Featured Books for December 2021
We're excited to look ahead to December! Our Book Club pick this month is Jean Meltzer's The Matzah Ball (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm), a fabulous romance that's perfect for the holidays. And for our Buddy Read pick, our Unabridged Ambassadors and current Buddy Readers chose Kerstin Gier's A Castle in the Clouds, translated by Romy Fursland (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm). (Let us know @unabridgedpod if you'd like to join either chat!)
The Matzah Ball
"Oy! to the world
"Rachel Rubenstein-Goldblatt is a nice Jewish girl with a shameful secret: she loves Christmas. For a decade she’s hidden her career as a Christmas romance novelist from her family. Her talent has made her a bestseller even as her chronic illness has always kept the kind of love she writes about out of reach.
"But when her diversity-conscious publisher insists she write a Hanukkah romance, her well of inspiration suddenly runs dry. Hanukkah’s not magical. It’s not merry. It’s not Christmas. Desperate not to lose her contract, Rachel’s determined to find her muse at the Matzah Ball, a Jewish music celebration on the last night of Hanukkah, even if it means working with her summer camp archenemy—Jacob Greenberg.
"Though Rachel and Jacob haven’t seen each other since they were kids, their grudge still glows brighter than a menorah. But as they spend more time together, Rachel finds herself drawn to Hanukkah—and Jacob—in a way she never expected. Maybe this holiday of lights will be the spark she needed to set her heart ablaze."
A Castle in the Clouds
"Witty and charming, New York Times-bestselling author Kerstin Gier's contemporary young adult novel A Castle in the Clouds follows a girl as she navigates secrets, romance, and danger in an aging grand hotel.
"Way up in the Swiss mountains, there's an old grand hotel steeped in tradition and faded splendor. Once a year, when the famous New Year's Eve Ball takes place and guests from all over the world arrive, excitement returns to the vast hallways.
"Sophie, who works at the hotel as an intern, is busy making sure that everything goes according to plan. But unexpected problems keep arising, and some of the guests are not who they pretend to be. Very soon, Sophie finds herself right in the middle of a perilous adventure--and at risk of losing not only her job, but also her heart."
It's hard to believe that we're planning for 2022! Our Book Club book is Fredrik Backman's Anxious People (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm), a book that somehow seems perfect for the new year. And for our Buddy Read pick, we'll be reading Natasha Deen's In the Key of Nira Ghani (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm). (Stay tuned to @unabridgedpod on IG for details about our chats!)
"From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove comes a charming, poignant novel about a crime that never took place, a would-be bank robber who disappears into thin air, and eight extremely anxious strangers who find they have more in common than they ever imagined.
"Looking at real estate isn't usually a life-or-death situation, but an apartment open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes a group of strangers hostage. The captives include a recently retired couple who relentlessly hunt down fixer-uppers to avoid the painful truth that they can't fix their own marriage. There's a wealthy bank director who has been too busy to care about anyone else and a young couple who are about to have their first child but can't seem to agree on anything, from where they want to live to how they met in the first place. Add to the mix an eighty-seven-year-old woman who has lived long enough not to be afraid of someone waving a gun in her face, a flustered but still-ready-to-make-a-deal real estate agent, and a mystery man who has locked himself in the apartment's only bathroom, and you've got the worst group of hostages in the world.
"Each of them carries a lifetime of grievances, hurts, secrets, and passions that are ready to boil over. None of them is entirely who they appear to be. And all of them--the bank robber included--desperately crave some sort of rescue. As the authorities and the media surround the premises these reluctant allies will reveal surprising truths about themselves and set in motion a chain of events so unexpected that even they can hardly explain what happens next.
"Rich with Fredrik Backman's 'pitch-perfect dialogue and an unparalleled understanding of human nature' (Shelf Awareness), Anxious People is an ingeniously constructed story about the enduring power of friendship, forgiveness, and hope--the things that save us, even in the most anxious times."
In the Key of Nira Ghani
"A Guyanese girl must find the balance between her parents' 'old world' expectations and traditions while pursuing her dream of being a great trumpeter in this contemporary, coming-of-age story.
"Nira Ghani has always dreamed of becoming a musician. Her Guyanese parents, however, have big plans for her to become a scientist or doctor. Nira's grandmother and her best friend, Emily, are the only people who seem to truly understand her desire to establish an identity outside of the one imposed on Nira by her parents. When auditions for jazz band are announced, Nira realizes it's now or never to convince her parents that she deserves a chance to pursue her passion.
"As if fighting with her parents weren't bad enough, Nira finds herself navigating a new friendship dynamic when her crush, Noah, and notorious mean-girl, McKenzie 'Mac,' take a sudden interest in her and Emily, inserting themselves into the fold. So, too, does Nira's much cooler (and very competitive) cousin Farah. Is she trying to wiggle her way into the new group to get closer to Noah? Is McKenzie trying to steal Emily's attention away from her? As Farah and Noah grow closer and Emily begins to pull away, Nira's trusted trumpet 'George' remains her constant, offering her an escape from family and school drama.
"But it isn't until Nira takes a step back that she realizes she's not the only one struggling to find her place in the world. As painful truths about her family are revealed, Nira learns to accept people for who they are and to open herself in ways she never thought possible.
"A relatable and timely contemporary, coming-of age story, In the Key of Nira Ghani explores the social and cultural struggles of a teen in an immigrant household."
If you missed our November picks, be sure to check out episode 205 in which we discuss L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm). Our Buddy Read pick was the fantastic short story collection Blackout (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm) by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon.
(A note to our readers: click on the hashtags above to see our other blog posts with the same hashtag.)
Interested in what else we're reading? Check out our Featured Books page.
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