Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Kate M. Is Recommending:
A mesmerizing tale of psychological suspense about a woman who must fight to escape an expert manipulator determined to possess her, Claire Kendal's debut novel is a sophisticated and disturbing portrait of compulsion, control, and terror that will appeal to fans of Before I Go to Sleep, The Silent Wife, and Into the Darkest Corner.

His name is Rafe, and he is everywhere Clarissa turns. At the university where she works. Her favorite sewing shop. The train station. Outside her apartment. His messages choke her voice mail; his gifts litter her mailbox. Since that one regrettable night, his obsession with her has grown, becoming more terrifying with each passing day. And as Rafe has made clear, he will never let her go.

Clarissa's only escape from this harrowing nightmare is inside a courtroom--where she is a juror on a trial involving a victim whose experiences eerily parallel her own. There she finds some peace and even makes new friends, including an attractive widower named Robert, whose caring attentions make her feel desired and safe. But as a disturbingly violent crime unfolds in the courtroom, Clarissa realizes that to survive she must expose Rafe herself. Conceiving a plan, she begins collecting the evidence of Rafe's madness to use against him--a record of terror that will force her to relive every excruciating moment she desperately wants to forget. Proof that will reveal the twisted, macabre fairy tale that Rafe has spun around them . . . with an ending more horrifying than her darkest fears.

Masterfully constructed, filled with exquisite tension and a pervasive sense of menace, The Book of You explores the lines between love and compulsion, fantasy and reality, and offers a heart-stopping portrait of a woman determined to survive. Claire Kendal's extraordinary debut will haunt readers long after it reaches its terrifying, breathtaking conclusion.
#1 New York Times bestselling author Greg Iles returns with his most eagerly anticipated novel yet and his first in five years--Natchez Burning--the first installment in an epic trilogy that interweaves crimes, lies, and secrets past and present in a mesmerizing thriller featuring Southern lawyer and former prosecutor Penn Cage.

Growing up in the rural Southern hamlet of Natchez, Mississippi, Penn Cage learned everything he knows about honor and duty from his father, Tom Cage. But now the beloved family doctor and pillar of the community is accused of murdering Violet Turner, the beautiful nurse with whom he worked in the dark days of the early 1960s. A fighter who has always stood for justice, Penn is determined to save his father, even though Tom, stubbornly evoking doctor-patient privilege, refuses to speak up in his own defense.

The quest for answers sends Penn deep into the past--into the heart of a conspiracy of greed and murder involving the Double Eagles, a vicious KKK crew headed by one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in the state. With the aid of a local friend and reporter privy to some of Natchez's oldest and deadliest secrets, Penn follows a bloody trail that stretches back forty years, to one undeniable fact: no one--black or white, young or old, brave or not--is ever truly safe.

With everything on the line, including his own life, Penn must decide how far he will go to protect those he loves . . . and see justice done, once and for all.

Rich in Southern atmosphere and electrifying plot turns, Natchez Burning marks the brilliant return of a genuine American master of suspense. Tense and disturbing, it is the most explosive, exciting, sexy, and ambitious story Greg Iles has written yet.
In June 14, 2007, the king and the prime minister of Sweden went missing from a gala banquet at the royal castle. Later it was said that both had fallen ill, but the truth is different. The real story starts much earlier, in 1961, with the birth of Nombeko Mayeki in a shack in Soweto. Nombeko was fated to grow up fast and die early in her poverty-stricken township, be it from drugs, alcohol, or just plain despair. But Nombeko takes a different path. She finds work as a housecleaner and eventually makes her way up to the position of chief advisor, at the helm of one of the world's most secret projects. Here is where the tale merges with then diverges from reality.

South Africa developed six nuclear missiles in the 1980s, then voluntarily dismantled them in 1994. This is the story of the seventh missile, the one that was never supposed to have existed. Nombeko Mayeki knows too much about it, and now she's on the run from both the South African justice system and the most terrifying secret service in the world. The fate of the planet now lies in Nombeko's hands.

Jonasson introduces us to a cast of eccentrics: a nerve-damaged American Vietnam deserter, twin brothers who are officially only one person, three careless Chinese girls, an angry young woman, a potato-growing baroness, the Swedish king and the prime minister. Quirky and utterly unique, The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden is a charming and humorous account of one young woman's unlikely adventure.
Sadie Jones, the award winning, bestselling author of The Uninvited Guests and The Outcast, explores the theater of love, the politics of theater, and the love of writing in this deeply romantic story about a young playwright in 1970s London.

Leaving behind an emotionally disastrous childhood in a provincial northern town, budding playwright Luke Kanowski begins a new life in London that includes Paul Driscoll, an aspiring producer who will become his best friend, and Leigh Radley, Paul's girlfriend. Talented and ambitious, the trio found a small theater company that enjoys unexpected early success. Then, one fateful evening, Luke meets Nina Jacobs, a dynamic and emotionally damaged actress he cannot forget, even after she drifts into a marriage with a manipulative theater producer.

As Luke becomes a highly sought after playwright, he stumbles in love, caught in two triangles where love requited and unrequited, friendship, and art will clash with terrible consequences for all involved.

Fallout is an elegantly crafted novel whose characters struggle to escape the various cataclysms of their respective pasts. Falling in love convinces us we are the pawns of the gods; Fallout brings us firmly into the psyche of romantic love--its sickness and its ecstasy.
Unafraid to venture into no-man's-lands both real and surreal, Oates takes readers deep into dangerous territory in eleven stories that showcase the keen rewards of her relentless brio and invention. Whether charting the inner lives of two beautiful and mysteriously doomed women in 1940s Los Angeles--Elizabeth Short, otherwise known as the Black Dahlia, and her roommate, Norma Jeane Baker, soon to become Marilyn Monroe--the psychological compulsion of a well-to-do businessman's wife who is ravished by, and elopes with, a lover who is not what he seems, or the uneasily duplicitous relationships between young women and their parents, Black Dahlia & White Rose explores the menace that lurks at the edges of and intrudes upon even the seemingly safest of lives--and maps with rare emotional acuity the transformational cost of such intrusions.

Jeff C. Is Recommending:
New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award winning author Lisa Scottoline is loved by millions of readers for her suspenseful novels about family and justice. Scottoline delivers once again with Keep Quiet, an emotionally gripping and complex story about one man’s split-second decision to protect his son - and the devastating consequences that follow.

Jake Buckman’s relationship with his sixteen-year-old son Ryan is not an easy one, so at the urging of his loving wife, Pam, Jake goes alone to pick up Ryan at their suburban movie theater.  On the way home, Ryan asks to drive on a deserted road, and Jake sees it as a chance to make a connection. However, what starts as a father-son bonding opportunity instantly turns into a nightmare. Tragedy strikes, and with Ryan’s entire future hanging in the balance, Jake is forced to make a split-second decision that plunges them both into a world of guilt and lies. Without ever meaning to, Jake and Ryan find themselves living under the crushing weight of their secret, which threatens to tear their family to shreds and ruin them all.

Powerful and dramatic, Keep Quiet will have readers and book clubs debating what it means to be a parent and how far you can, and should, go to protect those you love.
Catherine Ling is one of the CIA’s most prized operatives. Raised on the unforgiving streets of Hong Kong, she was pulled into the agency at the age of fourteen, already having accumulated more insight and secrets than the most seasoned professionals in her world. If life has taught her anything, it is not to get attached, but there are two exceptions to that rule: her son Luke and her mentor Hu Chang. When Luke was kidnapped at the age of two, it nearly broke her. Now, nine years later, her son has astonishingly been returned to her and Catherine vows never to fail him again.

But when her job pulls her away from home, she relies on the brilliant and deadly Hu Chang to safeguard Luke in her absence. Now Erin Sullivan, an American journalist with mysterious ties to Hu Chang, has been kidnapped in Tibet. If Catherine doesn’t agree to spearhead the CIA rescue mission, she knows that Hu Chang himself will go, a possibility she can’t risk. But she will be facing a monster whose crimes stretch back forty years, always eluding the CIA. And the job grows even more complicated when Catherine meets Richard Cameron, a supposed ally who’s clearly not telling all he knows. Their attraction is immediate, but Catherine isn't at all sure that he can be trusted. If she’s going to rescue this journalist with a story worth killing for, she’ll need to keep Cameron very close.

From the treacherous landscape of the Himalayas to the twisting back alleys of San Francisco, the clock is ticking for Catherine and those she loves most. At every turn she faces a ruthless enemy who is determined to keep the truth buried, even if it means that none of them live to see tomorrow.

Alice Hoffman: Five Amazing Tips to Help You Write Your Novel

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Liz and Michele Are Recommending:
From Academy Award winner and bestselling author Diane Keaton comes a candid, hilarious, and deeply affecting look at beauty, aging, that old frenemy the mirror, and how in the end you just have to do it your own way. Told in her one-of-a-kind voice, Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty is a smart, open chronicle of the ups and downs of living and working in a world obsessed by appearances, and a book as wryly observant and fiercely original as Diane herself.
The epic, unforgettable story of a man determined to protect the woman he loves from the town desperate to destroy her—this beautiful and devastating debut heralds the arrival of a major new voice in fiction.

Ephram Jennings has never forgotten the beautiful girl with the long braids running through the piney woods of Liberty, their small East Texas town. Young Ruby, “the kind of pretty it hurt to look at,” has suffered beyond imagining, so as soon as she can, she flees suffocating Liberty for the bright pull of 1950s New York. Ruby quickly winds her way into the ripe center of the city--the darkened piano bars and hidden alleyways of the Village--all the while hoping for a glimpse of the red hair and green eyes of her mother. When a telegram from her cousin forces her to return home, thirty-year-old Ruby Bell finds herself reliving the devastating violence of her girlhood. With the terrifying realization that she might not be strong enough to fight her way back out again, Ruby struggles to survive her memories of the town’s dark past. Meanwhile, Ephram must choose between loyalty to the sister who raised him and the chance for a life with the woman he has loved since he was a boy.

Full of life, exquisitely written, and suffused with the pastoral beauty of the rural South, Ruby is a transcendent novel of passion and courage. This wondrous page-turner rushes through the red dust and gossip of Main Street, to the pit fire where men swill bootleg outside Bloom’s Juke, to Celia Jennings’s kitchen where a cake is being made, yolk by yolk, that Ephram will use to try to begin again with Ruby. Utterly transfixing, with unforgettable characters, riveting suspense, and breathtaking, luminous prose, Ruby offers an unflinching portrait of man’s dark acts and the promise of the redemptive power of love.

The Sensational Tale of the First Mixed-race Girl Introduced to High-society England and Raised as a Lady

From acclaimed biographer Paula Byrne, the sensational true tale that inspired the major motion picture Belle (May 2014) starring Tom Wilkinson, Miranda Richardson, Emily Watson, Penelope Wilton, and Matthew Goode—a stunning story of the first mixed-race girl introduced to high society England and raised as a lady.

The illegitimate daughter of a captain in the Royal Navy and an enslaved African woman, Dido Belle was raised by her great-uncle, the Earl of Mansfield, one of the most powerful men of the time and a leading opponent of slavery. When the portrait he commissioned of his two wards, Dido and her white cousin, Elizabeth, was unveiled, eighteenth-century England was shocked to see a black woman and white woman depicted as equals. Inspired by the painting, Belle vividly brings to life this extraordinary woman caught between two worlds, and illuminates the great civil rights question of her age: the fight to end slavery.

The feature film Belle is produced by Damian Jones (The Iron Lady, The History Boys, Welcome to Sarajevo), written by Misan Sagay, and directed by Amma Asante, and stars the extraordinary Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Dido Belle, Tom Wilkinson, Sam Reid, Miranda Richardson, Penelope Wilton, Tom Felton, Matthew Goode, and Emily Watson.

Sharing Visions of Treasures Lost

Monday, April 28, 2014

Helen R. Is Recommending:
In a Europe without borders, where social norms have become fragile, a son must confront the sins of his father and grandfather, and invent new strategies for survival
A young boy grows up with a loving father who has little respect for the law. They are always on the run, and as they move from place to place, the boy is often distraught to leave behind new friendships. Because it would be dicey for him to go to school, his anarchistic father gives him an unconventional education intended to contradict as much as possible the teachings of his own father, a preacher and a pervert. Ten years later, when the boy is entering adulthood, with a fake name and a monotonous job, he tries to conform to the demands of ordinary life, but the lessons of the past thwart his efforts, and questions about his father’s childhood cannot be left unanswered.

Spanning the mid-1980s to early-twenty-first-century in Copenhagen, this coming-of-age novel examines what it means to be a stranger in the modern world, and how, for better or for worse, a father’s legacy is never passed on in any predictable fashion.
A sorcerer in wax. A fugitive. Haunted by a past he cannot escape. Threatened by a future he cannot imagine.

Zummo, a Sicilian sculptor, is summoned by Cosimo III to join the Medici court. Late seventeenth-century Florence is a hotbed of repression and hypocrisy. All forms of pleasure are brutally punished, and the Grand Duke himself, a man for whom marriage has been an exquisite torture, hides his pain beneath a show of excessive piety.

The Grand Duke asks Zummo to produce a life-size woman out of wax, an antidote to the French wife who made him suffer so. As Zummo wrestles with this unique commission, he falls under the spell of a woman whose elusiveness mirrors his own, but whose secrets are far more explosive. Lurking in the wings is the poisonous Dominican priest, Stufa, who has it within his power to destroy Zummo’s livelihood, if not his life.

In this highly charged novel, Thomson brings Florence to life in all its vibrant sensuality, while remaining entirely contemporary in his exploration of the tensions between love and solitude, beauty and decay. When reality becomes threatening, not to say unfathomable, survival strategies are tested to the limit. Redemption is a possibility, but only if the agonies of death and separation can be transcended. 

Have You Looked At Any Of These New Books? Here's Your Chance!
From the author of the worldwide bestseller Room: "Her greatest achievement yet...Emma Donoghue shows more than range with FROG MUSIC--she shows genius." -- Darin Strauss, author of Half a Life

Summer of 1876: San Francisco is in the fierce grip of a record-breaking heat wave and a smallpox epidemic. Through the window of a railroad saloon, a young woman named Jenny Bonnet is shot dead.

The survivor, her friend Blanche Beunon, is a French burlesque dancer. Over the next three days, she will risk everything to bring Jenny's murderer to justice--if he doesn't track her down first. The story Blanche struggles to piece together is one of free-love bohemians, desperate paupers, and arrogant millionaires; of jealous men, icy women, and damaged children. It's the secret life of Jenny herself, a notorious character who breaks the law every morning by getting dressed: a charmer as slippery as the frogs she hunts.

In thrilling, cinematic style, Frog Music digs up a long-forgotten, never-solved crime. Full of songs that migrated across the world, Emma Donoghue's lyrical tale of love and bloodshed among lowlifes captures the pulse of a boomtown like no other.
Declan O'Donnell has sailed out of Oregon and deep into the vast, wild ocean, having had just finally enough of other people and their problems. He will go it alone, he will be his own country, he will be beholden to and beloved of no one. No man is an island, my butt, he thinks. I am that very man. . . .

But the galaxy soon presents him with a string of odd, entertaining, and dangerous passengers, who become companions of every sort and stripe. The Plover is the story of their adventures and misadventures in the immense blue country one of their company calls Pacifica. Hounded by a mysterious enemy, reluctantly acquiring one new resident after another, Declan O'Donnell’s lonely boat is eventually crammed with humor, argument, tension, and a resident herring gull.

Brian Doyle's The Plover is a sea novel, a maritime adventure, the story of a cold man melting, a compendium of small miracles, an elegy to Edmund Burke, a watery quest, a battle at sea---and a rapturous, heartfelt celebration of life’s surprising paths, planned and unplanned.
The award-winning author on her best subject—family secrets—in the story of a middle-aged man who searches for his father, upending relationships beyond his own and changing forever the way he fits into the world he thought he knew so well.

Kit Noonan’s life is stalled: unemployed, twins to help support, a mortgage to pay—and a frustrated wife, who is certain that more than anything else, Kit needs to solve the mystery of his father’s identity. He begins with a visit to his former stepfather, Jasper, a take-no-prisoners Vermont outdoorsman. But it is another person who has kept the secret: Lucinda Burns, wife of a revered senior statesman and mother of Malachy (the journalist who died of AIDS in Glass’s first novel, Three Junes). She and her husband are the only ones who know the full story of an accident whose repercussions spread even further when Jasper introduces Lucinda to Kit. 
Immersing readers in a panorama that stretches from Vermont to the tip of Cape Cod, Glass weaves together the lives of Kit, Jasper, Lucinda and ultimately, Fenno McLeod, the beloved protagonist of Three Junes (now in his sixties). An unforgettable novel about the youthful choices that steer our destinies, the necessity of forgiveness, and the surprisingly mutable meaning of family.
From the author of the widely acclaimed debut novel Seating Arrangements, winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction: a gorgeously written, fiercely compelling glimpse into the demanding world of professional ballet and its magnetic hold over two generations.

Astonish Me is the irresistible story of Joan, a young American dancer who helps a Soviet ballet star, the great Arslan Rusakov, defect in 1975. A flash of fame and a passionate love affair follow, but Joan knows that, onstage and off, she is destined to remain in the background. She will never possess Arslan, and she will never be a prima ballerina. She will rise no higher than the corps, one dancer among many.
After her relationship with Arslan sours, Joan plots to make a new life for herself. She quits ballet, marries a good man, and settles in California with him and their son, Harry. But as the years pass, Joan comes to understand that ballet isn’t finished with her yet, for there is no mistaking that Harry is a prodigy. Through Harry, Joan is pulled back into a world she thought she’d left behind—back into dangerous secrets, and back, inevitably, to Arslan.

Combining a sweeping, operatic plot with subtly observed characters, Maggie Shipstead gives us a novel of stunning intensity and deft psychological nuance. Gripping, dramatic, and brilliantly conjured, Astonish Me confirms Shipstead’s range and ability and raises provocative questions about the nature of talent, the choices we must make in search of fulfillment, and how we square the yearning for comfort with the demands of art.
Meet Mimi Malloy: A daughter of the Great Depression, Mimi was born into an Irish-Catholic brood of seven, and she has done her best to raise six beautiful daughters of her own. Now they’re grown, and Mimi, a divorcée, is unexpectedly retired. But she takes solace in the comforts of her new life: her apartment in the heart of Quincy, the occasional True Blue cigarette, and evenings with Frank Sinatra on the stereo and a highball in her hand.

Yet her phone is arguably the busiest in greater Boston—it rings “Day In, Day Out,” as Ol’ Blue Eyes would say. Her surviving sisters love to gab about their girlhood, while her eldest daughter, Cassandra, calls every morning to preach the gospel of assisted living. And when an MRI reveals that Mimi’s brain is filled with black spots—areas of atrophy, her doctor says—it looks like she's destined to spend her days in “one of those storage facilities for unwanted antiques.”

Mimi knows her mind is (more or less) as sharp as ever, and she won’t go down without a fight. Yet as she prepares to take her stand, she stumbles upon an old pendant of her mother’s and, slowly, her memory starts to return—specifically, recollections of a shocking and painful childhood, including her sister who was sent away to Ireland and the wicked stepmother she swore to forget.

Out of the ashes of Mimi’s deeply troubled history, Julia MacDonnell gives us a redemptive story of the family bonds that break us and remake us. Mimi Malloy, At Last! is an unforgettable novel, alive with humor, unexpected romance, and the magic of hard-earned insight: a poignant reminder that it’s never too late to fall in love and that one can always come of age a second time.
At Cape Three Points on the beautiful Ghanaian coast, a canoe washes up at an oil rig site. The two bodies in the canoe—who turn out to be a prominent, wealthy, middle-aged married couple—have obviously been murdered; the way Mr. Smith-Aidoo has been gruesomely decapitated suggests the killer was trying to send a specific message—but what, and to whom, is a mystery. The Smith-Aidoos, pillars in their community, are mourned by everyone, but especially by their niece Sapphire, a successful pediatric surgeon in Ghana's capital, Accra. She is not happy that months have passed since the murder and the rural police have made no headway.

When the Ghanaian federal police finally agree to get involved, Detective Inspector Darko Dawson of the Accra police force is sent out to Cape Three Points to investigate. Pretty as the coast is, he is not happy to be sent away from his wife and two sons, the younger of whom is recovering from a heart operation. And the more he learns about the case, the more convoluted and dangerous it becomes. Three Points has long been inhabited by tribal villages of subsistence fishers, but real estate entrepreneurs and wealthy oil companies have been trying to bribe the tribes to move out. Dawson roots out a host of motives for murder, ranging from personal vendettas to corporate conspiracies.

5 Reasons Why Indie Bookstores Are Perfect Models for American Small Businesses

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Margaret N., The Mystery Maven, Has Some Spring Fresh Titles For You
Anna Pigeon, a ranger for the U.S. Park Services, sets off on vacation—an autumn canoe trip in the to the Iron Range in upstate Minnesota. With Anna is her friend Heath, a paraplegic; Heath’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Elizabeth; Leah, a wealthy designer of outdoor equipment; and her daughter, Katie, who is thirteen. For Heath and Leah, this is a shakedown cruise to test a new cutting edge line of camping equipment. The equipment, designed by Leah, will make camping and canoeing more accessible to disabled outdoorsmen.

On their second night out, Anna goes off on her own for a solo evening float on the Fox River. When she comes back, she finds that four thugs, armed with rifles, pistols, and knives, have taken the two women and their teenaged daughters captive. With limited resources and no access to the outside world, Anna has only two days to rescue them before her friends are either killed or flown out of the country, in Destroyer Angel by Nevada Barr.
It's spring in St. Denis. The village choir is preparing for its Easter concert, the wildflowers are blooming, and among the lazy whorls of the river a dead woman is found floating in a boat. This means another case for Bruno, the town’s cherished chief of police.

With the discovery of sinister markings and black candles near the body, it seems to Bruno that the occult might be involved. And as questions mount—most notably about a troubling real estate proposal in the region and the sudden reappearance of an elderly countess—Bruno and his colleagues are drawn ever closer to a climactic showdown in the Gouffre de Colombac: the place locals call the Devil’s Cave.
You're alone. You're vulnerable. And you have something that someone else wants. At any cost.

Claudia Morgan-Brown finally has it all. Pregnant with a much-wanted first baby of her own, she has a happily established family of two small step-sons and a loving husband with a great career. But she is also committed to her full-time job as a social worker, and her husband travels often. So when Claudia hires Zoe to help her around the house in anticipation of the baby’s arrival, it seems like the answer to her prayers. But despite Zoe's glowing recommendations and instant rapport with the children, there's something about her that Claudia cannot trust.

Moreover, there has been a series of violent attacks on pregnant women in the area, and Claudia becomes acutely aware of her vulnerability. With her husband out of town for work and her family far away, who will be there to protect her? And why does she feel unsettled about Zoe? Realizing appearances can be deceiving even in her seemingly perfect world, Claudia digs deeper into Zoe’s blurry past and begins to wonder – how far would someone go to have a child of her own?

Riveting from its very first pages, Until You’re Mine is a multilayered masterwork of twisted, psychological suspense. Readers of Before I Go to Sleep and Turn of Mind will be enthralled by this multilayered novel, featuring a twisted plot that ends in a breathtaking and shocking finale.

An Especially Funny Commencement Address

A profound expansion of David McCullough, Jr.'s popular commencement speech--a call to arms against a prevailing, narrow, conception of success viewed by millions on YouTube--You Are (Not) Special is a love letter to students and parents as well as a guide to a truly fulfilling, happy life.

Children today, says David McCullough--high school English teacher, father of four, and son and namesake of the famous historian--are being encouraged to sacrifice passionate engagement with life for specious notions of success. The intense pressure to excel discourages kids from taking chances, failing, and learning empathy and self-confidence from those failures.

In You Are (Not) Special, McCullough elaborates on his now-famous speech exploring how, for what purpose, and for whose sake, we're raising our kids. With wry, affectionate humor, McCullough takes on hovering parents, ineffectual schools, professional college prep, electronic distractions, club sports, and generally the manifestations, and the applications and consequences of privilege. By acknowledging that the world is indifferent to them, McCullough takes pressure off of students to be extraordinary achievers and instead exhorts them to roll up their sleeves and do something useful with their advantages.

Illustration of a Susan Sontag Diary Entry

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Liz and Michele Are Recommending:
The #1 New York Times Bestseller Is Finally In Paperback!!!

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?
In a suspenseful follow-up to her critically acclaimed Cover of Snow, Jenny Milchman ratchets up the tension with this edge-of-your-seat story of a mother determined to find her missing children.

Liz Daniels has every reason to be happy about setting off on a rare family vacation, leaving her remote home in the Adirondack Mountains behind for a while. Instead, she feels uneasy. Her children, eight-year-old Reid and six-year-old Ally, have met their paternal grandparents only a handful of times. But Liz’s husband, Paul, has decided that, despite a strained relationship with his mother and father, they should visit the farm in western New York where he spent his childhood.

On their way to the farm, the family stops at a hotel for the night. In the morning, when Liz checks on her sleeping children, all of her anxiety from the day before comes roaring back to life: Ally and Reid are nowhere to be found. Blind panic slides into ice-cold terror as the hours tick by without anyone finding a trace of her kids. Soon, Paul and Liz are being interviewed by police, an Amber Alert is issued, and detectives are called in.

Frantic worry and helplessness threaten to overtake Liz’s mind—but in a sudden, gut-wrenching instant she realizes that it was no stranger who slipped into the hotel room that night. Someone she trusted completely has betrayed her. Liz knows that Ally and Reid are safe, but she will stop at nothing to find them and get them back. From her guarded in-laws’ unwelcoming farmhouse to the deep woods of her own hometown, Liz follows the threads of a terrible secret to uncover a hidden world created from dreams and haunted by nightmares. 
 This event is free and open to the public.
Few authors have had careers as successful as that of Connie Willis. Inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame and recently awarded the title of Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Willis is still going strong. Her smart, heartfelt fiction runs the gamut from screwball comedy to profound tragedy, combining dazzling plot twists, cutting-edge science, and unforgettable characters.

From a near future mourning the extinction of dogs to an alternate history in which invading aliens were defeated by none other than Emily Dickinson; from a madcap convention of bumbling quantum physicists in Hollywood to a London whose Underground has become a storehouse of intangible memories both foul and fair—here are the greatest stories of one of the greatest writers working in any genre today.

All ten of the stories gathered here are Hugo or Nebula award winners—some even have the distinction of winning both. With a new Introduction by the author and personal afterwords to each story—plus a special look at three of Willis’s unique public speeches—this is unquestionably the collection of the season, a book that every Connie Willis fan will treasure, and, to those unfamiliar with her work, the perfect introduction to one of the most accomplished and best-loved writers of our time.
In Dad is Fat, stand-up comedian Jim Gaffigan, who’s best known for his legendary riffs on Hot Pockets, bacon, manatees, and McDonald's, expresses all the joys and horrors of life with five young children—everything from cousins ("celebrities for little kids") to toddlers’ communication skills (“they always sound like they have traveled by horseback for hours to deliver important news”), to the eating habits of four year olds (“there is no difference between a four year old eating a taco and throwing a taco on the floor”).

Reminiscent of Bill Cosby’s Fatherhood, Dad is Fat is sharply observed, explosively funny, and a cry for help from a man who has realized he and his wife are outnumbered in their own home.

Who Wouldn't Want A Kinder Life?

Three months after George Saunders gave a convocation address at Syracuse University, a transcript of that speech was posted on the web site of The New York Times, where its simple, uplifting message struck a deep chord. Within days, it had been shared more than one million times. Why? Because Saunders’s words tap into a desire in all of us to lead kinder, more fulfilling lives. Powerful, funny, and wise, Congratulations, by the way is an inspiring message from one of today’s most influential and original writers.

How To Be A Writer

Friday, April 25, 2014

Kate M Is Recommending:
The New York Times bestselling author of Labor Day and The Good Daughters returns with a haunting novel of sisterhood, sacrifice, and suspense.

I was always looking for excitement, until I found some . . .

Summer, 1979. A dry, hot Northern California school vacation stretches before Rachel and her younger sister, Patty--the daughters of a larger-than-life, irresistibly handsome (and chronically unfaithful) detective father and the mother whose heart he broke.

When we first meet her, Patty is eleven--a gangly kid who loves basketball and dogs and would do anything for her older sister, Rachel. Rachel is obsessed with making up stories and believes she possesses the gift of knowing what's in the minds of people around her. She has visions, whether she wants to or not. Left to their own devices, the sisters spend their days studying record jackets, concocting elaborate fantasies about the mysterious neighbor who moved in down the street, and playing dangerous games on the mountain that looms behind their house.

When young women start turning up dead on the mountain, the girls' father is put in charge of finding the murderer known as the "Sunset Strangler." Watching her father's life slowly unravel as months pass and more women are killed, Rachel embarks on her most dangerous game yet . . . using herself as bait to catch the killer. But rather than cracking the case, the consequences of Rachel's actions will destroy her father's career and alter forever the lives of everyone she loves.

Thirty years later, still haunted by the belief that the killer remains at large, Rachel constructs a new strategy to smoke out the Sunset Strangler and vindicate her father--a plan that unexpectedly unearths a long-buried family secret.

Loosely inspired by the Trailside Killer case that terrorized Marin County, California, in the late 1970s, After Her is part thriller, part love story. Maynard has created a poignant, suspenseful, and painfully real family saga that traces a young girl's first explorations of sexuality, the loss of innocence, the bond shared by sisters, and the tender but damaged relationship between a girl and her father that endures even beyond the grave.
Leslie Anne Greene Carter is The Last Original Wife among her husband Wesley's successful Atlanta social set. His cronies have all traded in the mothers of their children--who they promised to love and cherish 'til death did them part--for tanned and toned young Barbie brides.

If losing the social life and close friends she adored wasn't painful enough, a series of setbacks has shaken Les up and she's had enough of playing the good wife. Now, she's going to take some time for herself--in the familiar comforts and stunning beauty of Charleston, her beloved hometown. In her brother's historic home, she will reclaim the carefree girl who spent lazy summers sharing steamy kisses with her first love on Sullivans Island. Along Charleston's cobblestone streets, under the Lowcountry's dazzling blue sky, Les will indulge herself with icy cocktails, warm laughter and bittersweet memories. Daring to listen to her inner voice, she will realize what she wants . . . and find the life of which she's always dreamed.
The New York Times bestselling author returns with a novel of suspense narrated by a teenage girl who falls into a life of drugs and crime, and must escape before it's too late.

Neglected by her parents, nineteen-year-old Maya Vidal grew up in a rambling old house in Berkeley with her grandparents. Her grandmother, Nidia, affectionately known as Nini, is a force of nature--a woman whose formidable strength helped her build a new life after she emigrated from Chile in 1973. Popo, Maya's grandfather, is an African American astronomer and professor--a gentle man whose solid, comforting presence helps calm the turbulence of Maya's adolescence.

When Popo dies of cancer, Maya goes completely off the rails. She turns to drugs, alcohol, and petty crime, eventually bottoming out in Las Vegas. Lost in a dangerous underworld, she is caught in the crosshairs of warring forces--a gang of assassins, the police, the FBI, and Interpol. Her one chance for survival is Nini, who helps her escape to a remote island off the coast of Chile. Here, Maya tries to make sense of the past, unravels mysterious truths about life and her family, and embarks on her greatest adventure: the journey into her own soul.
A frightening new danger arises to threaten the Twilight. . . .

For a millennium, the Others have maintained an uneasy peace that has protected them and the Twilight, a shadowy parallel world beneath our own. But the battle for supremacy between the forces of the Light and the Darkness is far from over. . . .

Now older and more powerful, Light magician Anton Gorodetsky has risen to the top levels of the Night Watch. He is also father to a ten-year-old girl who is destined to become a magician of unprecedented power. When he hears a young boy at the airport screaming that a plane will crash, Anton suspects the child is a prophet--a rare type of Other who portends catastrophe.

If Anton is right, then the boy has awakened a terrifying danger--a rare, multifaced beast that exists to stop the prophecy from coming true. With their lives in mortal peril and time running out, Anton must find a way to keep his gifted young daughter safe . . . and save the Twilight itself.
A place out of time, Ashaunt Point--a tiny finger of land jutting into Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts--has provided sanctuary and anchored life for generations of the Porter family, who summer along its remote, rocky shore. But in 1942, the U.S. Army arrives on the Point, bringing havoc and change. That summer, the two older Porter girls--teenagers Helen and Dossie--run wild. The children's Scottish nurse, Bea, falls in love. And youngest daughter Janie is entangled in an incident that cuts the season short and haunts the family for years to come.

As the decades pass, Helen and then her son Charlie return to the Point, seeking refuge from the chaos of rapidly changing times. But Ashaunt is not entirely removed from events unfolding beyond its borders. Neither Charlie nor his mother can escape the long shadow of history--Vietnam, the bitterly disputed real estate development of the Point, economic misfortune, illness, and tragedy.

An unforgettable portrait of one family's journey through the second half of the twentieth century, The End of the Point artfully probes the hairline fractures hidden beneath the surface of our lives and traces the fragile and enduring bonds that connect us. With subtlety and grace, Elizabeth Graver illuminates the powerful legacy of family and place, exploring what we are born into, what we pass down, preserve, cast off or willingly set free.

Eric Is Recommending:
The New York Times bestseller that tells the story of Britain’s greatest and worst dynasty—“a real-life Game of Thrones” (The Literary Review)
A stunning achievement that brings one of the most tumultuous and fascinating periods of British history to life, The Plantagenets transports readers to the era of chivalry and the Crusades, the Black Death and the Hundred Years War. The first Plantagenet king inherited a broken, bloodsoaked realm from the Normans and transformed it into an empire that would stretch at its peak from Scotland to Jerusalem. His descendants and their fiery queens, including Eleanor of Aquitaine, Richard the Lionheart, Edward II, and King John, shaped England into the country we recognize today and gave it many of the laws, contracts, and bodies of governance—like Parliament and the Magna Carta—that would shape our own nation.

The Plantagenets will appeal to fans of Game of Thrones, as well as to anyone who has curled up with a history of Henry VIII or Queen Elizabeth and marveled at the cunning, the treachery, and the seductiveness of England’s most illustrious monarchs.
A groundbreaking look at why our interactions with others hold the key to success
For generations, we have focused on the individual drivers of success: passion, hard work, talent, and luck. But in today’s dramatically reconfigured world, success is increasingly dependent on how we interact with others. In Give and Take, Adam Grant, an award-winning researcher and Wharton’s highest-rated professor, examines the surprising forces that shape why some people rise to the top of the success ladder while others sink to the bottom.
Praised by social scientists, business theorists, and corporate leaders, Give and Take opens up an approach to work, interactions, and productivity that is nothing short of revolutionary.

Jack Kerouac's Hand-drawn Cross-country Road Trip Map from 'On the Road'

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Jeff Is Recommending:
A boy eats his way to self-discovery, while another must battle the reality-brandishing monster preying on his fantasy realm. Elsewhere, an aerobics instructor—the daughter of a Holocaust survivor—makes the most shocking leap imaginable to save her soul. These are just a few of the characters you’ll encounter in Sam Lipsyte’s richly imagined world.

Featuring a grizzled and possibly deranged male doula, a doomsday hustler who must face the multi-universal truth of “the real-ass jumbo,” and a tawdry glimpse of a high school shot-putting circuit in northern New Jersey, circa 1986, Lipsyte’s tales combine the tragicomic brilliance of his beloved novels with the compressed vitality of Venus Drive. The Fun Parts is Lipsyte at his very best—a far-ranging exploration of new voices and vistas from “the most consistently funny fiction writer working today” (Time).
A bear climbs onto a cabin’s deck, presses his nose to the sliding door. Inside, a young woman stands to face him. She comes closer, and closer yet, until only the glass stands between them . . .

The year is 1981, Reagan is in the White House, and the country is stalled in a recession. Cressida Hartley, a gifted Ph.D. student in economics, moves into her parents' shabby A-frame cabin in the Sierras to write her dissertation. In her most intimate and emotionally compelling novel to date, Michelle Huneven--author of Blame, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award--returns with her signature mix of fine-grained storytelling, unforgettable characters, and moral complexity.

Cress, increasingly resistant to her topic (art in the marketplace), allows herself to be drawn into the social life of the small mountain community. The exuberant local lodge owner, Jakey Yates, with his big personality and great animal magnetism, is the first to blur Cress' focus. The builder Rick Garsh gives her a job driving up and down the mountain for supplies. And then there are the two Morrow brothers, skilled carpenters, who are witty, intriguing, and married.

As Cress tells her best friend back home in Pasadena, being a single woman on the mountain amounts to a form of public service. Falling prey to her own perilous reasoning, she soon finds herself in dark new territory, subject to forces beyond her control from both within and without.

Unsentimental, immersive, and beautifully written--"Huneven's prose is flawless," according to The New Yorker--Off Course evokes the rapture of new love, the addictive draw of an intense, impossible connection, and what happens when two people simply can't let go of each other or of their previous commitments. As her characters struggle with and delight in one another, Huneven subtly exposes the personal and social forces at play: issues of class, money, and family, as well as the intricate emotional and economic transactions between parents and children, between husbands and wives, between lovers, and between friends.

Michelle Huneven is one of our most searching, elegant novelists--Richard Russo has called her "a writer of extraordinary and thrilling talent." In Off Course, she introduces us to an intelligent young woman who discovers that love is the great distraction, and impossible love the greatest distraction of all.
A new collection of short stories from the woman Rick Moody has called “the best prose stylist in America”

Her stories may be literal one-liners: the entirety of “Bloomington” reads, “Now that I have been here for a little while, I can say with confidence that I have never been here before.” Or they may be lengthier investigations of the havoc wreaked by the most mundane disruptions to routine: in “A Small Story About a Small Box of Chocolates,” a professor receives a gift of thirty-two small chocolates and is paralyzed by the multitude of options she imagines for their consumption. The stories may appear in the form of letters of complaint; they may be extracted from Flaubert’s correspondence; or they may be inspired by the author’s own dreams, or the dreams of friends.
What does not vary throughout Can’t and Won’t, Lydia Davis’s fifth collection of stories, is the power of her finely honed prose. Davis is sharply observant; she is wry or witty or poignant. Above all, she is refreshing. Davis writes with bracing candor and sly humor about the quotidian, revealing the mysterious, the foreign, the alienating, and the pleasurable within the predictable patterns of daily life.
A glorious and moving multi-generational, multicultural saga that begins in the 1940s and sweeps through the 1960’s in Trinidad and the United States

Lauren Francis-Sharma's 'Til the Well Runs Dry opens in a seaside village in the north of Trinidad where young Marcia Garcia, a gifted and smart-mouthed 16-year-old seamstress, lives alone, raising two small boys and guarding a family secret. When she meets Farouk Karam, an ambitious young policeman (so taken with Marcia that he elicits the help of a tea-brewing obeah woman to guarantee her ardor), the risks and rewards in Marcia’s life amplify forever.

On an island rich with laughter, Calypso, Carnival, cricket, beaches and salty air, sweet fruits and spicy stews, the novel follows Marcia and Farouk from their amusing and passionate courtship through personal and historical events that threaten Marcia’s secret, entangle the couple and their children in a scandal, and endanger the future for all of them.

'Til the Well Runs Dry tells the twinned stories of a spirited woman’s love for one man and her bottomless devotion to her children. For readers who cherish the previously untold stories of women’s lives, here is a story of grit and imperfection and love that has not been told before.
An unforgettable historical tale of piano playing, passions, and female power

The setting of Sedition by Katharine Grant: London, 1794.

The problem: Four nouveau rich fathers with five marriageable daughters.

The plan: The young women will learn to play the piano, give a concert for young Englishmen who have titles but no fortunes, and will marry very well indeed.

The complications: The lascivious (and French) piano teacher; the piano maker’s jealous (and musically gifted) daughter; the one of these marriageable daughters with a mating plan of her own.

While it might be a truth universally acknowledged that a man in possession of a title and no money must be in want of a fortune, what does a sexually awakened young woman want? In her wickedly alluring romp through the late-Georgian London, Italian piano making, and tightly-fitted Polonaise gowns, Katharine Grant has written a startling and provocative debut.

Tom Is Recommending:
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Harlan Coben, a heart-pounding thriller about the ties we have to our past...and the lies that bind us together.
It's a profile, like all the others on the online dating site. But as NYPD Detective Kat Donovan focuses on the accompanying picture, she feels her whole world explode, as emotions she’s ignored for decades come crashing down on her. Staring back at her is her ex-fiancé Jeff, the man who shattered her heart—and who she hasn’t seen in 18 years.

Kat feels a spark, wondering if this might be the moment when past tragedies recede and a new world opens up to her. But when she reaches out to the man in the profile, her reawakened hope quickly darkens into suspicion and then terror as an unspeakable conspiracy comes to light, in which monsters prey upon the most vulnerable.

As the body count mounts and Kat's hope for a second chance with Jeff grows more and more elusive, she is consumed by an investigation that challenges her feelings about everyone she ever loved—her former fiancé, her mother, and even her father, whose cruel murder so long ago has never been fully explained. With lives on the line, including her own, Kat must venture deeper into the darkness than she ever has before, and discover if she has the strength to survive what she finds there.
A spirited debut of a rising basketball star wrestling with his town’s outsized expectations and his family’s complicated legacy

Jimmy “Kamikaze” Kirkus is a basketball star, destined for a legendary future in the NBA. At the age of five, he can make nine shots in a row. By high school, he’s got his own Sports Illustrated profile. To the citizens of Columbia City, it seems like he was born for the sport.

But Jimmy soon confronts the “Kirkus curse” when tragedies begin to emerge. Not even basketball can save him from his family’s sorrow-filled past..
His eventual defeat on the court echoes another disastrous legacy: Jimmy’s father, Todd “Freight Train” Kirkus—who had also dreamed of basketball stardom—was forced to give up his dream for a life defined by the curse of his name. Can Jimmy find a way to end this cycle of tragedy?

Like Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding and Friday Night Lights (the book and cult television show), Timothy Lane’s debut novel uses the lens of basketball to understand family, community, and—ultimately—hope. Populated with complex, compelling characters, Rules for Becoming a Legend is proof that every hero is human, and sometimes triumph is borne from tragedy.

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