Shine Shine Shine

by Lydia Netzer |

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REVIEWED BY ROBIN MICHELI

NOVEL

Leaving his pregnant wife, Sunny, back home in Norfolk, Va., a rather mad scientist named Maxon is launched into space on a mission to colonize the moon with robots. Sunny is perfect, blonde and the leader of her wealthy neighborhood's social circle, but she's struggling in Maxon's absence to care for their autistic son and her dying mother. Then a fender-bender really sends her life askew-by knocking her wig off. Sunny is actually bald! The set-up sounds comical, but the story that unfolds is not only entertaining but nuanced and wise. While Sunny initially feels that she and her husband are freaks, his courage and success on the moon-and hers on Earth-help her realize that embracing one's "defects" can light the way in life and lead to deeply satisfying bonds. Blending wit and imagination with an oddly mesmerizing, matter-of-fact cadence, Netzer's debut is a delightfully unique love story and a resounding paean to individuality.

Tigers in Red Weather

by Liza Klaussmann |

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REVIEWED BY HELEN ROGAN

NOVEL

It's 1945, and life is full of promise for two pretty cousins summering on Martha's Vineyard while anticipating married life. Over the decades they return, families in tow, to revisit the rituals of cocktails and sailing, but this idyllic facade inevitably cracks, breaking open to reveal ugliness and terror. First-time author Klaussmann may not have the literary chops of her great-great-great grandfather Herman Melville, but she's cooked up a deft, nasty plot.

Some of My Best Friends Are Black

by Tanner Colby |

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REVIEWED BY ROSS DRAKE

NON-FICTION

The title, of course, is ironic: Colby had no black friends. Suspecting the reasons were sociological rather than personal, the Brooklyn-based writer went home to Alabama, where the end of segregation in schools marked the beginning of white flight; to Missouri to explore the cynical dynamics of residential apartheid; and elsewhere. The result is an unretouched snapshot of race in America, where the past, as Colby discovered, is still very much with us.

How to Be a Woman

by Caitlin Moran |

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REVIEWED BY JUDITH NEWMAN

NON-FICTION

"When did feminism become confused with Buddhism?" London Times columnist Moran writes. "Why ... have I, because I'm a woman, got to be nice to everyone?" Part memoir and part thinky-thoughts on the issues women obsess about-from pubic hair and fat to why we should have children (or not)-How to Be a Woman is scathingly funny and mostly unprintable here. But Moran makes us think about femininity and feminism, and whether you agree or not, she's fascinating.

Where We Belong

by Emily Giffin |

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REVIEWED BY SUE CORBETT

NOVEL

TV producer Marian Caldwell has it all: hit show, swanky apartment, hunky boyfriend. But the explosive secret she's harbored for nearly two decades detonates when Kirby, the girl she gave up for adoption, knocks on her door. While Kirby hopes to understand why she feels like an outsider in her home, it's Marian who winds up with the most soul-searching to do. Even those with everything, Giffin suggests, may need what money can't buy: a second chance.

THE NIGHT CIRCUS

by Erin Morgenstern

A magical dream of a novel about two young big-top magicians and their dangerous love.

MAINE

by J. Courtney Sullivan

Three generations of complicated women descend on the family beach house. Psychodrama ensues.

THE END OF NORMAL

by Stephanie Madoff Mack

Bernard Madoff's daughter-in-law on his crimes, his son Mark's suicide and picking up the pieces.

Gone Girl: What people are talking about when they're not talking about Fifty Shades of Grey. Author Gillian Flynn reflects:

ARE YOU SURPRISED BY YOUR BOOK'S POPULARITY?

Well, I'd buy it! But you can't know.

ANY THEORIES ABOUT WHAT STRIKES A CHORD?

It's not quite a mystery, not quite a straightforward psychological novel. I think people like a he-said, she-said marriage story. We're nosy-there's nothing we like to speculate about more than other people's marriages.

WHO WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE IN THE LEAD ROLES?

I can't address that. I'd get phone calls! When I was writing it, I pictured a very attractive blond couple-when they walk into a room, pow.

MIGHT REESE WITHERSPOON STAR AS WELL AS PRODUCE?

I don't know. But I'm a huge fan.

The 22-year-old Glee star's been living one; now he's written one too.

WHAT INSPIRED THE LAND OF STORIES?

My mom use to read me fairy tales, and I'd constantly ask what else happened to the characters. She'd say, "I'm not the Brothers Grimm!" So when I was 10, I started writing my own stories about Snow White, Sleeping Beauty. It was an escape.

FROM WHAT?

My sister [Hannah, 16] was really ill. She suffers from epilepsy. Then with Glee, fame's difficult to deal with, so I started thinking about the stories again.

WHO'S THE BOOK FOR?

It's dedicated to my grandma, because she was my editor [when I was a kid]. She'd grammar- and spell-check and throw away chapters if she thought I could do better! But I hope the book gets into the hands of kids who need an escape like I did.