Of the dramatic plot twists that routinely occur in suspense fiction, one character in Harriet Lane’s Her complains that they are “unsatisfying . . . nothing like life, which—it seems to me—turns less on shocks or theatrics than on the small quiet moments, misunderstandings or disappointments, the things that it’s easy to overlook.” Lane’s novel, in which a vengeful woman infiltrates the life of an old acquaintance, features many potential shocks. But Her eschews cheap drama, instead building suspense by shedding light on two women’s inner worlds.
Scott Blackwood’s latest addition to the Texas literary canon, See How Small, is a brilliant, heartbreaking meditation on grief, parenthood and time.
Edith Pearlman has been publishing award-winning stories since the late 1970s, but became more widely known in 2012, when her story collection Binocular Vision won both the PEN/Malamud and National Book Critics Circle awards and was a finalist for numerous others. Her new collection, Honeydew, gathers tales from the last 15 years, each one a closely observed look at the ordinary graces and sorrows of everyday life.
“Down a path worn into the woods, past a stream and a hollowed-out log full of pill bugs and termites, was a glass coffin . . . and in it slept a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives.” So begins Holly Black’s exquisite story about siblings Hazel and Ben and the sleeping faerie prince they swore to protect. When Hazel and Ben were children, they would disappear into the forest, whisper their secrets to the horned boy and protect unsuspecting humans from the evil faeries. Ben subdued them with his haunting music, while Hazel wielded a sword against the sinister fae who lured tourists to their deaths. As they grew older, Hazel put away her sword and Ben gave up his music. But then one day the horned boy woke up. Hazel, now 16, once made a bargain with the fae, and they’ve come to collect.
You can’t help but fall in love a little with the bookworm, with his bright eyes and shy smile, on the cover of Alice Kuipers and Bethanie Deeney Murguia’s Violet and Victor Write the Best-Ever Bookworm Book. Composed of collages made of bits of text, fanciful book illustrations and cartoonish children, this book intrigues even before reading it aloud.
The diamond mines of Marange in Zimbabwe serve as the setting for this portrait of a family in turmoil, which focuses on a tenacious 15-year-old boy named Patson Moyo. Patson and his little sister, Grace, adore their father, a man who has dedicated his life to teaching. But it is their new stepmother, known simply as “the Wife,” who compels her husband to leave his home and seek wealth by moving to Marange, where her brother James is involved in mining. In Marange, she claims, there are “diamonds for everyone.”
Carrie Ryan, who is best known for the young adult apocalyptic zombie series, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, finds her kindler, gentler (but no less thrilling) side as she teams up with her husband, John Parke Davis, for the first in a projected four-part middle grade adventure series.
Spoiled Brats is ridiculous in the very best way. It’s a short story collection that avoids the usual pitfalls because the stories work well together and don’t lose steam as they go along. A common theme (spoiled rich kids, mostly) keeps these stories cohesive, and author Simon Rich holds our interest with a unifying style—each chapter is very funny, and they’re all based on a different outlandish premise.
Self-control. Whether it’s getting to the gym, sticking to that diet, quitting smoking or keeping our tempers under wraps at work, most of us wish we had more of it. And certainly as parents we want our children to have the ability to practice self-control, set goals and be resilient in the face of failure.
Set in the wealthy fictional town of Haverport, New York, The Doubt Factory is the story of one teen’s determination to fight society’s most overlooked evil—the public relations industry that covers up and spins corporate atrocities, even if the worst firm happens to be headed by her own father.