What we're reading: Staff recommendations from the Northshire Bookstore

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"The Dutch House" by Ann Patchett

After the death of their wealthy father, a brother and his sister are told by their wicked stepmother to leave the amazing glass house in which they were raised. The pair devise an ingenious scheme to get even. The author adds some deft contemporary touches to a story that seems to have garnered its inspiration from classic fairy tales. The relationship that exists between the siblings is touching, infuriating, frustrating, and, if you have a brother or a sister, often familiar. As she demonstrated in "Commonwealth," Patchett's gift for creating strong emotional bonds between the reader and her characters is again on dazzling display.

— Alden Graves, Manchester

"Water Dancer" by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Hiram Walker was born into the hell of slavery in Virginia. His father was the master of the plantation. His mother left while he was a child. Hiram possessed an extraordinary gift and he would use it to bring others trapped in the dark misery of bondage into the light of freedom in the North. This is a powerful and eloquent chronicle of the devastation wrought by an institution that still should shame the nation's consciousness. The novel is infused with mysticism and the redeeming power of love and family. Coates constantly reminds us that man's capacity for inflicting cruelty is only surpassed by the indomitable will and determination of the victims of that inhumanity to triumph over it.

— Alden Graves, Manchester

"The World That We Knew" by Alice Hoffman

A Jewish woman summons up a golem to protect her daughter during the child's perilous journey from Berlin to escape Nazi persecution. Although the girl resents her protector assuming a role that once belonged to her beloved parent, a bond develops between the pair, making her mother's final admonition to her even more difficult to obey. The author, as she did in "The Museum of Extraordinary Things," seamlessly weaves history with thrilling fiction, adding an element of folklore to this moving story of tenacity, courage, and faith.

— Alden Graves, Manchester

"A Bitter Feast" by Deborah Crombie

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The latest from an author that has become a favorite of mine. What starts as a simple, and rare, family vacation for the British detective couple morphs into a fatal accident that leads to murder. It's set in idyllic Cotswolds with its gorgeous countryside replete with sheep and border collies, local pubs, amazing food and libations. The author has developed multiple storylines and points of view in the story which I never felt confused by, only intrigued. With its marvelous storytelling, deep and complex characters, you will be absorbed in "A Bitter Feast" to the very end.

— Tambra Johnson-Reap, Manchester

"Someone We Know" by Shari Lapena

How well do you think you know your neighbors? In a small suburb, a teenager has been sneaking into houses, and a woman is found murdered. Smiles come undone, dark secrets are exposed and everybody becomes a suspect in this classic whodunit.

Lapena does a wonderful job showing the perspectives from each character, the lies they tell - and the truths they keep. Like a real life Clue game, you sift through the stories and evidence alongside the detectives, trying to figure out the truth before Lapena spills the beans for you.

I read this fast-paced and twisting book in one day. I couldn't put it down!

— Angela Turon, Saratoga, N.Y.

"The Way Home" by Mark Boyle

Boyle draws you in gently, and then fully converts you to his wild way of living, and clear way of thinking, with no real intention to do so. This book really has the power to change your life! His initial intention was to live for a year with no technology, but you have to think beyond the computers and phones, he means none at all - no power which means no lights, no hot water, no flushing toilet. One year turns into over two years, and Boyle finds that he truly becomes alive, and finds an authentic way to live that reconnects him not only to the world in which we live, but also the people in it. When technology is removed, one is forced to enjoy the company of others in a more immediate way. What really struck me was the way in which corporations intrude so fully upon our lives, and dictate what we desire, and will pay to acquire, without us realizing that it is not actually our own free will. An enlightening view into a slower pace of living, and a shift in priorities, whether you come out the other side still wanting the trappings of the modern world, or you want to run into the hills and build a cabin, it sure is a worthy read.

— Becky Doherty, Saratoga

The Northshire Bookstore, founded in 1976 in Manchester, is a family-owned independent bookstore with locations in the historic Coburn House at 4869 Main St., Manchester Center (overlooking the main roundabout), and 424 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.


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