The Northern Reach by W. S. Winslow

Maritime grit-lit exploring the intertwined misfortunes of several families in a small Maine town, over the course of a century.

The story jumps around with so many characters in different time periods that chapters begin with timeline and family grids to help you follow along. The landscape is bleak, the people small minded if not outright cruel, idiotic or malevolent, and the story builds as slowly as winter turning to mud season.

To be honest, if I hadn’t started reading this during a lengthy wait at a Lifelabs, I’d have given up on it. Trapped as I was, I read on, and found myself pulled in like one of the capsized characters drowning in the Atlantic; there’s something deep and relentlessly powerful here, if you surrender yourself to it. For readers of Alexi Zentner’s “Lobster Kings,” and those that enjoy slash your wrists literary fiction.

Adult Fiction Hardcover pr5916238

The Kingdom by Jo Nesbo

Standalone Norwegian Noir about a pair of brothers that have grown up with tragedy on a small mountain farm.

Compared to his best known work, The Kingdom is slower paced, with a higher page count. This allows for fully realized character studies, and events unfolding at a natural seeming pace, alongside flashbacks that reveal the brothers’ full backstory.

While this book is more of a family drama than a suspenseful crime novel, it is still very recognizable as a work by Jo Nesbo, a man who has never bought into the myth of Scandinavia as a perfect place filled with happy people, no matter where they might appear in think tank studies of happiness and livability. Nesbo isn’t having it. People, authority, government are generally taken to be idiots at best, criminal at worst, until proven otherwise. If you’re a glass half full (of poison) person by nature, he’s a writer for you.

Adult Fiction Hardcover pr5727824

She Come By It Natural by Sarah Smarsh

A feminist and cultural study of the queen of country music and all around icon.

We seem to be living in a time of peak Dolly right now: there are multiple books out now, TV specials, documentaries and movies, a publishing company, the Imagination Library, and her contributions to the coronavirus research leading to the Moderna vaccine. This book is emphatically not a comprehensive biography, but rather a focused look at how Parton made it from poverty to stardom in a man’s world, interspersed with background of Smarsh’s experience as well. A book for thoughtful, critical readers interested in women’s studies, more than celebrity fluff.

Adult Non-Fiction Hardcover pr5809569

Squeeze Me by Carl Hiaasen

This political and social satire set in Palm Beach stretches reality in a way perfectly suited to these mad times. An imbecilic President, entitled dowagers, invasive species and the perils of over-development, all feature in this comedic romp that includes a sort of guest appearance by fan favorite character, Skink. Written in the aftermath of the death of Hiaasen’s brother Rob, who was gunned down in a shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper where he was a columnist, I can’t help but reflect that story-telling and laughter present a better response to tragedy than tears. Certainly his portrayal of POTUS and the First Lady are more entertaining to read than any of the political science books that have been ubiquitous for the last four years.

Adult Fiction Hardcover pr5700787

The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson

How does a nation become fearless? Two weeks before the Dunkirk evacuation and on Churchill’s first day as Prime Minister, Hitler invaded Holland and Belgium. Over the course of a year, 45,000 Britons died in a relentless bombing campaign, 30,000 of them Londoners. This is a story of leadership, as Churchill held the country together through its darkest year. Using recently declassified files, intelligence reports and personal diaries, Larson breathes fresh life into a story very often told in a brisk, entertaining fashion. This book will please both avid consumers of military history and general readers.

Adult Non-Fiction Hardcover pr5263649

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