O. Henry Prize winner Jan Ellison’s debut novel is a puzzle with the outside pieces finished. Reading it is like compulsively fitting all those revealing middle pieces together. Annie Black, a happily married 40-something San Francisco businesswoman, delves into her careless youth after her 21-year-old son is injured in a car accident. Spinning a tale of the three drunken months she spent in Europe in 1989, she demonstrates how the past can shape the future.
The indefatigable Mary Pope Osborne returns with a new title in her popular Magic Tree House series. Set in occupied France during World War II, Danger in the Darkest Hour, the first Magic Tree House Super Edition, provides the same reading level as the Merlin Missions (books 29 through 52) but with a longer story and more complex plot.
Everyone has thought about what three wishes they would make if they ever found a genie in a bottle. But what if you couldn’t think of three? Or, worse, what if the genie had lost his powers and couldn’t grant them anyway? This is what happens to young Emma in Cornelia Funke’s new book for young people, Emma and the Blue Genie.
Lots of scientists—Newton, Salk, Galileo—changed the world. Now Ellie’s grandfather Melvin might be on the same track. But is that a good thing?
After her father buys a cemetery and relocates their family inland from their idyllic California seaside home, 15-year-old Leigh finds not only that she’s a good fit for the after-death industry, but also that it gives her some comfort. Her older sister’s cancer just went into remission, her artistic mother would rather be back by the ocean, and Leigh’s still grieving for the best friend she recently lost. When Leigh discovers a secret in the cemetery, her grief turns to guilt. She refuses to take on any new friends, not even the cool home--schooled girl whose family provides flowers for the cemetery.
Multitasking at work through texts and emails, pumping breast milk for your baby, then grabbing a decaf latte solo as a treat afterward: Is this you? It turns out our collective drive for greater efficiency is leading to lower productivity, reduced immunity and general malaise.
“There are often two conversations going on in a marriage,” short-story writer Robin Black claims in her debut novel, Life Drawing. “The one that you’re having and the one that you’re not. Sometimes you don’t even know when that second, silent one has begun.” One could suggest that there are two conversations going on in this quiet, yet exquisitely crafted novel: the conversation between Augusta (Gus) and her husband Owen, and the conversation they’re not having, about Gus having cheated on him.
Robert L. O’Connell’s Fierce Patriot: The Tangled Lives of William Tecumseh Sherman includes a photograph of the celebrated Civil War general with his staff. While the other men strike classic poses and gaze into the middle distance, Sherman sits slightly slumped, legs crossed, jacket unbuttoned, glittering eyes focused directly on the camera. It fits with the popular notion of Sherman, the man who invented “modern war” and whose soldiers burned a path of destruction through the American South.
Warning to the reader: It is impossible for this review to proceed without a number of spoilers. In case anyone still holds the charming belief (as I do) that the mechanics of plot have a bearing on our enjoyment of a novel, the reviewer feels obliged to perform his task up front. I shall do it The Quick (pardon the pun) way: If you are a fan of literary Gothic—think Susanna Clarke or John Harwood—buy this book. You won’t regret it.
With his new historical spy novel Midnight in Europe, celebrated author Alan Furst brilliantly illuminates an era on edge, during the troubled time preceding World War II, when a dark cloud of civil unrest and war slowly begins to envelop Europe.