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Ten Books To Read Before The End Of 2015

If you’ve tried to catch up during the summer with your reading practice but haven’t filled your dance card completely, below are ten books I recommend you read before the end of the year. So fire up that Kindle or iPad or go to your local bookstore or library and get reading!

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Bounce: A Boomerang Novel by Noelle August (Willam Morrow Paperbacks, August 2015)

William Morrow Paperbacks / Via

When twenty-two-year-old cellist Skyler Canby accompanies her best friend Beth

on an audition for the first feature film launched by Blackwood Entertainment, she figures, Why not? Beth's perfect for the lead, but maybe Skyler's newly dyed pink hair will help her stand out to score a small part. Never in her wildest dreams does Skyler imagine she'll land the lead role or that she'll have her socks knocked off by the kiss

her audition partner, Grey Blackwood—a kiss that feels very real and not at all like acting.

Reckless musician Grey Blackwood spends his days as a gofer and doing odd jobs on the set of his CEO brother's newest project, but he lives for nights when he performs with his band. He knows if he can stay focused, success as a singer is near. But that's tough with a distracting pink-haired girl occupying his every waking thought. Skyler

and Grey have every reason to resist each other. But, like a song neither of them can get out of their minds, they have no choice but to go where the music takes them.

Praise for Bounce:

"August's original and refreshing voice manages to successfully circumvent the

heavily laden cliché traps found littered throughout the new adult genre. With fully developed characters, laugh-out-loud moments and smart dialogue, Bounce is a stand-out read."

RT Book Reviews.

The Santangelos by Jackie Collins (St. Martin’s Press, June 2015)

St. Martin's Press / Via

Over the weekend, I sadly learned Jackie Collins passed away. I have a friend who

was close to her who told me that apart from inspiring so many bestselling writers in other genres, Jackie was a wonderful woman. Tough, smart, savvy, beautiful with a big heart, but let's also not to forget a damn good storyteller.

This list would be incomplete if I didn't include a powerhouse author whose books sold over 500 million copies and who had 31 consecutive New York Times

bestsellers. I salute this much-loved and admired writer by including The Santangelos, An epic family saga filled with love, lust, revenge and passion that only Jackie Collins could write and make us want more.

If you need crime, sex, and glamour The Santangelos has it all: A vicious hit. A vengeful enemy. A drug-addled Colombian club owner. A sex-crazed Italian family.

And the ever powerful Lucky Santangelo has to deal with them all while Max-her teenage daughter is becoming The "It" girl in Europe's modeling world. And her Kennedyesque son, Bobby, is being set up for a murder he didn't commit. But Lucky

can deal. Always strong and unpredictable with her husband, Lennie, by her side she lives up to the family motto-Never cross a Santangelo. Lucky rules. The Santangelos always come out on top.

Praise for The Santangelos:

"Absolutely LOVED this book. For a 535 page book, it was absolutely fast paced and

full of lots of drama. Did not disappoint. Written in true Jackie Collins style and grace.

I laughed, I cried, I gasped. Turned me into a complete emotional roller coaster.

Goodreads Reader.

The Given World by Marian Palaia (Simon & Schuster, April 2015)

Simon & Schuster / Via

Palaia paints a dark but poetic story that spans from the 1960s in Montana to the

1970s post-flower powers days of San Francisco and post-war Saigon, centering on

the unforgettable heroine, Riley. When her older brother is declared MIA in Vietnam,

Riley packs up her broken heart, leaving Montana far behind. Traveling to

San Francisco and later Saigon, Riley rebuilds her life, doing odd jobs here and there. During the course of her journey, she befriends, rescues, and is rescued by a cast of colorful characters who share the same vagabond life.

Praise for The Given World

"Palaia's prose is hypnotizing...fresh...not without a dark beauty." — Library Journal.

Learning to Eat Along the Way: A Memoir by Margaret Bendet (She Writes Press, August 2015)

She Writes Press / Via

When Margaret Bendet interviews an Indian holy man, she thinks it’s just another newspaper assignment—but after speaking with him, she decides to accompany him back to his ashram, hoping to find enlightenment. In Learning to Eat Along the Way, Bendet enters a world that many have wondered about but few have seen: the

milieu of a spiritual master. Subtle experiences prompt her to embark on this journey with “the swami,” as she calls him, and enters into the ashram. Once there, she deals with a host of psychological issues, including intense infatuation and anorexia. “Each person comes to the ashram in order to receive something,” the swami tells her, “something to take with you when you leave—something you can eat along the way.”

A maxim truer than Bendet could ever have imagined.

Praise for Learning to Eat Along the Way:

“This one is one of those rare examples of an author clear enough and

courageous enough to get to the core of her quest and to adroitly chronicle it all, personal foibles notwithstanding. The central theme of what you take in becomes the means by which you evolve is a strong one and sustains the narrative. This is an absorbing read and an inspiration to others on the quest for self-understanding.”

Goodreads review.

Palace of Treason by Jason Matthews (Scribner, June 2015)

Scribner / Via

Star-crossed lovers Russian SVR agent Dominika Egorova and CIA's Nate Nash return in Palace of Treason, Matthews's fast-paced (and recipe laden!) espionage thriller. Captain Dominika Egorova of the Russian Intelligence Service has returned from the West to Moscow. Despising the men she serves in Putin's Russia, Dominika works as a double-agent for the CIA. As she dodges exposure, Dominika deals with a psychotic boss; survives assassination attempts; escapes a counterintelligence ambush; rescues an arrested agent and exfiltrates him out of Russia; and has a creepy midnight conversation with Putin. Complicating these risks is the fact that Dominika is in love with her CIA handler, Nate Nash. When a CIA mole finds Dominika's name on a restricted list of sources, it turns into a virtual death sentence for the enigmatic spy.

Praise for Palace of Treason:

"Jason Matthews has an amazing feel for the insider lingo and relentless intrigue of the spy's life. Palace of Treason is a harrowing look into the lives of spies...This is stay-up-all-night reading, and we're pummeled by hair-trigger actions on every page." — BookPage.

The Moon Sisters by Therese Walsh (Crown, paperback release 2015)

Crown / Via

This spellbinding coming-of-age novel is a moving tale of family and the power of stories. After their mother's suicide, sisters Olivia and Jazz take steps to move on with their lives. Logical Jazz decides to get a new job, but spirited, strong-willed Olivia--who can see sounds, taste words, and smell sights--is determined to travel to the remote setting of their mother's unfinished novel to lay her spirit properly to rest. Resentful of Olivia's silly quest, Jazz is further aggravated when they run into trouble along the way and Olivia latches to a worldly train-hopper who warns he shouldn't be trusted. As they near their destination, the tension builds between the two sisters, each hiding something from the other, until they are finally forced to face everything between them and decide what is really important.

Praise for The Moon Sisters:

Luminous… Walsh explores how the [Moon] sisters’ experience of the outside world transforms their views of each other and themselves, in a book packed with invention and rich characterizations.” – Publishers Weekly.

Mindfulness A to Z: 108 Insights for Awakening Now by Arnie Kozak (Wisdom Publications, September 2015)

Wisdom Publications / Via

From Acceptance to Zafu, Mindfulness A to Z offers a wealth of inspirational advice and practical instruction on how to bring mindfulness fully into your life. In each entry, Dr. Kozak combines his personal insights and expert guidance on all aspects of mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness A to Z presents a multifaceted look at

living mindfully in our hectic world, whether dealing with internal conflict, such as fear

of missing out, technical problems, to how to meditate comfortably, or everyday joys

such as finding your smile. 

Praise for Mindfulness A to Z: 108 Insights for Awakening Now:

Mindfulness A to Z is a marvelous book: light in tone but deep in meaning, and thoroughly human yet transcendent. Dr. Kozak gives companionship on the Buddhist path and offers welcome guidance for anyone seeking a saner, healthier and more wholesome life.” — Deborah Schoeberlein David, author of Mindful Teaching and Teaching Mindfulness.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (Doubleday, March 2015)

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*National Book Awards Fiction Longlist. A friend who read it said while she sobbed at length because of the horror and frequency of sexual abuse, she found it to be one of the best books ever written. Shortlisted for Man Booker.

Brace yourself for the most astonishing, challenging, upsetting, and profoundly

moving book in many a season. When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York, they're broke, adrift, and buoyed only by friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity.

Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction,

success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude

himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he

fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.

Praise for A Little Life:

"This exquisite, unsettling novel follows four male friends from their meeting as

students at a prestigious Northeastern college through young adulthood and into middle age....The book shifts from a generational portrait to something darker and

more tender: an examination of the depths of human cruelty, counterbalanced by the restorative powers of friendship."—The New Yorker (Briefly Noted)

Barefoot to Avalon: A Brother's Story by David Payne (Atlantic Monthly Press, August 2015)

Atlantic Monthly Press / Via

There’s a personal anecdote to including this book apart that it’s an incredible read. A friend met the author at the Leonard Lopate show and enjoyed speaking to him.

What’s impressive about Payne’s book is that his book resonates with readers and he draws them into independent books stores in droves. So a great writer whose book

also helps indie bookstores. What’s not to like?

In 2000, while moving his household from Vermont to North Carolina, David Payne watched from his rearview mirror as his younger brother, George A., driving behind

him in a two-man convoy of rental trucks, lost control of his vehicle, fishtailed, flipped over in the road, and died instantly. Soon thereafter, David’s life hit a downward spiral. His career came to a standstill, his marriage disintegrated, and his drinking went from

a cocktail-hour indulgence to a full-blown addiction. He found himself haunted not

only by George A.’s death, but also by his brother’s manic depression, a hereditary illness that overlaid a dark family history whose roots now gripped David.

Barefoot to Avalon is Payne’s earnest and unflinching account of George A. and their boyhood footrace that lasted long into their adulthood, defining their relationship and their lives. This is an exceptional memoir of brotherhood, of sibling rivalries and sibling love, and

of the torments a family can hold silent and carry across generations.

Praise for Barefoot to Avalon:

"Burns starkly and powerfully...a book that is, as much as anything, a study in the

power of inexhaustible the best memoirs, it’s about something far harder

to pin down, something unspecific and ineffable in the way time moves and lives fade, the moments that none of us can get back....Payne’s writing is loose, confident and snappy, and he has a rare ability to distill enormous scope into a single sentence, sometimes a single image...[Payne] gives us the ambiguities of real life, a story that is sometimes hard to take, but always worth it.”—Lucas Mann, San Francisco Chronicle

Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor's Reflections on Race and Medicine by Damon Tweedy, M.D. (Picador, September 2015)

Picador / Via

A passionate and profound memoir of a black doctor’s experience grappling with race, bias, and the unique health problems of black Americans. When Damon Tweedy

begins medical school, he envisions a bright future where his segregated,

working-class background will become largely irrelevant. Instead, he finds that he has joined a new world where race is front and center. The recipient of a scholarship designed to increase black student enrollment, Tweedy soon meets a professor who bluntly questions whether he belongs in medical school, a moment that crystallizes the challenges he will face throughout his career. Making matters worse, in lecture after lecture the common refrain for numerous diseases resounds, "More common in blacks than whites."

Black Man in a White Coat examines the complex ways in which both black doctors and patients must navigate the difficult and often contradictory terrain of race and medicine. As Tweedy transforms from student to practicing physician, he

discovers how often race influences his encounters with patients. Through their

stories, he illustrates the complex social, cultural, and economic factors at the root of most health problems in the black community. These issues take on greater meaning when Tweedy is himself diagnosed with a chronic disease far more common among black people. In this deeply empathic book, Tweedy explores the challenges confronting black doctors, and the disproportionate health burdens faced by black patients, ultimately seeking a way forward to better treatment and more

compassionate care.

Praise for Black Man in a White Coat:

“Eye-opening...[Tweedy's] painful anecdotes, both as an intern and physician, show the critical health crisis within the black community....[and] he nicely unravels the essential issues of race, prejudice, class, mortality, treatment, and American medicine without blinking or polite excuses.”—Publishers Weekly.

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