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“I cannot live without books” — Thomas Jefferson
The Long Flight Home
By Alan Hlad (Kensington $26.00)
It is September 1940–a year into the war–and as German bombs fall on Britain, fears grow of an impending invasion. Enemy fighter planes blacken the sky around the Epping Forest home of Susan Shepherd and her grandfather, Bertie. After losing her parents to influenza as a child, Susan found comfort in raising homing pigeons with Bertie. All her birds are extraordinary to Susan–loyal, intelligent, beautiful–but none more so than Duchess. Hatched from an egg that Susan incubated in a bowl under her grandfather’s desk lamp, Duchess shares a special bond with Susan and an unusual curiosity about the human world.
Thousands of miles away in Buxton, Maine, a young crop-duster pilot named Ollie Evans has decided to travel to Britain to join the Royal Air Force. His quest brings him to Epping and to the National Pigeon Service, where Susan is involved in a new, covert assignment. Codenamed Source Columba, the mission aims to air-drop hundreds of homing pigeons in German-occupied France. Many will not survive. Those that do make the journey home to England can convey crucial information on German troop movements–and help reclaim the skies from the Luftwaffe.
The friendship between Ollie and Susan deepens as the mission date draws near. When Ollie’s plane is downed behind enemy lines, both know how remote the chances of reunion must be. Yet Duchess’s devotion and her singular sense of duty will become an unexpected lifeline, relaying messages between Susan and Ollie as war rages on–and proving, at last, that hope is never truly lost.
The Summer We Lost Her
By Tish Cohen (Simon & Schuster $16.99)
It’s been a busy–and expensive–few years for Matt and Elise Sorenson and their young daughter Gracie, whom they affectionately call Little Green. Matt, a Manhattan lawyer, has just been offered a partnership, and Elise’s equestrian ambitions as a competitive dressage rider may finally vault her into the Olympics. But her long absences from home and endless hours of training have strained their relationships nearly to the breaking point.
Now they’re up in the Adirondacks, preparing to sell the valuable lakefront cabin that’s been in Matt’s family for generations. Both he and Elise agree it’s time to let it go. But as they navigate the memories the cabin holds–and come face to face with Matt’s teenage crush, now an unnervingly attractive single mother living right next door–Gracie disappears without a trace.
Faced with the possibility that they’ll never see their daughter again, Elise and Matt struggle to come to terms with what their future may bring. The fate of the family property, the history of this not-so-tiny town, and the limits of Matt and Elise’s love for each other are inextricably bound up with Gracie’s disappearance. Everything for the Sorenson family is about to change–the messy tangle of their past, the harrowing truth of their present, and whether or not their love will survive a parent’s worst nightmare.
Evvie Drake Starts Over
By Linda Holmes (Penguin Random House $26)
In a small town in Maine, recently widowed Eveleth “Evvie” Drake rarely leaves her house. Everyone in town, including her best friend, Andy, thinks grief keeps her locked inside, and she doesn’t correct them. In New York, Dean Tenney, former major-league pitcher and Andy’s childhood friend, is struggling with a case of the “yips”: he can’t throw straight anymore, and he can’t figure out why. An invitation from Andy to stay in Maine for a few months seems like the perfect chance to hit the reset button. When Dean moves into an apartment at the back of Evvie’s house, the two make a deal: Dean won’t ask about Evvie’s late husband, and Evvie won’t ask about Dean’s baseball career. Rules, though, have a funny way of being broken–and what starts as an unexpected friendship soon turns into something more. But before they can find out what might lie ahead, they’ll have to wrestle a few demons: the bonds they’ve broken, the plans they’ve changed, and the secrets they’ve kept. They’ll need a lot of help, but in life, as in baseball, there’s always a chance–right up until the last out
Kingdom of the Blind
By Louise Penny (MacMillan $16.99)
When a peculiar letter arrives inviting Armand Gamache to an abandoned farmhouse, the former head of the Sûreté du Québec discovers that a complete stranger has named him one of the executors of her will. Still on suspension, and frankly curious, Gamache accepts and soon learns that the other two executors are Myrna Landers, the bookseller from Three Pines, and a young builder.
None of them had ever met the elderly woman.
The will is so odd and includes bequests that are so wildly unlikely that Gamache and the others suspect the woman must have been delusional. But what if, Gamache begins to ask himself, she was perfectly sane?
When a body is found, the terms of the bizarre will suddenly seem less peculiar and far more menacing.
Light from Other Stars
By Erika Swyler ( Bloomsbury $27.00)
Eleven-year-old Nedda Papas is obsessed with becoming an astronaut. In 1986 in Easter, a small Florida Space Coast town, her dreams seem almost within reach–if she can just grow up fast enough. Theo, the scientist father she idolizes, is consumed by his own obsessions. Laid off from his job at NASA and still reeling from the loss of Nedda’s newborn brother several years before, Theo turns to the dangerous dream of extending his living daughter’s childhood just a little longer. The result is an invention that alters the fabric of time
Hope Rides Again
By Andrew Shaffer (Penguin Random House $14.99)
The two friends barely have time to catch up before another mystery lands in their laps: Obama’s prized Blackberry is stolen. When their number-one suspect winds up full of lead on the South Side, the police are content to write it off as just another gangland shooting. But Joe and Obama smell a rat…
Set against the backdrop of a raucous city on St. Patrick’s Day, Joe and Obama race to find the shooter, only to uncover a vast conspiracy that goes deeper than the waters of Lake Michigan–which is exactly where they’ll spend the rest of their retirement if they’re not careful.
That Churchill Woman
By Stephanie Barron (Penguin Random House $28)
Breathing new life into Jennie’s legacy and the glittering world over which she reigned, That Churchill Woman paints a portrait of the difficult–and sometimes impossible–balance among love, freedom, and obligation, while capturing the spirit of an unforgettable woman, one who altered the course of history.
An Unwanted Guest
By Shari Lapena (Penguin Random House $16 )
It’s winter in the Catskills and Mitchell’s Inn, nestled deep in the woods, is the perfect setting for a relaxing–maybe even romantic–weekend away. It boasts spacious old rooms with huge woodburning fireplaces, a well-stocked wine cellar, and opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or just curling up with a good murder mystery.
So when the weather takes a turn for the worse, and a blizzard cuts off the electricity–and all contact with the outside world–the guests settle in and try to make the best of it.
Soon, though, one of the guests turns up dead–it looks like an accident. But when a second guest dies, they start to panic.
Within the snowed-in paradise, something–or someone–is picking off the guests one by one. And there’s nothing they can do but hunker down and hope they can survive the storm–and one another.