Erika Johansen’s new novel, The Queen of the Tearling, uses a familiar fantasy premise: a special child—a chosen one, if you will—is born, and then hidden from those with murderous intent. As the book opens, it is 19 years later, and the time has come for Kelsea Glynn, the rightful queen of a benighted land, to leave hiding and assume her throne.
Early on in Rufi Thorpe’s elegant yet intense debut novel, the narrator, Mia, makes a prescient observation: “Normally, friendships between girls are stowed away in boxes of postcards and ticket stubs, but whatever was between me and Lorrie Ann was not so easy to set aside.”
The talented and versatile Candace Fleming, who writes novels and delectable picture books as well as groundbreaking nonfiction for young readers, shows why there’s so much excitement about nonfiction in children’s literature these days. The fall of imperial Russia and the fascinating story of the Nicholas II and Alexandra might seem more suited for a college history class. But in Fleming’s capable hands, readers will find themselves caught up in one of the most intriguing—and sometimes heartbreaking—stories of the 20th century.
The lives of twin siblings are often deeply intertwined—first physically, and later emotionally, mentally and spiritually—and Josh Weil’s The Great Glass Sea explores the tender, yet tenuous, relationship between Russian twin brothers Yarik and Dima. Though they have been inseparable since childhood, life with the Oranzheria, a sea of glass stretching over a section of the country to make the largest greenhouse in the world, is slowly pushing them apart.
Laura Lane McNeal’s debut novel is a gift to readers who long for an iced-tea-sipping, front-porch-swing kind of escape. With Dollbaby, McNeal took this New Orleans native on a trip back to my hometown, complete with the smells, landmarks and traditions that make me proud to call the Crescent City home.
Nature writer Nick Jans first spotted the large tracks of a wolf while cross-country skiing near his home in Juneau, Alaska, in December 2003. Two days later, while relaxing in his hot tub, he caught a glimpse of the animal itself. Nick raced out to see him, and soon he and his wife, Sherrie, became infatuated with the beautiful black wolf.
While teaching a group of volunteers about marine stewardship one morning, researcher Ken Balcomb was confronted with a crisis the likes of which he'd never seen: an inexplicable mass stranding of beaked whales. While racing up and down the Bahamas coastline, trying to save lives or at least preserve specimens for autopsy, he struggled to comprehend what could have caused the whales such trauma. When the U.S. Navy's sonar program was implicated, Balcomb was torn; proud of his own service record, he nonetheless broke confidentiality about Navy practices to try and save the lives of whales. Joining forces with environmental lawyer Joel Reynolds, the two face off against a government in the throes of a national security panic in War of the Whales.
Although he speaks repeatedly of his “two Italies”—a phrase he borrows from the poet Shelley—Joseph Luzzi is neither fully at home among the coarse elements of Calabrian culture his immigrant parents brought with them to America nor within the borders of Italy itself, what with its infuriating mix of high art and low purpose. But it is this unresolved quality of Luzzi’s musings—the back and forth tugging of a splendid mind—that makes this book so alive and such a pleasure to read.
Emily Gould has built a career as a blogger for her own Emily Magazine and Gawker, as well as the part owner of Emily Books. She is also author of the memoir, And the Heart Says Whatever. With her first novel, Friendship, Gould turns her eye toward the spectacle of female adulthood friendships.
Senior year is a stressful time, especially at the prestigious St. Joan’s Academy for Girls, outside of Boston. Between prepping for AP History pop quizzes, jostling for class rank and trying not to compete with her friends for top college acceptances, Colleen has enough on her mind even before a mysterious illness suddenly strikes the most popular girls in school. A media frenzy follows as more and more students show strange and varied symptoms. Possible explanations abound, but none seem right to Colleen until she makes an extraordinary connection.