Kathleen's Picks

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Martyr!: A novel By Kaveh Akbar Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780593537619
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - January 23rd, 2024

Martyr! is not just going to be one of my favorite books of 2024, it's joining the special shelf of books I turn to again and again just because I like how it feels to be in their pages. Martyr! is more like a companion than a book, and it has a realness to it where the writing never shows; nothing about it feels crafted or created. Martyr! hurts in the ways the world hurts but it also finds rewards in humor,absurdity, and connection.


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Wellness: A novel By Nathan Hill Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780593536117
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - September 19th, 2023

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB PICK • AN NPR BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR • The New York Times best-selling author of The Nix is back with a poignant and witty novel about a modern marriage and the bonds that keep people together.


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Artificial: A Love Story By Amy Kurzweil Cover Image
$38.00
ISBN: 9781948226387
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Catapult - October 17th, 2023

A visionary story of three generations of artists whose search for meaning and connection transcends the limits of life

How do we relate to—and hold—our family’s past? Is it through technology? Through spirit? Art, poetry, music? Or is it through the resonances we look for in ourselves?


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Once There Were Wolves: A Novel By Charlotte McConaghy Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9781250244147
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Flatiron Books - August 3rd, 2021

Migrations author Charlotte McConaghy has written another gorgeous book -  Once There Were Wolves, involving the reintroduction of a pack of endangered wolves into the Scottish wilderness by wolf biologists. Conflicts ensue between wolves, biologists, and local farmers, and female protagonist Inti Flynn narrates the tale from her passionate environmentally focused perspective. Add a mysterious trauma from the past, a love story, and McConaghy’s lush and reverential descriptions of the natural world, and you have this massive literary achievement, in a modest 272 pages.


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Intimacies: A Novel By Katie Kitamura Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780399576171
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - July 19th, 2022

The protagonist of Intimacies is the daughter of bi-cultural parents, whose international upbringing left her with a facility for mastering languages and the ability to feel as at home in once city as another.  The death of her father in New York City, where she also soon finds herself at the end of a job, inspires her to apply for (and she is accepted) the job of translating for the International Court in the Hague. There in the Netherlands she is new and yet not new- they had lived there for a time when she was a small child, but now she has no real connections to speak of, other than an acquaintance from when she worked in London.  While at dinner at that friend's apartment, the evening is disturbed by the police responding to a mugging closeby, where a man is seriously injured. She gets back to her apartment without incident, but the event's occurrence disturbs her and she becomes obsessed with finding out more about the victim. She finds out more about him from her friend, from information in the news, from visiting his bookshop, and her curiousity grows.  She is involved with a man who may or may not be completely available.  At work, she becomes the translator for a war criminal- the former President of an unnamed country, whose words she must interpret and translate for the court, to have them, in turn, translated by someone else to the victims. 

Intimacies has stayed with me. One of the things that the protagonist says of her work is that court translation takes a deep level of concentration and focus- that the job of the translator is to keep the gaps that exist between the words of one language and another as small as possible.  The novel shows how gaps exist not only in the translation from one language to another, but between people sharing an experience, between criminal and victim, witness and witness.  The book is that and a lot more. I read it in a single day, and emerged from it in awe.


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Rust: A Memoir of Steel and Grit By Eliese Colette Goldbach Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781250239419
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Flatiron Books - January 5th, 2021

Goldbach returned to her hometown of Cleveland with a Master's degree in writing and nothing but low-paying job prospects that barely kept her solvent. At a friend's suggestion, she  applied for and worked hard to get a dangerous yet lucrative job at as a steelworker at the Mill. Learning the strenous and often life-threatening work was paired with navigating the social hierarchies, workplace codes of loyalty, and the personalities of a wide range of people. The book honestly depicts coping with Bipolar Disorder, and examines a personal religious and political internal struggle and evolution. I loved reading about someone really working hard physically and appreciated the honest mental rigor with with she challenged her own beliefs. 


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Here I Am! By Pauline Holdstock Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781771963091
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Biblioasis - February 4th, 2020

I LOVE the distinctly written, very British characters who fill out the plotline of Here I Am! The plot unfolds around the discovery of a death, and although the tale is told mostly by a resourceful six year old, short interludes told by adults ground the story in the starkly mundane facts of mortality. The profound beauty, refreshing delight in small things, and stark realities are balanced in a way that creates a riveting, dynamic, and at times very funny read.


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The Wood Fire Handbook By Vincent Thurkettle Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781784726195
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Mitchell Beazley - October 1st, 2019

This book elicits rapturous oohs and ahhhs from firewood enthusiasts.  The author, Vincent Thurkettle, is an expert woodsman who trained as a Chartered Forester and he is THE fine vintner of wood.  The Wood Fire Handbook is a fantastic reference to identifying and selecting different kinds of wood, how they smell when they burn, how to split and store ageing wood, and he discusses very specific methods for building fires.


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Twenty-one Truths About Love: A Novel By Matthew Dicks Cover Image
$21.99
ISBN: 9781250782939
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: St. Martin's Griffin - February 2nd, 2021

MEMOIRS OF AN IMAGINARY FRIEND author Matthew Dicks has written an inventive, funny, book about a man who leaves academia for bookstore ownership. This is the perfect book for fans of Julie Schumacher, Paul Neilan, and Jonathan Tropper.  The format of the book (don't be scared off! ) is lists. Not the first thing you would think of for good smooth storytelling, but It works!  Very funny social commentary on life, books, academia, and of course relationships.


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Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive By Stephanie Land, Barbara Ehrenreich (Foreword by) Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780316505093
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Legacy Lit - January 21st, 2020

Ever wondered what it's like to be a single mother living in poverty working as a maid with aspirations of becoming a writer?  Or are you one already?  Stephanie Land wrote this book to share her experiences doing this, and tells what a strange experience it is to regularly visit homes to clean when the inhabitants are out. She tells of getting to know so many things about the people who live there while remaining anonymous, faceless, invisible, and replaceable.


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Maybe You Should Talk To Someone: A Therapist, HER Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed By Lori Gottlieb Cover Image
$21.99
ISBN: 9780358299233
Availability: Not Yet Published
Published: Harper Paperbacks - August 15th, 2025

Former tv writer turned LA therapist Lori Gottlieb wrote Maybe You Should Talk to Someone after a bad breakup led her own friends to suggest "Maybe you should talk to someone..."    This book is about dealing with issues of life and death from both sides of the couch. Gottlieb's ability to entertain and elicit emotion kept me curious, amused, and reaching for the tissues.


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The Winter Soldier By Daniel Mason Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780316477598
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Back Bay Books - September 17th, 2019

This atmospheric WWI novel is a gorgeous tale of war, medicine, love, and mystery. Vividly descriptive, I was engrossed in this world from the moment 22 year old Lucius gathered his bag, coat, and saber, and disembarked the train, and summoned a hussar.

This reads like a classic!


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Meet Me at the Museum: A Novel By Anne Youngson Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781250295170
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Flatiron Books - August 6th, 2019

This quiet, beautifully written book is an exchange of letters between an English farmer's wife and a widowed museum curator in Denmark that opens as a conversation about bog bodies and transforms into a deep friendship and philosophical dialogue. This book is perfect for readers of Major Pettigrew, Our Souls at Night, and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.


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Mayhem By Sigrid Rausing Cover Image
$19.00
ISBN: 9781101972618
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - July 31st, 2018

This beautifully crafted piece of writing by GRANTA editor, Social Anthropology PhD, and Swedish heiress Sigrid Rausing contrasts Rausing’s elegant, ordered, and intellectually and artistically vibrant life with the chaos and heartbreak of her brother’s and his wife’s drug addiction. Mayhem is both a personal and intellectual exploration of the nature of addiction.


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Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002) By David Sedaris Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780316154734
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Back Bay Books - May 29th, 2018

Theft by Finding is a curated collection of Sedaris diary entries written between 1977 and 2002.  I've read all his books, and this material still felt fresh for me. I love Sedaris' curiosity about people as well as his outright cattiness and surprisingly chosen moments of compassion.  The diary format makes this particulary fun to read in short bits and the David Sedaris dark humor is all over it.


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The Confusion of Languages By Siobhan Fallon Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780399576416
Availability: Special Order
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - June 5th, 2018

If the Lost Generation produced Ex-pat novels, do military spouses publish pat-pat novels?  I would say no, but the effect is appealing in the same way.  The Confusion of Languages gives us not only a deeply interesting character study, but also a propulsive plot, while bringing up themes of friendship, military life/civilian life divides, war, world politics, family, and cultural differences.


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Lincoln in the Bardo: A Novel By George Saunders, George Saunders (Read by), Nick Offerman (Read by), David Sedaris (Read by), Carrie Brownstein (Read by), Don Cheadle (Read by), Lena Dunham (Read by), Bill Hader (Read by), Kirby Heyborne (Read by), Keegan-Michael Key (Read by), Julianne Moore (Read by), Megan Mullally (Read by), Susan Sarandon (Read by), Ben Stiller (Read by), Various (Read by) Cover Image
By George Saunders, George Saunders (Read by), Nick Offerman (Read by), David Sedaris (Read by), Carrie Brownstein (Read by), Don Cheadle (Read by), Lena Dunham (Read by), Bill Hader (Read by), Kirby Heyborne (Read by), Keegan-Michael Key (Read by), Julianne Moore (Read by), Megan Mullally (Read by), Susan Sarandon (Read by), Ben Stiller (Read by), Various (Read by)
$35.00
ISBN: 9780553397574
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Random House Audio - February 14th, 2017

This amazing book's chorus of voices from beyond the grave format lends itself perfectly to audio. This AMAZING 166-person full cast features the familiar voices of David Sedaris, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Susan Sarandon, Miranda July, Jeff Tweedy, Ben Stiller, Jeffrey Tambor, Carrie Brownstein, Lena Dunham, George Saunders...Truly amazing. It makes me want to invite all my friends over for a multi evening dinner/ listening party - it's as good as going to a play.


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History of Wolves By Emily Fridlund Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780802127389
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - November 7th, 2017

The teen girl protagonist of Fridlund’s History of Wolves lives in Laura-Ingalls-style squalor as the daughter of ex-commune hippies in 1970’s Minnesota Lake Country. Her world is changed when some exciting new neighbors move in across the lake with a sickly boy for her to babysit, and a new teacher from out of town (wearing a gold earring! In the ‘70’s! ) stirs up the locals. This is an engrossing book about an intriguing outsider in a lost time.


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A Thousand Naked Strangers: A Paramedic's Wild Ride to the Edge and Back By Kevin Hazzard Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781501110863
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - September 20th, 2016

This book is a collection of essays by journalist Kevin Hazzard  who took EMT training after 911 and spent ten years doing ambulance work in the bad neighborhoods of Atlanta.  It is deftly written and is in parts exciting, frightening, awe-inspiring, and darkly comic.  A Thousand Naked Strangers is the perfect gift for those in the healthcare industry, and for readers of Mary Roach and people who like medical t.v. dramedies.  This is a really entertaining read!


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The Nix By Nathan Hill Cover Image
$19.00
ISBN: 9781101970348
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - May 2nd, 2017

The Nix is an historical novel of the 1960's hippies' protests at the Democratic Convention and a modern day commentary on politics, gaming, and the publishing industry.  The characters are funny and flawed and surprising, and this smart book has everything. It is a long book that is worth every page.


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High Dive: A Novel By Jonathan Lee Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781101873328
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - February 7th, 2017

Jonathan Lee reminds me of what I like so much about contemporary British writing.  This novel is full of dynamic, sympathetic characters in 1984 Northern Ireland and England and the plot is both gripping and thoughtful.  This is a deep book with just enough of that great subtle British humor I love.


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Let Me Explain You: A Novel By Annie Liontas Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781476789095
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Scribner - June 21st, 2016

Let Me Explain you is such an original and  vividly told novel that I could hear the character's voices and see their faces.  Every time I opened the book, they sprang immediately to life, and author Anna Liontas plots this dysfunctional family tale in a way that is fresh and funny.


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The Watchmaker of Filigree Street By Natasha Pulley Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9781620408346
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Bloomsbury USA - May 3rd, 2016

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street is a magical work of historical fiction that really did make me lose track of time.  This is a really fun read!!!


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The Star Side of Bird Hill: A Novel By Naomi Jackson Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780143109167
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - August 23rd, 2016

The Star Side of Bird Hill is a richly told coming of age tale  -   Author Naomi Jackson tells a rich island story that has vibrant characters and deep undertones.


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The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit By Graham Joyce Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780804170178
Availability: Special Order
Published: Anchor - July 21st, 2015

The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit is a nostalgic, quietly
suspenseful read that takes place in 1976 at a falling-out-of-fashion
British working class seaside holiday resort. In his summer job as a
striped-blazer-wearing entertainment staff person, twenty year old
University student David becomes aware of the class and racial
tensions embroiled in the changing British Culture. A dangerous love
affair, illusion, psychological mind games, and haunting sightings of
a man and boy on the beach culminate in a summer of heat, acceptance,
and a swarm of ladybugs.


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The Love Song of Jonny Valentine: A Novel By Teddy Wayne Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781476705866
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster - February 4th, 2014

Before you disregard this beautiful sparkly silver book as teen pop-dom fluff, open it and sample Whiting Award winner Teddy Wayne's prose.  What I like best about this novel is Jonny's voice.  While the obvious cultural inspiration for the character is Justin Beiber,  likeable 11 year old pop prodigy Jonny doesn't immediately call to my mind any other literary protagonists. He is smart and funny, but never wise beyond his years or precious. I agree with Publisher's Weekly, which said, "Masterfully executed...the real accomplishment is the unforgettable voice of Jonny. If this impressive novel, both entertaining and tragically insightful, were a song, it would have a Michael Jackson beat with Morrissey lyrics."
This book was refreshingly fun to read, and left me thinking slightly differently about celebrity culture.


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Some Kind of Fairy Tale: A Suspense Thriller By Graham Joyce Cover Image
$19.00
ISBN: 9780307949073
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Anchor - July 2nd, 2013

Some Kind of Fairy Tale is an atmospheric modern day fairy tale set in a small English village near the woods.  The novel begins with the mysterious reappearance of a woman who disappeared twenty years before. The initial explanation she gives is vague, and the one she later gives infuriates her brother with its unbelievability.  Is she lying to hide a shameful or incriminating secret? Did something traumatic happen to her that made her subconscious mind translate the memory into something more tolerable? Is she crazy? Could it be real? While this mystery unfolds, regular life unfolds for these characters as well, as they deal with anger, guilt, fear of growing up, or growing older, illness, and the painful awkwardness of social interactions. Graham Joyce's writing style is terrific - while I would classify this as literary fiction, it is at the same time an escape from (or within?) literary fiction.


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State of Wonder: A Novel By Ann Patchett Cover Image
$19.00
ISBN: 9780062049810
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial - February 7th, 2023

State of Wonder is the kind of book you want to take around with you to keep you company when you're stuck waiting places.  Immediately engaging, there is a lot to enjoy about this book.


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You Know When the Men Are Gone By Siobhan Fallon Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780451234391
Availability: Special Order
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - January 3rd, 2012

Sioban Fallon's short stories of contemporary army life at Fort Hood, Texas, show a side of the Iraq war that we don't often think about: life for those who live on base in the US.    Fallon's characters have wars of their own with their neighbors, within their families, and most often with loneliness and uneasy waiting.  These stories  reverberate with emotion, and shine with a bright inner truth.  I read a story each morning, and found that traces of it quietly shone  all day.


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You Don't Look Like Anyone I Know: A True Story of Family, Face Blindness, and Forgiveness By Heather Sellers Cover Image
$24.00
ISBN: 9781594485404
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - October 4th, 2011

This is the latest in psychology memoirs:  Prosopagnosia - a rare neurological condition that impairs face recognition.  Not being able to recognize people you know is difficult to imagine without reading this book.  What I found even more interesting was Heather Sellers' Florida upbringing by her troubled mother, who nailed windows shut and had an elaborate code for using the telephone.   You Don't Look Like Anyone I Know is most impressive for showing Sellers'  brilliant array of coping mechanisms.


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Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat [Second Edition]: Why It's So Hard to Think Straight About Animals By Hal Herzog Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780063119284
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper Perennial - December 7th, 2021

Herzog does for the human/animal relationship what Levitt and Dubner did for Economics, and Gladwell did for everything else.  Interesting reading!


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Logicomix: An epic search for truth By Apostolos Doxiadis, Christos Papadimitriou Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781596914520
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Bloomsbury USA - October 5th, 2009

What Watchmen did for postmodern superhero, Logicomix does for the the Bertrand Russel's foundational quest for truth in Mathematics.  In Logicomix, Bertrand Russel narrates his own story, from childhood with his strange, mysterious grandparents, to his student years , to his teaching years and lecturing years.  This graphic novel explained logic to me in a way that I understood (mostly) for the first time, by combining it with history, a little bit of humor, a little bit of romance, madness, war, and theater.  This book would be great for students of math, logic, and philosophy.


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The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness By Elyn R. Saks Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781401309442
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Hachette Books - August 12th, 2008

The Center Cannot Hold is one of the best memoirs in contemporary insanity lit. Ellyn Saks is a professor of both law and psychiatry and is a strong advocate for the legal rights of the mentally ill. If you liked Touched With Fire by Kay Redfield Jamison, or Girl, Interrupted by Susannah Kayson, this engrossing book shows schizophrenia from an insider’s point of view.


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Retail Anarchy: A Radical Shopper's Adventures in Consumption By Sam Pocker Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9780762434398
Availability: Special Order
Published: Running Press - April 1st, 2009

This is the funniest book I’ve ever read about groceries. Pocker is obsessive, outrageous, obnoxious, and he really knows his way around shopping.


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A Reliable Wife By Robert Goolrick Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781565129771
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Algonquin Books - January 5th, 2010

This gothic, gorgeously written novel tells the story of a wealthy widower and the wife who found him in a newspaper ad. The story takes place in desolate wisconsin, 1907. I love this book!


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The Whalebone Theatre: A Read with Jenna Pick By Joanna Quinn Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780593467152
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - July 25th, 2023

Great story, great characters, great writing, basically just a great novel... and a great reminder of the pleasures of getting lost in historical fiction!


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Leave the World Behind: A Read with Jenna Pick By Rumaan Alam Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780062667649
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco - November 23rd, 2021

This is my favorite book of the season. It's suspenseful, unusual, and relatable all at the same time - I related to the characters at the same time as I laughed at them. I don't want to give away too much about the plot other than a family goes on vacation in an almost off the grid place, a mysterious couple come to the door, and... there's the story.