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“I cannot live without books” — Thomas Jefferson
The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu
By Joshua Hammer (Simon & Schuster $16)
To save ancient Arabic texts from Al Qaeda, a band of librarians pulls off a brazen heist worthy of Ocean’s Eleven in this “fast-paced narrative that is…part intellectual history, part geopolitical tract, and part out-and-out thrille
The Gates of Evangeline
By Hester Young (Penguin Random House $16)
When New York journalist and recently bereaved mother Charlotte “Charlie” Cates begins to experience vivid dreams about children in danger, she’s sure that she’s lost her mind. Yet these are not the nightmares of a grieving parent. They are warnings that will help Charlie and the children she sees, if only she can make sense of them.
After a little boy in a boat appears in Charlie’s dreams, asking for her help, she finds herself entangled in a world-famous thirty-year-old missing-child case that has never ceased to haunt Louisiana’s prestigious Deveau family. Armed with an invitation to Evangeline, the family’s sprawling estate, Charlie heads south, where new friendships and an unlikely romance with the estate’s landscape architect–the warm and handsome Noah Palmer–bring much-needed healing. But as she uncovers long-buried secrets of love, money, betrayal, and murder, the facts begin to implicate those she most wants to trust–and her visions reveal an evil closer than she could have imagined.
News of the World
By Paulette Jiles (Harper Collins $15.99)
In the aftermath of the Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people in this exquisitely rendered, morally complex, multilayered novel of historical fiction from the author of Enemy Women that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust. In the wake of the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings from newspapers to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain enjoys his rootless, solitary existence. In Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives in San Antonio. Four years earlier, a band of Kiowa raiders killed Johanna’s parents and sister; sparing the little girl, they raised her as one of their own. Recently rescued by the U.S. army, the ten-year-old has once again been torn away from the only home she knows. Their 400-mile journey south through unsettled territory and unforgiving terrain proves difficult and at times dangerous. Johanna has forgotten the English language, tries to escape at every opportunity, throws away her shoes, and refuses to act “civilized.” Yet as the miles pass, the two lonely survivors tentatively begin to trust each other, forming a bond that marks the difference between life and death in this treacherous land. Arriving in San Antonio, the reunion is neither happy nor welcome. The captain must hand Johanna over to an aunt and uncle she does not remember–strangers who regard her as an unwanted burden. A respectable man, Captain Kidd is faced with a terrible choice: abandon the girl to her fate or become–in the eyes of the law–a kidnapper himself.
By Benjamin Ludwig (Park Row Books $26.99)
Meet Ginny Moon. She’s mostly your average teenager–she plays flute in the high school band, has weekly basketball practice, and reads Robert Frost poems in English class.
But Ginny is autistic. And so what’s important to her might seem a bit…different: starting every day with exactly nine grapes for breakfast, Michael Jackson, her baby doll, and crafting a secret plan of escape.
After being traumatically taken from her abusive birth mother and moved around to different homes, Ginny has finally found her “forever home”–a safe place with parents who will love and nurture her. This is exactly what all foster kids are hoping for, right?
But Ginny has other plans. She’ll steal and lie and exploit the good intentions of those who love her–anything it takes to get back what’s missing in her life. She’ll even try to get herself kidnapped.
Told in an extraordinary and wholly original voice, Ginny Moon is at once quirky, charming, heartbreaking, and poignant.
By John Grisham (Penguin Random House $28.95)
Bruce Cable owns a popular bookstore in the sleepy resort town of Santa Rosa on Camino Island in Florida. He makes his real money, though, as a prominent dealer in rare books. Very few people know that he occasionally dabbles in the black market of stolen books and manuscripts. Mercer Mann is a young novelist with a severe case of writer’s block who has recently been laid off from her teaching position. She is approached by an elegant, mysterious woman working for an even more mysterious company. A generous offer of money convinces Mercer to go undercover and infiltrate Bruce Cable’s circle of literary friends, ideally getting close enough to him to learn his secrets. But eventually Mercer learns far too much.
As Good As Gone
By Larry Watson (Workman Publishing $16.99)
Calvin Sidey, one of the last of the old cowboys, returns to the small town where he once was a mythic figure, to the very home he once abandoned, to stay with his grandchildren for a week while his estranged son is away. When family problems arise, Calvin solves them the only way he knows how: the Old West way.
Anything is Possible
By Elizabeth Strout (Penguin Random House $27)
themselves and others.
Here are two sisters: One trades self-respect for a wealthy husband while the other finds in the pages of a book a kindred spirit who changes her life. The janitor at the local school has his faith tested in an encounter with an isolated man he has come to help; a grown daughter longs for mother love even as she comes to accept her mother’s happiness in a foreign country; and the adult Lucy Barton (the heroine of My Name Is Lucy Barton, the author’s celebrated New York Times bestseller) returns to visit her siblings after seventeen years of absence.
Reverberating with the deep bonds of family, and the hope that comes with reconciliation, Anything Is Possible again underscores Elizabeth Strout’s place as one of America’s most respected and cherished authors
By Elizabeth Kostova (Penguin Random House $28)
A young American woman, Alexandra Boyd, has traveled to Sofia, Bulgaria, hoping that life abroad will salve the wounds left by the loss of her beloved brother. Soon after arriving in this elegant East European city, however, she helps an elderly couple into a taxi–and realizes too late that she has accidentally kept one of their bags. Inside she finds an ornately carved wooden box engraved with a name: Stoyan Lazarov. Raising the hinged lid, she discovers that she is holding an urn filled with human ashes. As Alexandra sets out to locate the family and return this precious item, she will first have to uncover the secrets of a talented musician who was shattered by political oppression–and she will find out all too quickly that this knowledge is fraught with its own danger.
The Lost History of Stars
By Dave Boling (Workman $28)
From a forgotten moment in history comes an inspiring novel about finding strength and courage in the most unimaginable places. Fourteen-year-old Lettie and her family are Afrikaners, Dutch settlers in turn-of-the-century southern Africa. When the British Empire wages a brief but brutal two-year war against them, Afrikaner forces will lose thirty-five hundred soldiers, but the toll on Dutch women and children will be eight times greater. Now a footnote, this period in history bears one particularly abhorrent distinction: the use of concentration camps three decades before Hitler. More than twenty-six thousand Dutch women and children will have died of disease and starvation in British concentration camps by the war’s end. Taken from their farm and forced into one such camp, Lettie and her family fight to survive in the face of unimaginable conditions. Brave, defiant Lettie longs to be a writer. Enriched by fond memories of stargazing with her grandfather before the war and emboldened by her mother’s strength in the face of so much hardship, Lettie is a courageous heroine who refuses to be bowed by adversity. Inspired by Dave Boling’s grandfather’s own experience as a soldier during the Boer War, The Lost History of Stars is carefully researched, richly drawn, and unforgettable
By Affinity Konar ( Little Brown & Co. $16.99)
Pearl is in charge of: the sad, the good, the past.
Stasha must care for: the funny, the future, the bad.
It’s 1944 when the twin sisters arrive at Auschwitz with their mother and grandfather. In their benighted new world, Pearl and Stasha Zagorski take refuge in their identical natures, comforting themselves with the private language and shared games of their childhood.
As part of the experimental population of twins known as Mengele’s Zoo, the girls experience privileges and horrors unknown to others, and they find themselves changed, stripped of the personalities they once shared, their identities altered by the burdens of guilt and pain.
That winter, at a concert orchestrated by Mengele, Pearl disappears. Stasha grieves for her twin, but clings to the possibility that Pearl remains alive. When the camp is liberated by the Red Army, she and her companion Feliks–a boy bent on vengeance for his own lost twin–travel through Poland’s devastation. Undeterred by injury, starvation, or the chaos around them, motivated by equal parts danger and hope, they encounter hostile villagers, Jewish resistance fighters, and fellow refugees, their quest enabled by the notion that Mengele may be captured and brought to justice within the ruins of the Warsaw Zoo. As the young survivors discover what has become of the world, they must try to imagine a future within it.