“The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion” by Fannie Flagg – “Aging daughter of the South Sookie Simmons Poole has trudged along cheerfully through life under the shadow of her overbearing mother, Lenore. Faced with empty-nest syndrome, Sookie knows she won’t be too bored, since Lenore lives right next door and still has her mail delivered to Sookie’s house. When a mysterious letter arrives, Sookie questions everything she ever knew about her family, and her story soon dovetails with that of a proud Polish family from Wisconsin. The Jurdabralinskis’ gas station was nearly shuttered when all the area men joined up during WWII, but the family’s four girls bravely stepped up. Eldest daughter Fritzi was already a great mechanic, having been a professional stunt plane pilot in the 1930s. When Fritzi joins the WASPS, an elite but downplayed female branch of the U.S. Air Force, the story really comes to life. ” — Rebecca Vnuk, AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013.
“Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand – “Atlas Shrugged is the astounding story of a man who said that he would stop the motor of the world–and did. Tremendous in scope, breathtaking in its suspense, Atlas Shrugged stretches the boundaries further than any book you have ever read. It is a mystery, not about the murder of a man’s body, but about the murder–and rebirth–of man’s spirit. ” — Amazon
“The Circle” by Dave Eggers – “Most of us imagine totalitarianism as something imposed upon us–but what if we’re complicit in our own oppression? That’s the scenario in Eggers’ ambitious, terrifying, and eerily plausible new novel. When Mae gets a job at the Circle, a Bay Area tech company that’s cornered the world market on social media and e-commerce, she’s elated, and not just because of the platinum health-care package. The gleaming campus is a wonder, and it seems as though there isn’t anything the company can’t do (and won’t try). But she soon learns that participation in social media is mandatory, not voluntary, and that could soon apply to the general population as well. For a monopoly, it’s a short step from sharing to surveillance, to a world without privacy. This isn’t a perfect book–the good guys lecture true-believer Mae, and a key metaphor is laboriously explained–but it’s brave and important and will draw comparisons to Brave New World and 1984. Eggers brilliantly depicts the Internet binges, torrents of information, and endless loops of feedback that increasingly characterize modern life. But perhaps most chilling of all is his notion that our ultimate undoing could be something so petty as our desperate desire for affirmation.” — Kier Graff, AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013.
“Doctor Sleep; A Novel” by Stephen King – “Iconic horror author King (Joyland) picks up the narrative threads of The Shining many years on. Young psychic Danny Torrance has become a middle-aged alcoholic (he now goes by “Dan”), bearing his powers and his guilt as equal burdens. A lucky break gets him a job in a hospice in a small New England town. Using his abilities to ease the passing of the terminally ill, he remains blissfully unaware of the actions of the True Knot, a caravan of human parasites crisscrossing the map in their RVs as they search for children with “the shining” (psychic abilities of the kind that Dan possesses), upon whom they feed. When a girl named Abra Stone is born with powers that dwarf Dan’s, she attracts the attention of the True Knot’s leader–the predatory Rose the Hat. Dan is forced to help Abra confront the Knot, and face his own lingering demons.” — Chuck Verrill, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2013.
“The Gods of Guilt” by Michael Connelly – “Haller is contacted by a suspect in the murder of a prostitute Haller previously aided and thought had left the profession.The accused is a computer expert who worked with the victim in an online business. After deciding to take the case, Haller and his staff investigate and quickly discover a possible alternative motive for the prostitute’s death. As a result, Haller is forced to revisit past cases to find a way to defend his client. ” – Joel Tscherne, LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2013.
“The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt – “Cataclysmic loss and rupture with criminal intent visited upon the young have been Tartt’s epic subjects…… In the wake of his nefarious father’s abandonment, Theo, a smart, 13-year-old Manhattanite, is extremely close to his vivacious mother–until an act of terrorism catapults him into a dizzying world bereft of gravity, certainty, or love. Tartt writes from Theo’s point of view with fierce exactitude and magnetic emotion as, stricken with grief and post-traumatic stress syndrome, he seeks sanctuary with a troubled Park Avenue family and, in Greenwich Village, with a kind and gifted restorer of antique furniture. Fate then delivers Theo to utterly alien Las Vegas, where he meets young outlaw Boris. As Theo becomes a complexly damaged adult, Tartt, in a boa constrictor-like plot, pulls him deeply into the shadow lands of art, lashed to seventeenth-century Dutch artist Carel Fabritius and his exquisite if sinister painting, The Goldfinch. Drenched in sensory detail, infused with Theo’s churning thoughts and feelings, sparked by nimble dialogue, and propelled by escalating cosmic angst and thriller action, Tartt’s trenchant, defiant, engrossing, and rocketing novel conducts a grand inquiry into the mystery and sorrow of survival, beauty and obsession, and the promise of art.” — Donna Seaman, AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013.
“Gone” by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge – “Detective Michael Bennett is the only US official ever to succeed in putting Perrine (a charismatic and ruthless Mexican strongman) behind bars – but now Perrine is out, vowing to find and kill Bennett and everyone dear to him.
Bennett and his ten adopted children are living on a secluded California farm, guarded by the FBI’s witness protection program. Perrine begins a campaign of assassinations, brazenly murdering powerful individuals across the country. The FBI has no clue where Perrine is hiding or how he is orchestrating his attacks. It is forced to ask Bennett to risk it all – his career, his family, his own life – to fight Perrine’s war on America.” — inside front cover
“The Longest Ride” by Nicholas Sparks – “After a car crash, 91-year-old Ira Levinson manages to survive because he imagines that he sees Ruth, the beloved wife he lost nine years earlier, sitting next to him and chatting about the life they shared. Meanwhile, Wake Forest College senior Sophia Danko is recovering from a broken heart when she meets a cowboy named Luke who promises to turn her life around (but what about that secret in his past?). Of course, the stories of these two disparate couples eventually intersect. A classic Sparks tearjerker.” — LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2013.
“The Lowland” by Jhumpa Lahiri – “Pulitzer Prize winner Lahiri’s (The Interpreter of Maladies) unparalleled ability to transform the smallest moments into whole lives pinnacles in this extraordinary story of two brothers–so close that one is “the other side” of the other–coming of age in the political tumult of 1960s India. They are separated as adults, with Subhash, the elder, choosing an academic career in the United States and the more daring Udayan remaining in Calcutta, committed to correcting the inequities of his country. Udayan’s political participation will haunt four generations, from his parents, who renounce the future, to his wife and his brother, who attempt to protect it, to the daughter and granddaughter who will never know him. ” — Terry Hong, LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2013.
“No Place for a Dame” by Connie Brockway – “In 1819, the Royal Astrological Society is definitely “no place for a dame,” but solitary astronomer Avery Quinn has discovered a new comet and will do anything to see her discovery recognized, even coerce the scandal-plagued son of her late mentor into helping her. His plan, however, is not what she anticipates–and neither are the stunningly successful but hilarious results. A brilliant heroine, far too well educated for her sex and her working-class birth, and a jaded, infamous nobleman foil multiple obstacles and end up as unlikely soul mates in a passionate love match he never saw coming. ” — Kristin Ramsdell. LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2013.
“The Prayer Box” by Lisa Wingate – “Journeys begin with one single step, as Tandi Reese discovers in Wingate’s masterful exploration of the road to redemption. Tandi is a single mother of two children with a checkered history. Flight from her adult past leads her to North Carolina’s Hatteras Island, a place where she’d found comfort during her tumultuous childhood, to a cottage owned by Iola Anne Poole, an older resident and sometime town pariah. When Iola dies, Tandi is charged with clearing the older woman’s large house–and in doing so comes across spiritual treasures beyond compare. At times both sweet and sad, soul-warming and heartbreaking, the accessible writing style and attention to detail serve to enrobe readers in the love poured into weaving together the lives of Iola and Tandi in a meaningful, rich way. Relatable characters and vivid portrayals of events both current and historical create an enchanting, memorable pilgrimage into the fullness of faith and love.” — Claudia Cross, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2013.
“Queen’s Gambit” by Elizabeth Fremantle – “Intrigue, romance, and treachery abound in Fremantle’s debut novel as Katherine Parr, the sixth wife of Henry VIII, walks a fine line between passion and loyalty. Married to an aging king with a penchant for discarding wives, she must learn to navigate the often perilous intricacies, suspicions, and ambitions of a divided Tudor court. Though passionately in love with dashing courtier Thomas Seymour, Katherine shrewdly adapts to her new role, becoming a positive influence on Henry while arousing the ire of many of his advisors. Often fraught with danger, her ultimately successful balancing act earns her the title of “the one who survived.” — Margaret Flanagan, AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013.
“Reckless Love” by Elizabeth Lowell – “After 13-year-old Janna Wayland’s father dies, leaving her alone in the brutal western wilderness, the herds of wild mustangs become her only companions. With her bright mind and expert survival skills, Janna manages to avoid the wandering bands of rogue Utes for six years. Ty MacKenzie, out to capture Lucifer, a legendary stallion, hasn’t been so lucky. Forced to run a gauntlet of misery as the captive of El Cascabel, a murderous renegade, Ty barely escapes with his life. Someone rescues Ty, gets him to safety, and tends to his wounds. Little does he know that the brave boy who saved him is actually a courageous woman, our Janna. Lowell is an exceptional writer, and her colorful tale of romance, danger, adventure, and mistaken identity, all set against the stunning background of the American West, will satisfy her longtime fans as well as entice a whole new readership.” — Shelley Mosley, AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013.
“Red Sky Blue Moon” by Bruce Golden – “Bruce Golden’s gonzo police procedural of the future mixes aliens, sex and murder into a hard-punching satirical adventure that inserts its stilettos of critical wit so stealthily that you’ll die laughing.” — Paul Di Filippo/Hugo & Nebula Finalist, Back cover
“S.” by Jeffrey Abrams and Doug Dorst – “Fans of Abrams’s TV series Lost will delight in this multilayered and complex novel, coauthored with Dorst (Alive in Necropolis), which comes in a highly unusual package. A sealed slipcase holds a “library copy” of V.M. Straka’s 1949 book, Ship of Theseus, a title that calls to mind Plutarch’s famous paradox, which asks whether a ship that has had all its parts replaced is really the same ship. Virtually every artificially browned page in the book contains the marginal notes of students Jen and Eric, who share details of their lives and remark on the text (the notes are in different colors, allowing readers to distinguish between the authors). Their annotations and questions punctuate Straka’s story of a man known only as S., who’s been shanghaied and has lost his memory; footnotes lead the reader down more and more rabbit holes, as do multiple loose inserts such as photos, memos, postcards, and letters. For those in our online age able to accept the notion of a chat carried out by handwritten exchanges in a printed book, the Talmudic commentary will fascinate, even as clues are dropped early on that the resolution may be ambiguous. This is a must-read for literary puzzle fans…” — Jay Mandel, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2013.
“Someone” by Alice McDermott – “”Who is going to love me?” Marie asks her older brother, Gabe, after her heart is broken. “Someone,” he replies. How humble this pronoun is, and what a provocative title it makes. Readers who love refined, unhurried, emotionally fluent fiction will rejoice at National Book Award-winner McDermott’s return. McDermott (After This, 2006) is a master of hidden intensities, intricate textures, spiked dialogue, and sparkling wit. We first meet Marie at age seven, when she’s sitting on the stoop in her tight-knit, Irish-Catholic Brooklyn neighborhood, waiting for her father to come home from work. Down the street, boys play stickball, consulting with dapper Billy, their blind umpire, an injured WWI vet. Tragedies and scandals surge through the enclave, providing rough initiations into sex and death. Gabe becomes a priest. Marie works at a funeral home as a “consoling angel,” acquiring cryptic clues to the mysteries of life via teatime gossip sessions with the director’s wise mother and a circle of wryly knowing nuns. Eventually Marie finds joy as a wife and mother, while Gabe struggles with his faith and sexuality. A marvel of subtle modulations, McDermott’s keenly observed, fluently humane, quietly enthralling novel of conformity and selfhood, of “lace-curtain pretensions” as shield and camouflage, celebrates family, community, and “the grace of a shared past.”– Donna Seaman, AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013.
“The Strangled Queen” by Maurice Druon – “Philip IV is dead and his great kingdom is in disarray. It seems the fatal curse of the Templars is plaguing the royal house of France.
His son has been enthroned as Louis X; but with his disgraced wife Marguerite imprisoned in the Chateau Gaillard for her adultery, Louis can produce no heir with which to secure the succession. But neither can he marry again while she lives….
The web of scandal, murder and intrigue that once wove itself around the court of the Iron King continues to draw in his descendents, as the destruction of his dynasty continues apace.” – back cover
“We Are Water” by Wally Lamb – “You can’t get much more affecting than two-time Oprah pick author Lamb, and here he nicely nails the zeitgeist with the story of outsider artist Anna Oh, a long married and the mother of three, who leaves her husband to marry her polished Manhattan art dealer, Vivica. With the approach of the wedding-set in Connecticut, where same-sex marriage has just been legalized-painful family issues boil to the surface. Anna, former husband Orion, and the children tell the story in alternating voices.” — LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2013.
“When the Marquess Met His Match: An American Heiress in London” by Laura Lee Guhrke – “A matchmaker finds love in When the Marquess Met His Match by Laura Lee Guhrke. American by birth, Lady Belinda Featherstone is aristocratic London’s best marriage broker. As a young widow, she makes a living by guiding other American heiresses to advantageous marriages. It’s a big surprise when Nicholas, Marquess of Trubridge, who has a reputation for running through money–and women–calls on her. Thirty-year-old Nicholas is desperate to find a rich wife to help end his financial woes. Belinda longs to turn the sexy, arrogant man away, but when a young family friend shows interest in the Marquess, she decides to save the youngster heartache by agreeing to find a suitable wife for Nicholas. Soon, however, the only woman Belinda wants to see in his arms is herself. Nicholas is equally attracted, but Belinda is not the super-wealthy wife he imagined–so a happily-ever-after appears elusive. A delicious, sensual read about two good people rediscovering themselves and their belief in love.” — BOOKPAGE, c2013.
“The Whole Golden World” by Kristina Riggle – “Riggle’s latest…. follows high school senior Morgan Monetti’s affair with her married calculus teacher, T.J. Hill, and how it impacts several lives in the small town of Arbor Valley, Mich. Raised by emotionally absent high school principal Joe and his overbearing wife, Dinah (whose control issues stem from living with the fear of losing her now teenage special-needs twins), 17-year-old Morgan has always been treated as though she were older than she actually is. Feeling stifled by the idea of having to spend her college years near her family and hurt by being recently rejected by both her ex-boyfriend and a crush who turns out to be gay, Morgan begins confiding in her young, popular math teacher, whose insecurities have been exacerbated by his inability to conceive with his wife. Riggle shows how the inner turmoil of her characters eventually creates the situation at the heart of this novel. Dinah remains likable, despite frequently making excuses for her kids and always being ready for a fight. Though the author falters with the character of T.J., who comes off as a flat antagonist, the novel remains an entertaining read.” — PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2013.
“Bones of the Lost” by Kathy Reichs – “Bestseller Reichs draws on her experiences touring with the USO in Afghanistan for her captivating 16th novel featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan (after 2012’s Bones Are Forever). At home in Charlotte, N.C., the bone expert concludes that the death of an unidentified girl, 14 or 15 years old, was caused by foul play rather than a hit-and-run, as was previously suspected. The outraged Brennan urges homicide detective Erskine “Skinny” Slidell to investigate, knowing Slidell believes the girl to have been an undocumented immigrant, as well as possibly being a junkie and prostitute. Later in Afghanistan, Brennan oversees the exhumation of two unarmed Afghan villagers killed by a U.S. Marine to determine whether the victims were shot in the back or head-on. The two cases–and a third involving mummified dogs from Peru–give Reichs ample opportunity to provide detailed descriptions of forensic examinations, but it’s Brennan’s passionate and personal involvement that provides the excitement in this masterful tale.” — Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2013.
“The Countertenor Wore Garlic: A Liturgical Mystery” by Mark Schweizer – “Vicar Fearghus McTavish is a Calvinist Anglican priest with Scottish Presbyterian leanings–not exactly the perfect interim priest for St. Barnabas. So when the church participates in the town Halloween carnival, it’s only a matter of time before something goes terribly wrong. Suddenly there’s a dead body, and Hayden Konig has his hands full with a Congregational Enlivener, the Zombies of Easter Walk, and a town packed with adolescent vampires. “Hey,” says Hayden, “what’s the worst that can happen….?” — back cover
” Dust” by Patricia Cornwell – “…Scarpetta has reason to be jaded: She’s just returned from Connecticut, where she conducted 27 autopsies, “most of them children, and when I pulled off my bloody scrubs and stepped into the shower I refused to think about what I’d just done.” Teamed with a much more excitable Cambridge cop, she’s scarcely back home in Boston when she’s called to examine a corpse that’s turned up “out in the mud at one end of the athletic fields, what’s called Briggs Field,” as Cornwell curiously puts it. And not just any corpse, of course: The victim was a computer whiz who just happened to be involved in a complex lawsuit involving heaps of money and, as it develops, some shadowy connections to the federal government. Scarpetta’s husband, an FBI profiler, plays a more significant role in the tale than in other Cornwell whodunits precisely due to that Washington connection, but it takes a good while for Scarpetta to piece the puzzle together, with a parade of potential bad guys to choose from, including a rich dude who you know, just know, has to be bad because he owns “a shaving set made of mammoth ivory.” The red herrings and MacGuffins are standard mystery fare, complicated by Cornwell’s deep appreciation for the work of medical examiners in even the relatively simple matter of distinguishing a murder from a suicide, to say nothing of deciding who did the foul deed. The takeaway? “People still suck.” Yes, they do, and they do very bad things to each other. Stay tuned.” — KIRKUS MEDIA LLC, c2013.
“The Golden Egg” by Donna Leon – “Commissario Guido Brunetti, out of a sense of guilt and at the urging of his compassionate wife, investigates the suspicious death of a disabled man, Davide Cavanella, in Leon’s intriguing 22nd mystery featuring the crafty Venetian police inspector…. Davide’s mother is unwilling to discuss his death. Worse, there’s no official evidence of Davide’s existence: he apparently was never born and never went to school, saw a doctor, or received a passport. The colorful locals are uncooperative. Brunetti’s understanding of the Venetian bureaucracy, which operates smoothly on bribery and familial connections, allows his subordinates to enlist the help of various aunts and cousins, as is neatly shown in a subplot involving the mayor and his son. Appreciative of feminine charms, the deeply uxorious Brunetti amply displays the keen intelligence and wry humor that has endeared this series to so many.” — PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2013.
“The Last Good Kiss” by James Crumley – “Tough, hard-boiled, and brilliantly suspenseful, The Last Good Kiss is an unforgettable detective story starring C. W. Sughrue, a Montana investigator who kills time by working at a topless bar. Hired to track down a derelict author, he ends up on the trail of a girl missing in Haight-Ashbury for a decade. The tense hunt becomes obsessive as Sughrue takes a haunting journey through the underbelly of America’s sleaziest nightmares.” — Amazon.com
“The Luminaries” by Eleanor Catton – “From the acclaimed author of ‘The Rehearsal’ comes a novel about a young woman on trial for murder in nineteenth-century New Zealand. On a blustery January day, a prostitute is arrested. In the midst of the 1866 gold rush on the coast of New Zealand, this might have gone unnoticed. But three notable events occur on that same day: a luckless drunk dies, a wealthy man vanishes, and a ship’s captain of ill repute cancels all of his business and weighs anchor, as if making an escape. Anna Wetherell, the prostitute in question, is connected to all three men. This sequence of apparently coincidental events provokes a secret council of powerful townsmen to investigate. But they are interrupted by the arrival of a stranger: young Walter Moody, who has a secret of his own…” — Publisher Annotations
“Lying with Strangers” by Jonnie Jacobs – “Young Chloe Henderson was raised in foster homes. Aged out of the system when she turned 18, she moved in with her abusive boyfriend, Trace Rodriguez, hoping to make a life for herself and the child that they are expecting. While they’re out for a Sunday drive, Trace stops at a convenience store in San Francisco’s rundown Bayview neighborhood. He tells Chloe to wait in the car, but she goes in and interrupts a robbery in progress. Trace kills a customer and the clerk. Although horrified, Chloe is afraid of losing Trace and agrees to help him escape, thereby becoming an accomplice to the crime. The customer, Alameda County Assistant District Attorney Roy Walker, leaves behind a wife, Diana, and a son. As the case progresses, Diana learns that Roy has kept some very dark secrets from her. Then, after her son accidently runs into Chloe on his bicycle, Chloe and Diana connect and discover that their lives are linked in unexpected ways. ” — Bibel, Barbara. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013.
“Murder as a Second Language: A Claire Malloy Mystery” by Joan Hess – “In Hess’s winning 19th Claire Malloy mystery…, Claire’s daughter, Caron, and Caron’s best friend, Inez, sign on as ESL tutors so they can put community service on their college applications. Claire also tries to volunteer at the Farberville, Ark., Literacy Council, but she winds up instead joining the board of directors. One of the ESL students, elderly Ludmila Grabowski, is found dead in a council storage room, and it appears as though she fell and hit her head against a copying machine, but someone appears to have dragged her body into a corner to try to conceal it. Claire’s new husband, Deputy Chief Peter Rosen, actually asks for her help in what becomes a murder case–which is a good thing, since she’s going to snoop anyway. Claire discovers that her fellow board members had plenty to hide as she investigates with her usual humor and panache.” — Dominick Abel, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2013.
“Storm Front” By John Sandford – “The seventh Virgil Flowers mystery finds the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agent handed (by his boss, and star of his own series, Lucas Davenport) a curious case. Seems a local college professor stole a valuable artifact from an Israeli archaeological dig, returned home to the States, and then promptly vanished; an Israeli investigator is on her way, determined to track the man down and reclaim the artifact. As it turns out, the case isn’t as straightforward as it appears: other people seem pretty interested in the artifact (as evidenced by the violent break-in at the professor’s house), and Virgil can’t keep himself from thinking the Israeli investigator isn’t telling him the whole story. Kudos to Sandford for taking what could have been an ancient-mystery thriller a la Dan Brown (all the ingredients are here, including a secret that could shake the very foundations of Christianity) and playing it like a cop novel….” — David Pitt, AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013.
“Sycamore Row” by John Grisham – “Leave it to Grisham to make a battle about wills nail-bitingly suspenseful in his second novel featuring lawyer Jake Brigance….. It’s 1988, and Seth Hubbard, an elderly man dying of cancer, hangs himself after leaving detailed instructions for his funeral–and a handwritten will, penned the day before, that disinherits his children and gives 90% of his estate to his African-American caretaker, Lettie Lang. Since that unwitnessed document contradicts an earlier one, and Hubbard’s assets are north of $20 million, Brigance, who was asked by Hubbard in a note to represent his interests, has a battle on his hands when the disinherited lawyer shows up. The storyline takes several dramatic turns, even as why Hubbard was so generous to Lang, whom he was not close to, remains a mystery.” — David Gernert, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2013.
“Three Can Keep a Secret: A Joe Gunther Novel” by Archer Mayor – “Hurricane Irene and its devastating aftermath provide the backdrop for Mayor’s enjoyable 24th Joe Gunther novel …. During the chaos of the storm, mental patient Carolyn Barber (aka the Governor) goes missing from the Vermont State Hospital. Shortly thereafter, a once-prominent politician is found dead in his retirement home under suspicious circumstances. Special agent Joe Gunther and his stalwart investigators at the Vermont Bureau of Investigation suspect a link between Barber’s disappearance and the politician’s death. Meanwhile, a coffin unearthed by the storm that’s filled with stones instead of a body leads to a double missing-persons case. Joe and his team will stop at nothing to find a resolution to the cases, even if it means uncovering secrets best left in the dark. While the two different cases could be confusing to readers, Mayor handles each adeptly and shrewdly, bringing them to separate and startling conclusions.” — Molly Friedrich, Publisher’s Weekly
“I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban” by Malala Yousafzai – “I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls’ education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.” — inside front cover
“Mud Season: How One Woman’s Dream of Moving to Vermont Raising Children, Chickens, and Sheep & Running the Old Country Store Pretty Much Led to One Calamity after Another” by Ellen Stimson – “Anyone who has ever dreamed of leaving the city and taking their lives back to nature (and who hasn’t?) will find much to contemplate in this warm and hilarious tale of rural misadventure and small-town quirk, even if they have never chased a goat in a bathing suit or called 911 because there were cows in the road. Stimson’s voice is endearing: both in in its self-deprecation and its rapture, as she sings an only slightly conflicted love song to Vermont.” — Pam Houston, author of Contents May Have Shifted
“Behind the Beautiful Forever: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity” by Katherine Boo – “While the distance between rich and poor is growing in the U.S., the gap between the haves and have-nots in India is staggering to behold. This first book by a New Yorker staff writer (and Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter for the Washington Post) jolts the reader’s consciousness with the opposing realities of poverty and wealth in a searing visit to the Annawaldi settlement, a flimflam slum that has recently sprung up in the western suburbs of the gigantic city of Mumbai, perched tentatively along the modern highway leading to the airport and almost within a stone’s throw of new, luxurious hotels. We first meet Abdul, whose daily grind is to collect trash and sell it; in doing so, he has “lifted his large family above subsistence.” Boo takes us all around the community, introducing us to a slew of disadvantaged individuals who, nevertheless, draw on their inner strength to not only face the dreary day but also ponder a day to come that will, perhaps, be a little brighter. ” — Brad Hooper. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2012.
“The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism” by Doris Kearns Goodwin – “…. The complex relationship and soured political camaraderie between Roosevelt and Taft is beautifully played out over the course of the book in quotes and letters. When they angrily part ways it has ramifications for them and the country, eventually leading to Woodrow Wilson’s election. Though the book is primarily concerned with the intervening private lives of two politicians, a prominent second narrative emerges as Goodwin links both presidents’ fortunes to the rise of ‘muckraking’ journalism, specifically the magazine McClure’s and its influence over political and social discussion. Women figure largely in both narratives. In addition to journalist Ida Tarbell, both wives, Nellie Taft and Edith Roosevelt appear to have shaped history in their own ways. By shining a light on a little-discussed President and a much-discussed one, Goodwin manages to make history very much alive and relevant. Better yet–the party politics are explicitly modern.” — Amanda “Binky” Urban, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2013.
“The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections” by Amanda Blake Soule – “When you learn to awaken your family’s creativity, wonderful things will happen: you’ll make meaningful connections with your children in large and small ways; your children will more often engage in their own creative discoveries; and your family will embrace new ways to relax, play, and grow together. With just the simple tools around you—your imagination, basic art supplies, household objects, and natural materials—you can transform your family life, and have so much more fun!” – inside front cover
“Double Down: Game Change 2012” by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann – “A fascinating account…Heilemann and Halperin serve up a spicy smorgasbord of observations, revelations, and allegations…The authors mix savvy political analysis in these pages with detailed reconstructions of scenes and conversations….Game Change leaves the reader with a vivid, visceral sense of the campaign and a keen understanding of the paradoxes and contingencies of history.” — Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Flying Blind: One Man’s Adventures Battling Buckthorn, Making Peace with Authority, and Creating a Home for Endangered Bats” by Don Mitchell – “Don Mitchell has written a classic story of Vermont, of family, of farming and of the evolving, never romantic, always crucial story of the encounter between people and the larger world.” — Bill McKibben, author of Oil and Honey
“The Korean War: An International History” by Wada Haruki – “Wada Huruki, the doyen of international history in Japan, presents an engrossing new take on the Korean War, based on his reading of Korean, Russian, and Chinese as well as U.S. and Japanese sources. Wada’s book is an outstanding addition to the literature on the war and a useful corrective to the many accounts that focus primarily on the American role.” — O. A. Westad, editor, The Cambridge History of the Cold War
“Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East” by Scott Anderson – “To historians, the real T. E. Lawrence is as fascinating as the cinematic version in Lawrence of Arabia is to movie fans. The many reasons interlock and tighten author Anderson’s narrative, yielding a work that can absorb scholarly and popular interest like. Start with Lawrence’s WWI memoir, Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1922). A rare-book collectible, it inspired many of the scenes in David Lean’s film and is also subject to cross-referencing interpretations of Lawrence’s veracity. For lyrical though Lawrence could be about Arab leaders and desert landscapes, he could also be enigmatically opaque about the truth of his role in events. Accordingly, Anderson embeds Lawrence and Seven Pillars in the wider context of the Arab revolt against Turkey, and that context is the British, French, German, and American diplomacy and espionage intended to influence the postwar disposition of the territories of the Ottoman Empire. Lawrence was Britain’s agent in this game, and the other powers’ agents, although none enjoy his historical celebrity, assume prominence in Anderson’s presentation. Its thorough research clothed in smoothly written prose, Anderson’s history strikes a perfect balance between scope and detail about a remarkable and mysterious character.” –Gilbert Taylor, BOOKLIST
“Ski Pioneers of Stowe, Vermont: The First Twenty-Five Years” by Patricia L. Haslam, Charlie Lord and Sepp Ruschp – “The history of the development of the ski industry on Mt. Mansfield in Stowe, VT, the Ski Capitol of the East. Details and anecdotes of the process are told by two of the major players, Sepp Ruschp and Charlie Lord, (in their own words). Each trail, each building and each lift are chronicled. Through these documents donated to the Stowe Historical Society, we learn how trails were cut by hand, men were carried by horse and wagon, buildings (dorms, ski huts, camps, shelters, etc.) were erected as the needs became obvious and how Austrian, Scandinavian, and local natives carved a place in the style of skiing and ski instruction in Stowe, and how safety on the mountain drove the development of the first ski patrol. This is a very compelling story of passion, creativity, engineering, employing state and federal programs available at the time and hard work by a lot of people who came to work and settle in Stowe. There are 35 mini biographies of people who were there. Each are fascinating, educational, and entertaining.” — Amazon.com
“Thank You for Your Service” by David Finkel – “Head of the Washington Post’s national reporting team and both a Pulitzer Prize winner and a MacArthur Fellow, Finkel did an extraordinary job of explaining the Iraq War to us in The Good Soldiers, a best seller that followed the men of the 2-16 Infantry Battalion as they slogged through 15 months of the thunderous surge. Now he brings the war home, following many of the same men as they try to figure out how to engage again with both family and society, as if nothing had happened-and generally without the thanks so ironically cited in the title. One hopes that Finkel can wake us up to what we’ve done with a war we’ve kept at arm’s length.” — LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2013.
“Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth” by Reza Aslan – “In Zealot, Reza Aslan doesn’t just synthesize research and reimagine a lost world, though he does those things very well. He does for religious history what Bertolt Brecht did for playwriting. Aslan rips Jesus out of all the contexts we thought he belonged in and holds him forth as someone entirely new. This is Jesus as a passionate Jew, a violent revolutionary, a fanatical ideologue, an odd and scary and extraordinarily interesting man.” — judith Shulevitz, author of The Sabbath World
“Despicable Me 2”
“Dexter The Third Season”
“Gettysburg and the Civil War”
“How to Survive a Plague”
“JFK 50 Year Commemorative Collection”
“Man of Steel”
“The Little Mermaid”
“The Place Beyond the Pines”
“Fifty Shades of Grey: The Classical Album” by E. L. James
“Elmo at the Zoo” by Lori Froeb
“Giraffes Can’t Dance” by Giles Andreae & Guy Parker-Rees
“Alfie Gets in First” by Shirley Hughes
“The Apple and the Butterfly” by Iela and Enzo Mari
“Babar the King” by Jean De Brunhoff
“Battle Bunny” by Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett
“Bats at the Ballgame” by Brian Lies
“Brush of Gods” by Lenore Look
“City Dog, Country Frog” by Mo Willems
“Click, Clack, Boo! A Tricky Treat” by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin
“Count the Monkeys” by Mac Barnett and Kevin Cornell
“Dino-Baseball” by Lisa Wheeler
“How Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow” by Wendell Minor
“How to Count the Monkeys” by Mac Barnett and Kevin Cornell
“The Day the Crayons Quit” by Drew Daywalt
“Sesame Street: Elmo at the Zoo” by Lori Froeb
“Eloise: A Book for Precocious Grown-Ups” by Kay Thompson
“Five Little Monkeys Play Hide-and-Seek” by Eileen Christelow
“Flight of the Honey Bee” by Raymond Huber
“Herman and Rosie” by Gus Gordon
“Here I Am” by Patti Kim
“How to Hide a Lion” By Helen Stephens
“How to Train a Train” by Jason Carter Eaton
“I’m a Frog” by Mo Willems
“Koala Lou” by Mem Fox
“The Keeping Quilt” by Patricia Polacco
“Marc Brown’s Playtime Rhymes: A Treasury for Families to Learn and Play Together” by Marc Brown
“Old Mother Bear” by Victoria Miles
“Mr. Tiger Goes Wild” by Peter Brown
“Rain!” by Linda Ashman
“Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever” by Richard Scarry
“Sing” by Joe Raposo
“Sophie’s Squash” by Pat Zietlow Miller & Anne Wilsdorf
“Tea Party Rules” by Ame Dyckman
“The Tortoise and the Hare” by Jerry Pinkney
“Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great” by Bob Shea
“The Very Inappropriate Word” by Jim Tobin
“Year of the Jungle: Memories From the Home Front” by Suzanne Collins
“Chickadee” by Louise Erdrich – “In this fourth installment, eight-year-old Chickadee’s abduction from the Ojibwe camp in the deep woods initiates a string of gripping adventures for the boy and a change to his family’s way of life. Every detail anticipates readers’ interest; they’ll absorb the history lesson almost by osmosis. Chickadee is a most sympathetic character–small in stature but big in heart. A map is appended.” — THE HORN BOOK, c2013
“Lighthouse Family. The Storm” by Cynthia Rylant – “Pandora the cat is a lighthouse keeper, a lonely avocation until Seabold the dog is washed up on shore during a terrible winter storm. She rescues and nurses him back to health, and he is content to remain for a long winter’s respite from his travels in the no-longer lonely lighthouse. ‘Pandora and Seabold told each other stories of their lives and things they had read or seen and what they liked most in the world, or least.’ Through spring and summer, the two friends share a life, and ‘Everything at the lighthouse is different.’ But as September approaches, Seabold readies his boat to return to the sea, and ‘Pandora felt a small emptiness in her heart.’ One early fall day, a fierce storm blows in, and with it comes a small, strange vessel. Seabold rescues its occupants, three tiny orphan mice, and Pandora nurses them back to health. They join the dog and cat at the lighthouse, ‘And after that day, everything was changed. The lighthouse had a family.’… The Storm will captivate young chapter-book readers.” –Dona Ratterree, CAHNERS PUBLISHING, c2002.
“The Mystery of Meerkat Hill” by Alexander McCall Smith – “Young Precious Ramotswe hones her detective skills with some new friends. Pontsho and Teb are new in school, and Precious hopes to be their friend. By asking just a few careful questions, Precious finds out a lot. She learns that the children are poor and that their father had been killed by lightning. Precious is sensitive and empathetic, and soon the three–and the siblings’ pet meerkat, Kosi–are fast friends. Kosi is endlessly fascinating and very talented, Precious learns. It takes her keen observational skills and the natural talents of the meerkat to save Pontsho and Teb’s family from disaster. Fast-paced action is interspersed with family stories, making this an especially winning story for very young readers. Occasional direct address to readers harkens back to an earlier storytelling style. Stunning black-and-white illustrations, reminiscent of woodcuts and etchings, grace most spreads, adding an old-fashioned feel to the story. The map of Africa (with Botswana highlighted) on the first page provides welcome information. Precious is sensitive and grounded, open and understanding–perfect qualities for the detective she is destined to be. The mystery is easily solved, but it still requires that readers pay attention to the clues left along the way. Subtly dealing with social issues of poverty, Precious’ second outing as a youngster charms.” KIRKUS MEDIA LLC, c2013.
“Sure Signs of Crazy” by Karen Harrington – …Harrington cuts right to the heart of her narrator’s grim situation: “You’ve never met anyone like me. Unless, of course, you’ve met someone who survived her mother trying to drown her and now lives with an alcoholic father.” Sarah Nelson was 2 when that happened; now she is turning 12 in a small Texas town and “looking for any signs of going crazy.” Don’t think this will be a hard sell to readers, though, for Harrington has created a protagonist who is, in her own way, as clear-eyed, tough-minded, and inspiring as any dystopian hero. Sarah faces down threats from all sides: “The more information I gather, the better I can defend myself against the world, against the brain inside me that may or may not be like hers.” And even as her father repeatedly fails her (as when he drank and slept through her birthday), Sarah finds allies and role models, from an English teacher to a home-from-college neighbor to Atticus Finch, who shows Sarah how to be a caring human being. Harrington doesn’t leave out humor–she has fun with Sarah’s romantic illusions–but makes it clear that it’s Sarah’s courage and urge to communicate that will push her beyond her traumatic childhood.” — Abby Nolan, AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013
“Words with Wings” by Nikki Grimes – “Ages 8-12. Through 70+ poems, Grimes introduces readers to Gabriella, a city girl who’s prone to daydreaming, frustrating her mother and alienating Gabby from her classmates. Several poems bring readers directly into Gabby’s daydreams, as she explains how a single word can set her mind whirling: “Say ‘concert,’/ and I’m somewhere/ in the past,/ sprawled out on the grass/ in Central Park,/ my head cozy/ in Mom’s lap,/ her head cozy/ on Dad’s shoulder.” Grimes packs substantial emotional heft into her poems, especially the way that Gabby’s parents’ separation weighs on her. Eventually, the right teacher and the right friend provide the support and encouragement Gaby needs, and even her mother’s attitude softens. Although Grimes hits the “importance of dreaming” theme a bit hard, her poems lovingly convey the rich inner life (and turmoil) of a girl in the process of finding her voice.” — Elizabeth Harding, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2013.
“When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop” by Laban Carrick Hill – “As a child in Jamaica, Clive Campbell aspired to be a DJ. At 13, he moved to the Bronx, where he gained the nickname Hercules because he grew to be more than six feet tall. He shortened the name to Herc, added Kool, and is credited as a pioneer of hip hop. He created a new art form for his parties when he plugged in two turntables to create longer breaks for dancing and began chanting the names of his friends during the breaks. Hill’s descriptive writing is paired with Taylor’s vibrant artwork, which features large crowds dancing, close-up shots of breakdancing, or Herc’s hands masterfully spinning the dual turntables.” — Glynis Jean Wray, SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2013.
“The Animal Book: A Collection of the Fastest, Fiercest, Toughest, Cleverest, Shyest — and Most Surprising — Animals on Earth” by Steve Jenkins – “Jenkins compiles more than 300 animals, using a loosely encyclopedic format with sections covering topics like “Animal Extremes,” “Predators,” and “Animal Senses.” Jenkins’s always skillful use of cut- and torn-paper animal artwork appears throughout (several images comes from his earlier books), while factually detailed captions describe each subject, resulting in a vibrant juxtaposition of science and art. Fascinating creatures and characteristics abound: “Most deep-sea creatures cannot see red light. But the spotlight loosejaw can detect it, and it is the bizarre fish’s secret weapon.” A colossal squid’s eye (shown actual size) fills an entire spread, and Jenkins closes out the book with sections on the history of life on earth, additional animal facts, and a discussion of how he goes about creating books. In showcasing the riches and peculiarities of the natural world, Jenkins offers plenty to seize (and satisfy) readers’ curiosities.” — PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2013.
“The Case of the Vanishing Honeybees” by Sandra Markle – “this attractive volume explores the world of honeybees and the mysterious malady that threatens them. After an opening in which a beekeeper discovers that most of the bees in his 400 hives are gone due to colony collapse disorder (CCD), the book describes how healthy honeybees pollinate flowering plants, gather nectar, and raise their young. The next section, which explains bee development, is particularly vivid and informative. Finally, Markle discusses the many possible causes of CCD, such as mites, fungi, pesticides, and the stressful conditions (overwork and poor diets) sometimes endured by bees in commercial hives. She also comments on the work of researchers exploring likely sources of the problem. Throughout the book, excellent color photos illustrate the text. … Markle’s latest makes a good deal of information accessible to a somewhat younger audience.” — Carolyn Phelan, AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013.
“Castle: How It Works” by David Macaulay – “As the narrative begins, a castle stands on a hill, while would-be attackers skulk on another hill in the foreground. Short sentences offer plenty of intriguing information about the castle, its inhabitants, and their many means of defense. Readers are occasionally addressed informally, “Are you friend or foe?” Pretty soon, the attackers make their move. Despite their alarming weapons (battering rams, catapults), it’s clear that in the end, the defenders will prevail. The format is slightly larger than a typical book for beginning readers, giving a bit more scope for the illustrations: strong line drawings with color washes. The use of different perspectives and cross sections is particularly fine.” — Phelan, Carolyn. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2012.
“Follow follow: A Book of Reverso Poems” by Marilyn Singer – “This companion to Mirror Mirror (2010) offers another fairytale-themed collection of free verse poems, each paired with its “reverso,” or the poem in reverse. For example, “The Little Mermaid’s Choice” begins “For love, / give up your voice. / Don’t / think twice,” and the accompanying reverso poem concludes with “Think twice! / Don’t / give up your voice / for love.” The punctuation often changes, as does the formatting, thereby offering up intriguing and inventive takes on each tale. Other reversos give varying perspectives, as in the case of “Ready, Steady, Go!,” which presents both the tortoise’s and the hare’s points of view. Beautifully rendered, richly hued illustrations artfully transition from depicting the first poem’s scenario to the second’s, and interweave fantastic and realistic details.” –Shelle Rosenfeld, AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013.
“The Green Mother Goose: Saving the World One Rhyme at a Time” by Jan Peck and David Davis – “Classic nursery rhyme characters are recast in an eco- friendly platform. Yankee Doodle explores green transportation (‘Yankee Doodle went to school,/ A-riding in a carpool’), Old Mother Hubbard rethinks her buying habits when her dog rebuffs the junk food in her cupboard (‘She went to the market/ To buy only local./ Dog bounced and barked/ His approval was vocal’), and ‘Old King Coal’ has a change of heart: ‘Though he was a meanie,/ Now he is a greenie,/ And he works to keep our skies smoke-free.’ Matte collages incorporate newsprint, bottles, cans, and other recyclable materials. Peck and Davis deliver their missive with humor and a touch of snark, but the often self- righteous tone drains much of the fun.” – PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2011.
“A Seed is Sleepy” by Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long – “In this follow-up to ‘An Egg Is Quiet’ (2006), the creators offer another beautifully illustrated introduction to an aspect of the natural world. This time, the topic is seeds, and once again, Long’s masterful watercolors dominate each spread, which includes text on two levels. Short poetic phrases in large print, aimed at younger children, give seeds accessible, anthropomorphic qualities: ‘A seed is sleepy’; ‘A seed is adventurous.’ Paragraphs in smaller print, which tackle science concepts and expand on the phrases, are geared to older readers. The format, with little space devoted to text, doesn’t always allow for thorough explanations, and kids will need help with many facts and terms. But the elegant watercolor pictures, which include helpful charts depicting a seed’s growth into a plant, will pull children into the basic botany, while the pages filled with enticingly detailed seeds, both common and exotic, will encourage kids to wonder about the plant world’s mysterious, gorgeous spectrum of possibilities.” — Gillian Engberg. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2007.
“Miss Moore Thought Otherwise” by Jan Pinborough – “Pinborough introduces young readers to Anne Carroll Moore, the strong-willed woman whose vision of library services for children shaped the standards and practices of the New York Public Library (and the world) for more than a generation. Moore grew up reading and hearing stories in an era when children were not welcomed by public libraries; she later became a librarian (one of the few jobs open to unmarried women) and worked tirelessly to ensure that all children felt welcome at library programs and were able to check out books. The author treads lightly on legends of Moore’s formidable (and often forbidding) personality, playfully asserting that whenever Miss Moore “thought otherwise,” she got her way. Atwell’s cozy, folk-art-style paintings brim with period details and depict a multicultural clientele. Appended with an author’s note and sources, this makes an ideal addition to women’s history units. ” — Kay Weisman, AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013.
“Your Skeleton is Showing: Rhymes of Blunder From Six Feet Under” by Kurt Cyrus – “A child helps a lost ghost dog in a graveyard “ventur[e] through the gloom / to try to find his master’s tomb.” As the twosome passes headstones, readers learn something about each grave-dweller’s demise (self-inflicted or accidental), the mourners they left behind, or the deceased’s afterlife. Black-and-white gothic-style illustrations, enhanced by pops of color and buoyed by characters’ cartoonish features, complement the dead-on pacing, tone, and content of these ghoulish yet funny rhyming poems. The dog reunites with its master while the child finds a new (living) canine companion in the spirited collection’s satisfying conclusion.” — Cynthia K. Ritter, THE HORN BOOK, c2013.
” Anna and the French Kiss” by Stephanie Perkins – “Anna is not happy about spending senior year at a Paris boarding school, away from her Atlanta home, best friend Bridgette, and crush Toph. Adapting isn’t easy, but she soon finds friends and starts enjoying French life, especially its many cinemas; she is an aspiring film critic. Complications arise, though, when she develops feelings for cute–and taken–classmate Etienne, even though she remains interested in Toph. Her return home for the holidays brings both surprises, betrayals, unexpected support, and a new perspective on what matters in life–and love. Featuring vivid descriptions of Parisian culture and places, and a cast of diverse, multifaceted characters, including adults, this lively title incorporates plenty of issues that will resonate with teens, from mean girls to the quest for confidence and the complexities of relationships in all their forms.” — Shelle Rosenfeld. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2010.
“Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty” by G. Neri – “In 1994, in the Roseland neighborhood of Chicago’s South Side, a 14- year-old girl named Shavon Dean was killed by a stray bullet during a gang shooting. Her killer, Robert ‘Yummy’ Sandifer, was 11 years old. Neri recounts Yummy’s three days on the run from police (and, eventually, his own gang) through the eyes of Roger, a fictional classmate of Yummy’s. Roger grapples with the unanswerable questions behind Yummy’s situation, with the whys and hows of a failed system, a crime-riddled neighborhood, and a neglected community. How could a smiling boy, who carried a teddy bear and got his nickname from his love of sweets, also be an arsonist, an extortionist, a murderer? Yet as Roger mulls reasons, from absentee parenting to the allure of gang membership, our picture of Yummy only becomes more obscure. …in the end readers are left with troubling questions and, perhaps, one powerful answer: that they can choose to do everything in their power to ensure that no one shares Yummy’s terrible fate.” — PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2010.