An espionage thriller, a touching beach read and a perceptive new novel from Michael Cunningham make for great listening.
“In the summer of 2005, I was at a Burger King with Harper Lee.” With those tantalizing opening words, former Chicago Tribune reporter Marja Mills has us hooked. We want to know not just why the reclusive Harper Lee is talking to a journalist, but also why she and the novelist are sitting in a Burger King, of all places.
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.
Set in the Chinatown neighborhoods of the fictional California city San Incendio, The Shadow Hero is the tale of a young man’s discovery of his noble and ancient powers. Hank, the 19-year-old son of two Chinese immigrants, is content to work in his father’s grocery store and lead a quiet, uncomplicated life. When his mother is saved by the local superhero, she starts scheming to make Hank into a superhero as well. Out of respect for his mother, Hank trains in martial arts, but on his first night as a superhero, he bumbles into a fight with members of the Tongs gang, the Chinese organized crime ring that controls Hank’s town. Failing to wear a mask, Hank exposes his identity and puts his whole family at risk. Luckily for him, a kind, ancient spirit has been watching over Hank for years, and it makes him a promise that changes his life.
For most mere mortals, a position as a full-time historian and tenured professor at the University of Southern California would be sufficiently demanding. But not for Deborah Harkness, who has also managed to squeeze “best-selling novelist” onto her list of already impressive credentials.
This month's best new cookbooks feature homemade ice creams, marinades for summer grilling and fruit-focused recipes for every season.
Rebecca Makkai’s The Hundred-Year House is an appealing mixture: part archival mystery, part ghost story, part historical novel, starring a house with as much personality as Manderley or Hill House. Told in reverse chronology, it unfolds as a kind of bookish scavenger hunt, uncovering clues and putting pieces of the fictional puzzle in place.
First love, young love, unexpected love—any kind of love with a deep vein of naiveté and innocence—this is Rainbow Rowell’s wheelhouse. She manages to capture raw emotion with a wave of nostalgia that captivates not only her primary audience of young adult readers, but also those of us who, at least in theory, have moved past the age of soaring crushes and crushing heartbreak.
Stories of human survival and hope after an apocalyptic event are well worn at this point. As a result, the themes and tropes of these tales often feel so trodden and predictable that they become little more than echoes. Then, there are stories like California.
Sam Angus, author of the World War I historical novel Soldier Dog, takes readers to World War II-era Great Britain in her new novel. Like other children, Wolfie and his older sister Dodie have been sent by their caretaker to the countryside to protect them from London bombing raids. Their beloved Pa has returned safely from the war, but their joy is short-lived, as Pa is being held and tried for cowardice.