Tag Archives: Staff Pick

Episode 36: Interview with Lisa See, author of The Island of Sea Women

Well. To say I was thrilled to host author Lisa See is an understatement. And no, I couldn’t sleep the night before. We talked about her most recent novel, The Island of Sea Women, available in paperback on Tuesday, March 10th.

A classic Lisa See story—one of women’s friendships and the larger forces that shape them—The Island of Sea Women introduces readers to the fierce and unforgettable female divers of Jeju Island and the dramatic history that shaped their lives. And a story you will not be able to put down and one you won’t soon forget. Booklist has called the novel, “A stupendous multi-generational family saga” and I could not agree more. A major theme of the book is forgiveness, and boy, that’s a tough one on a good day…we get into that and more for this episode.

I could have listened to her speak all day and I cannot thank her enough.

Also-you must visit Lisa’s incredible website-it is chock full of everything you need to make you reading experience that much more successful. It’s the perfect reader’s companion. 


Place your hold here for all of Lisa See’s titles in multiple formats, including the mystery series!




Episode 35: Interview with Matthew Norman, author of Last Couple Standing.

Book clubs, start your 2020 engines…

You all know my love for books ’bout the ‘burbs and Last Couple Standing by Matthew Norman checks all the book discussion boxes: When Jessica and Mitch find out that their core group of friends are getting divorced, they find themselves as the last couple standing. This third novel by Matthew Norman asks what you would do to keep your marriage afloat?

We had such a great discussion about his writing style, the role that ensemble characters play in Last Couple Standing, and more. Norman is the also the author of We’re All Damagedand Domestic Violets.

Last Couple Standing hits shelves on Tuesday, March 17th, place your reserve now!  #GiveAListenReadtheBook

Don’t miss these:



Episode 34: Interview with Maurice Carlos Ruffin, author of We Cast A Shadow

 Maurice Carlos Ruffin had an amazing book year in 2019, and since we recorded this podcast, his 2020 has only gotten better. We Cast A Shadow has been selected as a 2020 Pen Open Book Award finalist, is a 2020 ALA RUSA Audio Book award winner, Ruffin himself was the keynote speaker at the Literary New Orleans symposium earlier in the month, the paperback is out on February 4th and while I could go on, please just follow MCR on twitter

What a way to kick off 2020! This was a great interview and I really cannot thank him enough for taking the time. 

Place your library hold right here for We Cast A Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin. 




Episode 33: Interview with Jean Kwok, author of Searching for Sylvie Lee

Happy 2020!

I cannot think of a better way to have ended 2019 and then kick off 2020 than with the amazing company of author Jean Kwok. We could have chatted for hours, although she might have felt different!

This is a very special episode, indeed, and not to be missed. Jean Kwok talks about the motivations and inspirations for each of her books: Girl in Translation;  Mambo in Chinatown; and most particularly her latest, Searching for Sylvie Lee. All three titles are perfect for book discussions-don’t miss any of them!

I’ve provided links to each book as well as the link to Jean’s incredibly robust website. The website is filled with content not just for readers and fans, but features an incredibly comprehensive toolkit for teachers as well.

I thank Jean Kwok so very much for taking the time to sit down with me for this episode, it was an absolute pleasure.



Episode 32: Interview with Julia Armfield, author of Salt Slow

What can I say about Salt Slow by Julia Armfield? This book was the stand-out for me, or a sit-down, because once I started it, I never left my beach chair. From the very first story, Mantis, to the award winning, The Great Awake, it will be hard to put down. Publisher’s Weekly calls Salt Slow by Julia Armfield, “unsettling, uncanny and an utterly delightful debut.” All true. It’s the first time I’ve covered this genre on Top Shelf and I’m thrilled to bring this interview to you.

One of the things we discussed were our favorites in the genre and Julia recommended Fen by Daisy Johnson, and titles by Sarah Hall.   My go-to authors in this genre are: Clare Beams, Angela Carter, Karen Russell, and Carmen Maria Machado. We also talked Stephen King, but really, who doesn’t?

I was so happy to speak with Julia Armfield about this incredible debut collection, Salt Slow. It hits shelves in the US, October 8, 2019. If you’re in the UK, it’s out already-don’t. miss. it.

Very special thanks to Flatiron Books, you guy rock.



Episode 30: Interview with Jason Allen, author of The East End

I could not be happier to have hosted Jason Allen, featuring his debut novel, The East End, for Episode 30!  Gosh, we talked about so many things, I couldn’t possibly collect it all here. Get your beach towels ready because this gripping novel of suspense and culture clash set in the Hamptons makes The East End a perfect summer read. What makes a summer read for me? A novel that you simply cannot put down. The East End sure hits that mark.

As part of his book tour, Jason will be returning to LI on Sunday, May 19th at 5 p.m. at BookHampton, East Hampton and at Book Culture LIC in Long Island City, Queens on Monday, May 20th at  6:30pm.  Follow him on twitter to get more info: @eathenjason. And you thought everyone was out here on LI this weekend because of the 2019 PGA tournament…ha!

Jason also raved about the following novels: Winter Loon by Susan Bernhard ; Goodnight Stranger by Miciah Bay Gault (out in July, 2019); The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring (out in October 2019); and finally, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr 

Jason is an absolute gem and I can’t wait for you to listen to this episode. Follow him on Facebook (Jason Allen), Twitter (@eathanjason) and Instagram (eastendauthor).



Episode 29: Interview with Julie Langsdorf, author of White Elephant

I’m on a roll with debut authors and their fabulous books and this podcast featuring author Julie Langsdorf is no exception.

White Elephant takes us to the suburban Washington DC town of Willard Park and particularly Tunlaw Place, where next door neighbors are not quite seeing eye-to-eye. Conflicts abound between the neighbors and to say I was on the edge of my seat to see how these conflicts would be resolved is an understatement. The book is honest, dark, joyful and at times, very funny. Told from alternating perspectives, White Elephant is perfect for book discussions.  Thank you so much, Julie!

Give a listen, read the book.

To view Julie Langsdorf’s very cool website, click here.

Merrick patrons place your hold here. 

Episode 28: Interview with Anne Griffin, author of When All Is Said

Spending my morning with Anne Griffin to talk about her amazing debut novel, When All Is Said, was like sunshine on a cloudy day.

This story of 84-year old Maurice Hannigan toasting the five most important people in his life is also wrapped around a mystery and makes When All Is Said perfect for book discussions. Anne talked about her inspiration for the book…no spoilers, you’ll have to listen! We also talked about Pulitzer Prize winning author Richard Russo, authors Mary Lawson and Jonathan Coe, and author and TV host, Graham Norton.

This episode really is action packed and I can’t thank Anne Griffin enough for pausing in the midst of writing to speak with us today.

You can find Anne Griffin on her website:  http://annegriffinwriter.com/

Merrick patrons place your holds here.

Thanks so much to Thomas Dunne Books and St. Martin’s Press for the early galley.


Episode 26: Interview with Etaf Rum, author of A Woman Is No Man.

“Where I come from, we’ve learned to silence ourselves. We’ve been taught that silence will save us. Where I come from, we keep these stories to ourselves. To tell them to the outside world is unheard of, dangerous, the ultimate shame.” – -Etaf Rum, A Woman Is No Man

What an amazing interview with debut author Etaf Rum for her book, A Woman Is No Man. I cannot thank her enough for sitting for this interview and I cannot wait for all of you to read this novel. It’s a book discussion must.

It hits shelves on Tuesday, March 5th.

Follow Etaf Rum on her website: EtafRum.com and on Instagram @booksandbeans

Merrick Library patrons place your hold here.


Episode 25: Interview with William Shaw, author of The Salt Lane

To celebrate the UK paperback release of Salt Lane, I have for you this podcast interview.  In this episode, I get so wrapped up interviewing William Shaw, I move away from the mic! Apologies! But my aim is true. Also: rookie.

Anyway, the very patient William Shaw sat with me to talk about his newest edge-of-your-seat thriller: Salt Lane.  #givealistenreadthebook

Visit William Shaw’s website.

Merrick Library patrons place your hold for any William Shaw book here.