Here are a few recent favorites from The Snail's Readers Circle, our team of volunteer reviewers. Click on each title to read the full review.
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The Barbizon Hotel may not be a name you're familiar with, but after reading The Barbizon you will want to know as much as you can about this famous hotel for women and its celebrity inhabitants. From the '20s to late '70s it acted as a safe haven for bright-eyed young women looking for independence in the big city (Liza Minelli, Sylvia Plath, Princess Grace Kelly just to name a few). Bren does a fantastic job of taking the reader back in time when women and NYC were coming into their own. It's more than just a story about a hotel. It's about the women that called the hotel home. The hotel allowed them to make their dreams happen and the safe space to create new dreams. So many themes you see in this book still hold true today: women struggling with careers and the pressures of starting a family; making it to the top and staying there. I've always loved reading historical nonfiction and learning people's stories that haven't been told before. I highly recommend if you enjoy historical nonfiction and appreciate female empowerment.
Especially for readers who enjoy historical nonfiction and are interested in learning about women in history, female bosses, and fashion through the decades.
— Candice Kirk, Snail Readers Circle
Stacy Abrams can do everything. Fresh from her work saving democracy, she had delivered a brilliant legal thriller that will keep you turning pages. The characters are likable, the plot is complex and terrifying, and the writing is fast-paced and incredibly well-researched. For fans of John Grisham, Robert Bailey, and Robert Ludlum and political works.
(Note on subject matter: includes violence and death)
—Angela, Snail Readers Circle
I could not put this down, a lovingly traumatic tale for each character and relationship ... especially for this girl and her father. All involved are illuminated at their best as well as their worst as they navigate a game they can't win. The twists and turns pulled me in and dropped me flat again and again. Really well done; I cannot recommend enough. Perfect for anyone who enjoys a good page-turner or edge-of-your-seat read.
— Tracie, Snail Readers Circle
Garcia's debut novel, Of Women and Salt, touches on the lives of women in Miami from two families and explores how their lives intertwine and move about one another. This book dives into topics of generational trauma and abuse cycles repeating and reshaping themselves in a heartbreakingly beautiful way. A diaspora story, the novel explores topics of immigration and the gut-wrenching truths that families in our country face daily. The prose is fluid and poetic at times, elevating the mood from a somewhat tough story line. This book is filled with portraits of women who are tenacious, whose choices have vast consequences and whose stories make them stronger when they choose to tell them. The timeline is difficult to maintain at times but overall the individual stories stand firm.
I loved it because it felt real and raw and still remained beautiful and hopeful.
— Sallie Keene, Snail Readers Circle
“The Seed Keeper” is a story about Dakhóta women from many generations who are connected not only through their bloodline, but also through the seeds that they lovingly preserve to pass down to the next generations. After her husband dies, Rosalie Iron Wing finds herself both a widow and orphan and leaves the family farm to make a pilgrimage to her childhood cabin which is now empty and in disrepair. It is during her time in isolation that she yearns for connection with her relatives. Following her father’s death, Rosalie was placed in a foster system without an attempt to reunite or even notify other living relatives. All these years later, with help from an old family acquaintance, she finds her great-aunt, Darlene Kills Deer, in a nursing home nearby. It is in her visits with Darlene that Rosalie learns about her mother, and the women who came before her, forced from their land in the 1862 US-Dahkóta War. She reveals the family’s seeds that she has cared for; seeds that were kept safe in the hem of her ancestor’s skirts as they were forced to leave their beloved land. As a nature lover and aspiring gardener, “The Seed Keeper” was like a piece of candy. I found myself savoring each word, enjoying Diane Wilson’s gifted storytelling while also grieving as I learned about the heartbreaking history of the Dakhóta people in Minnesota. For anyone who appreciates nature and has an interest in indigenous peoples.
—Allison Hendrix, Snail Readers Circle
The Four Winds follows Elsa Martinelli and her family throughout the Dust Bowl of the Great Depression. From a hard childhood, we get to see Elsa transform into a wife and mother, endure unimaginable hardship, and later truly find herself. Elsa is a character that will stick with me for a long time. I loved her grit and determination, and also her vulnerability. Once again, Kristin Hannah tells such a beautiful story with strong characters and wonderful writing.
(Note on subject matter: Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, Suicide, Substance Abuse)
— Katie, Snail Readers Circle
Ten-year-old Fischer “Fish” Branson has seen and heard enough of his friend Dale “Bread” Breadwin suffering at the hand of a physically abusive father, so when he pulls the trigger, he feels his actions are justified. And then they run. Thinking themselves killers, Fish and Bread flee the small town of Claypot, Wisconsin and head to the woods in order to avoid facing the consequences. As the boys traverse the dense Upper Midwestern terrain, they face many unanticipated challenges. Meanwhile, the Claypot Sheriff, Fish’s grandfather, Fish’s mother and the purple-haired gas station attendant all set out on a mission to bring the boys home safely. In searching for the boys, each of the adults grapples with their own individual struggles. In this high-stakes story of adventure and hope, Graff vividly describes the rugged landscape of the Upper Midwest as the search party races against time to save the boys from the known and unknown dangers of the Ironsford Gorge wilderness and beyond. I loved that I found myself a part of the adventure!
Especially for readers who love nature, adventure and survival stories
— Allison Hendrix, Snail Readers Circle
If you have read Circe or The Silence of the Girls, this should be your next read. Natalie writes in such a way that you hate Agamemnon, laugh at Penelope's letters to her wayward husband Odysseus. The muse intermissions help tie all the stories together. Saying war is brought upon man because of Gaia (mother nature) to ease her suffering and strain on her resources is thought provoking and will make you wonder the next time we have an earthquake if Gaia is shrugging her shoulders in helplessness at us humans. Great for Greek mythology lovers and those who like war stories.
(Note on subject matter: includes war, death, and adultery.)
—Candice, Snail Reader Circle
Evelyn Caldwell might have just won a major scientific award for her research in cloning, but her private life is in major shambles. Her husband had an affair: not with another woman, but another version of Evelyn herself. Martine, Evelyn’s replica, calls her to discuss two major problems: Martine is pregnant, and Evelyn’s husband is dead. More a slow-burn thriller than a mystery, Evelyn struggles not with the science of discovering a solution, but with understanding both the version of herself created in a lab and her own deeply-buried dark nature. Although a fantastic third-act twist doesn’t land with perfect solutions, “The Echo Wife” and its shivery ending will reverberate long after the unsettling close. For the person who loved “Never Let Me Go” or binge-watched “Orphan Black”.
—Melanie Berry, Snail Readers Circle