“And the Mountains Echoed” by Khaled Hosseini – “Saboor, a laborer, pulls his young daughter, Sari, and his son, Abdullah, across the desert in a red wagon, leaving their poor village of Shadbagh for Kabul, where his brother-in-law, Nabi, a chauffeur, will introduce them to a wealthy man and his beautiful, despairing poet wife. So begins the third captivating and affecting novel by the internationally best-selling author of The Kite Runner (2003) and A Thousand Splendid Suns (2007). An immense, ancient oak stands in Shadbagh, emblematic of the complexly branching stories in Hosseini’s vital, profound, and spellbinding saga of family bonds and unlikely pairings forged by chance, choice, and necessity. We meet twin sisters, one beautiful, one plain; one an invalid, the other a caretaker. Two male cousins, one a charismatic wheeler-dealer; the other a cautious, introverted doctor. A disfigured girl of great valor and a boy destined to become a plastic surgeon. Kabul falls and struggles to rise. Shadbagh comes under the rule of a drug lord, and the novel’s many limbs reach to Paris, San Francisco, and a Greek island. A masterful and compassionate storyteller, Hosseini traces the traumas and scarring of tyranny, war, crime, lies, and illness in the intricately interconnected, heartbreaking, and extraordinary lives of his vibrantly realized characters to create a grand and encompassing tree of life.”
“Apple Orchard” by Susan Wiggs – “Tess Delaney is a provenance specialist at an auction house. In addition to authenticating antique treasures, one of her specialties is locating works of art stolen by Nazis and returning them to their rightful owners. Her professional life is busy, but Tess lacks roots. She has no family except a usually absent mother, and her friendships tend to be superficial. Then the impossible happens. Tess is named heir to one half of an estate in Archangel, a small town in Sonoma County, California. The other half goes to a sister Tess never knew she had. Suddenly, she has family, and she’s not sure how to deal with it. Wiggs, who is known for her insightful, emotion-filled women’s fiction (The Ocean between Us, 2004; Table for Five, 2005), has again written a tale with universal appeal. The background story of the Danish resistance as well as recipes from that part of the world are a nice touch, and add depth and atmosphere to Tess’ story.” Mosley, Shelley. 432p. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013.
“Bad Monkey” by Carl Hiassen – “a shambolic comic tale of garden-variety Florida crime: a wealthy Medicare fraudster appears to have died in a boating accident. The only evidence of death is his arm, which is reeled in by a hapless vacationer. Enter Andrew Yancy, once and future Monroe County detective. He thinks the fraudster was murdered by his wife, and if he can prove it, he can get his old job back and leave restaurant inspections behind. Think of Yancy as a Hiaasenian knight aberrant. He means well, but many of his problems are hilariously self-inflicted. His efforts take him from Key West to Miami to Andros Island, Bahamas, and back again. A huge cast of characters and a stunningly polyfurcated plot offer Hiaasen room to wow readers with information on grave robbery, restaurant-kitchen horrors, autoerotic asphyxiation, and even tips for beating Homeland Security’s radar to fly into South Florida. And there is also a delightful interlude of canoodling on the tuna tower of a Key West charter boat as well as no-holds-barred portraits of the Dragon Queen–a loopy, libidinous, old Bahamian “woo-doo” practitioner–and the titular Bad Monkey. Plot convolutions twice cause him to insert multipage explanations of what’s going on, but as always, Hiaasen is laugh-out-loud funny and thoroughly entertaining. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Hiaasen’s crime fiction crossed over to mainstream bestsellerdom early on in his career, and his fan base continues to grow.” Gaughan, Thomas. 336p. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013.
“A Delicate Truth” by John le Carre – “A Delicate Truth, begins in 2008 Gibraltar, where a covert operation pairing Brits and Americans goes stunningly wrong, leaving a young Muslim woman and her baby shot to bits on a seaside cliff. Detials of the botched operation are closely guarded and never released to the media. Fast-forward three years, and a couple of the principals find themselves in wildly disparate circumstances: One has been knighted for his foreign service work; the other has fallen on hard times, unable to reconcile his innate goodness with the Gibraltar carnage for which he was at least partly responsible. After a chance meeting in which the two compare notes about their respective parts in the operation, they resolve to pursue the matter further, deciding to go public with graphic evidence if necessary. They enlist the aid of Toby Bell, former personal secretary to the member of Parliament who signed off on the Gibraltar fiasco, and the three undertake an oh-so-covert investigation–one that, if they live through it, may well have the potential to topple governments. Line up at the bookstalls for this one, folks: It is le Carre at the top of his game.” 320pg. BOOKPAGE, c2013.
“Don’t Go“ by Lisa Scottoline – “When he deployed to Afghanistan for the Army Medical Corps, Mike Scanlon left behind an enviable life, with a beautiful wife, an infant daughter, and a prospering practice as a podiatrist/orthopedic surgeon. Six months later, a freak accident changes Mike’s world forever. As Mike struggles with the aftermath and searches for answers, he soon learns that his bad luck has only just begun. Despite an overwhelming share of tragedy, betrayal, and rejection, Mike maintains his unwavering love for his daughter, Emily. After a series of bad choices, Mike finds his life spiraling deeper into a hopeless quagmire of despair, eventually learning what it’s like to lose everything. Verdict This is not your typical Scottoline novel…it is Scottoline on steroids. In her first book featuring a male protagonist, Scottoline spins a compelling drama that reads like the literary lovechild of Jodi Picoult and Nicholas Sparks. Readers will fall in love with this war vet father who fights seemingly insurmountable odds, and his powerfully addictive story will haunt them long after the final page.” -Mary Todd Chesnut, Northern Kentucky Univ. Lib., Highland Heights. 384p. LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2013.
“Expats” by Chris Pavone – “The premature death of her parents turned Kate into a driven loner who never expected to find someone to love. After college, clandestine fieldwork for the CIA filled the void; then she met decent, somewhat nerdy Dexter Moore. Marriage and two young sons convinced her to transfer into intelligence analysis, but she never told Dexter about her CIA employment. But when Dexter is offered a job in Luxembourg with a private bank, Kate abruptly finds herself an expat mom. Housework and lunches with other expats don’t fulfill her, and she maintains the suspicious nature the CIA fostered. Soon, she focuses on expats Julia and Bill, as well as Dexter’s new, uncharacteristic behavior. Her spook instincts bear fruit: Julia and Bill aren’t what they seem; Dexter is up to something; and Kate must find out what it all means. The Expats is a stunningly assured first novel. Kate’s character, her CIA experiences, and her new life are examined in granular detail, all of which helps drive an intricate, suspenseful plot that is only resolved in the final pages. The juxtaposition of marital deceptions and espionage is brilliantly employed. European locales, information on private banks and cybercrime, and the particulars of expats’ quotidian but comfortable lives ooze verisimilitude. A must for espionage fans.” — Gaughan, Thomas. 336pg. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2012..
“Ghostman” by Roger Hobbs – “The identity of “ghostman” Jack is so closely guarded that only a few people know he actually exists. When Jack is called in by some bad guys to clean up after a botched Atlantic City casino robbery, he finds himself uncomfortably close to exposure as he’s pursued by the FBI and a shadowy third party. That’s the plot, but the backstory is even better. Written by a freshly minted Reed College grad who names William Burroughs, Bret Easton Ellis, and Lee Child among his favorite authors, this book was bought in partial manuscript about a year ago and caused an uproar a few weeks later at Frankfurt. Rights eventually went to nine countries, and film rights have been sold as well. With a five-city tour to Los Angeles, New York, Portland (OR), San Francisco, and Seattle; don’t miss.” — 336p. LJ Prepub Alert Online Review. LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2012.
“The Hit” by David Baldacci – “What to do when a government assassin turns rogue? Colleague Will Robie, who debuted this year in Baldacci’s The Innocent, is tasked with doing him in but begins to see that the man has a point. He changes his mind, though, when a loved one lands in the rogue’s crosshairs. The title is undoubtedly prophetic.” — 448p. LJ Prepub Alert Online Review. LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2012.
“Inferno: A Novel” by Dan Brown – “Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon… returns in another thriller that invokes history, architecture, science, and conspiracy. Langdon wakes up in a hospital bed with no memory of the last two days. He’s surprised to find himself in Florence, Italy, and even more shocked to discover that someone is out to kill him for something he knows. The doctor treating him helps him to escape from an assassin, and the chase is on. Can Langdon follow clues that tie in to Dante’s epic masterpiece, The Divine Comedy, and stop a plot destined to change the world forever? Verdict Brown delivers an amazing and intense read that arguably is the best Langdon thriller to date. Everything a reader expects from Brown is here, plus a well-written thriller with jaw-dropping twists as well. ” –Jeff Ayers, Seattle P.L. 463p. LJ Xpress Online Review. LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2013.
“Life After Life” by Kate Atkinson – “Atkinson delivers a wildly inventive novel about Ursula Todd, born in 1910 and doomed to die and be reborn over and over again. She drowns, falls off a roof, and is beaten to death by an abusive husband but is always reborn back into the same loving family, sometimes with the knowledge that allows her to escape past poor decisions, sometimes not. As Atkinson subtly delineates all the pathways a life or a country might take, she also delivers a harrowing set piece on the Blitz as Ursula, working as a warden on a rescue team, encounters horrifying tableaux encompassing mangled bodies and whole families covered in ash, preserved just like the victims of Pompeii. Alternately mournful and celebratory, deeply empathic and scathingly funny, Atkinson shows what it is like to face the horrors of war and yet still find the determination to go on, with her wholly British characters often reducing the Third Reich to “a fuss.” From her deeply human characters to her comical dialogue to her meticulous plotting, Atkinson is working at the very top of her game. An audacious, thought-provoking novel from one of our most talented writers.” — Wilkinson, Joanne. 544p. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013.
“Orphan Master’s Son: A Novel” by Adam Johnson – “Johnson’s novel accomplishes the seemingly impossible: an American writer has masterfully rendered the mysterious world of North Korea with the soul and savvy of a native, from its orphanages and its fishing boats to the kitchens of its high-ranking commanders. While oppressive propaganda echoes throughout, the tone never slides into caricature; if anything, the story unfolds with astounding empathy for those living in constant fear of imprisonment–or worse–but who manage to maintain their humanity against all odds. The book traces the journey of Jun Do, who for years lives according to the violent dictates of the state, as a tunnel expert who can fight in the dark, a kidnapper, radio operator, tenuous hero, and foreign dignitary before eventually taking his fate into his own hands. In one of the book’s most poignant moments, a government interrogator, who tortures innocent citizens on a daily basis, remembers his own childhood and the way in which his father explained the inexplicable: ‘…we must act alone on the outside, while on the inside, we would be holding hands.’ In this moment and a thousand others like it, Johnson (Parasites Like Us) juxtaposes the vicious atrocities of the regime with the tenderness of beauty, love, and hope.” (Jan.). 458pg. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2011.
“Sweet Salt Air” by Barbara Delinsky – “Friendship, romance, and her trademark New England setting–this time, an island off the coast of Maine–are all present and accounted for. The focus is on Nicole and Charlotte, girlhood friends who’ve been estranged for the past 10 years. They reunite at Nicole’s family’s summer home to collaborate on a cookbook, both of them harboring secrets. When Nicole reveals her husband, Julian, is suffering from multiple sclerosis, Charlotte comes clean that she and Julian shared a drunken one-night stand before he married Nicole. The affair resulted in a baby Charlotte gave up for adoption, a child whose stem cells hold the key to Julian’s recovery. Complicating matters further, Charlotte has fallen for the island’s enigmatic bad boy, Leo, who, it turns out, has penned a best-selling novel with a plot that closely mirrors their “lovers from different worlds” relationship. Leo’s tale ends on a sour note, placing his future with Charlotte in doubt. Never fear; Delinsky knows when a happy ending is in order.” –Wetli, Patty. 416p. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013.
“The Week Before the Wedding” by Beth Kendrick – “…bride-to-be Emily McKellips anticipates a lovely seven days of festivities, capped off by her marriage to her fiance at a lakeside resort. Surgeon Grant Cardin is the perfect man, and his family is the perfect antidote to her dysfunctional childhood that led to some wild ways. But Emily has an MBA now, and is all things practical–nothing like the 22-year-old who married on a whim 10 years ago, divorcing a mere five months later. But the week is wreaking havoc on her nerves, with her many-times-married mom on the prowl, her best friend recalling crazier times and the unexpected appearance of her ex. How did he get there, and how fast can she get rid of him? But Ryan Lassiter has other ideas. Now a successful movie producer, he’s never forgotten the woman he wed. Will Emily be forced to choose between two good men? A romantic comedy with charming characters and laugh-out-loud scenes, this story is perfect for the upcoming wedding season.” — 336pg. BOOKPAGE, c2013.
“Whiskey Beach” by Nora Roberts – “Former criminal attorney Eli Landon moves into his family’s historic home, Bluff House. He’s glad to have left Boston, where he had been under suspicion for his wife’s unsolved murder. In the small community of Whiskey Beach, he meets Abra Walsh, another survivor of life’s slings and arrows. Her good-natured prodding and genuine, caring nature lead Eli to open up, and soon he’s at work on writing a book . . . and beginning to think more clearly about what may have happened to his late wife. With a modern-day murder to solve and an intriguing legend of treasure to spice things up, there are plenty of motives and suspects to keep the guesswork going. With her superb storytelling skills, Roberts fleshes out the world of Whiskey Beach with realistic secondary characters and chronicles the burgeoning romance between the two leads with a deft hand that will leave book lovers satisfied and smiling.” — 496pg. BOOKPAGE, c2013.
“12th of Never” by James Patterson – “On her next “Women’s Murder Club” outing, Det. Lindsay Boxer must return to work directly after having a baby. An upcoming football player for the San Francisco 49ers has been accused of a particularly gruesome murder, and a dotty English professor is having nightmares about another gruesome murder that turns out actually to have happened. What might these cases have in common? Read the book.” 416p., LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2012.
“Death Without Company” by Craig Johnson – “What do you do when an old friend lies to you? Mari Baroja is found dead in Room 42 at the Durant Home for Assisted Living. Her demise isn’t too surprising, since the Basque woman was well over 70. Her neighbor in Room 32, however, insists she’s been murdered, and he ought to know. Lucian Connally retired as sheriff of Wyoming’s Absaroka County, and his irascible yammering at his protege Sheriff Walt Longmire …sets in motion an investigation that will peel away years of lies, reveal spirited dreams translated from the Crow, Cheyenne and Basque tongues and focus on the former Four Brothers Ranch-now mining methane gas for a million dollars a week. Soon Walt will link Mari to Charlie Nurburn, an abusive drunk thought to have died ages ago in Vista Verde, N.M. Why are the folks who duly mourned (or failed to mourn) him now targeted for death themselves? With some timely help from his foul-mouthed deputy Vic, Cheyenne barman Henry Standing Bear and new recruit Santiago Saizarbitoria, Walt finally unravels the tragic love story of Mari and Lucien and the violent ruckus her last will and testament has unleashed. Pile on thermal underwear, fire up the four-wheel drive and head for Durant. Walt and his idiosyncratic crew are terrific company-droll, sassy and surprisingly tenderhearted.” 288pg. VNU EMEDIA, c2006.
“Leaving Everything Most Loved: A Novel” by Jacqueline Winspear – “Months after Usha Pramal is murdered in London, Scotland Yard–having declared the crime a cold case–contracts with Maisie Dobbs for help. But the day before psychologist and investigator Maisie is to meet with Usha’s friend and fellow countrywoman Maya Patel, Maya is killed in the same manner as Usha. Maisie wonders who would have wanted to kill Usha, by all accounts an exceptionally beautiful, caring, and well-educated woman who comforted others with her touch and remedies. As Maisie looks into the status of Indian women in England, her own desire to travel deepens, leading to further conundrums involving both her would-be fiance, James Compton, and her business. The cross-cultural theme adds another dimension to Winspear’s London of 1933, with its lingering traces of World War I and ominous rumblings of World War II. This tenth Maisie Dobbs mystery continues the series’ high quality, capturing a time and place and featuring a protagonist as compassionate as she is intuitive. A fine historical mystery with broad appeal.” — Leber, Michele. 339p. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013.
“Ordinary Grace: A Novel” by William Kent Krueger – “Krueger (Trickster’s Point) has produced an elegiac, evocative, stand-alone novel. The summer of 1961 finds thirteen-year-old Frank Drum living in small-town New Bremen, Minn. He and his younger brother, Jake, idolize their older sister, Ariel, a talented church organist who’s also the “golden child” of their parents, WWII veteran and Methodist pastor Nathan and church music director Ruth. Nathan and Ruth befriend the accomplished musician Emil Brandt, a veteran left blinded by his service, who tutors Ariel in her music education. Meanwhile, Jake, who has a stutter, forms a close bond with Lise, Emil’s deaf older sister and caretaker, while Ariel dates Emil’s wealthy nephew, Karl. The Drums’ peaceful existence is shattered, however, when Ariel fails to return from a late-night party. In the aftermath of her disappearance, Karl comes under suspicion, Ruth undergoes a crisis of faith, and dark secrets about New Bremen come to light. The small-town milieu is rendered in picturesque detail, accurate down to period-appropriate TV programs, for what becomes a resonant tale of fury, guilt, and redemption.” Agent: Danielle Egan-Miller, Browne & Miller Literary Associates. (Mar.). 320p. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2013.
“Wanted Man: A Jack Reacher Novel” by Lee Child – “Bestseller Child’s …novel … takes the ex-military policeman on a wild road ride that builds to a terrific slam-bang climax. While hitchhiking one winter night in Nebraska with a broken nose that makes him look more than usually disreputable, Reacher is picked up by two men and a woman wearing identical cheap blue shirts. The fun begins when clues suggest that the men in the car are responsible for the brutal murder of another man at an abandoned pump station. The role of the woman in the car remains unclear. Sheriff Victor Goodman is quick to call the FBI, which arrives in the person of Julia Sorenson, only the first of many agencies and agents heard from. While the erratic trip through America’s heartland doesn’t always follow a logical path, Reacher displays his acuity, patience, endurance, and military skills in the exhilarating fashion series fans have come to expect.”– Agent: Darley Anderson, Darley Anderson Literary. (Sept.). 416p. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2012.
“Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America” by Glibert King – “In 1951 Thurgood Marshall had already begun the Brown v. Board of Education case when he took on an explosive case to save the only survivor of the Groveland Four, young black men wrongfully accused of raping a white woman in central Florida. The young woman, estranged from her husband, concocted a rape accusation involving two black men recently returned from military service and two other, unrelated men. One of the accused was killed by a vigilante mob. After a reversal of their convictions, as they faced a retrying of the case, two others were killed by the sheriff charged with protecting them. King draws on court documents and FBI archives to offer a compelling chronicle of the accusation, which led to a paroxysm of violence against the black community in Groveland, reminiscent of the destruction of Rosewood, in 1923; brutal beatings that led to forced confessions; and the dramatic trial. Marshall, physically exhausted and facing threats to his life, was housed, fed, and protected by a black community encouraged by his presence as he battled to save the life of the last remaining member of the Groveland Four.” – Bush, Vanessa. 400pg. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2012.
“Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam” by Frerik Logevall – “Most American studies of the Vietnam War concentrate on the period following the introduction of U.S. combat units under President Johnson. However, contemporary Vietnamese accounts view the “American phase” as the concluding act of a prolonged nationalist struggle to gain independence from Western imperialism. Logevall,… leans toward the latter approach–that is, American involvement must be inseparably linked to the doomed French effort to maintain imperial control over Indochina. Of course, American policy makers insisted their goals were different; unlike the French, they wanted an independent South Vietnam free from both colonial and communist control. Yet, as Logevall eloquently illustrates, the U.S. followed essentially the same dreary path and made the same errors as its French predecessors. We failed to comprehend the nationalist yearnings of Vietnamese “communists” and were blind to their support among a wide swath of the people. That blindness led us to prop up hopelessly inept or hopelessly compromised Vietnamese “leaders” like Ngo Dinh Diem. This is a superbly written and well-argued reinterpretation of our tragic experience in Vietnam.” – Freeman, Jay. 880p. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2012
“Homeowner’s Energy Handbook: Your Guide to Getting Off the Grid” By Paul Scheckel – “We all want to lower our energy bills, but alternative energy can be a bit daunting. This great manual is a fantastic introduction to what’s possible and practical… The first third of this intelligently organized book covers techniques for making existing homes more energy efficient before moving on to address solar, wind, and hydro energies as well as biofuels. All chapters feature how-tos, and the text is complemented by simple illustrations. Included are case studies exemplifying both good and bad experiences with alternative energy use. VERDICT Chock-full of practical advice and realistic assessments of alternative energy, this book is superior to others on the topic due to its accessibility, organization, and balance. Homeowners can easily pick and choose from projects without fear of becoming overwhelmed.” — Karen Ellis. 288p. LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2013.
“Natural Curious: A Photographic Field Guide” by Mary Holland – “Holland (Milkweed Visitors), a naturalist and wildlife photographer, has an oddball vision of nature that is both informative and entertaining. Her description of her home, where she stores beaver castor glands in her freezer and has a fecal bear plug on display in her living room, prepares the reader for a book that includes pictures of penile bones and other oddities–as well as plenty of natural beauty. Nearly 1,000 color photographs should help the newbie naturalists learn what to look for and where to find it. Readers will delight in images of a newt and spring peeper attempting to mate; remarkably vibrant robins eggs in a nest; and a loon chick swallowing a fish whole. Though Holland begins her calendar year in March, the start of the mating season as dictated by her Vermont home-base, she provides a simple algorithm for readers to adjust according to latitude. Months are color-coded and organized around species; amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals, insects & arachnids give way to plants, and the detail provided about each group is astounding. For Holland and her readers, treasures abound.” — Photos. (Oct.). 474pg. Web-Exclusive Review. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2010
“Playful Learning: Develop Your Child’s Sense of Joy and Wonder” by Mariah Bruehl – “‘Playful Learning’ is the magic that takes place when we meld a child’s sense of joy and wonder with thoughtfully planned learning experiences. Through easy-to-implement, hands-on projects you can engage your child in fun and creative ways that encourage learning and impart the joy of discovery. In addition, discover ways to create a space conducive to learning and learn how to build a culture within your family that celebrates learning.” PUBLISHER ANNOTATION, c2011.
“Read With Me: Best Books for Preschoolers” by Stephanie Zvrin – “Read with Me is a practical introduction for parents and adult caregivers to books for preschoolers. Zvirin…has assembled this expert and invaluable collection. Nine sections, including “First Reads,” “Families,” “Friendships,” and “The Natural World,” contain richly annotated lists of recommended titles published during the last 10 years. Each entry includes bibliographic information and a recommended age range. The books have been selected from various “best” books lists, reviews, and librarian recommendations. A final section includes a brief list of titles recommended for beginning readers to read alone. In addition to the lists, Zvirin writes about the importance of reading aloud to preschoolers in developing a foundation for language development and offers a list of 17 “quick tips” for book sharing.” — Cart, Michael. 184pg. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2012.
“Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us” by Michael Moss – “A Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter at the New York Times, Moss delivers an indictment of the processed-food industry. In fact, he’s been doing it pretty regularly in the pages of the Times, with challenges to USDA Food Safety Practices and stories of tainted meat that make your stomach clutch. Here, he takes the Big Three–salt, sugar, and fat–and shows how the food industry has used these basic, inexpensive ingredients to get us addicted to food that’s slowly killing us.” 448p. LJ Prepub Alert Online Review. LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2012.
“To the Bone: New and Selected Poems” by Sydney Lea – “Hunter, woodsman, spokesman for the unlucky, violent, and vile, Lea favors the concrete images of hardscrabble country life, guns, gray snow, and weeds. His practice is wary of self-conscious beauty or lyricism, and his inclination to forgive and even celebrate difficult people or intolerable situations has gradually become a more explicit Christianity, as in ‘Peaceable Kingdom’ or ‘Friendship.’ These very qualities, which tend to make his longer poems diffuse or tendentiously uplifting, give some of the shorter works a restrained elegance: ‘Now,/ despite the persistence of heat and quarrelEsuch shinings on water/ are fact. Or sublime.'” — Graham Christian, Andover-Harvard Theological Lib., Cambridge, Mass. CAHNERS PUBLISHING, c1996.
“Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo” by Tom Reiss – “The Count of Monte Cristo is a classic tale of betrayal and revenge, penned by the renowned 19th-century author Alexandre Dumas. But it turns out the novel is not merely fiction; key plot developments were based on the true-life experiences of the author’s father. This is the premise of The Black Count, a new book by Tom Reiss that traces the incredible rise and precipitous fall of Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, the father of author Alexandre Dumas. In many ways, the life of the elder Dumas mirrors that of Edmond Dantes, the hero of The Count of Monte Cristo. In the novel, Dantes is falsely accused of being a supporter of Napoleon, who has been exiled from France. Dantes is imprisoned for 14 years before escaping and enacting revenge on his accusers. While some occurrences in Thomas-Alexandre Dumas’ life were not as dramatic as those of the fictional Dantes, other aspects were even more remarkable. Dumas was born in present-day Haiti to a French nobleman and a black slave. Brought to France by his father, the mixed-race Dumas became a general under Napoleon Bonaparte. But General Dumas’ fortunes abruptly changed. He was captured in Italy, thrown into a dungeon and left to rot. Though he was finally released, he died impoverished and embittered. Perhaps his revenge was achieved with his son’s writing of The Count of Monte Cristo, which takes a critical look at France’s tumultuous political climate. The Black Count is a thoroughly researched, lively piece of nonfiction that will be savored by fans of Alexandre Dumas. But The Black Count needs no partner: It is fascinating enough to stand on its own.” John T. Slania. 432pg. BOOKPAGE, c2012.
“Margaret Fuller: A New American Life” by Megan Marshall – “The mind has a light of its own,” wrote Margaret Fuller, and the radiance of her inner world vitalizes Marshall’s profoundly simpatico portrait of this path-breaking feminist and courageous journalist and writer. Marshall encountered Fuller while working on her acclaimed first book, The Peabody Sisters (2005), and she inhabits Fuller’s dramatic, oft-told story with unique intimacy by virtue of her fluency in and judicious quoting of Fuller’s extraordinarily vivid letters. Marshall conveys Fuller’s “passionate intensity,” “unusual intellect and outsized personality,” “expansive sympathy,” and extraordinary valor as she illuminates family struggles, social obstacles, and private heartache in conjunction with each phase of Fuller’s phenomenal achievements as an innovative teacher, lecturer, and editor. Marshall brings stirring historical and psychological insights to Fuller’s complicated relationship with Emerson and the other transcendentalists, her journey west and response to the horrific plight of Native Americans, her gripping dispatches on social ills as a front-page columnist for Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune, and her triumphs in Europe as “America’s first female foreign correspondent.” How spectacularly detailed and compassionate Marshall’s chronicle is of Fuller’s scandalous love for an Italian soldier, the birth of their son, her heroic coverage of the 1849 siege of Rome, and her and her family’s tragic deaths when their ship wrecks in sight of the American coast. A magnificent biography of a revolutionary thinker, witness, and writer.” Seaman, Donna. 496p. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013.
“Atlas Shrugged, Part 1”
“Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away”
“Hobbit: Unexpected Journey”
“Iron Man 3”
“Mad Men: Season Four
“Mad Men: Season Five
“Silver Linings Playbook”
“True Blood: The Complete Fifth Season”
“Giant Jam Sandwich” by John Vernon Lord
“Alex the Parrot: No Ordinary Bird” by Stephanie Spinner
“Building Our House” by Jonathan Bean
“Bunnies on Ice” by Johanna Wright
“Charley’s First Night” by Amy Hest
“Chicken Soup with Rice: A Book of Months” by Maurice Sendak
“Do Like a Duck Does!” by Judy Hindley
“Dogs on the Bed” by Elizabeth Bluemle
“Duck, Duck, Goose” by Tad Hills
“Everyone Can Learn To Ride A Bicycle” by Chris Raschka
“Grumpy Goat” by Brett Helquist
“Henry and the Cannons: An Extraordinary True Story” by Don Brown
“Kate and Nate are Running Late” by Kate Egan
“Lemonade in Winter: A Book About Two Kids Counting Money” by Emily Jenkins
“Let’s Go For A Drive!” by Mo Willems
“Lucky Ducklings” by Eva Moore
“Matchbox Diary” by Paul Fleischman
“Mice” by Rose Fyleman
“Monster’s Monster” by Patrick McDonnell
“Penny and Her Marble” by Kevin Henkes
“Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons” by Eric Litwin
Pouch! by David Ezra Stein
“Rabbit and Robot: the Sleepover” by Cece Bell
“Rooster’s Off to See the World” by Eric Carle
“Silly Sally” by Audrey Wood
“We’re Going on a Picnic” by Pat Hutchins
“Which is Round? Which is Bigger?” by Mineko Mamada
“You Can Do It!” by Betsy Lewin
“Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers” by Dav Pilkey – “Ages 7-up. A toast of “non-alckaholick wine” to the ninth Captain Underpants novel–and to Dav Pilkey’s refusal to coast. In fact, the title is something of a red herring since the true centerpiece of this installment is a lengthy flashback to “exactly five years, eleven days, fourteen hours, and six minutes ago,” when mopey kindergartner Harold Hutchins first met precocious George Beard, who sports an awesome Afro instead of his usual flattop. The boys face a nasty nemesis in the form of Kipper Krupp, the bullying sixth-grade nephew of Principal Krupp, but since Principal Krupp is years away from becoming the world’s greatest superhero, it’s up to the boys to defeat Kipper on their own. Their intricate and ingenious plan incorporates (and this is a short list) locker sabotage, fear of the paranormal, cheerleaders, pizza deliveries, a huge pair of pants, and the creation of the seminal comic “The Advenchers of Dogman.” Pilkey dials back the toilet humor considerably, but plenty of naughtiness is still afoot (there’s an extended riff on the hilarity of turning a “Brake Inspection” sign into “Bra Inspection”), and egregious misspellings abound. Supa!” (Aug.). 304p. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2012.
“Down the Road” by Alice Schertle – “K-Gr 3 Hetty has never been down the dusty road ‘all by herself’ before, but one morning her parents decide she’s old enough to fetch eggs in town on her own. The way is long, and she makes up sing-song ‘walking words’ to amuse herself as she goes. She strides through a meadow, across a stream, and finally ‘Einto the cool shadows of Mr. Birdie’s Emporium and Dry Goods Store.’ On the way home, the eggs survive a close call but break when she is tempted to pick a ‘Papa-size’ apple. Crestfallen, she climbs the tree and sulks until her father comes looking for her. They share the delicious fruit, and then Mama joins them on their perch. The next day, it’s apple pie for breakfast instead of eggs. The lyrical, rhythmic text is rich with a warm, leisurely Southern feeling. Even when disaster strikes, there’s not much to worry about. The story is both timeless and old-fashioned; the tractor, cars, and truck waiting for repairs in Hetty’s yard and the credit card stickers in Mr. Birdie’s window ground the rural setting in the present. The watercolor illustrations radiate an almost beachlike quality of blinding light, as well as offer the shadowy relief of intense and subtle greens, blues, and browns. Hetty is a sturdy, charming African American girl with pigtails, ribbons, and overalls. This story is so cozy and sweet that it makes readers thirsty-but Lewis’s paintings go down like cool clear water.” Vanessa Elder, School Library Journal CAHNERS PUBLISHING, c1996.
“False Prince” by Jennifer A. Nielsen – “The royal family of Carthya has been poisoned, and among the various regents jockeying for the throne, Conner has the most ingeniously devious plan: to train four orphans, briefly and intensely, in all things royal, then choose one to impersonate the long-lost, presumed dead younger prince. The book’s brisk pacing underscores the sure-fire mix of adventure, mystery, and suspense.” — jh. 344pg. THE HORN BOOK, c2012.
“Fourmile” by Watt Key – “A gun-toting stranger, a jealous boyfriend, a woman caught in the middle, and the likelihood of violence–it sounds like something out of the Wild West, but this novel is set in modern-day rural Alabama. Key masterfully plots the story of home, family, and fate, and readers will race to the conclusion, sensing the trouble to come. An original and satisfying coming-of-age tale.”– ds. 228pg. THE HORN BOOK, c2013.
“LIar & Spy” by Rebecca Stead – “..another moving story of friendship, middle school problems, and life changes. When his father loses his job, seventh-grader Georges moves with his parents from their beloved home in Brooklyn to an apartment. There he meets Safer, who makes him a partner in his spying activity on the mysterious Mr. X. As he becomes involved in the espionage, Georges also struggles with bullies at school, lost friendships, and a strange new life with his father. All of these threads neatly come together. Certain symbols and themes recur throughout the story, such as the dots painted by his namesake Seurat; some themes overlap in Georges’ home, school and social lives. Each character is well-developed and memorable; their problems are not easily solved or trivialized. Ms. Stead prompts readers to think about reasons for lying, and to understand that there are different kinds of falsehoods.” MaryAnn Karre, 192pg. ABC-CLIO, INC., c2013.
“Little Dog Lost” by Marion Dane Bauer – “Grades 3-6. A stray on the streets of the small town of Erthly, little dog Buddy remembers her happy bond with a boy, whose family moved away to a city apartment where there was no room for Buddy. Then Buddy’s new owner shooed her out, and she left, head low, / tail tucked, / airplane ears sagging. But Buddy is not the only stray in Erthly who is lonely and lost: So many lives / filled / with longing. There is Charles Larue, a shy, reclusive caretaker of a mansion. Does he have a dark secret? And then there is Mark, a young boy whose father took off before he was born, who desperately wants a dog and falls instantly, helplessly in love with Buddy, feeling the snuffle of warm breath / against his palm. But Mark’s mother, who is mayor of Erthly, says no to a pet. The town kids want a dog park, and they organize a rally to support their cause, but can Mark confront his mom? Illustrated with occasional, expressive black-and-white drawings, mostly from Buddy’s viewpoint of the world from the ground up, the rapid, immediate free verse will grab readers first with the longing and loneliness and then, in contrast, the boy and dog in bliss. Great for sharing with pet lovers.” Rochman, Hazel. 240p. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2012.
“One and Only Ivan” by Katherine Applegate – “Gr 3-7. This tender tale of friendship and hope is narrated by a silverback gorilla living at The Big Top Mall, a shabby, circus-themed roadside attraction. For years, Ivan was passively content. He had his art, unlimited bananas, and his friends: Stella (an elephant), Bob (a stray dog), and Julia (a human child). Ivan’s eyes are finally opened to his deplorable surroundings when he loses a friend due to neglect. The last straw is when he witnesses the attraction’s owner abusing Ruby, a newly acquired baby elephant. Thus, Ivan is inspired to take action. With some help from his human friends, his dream of a better life for all the Big Top’s animals just might come true. The character of Ivan, as explained in an author’s note, is inspired by a real gorilla that lived through similar conditions before being adopted by Zoo Atlanta. Applegate makes a powerful statement about the treatment of animals–especially those living in captivity–and reminds readers that all creatures deserve a safe place to call home. Castelao’s delightful illustrations enhance this lovely story, and the characters will capture readers’ hearts and never let go. A must-have.” — Alissa J. LeMerise, Oxford Public Library, MI. 305p. SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2012.
“Leave Your Sleep: A Collection of Classic Children’s Poetry” – “K-Gr 3. In 2010, Merchant released a successful album of 30 classic children’s poems that she set to music. Nineteen of these poems are now brought together in this anthology consisting of a delightful range of American and British poets from Ogden Nash and Edward Lear to Rachel Field and Jack Prelutsky. The jaunty selections feature horses, elephants, dancing bears, and wonderfully empowered children. McClintock’s detailed paintings bring inviting color and fun to the verses in both spot art and full spreads. A full-length CD of the recordings is included, making this a feast of enchanting sounds, words, and visuals-a magnificent package for any poetry collection. Back matter includes photographs of the poets included, credits and more information about the poems and the music.–Julie Roach, Cambridge Public Library, MA. Blair Christolon. 48p. SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2013.
“Little White Duck: A Childhood in China” by Na Liu – “Grades 4-7. Graphic memoirs are a cornerstone of the graphic-novel format, but rarely are they written with children as the primary audience. In eight short stories, Liu has done just that, giving younger readers a glimpse into her life growing up in China just after the death of Chairman Mao. By linking her stories to a teaching by Confucius that says one learns in three ways–by studying history, by imitating others, and through one’s own experience–Liu shows how her parents survived the famine during China’s Great Leap Forward, how the death of soldier Lei Feng influenced the behavior of Liu and her sister, and how a trip to the countryside to visit her relations helped Liu realize just how privileged her life in the city was. The stories are vivid even without Martinez’s bold artwork that evokes both traditional Chinese scrolls and midcentury propaganda posters. The result is a memoir that reads like a fable, a good story with a moral that resonates.” Volin, Eva. Booklist Online. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2012.
“Apothecary” by Maile Meloy – “Ages 10-up. When the House Committee on Un-American Activities targets Janie’s television writer parents, the 14-year-old and her family flee from Los Angeles to London. There, Janie meets Benjamin, a ‘defiant’ classmate, and his father, the neighborhood apothecary, who is involved in much more than hot water bottles and aspirin. In fact, he is part of a long line of apothecaries who have discovered miraculous secrets– truth serums, invisibility, amazing physical transformations–and he is now working with scientists on an incredible plan that has global ramifications with regard to the escalating tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States. Some readers may need to brush up on cold war history to fully appreciate the stakes, but even those with a vague understanding of the times will be quickly swept up in this thoroughly enjoyable adventure, filled with magic, humor, memorable characters, and just a bit of sweet romance. With evocative, confident prose and equally atmospheric spot art from Schoenherr, adult author Meloy’s first book for young readers is an auspicious one. Readers will hope they haven’t heard the last from Janie and Benjamin.” (Oct.). 368pg. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2011.
“The Running Dream” by Wendelin Van Draanen – ” Sixteen-year-old Jessica is the track team’s star sprinter until tragedy strikes: the team van is struck, killing one runner and demolishing Jessica’s right leg. The book begins with Jessica refusing to acknowledge the result: a stump. But she is slowly reintroduced to life, which involves being fitted for a prosthesis, returning to school, and dealing with the usual–tough teachers, mean girls, and one really hot, sensitive, supportive boy. It’s a classic problem novel in a lot of ways; accordingly, Van Draanen inserts setbacks with narrative precision, the most affecting of which (surprisingly) is the insurance battle that Jessica’s parents face. Overall, though, this is a tremendously upbeat book, with Jessica’s family, friends, and community coming together (the track team raises funds to buy Jessica a $20,000 running leg). Even a subplot involving Jessica’s friendship with the cerebral palsy-afflicted Rosa is not as treacly as it could have been. Van Draanen’s extensive research into both running and amputees pays dividends–readers will truly feel what it’s like to walk (or run) a mile (or 10) in Jessica’s shoes. Daniel Kraus. 352pg. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2011.
“Walking Into the Wild” by Nancy Means Wright – “Growing up in wartime is never easy; through the eyes of a rebellious teenager, we experience the return of a group of courageous young people to take up life again in Vermont after the horrors of the American Revolution have displaced and scattered their family. Their journey through unsettled wilderness filled with bears and wolves makes an exciting background for sibling rivalry, loyalty, and secrets. Unforgettable.” (Ida H Washington, co-author Carleton’s Raid.)