It’s 1948, and 11-year-old Tate P. Ellerbee’s teacher wants each of her students to choose a pen pal, hoping that “new worlds will unfold in front of you, and you’ll see your own world through fresh eyes.” Tate decides to write to rising country singer Hank Williams. She pours her heart out to her idol in letter after letter, even though he sends her fan photos but never writes back.
You don’t have to be an expert on Chinese proverbs to discern what might happen when an egg meets a stone, but you will understand much more about modern China and its struggling people when you meet this fearless egg: Chen Guangcheng, the narrator of the riveting memoir The Barefoot Lawyer: A Blind Man’s Fight for Justice and Freedom in China. Born in 1971, blind since infancy, growing up in dire poverty, Chen learns to escape all his constraints. Barred from the village school and its force-fed propaganda, Chen instead learns from his father that the folktales and myths of his homeland carry a message: As surely as empires will rise, corruption will bring them down. Justice must find its way.
The great Richard Price (Clockers, Lush Life) dons a new literary persona as Harry Brandt for this crackling thriller. Haunted NYPD Detective Billy Graves' very name suggests not only his bleak working hours but also a death that landed him on the, well, graveyard shift.
Creek View is a blink town—as in, if you blink when driving down California Highway 99, you miss it. Skylar cannot wait to leave it behind. Just three more months, and she’ll be at school in San Francisco. In the meantime, Skylar will continue working at the quirky, rundown Paradise Motel and struggling to get her unemployed mother back on her feet.
If you discover a magical world through some kind of portal, that’s one thing. Wardrobes and rabbit holes make it easy to believe you’ve left the real world behind. But what if you live in a normal house with normal-enough parents and attend school with other normal kids, and something starts to change, to twist even as you go about your daily life? That would be a bit harder to accept.
What we usually remember about George III is that he was mad, but there was far more to this complex royal figure. As we learn in debut author Janice Hadlow’s fascinating account, A Royal Experiment: The Private Life of King George III, he had much to keep him busy during his long reign, including a very large family. This biography was originally published in the U.K. as The Strangest Family. It’s an apt title. Hadlow takes as her canvas not simply the private life of one monarch, but the entire House of Hanover, a dysfunctional dynasty if there ever was one.
Kekla Magoon’s books just keep getting better. The first time I read her work, I was serving on the Coretta Scott King Awards committee, and we honored Magoon with the Steptoe New Talent Award for The Rock and the River. So it’s with special pride that I look forward to each of her subsequent releases.
“I’m a risk taker.” With that short sentence, readers are introduced to Arcady, a goal-scoring, wisecracking soccer star. However, very few people know just how good Arcady is at soccer. Arcady is a resident of an orphanage in Soviet Russia intended for children of enemies of the Soviet state. Instead of fame and fortune, Arcady plays for stolen rations and survival.
When Valentine Millimaki, a troubled young sheriff’s deputy, begins spending long hours at the county jail talking from opposite sides of prison bars with a career killer, he doesn’t expect to see a reflection of himself in the murderer’s own complicated past. At 77, John Gload has spent a lifetime working as a gun-for-hire, and is so adept at his craft that he is only now facing the prospect of a prison sentence. Millimaki is an underling in the Copper County sheriff’s department, whose marriage was splintering even before he drew the night shift. The unlikely pair develop a friendship that takes an unexpected turn as an act of violence leaves the two tied together by the secrets they share and the rugged country they love.
There are all kinds of lies and prevarications in the aptly titled The Kiss of Deception, the new book from award-winning author Mary E. Pearson. Princess Arabella Celestine Idris Jezelia (or Lia, as she prefers to be called), First Daughter of the House of Morrighan, does not want to marry the unseen prince from a neighboring country. Lia—accompanied by her lady’s companion, Pauline—forsakes her parents’ wishes and runs away on her wedding day.