Gift These Books by Local Authors
What’s the best part of the holidays? Shopping for the ones you love. Here are eight books from local authors to give this season.
By Ale Giorgini
For the Dad
The Daddy Diaries
by Joshua Braff
Braff, a Lafayette dad and author of the enormously popular The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green, this time follows a stay-at-home dad trying his best with his depressed teen son and preteen daughter. The family’s big move from the Bay Area to Florida triggers this tender story that’s not afraid to look at the most trying parenting moments. Braff mixes in issues with old friends who’ve found themselves at a different place in life, and dealing with troubling family history. Braff weaves a modern family tale that’s honest and absorbing.
For the Armchair Traveler
by Lisa McGuinness
The New York Times best-selling author Lisa McGuinness shares her love of all things Italian (especially food) in this novel. In Catarina’s Ring, McGuinness follows four generations of brave women, including 19th century Catarina, who sails to San Francisco from Southwestern Italy to become a mail-order bride. The story entertains the reader with romance, travel, and juicy details of Italian cooking. McGuinness, Walnut Creek author of children’s books and the adorable new Caffeinated Ideas Journal (the perfect gift book for your coffee-drinking pal) presents us with a tale of delicacies and discovery.
For the Pet Lover
Dog Medicine: How my Dog Saved Me From Myself
by Julie Barton
Anyone who’s ever loved a dog (or a cat, or a bunny, or any pet) will relate to Piedmont author Julie Barton’s memoir. While in her twenties, living in New York with a decent apartment and a career others might envy, Barton fell into a serious depression. Her mother, responding to Barton’s strange and desperate phone call, brought Barton back to her hometown in Ohio, but nothing lifted her despair. That’s until she adopted a retriever puppy she named Bunker. Barton examines incidents that led to her depression and how the bond with Bunker helped guide her through it, using elegant, loving prose.
For the Woman With a Sweet Tooth
A Pinch of Ooh La La
by Renee Swindle
Oakland author Renee Swindle’s third novel draws the reader in with unbelievably fun, creative, layered characters to cheer on—and sometimes scream at. As in her previous work, she presents a strong heroine, Abbey Ross, who whips up the most delicious-sounding cakes, pies, and tortes in her new bakery. Abbey tries to get beyond a heartbreaking relationship with the help of a wild supporting cast: Her legendary jazz musician father has four ex-girlfriends/baby mamas (plus a current wife), and the women fill Abbey’s life with love, advice, and attitude. This over-the-top family and a say-it-like-it-is best guy friend help Abbey survive the twists and turns of life. See how the übercool Ross family lives, and of course, get yourself a slice of something sweet.
For the Book Club
The Art of Adapting
by Cassandra Dunn
Cassandra Dunn’s debut novel is a must for shrewd book club readers who like a little substance with their story. East Bay author Dunn introduces us to Lana, a newly separated mom struggling to understand the needs of her two teenage children. Amplifying the situation, Lana’s brother, Matt, who has Asperger’s syndrome and needs a regular routine, moves into the family home, both shaking up day-to-day life and, ultimately, enhancing it. This novel has won raves for its exploration of an unusual family situation and its warm way of dealing with such issues as abandonment, teenage concerns, addiction, and of course, finding new love.
For the Rock ’n’ Roller at Heart
Fortunate Son: My Life, My Music
by John Fogerty
Creedence. If that one word is enough to hook the music lovers in your life, you’ll need to give them El Cerrito–raised John Fogerty’s
autobiography. Esteemed song-writer and lead guitarist for Creedence Clearwater Revival, the legendary American band of the late ’60s, Fogerty finally tells his story his way. Rock lovers will remember Fogerty as the songwriter behind “Born on the Bayou,” “Proud Mary,” and “Bad Moon Rising.” The historic songwriter leads the reader through his childhood’s local stops to the band’s early struggling days, to the moment he was stripped of the rights to his music, to the band’s notorious breakup, and finally, to reembracing a musical life. Fogerty’s boyish and detailed biography takes readers to the rocking and rolling world of 1969, and back.
For the Francophile
The Paris Key
by Juliet Blackwell
Known for her Witchcraft Mystery series, Oakland author Juliet Blackwell moves into a new niche with her novel, The Paris Key. Genevieve Martin, who grows up spending summers in Paris, returns to the Village Saint-Paul to run her late uncle’s locksmith shop. Paris’ rose-colored light will help her discover the mystery behind her mother’s life—and death—as well as help mend Genevieve’s heart from her broken marriage. Blackwell’s narrative follows both mother and daughter’s stories in a tightly woven, charming tale full of French history, settings, and je ne sais quoi. Find a spot at your favorite café, start reading, and pretend you’re in the City of Light.
For the Oenophile
Tangled Vines: Greed, Murder, Obsession and an Arsonist in the Vineyards of California
by Frances Dinkelspiel
You might picture a Northern California vineyard as a peaceful place, with its neat rows of grapes, but Berkeley author Frances Dinkelspiel reveals the gritty side of wine’s history. Tangled Vines unravels the mystery of the Sausalito con man who in 2005 set fire to the Wines Central warehouse in Vallejo, destroying more than $250 million worth of California wine. Dinkelspiel also regales the reader with scandalous accounts from the early days of California wine history—gripping stories of murder, greed, and enslavement. Read it and gasp while sipping your finest.