What we're reading: Best gift ideas from Vermont writers

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"Heart Spring Mountain," by Robin MacArthur

"Heart Spring Mountain" is a treasure. MacArthur deftly weaves the lives of three generations of Vermont women into this marvelous story about the search for meaning, set against the background of an isolated farm in the mountains. It's a story of loss and of hope. It explores the frictions within families - the hurt caused and eventual healing.

The book is absorbing, mesmerizing and deeply felt. I didn't want it to end, but was compelled to read on to the satisfying conclusion. The characters are real and well-developed, the settings evocative. This is the perfect read for a weekend by the fire. I was reminded of Elizabeth Strout's writing at its best.

— Phil Lewis, Bennington Bookshop

"Ski Inc. 2020," by Chris Diamond

Mount Snow's former president Chris Diamond returns with his second book about the ski industry. The first Ski Inc. book published in 2016 covered the ski industry's past, while Ski Inc. 2020 focuses on the ski industry today and makes predictions for the future. Diamond dives into the consolidation that has happened with the two largest ski resort companies, known as the "Big Two," Vail Resorts and Alterra. The timing of the book is spot on with Vail's acquisition of Peak Resorts, owner of Mount Snow. A must read for anyone working in the ski industry, but also for those who spend their time skiing or whose business is affected by the ski industry.

— Lisa Sullivan, Bartleby's Books

"Bomber's Moon" by Archer Mayor

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Archer's 30th (yes 30th!) book in the Joe Gunther series. The murder of a small-time drug dealer snowballs into the most complex case ever faced by Joe Gunther and his VBI team. Two women, one an investigative journalist and one a private detective, form an uneasy alliance to try and solve the murder of a drug dealer, a thief and the disturbing happenings at a local prep school. There is a common link in all this, but it will take excellent police work and the help of these two women to solve it. Archer just keeps getting better.

— Lisa Sullivan, Bartleby's Books

"Benefits of Being an Octopus" by Ann Braden

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In her middle-grade novel "The Benefits Of Being An Octopus," Brattleboro author Ann Braden highlights issues of class and rural poverty that are endemic to many places, but often overlooked and sidelined, just like Zoey, the book's main character. The oldest child in a household that is rife with the insecurities of poverty, Zoey feels like she is the glue that holds her family's tenuous bonds together. But the energy it takes to keep her family feeling safe leaves her with little strength left to navigate the complexities of her school life, a place where she has learned to stay invisible in order to survive. All of that changes when Zoey is encouraged to join the debate team, and inevitably raise her voice, all of which ends up drawing attention to parts of her own life and those around her in ways that Zoey never intended.

— Ana McDaniel, Bartleby's Books

"Marley" by Jon Clinch

Fans of Jon Clinch's critically acclaimed novel "Finn," an imagined backstory of Huckleberry Finn's father, will be equally engrossed in this Vermont author's latest novel. Using the shadowy character of Jacob Marley, one of the ghostly visitors to Ebenezer Scrooge from Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," Clinch takes his readers on an exploration of friendship and inescapable bonds. Scrooge and Marley meet as boys in a typically Dickensian drab and gloomy boarding school, and proceed to forge a partnership that sees them through a Victorian era business partnership that flourishes. But their strengths inevitably lead the two to conflict, and the novel brings them to a rivalry in which neither man is faultless or beyond reproach. Clinch captures the spirit of Victorian England and uses it to reflect truths of our own era.

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— Ana McDaniel, Bartleby's Books

"Christine Released" by Ea Burke

Local author Ea Burke's debut novel, Christine, Released features as protagonist a teenage girl enduring the trials of life on the edge of society where few have a voice. Harrowing, enduring and ultimately hopeful.

— Pat Sheehan, Everyone's Books

"Mni Wiconi Water Is Life" by John Willis

John Willis is a photography teacher living in the Brattleboro area. His new book documents the struggle of Native Americans in South Dakota fighting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Willis has a strong relationship with many of the elders and youth in Native communities in South Dakota, and that connection is reflected in his images. —

— Nancy Braus, Everyone's Books


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