Sam has been selling books for over 30 years, working at local indies Pages & Pages and Hawley-Cooke before coming to Carmichael's in 2014, where she is the Trainer and Floor Manager of the Frankfort Avenue location. Often an unoffical spokesperson for the store, she is a frequent guest on the literary podcast The Perks of Being a Book Lover, she appeared in the documentary "Bookstour" and interviewed author Leesa Cross-Smith for A Mighty Blaze's "Authors Love Bookstores".
Sam is also one of the featured booksellers in Reading is Magic: A Book Log for Families (9781419741401) published by Abrams Image.
Booktok fans rejoice-there is new Madeline Miller on the horizon! It's just a short story, sadly, but so perfectly done it could function as a master class in the form. Reading like a cross between a myth and an arty reworking of Charlotte Perkins-Gilman's classic "The Yellow Wallpaper" shot through a #metoo lens, it tells the story of a sculptor, Pygmalion, who wills one of his statues to life and then, at least in Ovid's retelling in The Metamorphoses, falls in love with her. (If it sounds familiar it's the inspiration for "My Fair Lady", among many other works.) In Miller's retelling Galatea, far from the meek love the sculptor imagined, is a force to be reckoned with making this one perfect for the many readers enjoying the current 'myths reworked for our times' trend.
This book is written by a female novelist on a trip to London who is mourning the death of her beloved idiosyncratic mother. The subject of this book is a female novelist on a trip to London who is mourning the death of her beloved idiosyncratic mother. Novel or memoir? When the reader is in the capable hands of Elizabeth McCracken my best advice:don't get caught up in nailing it down, instead enjoy the narrative formbending verve. My dad always says a person's best book is the one they write about their mom, this poignant gem could prove his case.
This fresh, vivid retelling of the story of Joan of Arc is both compelling and compulsively readable. In Chen's version instead of receiving visions telling her to take up the sword, Joan is instead driven by anger from years of abuse, both from her father and from the occupying English army. Its portrayal of personal trauma and political posturing and backstabbing makes the familiar story ring contemporary. Perfect for fans of Hilary Mantel or Dan Jones.
The latest from the Pulitzer Prize winner tells three stories from three very different times in American history, all connected by the great Kentucky racehorse Lexington. Brooks skillfully braids the story strands to shed light on everything from slavery and racism to art history and, though years of research were done, the novel wears it lightly- it's always in service of the larger narrative. Highly recommended!
The subject of friendship and the picture book format go together like peas and carrots. Buoyed by tender illustrations, this bittersweet story of a koala missing her cheetah best friend who has recently moved is recommended for readers of any age who are too far away from their favorite person.
Emily Bingham is the perfect person to write this deep dive into the history of our state song. A Kentucky native and historian whose name, locally, is synonymous with 'liberal' yet who counts slaveholders on both sides of the family tree, her complications mirror the song's which is often mistaken for a Civil War soldier's lament, even though it was written as a minstrel song years before. This is a carefully written and clear eyed counter to the nostalgia lovers 'it's just a song' arguement, a local example of the systematic dismantling work that is so necessary.
In this kitchen table time travel novel, it's not the the fate of the world that's at stake, but a single human life (and the others it touches). According to this tender love story there's not a version where the person you love most gets to live forever, but there is one where you can live your most authentic life, valuing what is truly important without distraction and it's worth fighting for. A lovely Valentine to the ties that bind.
With this collection novelist Shipstead proves to be as good at short stories as she is at sweeping epics. These vivid pieces-a Hollywood starlet raised by a cult breaks away, a one night stand in the Olympic village, a destructive love triangle in the West, portray people with a keen eye and sharp wit who are buffeted by life but still standing.
For fans of narrative historical nonfiction the combination of Candice Millard and the 18th century epic search for the mouth of the Nile will prove an irresistable combination. In addition to the British principles, Sir Richard Francis Burton and John Hanning Speke, Millard also highlights the African guides and other supporting players who made the journey possible. Giving that credit and casting a cold hard light on the inherent racism in the British golden age of exploration make for both a classic rousing adventure tale and a nuanced history.
Like all Trigiani novels this one is packed full of the things that make her books so satisfying-food, family and history. Her newest is the 20th century spanning story of of an Italian jeweler family-the personal sacrifices, the romantic heartaches and how the choices of one generation reverberate through the whole family tree. Readers seeking an emotional comfort read should tuck into this effort from an author at the top of her game.
This debut artfully captures the yearning and wistfulness inherant in a quarterlife crisis in a way that reads as fresh. Ideal for readers struggling with the same challenges, no matter their age.
This behind the scenes, warts and all portrait of horse racing in the 1970's will take the reader back to the end of the decade when, after the glory that was Secretariat, Seattle Slew and Affirmed, fans were poised to celebrate yet another Triple Crown winner. But that's not how the story ended. From the infamous safety pin, abuse of all kinds, to rampant racism-Gilden spares no wiseguy detail as he deconstructs the familiar narrative to reveal what REALLY happened.
Canadian actress, director and activist Sarah Polley seems to excel at everything she does so the fact that she has written a stellar essay collection surprised me not at all. What did surprise is the book's intimacy. From essays about her illness struggles, cautionary tales about her childhood actor days, to a #metoo essay about being a victim who doesn't come forward, Polley truly lays herself bare and the reader is the better for it. Highly recommended for readers of Leslie Jamison or Carmen Maria Machado.
The acclaimed short story writer and novelist, who is a psychologist in her other job, shares the personal story of her husband's Alzheimer's diagnosis and the myriad difficulties she faced in supporting his decision to end his life as he wished. In addition to coping with being a caregiver and seeing the man she loved diminished, she had to plan all the particuliars since he could not. With admirable grace and poise she writes beautifully of their final chapter together and how love takes us places we never thought we'd go.
Emily St. John Mandel is one of modern fiction's most reverie inducing writers, which can make her books difficult to describe and sell. Not that she doesn't have compelling plots, she does, it's just her novels are so much more than mere plot. Her latest, a kind of companion book to her The Glass Hotel, tells the story of a time anomaly (a glitch in The Matrix if you will) that affects an exiled Earl's son, a novelist on the literal last book tour on Earth and a detective from the future sent to investigate it. It's literary fiction/time travel science fiction whose mood lingers long after reading.
This novel is actually a collection of short stories told at different times by different members of the Shaw family, forming the chorus of the title. The matriarch's mental illness and death, the surprise teen pregnancy of one of the daughters and other, more prosaic, family events are recounted "Rashomon" style to build a tapestry that invites the reader to view the messy back side, where the knots are.
As fans of Weike Wang (or any reader of current literary fiction really) could guess from the title, Joan is certainly not okay. In fact, Joan can't even see okay between her bereavement for the death of her father back in China to her high pressure family who are never satisfied (even though she is a successful doctor in NYC). And now there's a pandemic turning up the heat and the anti Asian sentiment. All of which could make for a drag of a read in lesser hands but Wang's deft touch and Joan's wry sense of humor combine to paint a compelling human portrait that reads as very now.
The only biography of a polar explorer written by another polar explorer, this reads like a pub conversation with the most interesting guy in the bar. If the recent discovery of the wreck of the Endurance has you curious, this would be a good place to start.
Idiosyncratic Baltimore families are Tyler's stock in trade and The Garrett family in her latest are no different. But, to steal from Tolstoy, they are all weird in their own way and the author's use of specifics, and her overarching idea that you can tackle any subject through the lens of family, make each novel both fresh and welcome.
Part immigrant story, part literary mystery- The Verifiers tells the story of Claudia Lin, an investigator for a mysterious online datine service and how she finds trouble when digging into a client's death. Both twisty fun and a clear eyed commentary on how we find love in the 21st century, readers who take a chance on this debut will be glad they did.
National Book Award finalist McPhee tells the sweeping 20th century history of one Amercan family through the stories of four generations of its women. As Isadora, the family historian, investigates the family matriarch's tales what she finds runs the gamet-extreme poverty, child abandonment, fantastic wealth, switched identities and thwarted love. Readers who love a good family saga need to carve out time for this delight.
A beautifully poetic memoir chronicling a time of loss and wonder, Lost and Found uses natural phenomena like meteorites and systems like alphabets to tell of the overlapping months when the author lost her beloved father and found her beloved wife. Sad and joyous in equal measure, this book is precious find, the kind you can't keep on your own shelves because you keep giving it away.
When it comes to difficult choices there's the right thing or the easy thing. These moments of decision that take a person's measure make for compelling fiction. One such is this small novella-without a single wasted word it is so perfectly written it could function as master class on character building and plotting. Would make a great gift for writer friends!
This illness memoir recounts the author's years living with Bell's Palsy and her struggles navigating the world as a wife, mother, and artist with one side of her face paralyzed. By turns funny, grave and uplifting, Smile offers comfort to fellow chronic condition sufferers and delight in life for everyone.
Animal lovers know well sometimes bad babies are the best babies, especially when it comes to storytelling, and that the saying 'Who rescued who?' in regards to adopting animals is absolutely true. Always the Southern raconteur, Bragg makes poetry out of the ordinary-trucks, mommas, brothers, food- this time with the bittersweet knob turned all the way up. If there is a better writer at unearned grace I don't know them. A good one to read on your own front porch.
Lifting up all lives, human or animal, is what DiCamillo does best, never more so than in her newest. This medieval tale reads both like a fairy tale you missed as a child and like a story you've always known. A must read for people of all ages!
If you have a favorite kind of tea, this might be the humor book for you. If you have ever argued in a pub about who is greater Miss Marple or Poirot, this might be the humor book for you. If you own a PBS "Masterpiece Mystery" pledge drive tote that your cat likes to sleep in this is definately the humor book for you!
More than just a chronological band biography, this is far reaching music and social criticism, written by a fellow Southerner, that tells the store of the Drive-By Truckers regionally, by the cities they are associated with. This structure allows the author to inform the musical examination with the history of DBT's "Dirty South" - from Buford Pusser to Cooley Birds - that makes their music so distinctive.
Written with a precise clarity, this British novel from 1931 tells the story of a working class British family's seaside vacation. Though the plot seems low stakes by 21st century standards, its tender attention to the ups and downs of everyday life makes it that rare unicorn of reads- a well written feel good book.
As a longtime true crime reader I welcome the new trend of victim forward stories-too often in the past these stories have been lurid, making superstars of the worst of us. The Comfort of Monsters is one of these victim centered books, examining the fallout on families left behind. This dark, realistic read is set in Milwaukee in 1991, 'the Dahmer Summer', and Peg's sister Dee has gone missing. With no leads and no body, the hapless police, overwhelmed by media attention, are no help so she sets out to find Dee herself. In a different kind of book she'd solve the mystery and find peace but Richards instead focuses on the Peg's guilt and the family's disintegration after years of not knowing.
Set in Martha's Vineyard the summer that the Hollywood people came to town to make that shark movie, this warmhearted graphic novel is about friendship, forgiveness and what it means to be a team. Young readers will appreciate the sharply drawn characters and their struggles for acceptance and true blue "Jaws" fans (like myself) will delight in all the tribute Easter eggs placed by a fan as big as themselves. A real charmer!
This debut novel is gripping generational family saga where, by clever narrative trick, the story takes place both in one day and over fifty years. It reads like a new prestige TV show everyone is talking about about, (the author WAS a the head of drama series at HBO) so clear your schedule because you won't want to put it down.
This great sweeping epic with richly drawn characters tells two stories-one of a 20th century aviatrix seeking to fly around the world and a 21st century Hollywood actress attempting to salvage her self sabotaged career by playing the flier in a movie. How these two stories amplify and mirror one another while examining women's choices and the joy/difficulty of shaping one's life narrative is the great joy of this book. Take it on a journey of your own today!
Vlautin's new novel is an of the moment story of gentrification in Portland that shows how economic desperation puts the squeeze on everyday working people. But unlike his other novels, which also highlight the struggles of similiar folk, this one is paced like a thriller (albeit with kitchen table stakes) unfolding over a breathless 48 hours with nailbiting suspense and no good choices. A must read for anyone who has ever had to sweat the rent.
When Louise's beloved dog dies she takes her grief to a nearby island where she meets a mysterious bear who helps her navigate her sadness. Lovely and perceptive, this picture books reassures readers of any age that bereavement is not linear and while the changes it brings are strange they are not unnavigable.
This new massive, but surprisingly quick reading, biography stands out from the plethora of Plath books in two important ways-it uses previously unavailible materials (especially medical documents) and it seeks to put the emphasis squarely on the work, not the personality cult built around the poet in the years since her suicide. This approach is refreshing and eyeopening whether the reader is new to Plath, or a huge fan.
You survived a cult-great job! Now what? You have no life skills for the 'real world'. (Your herbal medicine skills and the other end of world prep only gets you so far when the Armageddon you readied for has yet to materialize). You also have no belief system to replace the old, which leaves you susceptibile to dark overtures from the other surviving cultists who are coping even worse than you. A pitch black "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"-that's the juicy premise of The Poison Garden. Gripping and full of rich psychological detail!