Bec McMaster’s fifth book in her London Steampunk series,Of Silk and Steam, takes place in an extravagant and violent steampunk version of Victorian London. In this alternate world, the Queen is controlled by the dangerously insane Prince Regent. Under his rule, Blue Bloods (a version of vampires) dominate over a whole slew of humans and supernatural creatures alike.
The World War II era is fertile soil for writers of crime fiction, and Francine Mathews follows hard on the heels of her exceptional Jack 1939 (2012) with a crackerjack espionage thriller, Too Bad to Die, both set in that time. Mathews, a former intelligence analyst for the CIA, knows all the tricks of the trade, and her novel imagines the words and actions of bona fide participants in one of the seminal events of that war—the Tehran Conference in 1943, where Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin come together to plan their final move against Nazi Germany, the invasion of Europe.
Everyone knows the possibilities of planting a garden, but in this story with a clever twist, a rabbit and mouse learn the real benefits of planting seeds. As the sun rises, the big-eyed, cute-as-a-button rabbit and mouse plant a tomato seed, a carrot seed and a cabbage seed. As the days pass with rain and shine, they tend to their seeds with love and care until they reap the rewards of juicy and crunchy vegetables.
Michele Young-Stone’s second novel, Above Us Only Sky, is a coming-of-age story set in the 1970s—with a magical twist. Prudence Eleanor Vilkas was born with wings, “heart-shaped, crinkled like a paper fan” against her newborn back. The doctor apologized; later her wings were removed, leaving only scars. Prudence’s parents divorce. She and her mother move to Florida. She struggles through her teens, wondering about her identity as a winged girl.
Bedtime at Bessie and Lil’s offers a delightful look at what bedtime routines are often really like. As Mama Rabbit diligently tries to read one of her favorite childhood books to her lovable yet active girls, Bessie practices headstands and Lil shows off her skipping abilities.
In this bedtime book that begs to be enjoyed over and over again, master writer Jane Yolen and her daughter and fellow birder, Heidi E.Y. Stemple, offer a rhythmic and cozy story that doesn’t disappoint.
It’s 1932, and Sydney’s slum, nicknamed Razorhurst for the gangsters who wield knives instead of guns, is run by two major crime lords: Mr. Davidson and Gloriana Nelson. Despite the mobs’ truce, no one is truly safe from the violence that disrupts the neighborhood, especially Kelpie, a homeless orphan who depends on the help of ghosts for her daily survival.
It is almost impossible to choose the most memorable thing about James Hannaham’s powerful and daring second novel, Delicious Foods (a title suggestive of Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit”). It might be that one of its narrators is crack cocaine, or that one of its main characters loses his hands. It might be the evocative African-American slang and dialect. Or it might be the way the novel can be read as an extended metaphor for the situation of blacks in America.
In an interview some years ago, Erik Larson, author of such bestsellers as The Devil in the White City and In the Garden of Beasts, called himself “an animator of history” rather than a historian. Indeed, he has always shown a brilliant ability to unearth the telling details of a story and has the narrative chops to bring a historical moment vividly alive. But in his new book, Larson simply outdoes himself.
Move over, Mary Poppins, and make way for Ms. Rapscott, Headmistress of the Great Rapscott School for Girls of Busy Parents. Elise Primavera, creator of the popular Auntie Claus books, offers a whimsical tale of a most unusual teacher and her school for girls whose parents are much too busy to be, well, parents. In fact, there’s no need for moms or dads to even bother bringing the girls to school, as the admissions materials include a self-addressed box for safely mailing daughters to campus.