Books to Gift This Holiday Season

If your holiday shopping list includes friends and family who have everything, wrap up some of the latest books to surprise them this season. And remember to pick up a few reads to keep you entertained during the holidays, along with Hallmark Christmas movies of course. The hottest new releases include a prescient novel by a Charlotte ER doctor, a new mystery from a bestselling author/first lady collaboration, a historical fiction novel about the magic of Narnia and a culinary adventure by a beloved actor.

Shop at Park Road Books or Main St. Books in Davidson or shop via the Amazon links below (book summaries pulled from Amazon.com).

New Books by Local Authors

Doctors & Friends by Kimmery Martin (Berkley)

Martin is a Charlotte ER physician who discovered her passion and talent for writing – I loved her debut novel “The Queen of Hearts”, a page turner set in the QC packed with “Grey’s” style friendship and romance drama. In her third book Doctors & Friends, a group of female friends/doctors end up on the front lines of a viral pandemic. Martin wrote the book before COVID-19 – it’s incredible to read how she envisioned a novel virus ravaging the country so close to our real life pandemic. The story powerfully blends the doctors’ personal storylines with their race to save their patients, loved ones and the world from a deadly virus.

“Hannah, Compton, and Kira have been close friends since medical school, reuniting once a year for a much-needed vacation. Just as they gather to travel in Spain, an outbreak of a fast-spreading virus throws the world into chaos.
 
When Compton Winfield returns to her job as an ER doctor in New York City, she finds a city changed beyond recognition—and a personal loss so gutting it reshapes every aspect of her life.
 
Hannah Geier’s career as an ob-gyn in San Diego is fulfilling but she’s always longed for a child of her own. After years of trying, Hannah discovers she’s expecting a baby just as the disease engulfs her city.
 
Kira Marchand, an infectious disease doctor at the CDC in Atlanta, finds herself at the center of the American response to the terrifying new illness. Her professional battle turns personal when she must decide whether her children will receive an experimental but potentially life-saving treatment.
 
Written prior to Covid-19 by a former emergency medicine physician, Doctors and Friends incorporates unexpected wit, razor-edged poignancy, and a deeply relatable cast of characters who provoke both laughter and tears. Martin provides a unique insider’s perspective into the world of medical professionals working to save lives during the most difficult situations of their careers.”

The Bone Code by Kathy Reichs (Scribner)

I read my first mystery by Kathy Reichs this summer (A Conspiracy of Bones) and couldn’t get over the scenes set in our Charlotte neighborhood. Reichs, a forensic anthropologist and inspiration for hit TV series Bones, splits her time between Charlotte and Montreal. The Bone Code is the latest mystery in the Temperance Brennan series – Reich’s alter ego finds a link between two bodies discovered on the South Carolina coast and a case from her past.

“On the way to hurricane-ravaged Isle of Palms, a barrier island off the South Carolina coast, Tempe receives a call from the Charleston coroner. The storm has tossed ashore a medical waste container. Inside are two decomposed bodies wrapped in plastic sheeting and bound with electrical wire. Tempe recognizes many of the details as identical to those of an unsolved case she handled in Quebec fifteen years earlier. With a growing sense of foreboding, she travels to Montreal to gather evidence.

Meanwhile, health authorities in South Carolina become increasingly alarmed as a human flesh-eating contagion spreads. So focused is Tempe on identifying the container victims that, initially, she doesn’t register how their murders and the pestilence may be related. But she does recognize one unsettling fact. Someone is protecting a dark secret—and willing to do anything to keep it hidden.

An absorbing look at the sinister uses to which genetics can be put and featuring a cascade of ever-more-shocking revelations, The Bone Code is “a murder mystery story that races across America at the speed of fright” (James Patterson).”

The Secret of Rainy Days by Leslie Hooton (Keylight Books)

“Growing up in Erob, Alabama, Nina “Little Bit” Barnes Enloe lived in the shadow of her imposing and harsh grandmother, Nina “Biggie” Barnes Enloe. If she wasn’t being bossed around by Biggie, then the task fell to her best friend Win…who did win. At everything. Bit never seemed to share Win’s lifetime supply of “lucky dust.” Perhaps the only thing Bit has ever chosen for herself is her friendship with Avery, the out-of-towner who showed up on the saddest day of her life―unpretentious and decidedly un-Southern―with a funeral casserole in hand.

Bit believes she can escape her grandmother’s controlling grip once and for all by moving somewhere where she is the only Nina Enloe listed: New York. Yet her world is turned upside down when an unexpected loss forces her to leave her new life in the city and return to Erob, where she must face everything―and everyone―she left behind. In the process, Bit discovers her true identity, learns the hard lessons of acceptance and forgiveness, finds herself falling in love in unexpected places, and finds comfort in the secrets of rainy days. 

Leslie Hooton, author of Before Anyone Else, brings her signature wit and Southern charm to the page again in this triumphant coming-of-age story.”

When Ghosts Come Home by Wiley Cash (William Morrow)

Wiley Cash is New York Times bestselling author and Gastonia native who now lives on the North Carolina coast.

“When the roar of a low-flying plane awakens him in the middle of the night, Sheriff Winston Barnes knows something strange is happening at the nearby airfield on the coast of North Carolina. But nothing can prepare him for what he finds: a large airplane has crash-landed and is now sitting sideways on the runway, and there are no signs of a pilot or cargo. When the body of a local man is discovered—shot dead and lying on the grass near the crash site—Winston begins a murder investigation that will change the course of his life and the fate of the community that he has sworn to protect.

Everyone is a suspect, including the dead man. As rumors and accusations fly, long-simmering racial tensions explode overnight, and Winston, whose own tragic past has followed him like a ghost, must do his duty while facing the painful repercussions of old decisions. Winston also knows that his days as sheriff may be numbered. He’s up for re-election against a corrupt and well-connected challenger, and his deputies are choosing sides. As if these events weren’t troubling enough, he must finally confront his daughter Colleen, who has come home grieving a shattering loss she cannot fully articulate.

As the suspense builds and this compelling mystery unfolds, Wiley Cash delves deep into the hearts of these richly drawn, achingly sympathetic characters to reveal the nobility of an ordinary man struggling amidst terrifying, extraordinary circumstances.” 

Page Turning Fiction

Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout (Random House)

“‘I would like to say a few things about my first husband, William. 

Lucy Barton is a writer, but her ex-husband, William, remains a hard man to read. William, she confesses, has always been a mystery to me. Another mystery is why the two have remained connected after all these years. They just are. 

So Lucy is both surprised and not surprised when William asks her to join him on a trip to investigate a recently uncovered family secret—one of those secrets that rearrange everything we think we know about the people closest to us. What happens next is nothing less than another example of what Hilary Mantel has called Elizabeth Strout’s “perfect attunement to the human condition.” There are fears and insecurities, simple joys and acts of tenderness, and revelations about affairs and other spouses, parents and their children. On every page of this exquisite novel we learn more about the quiet forces that hold us together—even after we’ve grown apart. 

At the heart of this story is the indomitable voice of Lucy Barton, who offers a profound, lasting reflection on the very nature of existence. “This is the way of life,” Lucy says: “the many things we do not know until it is too late.'”

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr (Scribner)

“Set in Constantinople in the fifteenth century, in a small town in present-day Idaho, and on an interstellar ship decades from now, Anthony Doerr’s gorgeous third novel is a triumph of imagination and compassion, a soaring story about children on the cusp of adulthood in worlds in peril, who find resilience, hope—and a book. In Cloud Cuckoo Land, Doerr has created a magnificent tapestry of times and places that reflects our vast interconnectedness—with other species, with each other, with those who lived before us, and with those who will be here after we’re gone.

Thirteen-year-old Anna, an orphan, lives inside the formidable walls of Constantinople in a house of women who make their living embroidering the robes of priests. Restless, insatiably curious, Anna learns to read, and in this ancient city, famous for its libraries, she finds a book, the story of Aethon, who longs to be turned into a bird so that he can fly to a utopian paradise in the sky. This she reads to her ailing sister as the walls of the only place she has known are bombarded in the great siege of Constantinople. Outside the walls is Omeir, a village boy, miles from home, conscripted with his beloved oxen into the invading army. His path and Anna’s will cross.

Five hundred years later, in a library in Idaho, octogenarian Zeno, who learned Greek as a prisoner of war, rehearses five children in a play adaptation of Aethon’s story, preserved against all odds through centuries. Tucked among the library shelves is a bomb, planted by a troubled, idealistic teenager, Seymour. This is another siege. And in a not-so-distant future, on the interstellar ship Argos, Konstance is alone in a vault, copying on scraps of sacking the story of Aethon, told to her by her father. She has never set foot on our planet.

Like Marie-Laure and Werner in All the Light We Cannot See, Anna, Omeir, Seymour, Zeno, and Konstance are dreamers and outsiders who find resourcefulness and hope in the midst of gravest danger. Their lives are gloriously intertwined. Doerr’s dazzling imagination transports us to worlds so dramatic and immersive that we forget, for a time, our own. Dedicated to “the librarians then, now, and in the years to come,” Cloud Cuckoo Land is a beautiful and redemptive novel about stewardship—of the book, of the Earth, of the human heart.”

Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) 

“It’s December 23, 1971, and heavy weather is forecast for Chicago. Russ Hildebrandt, the associate pastor of a liberal suburban church, is on the brink of breaking free of a marriage he finds joyless―unless his wife, Marion, who has her own secret life, beats him to it. Their eldest child, Clem, is coming home from college on fire with moral absolutism, having taken an action that will shatter his father. Clem’s sister, Becky, long the social queen of her high-school class, has sharply veered into the counterculture, while their brilliant younger brother Perry, who’s been selling drugs to seventh graders, has resolved to be a better person. Each of the Hildebrandts seeks a freedom that each of the others threatens to complicate.

Jonathan Franzen’s novels are celebrated for their unforgettably vivid characters and for their keen-eyed take on contemporary America. Now, in Crossroads, Franzen ventures back into the past and explores the history of two generations. With characteristic humor and complexity, and with even greater warmth, he conjures a world that resonates powerfully with our own.

A tour de force of interwoven perspectives and sustained suspense, its action largely unfolding on a single winter day, Crossroads is the story of a Midwestern family at a pivotal moment of moral crisis. Jonathan Franzen’s gift for melding the small picture and the big picture has never been more dazzlingly evident.”

Once Upon a Wardrobe by Patti Callahan (Harper Muse)

Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan was one of my favorite books from this summer, and her latest historical fiction novel explores the magical world of C.S. Lewis.

“Megs Devonshire, on a scholarship at Oxford, is brilliant with numbers and equations. She prefers the dependability of facts—except for one: the brother she loves with all her heart doesn’t have long to live. When George becomes captivated by a brand-new book called The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and begs her to find out where Narnia came from, there’s no way she can refuse.

Despite her timidity about approaching the famous author, who is a professor at her school, Megs soon finds herself taking tea with the Oxford don and his own brother, begging them for answers. What she receives instead are stories . . . little-known tales from different periods in Mr. Lewis’s life, which she takes home to George.

Why won’t Mr. Lewis just tell her plainly what George wants to know? The answer will reveal to Meg many truths that science and math cannot, and the gift she thought she was giving to her brother—the story behind Narnia—turns out to be his gift to her, instead: hope.”

The Stranger in the Lifeboat by Mitch Albom (Harper)

“Adrift in a raft after a deadly ship explosion, nine people struggle for survival at sea. Three days pass. Short on water, food and hope, they spot a man floating in the waves. They pull him in.

“Thank the Lord we found you,” a passenger says.

“I am the Lord,” the man whispers.

So begins Mitch Albom’s most beguiling and inspiring novel yet.

Albom has written of heaven in the celebrated number one bestsellers The Five People You Meet in Heaven and The First Phone Call from Heaven. Now, for the first time in his fiction, he ponders what we would do if, after crying out for divine help, God actually appeared before us? What might the Lord look, sound and act like?

In The Stranger in the Lifeboat, Albom keeps us guessing until the end: Is this strange and quiet man really who he claims to be? What actually happened to cause the explosion? Are the survivors already in heaven, or are they in hell?

The story is narrated by Benji, one of the passengers, who recounts the events in a notebook that is later discovered—a year later—when the empty life raft washes up on the island of Montserrat.

It falls to the island’s chief inspector, Jarty LeFleur, a man battling his own demons, to solve the mystery of what really happened. 

A fast-paced, compelling novel that makes you ponder your deepest beliefs, The Stranger in the Lifeboat suggests that answers to our prayers may be found where we least expect them.”

Suspense

State of Terror by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny (Simon & Schuster/St. Martin’s Press)

“From the #1 bestselling authors Hillary Clinton and Louise Penny comes a novel of unsurpassed thrills and incomparable insider expertise—State of Terror.

After a tumultuous period in American politics, a new administration has just been sworn in, and to everyone’s surprise the president chooses a political enemy for the vital position of secretary of state.

There is no love lost between the president of the United States and Ellen Adams, his new secretary of state. But it’s a canny move on the part of the president. With this appointment, he silences one of his harshest critics, since taking the job means Adams must step down as head of her multinational media conglomerate.

As the new president addresses Congress for the first time, with Secretary Adams in attendance, Anahita Dahir, a young foreign service officer (FSO) on the Pakistan desk at the State Department, receives a baffling text from an anonymous source.

Too late, she realizes the message was a hastily coded warning.

What begins as a series of apparent terrorist attacks is revealed to be the beginning of an international chess game involving the volatile and Byzantine politics of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran; the race to develop nuclear weapons in the region; the Russian mob; a burgeoning rogue terrorist organization; and an American government set back on its heels in the international arena.

As the horrifying scale of the threat becomes clear, Secretary Adams and her team realize it has been carefully planned to take advantage of four years of an American government out of touch with international affairs, out of practice with diplomacy, and out of power in the places where it counts the most.

To defeat such an intricate, carefully constructed conspiracy, it will take the skills of a unique team: a passionate young FSO; a dedicated journalist; and a smart, determined, but as yet untested new secretary of state.

State of Terror is a unique and utterly compelling international thriller cowritten by Hillary Rodham Clinton, the 67th secretary of state, and Louise Penny, a multiple award-winning #1 New York Times bestselling novelist.”

Autopsy by Patricia Cornwell (William Morrow) Release Date November 30

“Forensic pathologist Kay Scarpetta has come almost full circle, returning to Virginia as the chief medical examiner, the state where she launched her storied career. Finding herself the new girl in town once again after being away for many years, she’s inherited not only an overbearing secretary, but also a legacy of neglect and potential corruption.

She and her husband Benton Wesley, now a forensic psychologist with the U.S. Secret Service, have relocated to Old Town Alexandria where she’s headquartered five miles from the Pentagon in a post-pandemic world that’s been torn by civil and political unrest. Just weeks on the job, she’s called to a scene by railroad tracks where a woman’s body has been shockingly displayed, her throat cut down to the spine, and as Scarpetta begins to follow the trail, it leads unnervingly close to her own historic neighborhood.

At the same time, a catastrophe occurs in a top-secret laboratory in outer space, endangering at least two scientists aboard. Appointed to the highly classified Doomsday Commission that specializes in sensitive national security cases, Scarpetta is summoned to the White House and tasked with finding out exactly what happened. But even as she works the first potential crime scene in space remotely, an apparent serial killer strikes again very close to home.” 

The Judge’s List by John Grisham (Doubleday)

“In The Whistler, Lacy Stoltz investigated a corrupt judge who was taking millions in bribes from a crime syndicate. She put the criminals away, but only after being attacked and nearly killed. Three years later, and approaching forty, she is tired of her work for the Florida Board on Judicial Conduct and ready for a change.

Then she meets a mysterious woman who is so frightened she uses a number of aliases. Jeri Crosby’s father was murdered twenty years earlier in a case that remains unsolved and that has grown stone cold. But Jeri has a suspect whom she has become obsessed with and has stalked for two decades. Along the way, she has discovered other victims.

Suspicions are easy enough, but proof seems impossible. The man is brilliant, patient, and always one step ahead of law enforcement. He is the most cunning of all serial killers. He knows forensics, police procedure, and most important: he knows the law.

He is a judge, in Florida—under Lacy’s jurisdiction.

He has a list, with the names of his victims and targets, all unsuspecting people unlucky enough to have crossed his path and wronged him in some way. How can Lacy pursue him, without becoming the next name on his list?

The Judge’s List is by any measure John Grisham’s most surprising, chilling novel yet.”

Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty (Henry Holt and Co.)

From Liane Moriarty, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Big Little Lies and Nine Perfect Strangers, comes Apples Never Fall, a novel that looks at marriage, siblings, and how the people we love the most can hurt us the deepest.

The Delaney family love one another dearlyit’s just that sometimes they want to murder each other . . .

If your mother was missing, would you tell the police? Even if the most obvious suspect was your father?

This is the dilemma facing the four grown Delaney siblings.

The Delaneys are fixtures in their community. The parents, Stan and Joy, are the envy of all of their friends. They’re killers on the tennis court, and off it their chemistry is palpable. But after fifty years of marriage, they’ve finally sold their famed tennis academy and are ready to start what should be the golden years of their lives. So why are Stan and Joy so miserable?

The four Delaney children―Amy, Logan, Troy, and Brooke―were tennis stars in their own right, yet as their father will tell you, none of them had what it took to go all the way. But that’s okay, now that they’re all successful grown-ups and there is the wonderful possibility of grandchildren on the horizon.

One night a stranger named Savannah knocks on Stan and Joy’s door, bleeding after a fight with her boyfriend. The Delaneys are more than happy to give her the small kindness she sorely needs. If only that was all she wanted.

Later, when Joy goes missing, and Savannah is nowhere to be found, the police question the one person who remains: Stan. But for someone who claims to be innocent, he, like many spouses, seems to have a lot to hide. Two of the Delaney children think their father is innocent, two are not so sure―but as the two sides square off against each other in perhaps their biggest match ever, all of the Delaneys will start to reexamine their shared family history in a very new light.”

Romance

The Wish by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central Publishing)

“1996 was the year that changed everything for Maggie Dawes. Sent away at sixteen to live with an aunt she barely knew in Ocracoke, a remote village on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, she could think only of the friends and family she left behind . . . until she met Bryce Trickett, one of the few teenagers on the island. Handsome, genuine, and newly admitted to West Point, Bryce showed her how much there was to love about the wind-swept beach town—and introduced her to photography, a passion that would define the rest of her life.

By 2019, Maggie is a renowned travel photographer. She splits her time between running a successful gallery in New York and photographing remote locations around the world. But this year she is unexpectedly grounded over Christmas, struggling to come to terms with a sobering medical diagnosis. Increasingly dependent on a young assistant, she finds herself becoming close to him.

As they count down the last days of the season together, she begins to tell him the story of another Christmas, decades earlier—and the love that set her on a course she never could have imagined.”

Dear Santa by Debbie Macomber (Ballantine Books)

“Lindy Carmichael isn’t feeling particularly joyful when she returns home to Wenatchee, Washington, for Christmas. The man she thought was “the one” has cheated on her with her best friend, and she feels completely devoid of creativity in her graphic-design job. Not even carolers or Christmas cookies can cheer her up—but Lindy’s mother, Ellen, remembers an old tradition that might lift her daughter’s spirits.
 
Reading through a box of childhood letters to Santa and reminiscing about what she’d wished for as a young girl may be just the inspiration Lindy needs. With Ellen’s encouragement, she decides to write a new letter to Santa, one that will encourage her to have faith and believe just as she’d done all those years ago. Little does Lindy know that this exercise in gratitude will cause her wishes to unfold before her in miraculous ways. And, thanks to some fateful twists of Christmas magic—especially an unexpected connection with a handsome former classmate—Lindy ultimately realizes that there is truly no place like home for the holidays.
 
In Dear Santa, Debbie Macomber celebrates the joys of Christmas blessings, old and new.”

Christmas in Peachtree Bluff by Kristy Woodson Harvey (Gallery Books)

“When the Murphy women are in trouble, they always know they can turn to their mother, Ansley. So when eldest daughter Caroline and her husband, James, announce they are divorcing—and fifteen-year-old daughter Vivi acts out in response—Caroline, at her wits end, can’t think of anything to do besides leave her with Ansley in Peachtree Bluff for the holidays. After all, how much trouble can one teenager get into on a tiny island?

Quite a lot, as it turns out.

As the “storm of the century” heads toward Peachtree Bluff, Ansley and her husband, Jack, with Vivi in tow, are grateful they’re planning to leave for the trip of a lifetime. But Vivi’s recklessness forces the trio to shelter in place during the worst hurricane Peachtree has ever seen. With no power, no provisions, and the water rising, the circumstances become dire very quickly…and the Murphy sisters, who evacuated to New York, soon realize it’s up to them to conduct a rescue mission. With the bridges closed and no way to access Peachtree Bluff by land or air, they set sail on Caroline’s boat, The Starlite Sisters, determined to rebuild their beloved town—as well as their family.

In “pitch perfect tones” (Publishers Weekly) and written with her signature Southern charm, New York Times bestselling author Kristy Woodson Harvey explores the magic of Christmas, the power of forgiveness, and the importance of family in a tale that reminds us that, no matter the circumstances, home is always where we belong—especially during the holidays.”

Captivating Nonfiction

Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty (Harper) by Anderson Cooper and Katherine Howe

New York Times bestselling author and journalist Anderson Cooper teams with New York Times bestselling historian and novelist Katherine Howe to chronicle the rise and fall of a legendary American dynasty—his mother’s family, the Vanderbilts.

When eleven-year-old Cornelius Vanderbilt began to work on his father’s small boat ferrying supplies in New York Harbor at the beginning of the nineteenth century, no one could have imagined that one day he would, through ruthlessness, cunning, and a pathological desire for money, build two empires—one in shipping and another in railroads—that would make him the richest man in America. His staggering fortune was fought over by his heirs after his death in 1877, sowing familial discord that would never fully heal. Though his son Billy doubled the money left by “the Commodore,” subsequent generations competed to find new and ever more extraordinary ways of spending it. By 2018, when the last Vanderbilt was forced out of The Breakers—the seventy-room summer estate in Newport, Rhode Island, that Cornelius’s grandson and namesake had built—the family would have been unrecognizable to the tycoon who started it all.

Now, the Commodore’s great-great-great-grandson Anderson Cooper, joins with historian Katherine Howe to explore the story of his legendary family and their outsized influence. Cooper and Howe breathe life into the ancestors who built the family’s empire, basked in the Commodore’s wealth, hosted lavish galas, and became synonymous with unfettered American capitalism and high society. Moving from the hardscrabble wharves of old Manhattan to the lavish drawing rooms of Gilded Age Fifth Avenue, from the ornate summer palaces of Newport to the courts of Europe, and all the way to modern-day New York, Cooper and Howe wryly recount the triumphs and tragedies of an American dynasty unlike any other.

Written with a unique insider’s viewpoint, this is a rollicking, quintessentially American history as remarkable as the family it so vividly captures.”

Going There by Katie Couric (Little, Brown and Company) 

New York Times bestselling author and journalist Anderson Cooper teams with New York Times bestselling historian and novelist Katherine Howe to chronicle the rise and fall of a legendary American dynasty—his mother’s family, the Vanderbilts.

When eleven-year-old Cornelius Vanderbilt began to work on his father’s small boat ferrying supplies in New York Harbor at the beginning of the nineteenth century, no one could have imagined that one day he would, through ruthlessness, cunning, and a pathological desire for money, build two empires—one in shipping and another in railroads—that would make him the richest man in America. His staggering fortune was fought over by his heirs after his death in 1877, sowing familial discord that would never fully heal. Though his son Billy doubled the money left by “the Commodore,” subsequent generations competed to find new and ever more extraordinary ways of spending it. By 2018, when the last Vanderbilt was forced out of The Breakers—the seventy-room summer estate in Newport, Rhode Island, that Cornelius’s grandson and namesake had built—the family would have been unrecognizable to the tycoon who started it all.

Now, the Commodore’s great-great-great-grandson Anderson Cooper, joins with historian Katherine Howe to explore the story of his legendary family and their outsized influence. Cooper and Howe breathe life into the ancestors who built the family’s empire, basked in the Commodore’s wealth, hosted lavish galas, and became synonymous with unfettered American capitalism and high society. Moving from the hardscrabble wharves of old Manhattan to the lavish drawing rooms of Gilded Age Fifth Avenue, from the ornate summer palaces of Newport to the courts of Europe, and all the way to modern-day New York, Cooper and Howe wryly recount the triumphs and tragedies of an American dynasty unlike any other.

Written with a unique insider’s viewpoint, this is a rollicking, quintessentially American history as remarkable as the family it so vividly captures.”

The Boys by Ron Howard and Clint Howard (William Morrow)

“Happy Days, The Andy Griffith Show, Gentle Ben-these shows captivated millions of TV viewers in the ’60s and ’70s. Join award-winning filmmaker Ron Howard and audience-favorite actor Clint Howard as they frankly and fondly share their unusual family story of navigating and surviving life as sibling child actors.

“What was it like to grow up on TV?” Ron Howard has been asked this question throughout his adult life. in The Boys, he and his younger brother, Clint, examine their childhoods in detail for the first time. For Ron, playing Opie on The Andy Griffith Show and Richie Cunningham on Happy Days offered fame, joy, and opportunity-but also invited stress and bullying. For Clint, a fast start on such programs as Gentle Ben and Star Trek petered out in adolescence, with some tough consequences and lessons.

With the perspective of time and success-Ron as a filmmaker, producer, and Hollywood A-lister, Clint as a busy character actor-the Howard brothers delve deep into an upbringing that seemed normal to them yet was anything but. Their Midwestern parents, Rance and Jean, moved to California to pursue their own showbiz dreams. But it was their young sons who found steady employment as actors. Rance put aside his ego and ambition to become Ron and Clint’s teacher, sage, and moral compass. Jean became their loving protector-sometimes over-protector-from the snares and traps of Hollywood.

By turns confessional, nostalgic, heartwarming, and harrowing, THE BOYS is a dual narrative that lifts the lid on the Howard brothers’ closely held lives. It’s the journey of a tight four-person family unit that held fast in an unforgiving business and of two brothers who survived “child-actor syndrome” to become fulfilled adults.”

Renegades Born in the USA by Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen (Crown)

Renegades: Born in the USA is a candid, revealing, and entertaining dialogue between President Barack Obama and legendary musician Bruce Springsteen that explores everything from their origin stories and career-defining moments to our country’s polarized politics and the growing distance between the American Dream and the American reality. Filled with full-color photographs and rare archival material, it is a compelling and beautifully illustrated portrait of two outsiders—one Black and one white—looking for a way to connect their unconventional searches for meaning, identity, and community with the American story itself. It includes:

• Original introductions by President Obama and Bruce Springsteen
• Exclusive new material from the Renegades podcast recording sessions
• Obama’s never-before-seen annotated speeches, including his “Remarks at the 50th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery Marches”
• Springsteen’s handwritten lyrics for songs spanning his 50-year-long career
• Rare and exclusive photographs from the authors’ personal archives
• Historical photographs and documents that provide rich visual context for their conversation

In a recording studio stocked with dozens of guitars, and on at least one Corvette ride, Obama and Springsteen discuss marriage and fatherhood, race and masculinity, the lure of the open road and the call back to home. They also compare notes on their favorite protest songs, the most inspiring American heroes of all time, and more. Along the way, they reveal their passion for—and the occasional toll of—telling a bigger, truer story about America throughout their careers, and explore how our fractured country might begin to find its way back toward unity and global leadership.”

E.R. Nurses: True Stories from America’s Greatest Unsung Heroes by James Patterson & Matt Eversmann (Little, Brown and Company)

“Around the clock, across the country, these highly skilled and compassionate men and women sacrifice and struggle for us and our families. 
 
You have never heard their true stories. Not like this. From big-city and small-town hospitals. From behind the scenes. From the heart.  
 
This book will make you laugh, make you cry, make you understand. 
 
When we’re at our worst, E.R. nurses are at their best.” 

Cookbooks

Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci (Gallery Books)

“Stanley Tucci grew up in an Italian American family that spent every night around the kitchen table. He shared the magic of those meals with us in The Tucci Cookbook and The Tucci Table, and now he takes us beyond the savory recipes and into the compelling stories behind them.​

Taste is a reflection on the intersection of food and life, filled with anecdotes about his growing up in Westchester, New York; preparing for and shooting the foodie films Big Night and Julie & Julia; falling in love over dinner; and teaming up with his wife to create meals for a multitude of children. Each morsel of this gastronomic journey through good times and bad, five-star meals and burned dishes, is as heartfelt and delicious as the last.

Written with Stanley’s signature wry humor, Taste is for fans of Bill Buford, Gabrielle Hamilton, and Ruth Reichl—and anyone who knows the power of a home-cooked meal.”

The Pioneer Woman Cooks – Super Easy! By Ree Drummond (Morrow)

The Pioneer Woman Cooks—Super Easy! will free you up and transform your cooking life as well, with 120 recipes that range from effortless breakfasts to breezy skillet meals to speedy soups to ready-in-minutes Tex-Mex delights, so you’ll have lots of options for any given meal. Many recipes in this cookbook call for step-saving (and sanity-saving) shortcuts that will revolutionize the time you spend making meals for your family, and all of them are utterly scrumptious! I’ve absolutely fallen in love with this new generation of recipes, including Butter Pecan French Toast, Buffalo Chicken Totchos, Speedy Dumpling Soup, Broccoli-Cheese Stromboli (so great for kids!), and an entire section of pastas and grains, such as One-Pot Sausage Pasta and colorful and fresh Hawaiian Shrimp Bowls. You’ll find yummy meals such as Pepperoni Fried Rice, Chicken-Fried Steak Fingers, and ultra-tasty Chicken Curry in a Hurry . . . as well as assemble-in-the-baking-dish casseroles, throw-together sheet pan suppers, and simply decadent desserts such as Mug Cakes, Coconut Cream Pie, and Brownie S’Mores Bars that you’ll dream about.

There’s something for everyone in this cookbook, and not a single recipe, ingredient, or step is complicated or difficult. Now that’s the kind of cooking we can all get behind!”

This Must Be the Place: Dispatches & Food from the Home Front by Rachael Ray (Ballantine Books)

““I wanted to write this book because for the first time in my fifty-two years, everyone on the planet was going through the same thing at the same time. We were all feeling the same fear, heartsickness, worry, and sadness, but due to the nature of the virus, it was hard to connect. I connect through cooking, and I noticed that’s what many others were doing as well. We took to the kitchen to share something of ourselves—and cooking became the discipline, diversion, and devotion that got us through.” 

You may think you know Rachael Ray after decades of TV appearances and dozens of books, but 2020 changed us all and it changed her, too—her life and her direction. During the early months of the pandemic in upstate New York, far away from her New York City television studio, Rachael Ray and her husband, John, went to work in their home kitchen hosting the only cooking show on broadcast TV. At her kitchen counter, with the help of her iPhone cameraman (John), Rachael produced more than 125 meals—everything from humble dishes composed of simple pantry items (One-Pot Chickpea Pasta or Stupid Good, Silly Easy Sausage Tray Bake) to more complex recipes that satisfy a craving or celebrate a moment (Porcini and Greens Risotto or Moroccan Chicken Tagine).

This Must Be the Place captures the words, recipes, and images that will forever shape this time for Rachael and her family, offering readers inspiration to rethink and rebuild what home means to them now.”

Cravings: All Together by Chrissy Teigen with Adeena Sussman (Clarkson Potter)

“Chrissy Teigen has always found a big sense of fun in the kitchen, but more than ever, she turns to the stove for comfort and warmth. Now Chrissy shares the recipes that have sustained her and her family, the ones that made her feel like everything is going to be okay. Recipes for Cozy Classic Red Lentil Soup, ingenious Chrissy signatures like Stuffed PB&J French Toast and puff pastry–wrapped Meatloaf Wellington, and family favorites like her mom Pepper’s Thai-style Sloppy Joes and John’s Saturday-morning Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes will have you feeling like you’re pulling up a chair to her table.”

 

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Ashley Kaufman
I'm happiest sipping coffee or wine and love exploring new places with family and friends, I graduated from Davidson College and now work as a PR consultant and copywriter. I write about Southern travel on my blog: http://pointssouth.wordpress.com/

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