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Staff Picks for Adult Readers
All the Light We Cannot See by Doerr, Anthony
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From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, a stunningly ambitious and beautiful novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II. Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure's reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum's most valuable and dangerous jewel. In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure's converge. Doerr's "stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors" ( San Francisco Chronicle ) are dazzling. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, he illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. Ten years in the writing, All the Light We Cannot See is a magnificent, deeply moving novel from a writer "whose sentences never fail to thrill" ( Los Angeles Times ).


The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Flanagan, Richard
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Winner of the Man Booker Prize "Nothing since Cormac McCarthy's The Road has shaken me like this." -- The Washington Post From the author of the acclaimed Gould's Book of Fish, a magisterial novel of love and war that traces the life of one man from World War II to the present. August, 1943: Australian surgeon Dorrigo Evans is haunted by his affair with his uncle's young wife two years earlier. His life, in a brutal Japanese POW camp on the Thai-Burma Death Railway, is a daily struggle to save the men under his command. Until he receives a letter that will change him forever. A savagely beautiful novel about the many forms of good and evil, of truth and transcendence, as one man comes of age, prospers, only to discover all that he has lost.

Nora Webster by Tóibín, Colm
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From one of contemporary literature's bestselling, critically acclaimed and beloved authors, a magnificent new novel set in Ireland, about a fiercely compelling young widow and mother of four, navigating grief and fear, struggling for hope. Set in Wexford, Ireland, Colm Tóibín's superb seventh novel introduces the formidable, memorable and deeply moving Nora Webster. Widowed at forty, with four children and not enough money, Nora has lost the love of her life, Maurice, the man who rescued her from the stifling world to which she was born. And now she fears she may be drawn back into it. Wounded, strong-willed, clinging to secrecy in a tiny community where everyone knows your business, Nora is drowning in her own sorrow and blind to the suffering of her young sons, who have lost their father. Yet she has moments of stunning empathy and kindness, and when she begins to sing again, after decades, she finds solace, engagement, a haven-herself. Nora Webster is a masterpiece in character study by a writer at the zenith of his career, "beautiful and daring" ( The New York Times Book Review ) and able to "sneak up on readers and capture their imaginations" ( USA TODAY ). In Nora Webster, Tóibín has created a character as iconic, engaging and memorable as Madame Bovary or Hedda Gabler.

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THE CARE AND MANAGEMENT OF LIES by Jacqueline Winspear
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Five kind and honorable people are caught up in the depredations of the Great War in this first stand-alone novel by the author of the Maisie Dobbs mystery series (Leaving Everything Most Loved, 2013, etc.)

In 1914, as war looms, newlyweds Tom and Kezia Brissenden are making a go of the farm Tom inherited from his father, a farm that would have been part of the estate of wealthy gentleman Edmund Hawkes had not his great-grandfather lost it to Tom’s great-grandfather in a darts game. Kezia, a vicar’s daughter, is earnestly striving to supplant her finishing school ways with those of a farm wife, consulting a housewifery guide, The Woman’s Book. Although Hawkes is attracted to Kezia, he keeps a respectful distance, just as he is cordial but not friendly toward Tom. This distance persists as Tom and Hawkes both enlist and are sent to the front line in France, where Tom, a private, serves under Capt. Hawkes. Kezia keeps Tom’s spirits up with her letters describing the sumptuous meals she prepares for him in her imagination, where wartime food shortages and government inroads on the farm’s production aren't problems. The whole battalion soon looks forward to her letters and the occasional fruitcake. However, Tom is scapegoated by this novel’s closest thing to a villain, the cynical and embittered Sgt. Knowles, who resents the influx of so many green recruits. Meanwhile, Tom’s sister (and Kezia’s best friend), Thea, anguishes over whether she will be arrested for her activities as a suffragette and pacifist. Ultimately, she decides that the only way to escape government oppression is to reaffirm her loyalty: She becomes an ambulance driver at the front, where Kezia’s father, Rev. Marchant, is ministering to troops in the trenches. Without questioning either the cause of the war or the dubious tactics employed, seemingly, to ensure maximum loss of life for minimal military advantage, these characters simply get on with it, reaffirming our faith in the possibility of everyday nobility.

A sad, beautifully written, contemplative testament.


The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us Diane Ackerman
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Ackerman (One Hundred Names for Love) addresses a currently vogue topic, the Anthropocene—the geologic age humans have shaped by altering the world’s ecosystems—and in doing so raises the bar for her peers. “We’ve subdued 75 percent of the land surface,” Ackerman points out, “preserving some pockets as ‘wilderness,’ denaturing vast tracts for our businesses and homes, and homogenizing a third of the world’s ice-free land through farming.” Yet in the face of massive changes that have “created some planetary chaos that threatens our well-being,” she finds hope. Ackerman views the efforts of the tiny, deluge-prone Indian Ocean nation of the Maldives to be carbon neutral by 2020 as “a model for changes radical enough to help fix the climate.” Her critical eye focuses on changes at the human as well as the global level: “Anthropocene engineering has penetrated the world of medicine and biology, revolutionizing how we view the body.” The greatest strength of her work, though, is the beauty of her language, the power of her metaphors, and the utterly compelling nature of her examples. Whether Ackerman is writing about an iPad-using orangutan or Polynesian snails whose “interiors belong in a church designed by Gaudí,” her penetrating insight is a joy to behold. Agent: Suzanne Gluck, William Morris Endeavor. (Sept.)




The Vacationers: A Novel Emma Straub
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Straub’s second novel (Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, 2012) is contained in the two-week vacation of the extended Post family: Franny and Jim, married over 30 years; their teen daughter, Sylvia; twentysomething son Bobby, his girlfriend, Carmen, in tow; and Franny’s best friend, Charles, and his husband, Lawrence. Trading one grand island for another, the mainly Manhattanites arrive in Mallorca with, of course, a few secrets tucked in their literal baggage—and so begin the games that occur above the plane of the Scrabble board. Jim has suddenly left his beloved magazine job, and not everyone knows the circumstances; Sylvia’s excitement to get to Brown might have more to do with leaving home; Carmen wishes Bobby would ask his parents for that favor already; and it’s more than work e-mails keeping Lawrence searching for a Wi-Fi signal. Straub masters a constantly changing flow of perspectives as readers wonder who will forgive and be forgiven in this sun-soaked, remote paradise. Spongy and dear, sharply observed and funny, Straub’s domestic-drama-goes-abroad is a delightful study of the complexities of family and love, and the many distractions from both. --Annie Bostrom


THE SON by Jo Nesbø, translated by Charlotte Barslund
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A deftly plotted novel that probes the deepest mysteries: sin, redemption, love, evil, the human condition.

After he seemingly brought Harry Hole back from the dead in his last novel  (Police, 2013), Norway’s Nesbø gives his popular protagonist a breather, shelving the detective in favor of a stand-alone novel that plunges deeply into the religious allegory that has frequently framed his work (The Redeemer, 2013). In fact, the symbolism might initially seem laid on pretty thick for readers looking to solve a satisfying whodunit. Sonny Lofthus, the son of the title, is introduced as a prisoner with “healing hands,” one who was “prepared to take your sins upon himself and didn’t want anything in return.” Like Christ, he suffers for the sins of others and offers redemption. He is also a hopeless junkie. His back story suggests that Sonny was a boy of considerable promise, a champion wrestler and model student, proud son of a police officer. Then, when he was 18, he was devastated by the suicide of his father, who left a note confessing his corruption as the mole within the department, and the subsequent death of his heartbroken mother. After Sonny turned to drugs, he found himself in a web of evil; if he would confess to murders he hadn’t committed, the corrupt prison system would keep him supplied with heroin. Then a fellow prisoner comes to him for confession and reveals a secret that turns Sonny’s world upside down, inspiring him to kick his habit, plot an ingenious escape and turn himself into an “avenging angel,” delivering lethal retribution. The inspector obsessed with the case had a complicated relationship with Sonny’s father, and it remains uncertain until the climax (in a church, naturally) whether he wants to be Sonny’s captor or his collaborator. It’s a novel in which one character muses on “how innocence walks hand-in-hand with ignorance. How insight never clarifies, only complicates.”

One of Nesbø’s best, deepest and richest novels, even without Harry Hole. 


ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr
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Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.




NIGHT HERON by Adam Brookes
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Against all odds, Prisoner 5995—a former professor wrongly convicted of murder—escapes a high security Chinese facility after 20 torturous years. Having concocted a plan to flee China and establish a new identity, he finds an unlikely ally in Mangan, a veteran British journalist based in Beijing.

In his former life, the escapee was employed by British intelligence under the code name Peanut. After he finds a place to lay low and recover from the physical abuse he suffered at the prison camp, he tracks down a one-time fellow academic and spy who is now a well-off military researcher; he forces his old colleague to make copies of secret documents by threatening to expose his past—and by beating him to a pulp. When he hears about Mangan, a famous British reporter who lives in the area, Peanut passes the documents to him and asks that Mangan give them to his contacts in the British Embassy. Though he thrives on danger, the last thing Mangan wants is hot papers in his possession; he's already under close scrutiny by state security for a story he wrote on a cult after sneaking into the blockaded town it was occupying. After Mangan is talked into working for British intelligence, all manner of reversals, betrayals, arrests and killings have him and Peanut running for their lives. Brookes, a one-time China correspondent for the BBC, knows this turf exceedingly well and translates that knowledge into a novel that is as strikingly different as it is thrilling. In hinting at China's capabilities as a cyberenemy, the author may be giving us a clue about the subject of his next novel. One can't wait to read it.

One of the best and most compulsively readable spy-fiction debuts in years.




Delicious! by Ruth Reichl
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Ruth Reichl is a born storyteller. Through her restaurant reviews, where she celebrated the pleasures of a well-made meal, and her bestselling memoirs that address our universal feelings of love and loss, Reichl has achieved a special place in the hearts of hundreds of thousands of readers. Now, with this magical debut novel, she has created a sumptuous, wholly realized world that will enchant you. nbsp; Billie Breslin has traveled far from her home in California to take a job at Delicious!, New York's most iconic food magazine. Away from her family, particularly her older sister, Genie, Billie feels like a fish out of water--until she is welcomed by the magazine's colorful staff. She is also seduced by the vibrant downtown food scene, especially by Fontanari's, the famous Italian food shop where she works on weekends. Then Delicious! is abruptly shut down, but Billie agrees to stay on in the empty office, maintaining the hotline for reader complaints in order to pay her bills. nbsp; To Billie's surprise, the lonely job becomes the portal to a miraculous discovery. In a hidden room in the magazine's library, Billie finds a cache of letters written during World War II by Lulu Swan, a plucky twelve-year-old, to the legendary chef James Beard. Lulu's letters provide Billie with a richer understanding of history, and a feeling of deep connection to the young writer whose courage in the face of hardship inspires Billie to comes to terms with her fears, her big sister and her ability to open her heart to love. nbsp; Praise for Tender at the Bone nbsp; "While all good food writers are humorous . . . few are so riotously, effortlessly entertaining as Ruth Reichl." -- The New York Times Book Review nbsp; "A poignant, yet hilarious, collection of stories about people [Reichl] has known and loved, and who, knowingly or unknowingly, steered her on the path to fulfill her destiny as one of the world's leading food writers." -- Chicago Sun-Times nbsp; Praise for Comfort Me with Apples nbsp; "The book's charm emerges through Reichl's writing, her observations and her amazing ability to capture people in a few memorable sentences. . . . You just have to read it." -- USA Today nbsp; "Reads not like life described but like life lived . . . Each story affirms [Reichl's] desire to get beyond the surface, even as she celebrates its unlikely depths." -- The New York Times

Capital in the twenty-first century / Thomas Piketty ; translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
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What are the grand dynamics that drive the accumulation and distribution of capital? Questions about the long-term evolution of inequality, the concentration of wealth, and the prospects for economic growth lie at the heart of political economy. But satisfactory answers have been hard to find for lack of adequate data and clear guiding theories. In Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty analyzes a unique collection of data from twenty countries, ranging as far back as the eighteenth century, to uncover key economic and social patterns. His findings will transform debate and set the agenda for the next generation of thought about wealth and inequality. Piketty shows that modern economic growth and the diffusion of knowledge have allowed us to avoid inequalities on the apocalyptic scale predicted by Karl Marx. But we have not modified the deep structures of capital and inequality as much as we thought in the optimistic decades following World War II. The main driver of inequality--the tendency of returns on capital to exceed the rate of economic growth--today threatens to generate extreme inequalities that stir discontent and undermine democratic values. But economic trends are not acts of God. Political action has curbed dangerous inequalities in the past, Piketty says, and may do so again. A work of extraordinary ambition, originality, and rigor, Capital in the Twenty-First Century reorients our understanding of economic history and confronts us with sobering lessons for today.


The Pearl That Broke Its Shell : A Novel by Nadia Hashimi
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Debut Afghan-American author Nadia Hashimi's The Pearl That Broke Its Shell , the entwined stories of two Afghan women separated by a century who find freedom in the tradition of bacha posh, which allows girls to dress and live as boys...until they are of marriageable age. "I think it is time we change something for you. I think it would be best if we let you be a son to your father." Kabul, 2009: Growing up in a family of with five daughters and no sons, Rahima and her sisters can only sporadically attend school, and then, as they grow older, can rarely leave the house. Their mother struggles to support the family as their father becomes increasingly addicted to drugs. But one day their aunt, Khala Shaima, makes a suggestion: as a bacha posh, Rahima can become a son-dressing as a boy, with a boy's name, treated as a boy-until she is of marriageable age. She will be able to attend school and go to the marketplace. It's an old custom, but one that most of society turns a blind eye to when girls are young. And then Khala Shaima begins to tell a story that transforms Rahima's life: the story of her great-great-grandmother, Shekiba. Kabul, 1909: Shekiba, the daughter of a rural farming family, is disfigured in an accident as a child. When her parents and siblings die in a cholera epidemic, she has no one left to support her and is treated as little better than a slave in a relative's home...until she is able to escape her life of drudgery by dressing as a man. Through a rare stroke of luck, she becomes one of the guards of the king's harem in a lavish palace in the capital city, and eventually manages to make a life for herself...one that ultimately includes a husband and children. Shekhiba, at turn of the 20th century, and her great-great-granddaughter Rahima, in modern-day Afghanistan, have parallel destinies. Rahima relishes her newfound freedom as a boy-but when she is of marriageable age, her freedom ends. She and her sisters are sold in marriage to the family of a local warlord. Facing a dark reality with an abusive family, can she ever become accustomed to the way a woman must behave? Can she adapt and overcome like her great-aunt Shekiba? And if she can't-will she survive? A riveting , poignant tale about family, freedom, and determination, perfect for readers of A Thousand Splendid Suns or Snow Flower and the Secret Fan


Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi
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Named one of 2014's most anticipated books by CNN, The Huffington Post, Bookpage, Time.com, The Chicago Tribune , Vulture ,nbsp; Philadelphia Inquirer, nbsp; Real Simple,nbsp; The Millions and Flavorwire From the prizewinning author ofnbsp; Mr. Fox , the Snow White fairy tale brilliantly recast as a story of family secrets, race, beauty, and vanity. In the winter of 1953, Boy Novak arrives by chance in a small town in Massachusetts, looking, she believes, for beauty; the opposite of the life she's left behind in New York. She marries a local widower and becomes stepmother to his winsome daughter, Snow Whitman. A wicked stepmother is a creature Boy never imagined she'd become, but elements of the familiar tale of aesthetic obsession begin to play themselves out when the birth of Boy's daughter, Bird, who is dark-skinned, exposes the Whitmans as light-skinned African Americans passing for white. Among them, Boy, Snow, and Bird confront the tyranny of the mirror to ask how much power surfaces really hold. Dazzlingly inventive and powerfully moving; Boy, Snow, Bird is an astonishing and enchanting novel. With breathtaking feats of imagination, Helen Oyeyemi confirms her place as one of the most original and dynamic literary voices of our time.

Blood Will Out : The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery, and a Masquerade by Walter Kim
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In the summer of 1998, Walter Kirn--then an aspiring novelist struggling with impending fatherhood and a dissolving marriage--set out on a peculiar, fateful errand: to personally deliver a crippled hunting dog from his home in Montana to the New York apartment of one Clark Rockefeller, a secretive young banker and art collector who had adopted the dog over the Internet. Thus began a fifteen-year relationship that drew Kirn deep into the fun-house world of an outlandish, eccentric son of privilege who ultimately would be unmasked as a brazen serial impostor, child kidnapper, and brutal murderer.Kirn's one-of-a-kind story of being duped by a real-life Mr. Ripley takes us on a bizarre and haunting journey from the posh private clubrooms of Manhattan to the hard-boiled courtrooms and prisons of Los Angeles. As Kirn uncovers the truth about his friend, a psychopath masquerading as a gentleman, he also confronts hard truths about himself. Why, as a writer of fiction, was he susceptible to the deception of a sinister fantasist whose crimes, Kirn learns, were based on books and movies? What are the hidden psychological links between the artist and the con man? To answer these and other questions, Kirn attends his old friend's murder trial and uses it as an occasion to reflect on both their tangled personal relationship and the surprising literary sources of Rockefeller's evil. This investigation of the past climaxes in a tense jailhouse reunion with a man whom Kirn realizes he barely knew--a predatory, sophisticated genius whose life, in some respects, parallels his own and who may have intended to take another victim during his years as a fugitive from justice: Kirn himself.Combining confessional memoir, true crime reporting, and cultural speculation, Blood Will Out is a Dreiser-esque tale of self-invention, upward mobility, and intellectual arrogance. It exposes the layers of longing and corruption, ambition and self-delusion beneath the Great American con.


Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
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A New York Times bestseller with more than one million copies sold by the author of One Plus One and The Girl You Left Behind They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose . . . Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life steady boyfriend, close family who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel and now he's pretty sure he cannot live the way he is. Will is acerbic, moody, bossy but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living. A Love Story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn't have less in common a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?

the Circle by Dave Eggers
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The Circle is the exhilarating new novel from Dave Eggers, best-selling author of A Hologram for the King, a finalist for the National Book Award. When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world's most powerful internet company, she feels she's been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users' personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company's modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. Mae can't believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in the world--even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman's ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.


Empty Mansions : The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune by Bill Dedman; Paul Clark Newell Jr.,
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What goes on behind closed doors, especially when those doors are of the gilded variety, has fascinated novelists and journalists for centuries. The private lives of the rich and famous are so tantalizing that Robin Leach made a career out of showcasing them. One of the biggest eccentric, rich fishes out there was Huguette Clark. Deceased for more than two years, Clark, brought to life by investigator Dedman and Clark's descendant, Newell, owned nouveau riche palaces in New York, Connecticut, and California. An heiress, Clark disappeared from public view in the 1920s. What happened to her and her vast wealth? Answering this question is the book's mission. Based on records and the hearsay of relations and former employees, the book pieces together Clark's life, that of a woman rumored to be institutionalized while her mansions stood empty, though immaculately maintained throughout her life. Clark left few clues about herself, but she willed vast sums to her caretakers and numerous charitable endeavors. Still, her absence acts as a shade to seeing her fully, hinting at possible financial malfeasance, all the while conspiring to produce a spellbinding mystery.--Orbesen, James Copyright 2010 Booklist




Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon
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*Starred Review* Pynchon's debut novel, V., appeared 50 years ago, and ever since he's been tracking dubious covert actions and the arc and consequences of technology in novels of labyrinthine complexity, impish wit, and open-armed compassion. Of late, his inquiry has taken the form of rambunctious and penetrating crime novels. Inherent Vice (2009), currently being adapted for film, is set in 1960s Los Angeles and features a pothead PI and the launch of the digital revolution. In his latest, a hilarious, shrewd, and disquieting metaphysical mystery, Pynchon expresses love for New York City and leeriness of the seemingly boundless reach of the Internet. In spring 2001, the dot-com bubble has burst and 9/11 looms. Maxine Tarnow, a fraud investigator gone rogue, is unflappable, wise-cracking, Beretta-toting, and Jewish. Devoted to her young sons, she is embroiled in an amorphous case involving a sinister techie billionaire, diverted funds, Islamic terrorists, hip-hop-spouting Russian gangsters, a black-ops agent, a cosmic bike messenger, and a Deep Web virtual reality. Fearless, caustic, lightning-witted Maxine (sister to characters created by Sara Paretsky and Cynthia Ozick) instigates some of the funniest banter ever scripted. But amid the sharp hilarity of this exuberantly maze-like, pop-culture-peppered, deeply informed tale, Pynchon incisively and cuttingly broaches unanswered questions surrounding the tragedy of 9/11 and elucidates just how profoundly life has changed in its wake. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Pynchon is a magnet for media attention and reader fervency, and this New York mystery will exert a powerful pull.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist

Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
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The author of the classic bestsellers "The Secret History" and "The Little Friend" returns with a brilliant, highly anticipated new novel. Composed with the skills of a master, "The Goldfinch" is a haunted odyssey through present day America and a drama of enthralling force and acuity. It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art. As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle. "The Goldfinch" is a novel of shocking narrative energy and power. It combines unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and breathtaking suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher's calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is a beautiful, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.

Who Discovered America? : The Untold History of the Peopling of the Americas by Gavin Menzies, Ian Hudson
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A groundbreaking new book that upends our understanding of ancient America Conventional history tells us humans migrated on foot across present-day Alaska, populating the Americas far later than other continents. However, emerging new evidence suggests seafarers reached the continents thousands of years earlier and developed far more sophisticated civilizations than previously imagined. . . . From "distinguished historian" (BBC World Service) Gavin Menzies, the author of the blockbuster New York Times bestseller 1421, comes a revolutionary new account of how the first humans came to North and South America. Menzies reveals that ancient peoples used the oceans' natural currents and prevailing winds to make voyages across both the Atlantic and Pacific. What's more, we now must accept that they had time to develop remarkably advanced cultures. Armed with cutting-edge DNA evidence, newly unearthed artifacts, and astonishing linguistic and archaeological discoveries, Menzies shows humans have been making transoceanic voyages as far back as 100,000 years ago, vastly predating the supposed overland migration to the Americas during the last Ice Age; the ancient South American civilizations of the Olmec and Maya in Central and South America may have had direct origins and influences from Asia; ancient maps held in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., show there must have been sustained and dedicated voyages to the Western Hemisphere by Chinese explorers as early as 2200 B.C.; huge Chinese settlements occupied (and made exploratory journeys from) Nova Scotia; Japanese, Korean, and even earlier European voyages likewise predated the explorations currently recorded by history. A maverick scholar, Menzies has made a riveting new contribution to the story of humanity's earliest explorers, revealing the truth behind one of history's most fascinating questions: Who discovered America?

The Invention of Wings : A Novel by Sue Monk Kidd
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From the celebrated author of The Secret Life of Bees , a magnificent novel about two unforgettable American women Writing at the height of her narrative and imaginative gifts, Sue Monk Kidd presents a masterpiece of hope, daring, the quest for freedom, and the desire to have a voice in the world. Hetty "Handful" Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke's daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women. Kidd's sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah's eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid.We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other's destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love. As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women's rights movements. Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful's cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better. This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.

Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
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*Starred Review* In Gaiman's first novel for adults since Anansi Boys (2005), the never-named fiftyish narrator is back in his childhood homeland, rural Sussex, England, where he's just delivered the eulogy at a funeral. With an hour or so to kill afterward, he drives about aimlessly, he thinks until he's at the crucible of his consciousness: a farmhouse with a duck pond. There, when he was seven, lived the Hempstocks, a crone, a housewife, and an 11-year-old girl, who said they were grandmother, mother, and daughter. Now, he finds the crone and, eventually, the housewife the same ones, unchanged while the girl is still gone, just as she was at the end of the childhood adventure he recalls in a reverie that lasts all afternoon. He remembers how he became the vector for a malign force attempting to invade and waste our world. The three Hempstocks are guardians, from time almost immemorial, situated to block such forces and, should that fail, fight them. Gaiman mines mythological typology the three-fold goddess, the water of life (the pond, actually an ocean) and his own childhood milieu to build the cosmology and the theater of a story he tells more gracefully than any he's told since Stardust (1999). And don't worry about that for adults designation: it's a matter of tone. This lovely yarn is good for anyone who can read it. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: That this is the popular author's first book for adults in eight years pretty much sums up why this will be in demand.--Olson, Ray Copyright 2010 Booklist

TransAtlantic by Colum McCann,
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*Starred Review* In 1919, British aviators Alcock and Brown made the first nonstop transatlantic flight, from Newfoundland to Ireland. McCann, in his first novel since the National Book Award-winning Let the Great World Spin (2009), imagines a letter handed to Brown by a young photographer, written by her mother, Emily, a local reporter covering the flight, to be delivered upon their landing to a family in Cork. Years earlier, while on a speaking tour in Ireland with the mission to raise money for the abolitionist movement, Frederick Douglass forms a bond with young Isabel, the daughter of his host family in Cork. Lily, a young servant, emboldened by Douglass' visit, sets out for America, in the hope of a better life. About a century and a half later, former Senate majority leader George Mitchell is coaxed out of retirement to broker talks between the various factions, with the intention of getting a peace agreement by Good Friday. At the tennis club, he meets a woman in her nineties who, years earlier, had lost her grandson to the Troubles. It is Lily and her offspring's stories set across different times and in many different places that ultimately tie everything together, as McCann creates complex, vivid characters (historical and otherwise) while expertly mixing fact and fancy to create this emotionally involving and eminently memorable novel. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Prepub buzz about McCann's latest suggests it will be among the summer's leading literary fiction titles.--Segedin, Ben Copyright 2010 Booklist

 



The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese by Michael Paterniti
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Working at renowned Zingerman's Delicatessen in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Paterniti discovered a fabulously tasty Spanish sheep's milk cheese unlike any other. A writer by trade, Paterniti found himself fascinated by this cheese, and he embarked on a quest to find its birthplace in Castile, a small town some distance from Madrid. There he met a hulking man with a fondness for storytelling. Since Paterniti already had a predilection for tales, he became utterly entranced with this cheese-making Spaniard, Ambrosio Molinas de las Heras, who had won numerous awards and garnered kudos even from Fidel Castro. But by the time Paterniti reached him, Molinas had shut down production. Molinas' entrepreneurial naivete and betrayal by a business partner had bankrupted the fledgling company. Paterniti's detailed narrative overflows into long, digressive footnotes, but the story of dashed hopes will resonate with lovers of cheese and of rural Spanish life.--Knoblauch, Mark Copyright 2010 Booklist



Silver Star by Jeanette Walls
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Readers of the best-selling memoir The Glass Castle will be familiar with Charlotte Holladay's parenting style in Walls's new novel. Charlotte, a narcissistic single mother of two, is an aspiring actress and singer with grandiose dreams who deeply loves her daughters but is incapable of providing them with a stable home. In summer 1970, after their mother abandons them for weeks, as she puts it, "to make some time and space for myself," 12-year-old narrator Bean and her 15-year-old sister Liz embark on a cross-country bus trip to seek out the relatives they've never met. Their Uncle Tinsley, an eccentric bachelor, reluctantly takes the girls into their mother's old family home in Byler, VA, a small, stratified Southern town on the cusp of integration. Older sister Liz is a lover of puns and fan of author Lewis Carroll, and her charming wordplay enlivens Bean's narration. VERDICT This engrossing story is told with the warmth and humor that will appeal to fans of Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees. Readers will find themselves rooting for the spunky heroine and her smart, offbeat sister as they persevere in the face of multiple hardships. [See Prepub Alert, 1/6/13.]-Lauren Gilbert, Sachem P.L., Holbrook, NY (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Benjamin Franklin's Bastard by Sally Cabot
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Genial Founding Father and revered statesman Benjamin Franklin was a man of large appetites, and this affecting first novel fictionalizes a little-known story. Anne is a young servant girl in a tavern who is lured into prostitution by a charming young Benjamin Franklin. When she becomes pregnant with their child, he talks her into giving the baby up so that he might have a chance for a respectable life. But Benjamin's wife, asked to raise the bastard child, William, as her own, struggles with suspicions of her husband's infidelity, especially when they lose their own child to smallpox. Forever seeking the affections of his stepmother and the approval of his father, William finally comes into his own but lands on the wrong side of history and becomes locked in a bitter feud with his father over the Revolution. Cabot laces her assured novel with Shakespearean overtones as the characters continually misconstrue one another's motives. From Franklin's intense intellectual curiosity to Anne's stubborn insistence on leading an independent life, this memorable cast makes for spellbinding reading.--Wilkinson, Joanne Copyright 2010 Booklist


Lifesaving Lessons by Linda Greenlaw
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Greenlaw (Seaworthy, 2010) veers from her more traditional fishing tales in this intimate memoir that proves without a doubt that it takes a village to raise a child. Set on her beloved home of Isle au Haut, off the coast of Maine, Greenlaw's chronicle is about discovering a child in trouble and doing the necessary but difficult work to save her. Writing in the same bracing manner as in her high-seas adventures, Greenlaw relates how a new island resident misrepresented himself and his adopted daughter and the chaos that ensued as the truth was slowly revealed. In the midst of her own low-key midlife crisis, and at odds about her romantic relationship and professional future, both on the sea and off, she considers herself an unlikely candidate for parental stand-in. But as the island does its own collective soul searching, she finds herself pondering a future she never envisioned. With newfound poignancy, Greenlaw addresses family and kinship in a clear-eyed manner that defies expectations and should easily bring her new fans. Book clubs will want to take note.--Mondor, Colleen Copyright 2010 Booklist

 



Hitchhiking with Larry David by Paul Samuel Dolman
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A memoir about a broken-hearted, middle-aged man who stumbles upon solace, meaning, and Larry David while hitchhiking his way around Martha's Vineyard One summer day on Martha's Vineyard Paul Samuel Dolman was hitchhiking, and none other than Larry David pulled over and asked, "You're not a serial killer or something, are you?" The comedic writer and actor from Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm not only gave Dolman a ride, but helped him find his way during his summer of soul-searching and hitchhiking. Dolman found himself on Martha's Vineyard that summer having made the catastrophic mistake of visiting "The Parental Asylum" in the wake of a painful breakup. His mother is welcoming, albeit senile and neurotically rigid. But his dad "only has the social energy to be nice to humans for about 10 minutes a day." Desperately seeking companionship, Dolman begins hitchhiking around the island and meets a wide array of characters: the super-rich and the homeless, movie stars and common folk, and, of course, Mr. David. Astonishingly, it is Dolman's growing friendship with the famous comedian that becomes the lodestar of his spiritual quest. (Yes, Larry David gets deep!) Written with disarming honest humor and perfectly capturing Larry David's unique comic genius, Hitchhiking with Larry David will leave readers simultaneously laughing and crying as they ponder the mystery and spirituality of life.



And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
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*Starred Review* Saboor, a laborer, pulls his young daughter, Pari, 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. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The immense popularity of Hosseini's previous books ensures a high-profile promotional campaign and mounting word-of-mouth excitement in anticipation of the release of his first new novel in six years.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist



Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution by Nathaniel Philbrick
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 Philbrick's newest work chronicles the cradle of the American Revolution, Boston's action-packed years of 1773-76. Opening with the consequences of the Boston Tea Party, Philbrick depicts the arrival of British army and naval forces, the manifestation of the royal government's intention to quash the burgeoning rebellion in Massachusetts. Its leaders, patriots like John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Joseph Warren, provide the drama's counterpoise to British officials. Having deployed his characters, Philbrick launches each side's resort to military preparations and operations, a narrative that benefits from one of the author's several imaginative services to readers, detailing in word and map the geography of Boston and environs at that time. Another audience benefit is Philbrick's evocation of the look of patriot militias and British regiments, which enliven his crackling accounts of military movements that produced the Battles of Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill. Displaying, as in Mayflower (2006) and The Last Stand (2010), a superior talent for renewing interest in a famed event, Philbrick will again be in high demand from history buffs.--Taylor, Gilbert Copyright 2010 Bo



Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris
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 From the unique perspective of David Sedaris comes a new book of essays taking his readers on a bizarre and stimulating world tour. From the perils of French dentistry to the eating habits of the Australian kookaburra, from the squat-style toilets of Beijing to the particular wilderness of a North Carolina Costco, we learn about the absurdity and delight of a curious traveler's experiences. Whether railing against the habits of litterers in the English countryside or marveling over a disembodied human arm in a taxidermist's shop, Sedaris takes us on side-splitting adventures that are not to be forgotten.


A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy
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Located in western Ireland on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Stone House is run down and neglected. When Chicky Starr decides to buy the property and turn it into a hotel, the town thinks she's gone crazy. The project brings unexpected peace and understanding to Chicky and her staff, and after months of tireless work, Stone House is ready for business. The first out-of-towners arrive with disappointment, disgrace, and doubt, but nearly all experience a catharsis on the cliffs and trails and in the gardens that can be found in the surrounding countryside. Verdict Written in a style similar to that in Whitethorn Woods, this title features Binchy's unsurpassed storytelling as she weaves together the lives and experiences of her characters. Finished shortly before Binchy's death in 2011, this final offering will please many of the author's fans, but some may be disappointed that it isn't on a par with her earlier works. While it may not be Binchy's best, this tale of love, friendship, redemption, growing up, and moving on is a lovely swan song for the beloved author. [200,000-copy first printing.]-Vicki Briner, City Coll. Lib., Fort Lauderdale, FL (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Cape Cod's Highfield and Tanglewood : a tale of two cottages by Kathleen Brunelle
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In 1876 wealthy Bostonian Pierson Beebe chose a secluded hill in Falmouth, Massachusetts, as the spot to build his summer cottage, Highfield Hall. The following year, his brother James Arthur Beebe began construction next door on his own mansion, Tanglewood. The Beebe Woods and the surrounding buildings do not simply belong to the history of one wealthy Boston family. Rather, the land that they preserved, the architecture they created and the cultural activities they promoted are deeply rooted in Falmouth's history. Author Kathleen Brunelle's grandparents were the caretakers of the cottages, and she grew up exploring their many secrets. Join Brunelle as she narrates the remarkable history of these treasured Falmouth landmarks and once again wanders the historic rooms of Highfield Hall.



Mrs. Lincoln's dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini
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Chiaverini's latest is based on the true story of Elizabeth Keckley, who bought freedom from slavery for herself and her son and went on to become a well-known modiste in Washington. Keckley had a front-row seat to history: she dressed Washington's A-list, including Jefferson Davis' wife before they left D.C., and, most intimately, Mary Todd Lincoln. Mrs. Lincoln is mercurial, scheming, extravagant, and troubled, but Elizabeth stands by her as she is lambasted in the press. Long stretches of battle history and descriptions of Lincoln's political rivals lag, while more time spent on Elizabeth's work with newly freed slaves in D.C. would have been welcome. Still, Elizabeth Keckley is an admirable heroine successful, self-made, and utterly sympathetic. Readers of the Elm Creek Quilt series who have enjoyed Chiaverini's narrative jaunts into Civil War and Underground Railroad history will be interested in Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker and there is even a little bit of quilting in the story. This is also a good choice for readers of Christian historical fiction, as both Elizabeth's and Mr. Lincoln's faiths are important elements in shaping their characters.--Maguire, Susan Copyright 2010 Booklist


The light between oceans by M.L. Stedman
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*Starred Review* Stedman's haunting tale opens in 1918 with the return of Tom Sherbourne to his home in Australia after serving four years in the Great War. He applies for a job as a lighthouse keeper and is assigned to the light on Janus Rock, a remote island off the southwest coast where he hopes to erase his horrific memories of war. Several years later, Tom brings to the island his bride, Isabel, a free-spirited young woman who is determined to adapt to Tom's solitary life with their only contact with the mainland a quarterly visit from the supply boat. Four years later, after Isabel has suffered two miscarriages and a very recent stillbirth, an event occurs that forever changes them. A dinghy washes up on the beach carrying a dead man and a newborn baby girl, giving Isabel hope that she may become, at last, a mother. The choice they make as a couple comes to haunt them, their unexpected happiness replaced by guilt and mistrust. Stedman draws the reader into her emotionally complex story right from the beginning, with lush descriptions of this savage and beautiful landscape, and vivid characters with whom we can readily empathize. Hers is a stunning and memorable debut.--Donovan, Deborah Copyright 2010 Booklist

 



Proof of heaven : a neurosurgeon's journey into the afterlife by Eben Alexander.
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Near-death experiences, or NDEs, are controversial. Thousands of people have had them, but many in the scientific community have argued that they are impossible. Dr. Eben Alexander was one of those people.

A highly trained neurosurgeon who had operated on thousands of brains in the course of his career, Alexander knew that what people of faith call the “soul” is really a product of brain chemistry. NDEs, he would have been the first to explain, might feel real to the people having them, but in truth they are simply fantasies produced by brains under extreme stress.

Then came the day when Dr. Alexander’s own brain was attacked by an extremely rare illness. The part of the brain that controls thought and emotion—and in essence makes us human— shut down completely. For seven days Alexander lay in a hospital bed in a deep coma. Then, as his doctors weighed the possibility of stopping treatment, Alexander’s eyes popped open. He had come back.

Alexander’s recovery is by all accounts a medical miracle. But the real miracle of his story lies elsewhere. While his body lay in coma, Alexander journeyed beyond this world and encountered an angelic being who guided him into the deepest realms of super-physical existence. There he met, and spoke with, the Divine source of the universe itself.

This story sounds like the wild and wonderful imaginings of a skilled fantasy writer. But it is not fantasy. Before Alexander underwent his journey, he could not reconcile his knowledge of neuroscience with any belief in heaven, God, or the soul. That difficulty with belief created an empty space that no professional triumph could erase. Today he is a doctor who believes that true health can be achieved only when we realize that God and the soul are real and that death is not the end of personal existence but only a transition.

This story would be remarkable no matter who it happened to. That it happened to Dr. Alexander makes it revolutionary. No scientist or person of faith will be able to ignore it. Reading it will change your life.



The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Mathis, Ayana
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*Starred Review* This was not the life smart and lovely Hattie expected to live after fleeing Jim Crow Georgia in 1923 and settling in Philadelphia. Two years later, married (at 16) to an irresponsible man, she is poor, cold, hungry, and desperate as her twin babies sicken with pneumonia. Writing with stunning authority, clarity, and courage, debut novelist Mathis pivots forward in time, spotlighting intensely dramatic episodes in the lives of Hattie's nine subsequent children (and one grandchild to make the twelve tribes ), galvanizing crises that expose the crushed dreams and anguished legacy of the Great Migration. While Hattie grows more stoic with each birth and each betrayal, her children struggle with her survival strategies, which they perceive as her coldness and anger. Hattie's daughters are epically depressed. Two sons end up in the South, shocked by its backward country ways : Floyd, a jazz musician painfully conflicted over his attraction to men, and badly scarred Six, who discovers a gift for preaching. Late in life, Hattie thinks, Here we are sixty years out of Georgia, . . . and there's still the same wounding and the same pain. Mathis writes with blazing insight into the complexities of sexuality, marriage, family relationships, backbone, fraudulence, and racism in a molten novel of lives racked with suffering yet suffused with beauty.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist



Casual Vacancy J. K. Rowling
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A big novel about a small town...

When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.
Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.
Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils...Pagford is not what it first seems.
And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity, and unexpected revelations?

A big novel about a small town, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling's first novel for adults. It is the work of a storyteller like no other.

 


Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
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Starred Review* Drawing on both her Appalachian roots and her background in biology, Kingsolver delivers a passionate novel on the effects of global warming. Dellarobia Turnbow got pregnant in high school; now, some 11 years into her unhappy marriage, she's ready for a big change, and she thinks she's found it with a randy young telephone lineman. But on her way to a rendezvous, she is waylaid by the sight of a forest ablaze with millions of butterflies. Their usual migratory route has been disrupted, and what looks to be a stunningly beautiful view is really an ominous sign, for the Appalachian winter could prove to be the demise of the species. The phenomenon draws the whole world to Dellarobia's doorstep—scientists, the media, hordes of tourists—and gives her new and galvanizing insight into her poverty-stricken life on the sheep farm of her disapproving in-laws. Kingsolver, as always a fluent and eloquent writer, skillfully sets the hook of her fascinating story before launching into activist mode with more than a few pointed speeches delivered by an eminent scientist (and Kingsolver stand-in). By that time, though, readers will be well and truly smitten with feisty, funny, red-haired Dellarobia and her determined quest to widen the confines of her world. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: On the heels of the beloved author's best-selling The Lacuna (2009), which won the Orange Prize, her latest novel will receive a 500,000-copy first printing and be supported by an eight-city author tour. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

 



Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks
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Physician and prolific author Sacks (The Mind's Eye) gives readers another gem of a book, this time about hallucinations. He discusses his own experiences stemming from migraines or drug use: "My first pot experience was marked by a mix of the neurological and the divine." Hallucinations can involve any of the five senses or memory, or be caused by brain injury. They manifest as sleep paralysis and nightmares, ecstasy and panic, music, haunting images, revenants, and doubles. Sacks's more famous subjects here include Joan of Arc, Dostoyevsky, Freud, and William James. His commentary ranges widely, from hypnosis to post-traumatic stress disorder, imaginary companions to out-of-body experience. VERDICT With a fine sense of narrative, Sacks deftly integrates literature, art, and medical history around his very human, often riveting, case histories. This book is recommended for all readers, not just those with symptoms! This is a model of humane science made compellingly readable. [See Prepub Alert, 5/2/12.]—E. James Lieberman, George Washington Univ. Sch. of Medicine, Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore
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Baker-turned-painter Lucien Lessard and bon vivant Henri Toulouse-Lautrec vow to discover the truth behind the untimely death of their friend Vincent van Gogh, which leads them on a surreal odyssey and brothel-crawl deep into the art world of late-nineteenth-century Paris.

Moore drops his readers into the strange world of nineteenth-century France, where the line between past and present, real and surreal, shifts with a mere brushstroke. A baker and aspiring artist, protagonist Lucien Lessard grew up surrounded by Impressionist painters, all of whom seem to have fallen under the magical spell of a particular shade of blue. Van Gogh’s death and posthumous warning of a dangerous villain, the Colorman, sets Lessard and his friend, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, off on a journey to discover the power behind the Colorman’s blue paint. Entwined in their journey is the beautiful but mysterious Juliette. Mingling comedy and mystery, Moore crafts an intricate story that teases the reader with numerous twists and bawdy humor. While Lessard is fictional, many of the characters are based on historical figures, and their use of modern slang can be jarring. Toulouse-Lautrec emerges vibrantly, but some of the other painters struggle to come to life. Still, this is an imaginative and amusing look at the Impressionist era, and Moore’s prose is fresh and engaging.


Service by Marcus Luttrell and James D. Hornfischer.
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  Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell returned from his star-crossed mission in Afghanistan with his bones shattered and his heart broken. So many had given their lives to save him-and he would have readily done the same for them. As he recuperated, he wondered why he and others, from America's founding to today, had been willing to sacrifice everything-including themselves-for the sake of family, nation, and freedom.


In Service, we follow Marcus Luttrell to Iraq, where he returns to the battlefield as a member of SEAL Team 5 to help take on the most dangerous city in the world: Ramadi, the capital of war-torn Al Anbar Province. There, in six months of high-intensity urban combat, he would be part of what has been called the greatest victory in the history of U.S. Special Operations forces. We also return to Afghanistan and Operation Redwing, where Luttrell offers powerful new details about his miraculous rescue. Throughout, he reflects on what it really means to take on a higher calling, about the men he's seen lose their lives for their country, and the legacy of those who came and bled before.

A thrilling war story, Service is also a profoundly moving tribute to the warrior brotherhood, to the belief that nobody goes it alone, and no one will be left behind.  



Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
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The sequel to Hilary Mantel's 2009 Man Booker Prize winner and New York Times bestseller, Wolf Hall delves into the heart of Tudor history with the downfall of Anne Boleyn

Though he battled for seven years to marry her, Henry is disenchanted with Anne Boleyn. She has failed to give him a son and her sharp intelligence and audacious will alienate his old friends and the noble families of England. When the discarded Katherine dies in exile from the court, Anne stands starkly exposed, the focus of gossip and malice.

At a word from Henry, Thomas Cromwell is ready to bring her down. Over three terrifying weeks, Anne is ensnared in a web of conspiracy, while the demure Jane Seymour stands waiting her turn for the poisoned wedding ring. But Anne and her powerful family will not yield without a ferocious struggle. Hilary Mantel's Bring Up the Bodies follows the dramatic trial of the queen and her suitors for adultery and treason. To defeat the Boleyns, Cromwell must ally with his natural enemies, the papist aristocracy. What price will he pay for Anne's head?



Monday Morning by Sanjay Gupta
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In the high-stakes profession of neurosurgery, the bigger you are, the harder you fall. Or so it seems in the nifty first novel by CNN's chief medical correspondent Gupta, who is also a practicing neurosurgeon and nonfiction author. At the Chelsea General Hospital in Michigan, Dr. Ty Wilson is suffering from a serious crisis in confidence after a child dies during an operation. His medical colleagues include George Villanueva, a hulking former NFL player turned ER doctor, and Tina Ridgeway, a meticulous neurosurgeon whose home life is a mess. For quirkiness, there's a patient who undergoes surgery for bleeding cerebral aneurysms and develops an unusual postoperative mania for sketching human ears. For irony, the perfectionist head of surgery makes a jumbo mistake, and a middle-aged Korean neurosurgeon is afflicted with a deadly brain tumor. Despite their flaws, these fictional physicians possess extremely high empathy quotients. They make clinical and personal blunders, yet some attain redemption, and nearly all experience epiphanies. You don't have to be a brain surgeon to write a novel, but with Monday Mornings, readers will be glad one did. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

 


Defending Jacob by William Landay
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A 14-year-old boy is stabbed to death in the park near his middle school in an upper-class Boston suburb, and Assistant District Attorney Andy Barber takes the case, despite the fact that his son, Jacob, was a classmate of the victim. But when the bloody fingerprint on the victim's clothes turns out to be Jacob's, Barber is off the case and out of his office, devoting himself solely to defending his son. Even Barber's never-before-disclosed heritage as the son and grandson of violent men who killed becomes potential courtroom fodder, raising the question of a "murder gene." Within the structure of a grand jury hearing a year after the murder, Landay gradually increases apprehension. As if peeling the layers of an onion, he raises personal and painful ethical issues pertaining to a parent's responsibilities to a child, to a family, and to society at large. Landay's two previous novels (Mission Flats, 2003; The Strangler, 2007) were award winners, but he reaches a new level of excellence in this riveting, knock-your-socks-off legal thriller. With its masterfully crafted characterizations and dialogue, emotional depth, and frightening implications, the novel rivals the best of Scott Turow and John Grisham. Don't miss it. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.



Bringing up BeBe, by Pamela Druckerman
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Druckerman, a former staff reporter for the Wall Street Journal, found herself raising three children in France after following her British husband to Paris. She was taken aback at how well behaved French children are: most will sleep through the night at two months old, are on their best behavior in restaurants, eat a wide variety of foods, and don't interrupt adults when they are conversing. Mystified as well as embarrassed that her own children were not as well behaved, she began to research French parenting techniques and came across a treasure trove of helpful information. In crisp prose and an engaging voice, she explains how the French do not even have a word for discipline, instead referring to the concept as education. And French mothers have plenty of help in educating their children in the form of affordable, high-quality day care managed by experienced, certified child-care professionals. Within a strict cadre, or framework of rules, children are given plenty of autonomy to explore the world, without the aid of high-priced toys and gadgets. Insightful reading from a wise and funny writer. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.  


The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach.
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*Starred Review* Sports fiction has a built-in plot problem. The drama usually rides on a team's success or failure as it moves through a season to the Big Game. The team either overcomes adversity and wins, following in the cliché-strewn tradition of everything from The Bad News Bears to Rocky, or it loses, a literarily more resonant route, to be sure, but inevitably unsatisfying if the reader has become a fan along the way. First-novelist Harbach finds an inventive and thoroughly satisfying solution to the Big Game problem, and it works because the reader doesn't live or die with what happens on the field. This sprawling multiple-story saga follows the coming-of-age and midlife crises of five characters at Westish College, a small liberal-arts school in Wisconsin. At the center of it all is Henry Skrimshander, a shortstop of phenomenal ability who has led the school's baseball team to unprecedented heights. Then a wildly errant throw from Henry's usually infallible arm provides the catalyst for game-changing events not only in Henry's life but also in those of his roommate, Owen Dunne; his best friend and mentor, the team's catcher, Mike Schwartz; the school's president, Guert Affenlight; and the president's daughter, Pella. In an immediately accessible narrative reminiscent of John Irving, Harbach (cofounder of the popular literary journal n+1) draws readers into the lives of his characters, plumbing their psyches with remarkable psychological acuity and exploring the transformative effect that love and friendship can have on troubled souls. And, yes, it's a hell of a baseball story, too, no matter who wins. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.  


1Q84 by Haruki Murakami ; translated from the Japanese by Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel
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*Starred Review* Murakami writes two kinds of novels: short, intimate, crystalline portraits of lovers, often trapped in alternate worlds or struggling between secret selves (After Dark, 2007), and much longer, broad-canvas epics (The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, 1997) that submerge the reader in a tidal wave of story. His latest definitely falls into the latter camp, and, yet, it clings resolutely to the intimacy of the shorter works. This foray into what is unquestionably Murakami's most vividly imagined parallel world begins simply, with two seemingly ordinary events: two lonely 10-year-olds, a boy and a girl, Tengo and Aomame, hold hands in an empty classroom, and for the next 20 years, while never seeing one another, they dream of meeting but are strangely paralyzed to make it happen. Then Aomame, a 30-year-old woman in 1984—and an assassin who kills men who abuse women—walks down an emergency exit from a Tokyo expressway and finds herself in another world, which she calls 1Q84, a world overseen by two moons and ruled, apparently, by the quixotic "little people." Meanwhile, Tengo has rewritten a novel by an enigmatic 17-year-old girl that accurately describes the world of 1Q84. As the lives of Tengo, Aomame, and a Dostoyevskian private investigator, who works for a religious cult that worships the little people, swirl closer and closer together, Murakami draws the reader deeper and deeper into this utterly baffling universe, switching narration between the three principal characters, each of whom grasps only a small part of their two-mooned world. Gradually but inexorably, the tension builds, as we root passionately for Tengo and Aomame to find one another and hold hands again, so simple a human connection offering a kind of oasis in the midst of the unexplainable and the terrifying. When Murakami melds fantasy and realism, mystery and epic, it is no simple genre-bending exercise; rather, it is literary alchemy of the highest order. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Murakami, whose work has been translated into 40 languages, is one of our most-honored international fiction writers. His latest will attract great interest in literary circles. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.


Thinking, Fast and Slow By Daniel Kahneman
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Decision making tends to be intuitive rather than logical. Kahneman has dedicated his academic research to understanding why that is so. This work distills his and colleagues' findings about how we make up our minds and how much we can trust intuition. Clinical experiments on psychology's traditional guinea pigs—college students—abound and collectively batter confidence in "System 1," as Kahneman calls intuition. All sorts of biases, sporting tags like "the halo effect" (i.e., unwarranted attribution of positive qualities to a thing or person one likes), bedevil accurate appraisal of reality. According to Kahneman, intuitive feelings often override "System 2," or thinking that requires effort, such as simple arithmetic. Exemplifying his points in arenas as diverse as selecting military officers, speculating in stocks, hiring employees, and starting up businesses, Kahneman accords some reliability to intuitive choice, as long as the decision maker is aware of cognitive illusions (the study of which brought Kahneman the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics). Kahneman's insights will most benefit those in leadership positions yet they will also help the average reader to become a better car buyer. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Maphead : Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks by Ken Jennings.
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Considering Jennings' calling card—he's the Jeopardy! multimillionaire—readers might expect a light, trivia-filled book. Well, that's half right. It's breezily written, but it's not trivial. In fact, it demonstrates that Jennings, a software engineer before his game-show triumph, could have a long career as a writer. There is some trivia in it (e.g., there's no evidence pirates ever used treasure maps), but mainly it's a serious and passionate look at the importance of geography and, by extension, the ability to use and understand maps—for students, historians, political leaders, pop-culture innovators, and, indeed, everyone. Jennings peppers the book with humorous comments and personal asides (he admits up front that he's "a bit of a geography wonk"), but his mission is to rescue geography from irrelevance, to make us realize that geographic illiteracy is not merely "comic shorthand for stupidity" but a real and pervasive problem. A fascinating book that blends humor, memoir, and serious analysis. Comparisons to Bill Bryson's magnificent A Really Short History of Nearly Everything (2009) are entirely apt. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

The Tiger's Wife by Téa Obreht
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NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST •

In a Balkan country mending from war, Natalia, a young doctor, is compelled to unravel the mysterious circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather’s recent death. Searching for clues, she turns to his worn copy of The Jungle Book and the stories he told her of his encounters over the years with “the deathless man.” But most extraordinary of all is the story her grandfather never told her—the legend of the tiger’s wife.


The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt
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In this gloriously learned page-turner, both biography and intellectual history, Harvard Shakespearean scholar Greenblatt (Will in the World) turns his attention to the front end of the Renaissance as the origin of Western culture's foundation: the free questioning of truth. It hinges on the recovery of an ancient philosophical Latin text that had been neglected for a thousand years. In the winter of 1417 Italian oddball humanist, smutty humorist, and apostolic secretary Poggio Bracciolini stumbled on Lucretius' De rerum natura. In an obscure monastery in southern Germany lay the recovery of a philosophy free of superstition and dogma. Lucretius' "On the Nature of Things" harked back to the mostly lost works of Greek philosophers known as atomists. Lucretius himself was essentially an Epicurean who saw the restrained seeking of pleasure as the highest good. Poggio's chance finding lay what Greenblatt, following Lucretius himself, terms a historic swerve of massive proportions, propagated by such seminal and often heretical truth tellers as Machiavelli, Giordano Bruno, and Montaigne. We even learn the history of the bookworm—a real entity and one of the enemies of ancient written-cultural transmission. Nearly 70 pages of notes and bibliography do nothing to spoil the fun of Greenblatt's marvelous tale. 16 pages of color illus. (Sept. 19)

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
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Debut author Morgenstern doesn't miss a beat in this smashing tale of greed, fate, and love set in a turn of the 20th-century circus. Celia is a five-year-old with untrained psychokinetic powers when she is unceremoniously dumped on her unsuspecting father, Hector Bowen, better known as Le Cirque des Reves' Prospero the Entertainer. Hector immediately hatches a sinister scheme for Celia: pit her against a rival's young magician in an epic battle of magic that will, by design, result in the death of one of the players, though neither Celia nor her adversary, Marco, is informed of the inevitable outcome. What neither Hector nor his rival count on is that Celia and Marco will eventually fall in love. Their mentors—Marco's mentor, Alexander, plucked him from the London streets due to his psychic abilities—attempt to intervene with little success as Celia and Marco barrel toward an unexpected and oddly fitting conclusion. Supporting characters—such as Bailey, a farm boy who befriends a set of twins born into the circus who will drastically influence his future; Isobel, a circus employee and onetime girlfriend of Marco's; and theatrical producer Chandresh Christophe Lefèvre—are perfectly realized and live easily in a giant, magical story destined for bestsellerdom. This is an electric debut on par with Special Topics in Calamity Physics. (Sept.)

Civilization : The West and the Rest by Niall Furguson
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Booklist Reviews Beset by critics and enemies, Western civilization has an apologist in popular financial historian Ferguson. In this analytical overview, he illuminates the loss of confidence by elites and masses in Western civilization by asking how, in the first place, West European countries vaulted ahead of Asian, Middle Eastern, African, and South American countries. Giving six explanations, he pulls from the past five centuries particular examples of commercial competition, scientific advancement, property rights, medical progress, consumerism, and the work ethic. His statistics-based arguments anticipate the rejoinders of Western civilization's critics, but he's hardly a complacent cheerleader. He details much ghastliness in the colonial and imperial eras, yet he holds that sins can't refute that, wherever Western ideas, technology, and goods erupted, ordinary people embraced them and, if allowed to by rulers and conditions, outdistanced adherents to local tradition. Ultimately, Ferguson tackles the proposition that the West's present ailments presage its eclipse by China and/or Islam. Since marketing will include "op-eds at publication," expect more requests than the standing army of decline-of-the-West genre fans alone may generate. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Another Woman: A Novel by Penny Vincenzi
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Penny Vincenzi, queen of riveting family drama, delivers her most page-turning saga yet in this novel of intrigue, sure to please her legions of fans. The night before her lavish wedding, Cressida Forrest went to bed serene and happy. By morning she had vanished--without apparent cause, and without a trace. Shocked, anxious, and uncomprehending, the two families face a long day of revelations, as a complex, fragile web of sexual, marital, and financial secrets is ripped apart by Cressida's disappearance.

House I loved by Tatiana De Rosnay
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Paris, France: 1860's. Hundreds of houses are being razed, whole neighborhoods reduced to ashes. By order of Emperor Napoleon III, Baron Haussman has set into motion a series of large-scale renovations that will permanently alter the face of old Paris, moulding it into a “modern city.” The reforms will erase generations of history—but in the midst of the tumult, one woman will take a stand.

 Rose Bazelet is determined to fight against the destruction of her family home until the very end; as others flee, she stakes her claim in the basement of the old house on rue Childebert, ignoring the sounds of change that come closer and closer each day. Attempting to overcome the loneliness of her daily life, she begins to write letters to Armand, her beloved late husband. And as she delves into the ritual of remembering, Rose is forced to come to terms with a secret that has been buried deep in her heart for thirty years. The House I Loved is both a poignant story of one woman's indelible strength, and an ode to Paris, where houses harbor the joys and sorrows of their inhabitants, and secrets endure in the very walls...
 

Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman
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Hoffman makes ancient history live and breathe in this compelling story, set in 70 CE, detailing the siege of the mountain stronghold Masada, where 900 Jews held out for months against the Romans. Hoffman's novel follows four extraordinary women. Red-haired Yael has long been shunned by her father, a renowned assassin, because of her mother's death in childbirth. Forced to flee from Jerusalem, she makes a tortuous journey across the desert, during which she becomes involved with a married man, and after finally reaching Masada, is assigned to the dovecote, where she meets three charismatic women: Revka, a baker's wife who witnessed her daughter's horrific death at the hands of Roman soldiers; Shirah, a tattooed wisewoman; and Shirah's daughter Aziza, a warrior of uncommon skill. Forced to deal with the outside forces intent on eradicating them and with their people's patriarchal system, which is quick to condemn unconventional behavior, the women draw great strength from their own inner resources and from each other. This is both a feminist manifesto and a deeply felt tribute to courageous men and women of faith, told with the cadence and imagery of a biblical passage. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The latest novel from the best-selling and prolific Alice Hoffman will be suppported by a national ad campaign, an author tour, and a reading-group guide. Will the biblical subject matter—quite a change of pace for Hoffman—prove as popular as her domestic dramas? Stay tuned. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.  

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
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Marina Singh gave up a career as a doctor after botching an emergency delivery as an intern, opting instead for the more orderly world of research for a pharmaceutical company. When office colleague Anders Eckman, sent to the Amazon to check on the work of a field team, is reported dead, Marina is asked by her company's CEO to complete Anders' task and to locate his body. What Marina finds in the sweltering, insect-infested jungles of the Amazon shakes her to her core. For the team is headed by esteemed scientist Annick Swenson, the woman who oversaw Marina's residency and who is now intent on keeping the team's progress on a miracle drug completely under wraps. Marina's jungle odyssey includes exotic encounters with cannibals and snakes, a knotty ethical dilemma about the basic tenets of scientific research, and joyous interactions with the exuberant people of the Lakashi tribe, who live on the compound. In fluid and remarkably atmospheric prose, Patchett captures not only the sights and sounds of the chaotic jungle environment but also the struggle and sacrifice of dedicated scientists. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The award-winning, New York Times best-selling author's latest novel is being supported with an author tour, a national advertising campaign, blogger outreach, and a reading-group guide. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.  

The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian
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"*Starred Review* In his suspenseful thirteenth novel, Bohjalian wraps a family drama in an eerie ghost story. Pilot Chip Linton is haunted by the crash-landing of his 70-seat regional jet in the waters of Lake Champlain, which claimed the lives of 39 persons. He and his wife, Emily, decide to make a fresh start and move with their 10-year-old twin daughters to northern New Hampshire, where an eccentric group of women known as herbalists welcomes them and seems especially interested in the twins. Not long after, Chip discovers a mysterious door in the basement, sealed shut with 39 carriage bolts. Increasingly haunted by memories of the crash and by the belief that he can hear three dead passengers speaking to him, Chip is a far-diminished version of the confident man he used to be, causing his family to fear him even as they grieve the father and husband they have lost. Bohjalian pits the vulnerability of a traumatized family against the cold manipulation of the herbalists in a page-turner of uncommon depth. Guilt, egotism, and fear all play parts in the genre-bending novel, which rivals the spooky twists and turns of Stephen Irwin's The Dead Path (2010)." Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.


Why Read Moby-Dick? by Nathaniel Philbrick
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*Starred Review* "What a book Melville has written!" Hawthorne exclaimed upon first reading Moby Dick. More than 150 years later, Philbrick echoes Hawthorne's enthusiasm. Although he repudiates the various interpretations of Melville's White Whale as a symbol of this or that human nemesis, Philbrick sees in Melville's story of the whale a mythically capacious emblem of the nation that incubated it—pulsing with poetic imagination, threatened by grim contradictions, and doomed to a devastating catastrophe. Readers thus come to recognize, for instance, how Melville's portrayal of the Pequod's pious but hard-hearted owners mirrors the bifurcation separating the nation's high-spirited idealism from its real-world addiction to the profits of slavery. And in its harrowing denouement, this prescient novel anticipates the carnage of Cold Harbor and Antietam. To be sure, Philbrick sees in the novel more than a symbol of America's tragically flawed history; he marvels, in fact, at how deeply Melville plumbs mysteries that defy time and geography. By probing the circumstances surrounding Melville's writing of the novel, Philbrick illuminates the intense creative process through which the brooding author melded the darkest elements from the art of Hawthorne and Shakespeare in the crucible of his own fervent agnosticism. Sure to swell the readership of Melville's masterpiece. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Rin TIn TIn by Susan Orlean
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"*Starred Review* Rin Tin Tin, the smart, athletic German shepherd who became "the archetypal dog hero," was born on a battlefield in France in 1918 and rescued by Lee Duncan, an American soldier. Duncan, whose love for animals was rooted in a childhood of abandonment, brought Rin Tin Tin to California, where diligent training, talent, and luck turned "Rinty" into a universally beloved movie star. The Rin Tin Tin character lived on after the original dog's death in 1932 (the world mourned) as Duncan, utterly devoted to his creation, worked with a series of German shepherds to keep Rin Tin Tin in the movies and on television for nearly four more decades. In her first from-scratch investigative book since The Orchid Thief (1999), New Yorker staff writer Orlean incisively chronicles every facet of the never-before-told, surprisingly consequential, and roller-coaster–like Rin Tin Tin saga, including the rapid evolution of the film and television industries, the rise of American pet culture, how Americans heeded the military's call and sent their dogs into combat during WWII, and even what the courageous canine meant to her own family. Orlean's engrossing, dynamic, and affecting biography of a dog who became an icon of loyalty and valor will reignite Rin Tin Tin fever in yet another time when heroes are in acute demand. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Move over Seabiscuit, Rin Tin Tin will be the most-talked-about animal hero of the year and beyond as best-selling Orlean presents a spectacularly compelling portrait." Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

The Greater Journey : Americans in Paris by David McCullough.
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*Starred Review* Paris in the 1920s is one of those romantic place-and-time moments every writer wishes to have been part of. But popular historian McCullough, much-respected author of Truman (1992) and John Adams (2001), chose not to retell the story of the so-called Lost Generation. Instead, he relates a less-familiar but no-less-engaging tale: that of the many Americans, most of them in the arts, who were soul-drawn to Paris between 1830 and 1900. He reminds us that in the century of great American expansion, "not all pioneers went west." McCullough's research is staggering to perceive, and the interpretation he lends to his material is impressive to behold as he chronicles a long but never thinly analyzed list of expatriates who settled in Paris for varying lengths of time to take advantage of the heady environment—the city as muse—to elevate their talents in their particular fields, whether it be painting (Mary Cassatt and John Singer Sargent), sculpture (Augustus Saint-Gaudens), writing (Henry James and James Fenimore Cooper), or learning medicine (Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female doctor in America, and Oliver Wendell Holmes). HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: McCullough's track record says it all: expect his latest book to ascend the best-seller lists and be given a place on the year-end best lists. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
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*Starred Review* Brooks, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for her Civil War novel, March (2006), here imagines the life of Caleb Cheeshahteaumauk, the first Native American to graduate from Harvard. The story is told by Bethia Mayfield, the daughter of a preacher who traveled from England to Martha's Vineyard to try and "bring Christ to the Indians." In 1660, when Bethia is 12, the family takes Caleb, a Wampanoag Indian, into their home to prepare him for boarding school. Bethia is a bright scholar herself, and though education for women is discouraged, she absorbs the lessons taught to Caleb and her brother Makepeace like a sponge. She struggles through the deaths of her mother, a younger sister, another brother, and her father. When Caleb and Makepeace are sent to Cambridge, Bethia accompanies them as an indentured servant to a professor. She marries a Harvard scholar, journeys with him to Padua, and finally returns to her beloved island. In flashbacks, Brooks relates the woes of the Indian Wars, the smallpox epidemic, and Caleb's untimely death shortly after his graduation with honors. Brooks has an uncanny ability to reconstruct each moment of the history she so thoroughly researched in stunningly lyrical prose, and her characters are to be cherished. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.  

Silver Girl by Elin Hilderbrand
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The rug is pulled out from under Meredith Martin Delinn when her husband is accused of operating a Ponzi scheme and sentenced to 150 years in prison, and she is treated as a pariah. With no home, no friends, and no money, she turns to childhood friend Connie Flute. They have not spoken for three years, yet Connie promptly picks Meredith up in Manhattan and takes her to her summer home on Nantucket. Both women have wounds to deal with. Meredith is the object not only of scorn but also of a federal investigation. Connie is coping with the death of her husband and estrangement from her daughter. Meredith's arrival gives Connie the excuse to start living again, but their once golden lives are no more, and now, once someone discovers that Meredith is staying at Connie's place, they even have to face threats and danger. Another winner from Hilderbrand (The Castaways, 2009), who in this sensitive and suspenseful tale succeeds in portraying a seemingly unlikable character, besieged Meredith, and making her human. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.
 

Unbroken : a World War II story of survival, resilience, and redemption by Laura Hillenbrand.
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A second book by the author of Seabiscuit (2001) would get noticed, even if it weren't the enthralling and often grim story of Louie Zamperini. An Olympic runner during the 1930s, he flew B-24s during WWII. Taken prisoner by the Japanese, he endured a captivity harsh even by Japanese standards and was a physical and mental wreck at the end of the war. He was saved by the influence of Billy Graham, who inspired him to turn his life around, and afterward devoted himself to evangelical speeches and founding boys' camps. Still alive at 93, Zamperini now works with those Japanese individuals and groups who accept responsibility for Japanese mistreatment of POWs and wish to see Japan and the U.S. reconciled. He submitted to 75 interviews with the author as well as contributing a large mass of personal records. Fortunately, the author's skills are as polished as ever, and like its predecessor, this book has an impossible-to-put-down quality that one commonly associates with good thrillers. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: This departure from the author's previous best-seller will nevertheless be promoted as necessary reading for the many folks who enjoyed the first one or its movie version. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff.
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For those who think they know enough about Cleopatra or have the enigmatic Egyptian queen all figured out, think again. Schiff, demonstrating the same narrative flair that captivated readers of her Pulitzer Prize–winning Véra (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov) (1999), provides a new interpretation of the life of one of history's most enduringly intriguing women. Rather than a devastatingly beautiful femme fatale, Cleopatra, according to Schiff, was a shrewd power broker who knew how to use her manifold gifts—wealth, power, and intelligence—to negotiate advantageous political deals and military alliances. Though long on facts and short on myth, this stellar biography is still a page-turner; in fact, because this portrait is grounded so thoroughly in historical context, it is even more extraordinary than the more fanciful legend. Cleopatra emerges as a groundbreaking female leader, relying on her wits, determination, and political acumen rather than sex appeal to astutely wield her power in order to get the job done. Ancient Egypt never goes out of style, and Cleopatra continues to captivate successive generations. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

The Paris Wife: a Novel by Paula McLain
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History is sadly neglectful of the supporting players in the lives of great artists. Fortunately, fiction provides ample opportunity to bring these often fascinating personalities out into the limelight. Gaynor Arnold successfully resurrected the much-maligned Mrs. Charles Dickens in Girl in a Blue Dress (2009), now Paula McLain brings Hadley Richardson Hemingway out from the formidable shadow cast by her famous husband. Though doomed, the Hemingway marriage had its giddy high points, including a whirlwind courtship and a few fast and furious years of the expatriate lifestyle in 1920s Paris. Hadley and Ernest traveled in heady company during this gin-soaked and jazz-infused time, and readers are treated to intimate glimpses of many of the literary giants of the era, including Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. But the real star of the story is Hadley, as this time around, Ernest is firmly relegated to the background as he almost never was during their years together. Though eventually a woman scorned, Hadley is able to acknowledge without rancor or bitterness that "Hem" had "helped me to see what I really was and what I could do." Much more than a "woman-behind-the-man" homage, this beautifully crafted tale is an unsentimental tribute to a woman who acted with grace and strength as her marriage crumbled. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews. 

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova
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First-person narrator Sarah Nickerson is a 37-year-old, overachieving multitasker with a Harvard MBA and a demanding job as vice president of human relations at a Boston consulting firm. Her husband, Bob, works at a struggling tech start-up and shares in the upbringing of their three young children in an affluent suburb. Then there's a car accident on a rainy November morning, and a traumatic brain injury leaves Sarah with "left neglect," a lack of awareness of anything to her left, including the left side of her own body. The one person who can help when insurance runs out is Sarah's mother, Helen, yet their relationship has been rocky ever since Helen was a virtually absentee mother for Sarah after Sarah's brother, Nate, died in childhood. As Sarah's struggles parallel those of her 7-year-old son, Charlie, just diagnosed with ADHD, there is healing of body, mind, and mother-daughter relationship and acceptance that "normal is overrated." Neuroscientist Genova (Still Alice, 2009) once again personalizes an actual disabling brain condition to create irresistibly readable and moving fiction. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews. 

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett
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Fall of Giants is his magnificent new historical epic. The first novel in The Century Trilogy, it follows the fates of five interrelated families-American, German, Russian, English, and Welsh-as they move through the world-shaking dramas of the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for women's suffrage.

Thirteen-year-old Billy Williams enters a man's world in the Welsh mining pits...Gus Dewar, an American law student rejected in love, finds a surprising new career in Woodrow Wilson's White House...two orphaned Russian brothers, Grigori and Lev Peshkov, embark on radically different paths half a world apart when their plan to emigrate to America falls afoul of war, conscription, and revolution...Billy's sister, Ethel, a housekeeper for the aristocratic Fitzherberts, takes a fateful step above her station, while Lady Maud Fitzherbert herself crosses deep into forbidden territory when she falls in love with Walter von Ulrich, a spy at the German embassy in London...

These characters and many others find their lives inextricably entangled as, in a saga of unfolding drama and intriguing complexity, Fall of Giants moves seamlessly from Washington to St. Petersburg, from the dirt and danger of a coal mine to the glittering chandeliers of a palace, from the corridors of power to the bedrooms of the mighty. As always with Ken Follett, the historical background is brilliantly researched and rendered, the action fast-moving, the characters rich in nuance and emotion. It is destined to be a new classic.

In future volumes of The Century Trilogy, subsequent generations of the same families will travel through the great events of the rest of the twentieth century, changing themselves-and the century itself. With passion and the hand of a master, Follett brings us into a world we thought we knew, but now will never seem the same again. 

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
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From the National Book Award-winning author of The Corrections, a darkly comedic novel about family

Patty and Walter Berglund were the new pioneers of old St. Paul—the gentrifiers, the hands-on parents, the avant-garde of the Whole Foods generation. Patty was the ideal sort of neighbor, who could tell you where to recycle your batteries and how to get the local cops to actually do their job. She was an enviably perfect mother and the wife of Walter’s dreams. Together with Walter—environmental lawyer, commuter cyclist, total family man—she was doing her small part to build a better world.

But now, in the new millennium, the Berglunds have become a mystery. Why has their teenage son moved in with the aggressively Republican family next door? Why has Walter taken a job working with Big Coal? What exactly is Richard Katz—outré rocker and Walter’s college best friend and rival—still doing in the picture? Most of all, what has happened to Patty? Why has the bright star of Barrier Street become “a very different kind of neighbor,” an implacable Fury coming unhinged before the street’s attentive eyes?

In his first novel since The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen has given us an epic of contemporary love and marriage. Freedom comically and tragically captures the temptations and burdens of liberty: the thrills of teenage lust, the shaken compromises of middle age, the wages of suburban sprawl, the heavy weight of empire. In charting the mistakes and joys of Freedom’s intensely realized characters as they struggle to learn how to live in an ever more confusing world, Franzen has produced an indelible and deeply moving portrait of our time.
 

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
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Focusing on the world of medicine, this epic first novel by well-known doctor/author Verghese (My Own Country) follows a man on a mythic quest to find his father. It begins with the dramatic birth of twins slightly joined at the skull, their father serving as surgeon and their mother dying on the table. The horrorstruck father vanishes, and the now separated boys are raised by two Indian doctors living on the grounds of a mission hospital in early 1950s Ethiopia. The boys both gravitate toward medical practice, with Marion the more studious one and Shiva a moody genius and loner. Also living on the hospital grounds is Genet, daughter of one of the maids, who grows up to be a beautiful and mysterious young woman and a source of ruinous competition between the brothers. After Marion is forced to flee the country for political reasons, he begins his medical residency at a poor hospital in New York City, and the past catches up with him. The medical background is fascinating as the author delves into fairly technical areas of human anatomy and surgical procedure. This novel succeeds on many levels and is recommended for all collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/08.]—Jim Coan, SUNY Coll. at Oneonta

TheThousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet : a novel by David Mitchell.
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*Starred Review* Two-time Booker finalist Mitchell applies his wide-ranging talents to this innovative historical epic. Dejima, an artificial island created as a trading outpost in Nagasaki Harbor, proves fertile ground for exploring intercultural relations, trust and betrayal, racial and gender boundaries, the search for identity, and unexpected love in a changing world. In 1799, when the Netherlands held a trade monopoly with isolationist Japan, Jacob de Zoet, a clerk for the Dutch East Indies Company, is charged with uncovering fraud in his predecessors' ledgers. As Jacob doggedly pursues an honest course, he becomes romantically intrigued by Orito Aibagawa, a gifted, disfigured midwife granted special permission to study on Dejima. Mitchell incorporates diverse styles, and he expertly adapts tone and dialogue to reflect his situations. In the main plotline, incisive commentary on decisions and unforeseen consequences filters through a jaunty, slang-filled tale in which Japanese and Dutchmen arrange public and private deals. Interlinked subplots offer creepy gothic drama, seafaring adventure, and race-against-time suspense. Despite the audacious scope, the focus remains intimate; each fascinating character—interpreter, herbalist, magistrate, slave—has the opportunity to share his or her story. Everything is patched together seamlessly and interwoven with clever wordplay and enlightening historical details on feudal Japan. First-rate literary fiction and a rousing good yarn, too. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

Women, food and God : an unexpected path to almost everything by Geneen Roth
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While "God" is in the title of this latest work by best-selling author Roth (When Food Is Love), she touches only lightly on religion, focusing instead on why some people use food to mask their emotions. Overeating numbs feelings and erases unpleasant life experiences, Roth says; eating ends up being about bloating and indigestion, not about enjoying food. Through a series of inquiries, Roth helps overeaters find the underlying reasons for using food as an emotional buffer. Roth also provides seven basic guidelines for eating (which do not include counting calories) and other therapeutic self-help tools. Whether the trap is eating brownies or shopping in excess, Roth's advice could be applied to any addiction. VERDICT This is an excellent book for anyone tired of quick-fix diets. Having experienced the ups and downs of emotional eating herself, Roth offers readers genuine and heartfelt advice.

Empire of the Summer Moon : Quanah Parker and the rise and fall of the Comanches, the most powerful Indian tribe in American history Gwynne, S
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The vast, semi-arid grasslands of the southern Great Plains could be dominated by hunters and warriors on horseback. In the first half of the nineteenth century, the Comanches, often referred to as "lords of the Plains," were the single most powerful military force in the region, to the frustration of both the Mexican and U.S. governments. In this engrossing chronicle, award-winning journalist Gwynne traces the rise of the Comanche people from their roots as primitive bands of hunter-gatherers to their mastery of the horse and emergence as the feared power brokers of the area. At the center of the narrative is the charismatic Quanah Parker, who skillfully navigated the gaps between his traditional culture and the emerging, settled culture of the late-nineteenth century. Quanah was the son of a Comanche warrior and a woman named Cynthia Ann Parker, who was kidnapped at the age of nine and chose to stay with the Comanches. Quanah was a brilliant, feared war chief who guided his people in adapting to new realities after their final suppression by the U.S. Calvary. An outstanding addition to western-history collections. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.  

Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls
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 In her best-selling memoir, The Glass Castle (2005), Walls chronicled her painfully enlightening childhood. She now loops back to tell the even more gripping tale of her maternal grandmother, the formidable horse-training, poker-playing rancher and teacher Lily Casey Smith. Because she patched the story together from reminiscences, used her imagination to fill in the gaps, and decided to have Lily narrate so we could all experience her sharp-shooter's directness, Walls wisely calls this a novel.  Walls does her grandmother proud in this historically revealing and triumphant novel of a fearless, progressive woman who will not be corralled.

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
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Publishers weekly

Weaving together the stories of three very different women loosely tied to each other, debut novelist Blake takes readers back and forth between small town America and war-torn Europe in 1940. Single, 40-year-old postmistress Iris James and young newlywed Emma Trask are both new arrivals to Franklin, Mass., on Cape Cod. While Iris and Emma go about their daily lives, they follow American reporter Frankie Bard on the radio as she delivers powerful and personal accounts from the London Blitz and elsewhere in Europe. While Trask waits for the return of her husband—a volunteer doctor stationed in England—James comes across a letter with valuable information that she chooses to hide. Blake captures two different worlds—a naïve nation in denial and, across the ocean, a continent wracked with terror—with a deft sense of character and plot, and a perfect willingness to take on big, complex questions, such as the merits of truth and truth-telling in wartime. (Feb.)



Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian
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Publishers Weekly

Bohjalian (Law of Similars) has built a reputation on his rich characters and immersing readers in diverse subjects—homeopathy, animal rights activism, midwifery—and his latest surely won’t disappoint. The morning after her baptism into the Rev. Stephen Drew’s Vermont Baptist church, Alice Hayward and her abusive husband are found dead in their home, an apparent murder-suicide. Stephen, the novel’s first narrator, is so racked with guilt over his failure to save Alice that he leaves town. Soon, he meets Heather Laurent, the author of a book about angels whose own parents’ marriage also ended in tragedy. Stephen’s deeply sympathetic narration is challenged by the next two narrators: deputy state attorney Catherine Benincasa, whose suspicions are aroused initially by Stephen’s abrupt departure (and then by questions about his relationship with Alice), and Heather, who distances herself from Stephen for similar reasons and risks the trip into her dark past by seeking out Katie, the Haywards’ now-orphaned 15-year-old daughter who puts into play the final pieces of the puzzle, setting things up for a touching twist. Fans of Bohjalian’s more exotic works will miss learning something new, but this is a masterfully human and compassionate tale. Starred Review (Feb.)



Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
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Publishers Weekly

Set aside a full day to savor Simon Slater’s delightful reading of the Booker Prize–winning tale of Henry VIII’s court, seen through the eyes of his adviser Thomas Cromwell. Mantel’s revisionist take turns Cromwell—so frequently vilified as in A Man for All Seasons—into a modern sort of hero, shrewd and adaptable. Slater’s narration is nuanced and precise; he breathes feeling and subtle shades of emotion into every exchange of dialogue. His is a heroic undertaking, and he does admirable justice to Mantel’s lucid prose and juicy plot. A Holt hardcover (Reviews, Aug. 17). (Dec.)


The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
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Publishers Weekly

Kingsolver's ambitious new novel, her first in nine years (after the The Poisonwood Bible), focuses on Harrison William Shepherd, the product of a divorced American father and a Mexican mother. After getting kicked out of his American military academy, Harrison spends his formative years in Mexico in the 1930s in the household of Diego Rivera; his wife, Frida Kahlo; and their houseguest, Leon Trotsky, who is hiding from Soviet assassins. After Trotsky is assassinated, Harrison returns to the U.S., settling down in Asheville, N.C., where he becomes an author of historical potboilers (e.g., Vassals of Majesty) and is later investigated as a possible subversive. Narrated in the form of letters, diary entries and newspaper clippings, the novel takes a while to get going, but once it does, it achieves a rare dramatic power that reaches its emotional peak when Harrison wittily and eloquently defends himself before the House Un-American Activities Committee (on the panel is a young Dick Nixon). “Employed by the American imagination,” is how one character describes Harrison, a term that could apply equally to Kingsolver as she masterfully resurrects a dark period in American history with the assured hand of a true literary artist. (Nov.)


Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom
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As America struggles with hard times and people turn more to their beliefs, Albom and the two men of God explore issues that perplex modern man: how to endure when difficult things happen; what heaven is; intermarriage; forgiveness; doubting God; and the importance of faith in trying times. Although the texts, prayers, and histories are different, Albom begins to recognize a striking unity between the two worlds--and indeed, between beliefs everywhere.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
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Limited and persecuted by racial divides in 1962 Jackson, Mississippi, three women, including an African-American maid, her sassy and chronically unemployed friend, and a recently graduated white woman, team up for a clandestine project against a backdrop of the budding civil rights era

That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo
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In a comic family saga by a best-selling Pulitzer Prize winner, Jack and Joy Griffin's lives seem to always come back to Cape Cod, where they honeymooned, as they experience the ups and downs of life, including the deaths of Jack's parents, the marriage of their daughter, and Jack and Joy's divorce.

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
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The larger-than-life world of Olive Kitteridge, a retired school teacher and unofficial town crier in a small coastal town in Maine, is revealed in a series of luminous stories that explore her diverse roles in many lives, including a lounge singer haunted by a past love, a young man grieving over his lost mother, her stoic husband, and her own resentful son

Wisdom Trail : In the Footsteps of Remarkable Women by Janet Lieberman and Julie Hungar
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The Wisdom Trail follows the life trajectories of extraordinary women, now in their seventies and eighties, who share to a remarkable extent a set of qualities that produced their successful lives. The vital women whose voices are captured in this book look back with well-earned perspective on the crises and opportunities, the decisions and accidents that marked their varied but ultimately satisfying paths.

The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson
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On the eve of the publication of a sex-trafficking exposé, two reporters responsible for the magazine story are murdered, and the fingerprints on the murder weapon belong to Lisbeth Salander, a genius hacker, prompting the magazine's publisher, Mikael Blomkvist, to launch his own investigation to vindicate Lisbeth, just as she becomes the prey of a murderous hunt. From the author of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
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The best-selling author of Blink identifies the qualities of successful people, posing theories about the cultural, family, and idiosyncratic factors that shape high achievers, in a resource that covers such topics as the secrets of software billionaires, why certain cultures are associated with better academic performance, and why the Beatles earned their fame.

Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor by Brad Gooch
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Evaluates the ways in which the mid-twentieth-century novelist reflected American culture and influenced literature, in a portrait that includes coverage of her relationships with such contemporaries as Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Hardwick, and James Dickey.
 


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