Sunday, January 12, 2014

Wendy Is Recommending:
In her newest novel, award-winning author Lara Vapnyar—“a talented writer, possessed of an ample humor and insight and a humane sensibility” (The New York Times Book Review)—tells a provocative tale of sexual awakening, youthful romanticism, and the relentless search for love.

“Don’t say ‘the rest of your life!’ it fills me with such horror!”

Though only thirty-eight, Lena finds herself in the grips of a midlife crisis. She feels lost in her adoptive country, her career is at a dead end, and her marriage has tumbled into a spiral of apathy and distrust—it seems impossible she will ever find happiness again. But then she strikes up a precarious friendship with Ben, a failed artist turned reluctant academic, who is just as lost as she is. They soon surprise themselves by embarking on an impulsive weekend adventure, uncharacteristically leaving their middle-aged responsibilities behind. On the way to Ben’s remote cabin in Maine, Lena begins to talk, for the first time in her life, about the tumultuous summer she spent as a counselor in a Soviet children’s camp twenty years earlier, when she was just discovering romance and her own sexuality. At a time when Russia itself was in turmoil, the once-placid world of the camp was equally unsettled, with unexplained disappearances and mysterious goings-on among the staff; Lena and her friend Inka were haunted by what they witnessed, or failed to witness, and by the fallout from those youthful relationships.

As Lena opens up to Ben about secrets she has long kept hidden, they begin to discover together not only the striking truths buried in her puzzling past, but also more immediate, passionate truths about the urgency of this short, stolen time they have together.

Beautifully told with Vapnyar’s characteristic empathy, deadpan humor, and striking honesty, The Scent of Pine weaves themes of ambition, loneliness, longing, and the fickle nature of desire into a stirring and unforgettable love story.
In this powerful memoir, a young woman loses her husband twenty years after her own mother was widowed, and overcomes two generations of tragedy to discover that both hope and love endure.

Artis Henderson was a free-spirited young woman with dreams of traveling the world and one day becoming a writer. Marrying a conservative Texan soldier and becoming an Army wife was never part of her plan, but when she met Miles, Artis threw caution to the wind and moved with him to a series of Army bases in dusty southern towns, far from the exotic future of her dreams. If this was true love, she was ready to embrace it.

But when Miles was training and Artis was left alone, her feelings of isolation and anxiety competed with the warmth and unconditional acceptance she’d found with Miles. She made few friends among the other Army wives. In some ways these were the only women who could truly empathize with her lonely, often fearful existence— yet they kept their distance, perhaps sensing the great potential for heartbreak among their number.

It did not take long for a wife’s worst fears to come true. On November 6, 2006, the Apache helicopter carrying Miles crashed in Iraq, leaving twenty-six-year-old Artis—in official military terms—an “unremarried widow.” A role, she later realized, that her mother had been preparing her for for most of her life.

In this memoir Artis recounts not only the unlikely love story she shared with Miles and her unfathomable recovery in the wake of his death— from the dark hours following the military notification to the first fumbling attempts at new love—but also reveals how Miles’s death mirrored her father’s death in a plane crash, which Artis survived when she was five years old and which left her own mother a young widow.

In impeccable prose, Artis chronicles the years bookended by the loss of these men—each of whom she knew for only a short time but who had a profound impact on her life and on the woman she has become.
Numbers don’t lie. Not according to Garrett Reilly who, just two weeks past his twenty-sixth birthday, thinks he’s probably the best bond analyst at his brokerage—maybe even the best in all of Manhattan. Garrett’s memory for numbers is photographic. But he doesn’t just memorize them; he sorts them, ranks them, senses patterns in them. As he watches buy and sell numbers float across his Bloomberg terminal, Garrett notices what nobody else can: that US Treasury bonds are being sold off at an alarming rate—two hundred billion dollars’ worth. It’s a discovery that he knows will make him incredibly rich.

Then the United States military arrives at his office, and Garrett’s life is blown to pieces. As Captain Alexis Truffant explains, Garrett has stumbled upon something much larger—and scarier—than he could have imagined: the first attack in a covert war of unthinkable proportions. His biggest problem? Numbers don’t lie…but governments can.

In this taut and cunning novel, Drew Chapman takes readers into a scenario that is eerily plausible and utterly terrifying—an unconventional war capable of bringing a superpower to its knees. The Ascendant is a brilliant new twist on the art of the white-knuckle thriller.

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