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Books We Can’t Wait to Share
 
 

 

Review by Kristin

Reading Hart’s Hollow Farm feels like opening a book and closing the world around you (no small feat on a New York City subway). As soon I stepped into the pages of Kristen’s world, I was immediately transfixed with how connected I felt to her character. A mom who couldn’t save her only child, a woman who hasn’t let her heart feel again since, Kristen’s journey to healing goes as deep as the soil of Hart’s Hollow Farm.

As soon as she meets 73–year–old firecracker Emmy I knew neither women would be the same. Both of their losses run deep and they know the pain they carry will never heal completely, but they also understand life is meant to be lived. Enter Mitch, Emmy’’s hunky yet sensitive son and my favorite part of this book. Kristen and Mitch are undeniably drawn to each other and the slow burn of their relationship had me hooked from the start. This book is a beautiful ode to the strength of community and the love a family can have for each other, whether that family is held together by blood or choice.

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Review by Esi

Have you ever read a book so realistic and all-consuming that you start to forget it’s not your actual life?

That’s how I felt when I read Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn. I wanted to hang out with Meg Mackworth and friends, watching movies and sharing secrets. (I would also love to hire Meg to make me a planner that would finally organize my life). Watching Meg’s relationships—romantic and non—unfold over the course of the book felt like visiting with a great friend, the kind who you can go months without talking to, but then you get together and it’s as if no time had passed at all.

Of course, the care and detail taken with the location and descriptions just build on the realism. New York City springs off the page, so be careful if you’re the kind to make impulsive travel plans (or especially if you’re hungry, because there is a falafel description that makes my mouth water even now).

The story of Meg Mackworth, handletterer extraordinaire, and the decision she makes that upends not just her life, but that of buttoned-up, reserved, deeply thoughtful (and extremely handsome) Reid Sutherland, will make you laugh and cry, yes. But it will also make you think, make you dream, make you grateful for the people around you. Visiting the little world Clayborn has created makes it clear how wonderful all of our own little worlds are.

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Review by Ann

Here’s a portrait of someone you think you know:

She told her youngest child the quarter under her bed came from The Tooth Fairy. She told her boss the project was almost done, but she hasn’t even started it. Someone in her friendship circle is a bully, but she won’t speak up. She told her cousin with the ugly dog how cute she thinks it is. She bragged to someone about her Master’s Degree — but she only has a Bachelor’s.

What do you think of this person now?

In an era of fake news and rampant lying, we hungrily clamor for beacons of integrity. We protest when we see we’re not getting the truth. We dump partners who withhold it. We insist our children practice it. We’re hurt when our friends don’t divulge it. Brands tell lies and untruths in broad daylight on social media. But when it comes to our own behavior, we transgress more than we’d like to admit. Out of diplomacy, kindness, sympathy, and privacy we don’t always tell the truth — it gets hyped, inflated, or just omitted altogether. Yet there’s an enormous value placed on integrity, trust, and honoring confidences.

These are all varying degrees of lies and deceptions — different types of lies serving different purposes, including lying to ourselves. The disconnect, author Judi Ketteler argues, is that we don’t acknowledge why we lie, the necessity of it, and how we criticize others who transgress using an entirely different set of standards.

Using her own life experiences as the launching point for a deeper discussion about the nuances and psychology of lying, Ketteler applies behavioral science research and expert advice from disciplines as varied as etiquette, evolutionary psychology, and philosophy. She shows that we need lies and are quite adept at it, while telling ourselves we are honest people and rushing to damn others with the same faults and behaviors. She breaks down our ambiguous relationship with truth and dishonesty, the white lies, the fudging, the painful “honest–at–all–costs” approach, whether secrets are lies — and unpacks some strange surprises she discovered in the world of self–deception research.

In the vein of books like Blink, The (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty, The Power of Habit, and even Thinking Fast and Slow, this is a Big Think book about the motivations behind your thoughts and actions. In the end, Ketteler argues, the way to counter a deceptive world is work on becoming more honest with ourselves and aware of our own motivations. “Yesterday matters. But today is where you are. So start here.

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Review by Alex

As a self-proclaimed, obsessed, “Hamil-fan”, I’ve spent the last four years devouring documentaries and books on the Founding Fathers. The more I learned, the more I wondered about the role females played in the birth of our country.  So many women have been lost-in, and silenced-by, history. That’s where Susan Holloway Scott comes in.

A gorgeous blend of thoroughly researched fact and fiction, THE SECRET WIFE OF AARON BURR tells the story of Mary Emmons, an enslaved woman and her complicated relationship with infamous Revolutionary War hero, lawyer, and Vice President, Aaron Burr, best known for killing Alexander Hamilton one fateful day in 1804.

Strong, smart, and resourceful, Mary Emmons does what she can to survive in an oppressive world, quickly gaining the trust of her new “mistress” Theodosia Prevost. The bond between these women provides Mary with some comfort and companionship, but more importantly, ensures that Mary will continue to serve Theodosia instead of being sold to new “masters” when Theodosia weds Aaron Burr.

Burr is instantly drawn to Mary. Though the relationship between the two is complicated to say the least, Holloway has a gift for expertly depicting the dynamics of all three main characters, leaving the reader with a better understanding of how the relationships could exist in the first place. As Theodosia’s health fails, Burr and Emmons grow closer, eventually marrying in secret and having two children, who go on to have their own impact on American History.

We may never know more about the real Mary Emmons but The Secret Wife of Aaron Burr gives a voice to Mary and women like her. It’s a must-read for fans of the genre and lovers of all things Hamilton.

Speaking of which, be sure to check out I, Eliza Hamilton, Holloway’s take on the lives of Elizabeth Schuyler and Alexander Hamilton while you’re at it. Do not throw away your shot!

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