2019: Summer Reading to Consider

Fiction:

A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes

In A Thousand Ships, broadcaster and classicist Natalie Haynes retells the story of the Trojan War from an all-female perspective.

This was never the story of one woman, or two. It was the story of all of them. . . In the middle of the night, Creusa wakes to find her beloved Troy engulfed in flames. Ten seemingly endless years of brutal conflict between the Greeks and the Trojans are over, and the Greeks are victorious. Over the next few hours, the only life she has ever known will turn to ash . . .

The devastating consequences of the fall of Troy stretch from Mount Olympus to Mount Ida, from the citadel of Troy to the distant Greek islands, and across oceans and sky in between. These are the stories of the women embroiled in that legendary war and its terrible aftermath, as well as the feud and the fatal decisions that started it all. . . Powerfully told from an all-female perspective, A Thousand Ships gives voices to the women, girls and goddesses who, for so long, have been silent. Amazon & Guardian

Body in Question by Jill Ciment

The place: central Florida. The situation: a sensational murder trial, set in a courthouse more Soviet than Le Corbusier; a rich, white teenage girl—a twin—on trial for murdering her toddler brother.

Two of the jurors: Hannah, a married fifty-two-year-old former Rolling Stone and Interview Magazine photographer of rock stars and socialites (she began to photograph animals when she realized she saw people “as a species”), and Graham, a forty-one-year-old anatomy professor. Both are sequestered (she, juror C-2; he, F-17) along with the other jurors at the Econo Lodge off I-75. As the shocking and numbing details of the crime are revealed during a string of days and courtroom hours, and the nights play out in a series of court-financed meals at Outback Steak House (the state isn’t paying for their drinks) and Red Lobster, Hannah and Graham fall into a furtive affair, keeping their oath as jurors never to discuss the trial. During deliberations the lovers learn that they are on opposing sides of the case. Suddenly they look at one another through an altogether different lens, as things become more complicated . . .

After the verdict, Hannah returns home to her much older husband, but the case ignites once again and Hannah’s “one last dalliance before she is too old” takes on profoundly personal and moral consequences as The Body in Question moves to its affecting, powerful, and surprising conclusion. Amazon & NPR

www.npr.org/2019/06/11/731607394/jurors-generate-drama-of-their-own-in-smart-disturbing-body-in-question

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

Beloved author Elizabeth Gilbert returns to fiction with a unique love story set in the New York City theater world during the 1940s. Told from the perspective of an older woman as she looks back on her youth with both pleasure and regret (but mostly pleasure), City of Girls explores themes of female sexuality and promiscuity, as well as the idiosyncrasies of true love.

In 1940, nineteen-year-old Vivian Morris has just been kicked out of Vassar College, owing to her lackluster freshman-year performance. Her affluent parents send her to Manhattan to live with her Aunt Peg, who owns a flamboyant, crumbling midtown theater called the Lily Playhouse. There Vivian is introduced to an entire cosmos of unconventional and charismatic characters, from the fun-chasing showgirls to a sexy male actor, a grand-dame actress, a lady-killer writer, and no-nonsense stage manager. But when Vivian makes a personal mistake that results in professional scandal, it turns her new world upside down in ways that it will take her years to fully understand. Ultimately, though, it leads her to a new understanding of the kind of life she craves – and the kind of freedom it takes to pursue it. It will also lead to the love of her life, a love that stands out from all the rest.

Now eighty-nine years old and telling her story at last, Vivian recalls how the events of those years altered the course of her life – and the gusto and autonomy with which she approached it. “At some point in a woman’s life, she just gets tired of being ashamed all the time,” she muses. “After that, she is free to become whoever she truly is.” Written with a powerful wisdom about human desire and connection, City of Girls is a love story like no other. BookBrowse

The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins

A gothic novel that charts one woman’s life, from her childhood as a slave in a horrifying Jamaican plantation called Paradise to her eventual escape to England, where we find her on trial for a murder she cannot remember.

A servant and former slave is accused of murdering her employer and his wife in this astonishing historical thriller that moves from a Jamaican sugar plantation to the fetid streets of Georgian London—a remarkable literary debut with echoes of Alias Grace, The Underground Railroad, and The Paying Guests.

All of London is abuzz with the scandalous case of Frannie Langton, accused of the brutal double murder of her employers, renowned scientist George Benham and his eccentric French wife, Marguerite. Crowds pack the courtroom, eagerly following every twist, while the newspapers print lurid theories about the killings and the mysterious woman being tried at the Old Bailey. The testimonies against Frannie are damning. She is a seductress, a witch, a master manipulator, a whore.

But Frannie claims she cannot recall what happened that fateful evening, even if remembering could save her life. She doesn’t know how she came to be covered in the victims’ blood. But she does have a tale to tell: a story of her childhood on a Jamaican plantation, her apprenticeship under a debauched scientist who stretched all bounds of ethics, and the events that brought her into the Benhams’ London home—and into a passionate and forbidden relationship. Though her testimony may seal her conviction, the truth will unmask the perpetrators of crimes far beyond murder and indict the whole of English society itself.

The Confessions of Frannie Langton is a breathtaking debut: a murder mystery that travels across the Atlantic and through the darkest channels of history. A brilliant, searing depiction of race, class, and oppression that penetrates the skin and sears the soul, it is the story of a woman of her own making in a world that would see her unmade. Amazon & BookBrowse  &The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jun/05/best-books-of-2019-so-far

Death is Hard Work by  Khaled  Khalifa

Khaled Khalifa’s Death Is Hard Work is the new novel from the greatest chronicler of Syria’s ongoing and catastrophic civil war: a tale of three ordinary people facing down the stuff of nightmares armed with little more than simple determination.

Abdel Latif, an old man from the Aleppo region, dies peacefully in a hospital bed in Damascus. His final wish, conveyed to his youngest son, Bolbol, is to be buried in the family plot in their ancestral village of Anabiya. Though Abdel was hardly an ideal father, and though Bolbol is estranged from his siblings, this conscientious son persuades his older brother Hussein and his sister Fatima to accompany him and the body to Anabiya, which is―after all―only a two-hour drive from Damascus.

There’s only one problem: Their country is a war zone.

With the landscape of their childhood now a labyrinth of competing armies whose actions are at once arbitrary and lethal, the siblings’ decision to set aside their differences and honor their father’s request quickly balloons from a minor commitment into an epic and life-threatening quest. Syria, however, is no longer a place for heroes, and the decisions the family must make along the way―as they find themselves captured and recaptured, interrogated, imprisoned, and bombed―will prove to have enormous consequences for all of them. Amazon & Guardian

The Heavens by Sandra Newman

New York, late summer, 2000. A party in a spacious Manhattan apartment, hosted by a wealthy young activist. Dozens of idealistic twenty-somethings have impassioned conversations over takeout dumplings and champagne. The evening shines with the heady optimism of a progressive new millennium. A young man, Ben, meets a young woman, Kate—and they begin to fall in love.

Kate lives with her head in the clouds, so at first Ben isn’t that concerned when she tells him about the recurring dream she’s had since childhood. In the dream, she’s transported to the past, where she lives a second life as Emilia, the mistress of a nobleman in Elizabethan England. But for Kate, the dream becomes increasingly real, to the point where it threatens to overwhelm her life. And soon she’s waking from it to find the world changed—pictures on her wall she doesn’t recognize, new buildings in the neighborhood that have sprung up overnight. As Kate tries to make sense of what’s happening, Ben worries the woman he’s fallen in love with is losing her grip on reality.

Both intoxicating and thought-provoking, The Heavens is a powerful reminder of the consequences of our actions, a poignant testament to how the people we love are destined to change, and a masterful exploration of the power of dreams. Amazon & Guardian

On Earth We are Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is an autobiographical novel in the form of a letter — a letter written by a son named Little Dog to his illiterate mother. “Dear Ma,” the novel begins, “I am writing to reach you — even if each word I put down is one word further from where you are.” In that one line, Vuong, via Little Dog, has described the unintended rift that education can cause within a working-class immigrant family. NPR Corrigan

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, the letter unearths a family’s history that began before he was born — a history whose epicenter is rooted in Vietnam — and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known, all of it leading to an unforgettable revelation. At once a witness to the fraught yet undeniable love between a single mother and her son, it is also a brutally honest exploration of race, class, and masculinity. Asking questions central to our American moment, immersed as we are in addiction, violence, and trauma, but undergirded by compassion and tenderness, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is as much about the power of telling one’s own story as it is about the obliterating silence of not being heard.

With stunning urgency and grace, Ocean Vuong writes of people caught between disparate worlds, and asks how we heal and rescue one another without forsaking who we are. The question of how to survive, and how to make of it a kind of joy, powers the most important debut novel of many years. Amazon

https://www.npr.org/2019/06/04/729648424/an-immigrant-yearns-for-connection-in-on-earth-we-re-briefly-gorgeous

Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Penn

When Patsy gets her long-coveted visa to America, it comes after years of yearning to leave Pennyfield, the beautiful but impoverished Jamaican town where she was raised. More than anything, Patsy wishes to be reunited with her oldest friend, Cicely, whose letters arrive from New York steeped in the promise of a happier life and the possible rekindling of their young love. But Patsy’s plans don’t include her overzealous, evangelical mother―or even her five-year-old daughter, Tru.

Beating with the pulse of a long-witheld confession, Patsy gives voice to a woman who looks to America for the opportunity to choose herself first―not to give a better life to her family back home. Patsy leaves Tru behind in a defiant act of self-preservation, hoping for a new start where she can be, and love, whomever she wants. But when Patsy arrives in Brooklyn, America is not as Cicely’s treasured letters described; to survive as an undocumented immigrant, she is forced to work as a bathroom attendant and nanny. Meanwhile, Tru builds a faltering relationship with her father back in Jamaica, grappling with her own questions of identity and sexuality, and trying desperately to empathize with her mother’s decision.

Expertly evoking the jittery streets of New York and the languid rhythms of Jamaica, Patsy weaves between the lives of Patsy and Tru in vignettes spanning more than a decade as mother and daughter ultimately find a way back to one another. As with her masterful debut, Here Comes the Sun, Nicole Dennis-Benn once again charts the geography of a hidden world―that of a paradise lost, swirling with the echoes of lilting patois, in which one woman fights to discover her sense of self in a world that tries to define her. Passionate, moving, and fiercely urgent, Patsy is a prismatic depiction of immigration and womanhood, and the lasting threads of love stretching across years and oceans. Amazon

The Porposie by Mark Haddon

Mark Haddon’s breathtaking novel begins with a harrowing plane crash: Maja, the pregnant wife of the unimaginably wealthy Philippe, is killed, but their daughter Angelica survives. Philippe’s obsession with the girl’s safety morphs into something sinister and grotesque as she grows into a beautiful teen. A young man named Darius, visiting Philippe with a business proposition, encounters Angelica and intuits their secret — he decides to rescue her, but the attempt goes awry and he flees England by sea.

This contemporary story mirrors the ancient legend of Antiochus, whose love for the daughter of his dead wife was discovered by the adventurer Appolinus of Tyre. The tale appeared in many forms through the ages; Apollinus becoming the swashbuckling Pericles in Shakespeare’s eponymous play. In The Porpoise, as Angelique comes to terms with a life imprisoned on her father’s estate, Darius morphs into Pericles, voyaging through a mythic world. In a bravura feat of storytelling, Haddon recounts his many exploits in thrilling fashion, mining the meaning of the old legends while creating parallels with the monstrous modern world Angelica inhabits. The language is rich and gorgeous; the conjured worlds are perfectly imagined; the plot moves forward at a ferocious pace.

But as much as Haddon plays with myth and meaning, his themes speak deeply to the current moment. As profound as it is entertaining, The Porpoise is a major literary achievement by an author whose myriad talents are on full, vivid display. Amazon

Queenie by Candice Carty- Williams

Bridget Jones’s Diary meets Americanah in this disarmingly honest, boldly political, and truly inclusive novel that will speak to anyone who has gone looking for love and found something very different in its place.

Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth. As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her. Amazon &

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jun/05/best-books-of-2019-so-far

Recursion by Blake Crouch

Memory makes reality. That’s what New York City cop Barry Sutton is learning as he investigates the devastating phenomenon the media has dubbed False Memory Syndrome—a mysterious affliction that drives its victims mad with memories of a life they never lived.

Neuroscientist Helena Smith already understands the power of memory. It’s why she’s dedicated her life to creating a technology that will let us preserve our most precious moments of our pasts. If she succeeds, anyone will be able to re-experience a first kiss, the birth of a child, the final moment with a dying parent.  As Barry searches for the truth, he comes face-to-face with an opponent more terrifying than any disease—a force that attacks not just our minds but the very fabric of the past. And as its effects begin to unmake the world as we know it, only he and Helena, working together, will stand a chance at defeating it.

But how can they make a stand when reality itself is shifting and crumbling all around them?  Amazon

The Snakes by Sadie Jones

A chilling page-turner and impossible to put down, THE SNAKES is Sadie Jones at her best: breathtakingly powerful, brilliantly incisive, and utterly devastating.

Recently married, psychologist Bea and Dan, a mixed-race artist, rent out their tiny flat to escape London for a few precious months. Driving through France they visit Bea’s dropout brother Alex at the hotel he runs in Burgundy. Disturbingly, they find him all alone and the ramshackle hotel deserted, apart from the nest of snakes in the attic.

When Alex and Bea’s parents make a surprise visit, Dan can’t understand why Bea is so appalled, or why she’s never wanted him to know them; Liv and Griff Adamson are charming and rich. They are the richest people he has ever met. Maybe Bea’s ashamed of him, or maybe she regrets the secrets she’s been keeping. Tragedy strikes suddenly, brutally, and in its aftermath the family is stripped back to its heart, and then its rotten core, and even Bea with all her strength and goodness can’t escape. Amazon &  The Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jun/05/best-books-of-2019-so-far

This Storm by James Ellroy

It is January, 1942. Torrential rainstorms hit L.A. A body is unearthed in Griffith Park. The cops rate it a routine dead-man job. They’re grievously wrong. It’s a summons to misalliance and all the spoils of a brand-new war.

Elmer Jackson is a corrupt Vice cop. He’s a flesh peddler and a bagman for the L.A. Chief of Police. Hideo Ashida is a crime-lab whiz, caught up in the maelstrom of the Japanese internment. Dudley Smith is an LAPD hardnose working Army Intelligence. He’s gone rogue and gone all-the-way Fascist. Joan Conville was born rogue. She’s a defrocked Navy lieutenant and a war profiteer to her core.

They’ve signed on for the dead-man job. They’ve got a hot date with History. They will fight their inner wars within The War with unstoppable fury. BookBrowse

Tokyo Ueno Station by Yu Miri

As a work of post-tsunami literature and a protest against the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, this novel is of utmost importance to this moment, a powerful rebuke to the Imperial system and a sensitive, deeply felt depiction of the lives of Japan’s most vulnerable people.

Kazu is dead. Born in Fukushima in 1933, the same year as the Emperor, his life is tied by a series of coincidences to the Imperial family and has been shaped at every turn by modern Japanese history. But his life story is also marked by bad luck, and now, in death, he is unable to rest easily, haunting the park near Ueno Station. It is here that Kazu s life in Tokyo began and ended, having arrived there to work as a labourer in the run up to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics before ending his days living in the vast homeless villages in the park, traumatised by the destruction of the 2011 tsunami and enraged by the announcement of the 2020 Olympics. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jun/05/best-books-of-2019-so-far

The Wall by John Lanchester

Ravaged by the Change, an island nation in a time very like our own has built the Wall―an enormous concrete barrier around its entire coastline. Joseph Kavanagh, a new Defender, has one task: to protect his section of the Wall from the Others, the desperate souls who are trapped amid the rising seas outside and are a constant threat. Failure will result in death or a fate perhaps worse: being put to sea and made an Other himself. Beset by cold, loneliness, and fear, Kavanagh tries to fulfill his duties to his demanding Captain and Sergeant, even as he grows closer to his fellow Defenders. A dark part of him wonders whether it would be interesting if something did happen, if they came, if he had to fight for his life…

John Lanchester―acclaimed as “an elegant and wonderfully witty writer” (New York Times) and “a writer of rare intelligence” (Los Angeles Times)―has written a taut, hypnotic novel of a broken world and what might be found when all is lost. The Wall blends the most compelling issues of our time―rising waters, rising fear, rising political division―into a suspenseful story of love, trust, and survival.

 Amazon & Guardian/ https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jun/05/best-books-of-2019-so-far

Where Reason Ends by Yiyun Li

Yiyun Li meets life’s deepest sorrows as she imagines a conversation between a mother and child in a timeless world. Composed in the months after she lost a child to suicide, Where Reasons End trespasses into the space between life and death as mother and child talk, free from old images and narratives. Deeply moving, these conversations portray the love and complexity of a relationship.

Written with originality, precision, and poise, Where Reasons End is suffused with intimacy, inescapable pain, and fierce love. BookBrowse

Non Fiction:

Betty Ford: First Lady, Women’s Advocate, Survivor, Trailblazer by Lisa McCubbin & Susan Ford Bales

Betty Ford: First Lady, Women’s Advocate, Survivor, Trailblazer is the inspiring story of an ordinary Midwestern girl thrust onto the world stage and into the White House under extraordinary circumstances. Setting a precedent as First Lady, Betty Ford refused to be silenced by her critics as she publicly championed equal rights for women, and spoke out about issues that had previously been taboo—breast cancer, depression, abortion, and sexuality. Privately, there were signs something was wrong. After a painful intervention by her family, she admitted to an addiction to alcohol and prescription drugs. Her courageous decision to speak out publicly sparked a national dialogue, and in 1982, she co-founded the Betty Ford Center, which revolutionized treatment for alcoholism and inspired the modern concept of recovery.

Lisa McCubbin also brings to light Gerald and Betty Ford’s sweeping love story: from Michigan to the White House, until their dying days, their relationship was that of a man and woman utterly devoted to one another other—a relationship built on trust, respect, and an unquantifiable chemistry.

Based on intimate in-depth interviews with all four of her children, Susan Ford Bales, Michael Ford, Jack Ford, and Steven Ford, as well as family friends, and colleagues, Betty Ford: First Lady, Women’s Advocate, Survivor, Trailblazer is a deeply personal, empathic portrait of an outspoken First Lady, who was first and foremost a devoted wife and mother. With poignant details and rare insight, McCubbin reveals a fiercely independent woman who had a lively sense of humor, unwavering faith, and an indomitable spirit—the true story behind one of the most admired and influential women of our time. Amazon

The Endeavour: the Ship that Changed the World by Peter Moore

The Enlightenment was an age of endeavors, with Britain consumed by the impulse for grand projects undertaken at speed. Endeavour was also the name given to a collier bought by the Royal Navy in 1768. It was a commonplace coal-carrying vessel that no one could have guessed would go on to become the most significant ship in the chronicle of British exploration.

The first history of its kind, Peter Moore’s Endeavour: The Ship That Changed the World is a revealing and comprehensive account of the storied ship’s role in shaping the Western world. Endeavour famously carried James Cook on his first major voyage, charting for the first time New Zealand and the eastern coast of Australia. Yet it was a ship with many lives: During the battles for control of New York in 1776, she witnessed the bloody birth of the republic. As well as carrying botanists, a Polynesian priest, and the remains of the first kangaroo to arrive in Britain, she transported Newcastle coal and Hessian soldiers. NASA ultimately named a space shuttle in her honor. But to others she would be a toxic symbol of imperialism.

Through careful research, Moore tells the story of one of history’s most important sailing ships, and in turn shines new light on the ambition and consequences of the Age of Enlightenment. BookBrowse

The Great Successor: The Divinely Perfect Destiny of Brilliant Comrade Kim Joung Un By Anna Fifield

Since his birth in 1984, Kim Jong Un has been swaddled in myth and propaganda, from the plainly silly–he could supposedly drive a car at the age of three–to the grimly bloody stories of family members who perished at his command.

Anna Fifield reconstructs Kim’s past and present with exclusive access to sources near him and brings her unique understanding to explain the dynastic mission of the Kim family in North Korea. The archaic notion of despotic family rule matches the almost medieval hardship the country has suffered under the Kims. Few people thought that a young, untested, unhealthy, Swiss-educated basketball fanatic could hold together a country that should have fallen apart years ago. But Kim Jong Un has not just survived, he has thrived, abetted by the approval of Donald Trump and diplomacy’s weirdest bromance.

Skeptical yet insightful, Fifield creates a captivating portrait of the oddest and most secretive political regime in the world–one that is isolated yet internationally relevant, bankrupt yet in possession of nuclear weapons–and its ruler, the self-proclaimed Beloved and Respected Leader, Kim Jong Un. Amazon &  NPR  www.npr.org/2019/06/11/731602037/the-great-successor-ventures-inside-kim-jong-un-s-north-korea

The Heartland: Finding & Losing  Schizophrenia by Nathan Filer

In The Heartland, Nathan Filer, a former mental health nurse, invites us to spend time in the company of some extraordinary people whose lives have been affected by this most strange of human conditions, and to discover their complex, surprising, painful, funny and ultimately relatable stories. Interlacing these first person encounters with a series of meditative essays, he debunks myths, challenges orthodoxy and offers fresh insight into what is traditionally considered to be psychiatry’s heartland: the diagnosis and treatment of schizophrenia. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jun/05/best-books-of-2019-so-far

Leaving the Witness by Amber Scorah

A riveting memoir of losing faith and finding freedom while a covert missionary in one of the world’s most restrictive countries.

A third-generation Jehovah’s Witness, Amber Scorah had devoted her life to sounding God’s warning of impending Armageddon. She volunteered to take the message to China, where the preaching she did was illegal and could result in her expulsion or worse. Here, she had some distance from her community for the first time. Immersion in a foreign language and culture–and a whole new way of thinking–turned her world upside down, and eventually led her to lose all that she had been sure was true.

As a proselytizer in Shanghai, using fake names and secret codes to evade the authorities’ notice, Scorah discreetly looked for targets in public parks and stores. To support herself, she found work at a Chinese language learning podcast, hiding her real purpose from her coworkers. Now with a creative outlet, getting to know worldly people for the first time, she began to understand that there were other ways of seeing the world and living a fulfilling life. When one of these relationships became an “escape hatch,” Scorah’s loss of faith culminated in her own personal apocalypse, the only kind of ending possible for a Jehovah’s Witness.

Shunned by family and friends as an apostate, Scorah was alone in Shanghai and thrown into a world she had only known from the periphery–with no education or support system. A coming of age story of a woman already in her thirties, this unforgettable memoir examines what it’s like to start one’s life over again with an entirely new identity. It follows Scorah to New York City, where a personal tragedy forces her to look for new ways to find meaning in the absence of religion. With compelling, spare prose, Leaving the Witness traces the bittersweet process of starting over, when everything one’s life was built around is gone. Book Browse

Mama’s Last Hug by Frans de Waal

Frans de Waal has spent four decades at the forefront of animal research. Following up on the best-selling Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?, which investigated animal intelligence, Mama’s Last Hug delivers a fascinating exploration of the rich emotional lives of animals.

Mama’s Last Hug begins with the death of Mama, a chimpanzee matriarch who formed a deep bond with biologist Jan van Hooff. When Mama was dying, van Hooff took the unusual step of visiting her in her night cage for a last hug. Their goodbyes were filmed and went viral. Millions of people were deeply moved by the way Mama embraced the professor, welcoming him with a big smile while reassuring him by patting his neck, in a gesture often considered typically human but that is in fact common to all primates. This story and others like it form the core of de Waal’s argument, showing that humans are not the only species with the capacity for love, hate, fear, shame, guilt, joy, disgust, and empathy.

De Waal discusses facial expressions, the emotions behind human politics, the illusion of free will, animal sentience, and, of course, Mama’s life and death. The message is one of continuity between us and other species, such as the radical proposal that emotions are like organs: we don’t have a single organ that other animals don’t have, and the same is true for our emotions. Mama’s Last Hug opens our hearts and minds to the many ways in which humans and other animals are connected, transforming how we view the living world around us. BookBrowse

Nanaville: Adventures in Grandparenting  by Anna Quindlen

“I am changing his diaper, he is kicking and complaining, his exhausted father has gone to the kitchen for a glass of water, his exhausted mother is prone on the couch. He weighs little more than a large sack of flour and yet he has laid waste to the living room: swaddles on the chair, a nursing pillow on the sofa, a car seat, a stroller. No one cares about order, he is our order, we revolve around him. And as I try to get in the creases of his thighs with a wipe, I look at his, let’s be honest, largely formless face and unfocused eyes and fall in love with him. Look at him and think, well, that’s taken care of, I will do anything for you as long as we both shall live, world without end, amen.”

Before blogs even existed, Anna Quindlen became a go-to writer on the joys and challenges of family, motherhood, and modern life, in her nationally syndicated column. Now she’s taking the next step and going full nana in the pages of this lively, beautiful, and moving book about being a grandmother. Quindlen offers thoughtful and telling observations about her new role, no longer mother and decision-maker but secondary character and support to the parents of her grandson. She writes, “Where I once led, I have to learn to follow.” Eventually a close friend provides words to live by: “Did they ask you?”

Candid, funny, frank, and illuminating, Quindlen’s singular voice has never been sharper or warmer. With the same insights she brought to motherhood in Living Out Loud and to growing older in Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, this new nana uses her own experiences to illuminate those of many others. Amazon

Underland by Robert McFarlane

Hailed as “the great nature writer of this generation” (Wall Street Journal), Robert Macfarlane is the celebrated author of books about the intersections of the human and the natural realms. In Underland, he delivers his masterpiece: an epic exploration of the Earth’s underworlds as they exist in myth, literature, memory, and the land itself.

In this highly anticipated sequel to his international bestseller The Old Ways, Macfarlane takes us on an extraordinary journey into our relationship with darkness, burial, and what lies beneath the surface of both place and mind. Traveling through “deep time”―the dizzying expanses of geologic time that stretch away from the present―he moves from the birth of the universe to a post-human future, from the prehistoric art of Norwegian sea caves to the blue depths of the Greenland ice cap, from Bronze Age funeral chambers to the catacomb labyrinth below Paris, and from the underground fungal networks through which trees communicate to a deep-sunk “hiding place” where nuclear waste will be stored for 100,000 years to come. “Woven through Macfarlane’s own travels are the unforgettable stories of descents into the underland made across history by explorers, artists, cavers, divers, mourners, dreamers, and murderers, all of whom have been drawn for different reasons to seek what Cormac McCarthy calls “the awful darkness within the world.”

Global in its geography and written with great lyricism and power, Underland speaks powerfully to our present moment. Taking a deep-time view of our planet, Macfarlane here asks a vital and unsettling question: “Are we being good ancestors to the future Earth?” Underland marks a new turn in Macfarlane’s long-term mapping of the relations of landscape and the human heart. From its remarkable opening pages to its deeply moving conclusion, it is a journey into wonder, loss, fear, and hope. At once ancient and urgent, this is a book that will change the way you see the world. BookBrowse

The White Devil’s Daughters: The Women who Fought Slavery in San Francisco’s Chinatown by Julia Flynn Siler

A revelatory history of the trafficking of young Asian girls that flourished in San Francisco during the first hundred years of Chinese immigration (1848-1943) and an in-depth look at the “safe house” that became a refuge for those seeking their freedom

Beginning in 1874, the Occidental Mission Home on the edge of San Francisco’s Chinatown served as a gateway to freedom for thousands of enslaved and vulnerable young Chinese women and girls. Run by a courageous group of female abolitionists who fought the slave trade in Chinese women, it survived earthquakes, fire, bubonic plague, and violence directed against its occupants and supporters. With compassion and an investigative historian’s sharp eye, Siler tells the story of both the abolitionists who challenged the corrosive anti-Chinese prejudices of the time and the young women who dared to flee their fate. She relates how the women who ran the home defied contemporary convention–even occasionally breaking the law–by physically rescuing children from the brothels where they worked or by snatching them off ships as they were being smuggled in–and how they helped bring the exploiters to justice. She also shares the moving stories of many of the girls and young women who sought refuge at the mission, and she writes about the lives they went on to lead. This is a remarkable chapter in an overlooked part of our history, told with sympathy and vigor. Amazon

Young Adult

Fierce Fragile Hearts by Sara Barnard

In a sequel to her bestselling debut Beautiful Broken Things, Barnard follows up on friends Caddy, Rosie and Suzanne as they part ways for university and independent life for the first time.

Fierce Fragile Hearts is the stunning companion novel to Sara Barnard’s YA bestseller Beautiful Broken Things. It is about leaving the past behind, the friends who form your future, and learning to find love, in all its forms.

Two years after a downward spiral took her as low as you can possibly go, Suzanne is starting again. Again. She’s back in Brighton, the only place she felt she belonged, back with her best friends Caddy and Rosie. But they’re about to leave for university. When your friends have been your light in the darkness, what happens when you’re the one left behind?A great book about PTSD and a future after childhood abuse.  Amazon & https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jun/05/best-books-of-2019-so-far

On the Come Up By Angie Thomas

A joyous follow-up to The Hate U Give, Thomas’s second novel follows 16-year-old, Brianna “Bri” Jackson, who is trying to lift her family out of poverty with her rapping talent. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jun/05/best-books-of-2019-so-far

Thanks for looking at my Booklist of recommendations!

All reviews are from BookBrowse, Book Passage, NPR, Amazon, The Guardian, Blurbs or by me!

                      Tracys2cents@wordpress.com

2019 Late Spring Reading List

Fiction

After She’s Gone  by Camilla Grebe

Out of the frozen depths of a forest in Ormberg, Sweden, a woman stumbles onto the road. Her arms are covered with scratches, her feet are bare, and she has no memory of who she is. Local police identify her as psychological profiler Hanne Lagerlind-Schön, who, with her partner, had been helping  investigate the cold case of a young woman’s murder. Hanne begins to recover but cannot recall anything about where her partner is, or what their investigation had uncovered before her disappearance. Police have only one lead: a young woman in a sequined dress who was spotted nearby the night Hanne was found. The young woman doesn’t come forward because she doesn’t exist: Jake Birgersson, a local teenager, had been out walking in his mother’s dress and sister’s makeup, his secret shame and thrill. Terrified of discovery, Jake hid and watched Hanne get into a car, leaving behind her diary.

Reading Hanne’s notebook, Jake realizes that it contains the key to a major breakthrough in the case – but turning it in would mean admitting the truth about who he is. When another murder victim is found in the woods, Jake realizes that Hanne herself is in danger, and his only choice is to find and warn her so that together, they can stop the killer before he strikes again. 

Named the Best Nordic Crime Novel of the Year by the Crime Writers of Scandinavia Book Browse

Confessions of an Innocent Man by David R Dowe

Rafael Zhettah relishes the simplicity and freedom of his life. He is the owner and head chef of a promising Houston restaurant. A pilot with open access to the boundless Texas horizon. A bachelor, content with having few personal or material attachments that ground him. Then, lightning strikes. When he finds Tieresse – billionaire, philanthropist, sophisticate, bombshell – sitting at one of his tables, he also finds his soul mate and his life starts again. And just as fast, when she is brutally murdered in their home, when he is convicted of the crime, when he is sentenced to die, it is all ripped away. But for Rafael Zhettah, death row is not the end. It is only the beginning. Now, with his recaptured freedom, he will stop at nothing to deliver justice to those who stole everything from him.

This is a heart-stoppingly suspenseful, devastating, page-turning debut novel. A thriller with a relentless grip that wants you to read it in one sitting. David R. Dow has dedicated his life to the fight against capital punishment – to righting the horrific injustices of the death penalty regime in Texas. He delivers the perfect modern parable for exploring our complex, uneasy relationships with punishment and reparation in a terribly unjust world. Book Browse

The Current by Tim Johnston

In the dead of winter, outside a small Minnesota town, state troopers pull two young women and their car from the icy Black Root River. One is found downriver, drowned, while the other is found at the scenehalf frozen but alive.

What happened was no accident, and news of the crime awakens the community’s memories of another young woman who lost her life in the same river ten years earlier, and whose killer may still live among them.

Determined to find answers, the surviving young woman soon realizes that she’s connected to the earlier unsolved case by more than just a river, and the deeper she plunges into her own investigation, the closer she comes to dangerous truths, and to the violence that simmers just below the surface of her hometown.

Grief, suspicion, the innocent and the guilty—all stir to life in this cold northern town where a young woman can come home, but still not be safe. Brilliantly plotted and unrelentingly propulsive, The Current is a beautifully realized story about the fragility of life, the power of the past, and the need, always, to fight back. Amazon

Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips

On the remote peninsula of Kamchatka—tucked away on the far eastern corner of Russia and surrounded by vast seas and oceans—most people feel safe. But when two young sisters, Alyona and Sophia, vanish on a cool August afternoon, things change, shocking the small, interconnected Kamchatka community.

In 12 chapters, corresponding with the months of the year following the disappearance of the two girls, author Julia Phillips zooms in on a rotating set of characters who are impacted by the case, providing a panoramic view of the peninsula’s people. Since each chapter inhabits the perspective of a different person, Disappearing Earth is far from a traditional thriller. The investigation and crime often take a backseat. Just as many people don’t think twice about a crime featured on the nightly news, some characters view it only peripherally, in passing. For others, the case is a gravitational force, driving their entire lives off-kilter. This makes the mystery somewhat impressionistic, as details are revealed slowly, indirectly, unexpectedly, scattered throughout the chapters of the book and the lives of those in Kamchatka, until the story finally comes to a head. Book Browse

The Guest House by Sarah Blake

A lifetime of secrets. A history untold.

No. It is a simple word, uttered on a summer porch in 1936. And it will haunt Kitty Milton for the rest of her life. Kitty and her husband, Ogden, are both from families considered the backbone of the country. But this refusal will come to be Kitty’s defining moment, and its consequences will ripple through the Milton family for generations. For while they summer on their island in Maine, anchored as they are to the way things have always been, the winds of change are beginning to stir.

In 1959 New York City, two strangers enter the Miltons’ circle. One captures the attention of Kitty’s daughter, while the other makes each of them question what the family stands for. This new generation insists the times are changing. And in one night, everything does.

So much so that in the present day, the third generation of Miltons doesn’t have enough money to keep the island in Maine. Evie Milton’s mother has just died, and as Evie digs into her mother’s and grandparents’ history, what she finds is a story as unsettling as it is inescapable, the story that threatens the foundation of the Milton family myth. Book Browse

The Huntress by Kate Quinn

“…compulsively readable historical fiction…[a] powerful novel about unusual women facing sometimes insurmountable odds with grace, grit, love and tenacity.” – Kristin Hannah, The Washington Post 

 “If you enjoyed “The Tattooist of Auschwitz,” read “The Huntress,” by Kate Quinn.” The Washington Post

From the author of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling novel, THE ALICE NETWORK, comes another fascinating historical novel about a battle-haunted English journalist and a Russian female bomber pilot who join forces to track the Huntress, a Nazi war criminal gone to ground in America.

In the aftermath of war, the hunter becomes the hunted…

Bold and fearless, Nina Markova always dreamed of flying. When the Nazis attack the Soviet Union, she risks everything to join the legendary Night Witches, an all-female night bomber regiment wreaking havoc on the invading Germans. When she is stranded behind enemy lines, Nina becomes the prey of a lethal Nazi murderess known as the Huntress, and only Nina’s bravery and cunning will keep her alive.

Transformed by the horrors he witnessed from Omaha Beach to the Nuremberg Trials, British war correspondent Ian Graham has become a Nazi hunter. Yet one target eludes him: a vicious predator known as the Huntress. To find her, the fierce, disciplined investigator joins forces with the only witness to escape the Huntress alive: the brazen, cocksure Nina. But a shared secret could derail their mission unless Ian and Nina force themselves to confront it.

Growing up in post-war Boston, seventeen-year-old Jordan McBride is determined to become a photographer. When her long-widowed father unexpectedly comes homes with a new fiancée, Jordan is thrilled. But there is something disconcerting about the soft-spoken German widow. Certain that danger is lurking, Jordan begins to delve into her new stepmother’s past—only to discover that there are mysteries buried deep in her family . . . secrets that may threaten all Jordan holds dear.

In this immersive, heart-wrenching story, Kate Quinn illuminates the consequences of war on individual lives, and the price we pay to seek justice and truth. Amazon & Book Browse

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

Mi-ja and Young-sook, two girls living on the Korean island of Jeju, are best friends that come from very different backgrounds. When they are old enough, they begin working in the sea with their village’s all-female diving collective, led by Young-sook’s mother. As the girls take up their positions as baby divers, they know they are beginning a life of excitement and responsibility but also danger.

Despite their love for each other, Mi-ja and Young-sook’s differences are impossible to ignore. The Island of Sea Women is an epoch set over many decades, beginning during a period of Japanese colonialism in the 1930s and 1940s, followed by World War II, the Korean War and its aftermath, through the era of cell phones and wet suits for the women divers. Throughout this time, the residents of Jeju find themselves caught between warring empires. Mi-ja is the daughter of a Japanese collaborator, and she will forever be marked by this association. Young-sook was born into a long line of haenyeo and will inherit her mother’s position leading the divers in their village. Little do the two friends know that after surviving hundreds of dives and developing the closest of bonds, forces outside their control will push their friendship to the breaking point.

This beautiful, thoughtful novel illuminates a world turned upside down, one where the women are in charge, engaging in dangerous physical work, and the men take care of the children. A classic Lisa See story – one of women’s friendships and the larger forces that shape them – The Island of Sea Women introduces readers to the fierce and unforgettable female divers of Jeju Island and the dramatic history that shaped their lives. Book Browse & Book Passage

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

Miracle Creek, the debut novel from Angie Kim, hinges on the mysterious explosion of an oxygen tank. This disaster has unfolded at Miracle Submarine—a treatment center in rural Virginia specializing in hyperbaric oxygen therapy, or HBOT—which has attracted customers seeking help for various conditions. The explosion has killed Kitt Kozlowski, who was in the tank with her autistic son TJ, and Henry Ward, a boy who may have been autistic but had conflicting diagnoses. Henry’s mother, Elizabeth, who was outside at the time of the incident, is now on trial for murder, with many believing she started the fire that caused the explosion because she wanted her son dead. Book Browse

My Coney Island Baby by Billy O’Callaghan

Radiant with beauty, longing, and desire, and deeply touching, this literary novel, reminiscent of the works of William Trevor and Colm Tóibín, evokes the long love affair between a man and a woman, each married to another, who meet every month in a decaying hotel in Coney Island, Brooklyn.

On a bitterly cold winter’s afternoon, Michael and Caitlin, two middle-aged lovers, escape their unhappy marriages to keep an illicit date. Once a month for the past quarter of a century, Coney Island has been their haven, the place in which they have abandoned themselves to their love.

These beautiful, carefully-rationed days have long sustained Michael and Caitlin’s love, and have helped help them survive the tedium of their lives separate from each other. But now, amid the howling winds whipping off the Atlantic, and a snow storm blackening the horizon, this nearly abandoned resort feels like the edge of the world. On this winter day, burrowed in their private cocoon, they will discover that their lives are on the brink of change.

Michael’s wife is battling cancer, and Caitlin’s husband is about to receive a major promotion, which will involve relocating to the Midwest. After half a lifetime together in their most intimate moments, certain long-denied facts must be faced, decisions made, consequences weighed and, maybe, just maybe, chances finally taken.

A quiet, intense depiction of love and intimacy, My Coney Island Baby reveals, within the course of a single day’s passing, the histories, landscapes, tragedies and occasional moments of wonder that constitute the lives of two people who, although living worlds apart, have been inexorably drawn together. But even in this most private of retreats, a place seemingly built for romance, the most heartbreaking of realities loom. Book Browse

The Old Drift by Namwali Serpell

1904. On the banks of the Zambezi River, a few miles from the majestic Victoria Falls, there is a colonial settlement called The Old Drift. In a smoky room at the hotel across the river, an Old Drifter named Percy M. Clark, foggy with fever, makes a mistake that entangles the fates of an Italian hotelier and an African busboy. This sets off a cycle of unwitting retribution between three Zambian families (black, white, brown) as they collide and converge over the course of the century, into the present and beyond. As the generations pass, their lives—their triumphs, errors, losses and hopes—emerge through a panorama of history, fairytale, romance and science fiction.

From a woman covered with hair and another plagued with endless tears, to forbidden love affairs and fiery political ones, to homegrown technological marvels like Afronauts, microdrones and viral vaccines, this gripping, unforgettable novel is a testament to our yearning to create and cross borders, and a meditation on the slow, grand passage of time. Amazon & BookBrowse

Snap by Belinda Bauer

LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE

From award-winning crime writer Belinda Bauer, “the true heir to the great Ruth Rendell” [Mail on Sunday (UK)], Snap is a gripping novel about a teenage boy’s hunt for his mother’s killer.

Jack’s in charge, said his mother as she disappeared up the road to get help. I won’t be long. Now eleven-year-old Jack and his two sisters wait on the hard shoulder in their stifling, broken-down car, bickering and whining and playing I-Spy until she comes back.

But their mother doesn’t come back. She never comes back. And after that long, hot summer’s day, nothing will ever be the same again.

Three years later, Jack’s fifteen now and still in charge . . . alone in the house. Meanwhile across town, a young woman called Catherine While wakes to find a knife beside her bed, and a note reading I could of killed you. The police are tracking a mysterious burglar they call Goldilocks, for his habit of sleeping in the beds of the houses he robs, but Catherine doesn’t see the point of involving the police. And Jack, very suddenly, may be on the verge of finding out who killed his mother.

A twisty, masterfully written novel that will have readers on the edge of their seats, Snap is Belinda Bauer at the height of her powers. Amazon

Star of the North by D.B. John

Star of the North opens in 1988, when a Korean American teenager is kidnapped from a South Korean beach by North Korean operatives. Twenty-two years later, her brilliant twin sister, Jenna, is still searching for her, and ends up on the radar of the CIA. When evidence that her sister may still be alive in North Korea comes to light, Jenna will do anything possible to rescue her – including undertaking a daring mission into the heart of the regime. Her story is masterfully braided together with two other narrative threads. In one, a North Korean peasant woman finds a forbidden international aid balloon and uses the valuables inside to launch a dangerously lucrative black-market business. In the other, a high-ranking North Korean official discovers, to his horror, that he may be descended from a traitor, a fact that could mean his death if it is revealed.

As the novel progresses, these narrative strands converge and connect in surprising ways, ultimately building to an explosive and unforgettable climax. Book Browse

Where the Crawdads Sing By Delia Owens

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps. Amazon

Non Fiction

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote for Chaos by Jordan Peterson

A bestseller among our college youth….

Humorous, surprising and informative, Dr. Peterson tells us why skateboarding boys and girls must be left alone, what terrible fate awaits those who criticize too easily, and why you should always pet a cat when you meet one on the street.

     What does the nervous system of the lowly lobster have to tell us about standing up straight (with our shoulders back) and about success in life? Why did ancient Egyptians worship the capacity to pay careful attention as the highest of gods? What dreadful paths do people tread when they become resentful, arrogant and vengeful? Dr. Peterson journeys broadly, discussing discipline, freedom, adventure and responsibility, distilling the world’s wisdom into 12 practical and profound rules for life. 12 Rules for Life shatters the modern commonplaces of science, faith and human nature, while transforming and ennobling the mind and spirit of its readers.

Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia by Christina Thompson

A blend of Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel and Simon Winchester’s Pacific, a thrilling intellectual detective story that looks deep into the past to uncover who first settled the islands of the remote Pacific, where they came from, how they got there, and how we know.

For more than a millennium, Polynesians have occupied the remotest islands in the Pacific Ocean, a vast triangle stretching from Hawaii to New Zealand to Easter Island. Until the arrival of European explorers they were the only people to have ever lived there. Both the most closely related and the most widely dispersed people in the world before the era of mass migration, Polynesians can trace their roots to a group of epic voyagers who ventured out into the unknown in one of the greatest adventures in human history.

How did the earliest Polynesians find and colonize these far-flung islands? How did a people without writing or metal tools conquer the largest ocean in the world? This conundrum, which came to be known as the Problem of Polynesian Origins, emerged in the eighteenth century as one of the great geographical mysteries of mankind.

For Christina Thompson, this mystery is personal: her Maori husband and their sons descend directly from these ancient navigators. In Sea People, Thompson explores the fascinating story of these ancestors, as well as those of the many sailors, linguists, archaeologists, folklorists, biologists, and geographers who have puzzled over this history for three hundred years. A masterful mix of history, geography, anthropology, and the science of navigation, Sea People combines the thrill of exploration with the drama of discovery in a vivid tour of one of the most captivating regions in the world. Book Browse

Solitary by Albert Woodfox

Solitary is the unforgettable life story of a man who served more than four decades in solitary confinement – in a 6-foot by 9-foot cell, 23 hours a day, in notorious Angola prison in Louisiana – all for a crime he did not commit. That Albert Woodfox survived was, in itself, a feat of extraordinary endurance against the violence and deprivation he faced daily. That he was able to emerge whole from his odyssey within America’s prison and judicial systems is a triumph of the human spirit, and makes his book a clarion call to reform the inhumanity of solitary confinement in the U.S. and around the world.

Arrested often as a teenager in New Orleans, inspired behind bars in his early twenties to join the Black Panther Party because of its social commitment and code of living, Albert was serving a 50-year sentence in Angola for armed robbery when on April 17, 1972, a white guard was killed. Albert and another member of the Panthers were accused of the crime and immediately put in solitary confinement by the warden. Without a shred of actual evidence against them, their trial was a sham of justice that gave them life sentences in solitary. Decades passed before Albert gained a lawyer of consequence; even so, sixteen more years and multiple appeals were needed before he was finally released in February 2016.

Remarkably self-aware that anger or bitterness would have destroyed him in solitary confinement, sustained by the shared solidarity of two fellow Panthers, Albert turned his anger into activism and resistance. The Angola 3, as they became known, resolved never to be broken by the grinding inhumanity and corruption that effectively held them for decades as political prisoners. Book Browse

The Sun is a Compass by Carolin Van Hemert

During graduate school, as she conducted experiments on the peculiarly misshapen beaks of chickadees, ornithologist Caroline Van Hemert began to feel stifled in the isolated, sterile environment of the lab. Worried that she was losing her passion for the scientific research she once loved, she was compelled to experience wildness again, to be guided by the sounds of birds and to follow the trails of animals.

In March of 2012 she and her husband set off on a 4,000-mile wilderness journey from the Pacific rainforest to the Alaskan Arctic, traveling by rowboat, ski, foot, raft, and canoe. Together, they survived harrowing dangers while also experiencing incredible moments of joy and grace – migrating birds silhouetted against the moon, the steamy breath of caribou, and the bond that comes from sharing such experiences. A unique blend of science, adventure, and personal narrative, the book explores the bounds of the physical body and the tenuousness of life in the company of creatures whose daily survival is nothing short of miraculous. It is a journey through the heart, the mind, and some of the wildest places left in North America.

In the end, The Sun Is a Compass is a love letter to nature, an inspiring story of endurance, and a beautifully written testament to the resilience of the human spirit. Book Browse

Tell your Children: the Truth about Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence by Alex Berenson

Recreational marijuana is now legal in nine states. Almost all Americans believe the drug should be legal for medical use. Advocates argue cannabis can help everyone from veterans to cancer sufferers. But legalization has been built on myths– that marijuana arrests fill prisons; that most doctors want to use cannabis as medicine; that it can somehow stem the opiate epidemic; that it is not just harmless but beneficial for mental health. In this meticulously reported book, Alex Berenson, a former New York Times reporter, explodes those myths:

• Almost no one is in prison for marijuana;

• A tiny fraction of doctors write most authorizations for medical marijuana, mostly for people who have already used;

• Marijuana use is linked to opiate and cocaine use. Since 2008, the US and Canada have seen soaring marijuana use and an opiate epidemic. Britain has falling marijuana use and no epidemic;

• Most of all, THC—the chemical in marijuana responsible for the drug’s high—can cause psychotic episodes. After decades of studies, scientists no longer seriously debate if marijuana causes psychosis.

Psychosis brings violence, and cannabis-linked violence is spreading. In the four states that first legalized, murders have risen 25 percent since legalization, even more than the recent national increase. In Uruguay, which allowed retail sales in July 2017, murders have soared this year.

Berenson’s reporting ranges from the London institute that is home to the scientists who helped prove the cannabis-psychosis link to the Colorado prison where a man now serves a thirty-year sentence after eating a THC-laced candy bar and killing his wife. He sticks to the facts, and they are devastating.

With the US already gripped by one drug epidemic, this book will make readers reconsider if marijuana use is worth the risk. Imprimis & Amazon

Young Adult:

How it feels to Float by Helena Fox

Biz knows how to float. She has her people, her posse, her mom and the twins. She has Grace. And she has her dad, who tells her about the little kid she was, and who shouldn’t be here but is. So Biz doesn’t tell anyone anything. Not about her dark, runaway thoughts, not about kissing Grace or noticing Jasper, the new boy. And she doesn’t tell anyone about her dad. Because her dad died when she was seven. And Biz knows how to float, right there on the surface – normal okay regular fine.

But after what happens on the beach – first in the ocean, and then in the sand – the tethers that hold Biz steady come undone. Dad disappears and, with him, all comfort. It might be easier, better, sweeter to float all the way away? Or maybe stay a little longer, find her father, bring him back to her. Or maybe – maybe maybe maybe – there’s a third way Biz just can’t see yet.

Debut author Helena Fox tells a story about love and grief, about inter-generational mental illness, and how living with it is both a bridge to someone loved and lost and, also, a chasm. She explores the hard and beautiful places loss can take us, and honors those who hold us tightly when the current wants to tug us out to sea. Book Browse

Internment by Samira Ahmed

Set in a horrifying near-future United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens.

With the help of newly made friends also trapped within the internment camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and an unexpected alliance, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the internment camp’s Director and his guards.

Heart-racing and emotional, Internment challenges readers to fight complicit silence that exists in our society today. Book Passage & Amazon

Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson

Bestselling author Laurie Halse Anderson is known for the unflinching way she writes about, and advocates for, survivors of sexual assault. Now, inspired by her fans and enraged by how little in our culture has changed since her groundbreaking novel Speak was first published twenty years ago, she has written a poetry memoir that is as vulnerable as it is rallying, as timely as it is timeless. In free verse, Anderson shares reflections, rants, and calls to action woven between deeply personal stories from her life that she’s never written about before. Searing and soul-searching, this important memoir is a denouncement of our society’s failures and a love letter to all the people with the courage to say #MeToo and #TimesUp, whether aloud, online, or only in their own hearts. SHOUT speaks truth to power in a loud, clear voice– and once you hear it, it is impossible to ignore. Book Passage & Amazon

Thanks for looking at my Booklist of recommendations!

All reviews are from BookBrowse, Book Passage, NPR, Amazon, Blurbs or by me!

                      Tracys2cents@wordpress.com

2019 Winter Reading

Sorry for this late edition of Winter recommendations but the Spring list will be on time! Thanks for your patience! Tracy

Fiction

The Au Pair by  Emma Rous

Emma Rous’s The Au Pair has all the makings of the book world’s next big thriller. Seraphine Mayes and her twin brother, Danny, are haunted by the death of their mother. Shortly after their birth, she threw herself from a cliff, leaving her children with a lifetime of questions. Now Seraphine is an adult, and in the aftermath of her father’s passing, she discovers a photo seemingly taken on the day the twins were born, but in the picture her mother is smiling and only holding one baby. Amazon

The Court Dancer by Kyung-Sook Shin

Based on a remarkable true story, the New York Times bestselling author of Please Look After Mom brilliantly images the life of Yi Jin, an orphan who would fall under the affections of the Empress and become a jewel in the late Joseon Court.

When a novice French diplomat arrives for an audience with the Emperor, he is enraptured by the Joseon Dynasty’s magnificent culture, then at its zenith. But all fades away when he sees Yi Jin perform the delicate traditional Dance of the Spring Oriole. Though well aware that women of the court belong to the palace, the young diplomat confesses his love to the Emperor, and gains permission for Yi Jin to accompany him back to France.

A world away in Belle Epoque Paris, Yi Jin lives a free, independent life, away from the gilded cage of the court, and begins translating and publishing Joseon literature into French with another Korean student. But even in this new world, great sorrow awaits her. Yi Jin’s grieving and suffering is only amplified by homesickness and a longing for her oldest friend. But her homecoming was not a happy one. Betrayal, jealousy, and intrigue abound, culminating with the tragic assassination of the last Joseon empress―and the poisoned pages of a book.

Rich with historic detail and filled with luminous characters, Korea’s most beloved novelist brings a lost era to life in a story that will resonate long after the final page. Amazon.

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

One night in an isolated college town in the hills of Southern California, a first-year student stumbles into her dorm room, falls asleep – and doesn’t wake up. She sleeps through the morning, into the evening. Her roommate, Mei, cannot rouse her. Neither can the paramedics, nor the perplexed doctors at the hospital. When a second girl falls asleep, and then a third, Mei finds herself thrust together with an eccentric classmate as panic takes hold of the college and spreads to the town. A young couple tries to protect their newborn baby as the once-quiet streets descend into chaos. Two sisters turn to each other for comfort as their survivalist father prepares for disaster. Those affected by the illness, doctors discover, are displaying unusual levels of brain activity, higher than has ever been recorded before. They are dreaming heightened dreams – but of what?

Written in luminous prose, The Dreamers is a breathtaking and beautiful novel, startling and provocative, about the possibilities contained within a human life – in our waking days and, perhaps even more, in our dreams. BookBrowse

The Far Field by  Madhuri Vijay

In the wake of her mother’s death, Shalini, a privileged and restless young woman from Bangalore, sets out for a remote Himalayan village in the troubled northern region of Kashmir. Certain that the loss of her mother is somehow connected to the decade-old disappearance of Bashir Ahmed, a charming Kashmiri salesman who frequented her childhood home, she is determined to confront him. But upon her arrival, Shalini is brought face to face with Kashmir’s politics, as well as the tangled history of the local family that takes her in. And when life in the village turns volatile and old hatreds threaten to erupt into violence, Shalini finds herself forced to make a series of choices that could hold dangerous repercussions for the very people she has come to love.

With rare acumen and evocative prose, in The Far Field Madhuri Vijay masterfully examines Indian politics, class prejudice, and sexuality through the lens of an outsider, offering a profound meditation on grief, guilt, and the limits of compassion.  Book Browse

Freefall by Jessica Barry

They say your daughter is dead. You know they’re wrong 

When her fiancé’s private plane crashes in the Colorado Rockies, everyone assumes Allison Carpenter is dead. But Maggie, Allison’s mother back home in Owl Creek, Maine, refuses to believe them. Maggie knows her daughter – or she used to, anyway. For the past two years, the two women have been estranged, and while Maggie doesn’t know anything about Ally’s life now – not even why she was on a private plane to begin with – she still believes in her girl’s strength, and in their love for each other.

As Allison struggles across the treacherous mountain wilderness, Maggie embarks on a desperate search for answers about the world Allison has been involved in. What was she running from? And can Maggie uncover the truth in time to save her? Told from the perspectives of a mother and daughter separated by distance but united by an unbreakable bond, Freefall is a heart-stopping, propulsive thriller about two tenacious women overcoming unimaginable obstacles to protect themselves and the ones they love. Amazon

Light over London by Julia Kelly

Historical fiction fans won’t be able to wait to get their hands on Julia Kelly’s The Light Over London. Told across two different timelines, the book follows a modern day woman named Cara, who comes across relics from the past that tell the story of a young woman who defied her fate in World War II era London.

It’s always been easier for Cara Hargraves to bury herself in the past than confront the present, which is why working with a gruff but brilliant antiques dealer is perfect. While clearing out an estate, she pries open an old tin that holds the relics of a lost relationship: among the treasures, a World War II-era diary and a photograph of a young woman in uniform. Eager to find the author of the hauntingly beautiful, unfinished diary, Cara digs into this soldier’s life, but soon realizes she may not have been ready for the stark reality of wartime London she finds within the pages.

In 1941, nineteen-year-old Louise Keene’s life had been decided for her—she’ll wait at home in her Cornish village until her wealthy suitor returns from war to ask for her hand. But when Louise unexpectedly meets Flight Lieutenant Paul Bolton, a dashing RAF pilot stationed at a local base, everything changes. And changes again when Paul’s unit is deployed without warning.

Desperate for a larger life, Louise joins the women’s branch of the British Army in the anti-aircraft gun unit as a Gunner Girl. As bombs fall on London, she and the other Gunner Girls relish in their duties to be exact in their calculations, and quick in their identification of enemy planes during air raids. The only thing that gets Louise through those dark, bullet-filled nights is knowing she and Paul will be together when the war is over. But when a bundle of her letters to him are returned unanswered, she learns that wartime romance can have a much darker side. Illuminating the story of these two women separated by generations and experience, Julia Kelly transports us to World War II London in this heartbreakingly beautiful novel through forgotten antique treasures, remembered triumphs, and fierce family ties. Amazon

The Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli

A mother and father set out with their two children, a boy and a girl, driving from New York to Arizona in the heat of summer. Their destination: Apacheria, the place the Apaches once called home.

Why Apaches? asks the ten-year-old son. Because they were the last of something, answers his father.

In their car, they play games and sing along to music. But on the radio, there is news about an “immigration crisis”: thousands of kids trying to cross the southwestern border into the United States, but getting detained–or lost in the desert along the way.

As the family drives–through Virginia to Tennessee, across Oklahoma and Texas–we sense they are on the brink of a crisis of their own. A fissure is growing between the parents, one the children can almost feel beneath their feet. They are led, inexorably, to a grand, harrowing adventure–both in the desert landscape and within the chambers of their own imaginations.

Told through several compelling voices, blending texts, sounds, and images, Lost Children Archive is an astonishing feat of literary virtuosity. It is a richly engaging story of how we document our experiences, and how we remember the things that matter to us the most. With urgency and empathy, it takes us deep into the lives of one remarkable family as it probes the nature of justice and equality today. Book Browse

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

Two brothers meet at the remote fence line separating their cattle ranches in the lonely outback. In an isolated belt of Western Australia, they are each other’s nearest neighbor, their homes four hours’ drive apart.

The third brother lies dead at their feet.

Something caused Cam, the middle child who had been in charge of the family homestead, to die alone in the middle of nowhere.

So the eldest brother returns with his younger sibling to the family property and those left behind. But the fragile balance of the ranch is threatened. Amidst the grief, suspicion starts to take hold, and the eldest brother begins to wonder if more than one among them is at risk of crumbling as the weight of isolation bears down on them all.

Dark, suspenseful, and deeply atmospheric, The Lost Man is the highly anticipated next book from the bestselling and award-winning Jane Harper, author of The Dry and Force of Nature. BookBrowse

Night Tiger by Yangze Choo

Quick-witted, ambitious Ji Lin is stuck as an apprentice dressmaker, moonlighting as a dancehall girl to help pay off her mother’s Mahjong debts. But when one of her dance partners accidentally leaves behind a gruesome souvenir, Ji Lin may finally get the adventure she has been longing for.

Eleven-year-old houseboy Ren is also on a mission, racing to fulfill his former master’s dying wish: that Ren find the man’s finger, lost years ago in an accident, and bury it with his body. Ren has 49 days to do so, or his master’s soul will wander the earth forever.

As the days tick relentlessly by, a series of unexplained deaths wracks the district, along with whispers of men who turn into tigers. Ji Lin and Ren’s increasingly dangerous paths crisscross through lush plantations, hospital storage rooms, and ghostly dreamscapes.

Yangsze Choo’s The Night Tiger pulls us into a world of servants and masters, age-old superstition and modern idealism, sibling rivalry and forbidden love. But anchoring this dazzling, propulsive novel is the intimate coming of age of a child and a young woman, each searching for their place in a society that would rather they stay invisible. BookBrowse

That Kind of Mother by  Rumaan Alam

Rumaan Alam’s first book, Rich and Pretty, wrote the intimacies of female friendship so well that I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that his second novel takes on two mothers with breathtaking insight. Rebecca, white, well-off, well-intentioned, offers to care for her nanny Priscilla’s son when Priscilla, who is black, dies in childbirth. Cheryl, Priscilla’s older daughter, who is pregnant herself, accepts Rebecca’s offer gratefully, and the arrangement becomes permanent when Rebecca adopts the baby. The book is an incredibly honest look at transracial adoption – the sometimes thoughtless way in which the white and liberal Rebecca parents her black son, contrasted with Cheryl’s clear-eyed understanding of how that thoughtlessness can become erasure. Neither woman is a caricature, however – Alam offers kindness as well as honesty about a complex situation in which love and good intentions are not necessarily enough. Amazon & BookBrowse

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

I loved this book and recommend reading  Song of Achilles by Miller- A great companion to this novel! Tracy….

The ancient city of Troy has withstood a decade under siege of the powerful Greek army, who continue to wage bloody war over a stolen woman–Helen. In the Greek camp, another woman watches and waits for the war’s outcome: Briseis. She was queen of one of Troy’s neighboring kingdoms, until Achilles, Greece’s greatest warrior, sacked her city and murdered her husband and brothers. Briseis becomes Achilles’s concubine, a prize of battle, and must adjust quickly in order to survive a radically different life, as one of the many conquered women who serve the Greek army.

    When Agamemnon, the brutal political leader of the Greek forces, demands Briseis for himself, she finds herself caught between the two most powerful of the Greeks. Achilles refuses to fight in protest, and the Greeks begin to lose ground to their Trojan opponents. Keenly observant and cooly unflinching about the daily horrors of war, Briseis finds herself in an unprecedented position to observe the two men driving the Greek forces in what will become their final confrontation, deciding the fate, not only of Briseis’s people, but also of the ancient world at large.

    Briseis is just one among thousands of women living behind the scenes in this war–the slaves and prostitutes, the nurses, the women who lay out the dead–all of them erased by history. With breathtaking historical detail and luminous prose, Pat Barker brings the teeming world of the Greek camp to vivid life. She offers nuanced, complex portraits of characters and stories familiar from mythology, which, seen from Briseis’s perspective, are rife with newfound revelations. Barker’s latest builds on her decades-long study of war and its impact on individual lives–and it is nothing short of magnificent. Amazon & NPR

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations―a search for the truth that threatens to consume him….Amazon

Unmarriageable by Sonia Kamal

A scandal and vicious rumor concerning the Binat family have destroyed their fortune and prospects for desirable marriages, but Alys, the second and most practical of the five Binat daughters, has found happiness teaching English literature to schoolgirls. Knowing that many of her students won’t make it to graduation before dropping out to marry and have children, Alys teaches them about Jane Austen and her other literary heroes and hopes to inspire the girls to dream of more.

When an invitation arrives to the biggest wedding their small town has seen in years, Mrs. Binat, certain that their luck is about to change, excitedly sets to work preparing her daughters to fish for rich, eligible bachelors. On the first night of the festivities, Alys’s lovely older sister, Jena, catches the eye of Fahad “Bungles” Bingla, the wildly successful – and single – entrepreneur. But Bungles’s friend Valentine Darsee is clearly unimpressed by the Binat family. Alys accidentally overhears his unflattering assessment of her and quickly dismisses him and his snobbish ways. As the days of lavish wedding parties unfold, the Binats wait breathlessly to see if Jena will land a proposal – and Alys begins to realize that Darsee’s brusque manner may be hiding a very different man from the one she saw at first glance.

Told with wry wit and colorful prose, Unmarriageable is a charming update on Jane Austen’s beloved novel and an exhilarating exploration of love, marriage, class, and sisterhood. BookBrowse

Non Fiction:

1947: Where Now Begins by Elizabeth Asbrink

The year 1947 marks a turning point in the twentieth century. Peace with Germany becomes a tool to fortify the West against the threats of the Cold War. The CIA is created, Israel is about to be born, Simone de Beauvoir experiences the love of her life, an ill George Orwell is writing his last book, and Christian Dior creates the hyper-feminine New Look as women are forced out of jobs and back into the home.

In the midst of it all, a ten-year-old Hungarian-Jewish boy resides in a refugee camp for children of parents murdered by the Nazis. This year he has to make the decision of a lifetime, one that will determine his own fate and that of his daughter yet to be born, Elisabeth.  Amazon & NPR

Babel by Gaston Dorren

English is the world language, except that most of the world doesn’t speak it–only one in five people does. Dorren calculates that to speak fluently with half of the world’s 7.4 billion people in their mother tongues, you would need to know no fewer than twenty languages. He sets out to explore these top twenty world languages, which range from the familiar (French, Spanish) to the surprising (Malay, Javanese, Bengali). Babel whisks the reader on a delightful journey to every continent of the world, tracing how these world languages rose to greatness while others fell away and showing how speakers today handle the foibles of their mother tongues. Whether showcasing tongue-tying phonetics or elegant but complicated writing scripts, and mind-bending quirks of grammar, Babel vividly illustrates that mother tongues are like nations: each has its own customs and beliefs that seem as self-evident to those born into it as they are surprising to the outside world.

Among many other things, Babel will teach you why modern Turks can’t read books that are a mere 75 years old, what it means in practice for Russian and English to be relatives, and how Japanese developed separate “dialects” for men and women. Dorren lets you in on his personal trials and triumphs while studying Vietnamese in Hanoi, debunks ten widespread myths about Chinese characters, and discovers that Swahili became the lingua franca in a part of the world where people routinely speak three or more languages. Book Browse

Burned: A Story of Murder and Crime that Wasn’t by Edward Humes

On an April night in 1989, Jo Ann Parks survived a house fire that claimed the lives of her three small children. Though the fire at first seemed a tragic accident, investigators soon reported finding evidence proving that Parks had sabotaged wiring, set several fires herself, and even barricaded her four-year-old son inside a closet to prevent his escape. Though she insisted she did nothing wrong, Jo Ann parks received a life sentence without parole based on the power of forensic fire science that convincingly proved her guilt.

But more than a quarter century later, a revolution in the science of fire has exposed many of the incontrovertible truths of 1989 as guesswork in disguise. The California Innocence Project is challenging Parks’s conviction and the so-called science behind it, claiming that false assumptions and outright bias convicted an innocent mother of a crime that never actually happened.If Parks is exonerated, she could well be the “Patient Zero” in an epidemic of overturned guilty verdicts – but only if she wins. Can prosecutors dredge up enough evidence and roadblocks to make sure Jo Ann Parks dies in prison? No matter how her last-ditch effort for freedom turns out, the scenes of betrayal, ruin, and hope will leave readers longing for justice we can trust. Book Browse

Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong about the World and Why Things are Better than You Think  by Hans Rosling

When asked simple questions about global trends―what percentage of the world’s population live in poverty; why the world’s population is increasing; how many girls finish school―we systematically get the answers wrong. So wrong that a chimpanzee choosing answers at random will consistently outguess teachers, journalists, Nobel laureates, and investment bankers.

In Factfulness, Professor of International Health and global TED phenomenon Hans Rosling, together with his two long-time collaborators, Anna and Ola, offers a radical new explanation of why this happens. They reveal the ten instincts that distort our perspective―from our tendency to divide the world into two camps (usually some version of us and them) to the way we consume media (where fear rules) to how we perceive progress (believing that most things are getting worse).

Our problem is that we don’t know what we don’t know, and even our guesses are informed by unconscious and predictable biases.

It turns out that the world, for all its imperfections, is in a much better state than we might think. That doesn’t mean there aren’t real concerns. But when we worry about everything all the time instead of embracing a worldview based on facts, we can lose our ability to focus on the things that threaten us most.

Inspiring and revelatory, filled with lively anecdotes and moving stories, Factfulness is an urgent and essential book that will change the way you see the world and empower you to respond to the crises and opportunities of the future.

“This book is my last battle in my life-long mission to fight devastating ignorance…Previously I armed myself with huge data sets, eye-opening software, an energetic learning style and a Swedish bayonet for sword-swallowing. It wasn’t enough. But I hope this book will be.” Hans Rosling, February 2017. Amazon

‘Inseparable: The Original Siamese Twins and their Rendezvous with American History By Yunte Huang (Liveright).

After years of showcased servitude, the original “Siamese twins” Chang and Eng Bunker settled down in small-town North Carolina and adopted the lives of 19th-century Southern gentry — identifying with the white oppressor class, in other words, fathering at least 21 children between them, owning slaves and sending their sons to fight for the Confederacy. Huang is attuned to the ironies of their story in his incisive and riveting account. (Read the review.) NYTimes.com/2018/12/04/books/critics-favorite-books.html

Insomnia by Marina Benjamin

Insomnia is on the rise. More than a third of all adults report experiencing it, with the figure climbing steeply among those over sixty-five. Marina Benjamin takes on her personal experience of the condition–her struggles with it, her insomniac highs, and her dawning awareness that states of sleeplessness grant us valuable insights into the workings of our unconscious minds. Although insomnia is rarely entirely welcome, Benjamin treats it less as an affliction than as an encounter that she engages with and plumbs. She adds new dimensions to both our understanding of sleep (and going without it) and of night, of how we perceive darkness.

Along the way, Insomnia trips through illuminating material from literature, art, philosophy, psychology, pop culture, and more. Benjamin pays particular attention to the relationship between women and sleep–Penelope up all night, unraveling her day’s weaving for Odysseus; the Pre-Raphaelite artists’ depictions of deeply sleeping women; and the worries that keep contemporary females awake.

Insomnia is an intense, lyrical, witty, and humane exploration of a state we too often consider only superficially. “This is the song of insomnia, and I shall sing it,” Marina Benjamin declares. NPR & Amazon

Maid: Hard Work,Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land

At 28, Stephanie Land’s plans of breaking free from the roots of her hometown in the Pacific Northwest to chase her dreams of attending a university and becoming a writer, were cut short when a summer fling turned into an unexpected pregnancy. She turned to housekeeping to make ends meet, and with a tenacious grip on her dream to provide her daughter the very best life possible, Stephanie worked days and took classes online to earn a college degree, and began to write relentlessly.

She wrote the true stories that weren’t being told: the stories of overworked and underpaid Americans. Of living on food stamps and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) coupons to eat. Of the government programs that provided her housing, but that doubled as halfway houses. The aloof government employees who called her lucky for receiving assistance while she didn’t feel lucky at all. She wrote to remember the fight, to eventually cut through the deep-rooted stigmas of the working poor.

Maid explores the underbelly of upper-middle class America and the reality of what it’s like to be in service to them. “I’d become a nameless ghost,” Stephanie writes about her relationship with her clients, many of whom do not know her from any other cleaner, but who she learns plenty about. As she begins to discover more about her clients’ lives-their sadness and love, too-she begins to find hope in her own path.

Her compassionate, unflinching writing as a journalist gives voice to the “servant” worker, and those pursuing the American Dream from below the poverty line. Maid is Stephanie’s story, but it’s not her alone. It is an inspiring testament to the strength, determination, and ultimate triumph of the human spirit. Amazon & NPR

A Mind Unraveled  by Kurt Eichenwald

New York Times journalist Kurt Eichenwald was diagnosed with epilepsy in November 1979 at the age of 18. At the time his doctor advised him, “Don’t tell anyone about your diagnosis. If people know you have epilepsy, they’ll be afraid. Seizures are frightening. If you tell people, you might lose friends or jobs.” His latest book, A Mind Unraveled, is a memoir about the damage such advice caused him, the discrimination he endured when his condition became known, and how he fought to not only overcome the challenges facing him but to go on to become a Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer.

According to the Mayo Clinic, epilepsy is a neurological disorder “in which brain activity becomes abnormal, causing seizures or periods of unusual behavior, sensations, and sometimes loss of awareness.” Most patients are able to get their seizures under control with medication, but each person is different, and the cause, treatment, and prognosis vary greatly. Although many options are available for treating people with epilepsy today, when Eichenwald was diagnosed less was known about the condition and fewer choices existed. Consequently, his grand mal seizures (characterized by loss of consciousness and violent muscle contractions) continued for years. He goes to great lengths in his memoir to outline just how severe his bouts became and the impact they had on those around him, such as his close friends who were torn between feeling willingly responsible for looking after him and exhausted by his unpredictable need for care.

Most of Eichenwald’s narrative, though, explores how people who should have been protecting and helping him actually made things much more difficult. His father, a world-renowned specialist in pediatric infectious diseases, flat-out denied his son had epilepsy, referring to it instead as a “seizure disorder” and refusing to discuss it. Eichenwald’s first neurologist was a researcher who rarely saw patients, and who brushed off Kurt’s calls as his grand mal seizures became more frequent. His second doctor prescribed medications that nearly killed him. The administrators at his college, Swarthmore, sought – illegally – to expel him, going as far as actually fabricating reasons to keep him from returning to school. The list goes on, and it’s hard to believe so many people could have been so incredibly close-minded and arrogant, either treating this young man as a problem or pretending everything was just fine.

As the memoir progresses, Eichenwald relates how the discrimination continued into his working life. (His reaction to the way he was treated at the Center for Study of Responsive Law, run by consumer advocate Ralph Nader, is priceless!) Nevertheless, his hard work, determination, and gifted writing ability allowed him to eventually land increasingly important positions. It wasn’t until he made his condition known publicly, though – in a 1987 New York Times Magazine article – that he was able to work without fear that he’d be fired or otherwise have his opportunities limited by his malady. BookBrowse

The Unwinding of a Miracle: A Memoir of Life, Death and Everything That Comes After by Julie Yip-Williams

That Julie Yip-Williams survived infancy was a miracle. Born blind in Vietnam, she narrowly escaped euthanasia at the hands of her grandmother, only to flee with her family the political upheaval of her country in the late 1970s. Loaded into a rickety boat with three hundred other refugees, Julie made it to Hong Kong and, ultimately, America, where a surgeon at UCLA gave her partial sight. She would go on to become a Harvard-educated lawyer, with a husband, a family, and a life she had once assumed would be impossible. Then, at age thirty-seven, with two little girls at home, Julie was diagnosed with terminal metastatic colon cancer, and a different journey began.

The Unwinding of the Miracle is the story of a vigorous life refracted through the prism of imminent death. When she was first diagnosed, Julie Yip-Williams sought clarity and guidance through the experience and, finding none, began to write her way through it – a chronicle that grew beyond her imagining. Motherhood, marriage, the immigrant experience, ambition, love, wanderlust, tennis, fortune-tellers, grief, reincarnation, jealousy, comfort, pain, the marvel of the body in full rebellion – this book is as sprawling and majestic as the life it records. It is inspiring and instructive, delightful and shattering. It is a book of indelible moments, seared deep – an incomparable guide to living vividly by facing hard truths consciously.

With humor, bracing honesty, and the cleansing power of well-deployed anger, Julie Yip-Williams set the stage for her lasting legacy and one final miracle: the story of her life. BookBrowse

Children & Young Adult

How to be a Lion by  Ed Vere

The spirit of Ferdinand the Bull is a alive and well in How to Be a Lion. Leonard loves so much of life, from reading poems to befriending ducks, but these aren’t lionlike behaviors. After building a case, the book asks “Is there just one way to be a lion? I don’t think so … do you?” I love turning over the conversation to the readers — start critical reading early — while meeting a marvelous orange lion. (For ages 3 to 7) Amazon & NPR Best books of 2018

A Thousand Sisters by  Elizabeth Wein

In the early years of World War II, Josef Stalin issued an order that made the Soviet Union the first country in the world to allow female pilots to fly in combat. Led by Marina Raskova, these three regiments, including the 588th Night Bomber Regiment – nicknamed the “night witches” – faced intense pressure and obstacles both in the sky and on the ground. Some of these young women perished in flames. Many of them were in their teens when they went to war.

This is the story of Raskova’s three regiments, women who enlisted and were deployed on the front lines of battle as navigators, pilots, and mechanics. It is the story of a thousand young women who wanted to take flight to defend their country, and the woman who brought them together in the sky.

Packed with black-and-white photographs, fascinating sidebars, and thoroughly researched details, A Thousand Sisters is the inspiring true story of a group of women who set out to change the world, and the sisterhood they formed even amid the destruction of war. YA…BookBrowse

Displaced  My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls Around the World by Malala Yousafzaiby

After her father was murdered, María escaped in the middle of the night with her mother.

Zaynab was out of school for two years as she fled war before landing in America. Her sister, Sabreen, survived a harrowing journey to Italy.

Ajida escaped horrific violence, but then found herself battling the elements to keep her family safe in their new makeshift home.

***

Nobel Peace Prize winner and New York Times-bestselling author Malala Yousafzai introduces some of the people behind the statistics and news stories we read or hear every day about the millions of people displaced worldwide.

Malala’s experiences visiting refugee camps caused her to reconsider her own displacement – first as an Internally Displaced Person when she was a young child in Pakistan, and then as an international activist who could travel anywhere in the world except to the home she loved. In We Are Displaced, which is part memoir, part communal storytelling, Malala not only explores her own story, but she also shares the personal stories of some of the incredible girls she has met on her journeys – girls who have lost their community, relatives, and often the only world they’ve ever known.  Young Adult- Book Browse

Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer

Believing his father is lost forever, Echo is shocked to find him half-frozen in the winter forest six months later, guarded by a strange talking wolf – the same creature who attacked her as a child. The wolf presents Echo with an ultimatum: if she lives with him for one year, he will ensure her father makes it home safely. But there is more to the wolf than Echo realizes.

In his enchanted house beneath a mountain, each room must be sewn together to keep the home from unraveling, and something new and dark and strange lies behind every door. When centuries-old secrets unfold, Echo discovers a magical library full of books- turned-mirrors, and a young man named Hal who is trapped inside of them. As the year ticks by, the rooms begin to disappear and Echo must solve the mystery of the wolf’s enchantment before her time is up otherwise Echo, the wolf, and Hal will be lost forever. Amazon & Book Browse.

Thanks for looking at my Booklist of recommendations!

All reviews are from BookBrowse, Book Passage, NYTimes.com, NPR, Amazon, Blurbs or by me!

Tracys2cents@wordpress.com

2018 Summer Book Recommendations

Fiction

A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

As an Indian wedding gathers a family back together, parents Rafiq and Layla must reckon with the choices their children have made. There is Hadia: their headstrong, eldest daughter, whose marriage is a match of love and not tradition. Huda, the middle child, determined to follow in her sister’s footsteps. And lastly, their estranged son, Amar, who returns to the family fold for the first time in three years to take his place as brother of the bride. What secrets and betrayals have caused this close-knit family to fracture? Can Amar find his way back to the people who know and love him best?

A Place for Us takes us back to the beginning of this family’s life: from the bonds that bring them together, to the differences that pull them apart. All the joy and struggle of family life is here, from Rafiq and Layla’s own arrival in America from India, to the years in which their children—each in their own way—tread between two cultures, seeking to find their place in the world, as well as a path home.

A Place for Us is a book for our times: an astonishingly tender-hearted novel of identity and belonging, and a resonant portrait of what it means to be an American family today. It announces Fatima Farheen Mirza as a major new literary talent. Amazon &

A Shout in the Ruins by Kevin Powers

Set in Virginia during the Civil War and a century beyond, this novel by the award-winning author of THE YELLOW BIRDS explores the brutal legacy of violence and exploitation in American society.

Spanning over one hundred years, from the antebellum era to the 1980’s, A Shout in the Ruins examines the fates of the inhabitants of Beauvais Plantation outside of Richmond, Virginia. When war arrives, the master of Beauvais, Anthony Levallios, foresees that dominion in a new America will be measured not in acres of tobacco under cultivation by his slaves, but in industry and capital. A grievously wounded Confederate veteran loses his grip on a world he no longer understands, and his daughter finds herself married to Levallois, an arrangement that feels little better than imprisonment. And two people enslaved at Beauvais plantation, Nurse and Rawls, overcome impossible odds to be together, only to find that the promise of coming freedom may not be something they will live to see.

Seamlessly interwoven is the story of George Seldom, a man orphaned by the storm of the Civil War, looking back from the 1950s on the void where his childhood ought to have been. Watching the government destroy his neighborhood to build a stretch of interstate highway through Richmond, he travels south in an attempt to recover his true origins. With the help of a young woman named Lottie, he goes in search of the place he once called home, all the while reckoning with the more than 90 years he lived as witness to so much that changed during the 20th century, and so much that didn’t. As we then watch Lottie grapple with life’s disappointments and joys in the 1980’s, now in her own middle-age, the questions remain: How do we live in a world built on the suffering of others? And can love exist in a place where for 400 years violence has been the strongest form of intimacy?

Written with the same emotional intensity, harrowing realism, and poetic precision that made THE YELLOW BIRDS one of the most celebrated novels of the past decade, A SHOUT IN THE RUINS cements Powers’ place in the forefront of American letters and demands that we reckon with the moral weight of our troubling history.   Amazon

Anatomy of a Miracle by Jonathan Miles

Rendered paraplegic after a traumatic event four years ago, Cameron Harris has been living his new existence alongside his sister, Tanya, in their battered Biloxi, Mississippi neighborhood where only half the houses made it through Katrina. One stiflingly hot August afternoon, as Cameron sits waiting for Tanya during their daily run to the Biz-E-Bee convenience store, he suddenly and inexplicably rises up and out of his wheelchair.

 In the aftermath of this “miracle,” Cameron finds himself a celebrity at the center of a contentious debate about what’s taken place. And when scientists, journalists, and a Vatican investigator start digging, Cameron’s deepest secrets—the key to his injury, to his identity, and, in some eyes, to the nature of his recovery—become increasingly endangered. Was Cameron’s recovery a genuine miracle, or a medical breakthrough? And, finding himself transformed into a symbol, how can he hope to retain his humanity?

Brilliantly written as closely observed journalistic reportage and filtered through a wide lens that encompasses the vibrant characters affected by Cameron’s story, Anatomy of a Miracle will be read, championed, and celebrated as a powerful story of our time, and the work of a true literary master. Amazon

Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday

A singularly inventive and unforgettable debut novel about love, luck, and the inextricability of life and art, from 2017 Whiting Award winner Lisa Halliday.

Told in three distinct and uniquely compelling sections, Asymmetry explores the imbalances that spark and sustain many of our most dramatic human relations: inequities in age, power, talent, wealth, fame, geography, and justice. The first section, “Folly,” tells the story of Alice, a young American editor, and her relationship with the famous and much older writer Ezra Blazer. A tender and exquisite account of an unexpected romance that takes place in New York during the early years of the Iraq War, “Folly” also suggests an aspiring novelist’s coming-of-age. By contrast, “Madness” is narrated by Amar, an Iraqi-American man who, on his way to visit his brother in Kurdistan, is detained by immigration officers and spends the last weekend of 2008 in a holding room in Heathrow. These two seemingly disparate stories gain resonance as their perspectives interact and overlap, with yet new implications for their relationship revealed in an unexpected coda.

A stunning debut from a rising literary star, Asymmetry is an urgent, important, and truly original work that will captivate any reader while also posing arresting questions about the very nature of fiction itself. Amazon

Believe Me by J.P. Delaney

If you liked his other book – The Girl Before pick this up….A struggling actor, a Brit in America without a green card, Claire needs work and money to survive. Then she gets both. But nothing like she expected.

 Claire agrees to become a decoy for a firm of divorce lawyers. Hired to entrap straying husbands, she must catch them on tape with their seductive propositions.

 The rules? Never hit on the mark directly. Make it clear you’re available, but he has to proposition you, not the other way around. The firm is after evidence, not coercion. The innocent have nothing to hide.Then the game changes.

 When the wife of one of Claire’s targets is violently murdered, the cops are sure the husband is to blame. Desperate to catch him before he kills again, they enlist Claire to lure him into a confession.

 Claire can do this. She’s brilliant at assuming a voice and an identity. For a woman who’s mastered the art of manipulation, how difficult could it be to tempt a killer into a trap?But who is the decoy . . . and who is the prey? Amazon

The Book of M by Peng Shepard

Set in a dangerous near future world, The Book of M tells the captivating story of a group of ordinary people caught in an extraordinary catastrophe who risk everything to save the ones they love. It is a sweeping debut that illuminates the power that memories have not only on the heart, but on the world itself.

One afternoon at an outdoor market in India, a man’s shadow disappears—an occurrence science cannot explain. He is only the first. The phenomenon spreads like a plague, and while those afflicted gain a strange new power, it comes at a horrible price: the loss of all their memories.

Ory and his wife Max have escaped the Forgetting so far by hiding in an abandoned hotel deep in the woods. Their new life feels almost normal, until one day Max’s shadow disappears too.

Knowing that the more she forgets, the more dangerous she will become to Ory, Max runs away. But Ory refuses to give up the time they have left together. Desperate to find Max before her memory disappears completely, he follows her trail across a perilous, unrecognizable world, braving the threat of roaming bandits, the call to a new war being waged on the ruins of the capital, and the rise of a sinister cult that worships the shadowless. As they journey, each searches for answers: for Ory, about love, about survival, about hope; and for Max, about a new force growing in the south that may hold the cure.

Like The Passage and Station Eleven, this haunting, thought-provoking, and beautiful novel explores fundamental questions of memory, connection, and what it means to be human in a world turned upside down. Amazon

The Captives by Debra Jo Immergut

As an inmate psychologist at a state prison, Frank Lundquist has had his fair share of surprises. But nothing could possibly prepare him for the day in which his high school object of desire, Miranda Greene, walks into his office for an appointment. Still reeling from the scandal that cost him his Manhattan private practice and landed him in his unglamorous job at Milford Basin Correctional Facility in the first place, Frank knows he has an ethical duty to reassign Miranda’s case. But Miranda is just as beguiling as ever, and he’s insatiably curious: how did a beautiful high school sprinter and the promising daughter of a congressman end up incarcerated for a shocking crime? Even more compelling: though Frank remembers every word Miranda ever spoke to him, she gives no indication of having any idea who he is.

Inside the prison walls, Miranda is desperate and despairing, haunted by memories of a childhood tragedy, grappling with a family legacy of dodgy moral and political choices, and still trying to unwind the disastrous love that led to her downfall. And yet she is also grittily determined to retain some control over her fate. Frank quickly becomes a potent hope for her absolution – and maybe even her escape.

Propulsive and psychologically astute, The Captives is an intimate and gripping meditation on freedom and risk, male and female power, and the urges toward both corruption and redemption that dwell in us all. Book Browse

Circe by Madeline Miller

A singularly inventive and unforgettable debut novel about love, luck, and the inextricability of life and art, from 2017 Whiting Award winner Lisa Halliday.

The bestselling author of The Song of Achilles turns her attention to Circe, the legendary sorceress who turns men into beasts in Homer’s Odyssey, in a feminist retelling. Banished for all eternity to the remote island of Aiaia, the daughter of the titan sun god Helios and sea nymph Perse crosses paths with a slew of Greek mythological icons as she lives out her life in exile. But it’s when Circe is finally forced to reckon with her own immortality that Miller’s fresh take on this ancient tale truly shines. — Megan McCluskey http://time.com/5308352/best-novels-of-2018-so-far/

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, & translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori

Keiko has never really fitted in. At school and university people find her odd and her family worries she’ll never be normal. To appease them, Keiko takes a job at a newly opened convenience store. Here, she finds peace and purpose in the simple, daily tasks and routine interactions. She is, she comes to understand, happiest as a convenience store worker.

But in Keiko’s social circle it just won’t do for an unmarried woman to spend all her time stacking shelves and re-ordering green tea. As pressure mounts on Keiko to find either a new job, or worse, a husband, she is forced to take desperate action…

A best-seller in Japan, and the winner of the prestigious Akutagawa Prize, Convenience Store Woman marks the English-language debut of a writer who has been hailed as the most exciting voice of her generation. Amazon

Florida by Lauren Groff

In her thrilling new book, Lauren Groff brings the reader into a physical world that is at once domestic and wild—a place where the hazards of the natural world lie waiting to pounce, yet the greatest threats and mysteries are still of an emotional, psychological nature. A family retreat can be derailed by a prowling panther, or by a sexual secret. Among those navigating this place are a resourceful pair of abandoned sisters; a lonely boy, grown up; a restless, childless couple, a searching, homeless woman; and an unforgettable, recurring character—a steely and conflicted wife and mother. 

The stories in this collection span characters, towns, decades, even centuries, but Florida—its landscape, climate, history, and state of mind—becomes its gravitational center: an energy, a mood, as much as a place of residence. Groff transports the reader, then jolts us alert with a crackle of wit, a wave of sadness, a flash of cruelty, as she writes about loneliness, rage, family, and the passage of time. With shocking accuracy and effect, she pinpoints the moments and decisions and connections behind human pleasure and pain, hope and despair, love and fury—the moments that make us alive. Startling, precise, and affecting, Florida is a magnificent achievement. Amazon

Freshwater, by Akwaeke Emezi

An extraordinary debut novel, Freshwater explores the surreal experience of having a fractured self. It centers around a young Nigerian woman, Ada, who develops separate selves within her as a result of being born “with one foot on the other side.” Unsettling, heartwrenching, dark, and powerful, Freshwater is a sharp evocation of a rare way of experiencing the world, one that illuminates how we all construct our identities.

Ada begins her life in the south of Nigeria as a troubled baby and a source of deep concern to her family. Her parents, Saul and Saachi, successfully prayed her into existence, but as she grows into a volatile and splintered child, it becomes clear that something went terribly awry. When Ada comes of age and moves to America for college, the group of selves within her grows in power and agency. A traumatic assault leads to a crystallization of her alternate selves: Asụghara and Saint Vincent. As Ada fades into the background of her own mind and these selves―now protective, now hedonistic―move into control, Ada’s life spirals in a dark and dangerous direction.

Freshwater is a novel of staggering ferocity. Following a Nigerian woman living with mental illness — and tracing her life as she moves to America and struggles to overcome a traumatic assault — her story is told by the many distinct voices that take up residence in her mind. It’s also steeped in Nigerian mythology, and through that frame it offers a galvanizing new way of approaching an oft-stigmatized topic. Through Emezi’s bracing prose, mental illness isn’t other-ized; it’s mystical, based in gods and spirits.

—David Canfield http://ew.com/books/10-best-books-2018-first-half/

The Good Son by You- Jeong Jeong

The Talented Mr. Ripley meets The Bad Seed in this breathless, chilling psychological thriller by the #1 bestselling novelist known as “Korea’s Stephen King” 

Who can you trust if you can’t trust yourself?Early one morning, twenty-six-year-old Yu-jin wakes up to a strange metallic smell, and a phone call from his brother asking if everything’s all right at home – he missed a call from their mother in the middle of the night. Yu-jin soon discovers her murdered body, lying in a pool of blood at the bottom of the stairs of their stylish Seoul duplex. He can’t remember much about the night before; having suffered from seizures for most of his life, Yu-jin often has trouble with his memory. All he has is a faint impression of his mother calling his name. But was she calling for help? Or begging for her life?

 Thus begins Yu-jin’s frantic three-day search to uncover what happened that night, and to finally learn the truth about himself and his family. A shocking and addictive psychological thriller, The Good Son explores the mysteries of mind and memory, and the twisted relationship between a mother and son, with incredible urgency. Amazon

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.

Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if means following him into the unknown.

At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.

But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves.

In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska—a place of incomparable beauty and danger. The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature. Amazon & Book Browse

In the Garden of Fugitives by Ceridwen Dovey

Beyond their murky shared history, both have lost beloveds, one to an untimely death, another to a strange disappearance. And both are trying to free themselves from deeper pasts, Vita from the inheritance of her birthplace, Royce from the grip of the ancient city of Pompeii and the secrets of the Garden of the Fugitives. Between what’s been repressed and what has been excavated are disturbances that reach back through decades, even centuries.

Almost twenty years after forbidding him to contact her, Vita receives an email from her old benefactor, Royce. Once, she was one of his brightest protégés; now her career has stalled and Royce is ailing, and each has a need to settle accounts.

Addictive and unsettling, In the Garden of the Fugitives is a masterpiece of duplicity and counterplay, as brilliantly illuminating as it is surprising – about the obscure workings of guilt in the human psyche, the compulsion to create, and the dangerous morphing of desire into control. It is the breakthrough work of one of Australia’s most exciting emerging writers.

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Helen Hoang introduces readers to Stella, a 30-year-old woman who is really good at work, but not so good at romance. Hoang has openly talked about how she mined her own experience with autism to create this character. In the book, Stella is determined to improve her relationship skills. She hires an escort, Michael, to get her up to speed, but their professional relationship is quickly muddled with personal complications.

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases–a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice–with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan–from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but crave all of the other things he’s making her feel. Their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic… Amazon & 

The Largesse of the Sea Maiden, by Denis Johnson

Finished shortly before Johnson’s death, this collection is the last word from a writer whose work will live on for many years to come. Amazon

“Most of these stories are terrific, and two—the first and the last—are out-of-this-world. I say this not out of deference to the recently deceased, but in awe. When Johnson wrote at reckless full force, his sentences and storylines blasted barriers, discovering those odd places where, as one of his narrators here says, ‘the Mystery winks at you.’ . . . The Largesse of The Sea Maiden contains the kind of work every writer would like to go out on: fresh, profound and singular. It affirms literature’s promise to believers, the gift of eternal voice.”—Maureen Corrigan on Fresh Air, NPR

The Largesse of the Sea Maiden is the long-awaited new story collection from Denis Johnson. Written in the luminous prose that made him one of the most beloved and important writers of his generation, this collection finds Johnson in new territory, contemplating the ghosts of the past and the elusive and unexpected ways the mysteries of the universe assert themselves.

Love & Ruin by Paula McLain

In 1937, twenty-eight-year-old Martha Gellhorn travels alone to Madrid to report on the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War and becomes drawn to the stories of ordinary people caught in the devastating conflict. It’s the adventure she’s been looking for and her chance to prove herself a worthy journalist in a field dominated by men. But she also finds herself unexpectedly—and uncontrollably—falling in love with Hemingway, a man on his way to becoming a legend.

In the shadow of the impending Second World War, and set against the turbulent backdrops of Madrid and Cuba, Martha and Ernest’s relationship and their professional careers ignite. But when Ernest publishes the biggest literary success of his career, For Whom the Bell Tolls, they are no longer equals, and Martha must make a choice: surrender to the confining demands of being a famous man’s wife or risk losing Ernest by forging a path as her own woman and writer. It is a dilemma that could force her to break his heart, and hers.

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner

Heralded by Ann Patchett as “the new star of historical fiction,” Paula McLain brings Gellhorn’s story richly to life and captures her as a heroine for the ages: a woman who will risk absolutely everything to find her own voice. Amazon

It’s 2003 and Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility, deep in California’s Central Valley. Outside is the world from which she has been severed: the San Francisco of her youth and her young son, Jackson. Inside is a new reality: thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive; the bluffing and pageantry and casual acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike; and the deadpan absurdities of institutional living, which Kushner evokes with great humor and precision.

Stunning and unsentimental, The Mars Room demonstrates new levels of mastery and depth in Kushner’s work. It is audacious and tragic, propulsive and yet beautifully refined. As James Wood said in The New Yorker, her fiction “succeeds because it is so full of vibrantly different stories and histories, all of them particular, all of them brilliantly alive.” Amazon

From twice National Book Award–nominated Rachel Kushner, whose Flamethrowers was called “the best, most brazen, most interesting book of the year” (Kathryn Schulz, New York magazine), comes a spectacularly compelling, heart-stopping novel about a life gone off the rails in contemporary America.

Me Myself & Them by Dan Mooney

For Denis Murphy, life is fine. He carefully avoids physical human contact and social situations, and sticks to a strict daily routine. It’s his way of coping with the tragedy that changed his life seven years ago. Really, his only problem is the four monsters he has for roommates, a ragtag bunch determined to create chaos in his otherwise orderly world. Then Rebecca, Denis’s enigmatic ex-girlfriend from his former life, returns to town. Shocked to meet the new Denis, she becomes fixated on bringing back the funny, charismatic man she once loved. But as she helps Denis rediscover the person he used to be, he is forced to confront the demons that share his house, and his head.

By turns heartbreaking and heartwarming, Me, Myself and Them deftly explores mental illness with compassion and in entirely original terms. With wit and charm, Dan Mooney offers a wholly new perspective on the effects of grief and the power of human connection. Book Browse

Neverworld by Marisha Pessl

But as the night plays out in a haze of stilted jokes and unfathomable silence, Beatrice senses she’s never going to know what really happened.

One year after graduation, Beatrice is returning to Wincroft – the seaside estate where they spent so many nights sharing secrets, crushes, plans to change the world – hoping she’ll get to the bottom of the dark questions gnawing at her about Jim’s death.

Once upon a time, back at Darrow-Harker School, Beatrice Hartley and her five best friends were the cool kids, the beautiful ones. Then the shocking death of Jim – their creative genius and Beatrice’s boyfriend – changed everything.

Now Beatrice has one last shot at answers…and at life. Then a mysterious man knocks on the door. Blithely, he announces the impossible: time for them has become stuck, snagged on a splinter that can only be removed if the former friends make the harshest of decisions. Book Browse

Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

This is a love story. Mike’s love story.

A spellbinding, darkly twisted novel about desire and obsession, and the complicated lines between truth and perception, Our Kind of Cruelty introduces Araminta Hall, a chilling new voice in psychological suspense.

Mike Hayes fought his way out of a brutal childhood and into a quiet, if lonely, life before he met Verity Metcalf. V taught him about love, and in return, Mike has dedicated his life to making her happy. He’s found the perfect home, the perfect job; he’s sculpted himself into the physical ideal V has always wanted. He knows they’ll be blissfully happy together.

It doesn’t matter that she hasn’t been returning his e-mails or phone calls.It doesn’t matter that she says she’s marrying Angus.

It’s all just part of the secret game they used to play. If Mike watches V closely, he’ll see the signs. If he keeps track of her every move, he’ll know just when to come to her rescue . . .Amazon

Providence by Carolin Kepnes

Part of Jimmy Fallon’s summer book club recommendations…Best friends in small-town New Hampshire, Jon and Chloe share a bond so intense that it borders on the mystical. But before Jon can declare his love for his soul mate, he is kidnapped, his plans for a normal life permanently dashed.

Four years later, Chloe has finally given up hope of ever seeing Jon again. Then, a few months before graduation, Jon reappears. But he is different now: bigger, stronger, and with no memory of the time he was gone. Jon wants to pick up where he and Chloe left off . . . until the horrifying instant he realizes that he possesses strange powers that pose a grave threat to everyone he cares for. Afraid of hurting Chloe, Jon runs away, embarking on a journey for answers.

Meanwhile, in Providence, Rhode Island, healthy college students and townies with no connection to one another are suddenly, inexplicably dropping dead. A troubled detective prone to unexplainable hunches, Charles “Eggs” DeBenedictus suspects there’s a serial killer at work. But when he starts asking questions, Eggs is plunged into a whodunit worthy of his most outlandish obsessions.

In this dazzling new novel—and with an intense, mesmerizing voice—Caroline Kepnes makes keen and powerful observations about human connection and how love and identity can dangerously blur together. Amazon

Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton

They go through both bottles of champagne right there on the High Line, with nothing but the stars over them… They drink and Lavinia tells Louise about all the places they will go together, when they finish their stories, when they are both great writers-to Paris and to Rome and to Trieste…Lavinia will never go. She is going to die soon.

Louise has nothing. Lavinia has everything. After a chance encounter, the two spiral into an intimate, intense, and possibly toxic friendship. A Talented Mr. Ripley for the digital age, this seductive story takes a classic tale of obsession and makes it irresistibly new. Amazon

Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman

A shocking discovery on a honeymoon in paradise changes the lives of a picture-perfect couple in this taut psychological thriller debut—for readers of Ruth Ware, Paula Hawkins, and Shari Lapena.

If you could make one simple choice that would change your life forever, would you? Erin is a documentary filmmaker on the brink of a professional breakthrough, Mark a handsome investment banker with big plans. Passionately in love, they embark on a dream honeymoon to the tropical island of Bora Bora, where they enjoy the sun, the sand, and each other. Then, while scuba diving in the crystal blue sea, they find something in the water. . . . Could the life of your dreams be the stuff of nightmares?

Suddenly the newlyweds must make a dangerous choice: to speak out or to protect their secret. After all, if no one else knows, who would be hurt? Their decision will trigger a devastating chain of events. . . . Have you ever wondered how long it takes to dig a grave?

Wonder no longer. Catherine Steadman’s enthralling voice shines throughout this spellbinding debut novel. With piercing insight and fascinating twists, Something in the Water challenges the reader to confront the hopes we desperately cling to, the ideals we’re tempted to abandon, and the perfect lies we tell ourselves. Book Browse

There There by Tommy Orange

There There is a relentlessly paced multigenerational story about violence and recovery, memory and identity, and the beauty and despair woven into the history of a nation and its people. It tells the story of twelve characters, each of whom have private reasons for traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow. Jacquie Red Feather is newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind in shame. Dene Oxendene is pulling his life back together after his uncle’s death and has come to work at the powwow to honor his uncle’s memory. Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield has come to watch her nephew Orvil, who has taught himself traditional Indian dance through YouTube videos and has come to the powwow to dance in public for the very first time. There will be glorious communion, and a spectacle of sacred tradition and pageantry. And there will be sacrifice, and heroism, and unspeakable loss.

Here is a voice we have never heard – a voice full of poetry and rage, exploding onto the page with stunning urgency and force. Tommy Orange writes of the plight of the urban Native American, the Native American in the city, in a stunning novel that grapples with a complex and painful history, with an inheritance of beauty and profound spirituality, and with a plague of addiction, abuse, and suicide. An unforgettable debut, destined to become required reading in schools and universities across the country .Book Browse

Treeborne by Caleb Johnson

Janie Treeborne lives on an orchard at the edge of Elberta, Alabama, and in time, she has become its keeper. A place where conquistadors once walked, and where the peaches they left behind now grow, Elberta has seen fierce battles, violent storms, and frantic change―and when the town is once again threatened from without, Janie realizes it won’t withstand much more. So she tells the story of its people: of Hugh, her granddaddy, determined to preserve Elberta’s legacy at any cost; of his wife, Maybelle, the postmaster, whose sudden death throws the town into chaos; of her lover, Lee Malone, a black orchardist harvesting from a land where he is less than welcome; of the time when Janie kidnapped her own Hollywood-obsessed aunt and tore the wrong people apart.

As the world closes in on Elberta, Caleb Johnson’s debut novel lifts the veil and offers one last glimpse. Treeborne is a celebration and a reminder: of how the past gets mixed up in thoughts of the future; of how home is a story as much as a place. Amazon

Welcome to Lagos by Chibundu Onzu

When the army officer Chike Ameobi is ordered to kill innocent civilians, he knows it is time to desert his post. As he travels toward Lagos with Yẹmi, his junior officer, and into the heart of a political scandal involving Nigeria’s education minister, Chike becomes the leader of a new platoon, a band of runaways who share his desire for a different kind of life. Among them are Fineboy, a fighter with a rebel group, desperate to pursue his dream of becoming a radio DJ; Isoken, a sixteen-year-old girl whose father is thought to have been killed by rebels; and the beautiful Oma, escaping a wealthy, abusive husband.

Welcome to Lagos is a high-spirited novel about aspirations and escape, innocence and corruption. Full of humor and heart, it offers a provocative portrait of contemporary Nigeria that marks the arrival in the United States of an extraordinary young writer. Amazon

Women Talking by Miriam Toews

Based on real events, Women Talking is the story of eight women in a remote Mennonite colony who face an agonizing decision in the aftermath of a series of unspeakable sexual crimes.

Eight Mennonite women climb into a hay loft to conduct a secret meeting. For the past two years, each of these women, and over a hundred other girls in their colony, has been repeatedly violated in the night by demons coming to punish them for their sins. Now that the women have learned they were in fact drugged and attacked by a group of men from their own community, they are determined to protect themselves and their daughters from future harm.

While the men of the colony are off in the city, attempting to raise enough money to bail out the rapists and bring them home, these women–all illiterate, without any knowledge of the world outside their community and unable even to speak the language of the country they live in–have very little time to make a choice: Should they stay in the only world they’ve ever known or should they dare to escape?

Told through the “minutes” of the women’s all-female symposium, Toews’s masterful novel uses wry, politically engaged humor to relate this tale of a community wrestling with its own foundational myths. For readers of Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Book of Joan and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Women Talking examines the consequences of religious fundamentalism and communal isolation, and it celebrates the strength of women claiming their own power to decide. Amazon &

Non Fiction:

Body of Water: A Sage, a Seeker and the World’s Most Elusive Fish by Chris Dombrowski

Chris Dombrowski was playing a numbers game: two passions―poetry and fly-fishing; one child, with another on the way; and an income hovering perilously close to zero. Enter a miraculous email: Can’t go, it’s all paid for, just book a flight to Miami.

Thus began a journey that would lead to the Bahamas and to David Pinder, a legendary bonefishing guide. Bonefish are prized for their elusiveness and their tenacity. And no one was better at hunting them than Pinder, a Bahamian whose accuracy and intuition were virtuosic.

By the time Dombrowski meets Pinder, however, he has been abandoned by the industry he helped build, watching as the world of his beloved bonefish is degraded by tourists he himself did so much to attract. But as Pinder’s stories unfold, Dombrowski discovers a profound integrity and wisdom in his life. Amazon

Calypso by David Sedaris

If you’ve ever laughed your way through David Sedaris’s cheerfully misanthropic stories, you might think you know what you’re getting with Calypso. You’d be wrong.

When he buys a beach house on the Carolina coast, Sedaris envisions long, relaxing vacations spent playing board games and lounging in the sun with those he loves most. And life at the Sea Section, as he names the vacation home, is exactly as idyllic as he imagined, except for one tiny, vexing realization: it’s impossible to take a vacation from yourself.

With Calypso, Sedaris sets his formidable powers of observation toward middle age and mortality. Make no mistake: these stories are very, very funny – it’s a book that can make you laugh ‘til you snort, the way only family can. Sedaris’s writing has never been sharper, and his ability to shock readers into laughter unparalleled. But much of the comedy here is born out of that vertiginous moment when your own body betrays you and you realize that the story of your life is made up of more past than future.

This is beach reading for people who detest beaches, required reading for those who loathe small talk and love a good tumour joke. Calypso is simultaneously Sedaris’s darkest and warmest book yet – and it just might be his very best. Amazon

The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World by Sarah Weinman

Journalist and editor Weinman (Women Crime Writers) combines literary theory and true crime in this speculative account of the 1948 kidnapping of Sally Horner, an 11-year-old New Jersey girl who Weinman posits was the real-life inspiration for Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov’s 1955 novel. Sally Horner, like Nabokov’s Dolores Haze, was abducted and taken across state lines by a pedophile who passed himself off as her father in public and abused her in private. Weinman chronicles the details of what is known about Sally’s life during the nearly two years she spent captive with her abductor, Frank La Salle, before recounting her harrowing rescue and La Salle’s trial and conviction for kidnapping. Alongside Sally’s narrative, Weinman looks at Nabokov’s process writing Lolita, which he agonized over for years and twice nearly destroyed. The book includes a few odd digressions and a fair amount of conjecture (“Perhaps Sally wondered why they were going so far out of their way…. Maybe she asked why they had to leave Atlantic City so quickly. Most likely, she kept any complaints or questions to herself”). More poignantly, Weinman argues that Nabokov and his wife, Véra—who served as her husband’s spokesperson and flatly denied the use of Sally’s story as inspiration for his novel—allowed Sally to be eclipsed by her fictional counterpart: Sally’s life had been “strip-mined to produce the bones of Lolita.” Drawing from interviews with relatives of those involved, Nabokov’s personal documents, and court reporting from La Salle’s trial, Weinman tells Sally’s tragic story as it has never been told before, with sensitivity and depth. (Sept.)

Eggshell Skull by  Bri Lee

Eggshell Skull: A well-established legal doctrine that a defendant must accept ‘take their victim as they come’: If a thin skull caused the death of someone after a punch, that victim’s weakness cannot mitigate the seriousness of the crime, nor the punishment. But what if it also works the other way? What if a defendant on trial for sexual crimes has to accept his ‘victim’ as she comes: a strong, determined accuser who knows the legal system, who will not back down until justice is done?Bri Lee began her first day of work at the Brisbane Magistrates Court as a bright-eyed judge’s associate. Eighteen months later she was back as the complainant in her own case.

This is the story of Bri’s journey through the Australian legal system; first as the daughter of a policeman, then as a law student, and finally as a judge’s associate in both metropolitan and regional Queensland – where justice can look very different, especially for women. Confronted by horrific criminal behaviour every day in court, Bri’s eyes were opened to the inequity of the legal system and how complainants in sex crime investigations and trials struggle to receive justice, are re-victimised, and let down by the system with heartbreaking frequency.

The injustice Bri witnessed, mourned and raged over every day finally forced her to confront her own personal history, one she’d vowed never to tell. And this is how, after years of struggle, she found herself on the other side of the courtroom, telling her story.

Bri Lee has written a fierce and eloquent memoir that addresses both her own reckoning with the past to speak the truth, as well as the stories around her, with wit, empathy and unflinching courage. Eggshell Skull is a haunting appraisal of modern Australia from a new and essential voice. Amazon

Good Bye Sweet Girl by Kelly Sundberg

In this brave and beautiful memoir, written with the raw honesty and devastating openness of The Glass Castle and The Liar’s Club, a woman chronicles how her marriage devolved from a love story into a shocking tale of abuse—examining the tenderness and violence entwined in the relationship, why she endured years of physical and emotional pain, and how she eventually broke free.

“You made me hit you in the face,” he said mournfully. “Now everyone is going to know.” “I know,” I said. “I’m sorry.”

Kelly Sundberg’s husband, Caleb, was a funny, warm, supportive man and a wonderful father to their little boy Reed. He was also vengeful and violent. But Sundberg did not know that when she fell in love, and for years told herself he would get better. It took a decade for her to ultimately accept that the partnership she desired could not work with such a broken man. In her remarkable book, she offers an intimate record of the joys and terrors that accompanied her long, difficult awakening, and presents a haunting, heartbreaking glimpse into why women remain too long in dangerous relationships.

To understand herself and her violent marriage, Sundberg looks to her childhood in Salmon, a small, isolated mountain community known as the most redneck town in Idaho. Like her marriage, Salmon is a place of deep contradictions, where Mormon ranchers and hippie back-to-landers live side-by-side; a place of magical beauty riven by secret brutality; a place that takes pride in its individualism and rugged self-sufficiency, yet is beholden to church and communal standards at all costs.

Mesmerizing and poetic, Goodbye, Sweet Girl is a harrowing, cautionary, and ultimately redemptive tale that brilliantly illuminates one woman’s transformation as she gradually rejects the painful reality of her violent life at the hands of the man who is supposed to cherish her, begins to accept responsibility for herself, and learns to believe that she deserves better. Amazon & Book Browse

The Good News about Bad Behavior by Katherine Lewis

“The Command and control the ‘I’m in charge’, it doesn’t work. Lewsi wrote this book in response to what she sees as a crisis of self regulation among kids today…

Why don’t our kids do what we want them to do? Parents often take the blame for misbehavior, but this obscures a broader trend: in our modern, highly connected age, children have less self-control than ever. About half of the current generation of children will develop a mood or behavioral disorder or a substance addiction by age eighteen. Contemporary kids need to learn independence and responsibility, yet our old ideas of punishments and rewards are preventing this from happening.

To stem this growing crisis of self-regulation, journalist and parenting expert Katherine Reynolds Lewis articulates what she calls The Apprenticeship Model, a new theory of discipline that centers on learning the art of self-control. Blending new scientific research and powerful individual stories of change, Lewis shows that, if we trust our children to face consequences, they will learn to adapt and moderate their own behavior. She watches as chaotic homes become peaceful, bewildered teachers see progress, and her own family grows and evolves in light of these new ideas. You’ll recognize your own family in Lewis’s sensitive, realistic stories, and you’ll find a path to making everyone in your home more capable, kinder, and happier–including yourself. Amazon

Little Shoes: The Sensational Depression Era Murders That Became  My Family’s Secret by Pamela Everett

In the summer of 1937, with the Depression deep and World War II looming, a California triple murder stunned an already grim nation. After a frantic week-long manhunt for the killer, a suspect emerged, and his sensational trial captivated audiences from coast to coast. Justice was swift, and the condemned man was buried away with the horrifying story.

But decades later, Pamela Everett, a lawyer and former journalist, starts digging, following up a cryptic comment her father once made about a tragedy in their past. Her journey is uniquely personal as she uncovers her family’s secret history, but the investigation quickly takes unexpected turns into her professional wheelhouse.

Everett unearths a truly historic legal case that included one of the earliest criminal profiles in the United States, the genesis of modern sex offender laws, and the last man sentenced to hang in California. Digging deeper and drawing on her experience with wrongful convictions, Everett then raises detailed and haunting questions about whether the authorities got the right man. Having revived the case to its rightful place in history, she leaves us with enduring concerns about the death penalty then and now.

A journey chronicled through the mind of a lawyer and from the heart of a daughter, Little Shoes is both a captivating true crime story and a profoundly personal account of one family’s struggle to cope with tragedy through the generations. Amazon

Our Story: A Memoir of Love & Life in China by Rao Pingru

Begun by the author when he was eighty-seven years old and mourning the loss of his wife, Our Story is a graphic memoir like no other: a celebration of a marriage that spanned the twentieth century in China, told in vibrant, original paintings and prose.

 Rao Pingru was twenty-four-year-old soldier when he was reintroduced to Mao Meitang, a girl he’d known in childhood and now the woman his father had arranged for him to marry. One glimpse of her through a window as she put on lipstick was enough to capture Pingru’s heart: a moment that sparked a union that would last almost sixty years.

Our Story is Pingru and Meitang’s epic but unassuming romance. It follows the couple through the decades, in both poverty and good fortune—looking for work, opening a restaurant, moving cities, mending shoes, raising their children, and being separated for seventeen years by the government when Pingru is sent to a labor camp. As the pair ages, China undergoes extraordinary growth, political turmoil, and cultural change. When Meitang passes away in 2008, Pingru memorializes his wife and their relationship the only way he knows how: through painting. In an outpouring of love and grief, he puts it all on paper. Spanning 1922 through 2008, Our Story is a tales of enduring love and simple values that is at once tragic and inspiring: an old-fashioned story that unfolds in a nation undergoing cataclysmic change.

(With gorgeous full-color illustrations throughout, and a distinctive exposed spine emulating the original Chinese design.) Amazon

The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath by Leslie Jamison

With its deeply personal and seamless blend of memoir, cultural history, literary criticism, and reportage, The Recovering turns our understanding of the traditional addiction narrative on its head, demonstrating that the story of recovery can be every bit as electrifying as the train wreck itself. Leslie Jamison deftly excavates the stories we tell about addiction–both her own and others’–and examines what we want these stories to do and what happens when they fail us. All the while, she offers a fascinating look at the larger history of the recovery movement, and at the complicated bearing that race and class have on our understanding of who is criminal and who is ill.

At the heart of the book is Jamison’s ongoing conversation with literary and artistic geniuses whose lives and works were shaped by alcoholism and substance dependence, including John Berryman, Jean Rhys, Billie Holiday, Raymond Carver, Denis Johnson, and David Foster Wallace, as well as brilliant lesser-known figures such as George Cain, lost to obscurity but newly illuminated here. Through its unvarnished relation of Jamison’s own ordeals, The Recovering also becomes a book about a different kind of dependency: the way our desires can make us all, as she puts it, “broken spigots of need.” It’s about the particular loneliness of the human experience-the craving for love that both devours us and shapes who we are.

For her striking language and piercing observations, Jamison has been compared to such iconic writers as Joan Didion and Susan Sontag, yet her utterly singular voice also offers something new. With enormous empathy and wisdom, Jamison has given us nothing less than the story of addiction and recovery in America writ large, a definitive and revelatory account that will resonate for years to come. Amazon

Shapeshifters by Gavin Francis

To be alive is to be in perpetual metamorphosis: growing, healing, learning, aging. In Shapeshifters, physician and writer Gavin Francis considers the inevitable changes all of our bodies undergo – such as birth, puberty, and death, but also laughter, sleeping, and healing – and those that only some of our bodies will: like getting a tattoo, experiencing psychosis, suffering anorexia, being pregnant, or undergoing a gender transition. In Francis’s hands, each event becomes an opportunity to explore the meaning of identity and the natures-biological, psychological, and philosophical-of our selves. True to its own subject, Shapeshifters combines Francis’s lyrical imagination and deep knowledge of medicine and the humanities for a life-altering read. Book Browse

Sick: A Memoir by Porochista Khakpour

For as long as author Porochista Khakpour can remember, she has been sick. For most of that time, she didn’t know why. Several drug addictions, some major hospitalizations, and over $100,000 later, she finally had a diagnosis: late-stage Lyme disease. 

Sick is Khakpour’s grueling, emotional journey – as a woman, an Iranian-American, a writer, and a lifelong sufferer of undiagnosed health problems – in which she examines her subsequent struggles with mental illness and her addiction to doctor prescribed benzodiazepines, that both aided and eroded her ever-deteriorating physical health. Divided by settings, Khakpour guides the reader through her illness by way of the locations that changed her course – New York, LA, Santa Fe, and a college town in Germany – as she meditates on the physiological and psychological impacts of uncertainty, and the eventual challenge of accepting the diagnosis she had searched for over the course of her adult life. 

A story of survival, pain, and transformation, Sick candidly examines the colossal impact of illness on one woman’s life by not just highlighting the failures of a broken medical system but by also boldly challenging our concept of illness narratives.  Amazon & Book Browse

The Sun Does Die : How I found Life & Freedom on Death Row by Anthony Ray Hinton with Lara Love Hardin

In 1985, Anthony Ray Hinton was arrested and charged with two counts of capital murder in Alabama. Stunned, confused, and only twenty–nine years old, Hinton knew that it was a case of mistaken identity and believed that the truth would prove his innocence and ultimately set him free.

But with no money and a different system of justice for a poor black man in the South, Hinton was sentenced to death by electrocution. He spent his first three years on Death Row at Holman State Prison in agonizing silence―full of despair and anger toward all those who had sent an innocent man to his death. But as Hinton realized and accepted his fate, he resolved not only to survive, but find a way to live on Death Row. For the next twenty–seven years he was a beacon―transforming not only his own spirit, but those of his fellow inmates, fifty–four of whom were executed mere feet from his cell. With the help of civil rights attorney and bestselling author of Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson, Hinton won his release in 2015.

With a foreword by Stevenson, The Sun Does Shine is an extraordinary testament to the power of hope sustained through the darkest times. Destined to be a classic memoir of wrongful imprisonment and freedom won, Hinton’s memoir tells his dramatic thirty–year journey and shows how you can take away a man’s freedom, but you can’t take away his imagination, humor, or joy. Amazon

White Houses by Amy Bloom

Lorena Hickok meets Eleanor Roosevelt in 1932 while reporting on Franklin Roosevelt’s first presidential campaign. Having grown up worse than poor in South Dakota and reinvented herself as the most prominent woman reporter in America, “Hick,” as she’s known to her friends and admirers, is not quite instantly charmed by the idealistic, patrician Eleanor. But then, as her connection with the future first lady deepens into intimacy, what begins as a powerful passion matures into a lasting love, and a life that Hick never expected to have. She moves into the White House, where her status as “first friend” is an open secret, as are FDR’s own lovers. After she takes a job in the Roosevelt administration, promoting and protecting both Roosevelts, she comes to know Franklin not only as a great president but as a complicated rival and an irresistible friend, capable of changing lives even after his death. Through it all, even as Hick’s bond with Eleanor is tested by forces both extraordinary and common, and as she grows as a woman and a writer, she never loses sight of the love of her life. 

From Washington, D.C. to Hyde Park, from a little white house on Long Island to an apartment on Manhattan’s Washington Square, Amy Bloom’s new novel moves elegantly through fascinating places and times, written in compelling prose and with emotional depth, wit, and acuity. Amazon

Young Adult

There is Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

“Turn on—all—the lights before reading this hair-raiser full of serious Scream vibes.” –Seventeen

It’s been almost a year since Makani Young came to live with her grandmother in landlocked Nebraska, and she’s still adjusting to her new life. And still haunted by her past in Hawaii.Then, one by one, the students of her small town high school begin to die in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer, Makani will be forced to confront her own dark secrets.

 Stephanie Perkins, bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss, returns with a fresh take on the classic teen slasher story that’s fun, quick-witted, and completely impossible to put down. Amazon

Wild Bird by Wendelin Van Draanen

3:47 a.m. That’s when they come for Wren Clemmens. She’s hustled out of her house and into a waiting car, then a plane, and then taken on a forced march into the desert. This is what happens to kids who’ve gone so far off the rails, their parents don’t know what to do with them anymore. This is wilderness therapy camp. Eight weeks of survivalist camping in the desert. Eight weeks to turn your life around. Yeah, right.

The Wren who arrives in the Utah desert is angry and bitter, and blaming everyone but herself. But angry can’t put up a tent. And bitter won’t start a fire. Wren’s going to have to admit she needs help if she’s going to survive.  Amazon

Thanks for looking at my Booklist of recommendations!

Tracy

All reviews are from Book Browse, Book Passage, Refinery29, Literary Hub, Amazon, Flare, Cited internet resources or by me!

Please visit my blog site for more lists and reviews:Tracys2cents@wordpress.com

Tardy 2018 Fall Reading

Fall Reading 2018

Fiction

The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott

On a dim winter afternoon, a young Irish immigrant opens the gas taps in his Brooklyn tenement. He is determined to prove―to the subway bosses who have recently fired him, to his pregnant wife―“that the hours of his life belong to himself alone.” In the aftermath of the fire that follows, Sister St. Savior, an aging nun appears, unbidden, to direct the way forward for his widow and his unborn child.

We begin deep inside Catholic Brooklyn, in the early part of the twentieth century. Decorum, superstition, and shame collude to erase the man’s brief existence. Yet his suicide, although never spoken of, reverberates through many lives and over the decades testing the limits and the demands of love and sacrifice, of forgiveness and forgetfulness, even through multiple generations.

The characters we meet, from Sally, the unborn baby at the beginning of the novel, who becomes the center of the story to the nuns whose personalities we come to know and love to the neighborhood families with whose lives they are entwined, are all rendered with extraordinary sympathy and McDermott’s trademark lucidity and intelligence. Alice McDermott’s The Ninth Hour is a crowning achievement by one of the premiere writers at work in America today. Amazon & Book Browse

 

Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay

Seven-year-old Wen and her parents, Eric and Andrew, are vacationing at a remote cabin on a quiet New Hampshire lake. Their closest neighbors are more than two miles in either direction along a rutted dirt road.

One afternoon, as Wen catches grasshoppers in the front yard, a stranger unexpectedly appears in the driveway. Leonard is the largest man Wen has ever seen but he is young, friendly, and he wins her over almost instantly. Leonard and Wen talk and play until Leonard abruptly apologizes and tells Wen, “None of what’s going to happen is your fault”. Three more strangers then arrive at the cabin carrying unidentifiable, menacing objects. As Wen sprints inside to warn her parents, Leonard calls out: “Your dads won’t want to let us in, Wen. But they have to. We need your help to save the world.”

Thus begins an unbearably tense, gripping tale of paranoia, sacrifice, apocalypse, and survival that escalates to a shattering conclusion, one in which the fate of a loving family and quite possibly all of humanity are entwined. The Cabin at the End of the World is a masterpiece of terror and suspense from the fantastically fertile imagination of Paul Tremblay. Amazon

Family Trust by Kathy Wang

Meet Stanley Huang: father, husband, ex-husband, man of unpredictable tastes and temper, aficionado of all-inclusive vacations and bargain luxury goods, newly diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Meet Stanley’s family: son Fred, who feels that he should be making a lot more money; daughter Kate, managing a capricious boss, a distracted husband, and two small children; ex-wife Linda, familiar with and suspicious of Stanley’s grandiose ways; and second wife Mary, giver of foot rubs and ego massages.

For years, Stanley has insistently claimed that he’s worth a small fortune. Now, as the Huangs come to terms with Stanley’s approaching death, they are also starting to fear that Stanley’s “small fortune” may be more “small” than “fortune.” A compelling tale of cultural expectations, career ambitions and our relationships with the people who know us best, Family Trust draws a sharply loving portrait of modern American family life. Amazon

 

Home after Dark by David Small

David Small’s long-awaited graphic novel is a savage portrayal of male adolescence gone awry like no other work of recent fiction or film.

Wildly kaleidoscopic and furiously cinematic, Home After Dark is a literary tour-de-force that renders the brutality of adolescence in the so-called nostalgic 1950s, evoking such classics as The Lord of the Flies. Thirteen-year-old Russell Pruitt, abandoned by his mother, follows his father to sun-splashed California in search of a dream. Suddenly forced to fend for himself, Russell struggles to survive in Marshfield, a dilapidated town haunted by a sadistic animal killer and a ring of malicious boys who bully Russell for being “queer.” Rescued from his booze-swilling father by Wen and Jian Mah, a Chinese immigrant couple who long for a child, Russell betrays their generosity by running away with their restaurant’s proceeds. Told almost entirely through thousands of spliced images, once again “employ[ing] angled shots and silent montages worthy of Alfred Hitchcock” (Washington Post, on Stitches), Home After Dark becomes a new form of literature in this shocking graphic interpretation of cinema verité.

 

Last Success by Gary Shteyngart

Narcissistic, hilariously self-deluded, and divorced from the real world as most of us know it, hedge-fund manager Barry Cohen oversees $2.4 billion in assets. Deeply stressed by an SEC investigation and by his three-year-old son’s diagnosis of autism, he flees New York on a Greyhound bus in search of a simpler, more romantic life with his old college sweetheart. Meanwhile, his super-smart wife, Seema—a driven first-generation American who craved the picture-perfect life that comes with wealth—has her own demons to face. How these two flawed characters navigate the Shteyngartian chaos of their own making is at the heart of this piercing exploration of the 0.1 Percent, a poignant tale of familial longing and an unsentimental ode to what really makes America great.Book Passage & Amazon

 

Little: A Novel by Edward Carey

In 1761, a tiny, odd-looking girl named Marie is born in a village in Switzerland. After the death of her parents, she is apprenticed to an eccentric wax sculptor and whisked off to the seamy streets of Paris, where they meet a domineering widow and her quiet, pale son. Together, they convert an abandoned monkey house into an exhibition hall for wax heads, and the spectacle becomes a sensation. As word of her artistic talent spreads, Marie is called to Versailles, where she tutors a princess and saves Marie Antoinette in childbirth. But outside the palace walls, Paris is roiling: The revolutionary mob is demanding heads, and . . . at the wax museum, heads are what they do.

In the tradition of Gregory Maguire’s Wicked and Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, Edward Carey’s Little is a darkly endearing cavalcade of a novel–a story of art, class, determination, and how we hold on to what we love. Book Browse

 

The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

One September evening in 1785, Jonah Hancock hears an urgent knocking on his front door near the docks of London. The captain of one of Jonah’s trading vessels is waiting eagerly on the front step, bearing shocking news. On a voyage to the Far East, he sold Jonah’s ship for something rare and far more precious: a mermaid. Jonah is stunned – the object the captain presents him is brown and wizened, as small as an infant, with vicious teeth and claws, and a torso that ends in the tail of a fish. It is also dead.

As gossip spreads through the docks, coffee shops, parlors and brothels, all of London is curious to see this marvel in Jonah Hancock’s possession. Thrust from his ordinary existence, somber Jonah finds himself moving from the city’s seedy underbelly to the finest drawing rooms of high society. At an opulent party, he makes the acquaintance of the coquettish Angelica Neal, the most desirable woman he has ever laid eyes on – and a shrewd courtesan of great accomplishment. This meeting sparks a perilous liaison that steers both their lives onto a dangerous new course as they come to realize that priceless things often come at the greatest cost.

Imogen Hermes Gowar, Britain’s most-heralded new literary talent, makes her debut with this spellbinding novel of a merchant, a mermaid, and a madam – an unforgettable confection that explores obsession, wonder, and the deepest desires of the heart with bawdy wit, intrigue, and a touch of magic. Book Browse

 

My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Korede is bitter. How could she not be? Her sister, Ayoola, is many things: the favorite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic. And now Ayoola’s third boyfriend in a row is dead.

Korede’s practicality is the sisters’ saving grace. She knows the best solutions for cleaning blood, the trunk of her car is big enough for a body, and she keeps Ayoola from posting pictures of her dinner to Instagram when she should be mourning her “missing” boyfriend. Not that she gets any credit.

Korede has long been in love with a kind, handsome doctor at the hospital where she works. She dreams of the day when he will realize that she’s exactly what he needs. But when he asks Korede for Ayoola’s phone number, she must reckon with what her sister has become and how far she’s willing to go to protect her.

Sharp as nails and full of deadpan wit, Oyinkan Braithwaite’s deliciously deadly debut is as fun as it is frightening. Goodreads & Amazon

 

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

In Nine Perfect Strangers a group of people sign up for an exclusive wellness retreat at Tranquillum House in Australia. The resort’s website and enigmatic owner, Masha, promise radical transformation in just 10 days. Moriarty puts readers into the minds of Masha and the nine attendees as the retreat goes on, but particularly centers the story on Frances, a middle-aged romance novelist dealing with heartbreak and a career slump.

We learn what brought the attendees to the retreat—grief, bad marriages, divorce—and what everyone thinks of the other attendees. We watch them try to cheat on their strict diets and confront their deepest insecurities. As with her other novels, Moriarty’s characters feel real, even though there are a lot of them. Corporate big wig-turned-wellness guru Masha, especially, is a fascinating study. (If you loved Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s profile of Gwyneth Paltrow and Goop in the New York Times, you will love reading about Masha). Real Simple- realsimple.com/work-life/entertainment/best-book-of-the-month

 

Ohio by Stephen Markley

Since the turn of the century, a generation has come of age knowing only war, recession, political gridlock, racial hostility, and a simmering fear of environmental calamity. In the country’s forgotten pockets, where industry long ago fled, where foreclosures, Walmarts, and opiates riddle the land, death rates for rural whites have skyrocketed, fueled by suicide, addiction and a rampant sense of marginalization and disillusionment. This is the world the characters in Stephen Markley’s brilliant debut novel, Ohio, inherit. This is New Canaan.

On one fateful summer night in 2013, four former classmates converge on the rust belt town where they grew up, each of them with a mission, all of them haunted by regrets, secrets, lost loves. There’s Bill Ashcraft, an alcoholic, drug-abusing activist, whose fruitless ambitions have taken him from Cambodia to Zuccotti Park to New Orleans, and now back to “The Cane” with a mysterious package strapped to the underside of his truck; Stacey Moore, a doctoral candidate reluctantly confronting the mother of her former lover; Dan Eaton, a shy veteran of three tours in Iraq, home for a dinner date with the high school sweetheart he’s tried to forget; and the beautiful, fragile Tina Ross, whose rendezvous with the captain of the football team triggers the novel’s shocking climax.

At once a murder mystery and a social critique, Ohio ingeniously captures the fractured zeitgeist of a nation through the viewfinder of an embattled Midwestern town and offers a prescient vision for America at the dawn of a turbulent new age. Book browse

 

The Overstory by Richard Powers

An Air Force loadmaster in the Vietnam War is shot out of the sky, then saved by falling into a banyan. An artist inherits a hundred years of photographic portraits, all of the same doomed American chestnut. A hard-partying undergraduate in the late 1980s electrocutes herself, dies, and is sent back into life by creatures of air and light. A hearing- and speech-impaired scientist discovers that trees are communicating with one another. These four, and five other strangers―each summoned in different ways by trees―are brought together in a last and violent stand to save the continent’s few remaining acres of virgin forest.

In his twelfth novel, National Book Award winner Richard Powers delivers a sweeping, impassioned novel of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of―and paean to―the natural world. From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, The Overstory unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond, exploring the essential conflict on this planet: the one taking place between humans and nonhumans. There is a world alongside ours―vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe.

The Overstory is a book for all readers who despair of humanity’s self-imposed separation from the rest of creation and who hope for the transformative, regenerating possibility of a homecoming. If the trees of this earth could speak, what would they tell us? “Listen. There’s something you need to hear.” Amazon

 

Praise Song for Butterflies by Bernice L. McFadden

Abeo Kata lives a comfortable, happy life in West Africa as the privileged nine-year-old daughter of a government employee and stay-at-home mother. But when the Katas’ idyllic lifestyle takes a turn for the worse, Abeo’s father, following his mother’s advice, places the girl in a religious shrine, hoping that the sacrifice of his daughter will serve as atonement for the crimes of his ancestors. Unspeakable acts befall Abeo for the fifteen years she is held in the shrine. When she is finally rescued, broken and battered, she must struggle to overcome her past, endure the revelation of family secrets, and learn to trust and love again.

In the tradition of Chris Cleave’s Little Bee, this novel is a contemporary story that offers an eye-opening account of the practice of ritual servitude in West Africa. Spanning decades and two continents, Praise Song for the Butterflies will break your heart and then heal it. Amazon

 

Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

Willa Knox has always prided herself on being the embodiment of responsibility for her family. Which is why it’s so unnerving that she’s arrived at middle age with nothing to show for her hard work and dedication but a stack of unpaid bills and an inherited brick home in Vineland, New Jersey, that is literally falling apart. The magazine where she worked has folded, and the college where her husband had tenure has closed. The dilapidated house is also home to her ailing and cantankerous Greek father-in-law and her two grown children: her stubborn, free-spirited daughter, Tig, and her dutiful debt-ridden, ivy educated son, Zeke, who has arrived with his unplanned baby in the wake of a life-shattering development.

In an act of desperation, Willa begins to investigate the history of her home, hoping that the local historical preservation society might take an interest and provide funding for its direly needed repairs. Through her research into Vineland’s past and its creation as a Utopian community, she discovers a kindred spirit from the 1880s, Thatcher Greenwood.

A science teacher with a lifelong passion for honest investigation, Thatcher finds himself under siege in his community for telling the truth: his employer forbids him to speak of the exciting new theory recently published by Charles Darwin. Thatcher’s friendships with a brilliant woman scientist and a renegade newspaper editor draw him into a vendetta with the town’s most powerful men. At home, his new wife and status-conscious mother-in-law bristle at the risk of scandal, and dismiss his financial worries and the news that their elegant house is structurally unsound.

Brilliantly executed and compulsively readable, Unsheltered is the story of two families, in two centuries, who live at the corner of Sixth and Plum, as they navigate the challenges of surviving a world in the throes of major cultural shifts. In this mesmerizing story told in alternating chapters, Willa and Thatcher come to realize that though the future is uncertain, even unnerving, shelter can be found in the bonds of kindred—whether family or friends—and in the strength of the human spirit. Book Browse

 

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

George Washington Black, or “Wash,” an eleven-year-old field slave on a Barbados sugar plantation, is terrified to be chosen by his master’s brother as his manservant. To his surprise, the eccentric Christopher Wilde turns out to be a naturalist, explorer, inventor, and abolitionist. Soon Wash is initiated into a world where a flying machine can carry a man across the sky, where even a boy born in chains may embrace a life of dignity and meaning–and where two people, separated by an impossible divide, can begin to see each other as human. But when a man is killed and a bounty is placed on Wash’s head, Christopher and Wash must abandon everything. What follows is their flight along the eastern coast of America, and, finally, to a remote outpost in the Arctic. What brings Christopher and Wash together will tear them apart, propelling Wash even further across the globe in search of his true self. From the blistering cane fields of the Caribbean to the frozen Far North, from the earliest aquariums of London to the eerie deserts of Morocco, Washington Black tells a story of self-invention and betrayal, of love and redemption, of a world destroyed and made whole again, and asks the question, What is true freedom? Book Browse & Amazon

 

We That Are Young by Preti Taneja

Jivan Singh, the bastard scion of the Devraj family returns to his New Delhi childhood home at the age of twenty-three after fifteen years in the United States. His arrival coincides with the unexpected resignation of the founder and aging patriarch of the Company – its simple name belying its vast holdings across industry and entertainment, and the family’s national renown. On the same day, Sita, Devraj’s youngest daughter, disappears – refusing to marry the man her father wants for her. Now, Radha and Gargi, Sita’s older sisters, are given the Company – and a brutal struggle for power begins.

Set against the backdrop of the anti-corruption protests that spread across India in 2011 and 2012, We That Are Young is brilliant in its fierce, incandescent storytelling and the energy of its prose. It tells a deeply insightful tale of India today, the pace of life in one of the world’s fastest growing economies, the clash of youth and age, and the ever-present specter of death. But more than that, it is a novel about the human heart – and its inevitable breaking point.Book Browse & Amazon

 

The Western Wind by Samantha Harvey

An extraordinary new novel by Samantha Harvey—whose books have been nominated for the Man Booker Prize, the Women’s Prize for Fiction (formerly the Orange Prize), and the Guardian First Book Award—The Western Wind is a riveting story of faith, guilt, and the freedom of confession.

It’s 1491. In the small village of Oakham, its wealthiest and most industrious resident, Tom Newman, is swept away by the river during the early hours of Shrove Saturday. Was it murder, suicide, or an accident? Narrated from the perspective of local priest John Reve—patient shepherd to his wayward flock—a shadowy portrait of the community comes to light through its residents’ tortured revelations. As some of their darkest secrets are revealed, the intrigue of the unexplained death ripples through the congregation. But will Reve, a man with secrets of his own, discover what happened to Newman? And what will happen if he can’t?

Written with timeless eloquence, steeped in the spiritual traditions of the Middle Ages, and brimming with propulsive suspense, The Western Wind finds Samantha Harvey at the pinnacle of her outstanding novelistic power. https://groveatlantic.com/book/the-western-wind/

 

Whistle in the Dark by Emma Healey

Jen and Hugh Maddox have just survived every parent’s worst nightmare.

Relieved, but still terrified, they sit by the hospital bedside of their fifteen-year-old daughter, Lana, who was found bloodied, bruised, and disoriented after going missing for four days during a mother-daughter vacation in the country. As Lana lies mute in the bed, unwilling or unable to articulate what happened to her during that period, the national media speculates wildly and Jen and Hugh try to answer many questions. Where was Lana? How did she get hurt? Was the teenage boy who befriended her involved? How did she survive outside for all those days? Even when she returns to the family home and her school routine, Lana only provides the same frustrating answer over and over: “I can’t remember.”

For years, Jen had tried to soothe the depressive demons plaguing her younger child, and had always dreaded the worst. Now she has hope—the family has gone through hell and come out the other side. But Jen cannot let go of her need to find the truth. Without telling Hugh or their pregnant older daughter Meg, Jen sets off to retrace Lana’s steps, a journey that will lead her to a deeper understanding of her youngest daughter, her family, and herself.

A wry, poignant, and masterfully drawn story that explores the bonds and duress of family life, the pain of mental illness, and the fraught yet enduring connection between mothers and daughters, Whistle in the Dark is a story of guilt, fear, hope, and love that explores what it means to lose and find ourselves and those we love. Amazon

 

The Winter Soldier by Daniel Mason

Vienna, 1914. Lucius is a twenty-two-year-old medical student when World War I explodes across Europe. Enraptured by romantic tales of battlefield surgery, he enlists, expecting a position at a well-organized field hospital. But when he arrives, at a commandeered church tucked away high in a remote valley of the Carpathian Mountains, he finds a freezing outpost ravaged by typhus. The other doctors have fled, and only a single, mysterious nurse named Sister Margarete remains.

But Lucius has never lifted a surgeon’s scalpel. And as the war rages across the winter landscape, he finds himself falling in love with the woman from whom he must learn a brutal, makeshift medicine. Then one day, an unconscious soldier is brought in from the snow, his uniform stuffed with strange drawings. He seems beyond rescue, until Lucius makes a fateful decision that will change the lives of doctor, patient, and nurse forever.

From the gilded ballrooms of Imperial Vienna to the frozen forests of the Eastern Front; from hardscrabble operating rooms to battlefields thundering with Cossack cavalry, The Winter Soldier is the story of war and medicine, of family, of finding love in the sweeping tides of history, and finally, of the mistakes we make, and the precious opportunities to atone. Amazon

 

Non Fiction

 

21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari

How do computers and robots change the meaning of being human? How do we deal with the epidemic of fake news? Are nations and religions still relevant? What should we teach our children?

Yuval Noah Harari’s 21 Lessons for the 21st Century is a probing and visionary investigation into today’s most urgent issues as we move into the uncharted territory of the future. As technology advances faster than our understanding of it, hacking becomes a tactic of war, and the world feels more polarized than ever, Harari addresses the challenge of navigating life in the face of constant and disorienting change and raises the important questions we need to ask ourselves in order to survive.

In twenty-one accessible chapters that are both provocative and profound, Harari builds on the ideas explored in his previous books, untangling political, technological, social, and existential issues and offering advice on how to prepare for a very different future from the world we now live in: How can we retain freedom of choice when Big Data is watching us? What will the future workforce look like, and how should we ready ourselves for it? How should we deal with the threat of terrorism? Why is liberal democracy in crisis?  Harari’s unique ability to make sense of where we have come from and where we are going has captured the imaginations of millions of readers. Here he invites us to consider values, meaning, and personal engagement in a world full of noise and uncertainty. When we are deluged with irrelevant information, clarity is power. Presenting complex contemporary challenges clearly and accessibly, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century is essential reading.

“If there were such a thing as a required instruction manual for politicians and thought leaders, Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari’s 21 Lessons for the 21st Century would deserve serious consideration. In this collection of provocative essays, Harari . . . tackles a daunting array of issues, endeavoring to answer a persistent question: ‘What is happening in the world today, and what is the deep meaning of these events?’”BookPage (top pick), Amazon

 

All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Change

“This book moved me to my very core. . . . [All You Can Ever Know] should be required reading for anyone who has ever had, wanted, or found a family―which is to say, everyone.” Celeste Ng, author of Little Fires Everywhere

 What does it mean to lose your roots―within your culture, within your family―and what happens when you find them?

Nicole Chung was born severely premature, placed for adoption by her Korean parents, and raised by a white family in a sheltered Oregon town. From childhood, she heard the story of her adoption as a comforting, prepackaged myth. She believed that her biological parents had made the ultimate sacrifice in the hope of giving her a better life, that forever feeling slightly out of place was her fate as a transracial adoptee. But as Nicole grew up―facing prejudice her adoptive family couldn’t see, finding her identity as an Asian American and as a writer, becoming ever more curious about where she came from―she wondered if the story she’d been told was the whole truth.

With warmth, candor, and startling insight, Nicole Chung tells of her search for the people who gave her up, which coincided with the birth of her own child. All You Can Ever Know is a profound, moving chronicle of surprising connections and the repercussions of unearthing painful family secrets―vital reading for anyone who has ever struggled to figure out where they belong. Amazon

 

Heart: A History by Sandeep Jauhar

For centuries, the human heart seemed beyond our understanding: an inscrutable shuddering mass that was somehow the driver of emotion and the seat of the soul. As the cardiologist and bestselling author Sandeep Jauhar shows in Heart: A History, it was only recently that we demolished age-old taboos and devised the transformative procedures that have changed the way we live.

Deftly alternating between key historical episodes and his own work, Jauhar tells the colorful and little-known story of the doctors who risked their careers and the patients who risked their lives to know and heal our most vital organ. He introduces us to Daniel Hale Williams, the African American doctor who performed the world’s first open heart surgery in Gilded Age Chicago. We meet C. Walton Lillehei, who connected a patient’s circulatory system to a healthy donor’s, paving the way for the heart-lung machine. And we encounter Wilson Greatbatch, who saved millions by inventing the pacemaker―by accident. Jauhar deftly braids these tales of discovery, hubris, and sorrow with moving accounts of his family’s history of heart ailments and the patients he’s treated over many years. He also confronts the limits of medical technology, arguing that future progress will depend more on how we choose to live than on the devices we invent. Affecting, engaging, and beautifully written, Heart: A History takes the full measure of the only organ that can move itself.

 

 

In Extremis The Life and Death of the War Correspondent Marie Colvin by Lindsey Hilsum

When Marie Colvin was killed by an IED in Homs, Syria, in 2012, at age fifty-six, the world lost one of its most fearless, accomplished, and iconoclastic war correspondents, an eye-patch wearing, party-throwing, and risk-taking female combat reporter who covered the most significant and destructive global calamities of her lifetime. In Extremis: The Life and Death of War Reporter Marie Colvin, written by Colvin’s friend and prizewinning fellow reporter Lindsey Hilsum, is a thrilling and powerful investigation into Colvin’s epic life and tragic death.

After growing up in a middle-class Catholic family on Long Island, Colvin got her start working for The Sunday Times, where she was driven with reckless abandon to tell the stories of the victims of the major conflicts of our time. She lost an eye reporting in Sri Lanka at the end of their civil war, interviewed Gaddafi twice, and risked her life covering conflict in Chechnya, East Timor, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, and Zimbabwe. Unsurprisingly, her personal life was as unpredictable as her professional: bold, driven, and complex, she was married multiple times, had many lovers, drank heavily, suffered from PTSD, and refused to be bound by society’s expectations for women.

With exclusive access to Colvin’s intimate diaries from age thirteen to her death in 2012, interviews with people from every corner of Colvin’s extraordinary life, and expert research worthy of Colvin herself, Lindsey Hilsum’s In Extremis is a timely and propulsive biography of the foremost war correspondent of her generation.

 

How the Internet Happened: from Netscape to Iphone by Brian McCullough

The internet was never intended for you, opines Brian McCullough in this lively narrative of an era that utterly transformed everything we thought we knew about technology. In How the Internet Happened, he chronicles the whole fascinating story for the first time, beginning in a dusty Illinois basement in 1993, when a group of college kids set off a once-in-an-epoch revolution with what would become the first “dotcom.”

Depicting the lives of now-famous innovators like Netscape’s Marc Andreessen and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, McCullough also reveals surprising quirks and unknown tales as he tracks both the technology and the culture around the internet’s rise. Cinematic in detail and unprecedented in scope, the result both enlightens and informs as it draws back the curtain on the new rhythm of disruption and innovation the internet fostered, and helps to redefine an era that changed every part of our lives. Amazon

 

Let it Bang by RJ Young

The quest, funny and searing, of a young black man learning to shoot—a fascinating odyssey into race, guns, and self-protection in America

The most RJ Young knew about guns was that they could get him killed. Until, recently married to a white woman and in desperate need of a way to relate to his gun-loving father-in-law, Young does the unimaginable: he accepts Charles’s gift of a Glock. Despite, or because of, the racial rage and fear he experiences among white gun owners (“Ain’t you supposed to be shooting a basketball?”), Young determines to get good, really good, with a gun.

Let It Bang is the compelling story of the author’s unexpected obsession—he eventually becomes an NRA-certified pistol instructor—and of his deep dive into the heart of America’s gun culture: what he sees as the domino effect of white fear, white violence, black fear, rinse, repeat. Young’s original reporting on shadow industries like US Law Shield, which insures and defends people who report having shot someone in self-defense, and on the newly formed National African American Gun Association, gives powerful insight into the dynamic. Through indelible profiles, Young brings us up to the current rocketing rise in gun ownership among black Americans, most notably women.

Let It Bang is an utterly original look at American gun culture from the inside, and from the other side—and, most movingly, the story of a young black man’s hard-won nonviolent path to self-protection.

 

Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America by Beth Macy

n this masterful work, Beth Macy takes us into the epicenter of America’s twenty-plus year struggle with opioid addiction. From distressed small communities in Central Appalachia to wealthy suburbs; from disparate cities to once-idyllic farm towns; it’s a heartbreaking trajectory that illustrates how this national crisis has persisted for so long and become so firmly entrenched.

Beginning with a single dealer who lands in a small Virginia town and sets about turning high school football stars into heroin overdose statistics, Macy endeavors to answer a grieving mother’s question – why her only son died – and comes away with a harrowing story of greed and need. From the introduction of OxyContin in 1996, Macy parses how America embraced a medical culture where overtreatment with painkillers became the norm. In some of the same distressed communities featured in her bestselling book Factory Man, the unemployed use painkillers both to numb the pain of joblessness and pay their bills, while privileged teens trade pills in cul-de-sacs, and even high school standouts fall prey to prostitution, jail, and death.

Through unsparing, yet deeply human portraits of the families and first responders struggling to ameliorate this epidemic, each facet of the crisis comes into focus. In these politically fragmented times, Beth Macy shows, astonishingly, that the only thing that unites Americans across geographic and class lines is opioid drug abuse. But in a country unable to provide basic healthcare for all, Macy still finds reason to hope – and signs of the spirit and tenacity necessary in those facing addiction to build a better future for themselves and their families. Book Browse & Amazon

 

Indianapolis: The True Story of the Worst Sea Disaster in U.S. Naval History & the Fifty- Year Fight to Exonerate an Innocent Man by Lynn Vincent and Sarah Vladic

Just after midnight on July 30, 1945, days after delivering the components of the atomic bomb from California to the Pacific Islands in the most highly classified naval mission of the war, USS Indianapolis is sailing alone in the center of the Philippine Sea when she is struck by two Japanese torpedoes. The ship is instantly transformed into a fiery cauldron and sinks within minutes. Some 300 men go down with the ship. Nearly 900 make it into the water alive. For the next five nights and four days, almost three hundred miles from the nearest land, the men battle injuries, sharks, dehydration, insanity, and eventually each other. Only 316 will survive. For the better part of a century, the story of USS Indianapolis has been understood as a sinking tale. The reality, however, is far more complicated—and compelling. Now, for the first time, thanks to a decade of original research and interviews with 107 survivors and eyewit­nesses, Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic tell the complete story of the ship, her crew, and their final mission to save one of their own.

It begins in 1932, when Indianapolis is christened and launched as the ship of state for President Franklin Roosevelt. After Pearl Harbor, Indianapolis leads the charge to the Pacific Islands, notching an unbroken string of victories in an uncharted theater of war. Then, under orders from President Harry Truman, the ship takes aboard a superspy and embarks on her final world-changing mission: delivering the core of the atomic bomb to the Pacific for the strike on Hiroshima. Vincent and Vladic provide a visceral, moment-by-moment account of the disaster that unfolds days later after the Japanese torpedo attack, from the chaos on board the sinking ship to the first moments of shock as the crew plunge into the remote waters of the Philippine Sea, to the long days and nights during which terror and hunger morph into delusion and desperation, and the men must band together to survive.

Then, for the first time, the authors go beyond the men’s rescue to chronicle Indianapolis’s extraordinary final mission: the survivors’ fifty-year fight for justice on behalf of their skipper, Captain Charles McVay III, who is wrongly court-martialed for the sinking. What follows is a captivating courtroom drama that weaves through generations of American presidents, from Harry Truman to George W. Bush, and forever entwines the lives of three captains—McVay, whose life and career are never the same after the scandal; Mochitsura Hashimoto, the Japanese sub commander who sinks Indianapolis but later joins the battle to exonerate McVay; and William Toti, the captain of the modern-day submarine Indianapolis, who helps the survivors fight to vindicate their captain. A sweeping saga of survival, sacrifice, justice, and love, Indianapolis stands as both groundbreaking naval history and spellbinding narrative—and brings the ship and her heroic crew back to full, vivid, unforgettable life. It is the definitive account of one of the most remarkable episodes in American history. Amazon

https://amp.southernliving.com/news/amazon-best-books-2018?source=dam

 

Lands of Lost Borders by Kate Harris

As a teenager, Kate Harris realized that the career she craved—to be an explorer, equal parts swashbuckler and metaphysician—had gone extinct. From what she could tell of the world from small-town Ontario, the likes of Marco Polo and Magellan had mapped the whole earth; there was nothing left to be discovered. Looking beyond this planet, she decided to become a scientist and go to Mars.

In between studying at Oxford and MIT, Harris set off by bicycle down the fabled Silk Road with her childhood friend Mel. Pedaling mile upon mile in some of the remotest places on earth, she realized that an explorer, in any day and age, is the kind of person who refuses to live between the lines. Forget charting maps, naming peaks: what she yearned for was the feeling of soaring completely out of bounds. The farther she traveled, the closer she came to a world as wild as she felt within.

Lands of Lost Borders, winner of the 2018 Banff Adventure Travel Award, is the chronicle of Harris’s odyssey and an exploration of the importance of breaking the boundaries we set ourselves; an examination of the stories borders tell, and the restrictions they place on nature and humanity; and a meditation on the existential need to explore—the essential longing to discover what in the universe we are doing here.

Like Rebecca Solnit and Pico Iyer, Kate Harris offers a travel account at once exuberant and reflective, wry and rapturous. Lands of Lost Borders explores the nature of limits and the wildness of the self that can never fully be mapped. Weaving adventure and philosophy with the history of science and exploration, Lands of Lost Borders celebrates our connection as humans to the natural world, and ultimately to each other—a belonging that transcends any fences or stories that may divide us. Amazon

 

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

A dazzling love letter to a beloved institution—and an investigation into one of its greatest mysteries—from the bestselling author hailed as a “national treasure” by The Washington Post.

On the morning of April 29, 1986, a fire alarm sounded in the Los Angeles Public Library. As the moments passed, the patrons and staff who had been cleared out of the building realized this was not the usual fire alarm. As one fireman recounted, “Once that first stack got going, it was ‘Goodbye, Charlie.’” The fire was disastrous: it reached 2000 degrees and burned for more than seven hours. By the time it was extinguished, it had consumed four hundred thousand books and damaged seven hundred thousand more. Investigators descended on the scene, but more than thirty years later, the mystery remains: Did someone purposefully set fire to the library—and if so, who?

Weaving her lifelong love of books and reading into an investigation of the fire, award-winning New Yorker reporter and New York Times bestselling author Susan Orlean delivers a mesmerizing and uniquely compelling book that manages to tell the broader story of libraries and librarians in a way that has never been done before.

In The Library Book, Orlean chronicles the LAPL fire and its aftermath to showcase the larger, crucial role that libraries play in our lives; delves into the evolution of libraries across the country and around the world, from their humble beginnings as a metropolitan charitable initiative to their current status as a cornerstone of national identity; brings each department of the library to vivid life through on-the-ground reporting; studies arson and attempts to burn a copy of a book herself; reflects on her own experiences in libraries; and reexamines the case of Harry Peak, the blond-haired actor long suspected of setting fire to the LAPL more than thirty years ago.

Along the way, Orlean introduces us to an unforgettable cast of characters from libraries past and present—from Mary Foy, who in 1880 at eighteen years old was named the head of the Los Angeles Public Library at a time when men still dominated the role, to Dr. C.J.K. Jones, a pastor, citrus farmer, and polymath known as “The Human Encyclopedia” who roamed the library dispensing information; from Charles Lummis, a wildly eccentric journalist and adventurer who was determined to make the L.A. library one of the best in the world, to the current staff, who do heroic work every day to ensure that their institution remains a vital part of the city it serves.

Brimming with her signature wit, insight, compassion, and talent for deep research, The Library Book is Susan Orlean’s thrilling journey through the stacks that reveals how these beloved institutions provide much more than just books—and why they remain an essential part of the heart, mind, and soul of our country. It is also a master journalist’s reminder that, perhaps especially in the digital era, they are more necessary than ever. Book Browsse & Amazon

 

On Desperate Ground: The Marines at The Reservoir, the Korean War’s Greatest Battle By Hampton Sides

Sides’s meticulously researched account of unlikely survival amid horrifying carnage during the Korean War also serves as a cautionary tale for what happens when an egocentric and paranoid leader refuses to acknowledge reality. In this case, it was Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who remained willfully ignorant when he was tactically outmaneuvered, leaving his men exposed – both to the harsh elements in the Korean mountains and to an onslaught of Chinese soldiers the five-star general should have seen coming. https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/entertainment/books/best-books-of-2018/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.289704f3e712

 

 

Recovery by Leslie Jameson

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Empathy Exams comes this transformative work showing that sometimes the recovery is more gripping than the addiction.

 With its deeply personal and seamless blend of memoir, cultural history, literary criticism, and reportage, The Recovering turns our understanding of the traditional addiction narrative on its head, demonstrating that the story of recovery can be every bit as electrifying as the train wreck itself. Leslie Jamison deftly excavates the stories we tell about addiction–both her own and others’–and examines what we want these stories to do and what happens when they fail us. All the while, she offers a fascinating look at the larger history of the recovery movement, and at the complicated bearing that race and class have on our understanding of who is criminal and who is ill.

At the heart of the book is Jamison’s ongoing conversation with literary and artistic geniuses whose lives and works were shaped by alcoholism and substance dependence, including John Berryman, Jean Rhys, Billie Holiday, Raymond Carver, Denis Johnson, and David Foster Wallace, as well as brilliant lesser-known figures such as George Cain, lost to obscurity but newly illuminated here. Through its unvarnished relation of Jamison’s own ordeals, The Recovering also becomes a book about a different kind of dependency: the way our desires can make us all, as she puts it, “broken spigots of need.” It’s about the particular loneliness of the human experience-the craving for love that both devours us and shapes who we are.For her striking language and piercing observations, Jamison has been compared to such iconic writers as Joan Didion and Susan Sontag, yet her utterly singular voice also offers something new. With enormous empathy and wisdom, Jamison has given us nothing less than the story of addiction and recovery in America writ large, a definitive and revelatory account that will resonate for years to come. Amazon

 

The Only Girl by Robin Green

In 1971, Robin Green had an interview with Jann Wenner at the offices Rolling Stone magazine. She had just moved to Berkeley, California, a city that promised “Good Vibes All-a Time.” Those days, job applications asked just one question, “What are your sun, moon and rising signs?” Green thought she was interviewing for a clerical job like the other girls in the office, a “real job.” Instead, she was hired as a journalist.

With irreverent humor and remarkable nerve, Green spills stories of sparring with Dennis Hopper on a film junket in the desert, scandalizing fans of David Cassidy and spending a legendary evening on a water bed in Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s dorm room. In the seventies, Green was there as Hunter S. Thompson crafted Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and now, with a distinctly gonzo female voice, she reveals her side of that tumultuous time in America.

Brutally honest and bold, Green reveals what it was like to be the first woman granted entry into an iconic boys’ club. Pulling back the curtain on Rolling Stone magazine in its prime, The Only Girl is a stunning tribute to a bygone era and a publication that defined a generation. Amazon

 

Out There: A scientific Guide to Alien Life, Antimatter, and Human Space Travel (for the Cosmically Curious) by Michael Wall

With a humorous, accessible tone, Wall, a senior writer for Space.com, answers questions about alien life and space travel. He draws on the opinions of various experts—for instance, on the question of “Will Aliens Kill Us All?” he shares both the concerns of Stephen Hawking and the optimism of others like Doug Vakoch, president of METI (“messaging extraterrestrial intelligence”) International. Wall does remind readers that, as on Earth, extraterrestrial life will be “mostly microbes,” and returns several times to the subject of ALH 84001, the Martian rock that, in 1996, researchers reported had signs of life. After discussing these and other questions, such as “Could We Talk to ET?” (possibly not—the gulf between species might be too vast), Wall turns to human space travel. Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos get their obligatory mentions in the chapter on colonizing the Moon and Mars, while Mexican physicist Miguel Alcubierre and his theoretically possible warp drive leads off the chapter on interstellar travel. Readers of Michio Kaku’s The Future of Humanity will find some overlap, but this should appeal to anyone who has ever looked up into the sky and wondered what is out there. Agent: Matt Latimer, Javelin. (Nov.) https://www.publishersweekly.com/9781538729373

 

Tripping over the Truth: How the Metabolic Theory of Cancer Is Overturning One of Medicine’s Most Entrenched Paradigms by Travis Christtofferson

A masterful synchronization of history and cutting-edge science shines new light on humanity’s darkest diagnosis.

In the wake of the Cancer Genome Atlas project’s failure to provide a legible roadmap to a cure for cancer, science writer Travis Christofferson illuminates a promising blend of old and new perspectives on the disease. Tripping over the Truth follows the story of cancer’s proposed metabolic origin from the vaunted halls of the German scientific golden age to modern laboratories around the world. The reader is taken on a journey through time and science that results in an unlikely connecting of the dots with profound therapeutic implications.

Transporting us on a rich narrative of humanity’s struggle to understand the cellular events that conspire to form malignancy, Tripping over the Truth reads like a detective novel, full of twists and cover-ups, blind-alleys and striking moments of discovery by men and women with uncommon vision, grit, and fortitude. Ultimately, Christofferson arrives at a conclusion that challenges everything we thought we knew about the disease, suggesting the reason for the failed war against cancer stems from a flawed paradigm that categorizes cancer as an exclusively genetic disease.

For anyone affected by this terrifying disease and the physicians who struggle to treat it, this book provides a fresh and hopeful perspective. It explores the new and exciting non-toxic therapies born from the emerging metabolic theory of cancer. These therapies may one day prove to be a turning point in the struggle against our ancient enemy. We are shown how the metabolic theory redraws the battle map, directing researchers to approach cancer treatment from a different angle, framing it more like a gentle rehabilitation rather than all-out combat. In a sharp departure from the current “targeted” revolution occurring in cancer pharmaceuticals, the metabolic therapies highlighted have one striking feature that sets them apart―the potential to treat all types of cancer because they exploit the one weakness that is common to every cancer cell: dysfunctional metabolism. With contributions from Thomas Seyfried, PhD, author of Cancer as a Metabolic Disease; Miriam Kalamian, EdM, MS, CNS, author of Keto for Cancer; and Beth Zupec Kania, consultant nutritionist of The Charlie Foundation.

 

Thanks for looking at my Booklist of recommendations!

Tracy

All reviews are from Book Browse, Book Passage, Goodreads, Literary Hub, Amazon, Real Simple, Cited internet resources or by me!

Please look at my blog site for more lists and reviews: Tracys2cents@wordpress.com

Young Adult recommendations coming!               November 2018

 

2018 Spring Reading

Fiction

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.

This stirring love story is a profoundly insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people who are at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control. Book Browse & Amazon

 

Closer Than You Know by Brad Parks

Disaster, Melanie Barrick was once told, is always closer than you know.

It was a lesson she learned the hard way growing up in the constant upheaval of foster care. But now that she’s survived into adulthood – with a loving husband, a steady job, and a beautiful baby boy named Alex – she thought that turmoil was behind her.Until one Tuesday evening when she goes to pick up Alex from childcare only to discover he’s been removed by Social Services. And no one will say why. It’s a terrifying scenario for any parent, but doubly so for Melanie, who knows the unintended horrors of what everyone coldly calls “the system.”

Her nightmare mushrooms when she arrives home to learn her house has been raided by sheriff’s deputies, who have found enough cocaine to send Melanie to prison for years. The evidence against her is overwhelming, and if Melanie can’t prove her innocence, she’ll lose Alex forever.Meanwhile, assistant commonwealth’s attorney Amy Kaye – who has been assigned Melanie’s case – has her own troubles. She’s been dogged by a cold case no one wants her to pursue: a serial rapist who has avoided detection by wearing a mask and whispering his commands. Over the years, he has victimized dozens of women. Including Melanie. Yet now her attacker might be the key to her salvation … or her undoing. Book Browse

Daphne by Will Boast

Elegantly written and profoundly moving, this spellbinding debut affirms Boast’s reputation as a “new young American voice for the ages” (Tom Franklin). Born with a rare (and real) condition in which she suffers degrees of paralysis when faced with intense emotion, Daphne has few close friends and even fewer lovers. Like her mythic namesake, even one touch can freeze her. But when Daphne meets shy, charming Ollie, her well-honed defenses falter, and she’s faced with an impossible choice: cling to her pristine, manicured isolation or risk the recklessness of real intimacy. Set against the vivid backdrop of a San Francisco flush with money and pulsing with protest, Daphne is a gripping and tender modern fable that explores both self-determination and the perpetual fight between love and safety. Book Browse

Forty Acres by Dwayne Alexander Smith

While this has a thriller ending—one you can imagine in a blockbuster action movie—the entire book was built on threads of suspense that slowly unravel making the reader more and more unsettled. It begins with a black lawyer, Martin Grey, who has a small practice and just won a huge, hopefully career-making case. It leads to an opportunity of being invited on a trip with prominent wealthy black men. A secret society, if you will…Yep, that’s all I’m giving you. This novel works best with you knowing nothing, as the tension builds and you get hit by every layer that is revealed. https://bookriot.com/2018/02/22/must-read-suspense-stories/

The French Girl by Lexie Elliott

We all have our secrets…They were six university students from Oxford – friends and sometimes more than friends – spending an idyllic week together in a French farmhouse. It was supposed to be the perfect summer getaway…until they met Severine, the girl next door.

For Kate Channing, Severine was an unwelcome presence, her inscrutable beauty undermining the close-knit group’s loyalties amid the already simmering tensions. And after a huge altercation on the last night of the holiday, Kate knew nothing would ever be the same. There are some things you can’t forgive. And there are some people you can’t forget…like Severine, who was never seen again.

Now, a decade later, the case is reopened when Severine’s body is found in the well behind the farmhouse. Questioned along with her friends, Kate stands to lose everything she’s worked so hard to achieve as suspicion mounts around her. Desperate to resolve her own shifting memories and fearful she will be forever bound to the woman whose presence still haunts her, Kate finds herself buried under layers of deception with no one to set her free… Book Browse

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez

When a woman unexpectedly loses her lifelong best friend and mentor, she finds herself burdened with the unwanted dog he has left behind. Her own battle against grief is intensified by the mute suffering of the dog, a huge Great Dane traumatized by the inexplicable disappearance of its master, and by the threat of eviction: dogs are prohibited in her apartment building.

While others worry that grief has made her a victim of magical thinking, the woman refuses to be separated from the dog except for brief periods of time. Isolated from the rest of the world, increasingly obsessed with the dog’s care, determined to read its mind and fathom its heart, she comes dangerously close to unraveling. But while troubles abound, rich and surprising rewards lie in store for both of them.Elegiac and searching, The Friend is both a meditation on loss and a celebration of human-canine devotion. Book Browse

Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao

Set initially in a rural town in modern India, Rao’s novel gazes upon two girls, Poornima and Savitha, who become fast friends when they start working side by side in Poornima’s father’s weaving hut. Savitha comes from an extremely poor family—she was a garbage picker before her weaving job. Poornima has a good marriage to look forward to, as her father and aunts remind her, even as they make her feel far less worthy than the men they are considering for her.

An attack on Savitha causes her to flee, and separates the two girls. As they try to find each other again, the power and anguish in Rao’s novel builds, breaking your heart on one page even as it mends it, stronger, on the next.I spoke with Shobha Rao—who is at once full of positive energy and fierce with determination—during one of our few lovely March days in Seattle. We dived straight into one of the core questions of Girls Burn Brighter. Amazon Book Review- March 2018- book of the month

The Hole by Hye-Young Pyun, & Sora Kim-Russell (Translator)

Ogi not only wakes up to the horrific fact that his wife has died but he has been badly hurt in the same car accident and now needs assistance for everything. This is how he finds himself being cared for by his mother-in-law. A woman who is grieving her daughter and doesn’t seem to be filled with much care for her “patient.” Isolated from everyone and left with only his thoughts Ogi is only just beginning to realize how bad his situation is… Book Riot 2/22/18

The Hunger by Alma Katsu

Evil is invisible, and it is everywhere. That is the only way to explain the series of misfortunes that have plagued the wagon train known as the Donner Party. Depleted rations, bitter quarrels, and the mysterious death of a little boy have driven the isolated travelers to the brink of madness. Though they dream of what awaits them in the West, long-buried secrets begin to emerge, and dissent among them escalates to the point of murder and chaos. They cannot seem to escape tragedy…or the feelings that someone – or something – is stalking them. Whether it’s a curse from the beautiful Tamsen Donner (who some think might be a witch), their ill-advised choice of route through uncharted terrain, or just plain bad luck, the ninety men, women, and children of the Donner Party are heading into one of one of the deadliest and most disastrous Western adventures in American history.

As members of the group begin to disappear, the survivors start to wonder if there really is something disturbing, and hungry, waiting for them in the mountains…and whether the evil that has unfolded around them may have in fact been growing within them all along.nEffortlessly combining the supernatural and the historical, The Hunger is an eerie, thrilling look at the volatility of human nature, pushed to its breaking point. Book Browse

Only Child by Rhiannon Navin

Squeezed into a coat closet with his classmates and teacher, first grader Zach Taylor can hear gunshots ringing through the halls of his school. A gunman has entered the building, taking nineteen lives and irrevocably changing the very fabric of this close-knit community. While Zach’s mother pursues a quest for justice against the shooter’s parents, holding them responsible for their son’s actions, Zach retreats into his super-secret hideout and loses himself in a world of books and art. Armed with his newfound understanding, and with the optimism and stubbornness only a child could have, Zach sets out on a captivating journey towards healing and forgiveness, determined to help the adults in his life rediscover the universal truths of love and compassion needed to pull them through their darkest hours. Book Browse

Only Killers & Thieves by Paul Howarth

An epic tale of revenge and survival, Only Killers and Thieves is a gripping and utterly transporting debut, bringing to vivid life a colonial Australia that bears a striking resemblance to the American Wild West in its formative years.

It is 1885, and a crippling drought threatens to ruin the McBride family. Their land is parched, their cattle starving. When the rain finally comes, it is a miracle that renews their hope for survival. But returning home from an afternoon swimming at a remote waterhole filled by the downpour, fourteen-year-old Tommy and sixteen-year-old Billy meet with a shocking tragedy. Thirsting for vengeance against the man they believe has wronged them – their former Aboriginal stockman – the distraught brothers turn to the ruthless and cunning John Sullivan, the wealthiest landowner in the region and their father’s former employer. Sullivan gathers a posse led by the dangerous and fascinating Inspector Edmund Noone and his Queensland Native Police, an infamous arm of British colonial power charged with the “dispersal” of indigenous Australians to “protect” white settler rights. As they ride across the barren outback in pursuit, their harsh and horrifying journey will have a devastating impact on Tommy, tormenting him for the rest of his life – and will hold enduring consequences for a young country struggling to come into its own.

Recreating a period of Australian and British history as evocative and violent as the American frontier era, Only Killers and Thieves is an unforgettable story of family, guilt, empire, race, manhood, and faith that combines the insightfulness of Philipp Meyer’s The Son, the atmospheric beauty of Amanda Coplin’s The Orchardist, and the raw storytelling power of Ian McGuire’s The North Water. Book Browse

Sandman by Lars Kepler

Late one night, outside Stockholm, Mikael Kohler-Frost is found wandering. Thirteen years earlier, he went missing along with his younger sister. They were long thought to have been victims of Sweden’s most notorious serial killer, Jurek Walter, now serving a life sentence in a maximum security psychiatric hospital. Now Mikael tells the police that his sister is still alive and being held by someone he knows only as the Sandman.

Years ago, Detective Inspector Joona Linna made an excruciating personal sacrifice to ensure Jurek’s capture. He is keenly aware of what this killer is capable of, and now he is certain that Jurek has an accomplice. He knows that any chance of rescuing Mikael’s sister depends on getting Jurek to talk, and that the only agent capable of this is Inspector Saga Bauer, a twenty-seven-year-old prodigy. She will have to go under deep cover in the psychiatric ward where Jurek is imprisoned, and she will have to find a way to get to the psychopath before it’s too late – and before he gets inside her head. Book Browse

Semiosis by Sue Burke

Colonists from Earth wanted the perfect home, but they’ll have to survive on the one they found. They don’t realize another life form watches…and waits…Only mutual communication can forge an alliance with the planet’s sentient species and prove that humans are more than tools. Amazon

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

Truth or Lies?  Told from her hospital bed, Amber is locked in by a coma as she relays her story. She begins by saying: “Sometimes I Lie”. The tone is set for this thriller as she slowly shares her memories.

At first the tale is fragmented and lends to confusion, yet the technique serves the purpose of the book. Do the chapters titled “Before”, “Then” and “Now” tell the truth? Is the narrator reliable? What is the accident or was it a crime? Feeney creates a suspenseful story with a satisfying conclusion. Pay close attention there are plot twists! Tracys2cents@wordpress.com

The Sparsholt Affair by Alan Hollinghurst

In 1940, David Sparsholt arrives at Oxford, his sights set on joining the Royal Air Force. Handsome, athletic, charismatic, he is unaware of his powerful effect on others—especially on Evert Dax, the lonely and romantic son of a celebrated novelist who is destined to become a writer himself. With the world at war, and the Blitz raging in London, Oxford exists at a strange remove: a place of quiet study, but also of secret liaisons under the cover of blackouts. A friendship develops between David and Evert that will influence their lives for decades to come. Hollinghurst’s astonishing new novel evokes across three generations the intimate relationships of a group of friends brought together by art, literature and love.  We witness shifts in taste and morality through a series of vividly rendered episodes: a Sparsholt holiday in Cornwall; eccentric gatherings at the Dax family home; the adventures of David’s son Johnny, a painter in 1970s London. With tenderness, wit and keen insight, The Sparsholt Affair explores the social and sexual revolutions of the past century, even as it takes us straight to the heart of our current age.

Richly observed, emotionally charged, this is a dazzling novel of fathers and sons; of family and legacy; and of the longing for permanence amid life’s inevitable transience, by the writer acclaimed in The Wall Street Journal as “one of the best novelists at work today.” Amazon & Literary Hub

That Kind of Mother by Rumaan Alam

Like many first-time mothers, Rebecca Stone finds herself both deeply in love with her newborn son and deeply overwhelmed. Struggling to juggle the demands of motherhood with her own aspirations and feeling utterly alone in the process, she reaches out to the only person at the hospital who offers her any real help—Priscilla Johnson—and begs her to come home with them as her son’s nanny. Priscilla’s presence quickly does as much to shake up Rebecca’s perception of the world as it does to stabilize her life. Rebecca is white, and Priscilla is black, and through their relationship, Rebecca finds herself confronting, for the first time, the blind spots of her own privilege. She feels profoundly connected to the woman who essentially taught her what it means to be a mother. Then Priscilla dies unexpectedly in childbirth, Rebecca steps forward to adopt the baby. But she is unprepared for what it means to be a white mother with a black son. As she soon learns, navigating motherhood for her is a matter of learning how to raise two children whom she loves with equal ferocity, but whom the world is determined to treat differently.

Written with the warmth and psychological acuity that defined his debut, Rumaan Alam has crafted a remarkable novel about the lives we choose, and the lives that are chosen for us. Amazon

White Bodies by Jane Robins

Felix and Tilda seem like the perfect couple: young and in love, a financier and a beautiful up-and-coming starlet. But behind their flawless façade, not everything is as it seems.

Callie, Tilda’s unassuming twin, has watched her sister visibly shrink under Felix’s domineering love. She has looked on silently as Tilda stopped working, nearly stopped eating, and turned into a neat freak, with mugs wrapped in Saran Wrap and suspicious syringes hidden in the bathroom trash. She knows about Felix’s uncontrollable rages, and has seen the bruises on the white skin of her sister’s arms. Worried about the psychological hold that Felix seems to have over Tilda, Callie joins an Internet support group for victims of abuse and their friends. However, things spiral out of control and she starts to doubt her own judgment when one of her new acquaintances is killed by an abusive man. And then suddenly Felix dies – or was he murdered?

A page-turning work of suspense that announces a stunning new voice in fiction, White Bodies will change the way you think about obsession, love, and the violence we inflict on one another – and ourselves. Book Browse

Non Fiction

A Fisherman’s Blues: A West African Community at Sea By Anna Badkhen

The sea is broken, fishermen say. The sea is empty. The genii have taken the fish elsewhere.For centuries, fishermen have launched their pirogues from the Senegalese port of Joal, where the fish used to be so plentiful a man could dip his hand into the grey-green ocean and pull one out as big as his thigh. But in an Atlantic decimated by overfishing and climate change, the fish are harder and harder to find.

Here, Badkhen discovers, all boundaries are permeable – between land and sea, between myth and truth, even between storyteller and story. Fisherman’s Blues immerses us in a community navigating a time of unprecedented environmental, economic, and cultural upheaval with resilience, ingenuity, and wonder. Book Browse

A Kind of Mirraculas Paradise: A True Story about Schizophrenia by Sandra Allen

A memoir of the author’s uncle’s life…she received his autobiography while at writing school in Iowa. This “crazy “ uncle was a chain smoker who lived a hermit existence in California. She translated his prose & includes his view from inside his life with mental illness. He presents his delusions as facts.

Dazzlingly, daringly written, marrying the thoughtful originality of Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts with the revelatory power of Neurotribes and The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, this propulsive, stunning book illuminates the experience of living with schizophrenia like never before. Sandra Allen did not know her uncle Bob very well. As a child, she had been told he was “crazy,” that he had spent time in mental hospitals while growing up in Berkeley in the 60s and 70s. But Bob had lived a hermetic life in a remote part of California for longer than she had been alive, and what little she knew of him came from rare family reunions or odd, infrequent phone calls. Then in 2009 Bob mailed her his autobiography. Typewritten in all caps, a stream of error-riddled sentences over sixty, single-spaced pages, the often incomprehensible manuscript proclaimed to be a “true story” about being “labeled a psychotic paranoid schizophrenic,” and arrived with a plea to help him get his story out to the world.

In A Kind of Mirraculas Paradise, Allen translates her uncle’s autobiography, artfully creating a gripping coming-of-age story while sticking faithfully to the facts as he shared them. Lacing Bob’s narrative with chapters providing greater contextualization, Allen also shares background information about her family, the culturally explosive time and place of her uncle’s formative years, and the vitally important questions surrounding schizophrenia and mental healthcare in America more broadly. The result is a heartbreaking and sometimes hilarious portrait of a young man striving for stability in his life as well as his mind, and an utterly unique lens into an experience that, to most people, remains unimaginable. Amazon

Barracoon: The Story of the last Black Cargo by Zora Neale Hurston

A major literary event: a newly published work from the author of the American classic Their Eyes Were Watching God brilliantly illuminates the horror and injustices of slavery as it tells the true story of one of the last known survivors of the Atlantic slave trade—abducted from Africa on the last “Black Cargo” ship to arrive in the United States.

In 1927, Zora Neale Hurston went to Plateau, Alabama, just outside Mobile, to interview eighty-six-year-old Cudjo Lewis. Of the millions of men, women, and children transported from Africa to America as slaves, Cudjo was then the only person alive to tell the story of this integral part of the nation’s history. Hurston was there to record Cudjo’s firsthand account of the raid that led to his capture and bondage fifty years after the Atlantic slave trade was outlawed in the United States.

In 1931, Hurston returned to Plateau, the African-centric community three miles from Mobile founded by Cudjo and other former slaves from his ship. Spending more than three months there, she talked in depth with Cudjo about the details of his life. During those weeks, the young writer and the elderly formerly enslaved man ate peaches and watermelon that grew in the backyard and talked about Cudjo’s past—memories from his childhood in Africa, the horrors of being captured and held in a barracoon for selection by American slavers, the harrowing experience of the Middle Passage packed with more than 100 other souls aboard the Clotilda, and the years he spent in slavery until the end of the Civil War.

Based on those interviews, featuring Cudjo’s unique vernacular, and written from Hurston’s perspective with the compassion and singular style that have made her one of the preeminent American authors of the twentieth-century, Barracoon masterfully illustrates the tragedy of slavery and of one life forever defined by it. Offering insight into the pernicious legacy that continues to haunt us all, black and white, this poignant and powerful work is an invaluable contribution to our shared history and culture. Amazon

 

The Beekeeper: Rescuing the Stolen Women of Iraq by Dunya Mikhail & Max Weiss

The true story of a beekeeper who risks his life to rescue enslaved women from Daesh Since 2014, Daesh (ISIS) has been brutalizing the Yazidi people of northern Iraq: sowing destruction, killing those who won’t convert to Islam, and enslaving young girls and women.

The Beekeeper, by the acclaimed poet and journalist Dunya Mikhail, tells the harrowing stories of several women who managed to escape the clutches of Daesh. Mikhail extensively interviews these women―who’ve lost their families and loved ones, who’ve been sexually abused, psychologically tortured, and forced to manufacture chemical weapons―and as their tales unfold, an unlikely hero emerges: a beekeeper, who uses his knowledge of the local terrain, along with a wide network of transporters, helpers, and former cigarette smugglers, to bring these women, one by one, through the war-torn landscapes of Iraq, Syria, and Turkey, back into safety.

In the face of inhuman suffering, this powerful work of nonfiction offers a counterpoint to Daesh’s genocidal extremism: hope, as ordinary people risk their own lives to save those of others. Amazon

The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist: a true Story of Injustice in the American South by Radley Balko & Tucker Carrington

After two three-year-old girls were raped and murdered in rural Mississippi, law enforcement pursued and convicted two innocent men: Kennedy Brewer and Levon Brooks. Together they spent a combined thirty years in prison before finally being exonerated in 2008. Meanwhile, the real killer remained free.

The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist recounts the story of how the criminal justice system allowed this to happen, and of how two men, Dr. Steven Hayne and Dr. Michael West, built successful careers on the back of that structure. For nearly two decades, Hayne, a medical examiner, performed the vast majority of Mississippi’s autopsies, while his friend Dr. West, a local dentist, pitched himself as a forensic jack-of-all-trades. Together they became the go-to experts for prosecutors and helped put countless Mississippians in prison. But then some of those convictions began to fall apart.Here, Radley Balko and Tucker Carrington tell the haunting story of how the courts and Mississippi’s death investigation system–a relic of the Jim Crow era–failed to deliver justice for its citizens. The authors argue that bad forensics, structural racism, and institutional failures are at fault, raising sobering questions about our ability and willingness to address these crucial issues. Literary Hub & Amazon

Eat the Apple: A Memoir by Matt Young

Illiad & Iraq war.. Eat the Apple is a daring, twisted, and darkly hilarious story of American youth and masculinity in an age of continuous war. Matt Young joined the Marine Corps at age eighteen after a drunken night culminating in wrapping his car around a fire hydrant. The teenage wasteland he fled followed him to the training bases charged with making him a Marine. Matt survived the training and then not one, not two, but three deployments to Iraq, where the testosterone, danger, and stakes for him and his fellow grunts were dialed up a dozen decibels.

With its kaleidoscopic array of literary forms, from interior dialogues to infographics to prose passages that read like poetry, Young’s narrative powerfully mirrors the multifaceted nature of his experience. Visceral, ironic, self-lacerating, and ultimately redemptive, Young’s story drops us unarmed into Marine Corps culture and lays bare the absurdism of 21st-century war, the manned-up vulnerability of those on the front lines, and the true, if often misguided, motivations that drove a young man to a life at war.

Searing in its honesty, tender in its vulnerability, and brilliantly written, Eat the Apple is a modern war classic in the making and a powerful coming-of-age story that maps the insane geography of our times. Amazon

 Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills” bag. In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged metal in her father’s junkyard. Her father distrusted the medical establishment, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when an older brother became violent.

When another brother got himself into college and came back with news of the world beyond the mountain, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. She taught herself enough mathematics, grammar, and science to take the ACT and was admitted to Brigham Young University. There, she studied psychology, politics, philosophy, and history, learning for the first time about pivotal world events like the Holocaust and the Civil Rights Movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.

Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes from severing one’s closest ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes, and the will to change it. Book Browse & Amazon

 

Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved by Kate Bowler

Kate Bowler is a professor at Duke Divinity School with a modest Christian upbringing, but she specializes in the study of the prosperity gospel, a creed that sees fortune as a blessing from God and misfortune as a mark of God’s disapproval. At thirty-five, everything in her life seems to point toward “blessing.” She is thriving in her job, married to her high school sweetheart, and loves life with her newborn son.

Then she is diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer.

The prospect of her own mortality forces Kate to realize that she has been tacitly subscribing to the prosperity gospel, living with the conviction that she can control the shape of her life with “a surge of determination.” Even as this type of Christianity celebrates the American can-do spirit, it implies that if you “can’t do” and succumb to illness or misfortune, you are a failure. Kate is very sick and no amount of positive thinking will shrink her tumors. What does it mean to die, she wonders, in a society that insists everything happens for a reason? Kate is stripped of this certainty only to discover that without it, life is hard but beautiful in a way it never has been before.

Frank and funny, dark and wise, Kate Bowler pulls the reader deeply into her life in an account she populates affectionately with a colorful, often hilarious retinue of friends, mega-church preachers, relatives, and doctors. Everything Happens for a Reason tells her story, offering up her irreverent, hard-won observations on dying and the ways it has taught her to live. Amazon

The Girl on the Velvet Swing: Sex, Murder, and Madness at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century by Simon Baatz

In 1901 Evelyn Nesbit, a chorus girl in the musical Florodora, dined alone with the architect Stanford White in his townhouse on 24th Street in New York. Nesbit, just sixteen years old, had recently moved to the city. White was forty-seven and a principal in the prominent architectural firm McKim, Mead & White. As the foremost architect of his day, he was a celebrity, responsible for designing countless landmark buildings in Manhattan. That evening, after drinking champagne, Nesbit lost consciousness and awoke to find herself naked in bed with White. Telltale spots of blood on the bed sheets told her that White had raped her.

She told no one about the rape until, several years later, she confided in Harry Thaw, the millionaire playboy who would later become her husband. Thaw, thirsting for revenge, shot and killed White in 1906 before hundreds of theatergoers during a performance in Madison Square Garden, a building that White had designed.

The trial was a sensation that gripped the nation. Most Americans agreed with Thaw that he had been justified in killing White, but the district attorney expected to send him to the electric chair. Evelyn Nesbit’s testimony was so explicit and shocking that Theodore Roosevelt himself called on the newspapers not to print it verbatim. The murder of White cast a long shadow: Harry Thaw later attempted suicide, and Evelyn Nesbit struggled for many years to escape an addiction to cocaine. The Girl on the Velvet Swing, a tale of glamour, excess, and danger, is an immersive, fascinating look at an America dominated by men of outsize fortunes and by the women who were their victims. Amazon

 

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara

For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area. Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called “the Golden State Killer.” Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark—the masterpiece McNamara was writing at the time of her sudden death—offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman’s obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth. Utterly original and compelling, it is destined to become a true crime classic—and may at last unmask the Golden State Killer. Literary Hub & Amazon

One Goal: a Coach, a Team and the Game that brought a Divided Town Together by Amy Bass

When thousands of Somali refugees resettled in Lewiston, Maine, a struggling, overwhelmingly white town, longtime residents grew uneasy. Then the mayor wrote a letter asking Somalis to stop coming, which became a national story. While scandal threatened to subsume the town, its high school’s soccer coach integrated Somali kids onto his team, and their passion began to heal old wounds. Taking readers behind the tumult of this controversial team–and onto the pitch where the teammates vied to become state champions and achieved a vital sense of understanding–ONE GOAL is a timely story about overcoming the prejudices that divide us. Amazon

The Monk of Mokha by David Eggers

From the author of The Circle and What Is the What, the true story of a young Yemeni-American man, raised in San Francisco, who dreams of resurrecting the ancient art of Yemeni coffee but finds himself trapped in Sana’a by civil war.

“Mokhtar’s tale, for which Eggers makes himself the conduit, starts out as a story of the frustration of second-generation immigrant assimilation and becomes an anecdotal history of coffee culture and practice. It ends as a kind of breathless thriller as Mokhtar braves militia roadblocks, kidnappings and multiple mortal dangers in order to get his first coffee samples to a producers’ conference in Seattle, the make or break for his business. In some senses, particularly at the outset, you wonder if this narrative would work best as a brilliant long-read magazine article. However, as it goes on, as Eggers explodes Mokhtar’s tale to book length, with all the detail that implies, you start to understand his wider purpose. He is anxious to put not only Mokhtar’s story on the page, but somehow Mokhtar himself, all his hopes, all his obstacles. Look at this extraordinary American, Eggers’s attention says. And more to the point, look at him at this particular moment; give him some proper time; no story is more urgent”. Literary Hub…Tim Adams the Guardian January 22, 2018

Raw: My Journey into the Wu Tang Clan by Lamont “U-God” Hawkins

The explosive, never-before-told story behind the historic rise of the Wu-Tang Clan, as told by one of its founding members, Lamont “U-God” Hawkins. “It’s time to write down not only my legacy, but the story of nine dirt-bomb street thugs who took our everyday life―scrappin’ and hustlin’ and tryin’ to survive in the urban jungle of New York City―and turned that into something bigger than we could possibly imagine, something that took us out of the projects for good, which was the only thing we all wanted in the first place.” ―Lamont “U-God” Hawkins

The Wu-Tang Clan are considered hip-hop royalty. Remarkably, none of the founding members have told their story―until now. Here, for the first time, the quiet one speaks.Lamont “U-God” Hawkins was born in Brownsville, New York, in 1970. Raised by a single mother and forced to reckon with the hostile conditions of project life, U-God learned from an early age how to survive. And surviving in New York City in the 1970s and 1980s was no easy task―especially as a young black boy living in some of the city’s most ignored and destitute districts. But, along the way, he met and befriended those who would eventually form the Clan’s core: RZA, GZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Inspectah Deck, Ghostface Killah, and Masta Killa. Brought up by the streets, and bonding over their love of hip-hop, they sought to pursue the impossible: music as their ticket out of the ghetto.

U-God’s unforgettable first-person account of his journey, from the streets of Brooklyn to some of the biggest stages around the world, is not only thoroughly affecting, unfiltered, and explosive but also captures, in vivid detail, the making of one of the greatest acts in American music history. Amazon & Literary Hub

 

The Stowaway: A Young Man’s Extraordinary Adventure to Antarctica by Laurie Gwen Shapiro

The spectacular, true story of a scrappy teenager from New York’s Lower East Side who stowed away on the Roaring Twenties’ most remarkable feat of science and daring: an expedition to Antarctica. It was 1928: a time of illicit booze, of Gatsby and Babe Ruth, of freewheeling fun. The Great War was over and American optimism was higher than the stock market. What better moment to launch an expedition to Antarctica, the planet’s final frontier? There wouldn’t be another encounter with an unknown this magnificent until Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon.

Everyone wanted in on the adventure. Rockefellers and Vanderbilts begged to be taken along as mess boys, and newspapers across the globe covered the planning’s every stage. And then, the night before the expedition’s flagship set off, Billy Gawronski—a mischievous, first-generation New York City high schooler desperate to escape a dreary future in the family upholstery business—jumped into the Hudson River and snuck aboard. Could he get away with it?

From the soda shops of New York’s Lower East Side to the dance halls of sultry Francophone Tahiti, all the way to Antarctica’s blinding white and deadly freeze, Laurie Gwen Shapiro’s The Stowaway takes you on the unforgettable voyage of a plucky young stowaway who became a Jazz Age celebrity, a mascot for an up-by-your bootstraps era. Amazon & Literary Hub

 

Thanks for looking at my book recommendations,

Tracy

All reviews are from BookBrowse, Book Passage, Book Blurbs, Refinery29, Literary Hub, Amazon, Book Riot, or by me!

Please visit my blog site for more lists and reviews: tracys2cents@wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14

2018- Winter Reading

2018: Books to Read this Winter

Fiction:

Dark Asylum by E. S Thomson

1851, Angel Meadow Asylum. Dr. Rutherford, principal physician to the insane, is found dead, his head bashed in, his ears cut off, his lips and eyes stitched closed. The police direct their attention towards Angel Meadow’s inmates, but to Jem Flockhart and Will Quartermain the crime is an act of calculated retribution, rather than of madness.

To discover the truth Jem and Will must pursue the story through the darkest corners of the city from the depths of a notorious rookery, to the sordid rooms of London’s brothels, the gallows, the graveyard, the convict fleet and then back to the asylum. In a world where guilt and innocence, crime and atonement, madness and reason, are bounded by hypocrisy, ambition and betrayal, Jem and Will soon find themselves caught up in a web of dark secrets and hidden identities. Book Browse

Eternal Life by Dara Horn

Rachel has an unusual problem: she can’t die. Her recent troubles–widowhood, a failing business, an unemployed middle-aged son–are only the latest. She’s already put up with scores of marriages and hundreds of children, over 2,000 years–ever since she made a spiritual bargain to save the life of her first son back in Roman-occupied Jerusalem. There’s only one other person in the world who understands: a man she once loved passionately, who has been stalking her through the centuries, convinced they belong together forever.

In 2018, as her children and grandchildren develop new technologies for immortality, Rachel knows she must enable her beloved offspring to live fully–without her, but with meaning–by finding a way for herself to die.Gripping, hilarious, and profoundly moving, Eternal Life celebrates the bonds between generations, the power of faith, the purpose of death, and the reasons for being alive. Book Browse

Force of Nature by Jane Harper

Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along the muddy track. Only four come out the other side.

The hike through the rugged Giralang Ranges on the corporate retreat is meant to take the office workers out of their air-conditioned comfort zone and teach resilience and team building. But one of the women doesn’t make it. Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a particularly keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing hiker. Alice Russell is the whistleblower in his latest case – in just a matter of weeks she was due to help him bring down both the company she works for and the people she works with.

In an investigation that takes Falk from isolated bushland to city headquarters, he discovers secrets lurking in the mountains, and a tangled web of personal and professional friendship, suspicion, and betrayal among the hikers. But did that lead to murder? This is as atmospheric, tense, and explosive as the bestselling The Dry, and marks the continuation of a terrific new series. Book Browse

Heather, the Totality by Matthew Weiner

Mark and Karen Breakstone have constructed the idyllic life of wealth and status they always wanted, made complete by their beautiful and extraordinary daughter Heather. But they are still not quite at the top. When the new owners of the penthouse above them begin construction, an unstable stranger penetrates the security of their comfortable lives and threatens to destroy everything they’ve created. It is also all about “Heather”. Book Passage & Amazon

Her Body And Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

A woman refuses to remove the green ribbon from her neck, no matter how hard her husband pleads with her to take it off; a weight-loss surgery results in an unwelcome houseguest. It’s a strange, eerie world that Machado has built in this unforgettable debut — one that challenges the way we think about women’s bodies and the everyday violence visited upon them that sometimes goes unnoticed. Refinery 29

History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund

Fourteen-year-old Linda lives with her parents in the beautiful, austere woods of northern Minnesota, where their nearly abandoned commune stands as a last vestige of a lost counter-culture world. Isolated at home and an outlander at school, Linda is drawn to the enigmatic, attractive Lily and new history teacher Mr. Grierson. When Mr. Grierson is charged with possessing child pornography, the implications of his arrest deeply affect Linda as she wrestles with her own fledgling desires and craving to belong.

And then the young Gardner family moves in across the lake and Linda finds herself welcomed into their home as a babysitter for their little boy, Paul. It seems that her life finally has purpose but with this new sense of belonging she is also drawn into secrets she doesn’t understand. Over the course of a few days, Linda makes a set of choices that reverberate throughout her life. As she struggles to find a way out of the sequestered world into which she was born, Linda confronts the life-and-death consequences of the things people do – and fail to do – for the people they love. Book Browse

In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende

In the Midst of Winter begins with a minor traffic accident—which becomes the catalyst for an unexpected and moving love story between two people who thought they were deep into the winter of their lives. Richard Bowmaster—a 60-year-old human rights scholar—hits the car of Evelyn Ortega—a young, undocumented immigrant from Guatemala—in the middle of a snowstorm in Brooklyn. What at first seems just a small inconvenience takes an unforeseen and far more serious turn when Evelyn turns up at the professor’s house seeking help. At a loss, the professor asks his tenant Lucia Maraz—a 62-year-old lecturer from Chile—for her advice. These three very different people are brought together in a mesmerizing story that moves from present-day Brooklyn to Guatemala in the recent past to 1970s Chile and Brazil, sparking the beginning of a long overdue love story between Richard and Lucia.

Exploring the timely issues of human rights and the plight of immigrants and refugees, the book recalls Allende’s landmark novel The House of the Spirits in the way it embraces the cause of “humanity, and it does so with passion, humor, and wisdom that transcend politics” (Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post). In the Midst of Winter will stay with you long after you turn the final page. Amazon & Book Passage

The King is Always Above the People by Daniel Alarcon

Short Stories… Migration. Betrayal. Family secrets. Doomed love. Uncertain futures. In Daniel Alarcón’s hands, these are transformed into deeply human stories with high stakes. In “The Thousands,” people are on the move and forging new paths; hope and heartbreak abound. A man deals with the fallout of his blind relatives’ mysterious deaths and his father’s mental breakdown and incarceration in “The Bridge.” A gang member discovers a way to forgiveness and redemption through the haze of violence and trauma in “The Ballad of Rocky Rontal.” And in the tour de force novella, “The Auroras”, a man severs himself from his old life and seeks to make a new one in a new city, only to find himself seduced and controlled by a powerful woman. Richly drawn, full of unforgettable characters, The King is Always Above the People reveals experiences both unsettling and unknown, and yet eerily familiar in this new world. Amazon & Book Browse

The Mannequin Makers by Craig Cliff

Excitement is rare in the small town of Marumaru, New Zealand. So when a young Maori man arrives on the morning train one day in 1903 – announcing the imminent visit of a famous strongman – the entire town turns out to greet him, save one. Colton Kemp, a department store window-dresser, is at home, watching his beloved wife die in premature childbirth. Tormented by grief, he hatches a plan to make his name and thwart his rival, the silent and gifted Carpenter: over the next sixteen years he will raise his newborn twins in secrecy and isolation, to become human mannequins in the world’s most lifelike window display.

The Mannequin Makers is an adventure-filled and thoroughly delightful yarn, introducing one of international literature’s most promising young talents to American audiences. Refinery 29

Mrs. Osmond by John Banville

Isabel Archer is a young American woman, swept off to Europe in the late nineteenth century by an aunt who hopes to round out the impetuous but naïve girl’s experience of the world. When Isabel comes into a large, unexpected inheritance, she is finagled into a marriage with the charming, penniless, and – as Isabel finds out too late – cruel and deceitful Gilbert Osmond, whose connection to a certain Madame Merle is suspiciously intimate. On a trip to England to visit her cousin Ralph Touchett on his deathbed, Isabel is offered a chance to free herself from the marriage, but nonetheless chooses to return to Italy.

Banville follows James’s story line to this point, but Mrs. Osmond is thoroughly Banville’s own: the narrative inventiveness; the lyrical precision and surprise of his language; the layers of emotional and psychological intensity; the subtle, dark humor. And when Isabel arrives in Italy – along with someone else! – the novel takes off in directions that James himself would be thrilled to follow. Book Browse

 Radio Free Vermont by Bill McKibben

As the host of Radio Free Vermont – “underground, underpowered, and underfoot” – seventy-two-year-old Vern Barclay is currently broadcasting from an “undisclosed and double-secret location.” With the help of a young computer prodigy named Perry Alterson, Vern uses his radio show to advocate for a simple yet radical idea: an independent Vermont, one where the state secedes from the United States and operates under a free local economy. But for now, he and his radio show must remain untraceable, because in addition to being a lifelong Vermonter and concerned citizen, Vern Barclay is also a fugitive from the law.

In Radio Free Vermont, Bill McKibben entertains and expands upon an idea that’s become more popular than ever – seceding from the United States. Along with Vern and Perry, McKibben imagines an eccentric group of activists who carry out their own version of guerilla warfare, which includes dismissing local middle school children early in honor of ‘Ethan Allen Day’ and hijacking a Coors Light truck and replacing the stock with local brew. Witty, biting, and terrifyingly timely, Radio Free Vermont is Bill McKibben’s fictional response to the burgeoning resistance movement. Book Passage & Book Browse

The Revolution of Marna M by Janet Fitch

St. Petersburg, New Year’s Eve, 1916. Marina Makarova is a young woman of privilege who aches to break free of the constraints of her genteel life, a life about to be violently upended by the vast forces of history. Swept up on these tides, Marina will join the marches for workers’ rights, fall in love with a radical young poet, and betray everything she holds dear, before being betrayed in turn.As her country goes through almost unimaginable upheaval, Marina’s own coming-of-age unfolds, marked by deep passion and devastating loss, and the private heroism of an ordinary woman living through extraordinary times. This is the epic, mesmerizing story of one indomitable woman’s journey through some of the most dramatic events of the last century. Amazon

From the writer of White Oleander comes the story of a young Russian woman trapped in a cage of privilege, who longs to escape — and gets her wish. It is New Year’s Eve in St. Petersburg, 1916, and everything is about to change for Marina Makarova. Swept up in the tides of national renaissance, Marina will join the fight for worker’s rights, fall in love with a young radical, and give up everything she holds dear. But what she never predicted was the betrayals hiding in the shadows, just when she thinks she is certain about everything. Refinery29 & Book Passage

The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers

When Major Gryffth Hockaday is called to the front lines of the Civil War, his new bride is left to care for her husband’s three-hundred-acre farm and infant son. Placidia, a mere teenager herself living far from her family and completely unprepared to run a farm or raise a child, must endure the darkest days of the war on her own. By the time Major Hockaday returns two years later, Placidia is bound for jail, accused of having borne a child in his absence and murdering it. What really transpired in the two years he was away?

Inspired by a true incident, this saga unfolds with gripping intensity, conjuring the era with uncanny immediacy. Amid the desperation of wartime, Placidia sees the social order of her Southern homeland unravel. As she comes to understand how her own history is linked to one runaway slave, her perspective on race and family are upended. Book Browse

The Story of Arthur Truluy by Elizabeth Berg

For the past six months, Arthur Moses’s days have looked the same: He tends to his rose garden and to Gordon, his cat, then rides the bus to the cemetery to visit his beloved late wife for lunch. Sometimes in the evening he’ll take a walk and stop to chat with his nosy neighbor, Lucille. It’s a quiet routine not entirely without its joys. The last thing Arthur would imagine is for one unlikely encounter to utterly transform his life.

Eighteen-year-old Maddy Harris is an introspective girl who often comes to the cemetery to escape the other kids at school and a life of loss. She’s seen Arthur sitting there alone, and one afternoon she joins him—a gesture that begins a surprising friendship between two lonely souls. Moved by Arthur’s kindness and devotion, Maddy gives him the nickname “Truluv.” As Arthur’s neighbor Lucille moves into their orbit, the unlikely trio bands together, helping one another, through heartache and hardships, to rediscover their own potential to start anew.

Wonderfully written and full of profound observations about life, The Story of Arthur Truluv is a beautiful and moving novel of compassion in the face of loss, of the small acts that turn friends into family, and of the possibilities to achieve happiness at any age. Book Browse

 

Non Fiction

A Secret Sisterhood: The Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf By Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney

We’ve been regaled (a lot) with tales about the friendships between high profile men of letters. But this delightful new book takes a different tack: What about the women?Borrowing from never-before-published diaries and correspondence written by some of literature’s largest-looming female figures, this nonfiction tome digs into the supportive, though sometimes scandalous, relationships between some of our favorite writers.     Refinery 29

Counting Backwards: A Doctor’s Notes on Anesthesia by Henry Jay Przybylo MD

For many of the 40 million Americans who undergo anesthesia each year, it is the source of great fear and fascination. From the famous first demonstration of anesthesia in the Ether Dome at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1846 to today’s routine procedure that controls anxiety, memory formation, pain relief, and more, anesthesia has come a long way. But it remains one of the most extraordinary, unexplored corners of the medical world.

In Counting Backwards, Dr. Henry Jay Przybylo – a pediatric anesthesiologist with more than thirty years of experience – pulls back the curtain and delivers an unforgettable account of the procedure’s daily dramas and fundamental mysteries. Przybylo has administered anesthesia more than 30,000 times in his career – erasing consciousness, denying memory, and immobilizing the body, and then reversing all of these effects – on newborn babies, screaming toddlers, sullen teenagers, even a gorilla. With compassion and candor, he weaves his experiences into intimate stories that explore the nature of consciousness, the politics of pain relief, and the wonder of modern medicine.

Filled with intense and humane tales of near-disasters, life-saving successes, and moments of grace, Counting Backwards is for anyone curious about what happens after we lose consciousness. Book Browse

Ghosts of the Tsunami: Death and Life in the Japan’s Disaster Zone by Richard Lloyd Parry

On March 11, 2011, a powerful earthquake sent a 120-foot-high tsunami smashing into the coast of northeast Japan. By the time the sea retreated, more than eighteen thousand people had been crushed, burned to death, or drowned.

It was Japan’s greatest single loss of life since the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. It set off a national crisis and the meltdown of a nuclear power plant. And even after the immediate emergency had abated, the trauma of the disaster continued to express itself in bizarre and mysterious ways.

Richard Lloyd Parry, an award-winning foreign correspondent, lived through the earthquake in Tokyo and spent six years reporting from the disaster zone. There he encountered stories of ghosts and hauntings, and met a priest who exorcised the spirits of the dead. And he found himself drawn back again and again to a village that had suffered the greatest loss of all, a community tormented by unbearable mysteries of its own. What really happened to the local children as they waited in the schoolyard in the moments before the tsunami? Why did their teachers not evacuate them to safety? And why was the unbearable truth being so stubbornly covered up?

Ghosts of the Tsunami is a soon-to-be classic intimate account of an epic tragedy, told through the accounts of those who lived through it. It tells the story of how a nation faced a catastrophe, and the struggle to find consolation in the ruins. Amazon

Inner Life of Animals: Love, Grief and Compassion by Peter Wohleben

Through vivid stories of devoted pigs, two-timing magpies, and scheming roosters, The Inner Life of Animals weaves the latest scientific research into how animals interact with the world with Peter Wohlleben’s personal experiences in forests and fields.

Horses feel shame, deer grieve, and goats discipline their kids. Ravens call their friends by name, rats regret bad choices, and butterflies choose the very best places for their children to grow up.

In this, his latest book, Peter Wohlleben follows the hugely successful The Hidden Life of Trees with insightful stories into the emotions, feelings, and intelligence of animals around us. Book Browse

Slow Medicine: The Way to Healing by Victoria Sweet

Over the years that Victoria Sweet has been a physician, “healthcare” has replaced medicine, “providers” look at their laptops more than at their patients, and costs keep soaring, all in the ruthless pursuit of efficiency. Yet the remedy that economists and policy makers continue to miss is also miraculously simple. Good medicine takes more than amazing technology; it takes time—time to respond to bodies as well as data, time to arrive at the right diagnosis and the right treatment.

Sweet knows this because she has learned and lived it over the course of her remarkable career. Here she relates unforgettable stories of the teachers, doctors, nurses, and patients through whom she discovered the practice of Slow Medicine, in which she has been both pioneer and inspiration. Medicine, she helps us to see, is a craft and an art as well as a science. It is relational, personal, even spiritual. To do it well requires a hard-won wisdom that no algorithm can replace—that brings together “fast” and “slow” in a truly effective, efficient, sustainable, and humane way of healing. Amazon & Book Passage

Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone by Julie Berwald

Jellyfish are an enigma. They have no centralized brain, but they see and feel and react to their environment in complex ways. They look simple, yet their propulsion systems are so advanced that engineers are just learning how to mimic them. They produce some of the deadliest toxins on the planet and still remain undeniably alluring. Long ignored by science, they may be a key to ecosystem stability.

Juli Berwald’s journey into the world of jellyfish is a personal one. More than a decade ago, she left the sea and her scientific career behind to raise a family in landlocked Austin, Texas. Increasingly dire headlines drew her back to jellies, as unprecedented jellyfish blooms toppled ecosystems and collapsed the world’s

most productive fisheries. What was unclear was whether these incidents were symptoms of a changing planet or part of a natural cycle. Berwald’s desire to understand jellyfish takes her on a scientific odyssey. She travels the globe to meet the scientists who devote their careers to jellies; hitches rides on Japanese fishing boats to see giant jellyfish in the wild; raises jellyfish in her dining room; and throughout it all marvels at the complexity of these fascinating and ominous biological wonders. Gracefully blending personal memoir with crystal-clear distillations of science, Spineless reveals that jellyfish are a bellwether for the damage we’re inflicting on the climate and the oceans and a call to realize our collective responsibility for the planet we share. Book Browse

Fiction: Young Adult & Middle School

A Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

An ode to Put the Damn Guns Down, this is National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestseller Jason Reynolds’s fiercely stunning novel that takes place in sixty potent seconds—the time it takes a kid to decide whether or not he’s going to murder the guy who killed his brother.

A cannon. A strap.

A piece. A biscuit.

A burner. A heater.

A chopper. A gat.

A hammer. A tool

for RULE

Or, you can call it a gun. That’s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he? As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that’s when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn’s gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn’t know that Shawn had ever actually USED his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck’s in the elevator? Just as Will’s trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck’s cigarette. Will doesn’t know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Will had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES.

And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END…if WILL gets off that elevator. Told in short, fierce staccato narrative verse, Long Way Down is a fast and furious, dazzlingly brilliant look at teenage gun violence, as could only be told by Jason Reynolds. Amazon

Far From the Tree by Robin Benway

Being the middle child has its ups and downs. But for Grace, an only child who was adopted at birth, discovering that she is a middle child is a different ride altogether. After putting her own baby up for adoption, she goes looking for her biological family, including—Maya, her loudmouthed younger bio sister, who has a lot to say about their newfound family ties. Having grown up the snarky brunette in a house full of chipper redheads, she’s quick to search for traces of herself among these not-quite-strangers. And when her adopted family’s long-buried problems begin to explode to the surface, Maya can’t help but wonder where exactly it is that she belongs.

And Joaquin, their stoic older bio brother, who has no interest in bonding over their shared biological mother. After seventeen years in the foster care system, he’s learned that there are no heroes, and secrets and fears are best kept close to the vest, where they can’t hurt anyone but him.

Don’t miss this moving novel that addresses such important topics as adoption, teen pregnancy, and foster care. Book Passage & Amazon

Orphan Island by Laurie Snyder

In the tradition of modern-day classics like Sara Pennypacker’s Pax and Lois Lowry’s The Giver comes a deep, compelling, heartbreaking, and completely one-of-a-kind novel about nine children who live on a mysterious island. On the island, everything is perfect. The sun rises in a sky filled with dancing shapes; the wind, water, and trees shelter and protect those who live there; when the nine children go to sleep in their cabins, it is with full stomachs and joy in their hearts. And only one thing ever changes: on that day, each year, when a boat appears from the mist upon the ocean carrying one young child to join them—and taking the eldest one away, never to be seen again.

Today’s Changing is no different. The boat arrives, taking away Jinny’s best friend, Deen, replacing him with a new little girl named Ess, and leaving Jinny as the new Elder. Jinny knows her responsibility now—to teach Ess everything she needs to know about the island, to keep things as they’ve always been. But will she be ready for the inevitable day when the boat will come back—and take her away forever from the only home she’s known? Amazon & Book Passage

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

“John Green has never shied away from weighty issues. From depression and potential suicide in his debut novel, Looking for Alaska, to terminal illness in The Fault in Our Stars, and now obsessive-compulsive disorder in his latest novel, Turtles All the Way Down, it seems that Green it is at his strongest when he is exploring such meaty and delicate topics.” by Erin Szczechowski / Book Browse

Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred thousand dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.  Book Passage & Book Browse

The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

When Ada’s clubfoot is surgically fixed at last, she knows for certain that she’s not what her mother said she was—damaged, deranged, crippled mentally as well as physically. She’s not a daughter anymore, either. Who is she now?

World War II rages on, and Ada and her brother, Jamie, move with their guardian, Susan, into a cottage with the iron-faced Lady Thorton and her daughter, Maggie. Life in the crowded home is tense. Then Ruth moves in. Ruth, a Jewish girl, from Germany. A German? Could Ruth be a spy? As the fallout from war intensifies, calamity creeps closer, and life during wartime grows even more complicated. Who will Ada decide to be? How can she keep fighting? And who will she struggle to save?

Ada’s first story, The War that Saved My Life, was a #1 New York Times bestseller and won a Newbery Honor, the Schneider Family Book Award, and the Josette Frank Award, in addition to appearing on multiple best-of-the-year lists. This second masterwork of historical fiction continues Ada’s journey of family, faith, and identity, showing us that real freedom is not just the ability to choose, but the courage to make the right choice. Amazon

This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada

In this gripping debut novel, seventeen-year-old Cat must use her gene-hacking skills to decode her late father’s message concealing a vaccine to a horrifying plague.

Catarina Agatta is a hacker. She can cripple mainframes and crash through firewalls, but that’s not what makes her special. In Cat’s world, people are implanted with technology to recode their DNA, allowing them to change their bodies in any way they want. And Cat happens to be a gene-hacking genius.

That’s no surprise, since Cat’s father is Dr. Lachlan Agatta, a legendary geneticist who may be the last hope for defeating a plague that has brought humanity to the brink of extinction. But during the outbreak, Lachlan was kidnapped by a shadowy organization called Cartaxus, leaving Cat to survive the last two years on her own. When a Cartaxus soldier, Cole, arrives with news that her father has been killed, Cat’s instincts tell her it’s just another Cartaxus lie. But Cole also brings a message: before Lachlan died, he managed to create a vaccine, and Cole needs Cat’s help to release it and save the human race.

Now Cat must decide who she can trust: The soldier with secrets of his own? The father who made her promise to hide from Cartaxus at all costs? In a world where nature itself can be rewritten, how much can she even trust herself?

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate

Red is an oak tree who is many rings old. Red is the neighborhood “wishtree”―people write their wishes on pieces of cloth and tie them to Red’s branches. Along with a crow named Bongo and other animals who seek refuge in Red’s hollows, this wishtree watches over the neighborhood.

You might say Red has seen it all.

Until a new family moves in. Not everyone is welcoming, and Red’s experience as a wishtree is more important than ever.

Funny, deep, warm, and nuanced, this is Katherine Applegate at her very best―writing from the heart, and from a completely unexpected point of view. Amazon

Non Fiction Young Adult:

Deep Water by Katherine Nichols

Deep Water focuses on a group of teens from Coronado, California, in 1971. Under the tutelage of their high school swim coach, they begin running drugs from the US to Mexico. This small operation quickly bloomed into a 100 million dollar empire. Like the other titles in the series, this title is perfect for fans of true crime. Riveted- rivetedlit.com

Obsessed by Allizon Britz

This is the heart wrenching and inspiring story of Allison Britz, a young woman who developed Obsessive Compulsive Disorder after a horrifyingly vivid nightmare that she had brain cancer. Her disorder threatened to derail her life, with everyday tasks becoming impossible to perform, until she was able to reach out for help. http://rivetedlit.com

 

Thanks for looking at my Booklist of recommendations!

Tracy

All reviews are from BookBrowse, Book Passage, Refinery29, Rivetedlit,

Amazon, Blurbs or by me!

Tracys2cents@wordpress.com