All posts tagged: Penguin

Rebecca meets Salem

We first meet 18-year-old narrator Mary Katherine Blackwood during one of her biweekly walks through the local town that sits under the shadow of her family’s Manderley-esque estate where she, her older sister Constance, and frail Uncle Julian live. They are the only three living in the “castle.” Once members of a large family, they’re all that’s left after the others were murdered with arsenic during dinner. The sugar on the blackberries wasn’t sugar. Luckily Constance never takes sugar, and Mary Katherine (aka Merricat) was sent to her room without dinner. Uncle Julian only took a bit. The sisters are odd to say the least. Sure, Constance was the lead suspect for having poisoned the family, but their dynamics are also quite unusual; and a little bit haunting. They live a life of routine and simplicity. Gardening, taking delicious meals together (always crafted by suspected murderess Constance), sending Merricat into town for food and library books, and taking diligent care of poor Uncle Julian. Uncle Julian is weak and without much memory. Although he spends …

October Book

Shirley Jackson was formerly a name most recognized for the short story The Lottery (published in The New Yorker in 1948). However, it’s likely she’s now more commonly associated with last year’s Netflix horror series The Haunting of Hill House that had us all “scrying.” Written by Jackson in 1959, the gothic horror novel The Haunting of Hill House is often considered one of the best ghost stories, ever. During her more than 20 year career Jackson published a total of six novels, hundreds of short stories and two memoirs. The last novel she ever published was in 1962 just three years before her death. And that novel was We Have Always Lived in the Castle, our October selection! The book begins six years after a deadly family tragedy at the Blackwood home. Eighteen-year-old “Merricat” Blackwood (our narrator), her elder sister Constance, and their uncle Julian were the only survivors. Now living on an isolated estate perched above a small town in Vermont, the local residents tell stories and build legends around this strange family. “…I would …

December / January Book

It’s that time of year when your calendar starts to look really cluttered, your to do list grows longer, and you start to consider resolutions for the new year. Well, every year we resolve to read a book that teaches us something new. And something we all need to learn so much more about is our country’s healthcare system. So, the December/January book we’ve picked is T.R. Reid’s The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care. It’s a brief 250 pages with chapters like “Different Models, Common Principles,” “Too Big to Change,” and five separate chapters examining the systems of different countries (France, Germany, Japan, Canada, the UK). Also, there’s an afterword titled “‘Obamacare’ Explained,” which we all need to read. Anyone else feeling like our healthcare system is intimidating and confusing?! We feel like reading this is a step in the right direction. The author Reid is a career journalist who, for this book, visited over half a dozen different countries to examine their health care and use …

August Book

Image © npr.org  August is a good time to enjoy the sun with a side of a good book, and maybe a cold drink, or two. So this month we’ve picked Brit Bennett’s The Mothers as our sunshine companion. The story is set in a contemporary black community of Southern California. It’s the story of love, ambition, community, and the secrets we keep. The protagonists—Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey—are young and living their lives. It is the last season of high school for Nadia Turner, a rebellious, grief-stricken, seventeen-year-old beauty mourning her own mother’s recent suicide. She takes up with the local pastor’s son, Luke Sheppard, and a pregnancy that results from this teen romance will have an impact that goes far beyond their youth. As Nadia hides her secret from everyone, including Aubrey, her God-fearing best friend, the years move quickly. Soon, Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey are adults and still living in debt to the choices they made. Caught in a love triangle they must carefully maneuver, they’re dogged by the constant, nagging question: What if they …

May / June Book

May and June mean school’s out and it’s almost summer! This time of year we like to read a good YA book to celebrate this liberation. Our pick this May / June was selected as the Goodreads Choice Awards winner for the Best Young Adult Fiction in 2016. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys is set in the winter of 1945 when four teenagers flee four different homelands for safe passage on the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises refuge and freedom. And each of the four teenagers—Joana, Florian, Emilia, and Alfred—harbor their own secrets which haunt them at every step of their journey. The paths of these four converge along the way when tragedy strikes. This book was inspired by the greatest tragedy in maritime history. It’s estimated that as many as 9,400 people died. Sepetys’ book sheds light on this great tragedy through the story of these four young men and women, each fighting for survival and freedom.  Sepetys said she wanted to shed light on this event… “Every nation has hidden history, countless …

April Book

Images ©Knopf Doubleday In the mood for a good laugh after last month’s read? Phew! Us too. So, in honor of April (the month of foolish pranks) we’re reading One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak; “the wonderfully cockeyed, consistently hilarious debut.” You probably recognize the name B.J. Novak. He’s a writer and actor widely known for his work on the acclaimed comedy series “The Office” as an actor, writer, and executive producer. Now, Novak is expanding his scope beyond the walls of Dunder Mifflin. In One More Thing he takes on a range of human experience in this quirky new story collection.   “Finding inspiration in questions from the nature of perfection to the icing on carrot cake, One More Thing has at its heart the most human of phenomena: love, fear, hope, ambition, and the inner stirring for the one elusive element just that might make a person complete.”   Published in 2014, Novak’s One More Thing joins a growing list of celebrated books published by comedic actors/writers (Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Tina Fey, etc.). Although unlike others who have written autobiographical …

December / January Book

Book map / sketch © Austin Kleon With 2015 coming to a close, we decided our December / January pick will be a New Year’s resolution of sorts. Not to mention how busy things get during these months, hence the combining of December and January. Anyway, our resolution is to learn something new. So for these months we’ll be choosing a non-fiction book to begin 2016 with something new and different. Without further delay… this month(s)’ pick is Michael Pollan’s #1 New York Times Bestseller In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. Pollan is an American journalist, activist and author. His books focus on our country’s growing dilemma with food, its process, the way we eat, and what we eat. In one of his earlier books published in 2006, An Omnivore’s Dilemma, Pollan established a critique of how agribusiness have lost touch with the natural cycles of farming, wherein livestock and crops intertwine in mutually beneficial circles. His perspectives on food, farming, and our consumptions are unique, controversial and modern. Our selection, In Defense of Food published in 2008, …

October Book

Image © Beck’s Books Happy Fall everyone! It’s the perfect time of year to curl up with a hot beverage and haunting book. So, for this month’s selection we’ve gone with the theme: {Ghost Stories}. We had a long list to choose from… but there was one classic that made its way to the top: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Surprisingly, none of us have read this highly acclaimed novel, named on such Goodreads lists as: Best Books Ever and The Most Disturbing Books Ever Written. Published in 1986 by award-winning, Canadian author Margaret Atwood, this is the story of a dystopian United States set in the near future when a totalitarian Christian theocracy has overthrown the government. In this disturbing world people are segregated by categories and made to dress according to their station. The bodies of those who rebel swing from the walls that surround the new world. This new world is a haunting look at humanity’s capacity to impose a social control so disturbing, so all-consuming, that the citizens wander as ghosts of their former selves. Some might categorize this as …