Jean Zimmerman’s new novel, Savage Girl, is the ideal historical fiction narrative: The history is accurate, and the story nicely fits into the facts.
The novel opens with Hugo Delegate, son of an outrageously wealthy captain of industry, found next to the mutilated body of one of his friends. Because he can’t, or perhaps, will not, explain why he was found at such a gruesome scene, he is taken into custody and asked to tell his side of the story.
It’s 1917, and 16-year-old Russian noble Natalya feels confident of her future: She’ll become tsarina when she marries Romanov heir Alexei and live a life filled with glittering parties and beautiful gowns. Her plans seem especially secure when Alexei shows her a Fabergé egg that’s been infused with magical healing powers by royal advisor Grigori Rasputin.
No matter that Cuckoo, an adorable light gray bird with stripes, doesn’t look like his polka-dotted mother and siblings. All’s well until they open their beaks in this latest pet book by Fiona Roberton, also the author of Wanted: The Perfect Pet and The Perfect Present. While the other birds give a soothing tweet, the aptly named Cuckoo responds with a definitive “cuckoo!” that his family doesn’t recognize. Cuckoo is no ugly duckling, though; he’s not interested in becoming a swan, just finding a friend who will understand him.
Midnight Gulch, Tennessee, used to be a magical town where people caught stars in jars, called up thunderstorms with songs and even turned invisible at will. But ever since a pair of musical brothers dueled and then went their separate ways, a curse has lingered over the townsfolk, leaving them with only a tiny snicker of their previous power.
Mia is famous because she fell into a well at the age of 4. Now she’s nearly 17 and attends Westbrook, an elite boarding school, and people still call her “Baby Mia.” Westbrook happens to be located in Mia’s hometown of Fenton, which gives her “townie” status and keeps her close to her widowed father. Not that she sees him very often. He’s obsessed with his secret work at the Cave, which Mia believes has something to do with microchips and the government. Mia is wrong.
Whether you’re an adult or a child, this new picture book biography gives an informed overview of intriguing nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale. It’s not a surprising subject choice for gifted author-illustrator Demi (born Charlotte Dumaresq Hunt, nicknamed by her father because she was half the size of her older sister). Demi is well known for her biographies of historical and spiritual figures, as well as her fairy tales, folk tales and stately art.
Hargeisa, Somalia, was balanced on a fragile precipice in the fall of 1987—held in the grip of a powerful dictatorship, with signs of revolution emerging with ever-increasing frequency. Nadifa Mohamed’s moving, thought-provoking second novel, following Black Mamba Boy (2010), focuses on three female characters caught up in the maelstrom whose lives intersect in unforgettable ways.
BookPage Nonfiction Top Pick, March 2014
Walter Kirn has penned a number of imaginative novels, including Up in the Air and Thumbsucker, which were both made into movies. But nothing in the pages of those books could match the bizarre, real-life experiences Kirn relates in his new memoir, Blood Will Out.
The women came from all over the nation—even the world—with little or no idea why they were moving to a remote New Mexico town with only a post office box for an address. They were the wives of scientists working at a secret research laboratory to build the first atomic bomb.
Let’s get one thing straight: With The Weight of Blood, it’s clear that Laura McHugh is more than a pretender to the throne of the “rural noir” genre. If her dazzling and disturbing debut novel is anything to go by, she’s got her eye on the crown and has more than the necessary talent and skills to nab it for herself. Daniel Woodrell had better watch his back.