated the Shakespearean canvas of Hamnet, Maggie O’Farrell brings the world of Renaissance Italy to jewel-bright life, and offers an unforgettable portrait of a resilient young woman’s battle for her very survival.

The Two Lives of Sara by Catherine Adel West

Book Nation Book Club had a riveting conversation with Catherine Adel West about her previous novel, Saving Ruby King. A huge fan of Memphis, the Broadway Musical that took place in the 1950s, I am thrilled West’s new novel takes place during the next decade in Memphis where change is on the horizon! – Book Nation

In 1960s Memphis, a young mother finds refuge in a boardinghouse where family encompasses more than just blood, and hidden truths can bury you or set you free.

Sara King has nothing, save for her secrets and the baby in her belly, as she boards the bus to Memphis, hoping to outrun her past in Chicago. She is welcomed with open arms by Mama Sugar, a kindly matriarch and owner of the popular boardinghouse The Scarlet Poplar.

Like many cities in early 1960s America, Memphis is still segregated, but change is in the air. News spreads of the Freedom Riders. Across the country, people like Martin Luther King Jr. are leading the fight for equal rights. Black literature and music provide the stories and soundtrack for these turbulent and hopeful times, and Sara finds herself drawn in by conversations of education, politics and a brighter tomorrow with Jonas, a local schoolteacher. Romance blooms between them, but secrets from Mama Sugar’s past threaten their newfound happiness and lead Sara to make decisions that will reshape the rest of their lives.

With a charismatic cast of characters, The Two Lives of Sara is an emotional and unforgettable story of hope, the limitations of resilience and unexpected love.

The Ways We Hide by Kristina McMorris

From 1930s Depression era parents faced with heartbreaking decisions and losing their children in Sold On a Monday, to a young girl growing up on the island of Alcatraz in The Edge of Lost, to an illusionist recruited by British Intelligence during World War ll in Kristina McMorris’s new book…compelling, historically based storytelling! – Book Nation

Raised amid the hardships of Michigan’s Copper Country, Fenna Vos has learned to focus on her own survival-even now, with the Second World War raging in faraway countries. Though she performs onstage as the assistant to an unruly escape artist, behind the curtain she’s the mastermind of their act. After all, her honed ability to control her surroundings and elude entrapments, physical or otherwise, reliably suppresses the traumas of her youth.

For all her planning, however, Fenna fails to predict being called upon by British Intelligence. Tasked with creating escape tools to thwart the Germans, MI9 seeks those with specialized skills for a war nearing its breaking point. Fenna reluctantly joins the unconventional team as an inventor. But when a test of her loyalty draws her deep into the fray, she discovers no mission is more treacherous than escaping one’s past.

Inspired by stunning true accounts, The Ways We Hideis a riveting story of love and loss, the wars we fight-on the battlefields and within ourselves-and the courage found in unexpected places. 

An Affair of Spies

An Affair of Spies by Ronald H. Balson

Balson, a National Jewish Book Award winner, is a favorite of mine and has written some of the most engaging World War ll stories like Once We Were Brothers and Saving Sophie; his new one is about a rescue spy mission in Germany while holding off Nazis development of nuclear weapons. – Book Nation

Nathan Silverman grew up in Berlin in the 1920s, the son of a homemaker and a theoretical physicist. His idyllic childhood was soon marred by increasing levels of bigotry against his family and the rest of the Jewish community, and after his uncle is arrested on Kristallnacht, he leaves Germany for New York City with only his mother’s wedding ring to sell for survival.

While attending an evening course at Columbia in 1941, Nathan notices a recruitment poster on a university wall and decides to enlist in the military and help fight the Nazi regime. To his surprise, he is quickly selected for a special assignment; he is trained as a spy, and ordered to report to the Manhattan Project. There he learns that the Allies are racing to develop a nuclear weapon before the Nazis, and a German theoretical physicist is hoping to defect. The physicist was a friend of his father’s, and Nathan’s mission is to return to Berlin via France and smuggle him out of Europe.

Nathan will be accompanied by Dr. Allison Fisher, a brilliant young scientist who can speak French; he travels to her lab at the University of Chicago for a crash course in nuclear physics, then they embark on their adventure. Nathan and Allison soon develop feelings for one another, but as their relationship deepens they move ever closer to their dangerous goal. Will they be able to escape Europe with the defector and start a new life together, or will they fail their mission and become two more casualties of war?

An Affair of Spies is an action-packed tale of heroism and love in the face of unspeakable evil. Author Ronald H. Balson has applied his unmatched talent for evocative and painstakingly authentic storytelling to the high-stakes world of espionage and created his most thrilling novel yet.

Babysitter

Babysitter by Joyce Carol Oates

I loved Night. Sleep. Death. The Stars which explored grief, and this one is about “love and deceit, lust and redemption”…can’t go wrong! – Book Nation

In the waning days of the turbulent 1970s, in the wake of unsolved killings that have shocked Detroit, the lives of several residents are drawn together, with tragic consequences. There is Hannah, wife of a prominent local businessman, who has begun an affair with a darkly charismatic stranger whose identity remains elusive; Mikey, a canny street hustler who finds himself on an unexpected mission to rectify injustice; and the serial killer known as Babysitter, an enigmatic and terrifying figure at the periphery of elite Detroit. As Babysitter continues his rampage of killings, these individuals intersect with one another in startling and unexpected ways.

Suspenseful, brilliantly orchestrated and engrossing, Babysitter is a starkly narrated exploration of the riskiness of pursuing alternate lives, calling into question how far we are willing to go to protect those whom we cherish most. In its scathing indictment of corrupt politics, unexamined racism, and the enabling of sexual predation in America, Babysitter is a thrilling work of contemporary fiction. 

The Winners

The Winners by Fredrik Bachman

As a fan of A Man Called Ove and Anxious People, I am looking forward to tackling this big boy (688 pages)! – Book Nation

Two years have passed since the events that no one wants to think about. Everyone has tried to move on, but there’s something about this place that prevents it. The residents continue to grapple with life’s big questions: What is a family? What is a community? And what, if anything, are we willing to sacrifice in order to protect them?

As the locals of Beartown struggle to overcome the past, great change is on the horizon. Someone is coming home after a long time away. Someone will be laid to rest. Someone will fall in love, someone will try to fix their marriage, and someone will do anything to save their children. Someone will submit to hate, someone will fight, and someone will grab a gun and walk towards the ice rink.

So what are the residents of Beartown willing to sacrifice for their home?

Everything.

Lucy By the Sea

Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth Strout

Award winning Elizabeth Strout is back with a story about a divorced couple forced to be together during the pandemic. If you loved Lucy from My Name is Lucy Barton, this one is for you! – Book Nation

With her trademark spare, crystalline prose–a voice infused with “intimate, fragile, desperate humanness” (The Washington Post)–Elizabeth Strout turns her exquisitely tuned eye to the inner workings of the human heart, following the indomitable heroine of My Name Is Lucy Barton through the early days of the pandemic.

As a panicked world goes into lockdown, Lucy Barton is uprooted from her life in Manhattan and bundled away to a small town in Maine by her ex-husband and on-again, off-again friend, William. For the next several months, it’s just Lucy, William, and their complex past together in a little house nestled against the moody, swirling sea.

Rich with empathy and emotion, Lucy by the Sea vividly captures the fear and struggles that come with isolation, as well as the hope, peace, and possibilities that those long, quiet days can inspire. At the heart of this story are the deep human connections that unite us even when we’re apart–the pain of a beloved daughter’s suffering, the emptiness that comes from the death of a loved one, the promise of a new friendship, and the comfort of an old, enduring love. 

Less is Lost

Less is Lost by Andrew Sean Greer

The irresistible Arthur, from Andrew Sean Greer’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Less is back and he’s on a road trip – should be a fun one! – Book Nation

“Go get lost somewhere, it always does you good.”

For Arthur Less, life is going surprisingly well: he is a moderately accomplished novelist in a steady relationship with his partner, Freddy Pelu. But nothing lasts: the death of an old lover and a sudden financial crisis has Less running away from his problems yet again as he accepts a series of literary gigs that send him on a zigzagging adventure across the US.

Less roves across the “Mild Mild West,” through the South and to his mid-Atlantic birthplace, with an ever-changing posse of writerly characters and his trusty duo – a human-like black pug, Dolly, and a rusty camper van nicknamed Rosina. He grows a handlebar mustache, ditches his signature gray suit, and disguises himself in the bolero-and-cowboy-hat costume of a true “Unitedstatesian”… with varying levels of success, as he continues to be mistaken for either a Dutchman, the wrong writer, or, worst of all, a “bad gay.”

We cannot, however, escape ourselves—even across deserts, bayous, and coastlines. From his estranged father and strained relationship with Freddy, to the reckoning he experiences in confronting his privilege, Arthur Less must eventually face his personal demons. With all of the irrepressible wit and musicality that made Less a bestselling, Pulitzer Prize-winning, must-read breakout book, Less is Lost is a profound and joyous novel about the enigma of life in America, the riddle of love, and the stories we tell along the way.

All the Broken Places

All the Broken Places by John Boyne

Author of The Heart’s Invisible Furies and A Ladder to the Sky, (two books I really loved), John Boyne has finally come out with a sequel to The Boy in the Striped Pajamas…sure to be compelling. – Book Nation

1946. Three years after a cataclysmic event which tore their lives apart, a mother and daughter flee Poland for Paris, shame, and fear at their heels, not knowing how hard it is to escape your past.

Nearly eighty years later, Gretel Fernsby lives a life that is a far cry from her traumatic childhood. When a couple moves into the flat below her in her London mansion block, it should be nothing more than a momentary inconvenience. However, the appearance of their nine-year-old son Henry brings back memories she would rather forget.

Faced with a choice between her own safety and his, Gretel is taken back to a similar crossroads she encountered long ago. Back then, her complicity dishonoured her life, but to interfere now could risk revealing the secrets she has spent a lifetime protecting. 

The Winter Orphans

The Winter Orphans by Kristin Beck

Based on a true story of Jewish children who escaped to Nazis in the mountains of France, this new book from the author of Courage, My Love, will be inspiring. – Book Nation

In a remote corner of France, Jewish refugee Ella Rosenthal has finally reached safety. It has been three years since she and her little sister, Hanni, left their parents to flee Nazi Germany, and they have been pursued and adrift in the chaos of war ever since. Now they shelter among one hundred other young refugees in a derelict castle overseen by the Swiss Red Cross.

Swiss volunteers Rösli Näf and Anne-Marie Piguet uphold a common mission: to protect children in peril. Rösli, a stubborn and resourceful nurse, directs the colony of Château de la Hille, and has created a thriving community against all odds. Anne-Marie, raised by Swiss foresters, becomes both caretaker and friend to the children, and she vows to do whatever is necessary to keep them safe.

However, when Germany invades southern France, safeguarding Jewish refugees becomes impossible. Château de la Hille faces unrelenting danger, and Rösli and Anne-Marie realize that the only way to protect the eldest of their charges is to smuggle them out of France. Relying on Rösli’s fierce will and Anne-Marie’s knowledge of secret mountain paths, they plot escape routes through vast Nazi-occupied territory to the distant border. Amid staggering risk, Ella and Hanni embark on a journey that, if successful, could change the course of their lives and grant them a future.

The Matchmaker's Gift

The Matchmaker’s Gift by Lynda Cohen Loigman

Friend and author of The Two Family House and The Wartime Sisters, Lynda Cohen Loigman brings us a new novel about two women with the unique gift of finding soulmates. I can’t wait to read! – Book Nation


Is finding true love a calling or a curse?


Even as a child in 1910, Sara Glikman knows her gift: she is a maker of matches and a seeker of soulmates. But among the pushcart-crowded streets of New York’s Lower East Side, Sara’s vocation is dominated by devout older men—men who see a talented female matchmaker as a dangerous threat to their traditions and livelihood. After making matches in secret for more than a decade, Sara must fight to take her rightful place among her peers, and to demand the recognition she deserves.

Two generations later, Sara’s granddaughter, Abby, is a successful Manhattan divorce attorney, representing the city’s wealthiest clients. When her beloved Grandma Sara dies, Abby inherits her collection of handwritten journals recording the details of Sara’s matches. But among the faded volumes, Abby finds more questions than answers. Why did Abby’s grandmother leave this library to her and what did she hope Abby would discover within its pages? Why does the work Abby once found so compelling suddenly feel inconsequential and flawed? Is Abby willing to sacrifice the career she’s worked so hard for in order to keep her grandmother’s mysterious promise to a stranger? And is there really such a thing as love at first sight? 

Jacqueline in Paris

Jacqueline in Paris by Ann Mah

Everyone loves Jackie O. and this book by the author of The Lost Vintage tells about her life before she became an American icon. – Book Nation

In August 1949 Jacqueline Bouvier arrives in postwar Paris to begin her junior year abroad. She’s twenty years old, socially poised but financially precarious, and all too aware of her mother’s expectations that she make a brilliant match. Before relenting to family pressure, she has one year to herself far away from sleepy Vassar College and the rigid social circles of New York, a year to explore and absorb the luminous beauty of the City of Light. Jacqueline is immediately catapulted into an intoxicating new world of champagne and châteaux, art and avant-garde theater, cafés and jazz clubs. She strikes up a romance with a talented young writer who shares her love of literature and passion for culture – even though her mother would think him most unsuitable.

But beneath the glitter and rush, France is a fragile place still haunted by the Occupation. Jacqueline lives in a rambling apartment with a widowed countess and her daughters, all of whom suffered as part of the French Resistance just a few years before. In the aftermath of World War II, Paris has become a nest of spies, and suspicion, deception, and betrayal lurk around every corner. Jacqueline is stunned to watch the rise of communism – anathema in America, but an active movement in France – never guessing she is witnessing the beginning of the political environment that will shape the rest of her life—and that of her future husband.

Evocative, sensitive, and rich in historic detail, Jacqueline in Paris portrays the origin story of an American icon. Ann Mah brilliantly imagines the intellectual and aesthetic awakening of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, and illuminates how France would prove to be her one true love, and one of the greatest influences on her life.

Shrines of Gaity

Shrines of Gaiety Kate Atkinson

From the award winning author of Life After Life, comes a new book about corruption in London during the roaring twenties. – Book Nation

1926, and in a country still recovering from the Great War, London has become the focus for a delirious new nightlife. In the clubs of Soho, peers of the realm rub shoulders with starlets, foreign dignitaries with gangsters, and girls sell dances for a shilling a time. 

The notorious queen of this glittering world is Nellie Coker, ruthless but also ambitious to advance her six children, including the enigmatic eldest, Niven, whose character has been forged in the crucible of the Somme. But success breeds enemies, and Nellie’s empire faces threats from without and within. For beneath the dazzle of Soho’s gaiety, there is a dark underbelly, a world in which it is all too easy to become lost.

With her unique Dickensian flair, Kate Atkinson gives us a window in a vanished world. Slyly funny, brilliantly observant, and ingeniously plotted, Shrines of Gaiety showcases the myriad talents that have made Atkinson one of the most lauded writers of our time.

Lessons

Lessons by Ian McEwen

From romance, wartime and crime in Atonement to one man’s life story across generations in this new novel, epic storytelling is why Ian McEwan’s writing is award winning. – Book Nation


When the world is still counting the cost of the Second World War and the Iron Curtain has closed, eleven-year-old Roland Baines’s life is turned upside down. Two thousand miles from his mother’s protective love, stranded at an unusual boarding school, his vulnerability attracts piano teacher Miss Miriam Cornell, leaving scars as well as a memory of love that will never fade.

Now, when his wife vanishes, leaving him alone with his tiny son, Roland is forced to confront the reality of his restless existence. As the radiation from Chernobyl spreads across Europe, he begins a search for answers that looks deep into his family history and will last for the rest of his life.

Haunted by lost opportunities, Roland seeks solace through every possible means—music, literature, friends, sex, politics, and, finally, love cut tragically short, then love ultimately redeemed. His journey raises important questions for us all. Can we take full charge of the course of our lives without causing damage to others? How do global events beyond our control shape our lives and our memories? And what can we really learn from the traumas of the past?

Epic, mesmerizing, and deeply humane, Lessons is a chronicle for our times—a powerful meditation on history and humanity through the prism of one man’s lifetime.

Best of Friends

Best of Friends by Kamila Shamsie

From the author of Home Fire, a wonderful novel I enjoyed about love vs loyalty, comes a new book about friendship. – Book Nation


Zahra and Maryam have been best friends since childhood in Karachi, even though–or maybe because–they are unlike in nearly every way. Yet they never speak of the differences in their backgrounds or their values, not even after the fateful night when a moment of adolescent impulse upends their plans for the future.

Three decades later, Zahra and Maryam have grown into powerful women who have each cut a distinctive path through London. But when two troubling figures from their past resurface, they must finally confront their bedrock differences–and find out whether their friendship can survive.

Thought-provoking, compassionate, and full of unexpected turns, Best of Friends offers a riveting take on an age-old question: Does principle or loyalty make for the better friend?

Debut Author

The Fortunes of Jaded Women

The Fortunes of Jaded Women by Carolyn Huynh

I look forward to reading this new book about Vietnamese women. Some others books by Vietnamese authors I enjoyed are The Mountains Sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai and Butterfly Yellow by Thanhha Lai. – Book Nation

For fans of Jonathan Tropper, KJ Dell’Antonia, and Kevin Kwan, this “sharp, smart, and gloriously extra” (Nancy Jooyoun Kim, The Last Story of Mina Lee) debut follows a family of estranged Vietnamese women—cursed to never know love or happiness—as they reunite when a psychic makes a startling prediction.

Everyone in Orange County’s Little Saigon knew that the Duong sisters were cursed.

It started with their ancestor, Oanh, who dared to leave her marriage for true love—so a fearsome Vietnamese witch cursed Oanh and her descendants so that they would never find love or happiness, and the Duong women would give birth to daughters, never sons.​

Oanh’s current descendant Mai Nguyen knows this curse well. She’s divorced, and after an explosive disagreement a decade ago, she’s estranged from her younger sisters, Minh Pham (the middle and the mediator) and Khuyen Lam (the youngest who swears she just runs humble coffee shops and nail salons, not Little Saigon’s underground). Though Mai’s three adult daughters, Priscilla, Thuy, and Thao, are successful in their careers (one of them is John Cho’s dermatologist!), the same can’t be said for their love lives. Mai is convinced they might drive her to an early grave.

Desperate for guidance, she consults Auntie Hua, her trusted psychic in Hawaii, who delivers an unexpected prediction: this year, her family will witness a marriage, a funeral, and the birth of a son. This prophecy will reunite estranged mothers, daughters, aunts, and cousins—for better or for worse.

A multi-narrative novel brimming with levity and candor, The Fortunes of Jaded Women is about mourning, meddling, celebrating, and healing together as a family. It shows how Vietnamese women emerge victorious, even if the world is against them. 

Memoir in Paperback

Center Center

Center Center by James Whiteside

New in paperback is a memoir from a male principle dancer in the American Ballet Theatre. I look forward to reading this collection of essays! – Book Nation

There’s a mark on every stage around the world that signifies the center of its depth and width, called center center. James Whiteside has dreamed of standing on that very mark as a principal dancer with the prestigious American Ballet Theatre ever since he was a twelve-year-old blown away by watching the company’s spring gala: the glamour, the virtuosity, the extremely fit men in tights!

In this absurd and absurdist collection of essays, Whiteside tells us the story of how he got to the top of his field–stopping along the way to muse about the tragically fated childhood pets who taught him how to feel, reminisce on summer dance camps at which he paid more attention to partying than to ballet, and imagine fantastical run-ins with Jesus on Grindr. Also in these pages are tales of the two alter egos he created to subvert the strict classical rigor of ballet: JbDubs, an out-and-proud pop musician, and �hu Betch, an over-the-top drag queen named after Yoohoo chocolate milk.

Center Center is an exuberant behind-the-scenes tour of Whiteside’s triple life, both on- and offstage–a raunchy, curious, and unapologetic celebration of pushing boundaries and expressing yourself to the fullest, as well as the debut of a sparkling comedic voice that will resonate with anyone who has a mortifying Google search history or cringe-worthy teenage memories they’d rather forget.

Great Gift

Music in the 80s

Music in the ’80s by Lynn Goldsmith

This cocktail table book is a nostalgic and informative gift for music lovers of a certain age! – Book Nation

Chances are you’ve seen numerous iconic pictures by award-winning portrait and documentary photographer Lynn Goldsmith at some point in your life. Her images have graced the covers of magazines worldwide from Life to Sports IllustratedNewsweekRolling StonePeople and many more. She has also published 14 monographs of her photographs, including the New York Times best-selling photobook New Kids (Rizzoli, 1990).

Over the past 50 years, Goldsmith has photographed hundreds of musicians in studio portrait sessions, at live concerts, on the road and at home. Her new book, Music in the ’80s, showcases an incredible range of artists during a decade when many new forms of music were gaining popularity: New Wave, Electronica, Rap, Metal, and Ska had chart topping success, as did R&B and Pop. Michael Jackson, Philip Glass, Run DMC, Miles Davis, Judas Priest – these are but a few of the names that during this period became icons. The 80’s was a time like no other in history, and the photographs chosen for this book are as diverse in their style as the music and dress of the decade.

The book also features quotes from many of the people featured in Goldsmiths’ photographs–including Iggy Pop, Tina Turner, Keith Richards, Alice Cooper, Elvis Costello and more–as well as those who were influenced by the tremendous cultural importance of the decade, proving that Music in the ’80s is sure to hit the right note for all lovers of music.

Coming November 1st…

Friends Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing

Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry

Could this BE anymore exciting??? This one is for all the Must See TV Fans who loved Chandler and his Friends! – Book Nation

In an extraordinary story that only he could tell, Matthew Perry takes readers onto the soundstage of the most successful sitcom of all time while opening up about his private struggles with addiction. Candid, self-aware, and told with his trademark humor, Perry vividly details his lifelong battle with the disease and what fueled it despite seemingly having it all.

Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing is an unforgettable memoir that shares the most intimate details of the love Perry lost, his darkest days, and his greatest friends.

Unflinchingly honest, moving, and hilarious: this is the book fans have been waiting for.

Book Nation by Jen

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