Anne Hutchinson, a forty-six- year-old midwife who was pregnant with her sixteenth child, stood before forty male judges of the Massachusetts General Court, charged with heresy and sedition. In a time when women could not vote, hold public office, or teach outside the home, the charismatic Hutchinson wielded remarkable political power. Her unconventional ideas had attracted a following of prominent citizens eager for social reform. Hutchinson defended herself brilliantly, but the judges, faced with a perceived threat to public order, banished her for behaving in a manner “not comely for [her] sex.”

Until now, Hutchinson has been a polarizing figure in American history and letters, attracting either disdain or exaltation. Nathaniel Hawthorne, who was haunted by the “sainted” Hutchinson, used her as a model for Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter. Much of the praise for her, however, is muted by a wish to domesticate the heroine: the bronze statue of Hutchinson at the Massachusetts State House depicts a prayerful mother — eyes raised to heaven, a child at her side — rather than a woman of power standing alone before humanity and God. Her detractors, starting with her neighbor John Winthrop, first governor of Massachusetts, referred to her as “the instrument of Satan,” the new Eve, the “disturber of Israel,” a witch, “more bold than a man,” and Jezebel — the ancient Israeli queen who, on account of her tremendous political power, was “the most evil woman” in the Bible.

Written by one of Hutchinson’s direct descendants, American Jezebelbrings both balance and perspective to Hutchinson’s story. It captures this American heroine’s life in all its complexity, presenting her not as a religious fanatic, a cardboard feminist, or a raging crank — as some have portrayed her — but as a flesh-and-blood wife, mother, theologian, and political leader.

Opening in a colonial courtroom, American Jezebel moves back in time to Hutchinson’s childhood in Elizabethan England, exploring intimate details of her marriage and family life. The book narrates her dramatic expulsion from Massachusetts, after which her judges, still threatened by her challenges, promptly built Harvard College to enforce religious and social orthodoxies — making her midwife to the nation’s first college. In exile, she settled Rhode Island (which later merged with Roger Williams’s Providence Plantation), becoming the only woman ever to co-found an American colony.

The seeds of the American struggle for women’s and human rights can be found in the story of this one woman’s courageous life. American Jezebelilluminates the origins of our modern concepts of religious freedom, equal rights, and free speech, and showcases an extraordinary woman whose achievements are astonishing by the standards of any era.

02. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Madeline, Mystery

The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly, read by Madeline, on 05/07/2014

Defense attorney Mickey Haller returns with a haunting case in the gripping new thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Michael Connelly.

Mickey Haller gets the text, “Call me ASAP – 187,” and the California penal code for murder immediately gets his attention. Murder cases have the highest stakes and the biggest paydays, and they always mean Haller has to be at the top of his game.

When Mickey learns that the victim was his own former client, a prostitute he thought he had rescued and put on the straight and narrow path, he knows he is on the hook for this one. He soon finds out that she was back in LA and back in the life. Far from saving her, Mickey may have been the one who put her in danger.

Haunted by the ghosts of his past, Mickey must work tirelessly and bring all his skill to bear on a case that could mean his ultimate redemption or proof of his ultimate guilt. The Gods of Guilt shows once again why “Michael Connelly excels, easily surpassing John Grisham in the building of courtroom suspense” (Los Angeles Times).

06. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Madeline, NonFiction

My Usual Table: A Life in Restaurants by Colman Andrews, read by Madeline, on 04/30/2014

A vivid portrait of a life lived in food, from renowned food writer and critic Colman Andrews, a founding editor of Saveur, James Beard award winner, and author of the classic cookbooks Catalan Cuisine and The Country Cooking of Ireland

For Colman Andrews, restaurants have been his playground, his theater, his university, his church, his refuge. From his Hollywood childhood through his days in the music business, his first forays into restaurant reviewing, and his ever-evolving career as a food writer and magazine editor—not to mention the course of his obsessive traveling and complicated personal life—he has seen the world mostly from the dining room. Now, in My Usual Table, Andrews interweaves his own story with intimate tales of the seminal restaurants and the great chefs and restaurateurs of our time who are emblematic of the revolutions large and small that have forever transformed the way we eat, cook, and feel about food.

In sixteen chapters, each anchored by the story of his love affair with a cherished restaurant, Andrews evokes the unforgettable meals he has eaten over a lifetime, and the remarkable people with whom he has shared them, tracing the evolution not just of our restaurants but our whole food culture. Beginning with a postwar childhood spent in the banquettes of Chasen’s, the glamorous Old Hollywood hangout where studio heads and celebrities rubbed shoulders, Andrews charts a course through the psychedelic ’60s, when both he and Americans at large fell for the novel “ethnic” food at spots like neo-Polynesian Trader Vic’s or Mexican institution El Coyote. As Andrews began traveling for his burgeoning writing and magazine career in the ’70s and ’80s, he spent countless hours in the family-run cafés of Paris and trattorias of Rome. The timeless dishes so common on their menus, focused on local and seasonal ingredients, would not only come to profoundly influence Andrews’s palate, but also transform the American foodscape forever. Andrews’s unparalleled access to the world of food positioned him perfectly as an intimate witness to the rise of revolutionary restaurants like Spago and El Bulli.

From Andrews’s usual table, he has watched the growth of nouvelle cuisine and fusion cuisine; the explosion of the organic and locavore movements; the rise of nose-to-tail eating; and so-called molecular gastronomy. The bistros, brasseries, and cafés he has loved have not only influenced culinary trends at home and abroad, but represent the changing history and culture of food in America and Western Europe. And all along the way, Andrews has been right there in the dining room, menu in one hand and notebook in the other.

06. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Literary Fiction, Madeline

Ten White Geese by Gerbrand Bakker, read by Madeline, on 04/27/2014

A woman rents a remote farm in rural Wales. She says her name is Emilie. An Emily Dickinson scholar, she has fled Amsterdam, having just confessed to an affair. On the farm she finds ten geese. One by one they disappear. Who is this woman? Will her husband manage to find her? The young man who stays the night: why won’t he leave? And the vanishing geese?
Set against a stark and pristine landscape, and with a seductive blend of solace and menace, this novel of stealth intrigue summons from a woman’s silent longing fugitive moments of profound beauty and compassion.

06. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Madeline, Romance, Teen Books

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, read by Madeline, on 04/20/2014

Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor.

Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

06. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Madeline, Mystery

Under Your Skin by Sabine Durrant, read by Madeline, on 04/15/2014

Gaby Mortimer is the woman who has it all. But everything changes when she finds a body on the common near her home. She’s shaken and haunted by the image of the lifeless young woman, and frightened that the killer, still at large, could strike again. 

Before long, the police have a lead. The evidence points to a very clear suspect. One Gaby never saw coming . . . 

Full of twists and turns, this is a dark and suspenseful psychological thriller that will make you secondguess everything. Because you can never be too sure about anything, especially when it comes to murder.

06. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Madeline, NonFiction

The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way by Amanda Ripley, read by Madeline, on 04/05/2014

Through the compelling stories of three American teenagers living abroad and attending the world’s top-notch public high schools, an investigative reporter explains how these systems cultivate the “smartest” kids on the planet.

America has long compared its students to top-performing kids of other nations. But how do the world’s education superpowers look through the eyes of an American high school student? Author Amanda Ripley follows three teenagers who chose to spend one school year living and learning in Finland, South Korea, and Poland. Through their adventures, Ripley discovers startling truths about how attitudes, parenting, and rigorous teaching have revolutionized these countries’ education results.

In The Smartest Kids in the World, Ripley’s astonishing new insights reveal that top-performing countries have achieved greatness only in the past several decades; that the kids who live there are learning to think for themselves, partly through failing early and often; and that persistence, hard work, and resilience matter more to our children’s life chances than self-esteem or sports.

Ripley’s investigative work seamlessly weaves narrative and research, providing in-depth analysis and gripping details that will keep you turning the pages. Written in a clear and engaging style, The Smartest Kids in the World will enliven public as well as dinner table debates over what makes for brighter and better students.

06. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Madeline, Mystery

By Its Cover by Donna Leon, read by Madeline, on 04/01/2014

Donna Leon’s critically acclaimed, internationally bestselling Commissario Guido Brunetti series has attracted readers the world over with the beauty of its setting, the humanity of its characters, and its fearlessness in exploring politics, morality, and contemporary Italian culture. In the pages of Leon’s novels, the beloved conversations of the Brunetti family have drawn on topics of art and literature, but books are at the heart of this novel in a way they never have been before.

One afternoon, Commissario Guido Brunetti gets a frantic call from the director of a prestigious Venetian library. Someone has stolen pages out of several rare books. After a round of questioning, the case seems clear: the culprit must be the man who requested the volumes, an American professor from a Kansas university. The only problem—the man fled the library earlier that day, and after checking his credentials, the American professor doesn’t exist.

As the investigation proceeds, the suspects multiply. And when a seemingly harmless theologian, who had spent three years at the library reading the Fathers of the Church, turns up brutally murdered, Brunetti must question his expectations about what makes a man innocent, or guilty. 

02. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Madeline, NonFiction

The Black Belt Librarian by Warren Graham, read by Madeline, on 03/30/2014

Sharing expertise gleaned from more than two decades as a library security manager, Graham demonstrates that libraries can maintain their best traditions of openness and public access by creating an unobtrusive yet effective security plan. In straightforward language, the author shows how to easily set clear expectations for visitors behavior, presents guidelines for when and how to intervene when someone violates the code of conduct, including tips for approaching an unruly patron, offers instruction on keeping persistent troublemakers under control or permanently barred from the library, gives library staff tools for communicating effectively with its security professionals, including examples of basic documentation. The Black Belt Librarian arms librarians with the confidence and know-how they need to maintain a comfortable, productive, and safe environment for everyone in the library.

02. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Madeline, NonFiction

Julia's Cats: Julia Child's Life in the Company of Cats by Patricia Barey, Therese Burson, read by Madeline, on 03/22/2014

The world knows Julia Child as the charismatic woman who brought French cuisine to America and became a TV sensation, but there’s one aspect of her life that’s not so familiar. Soon after the Childs arrived in Paris in 1948, a French cat appeared on their doorstep, and Julia recalled, “Our domestic circle was completed.” Minette captured Julia’s heart, igniting a lifelong passion for cats equaled only by her love of food and her husband, Paul. All the cherished feline companions who shared Julia’s life—in Paris, Provence, and finally California—reminded her of that magical time in Paris when her life changed forever.
From Julia’s and Paul’s letters and original interviews with those who knew her best, Patricia Barey and Therese Burson have gathered fresh stories and images that offer a delightfully intimate view of a beloved icon.

02. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Madeline, Thriller/Suspense

The Accident by Chris Pavone, read by Madeline, on 03/20/2014

As dawn approaches in New York, literary agent Isabel Reed is turning the final pages of a mysterious, anonymous manuscript, racing through the explosive revelations about powerful people, as well as long-hidden secrets about her own past. In Copenhagen, veteran CIA operative Hayden Gray, determined that this sweeping story be buried, is suddenly staring down the barrel of an unexpected gun. And in Zurich, the author himself is hiding in a shadowy expat life, trying to atone for a lifetime’s worth of lies and betrayals with publication of The Accident, while always looking over his shoulder.

Over the course of one long, desperate, increasingly perilous day, these lives collide as the book begins its dangerous march toward publication, toward saving or ruining careers and companies, placing everything at risk—and everyone in mortal peril.  The rich cast of characters—in publishing and film, politics and espionage—are all forced to confront the consequences of their ambitions, the schisms between their ideal selves and the people they actually became.

The action rockets around Europe and across America, with an intricate web of duplicities stretching back a quarter-century to a dark winding road in upstate New York, where the shocking truth about the accident itself is buried.

Gripping, sophisticated, layered, and impossible to put down, The Accident proves once again that Chris Pavone is a true master of suspense.

02. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Madeline, Mystery

Death of the Black-Haired Girl by Robert Stone, read by Madeline, on 03/14/2014

In an elite college in a once-decaying New England city, Steven Brookman has come to a decision. A brilliant but careless professor, he has determined that for the sake of his marriage, and his soul, he must extract himself from his relationship with Maud Stack, his electrifying student, whose papers are always late and too long yet always incandescent. But Maud is a young woman whose passions are not easily contained or curtailed, and their union will quickly yield tragic and far-reaching consequences.

As in Robert Stone’s most acclaimed novels, here he conjures a complex moral universe where nothing is black and white, even if the characters—always complicated, always compelling—wish it were. The stakes of Brookman and Maud’s relationship prove higher than either one could have anticipated, pitting individuals against one another and against the institutions meant to protect them.

Death of the Black-Haired Girl is a powerful tale of infidelity, accountability, the allure of youth, the promise of absolution, and the notion that madness is everywhere, in plain sight.

02. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Madeline, Memoirs, NonFiction

My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor, read by Madeline, on 03/07/2014

An instant American icon–the first Hispanic on the U.S. Supreme Court–tells the story of her life before becoming a judge in an inspiring, surprisingly personal memoir.

With startling candor and intimacy, Sonia Sotomayor recounts her life from a Bronx housing project to the federal bench, a progress that is testament to her extraordinary determination and the power of believing in oneself.  She writes of her precarious childhood and the refuge she took with her passionately spirited paternal grandmother. She describes her resolve as a young girl to become a lawyer, and how she made this dream become reality: valedictorian of her high school class, summa cum laude at Princeton, Yale Law, prosecutor in the Manhattan D.A.’s office, private practice, federal district judge before the age of forty. She writes about her deeply valued mentors, about her failed marriage, about her cherished family of friends. Through her still-astonished eyes, America’s infinite possibilities are envisioned anew in this warm and honest book, destined to become a classic of self-discovery and self-invention, alongside Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father.

02. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Madeline

Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen, read by Madeline, on 03/05/2014

Still Life with Bread Crumbs begins with an imagined gunshot and ends with a new tin roof. Between the two is a wry and knowing portrait of Rebecca Winter, a photographer whose work made her an unlikely heroine for many women. Her career is now descendant  her bank balance shaky, and she has fled the city for the middle of nowhere. There she discovers, in a tree stand with a roofer named Jim Bates, that what she sees through a camera lens is not all there is to life.

Brilliantly written, powerfully observed, Still Life with Bread Crumbs is a deeply moving and often very funny story of unexpected love, and a stunningly crafted journey into the life of a woman, her heart, her mind, her days, as she discovers that life is a story with many levels, a story that is longer and more exciting than she ever imagined.

03. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Madeline, NonFiction, Travel

My Venice and Other Essays by Donna Leon, read by Madeline, on 02/28/2014

Donna Leon has won a huge number of passionate fans and a tremendous amount of critical acclaim for her international bestselling mystery series featuring Venetian Commissario Guido Brunetti. These accolades have built up not just for her intricate plots and gripping narratives, but for her insight into the culture, politics, family-life, and history of Venice, one of the world’s most-treasured cities, and Leon’s home for over thirty years. Readers love how Leon opens the doors to a private Venice, beyond the reach of the millions of international tourists who delight in the city’s canals, food, and art every year.

My Venice and Other Essays will be a treat for Leon’s many fans, as well as for lovers of Italy and La Serenissima. For many years, Leon, who is a perennial #1 bestseller in Germany, has written essays for European publications. Collected here are the best of these: over fifty funny, charming, passionate, and insightful essays that range from battles over garbage in the canals to the troubles with rehabbing Venetian real estate. She shares episodes from her life in Venice, explores her love of opera, and recounts tales from in and around her country house in the mountains. With pointed observations and humor, she also explores her family history and former life in New Jersey, and the idea of the Italian man.

03. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Madeline, Mystery, Thriller/Suspense

After I'm Gone by Laura Lippman, read by Madeline, on 02/22/2014

When Felix Brewer meets nineteen-year-old Bernadette “Bambi” Gottschalk at a Valentine’s Dance in 1959, he charms her with wild promises, some of which he actually keeps. Thanks to his lucrative-if not all legal-businesses, she and their three little girls live in luxury. But on the Fourth of July, 1976, Bambi’s comfortable world implodes when Felix, newly convicted and facing prison, mysteriously vanishes.

Though Bambi has no idea where her husband-or all of his money-might be, she suspects one woman does: his devoted young mistress, Julie. When Julie disappears ten years to the day that Felix went on the lam, everyone assumes she’s left to join her old lover-until her remains are eventually found in a secluded wooded park.

Now, twenty-six years after Julie went missing, Roberto “Sandy” Sanchez, a retired Baltimore detective working cold cases for some extra cash, is investigating her murder. What he discovers is a tangled web of bitterness, jealously, resentment, greed, and longing stretching over three decades that connects five intriguing women: a faithful wife, a dead mistress, and three very different daughters. And at the center is the man who, though long gone, has never been forgotten by the five women who loved him: the enigmatic Felix Brewer.

Somewhere between the secrets and lies connecting past and present, Sandy will find the truth. And when he does, no one will ever be the same.

03. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Madeline, Teen Books

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, read by Madeline, on 02/20/2014

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.

TV writer Hilary Winston offers up a witty collection of autobiographical tales about her misadventures in dating.

Just when Hilary feels like her life is finally in order, she gets a sucker-punch to the gut: Her ex has written a novel based on their relationship in which he refers to her throughout as the “fat-assed girlfriend.” Her response to this affront is just one of the many hilarious stories in My Boyfriend Wrote a Book About Me–a laugh-out-loud, tell-all in which Hilary sets the record straight on all her exes.

03. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Madeline, Short Stories

Dirty Love by Andre Dubus III, read by Madeline, on 02/10/2014

In this heartbreakingly beautiful book of disillusioned intimacy and persistent yearning, beloved and celebrated author Andre Dubus III explores the bottomless needs and stubborn weaknesses of people seeking gratification in food and sex, work and love.

In these linked novellas in which characters walk out the back door of one story and into the next, love is “dirty”—tangled up with need, power, boredom, ego, fear, and fantasy. On the Massachusetts coast north of Boston, a controlling manager, Mark, discovers his wife’s infidelity after twenty-five years of marriage. An overweight young woman, Marla, gains a romantic partner but loses her innocence. A philandering bartender/aspiring poet, Robert, betrays his pregnant wife. And in the stunning title novella, a teenage girl named Devon, fleeing a dirty image of her posted online, seeks respect in the eyes of her widowed great-uncle Francis and of an Iraq vet she’s met surfing the Web.

Slivered by happiness and discontent, aging and death, but also persistent hope and forgiveness, these beautifully wrought narratives express extraordinary tenderness toward human beings, our vulnerable hearts and bodies, our fulfilling and unfulfilling lives alone and with others.

03. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Madeline, NonFiction

An American Bride in Kabul: A Memoir by Phyllis Chesler, read by Madeline, on 02/02/2014

Few westerners will ever be able to understand Muslim or Afghan society unless they are part of a Muslim family. Twenty years old and in love, Phyllis Chesler, a Jewish-American girl from Brooklyn, embarked on an adventure that has lasted for more than a half-century. In 1961, when she arrived in Kabul with her Afghan bridegroom, authorities took away her American passport. Chesler was now the property of her husband’s family and had no rights of citizenship. Back in Afghanistan, her husband, a wealthy, westernized foreign college student with dreams of reforming his country, reverted to traditional and tribal customs. Chesler found herself unexpectedly trapped in a posh polygamous family, with no chance of escape. She fought against her seclusion and lack of freedom, her Afghan family’s attempts to convert her from Judaism to Islam, and her husband’s wish to permanently tie her to the country through childbirth. Drawing upon her personal diaries, Chesler recounts her ordeal, the nature of gender apartheid–and her longing to explore this beautiful, ancient, and exotic country and culture. Chesler nearly died there but she managed to get out, returned to her studies in America, and became an author and an ardent activist for women’s rights throughout the world. “An American Bride in Kabul “is the story of how a naive American girl learned to see the world through eastern as well as western eyes and came to appreciate Enlightenment values. This dramatic tale re-creates a time gone by, a place that is no more, and shares the way in which Chesler turned adversity into a passion for world-wide social, educational, and political reform.