You are here

Back to top

Terry's 2021 Raves

Terry reminding us Books are Essential peeking over  BEACH READS


There are so many great books this year ... I can't wait to share them with you!


- Terry Gilman

Dava Shastri's Last Day Cover Image
ISBN: 9781538703861
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Grand Central Publishing - November 30th, 2021

Dava Shastri has a lot of surprises in store for her family (and for us) in this inspiring debut. She has invited her extended family to her home on her private island for the holidays, but they soon learn that this will be a different kind of celebration. Dava is 70-years-old, has terminal cancer and intends to end her life, assisted by her physician, at the end of the holiday. From the very first page, we learn that the rest of the world already thinks she has died as is Dava’s plan as she is very invested in reading what is being written about her.

In 2044 when the book begins, Dava is one of the wealthiest women in the world and wants to be remembered for her philanthropic efforts through her foundations and throughout her life. Things are not turning out exactly the way she planned, and her family begins to learn more about her life than what they have learned as her children and her employees. There is much dysfunction in this family among the second and third generations, but what is most interesting is what we learn about Dava’s life … and what Dava learns about her family towards the end.

Although the story sometimes gets bogged down in the concerns and stresses of Dava’s children, the lessons their mother meant to teach them … is worth the journey … and towards the end, I couldn’t put down this moving tale about mortality and love.

The Missing Hours: A Novel Cover Image
Email or call for price
ISBN: 9781250083722
Published: Minotaur Books - September 14th, 2021

The missing hours belong to Claudia Castro, an NYU college freshman and member of a famous and wealthy family. All we know at the start is that Claudia has been sexually assaulted and beaten one evening during spring break and that she does not remember anything about the hours between going into a bar and waking up in her dorm room. She befriends fellow student, Trevor who has also remained in the dorms during Spring break, and who supports her during her recovery. When a video surfaces showing what happened that night, Claudia and Trevor both disappear, and many people are looking for them, including her family and the men that were involved in the released video. Dahl creates a suspenseful, believable novel that will have readers turning the pages for all the twists and turns this tale of revenge creates. This is a cautionary tale and a glimpse into wealth, privilege, and entitlement and ultimately, about our dysfunctional legal system. I remain a huge fan of Julia Dahl.

The Heart Principle Cover Image
Email or call for price
ISBN: 9780593197837
Published: Berkley - August 31st, 2021

Hoang always writes a winning romance with lessons about life for those on the spectrum balanced with truths that will hold for all of us; this one is no exception and the pain that the author herself has experienced comes through in Anna Sun's struggles with coming to terms with autism, her family, and her relationships. Bravo!

We Are the Brennans: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250796226
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Celadon Books - August 3rd, 2021

The Brennan family is complicated, devoted to one another, and easy to care about. They each hold secrets that we look forward to uncovering in this debut that is a pleasure to read. In alternating chapters, family members reveal themselves and their back stories, and the present dilemmas revolving around Brennan’s, the family bar that is run by Danny and his best friend Kale in their hometown of West Manor, New York. The novel begins when the only Brennan daughter, Sunday, is injured in a car crash in Los Angeles. Her injuries and limitations bring her back to West Manor where many of their stories begin to come together in unexpected ways.

In addition to an enjoyable read and memorable Irish family, I loved how Lange segued each chapter to the next with a statement from one character leading to that character’s narrative in the next chapter.

If the Shoe Fits-A Meant To Be Novel Cover Image
Email or call for price
ISBN: 9781368050388
Published: Hyperion Avenue - August 3rd, 2021

Murphy flips a well-known fairy tale on its head in her adult debut romance. If the Shoe Fits is a charming rom com with the pace and intrigue of the reality show it mimics. Our plus-sized heroine, Cindy Woods has the support of both her stepmother and stepsisters when she agrees to take part in a Bachelor-type reality show which (no surprise to us) features the Prince Charming she met on a flight just days earlier when they both traveled to Los Angeles from NYC. Her passion for fashion, particularly shoes, is the perfect match for this bachelor, also a part of the fashion world with the iconic brand founded by his mother. Both Henry and Cindy have a lot to overcome to reach their HEA and it is fun, charming … and empowering to watch.

The Startup Wife: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982156183
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Scribner - July 13th, 2021

Contemporary and relevant to the max, Anam has nailed the startup generation and the world’s appetite for meaning and apps! When Asha Ray and Cyrus Jones meet again 13 years after high school, they immediately fall in love and marry … and then combine their talents to create a startup that will rock their current world. Asha Ray is not only the wife of a startup genius, but an equal partner and the tech genius behind the app they create together which aims to provide meaning to rituals outside of current religious beliefs. Amid all the startup hurdles of their app WAI, Asha also comes up against sexism in the workplace and her place in the world. Ultimately satisfying, The Startup Wife and leaving us with some important messages on top of a hugely entertaining read.

Falling: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982177881
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster - July 6th, 2021

Heart-pounding doesn’t even begin to describe my reading of this debut thriller by one of our own (indie booksellers). The premise itself had me wondering if I could make it through this book at all: An airline pilot is threatened by a man who has kidnapped his wife and 2 children while he is in route from Los Angles to JFK. Captain Bill Hoffman is told that he has a choice to make: crash the plane he is piloting into an unknown DC location or his family will be killed. Then the stakes are raised … and then raised again. The satisfying ending makes this debut worth the journey.

The Forest of Vanishing Stars: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982158934
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Gallery Books - July 6th, 2021

Not only is Harmel a master of historical holocaust fiction, but she always finds her own unique entry to 1940’s Europe. The Forest of Vanishing Stars is no exception and in fact, may be her best yet! We first meet Yona as she is being kidnapped from her Berlin home when she is 2 years old. From there she grows up in the forests of Europe, learning to live off the land and is in the process becomes an expert survivor. Under the tutelage of the woman who kidnapped her, she is kept away from the realities of what is happening in the surrounding cities and towns as they are invaded by German forces. But eventually, these two worlds collide, and she finds herself protecting and caring about a group of Jewish families who have escaped certain death by running into her forest home. Based on true events during the holocaust, this is a book to treasure and share.

The Wonder Test Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802158505
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Atlantic Monthly Press - July 6th, 2021

Richmond has hit a home run with this thriller introducing us to FBI Agent Lina Connerly. This fast-paced story has it all … a protagonist who is relatable and has and interesting backstory, a town filled with intrigue, and a mystery involving missing students who suddenly reappear … to solve. Added to this, are uproarious sample questions from The Wonder Test that will have you simultaneously scratching your head and laughing.

Following the death of her husband, Fred, Lina and her son Rory return to Lina’s hometown of Greenfield, California to clean out her father’s house while removing herself from her NYC memories of Fred. Greenfield turns out to have more than one mystery to solve. What is this Wonder Test? Why is it the focal point of the entire town and school? Who is the mystery runner who is supposed to be teacher at Rory’s school?

This was one of the best thrillers I have read in years! It really had everything. Great characters, a perfect backstory, humor, and even some very thoughtful world views … and a heart-stopping end! I look forward to seeing Lina Connerly and her son Rory again!

One Two Three: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250236777
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Henry Holt and Co. - June 8th, 2021

There is much to be learned about the fictional city/town called Borne. Told in alternating narratives, each of the Mitchell triplets is unique and fascinating, with their distinctive outlook on life and their own set of challenges. Meb (also known as One), the oldest of the three, is the only one who might be “classified as normal” and feels a lot of pressure to succeed in Borne and in life. She is smart, irreverent, and all-knowing, or at least as all-knowing as a 16-year-old can be. Two is Monday, named because of the day she was born. Monday is the town’s self-appointed librarian. She is smart and enjoyable to read, and her perspective is uniquely hers. Mirabel is Three, the miracle who was born last and limited, but may be the smartest of the three girls. One Two Three begins 16 years after a chemical company singlehandedly destroyed the town by poisoning their water supply. The company has never taken responsibility for their actions and has come back to town to reopen their plant. What happens next will surprise you.

This book is simply a delight despite its tragic undercurrents. You cannot help but fall in love with One, Two and Three.

We Are Inevitable Cover Image
ISBN: 9780425290804
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Viking Books for Young Readers - June 1st, 2021

Forman is my YA hero, creating believable characters and stories that draw us in and don’t let us go. We Are Inevitable is sure to be an indie favorite as a bookstore, all but extinct, is the focal point along with its owner and passionate reader, Aaron, who has been brought up to (rightfully!) believe that books are magic. As Aaron’s father, Ira becomes increasingly unreliable, Aaron takes on solving his family’s financial and business problems. But life intercedes as the town gathers around him, he strikes up new friendships … and may have found his inevitable life partner.

Laugh out loud funny, wise, and relatable to both adults and teenagers, this is a bookish gem, including chapter titles that are book titles. This is a love story to books, bookstores, and outcomes with great promise.


The Audacity of Sara Grayson: A Novel Cover Image
Email or call for price
ISBN: 9781642937824
Published: Post Hill Press - May 25th, 2021

I loved every moment of this book … from the amazing quotes on writing from established authors, to Sara’s journey from a young woman struggling with her identity and her life, and to watching her create a future to look forward to. It is fun, funny, and full of heart. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

The Soulmate Equation Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982123963
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Gallery Books - May 18th, 2021

For a fun, sexy, science-based romp from infatuation to romance, this is the perfect summer rom-com for anyone who loves to laugh their way through a book and readers are in good hands with the duo that is the veteran writer Christina Lauren. Along with a superb supporting cast of characters, readers will meet, Jess Davis, a hard-working single mom supporting her family and a self-professed data nerd. When Jess meets River Peña and finds out that he has created a DNA test that can predict compatibility, her intellectual interest is tested. And then the fun begins. This may be this year’s perfect summer read.

That Summer: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501133541
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Atria Books - May 11th, 2021

Weiner takes us well beyond traditional women’ fiction, covering the Me Too movement in an incredibly unique way. Part suspense, part female friendship, part revenge novel, That Summer has it all. Three women narrate this novel. One was raped at the age of 15. Her story is way too familiar to us. Another is married to an older man, has her own business and a teenage daughter. They live a privileged lifestyle, but she wonders what she has missed by marrying so young. Her teenage daughter is an uncompromising, unconventional young women who knows her own mind and has no difficulty with some of the grey areas that men and women from the previous generation travel. Her narrative gives us hope for the future.

That Summer’s depiction of the cruelty and unforgivable behavior of young boys growing up to be unforgivable men is simply great storytelling. You will root for all three women as they navigate what it means to be female in a world where men are just beginning to understand their culpability in this present-day movement.

The Last Thing He Told Me: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501171345
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: S&S/ Marysue Rucci Books - May 4th, 2021

I was in from the first page and unwilling to put down this latest gem from Laura Dave. The Last Thing He Told Me begins when Hannah’s husband, Owen suddenly disappears and is immediately under suspicion for his involvement in a startup whose CEO is being investigated for fraud. As Hannah looks to uncover clues that will lead her to better understand the man she married just two years ago, she begins to question if she knows him at all. Beginning in Sausalito where she has lived with Owen and his defiant daughter Bailey in a floating home by the bay, her journey to discover the truth takes her to many unexpected places. This is another winner from Laura Dave and readers will not stop turning the pages until they reach the bittersweet ending.

The Nine Lives of Rose Napolitano: A Novel Cover Image
Email or call for price
ISBN: 9781984880598
Published: Pamela Dorman Books - April 6th, 2021

Freitas uses a novel approach to exploring feminism, societal expectations, the right to choose motherhood, and parental relationships in this compulsively readable debut fiction title. Rose Napolitano does not want to have children. Her husband Luke knows this from the very beginning of their relationship. Her parents, friends, colleagues, and in-laws know this. When Luke (and his parents) pressure her into having a baby, the narrative veers off into nine possible scenarios (lives). Told in non-sequential, alternating storylines, the reader will get to know Rose from every possible angle through the different life paths she might have chosen.

This is a great format for exploring ideas … and thinking about life’s options. We have all imagined the different directions our lives might have taken based on a single decision or a path not taken, but this book is more than that. It is an exploration and a way to talk about marriage, women’s rights, motherhood, and relationships … making for an exceptional reading experience.

To Love and to Loathe: A Novel (The Regency Vows #2) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982160876
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Atria Books - April 6th, 2021

While I have not (yet!) read the first book in this series (To Have and to Hoax), I became a fan of this Regency Romance rom-com series from the very first page. Diana is a spirited, smart woman who has a life plan and implements it. She is often underestimated by the Ton, but not by Jeremy, Marquess of Willingham, and one of her brother’s best friends. The two of them have sparred since they were children, and everyone recognizes their chemistry, except them. When the two of them enter into an agreement to have an affair (each for their own reasons), the fun really begins.

To Love and to Loathe is clever, enduring, and a great book to read for laugh out loud fun and perfect romantic chemistry. If you love rom-coms, or just need a laugh, don’t miss this series.

A Man Named Doll (The Doll Series #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316703659
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Mulholland Books - April 20th, 2021

In Happy (Hank) Doll, we have found a new LA Noir private eye to fall in love with and follow in future installments. Hap is ex-military, ex-LAPD and currently doing double duty as a private detective and security detail for a Thai spa in Hollywood. He lives in a house he inherited from a grateful client up in the Hollywood Hills with his dog George, and a ready supply of weed and booze. He regularly sees a Freudian psychiatrist to work through his damaged past and to find a reason to live. When his close friend, Lou Shelton approaches him with a proposition, he feels obligated to follow through, never imagining the murder and mayhem that would follow.

Readers will willingly go along with Hank’s mishaps and adventures. He is a one of the good guys who want to do the right thing with uncommon insight and flaws that can never be undone.

We Begin at the End Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250759665
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Henry Holt and Co. - March 2nd, 2021

I could not put down this extraordinary novel. Readers will be drawn to each of the main characters and the mysteries of the past that hold consequences for the present and the future. Each beautifully-crafted sentence tells a story of friendship, mystery, loyalty, tragedy, family, love, and violence in a small town in coastal California. Walker (Walk) is the Chief of Police of Cape Haven and the narrator of much of this story, but it is Duchess Day Radley, self-proclaimed outlaw, and inheritor of burdens well beyond her years, who drives the story. This brave young teenager will have you rooting for her, despairing with her, and finally, sobbing with her as her journey takes her from California to Montana and back again. This book may be classified as a mystery, but it is simply one of the best written books I have ever read, from beginning to heartbreaking end.

What Could Be Saved: A Novel Cover Image
Email or call for price
ISBN: 9781982150617
Published: Atria Books - January 12th, 2021

This enthralling book kept me guessing until the very last page. The mystery of their brother’s disappearance 47 years ago has been a part of Laura and Bea Preston’s life since the day in 1972 Bangkok when he did not return home from his judo class. In 2019, Laura is contacted by someone who knows Phillip. Laura immediately flies to Thailand to find out if this person is her brother. What happens from that point is told in a parallel narrative about their life in Bangkok as young children. Alternate points of view reveal their story in minute detail as the truth unfolds. I found this story hard to let go of … long after it was over. What Could be Saved has it all. A beautifully told story spanning generations, continents and time …

Black Buck: A Read with Jenna Pick Cover Image
Email or call for price
ISBN: 9780358380887
Published: Mariner Books - January 5th, 2021

This debut is in equal parts humorous, serious, and fascinating. The trials and tribulations of getting involved with an over-the-top startup and learning how to be successful in a sales career form the storyline. Written for Black readers, the author meant this to be a kind of treatise for success for young people of color starting out in sales. Darren “Buck” is a 20-something living with his mother in Bed-Stuy, working as the manager of a Starbucks in an office building in downtown NYC, and happily in a relationship with his high school sweetheart. No one thinks he is living up to his potential as he was an outstanding student at a prestigious high school, but Darren is happy with his life. This all changes when the CEO of a new startup called Sumwun offers him a chance to change his life and join his firm. His experiences change him, his relationships, and his life in profoundly serious ways, serving as a cautionary tale as well as an important message for young people of every background and color. Lots of food for thought here.