Announcing the 2017 Great Durham Pun Championship! Punsters Kneaded!
If you like being amazed, if you like laughing and groaning, if you want to experience the Triangle's only World Class Event,* you're not going to want to miss The 2107 Great Durham Pun Championship, which gets underway at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 8th at Motorco Music Hall, 723 Rigsbee Ave in Durham. Tickets ($10.00 each) are now on sale through the Motorco website: www.motorcomusic.com/event/1414561-regulator-pun-contest-durham/ Get your tickets early-the last two pun championships were SRO!
We are looking for a few more punsters as well! We knead about 15 more contestants who think they can stand the heat on the evening of February 8th. We really don't want this to be a half-baked event, so you knead to be good, and fast--we expect to get a rise out of the wit and wisdom of all of our contestants. Think you can survive the punishment? Email us, by Thursday, January 18th at firstname.lastname@example.org and briefly tell us why we should pick you to be a contender.
Here's a quick run-down of the way the contest works:
Pundamonium will reign as a pair of punsters are given a subject. Punster number one will have 10 seconds to come up with a relevant pun. Punster number two then gets ten seconds. On it goes, until someone's pun doesn't pun out. We'll start the evening with 24 contestants, and a couple of hours later the last pun person standing will be crowned the Pun Master of Durham (a.k.a Punster of the Year, or P.O.T.Y). Order will again be maintained by "Judge" George Gopen, PhD, JD, Professor Emeritus of the Practice of Rhetoric at Duke. With a name like GoPun....
*Yes, the Triangle has great universities, medical centers, research institutes, etc. But do any of them rank in the top three in the world? As far as we know, only one thing in the Triangle has achieved that distinction: The Great Durham Pun Championship! No less an authority than Mental Floss magazine listed The Great Durham Pun Championship first (!) in an article entitled "3 Epic Pun Contests." Runner-ups were contests in London, England and Austin Texas. See for yourself (and view some great footage from Pun Championships past) at http://mentalfloss.com/article/55694/3-epic-pun-contests-and-few-their-winning-entries
Hello to all snowed-in, iced-in members of the Regulator community
We hope you had the same response to the bad weather that I did: "Well darn, looks like I'm going to have to spend a bunch of time at home reading."
If you've been reading your way through your pile of books and need some reinforcements, we have some suggestions below. The store has been closed the last two days, but we expect to be open from 1 to 5 Monday afternoon, and then from 12-8 on Tuesday. By Wednesday we will be back to our normal 10-8 schedule.
We also resume our events calendar Wednesday evening, with a tribute to the late poet Max Ritvo. See our events listing below.
I wanted to share with you my favorite recent book, a philosophical investigation into the octopus that has been getting great reviews and attracting wide notice. I think of it as the perfect holiday gift for everyone who is presently at sea.
Best, Alex Star
The Only Best-Seller List That Really Counts
...is of course the list of the books most frequently purchased by our brilliant, marvelous, discerning customers here at The Regulator. With that in mind, here is the bookshop's best-seller list for the month of December. If you are looking for a good book...
Join us for a celebration the late poet Max Ritvo and the release of his new book, Four Reincarnations. The late poet Max Ritvo developed a huge national following through his poems and interviews. His friends gather to read from his first book of poetry in a celebration of the Max Ritvo's life and legacy. Hosted by Evan Walker-Wells, editor of Scalawag magazine.
"One of the most original and ambitious first books in my experience." -- Louise Glück
Reverent and profane, entertaining and bruising, Four Reincarnations is a debut collection of poems that introduces an exciting new voice in American letters. When Max Ritvo was diagnosed with terminal cancer at age sixteen, he became the chief war correspondent for his body. Ritvo explores the prospect of death with singular sensitivity, but he is also a poet of life and of love-a cool-eyed assessor of mortality and a fervent champion for his body and its pleasures.
Evan Walker-Wells is a close friend of Max's; they become close in college after Max's initial treatment for sarcoma and Evan's treatment for lymphoma. They studied poetry with Louise Glück; Evan became a live-laugh track for Max's comedy performances. Evan is a co-founder and the publisher of Scalawag magazine.
YIDDISH STORIES with Ellen Cassedy & Sheva Zucker
Saturday, January 14, 7:00PM
Join us at The Regulator Bookshop for a bilingual reading of Oedipus in Brooklyn and Other Stories by Blume Lempel, a new collection of stories translated from the Yiddish by Ellen Cassedy and Yermiyahu Ahron Taub and winner of the Translation Prize awarded by the Yiddish Book Center. Ellen Cassedy will join Yiddish scholar Sheva Zucker to read stories from the book in Yiddish and English.
Blume Lempel (1907-1999) was born in a small town in what is now Ukraine. On the eve of World War II she immigrated to New York, where she wrote in Yiddish into the 1990's. Her work was published all over the world and won numerous prizes. Most of it was never translated - until now.
Ellen Cassedy and Yermiyahu Ahron Taub selected and translated Blume Lempel's stories. Ellen is a prize-winning translator and the author of We Are Here: Memories of the Lithuanian Holocaust. She lives in Washington, DC. Sheva Zucker is currently the Executive Director of the League for Yiddish and the editor of its magazine Afn Shvel. She is the author of several Yiddish texbooks, has taught Yiddish at Duke University, and writes on women in Yiddish literature.
PAGE BY PAGE: Building the Sketchbook Habit Workshop
Sunday, January 15, 2:00 -- 5:00PM
Pre-registration encouraged and payment required at the time of registration. For ages 16 and up. To Register, email: email@example.com. Price: $25. payable to the instructor.
Resolve to make more art in the New Year! Join artist and author Tristin Miller for PAGE by PAGE: Building the Sketchbook Habit workshop at The Regulator Bookshop. All materials are included and a hand-bound sketchbook will be gifted to each student. Light refreshments will be served.
Tristin Miller is an artist who carries a sketchbook with her wherever she goes. The sketchbook has been fundamental in supporting her work as an artist and arts instructor. She resides in Greensboro, NC and is a fine arts instructor at the Art Alliance of Greensboro and teaches courses in the foundations of drawing and painting.
NONFICTION AUTHORS ASSOCIATION (NFAA)
Wednesday, January 18, 6:15PM -- 7:45PM
For more information: http://www.meetup.com/Durham-Chapel-Hill-Chapter-Nonfiction-Authors-Association
Thursday, January 19, 7:00 PM
Hillsborough author Nancy Peacock will be at The Regulator Bookshop to read and sign her novel, The Life and Times of Persimmon Wilson. From the author of The New York Times Notable Book Life Without Water comes a novel that follows the epic journey of a former slave turned Comanche warrior who travels from the brutality of a New Orleans sugar cane plantation to the daunting frontier of an untamed Texas, searching not only for the woman he loves, but for his own identity. With riveting characters, vivid landscapes, and cultural sensitivity, Peacock sheds a fresh and thoughtful light on a volatile period of American history.
From a Texas jail cell in 1875, Persimmon Wilson, a former slave turned Comanche warrior, awaits the hour of his hanging. Although unable to receive justice in the courts, he is determined to set the record straight. Thus, two days before his execution his last request is paper and ink, with which he writes his story-for although he is a former slave he can read and write. It is that story, in Persy's own words, which forms The Life and Times of Persimmon Wilson.
Nancy Peacock is the author of the novels Life Without Water and Home Across the Road, as well as the memoir, A Broom of One's Own: Words on Writing, Housecleaning, and Life. She currently teaches writing classes and workshops in and around Chapel Hill, where she lives with her husband, Ben.
Tuesday, January 24, 2017 at 7:00PM
Local author Judy Hogan will read from her new books, Nuclear Apples? and Formaldehyde, Rooster, the third and fourth installments of her popular Penny Weaver Mystery series.
Judy Hogan is the author of six mysteries in the Penny Weaver series, six books of poetry, and two non-fiction books. Hogan founded Carolina Wren Press and helped found the N.C. Writers' Network and served as its first President. She teaches creative writing and gives consultation to writers. She's also an activist in her village of Moncure, North Carolina where she lives, writes, and farms.
DAVID S. MITCHELL in conversation with Ken Lewis and Tim Tyson
Thursday, January 26, 2017 at 7:00PM
Join author David S. Mitchell, attorney Ken Lewis and historian Tim Tyson in conversation about Mitchell's debut political novel, We Hold These Truths. Tyson, Lewis, and Mitchell will explore the cultural ramifications of the first black U.S. president, the larger political questions raised by the 2010 Election Cycle, missed opportunities for progress, and lessons liberals can apply going forward under a president Trump and beyond.
In We Hold These Truths, Al Carpenter-the dashing and erudite African-American law student-turned campaign aide-struggles to square the historic opportunities presented by the outcome of the 2008 election with the reality that multitudes of liberals didn't really desire the CHANGE for which they'd clamored. Join Al and his code-switching, witty, ambitious and riotous inner circle as they search for answers to life, and love, in the rigorous classrooms of Manhattan, North Carolina and Harvard Law School in the days leading up to and after America's most recent-and perhaps most significant-demonstration project: the election of #44.
David S. Mitchell received a BA in History from Yale and graduated from Harvard Law School. He lives in the DC, his birthplace, and comments extensively on the intersection of politics, race, and popular culture. To read more, and to join the conversation, visit theauthordavid.com.
Ken Lewis is an attorney in Durham, North Carolina. Tim Tyson is an author, historian, and adjunct professor at Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill.
Wednesday, February 1, 2017 at 7:00PM
Timothy Tyson (Blood Done Sign My Name) will give a talk and book signing for the launch of his new book, The Blood of Emmett Till.
Part detective story, part political history, Tyson's The Blood of Emmett Till revises the history of the Till case, not only changing the specifics that we thought we knew, but showing how the murder ignited the modern civil rights movement. Tyson uses a wide range of new sources, including the only interview ever given by Carolyn Bryant; the missing transcript of the murder trial; and a recent FBI report on the case. In a time where discussions of race are once again coming to the fore, The Blood of Emmett Till redefines a crucial moment in civil rights history.
Timothy B. Tyson is Senior Research Scholar at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, Visiting Professor of American Christianity and Southern Culture at Duke Divinity School, and adjunct professor of American Studies at the University of North Carolina. He is the author of Blood Done Sign My Name, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, winner of the Southern Book Award for Nonfiction and the Grawemeyer Award in Religion, among others; and Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power. Tyson serves on the executive board of the North Carolina NAACP.
Bettye Kronstad met Lou Reed in 1968 as a 19-year-old Columbia University student and they were briefly married. Their relationship spanned some of the most pivotal years of his life and career, from the demise of The Velvet Underground to the writing and recording of his seminal solo masterpieces Transformer, for which Lou wrote 'Perfect Day' about an afternoon they spent together in the park, and Berlin, which draws on tales from Bettye's childhood.
In Perfect Day, Bettye looks back on their initially idyllic life together on the Upper East Side; Lou's struggle to launch a solo career; his work and friendships with fellow stars David Bowie and Iggy Pop; and his descent into drink and drug abuse. The result is a powerful and poignant meditation on love, loss, writing, and music.
Bettye Kronstad is a teacher, writer, and theater professional. For over twenty years she has taught English and theater in inner-city public high schools in the Bronx and Harlem, New York; Minneapolis, Minnesota; New Mexico; and Texas. She currently lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.
The best new books this month chosen by us and other independent booksellers across the country.
This Month's #1 Indie Next List Pick...
History of Wolves By Emily Fridlund
(Atlantic Monthly Press, 9780802125873, $25)
"A lonely teenager in rural northern Minnesota, Linda is desperate for connection and obsessed with both her enigmatic new neighbors and a classmate entangled in a scandalous relationship with a teacher. Narrating these seemingly disparate story threads is the adult Linda, who may have been villain, victim, or bystander in at least one tragedy. With lyrical prose and precise pacing, debut author Fridlund builds tension and weaves a complex, multilayered morality tale rich in metaphor and symbolism. This haunting, meticulously crafted novel will inspire lengthy rumination on topics ranging from the meaning of the title to the power of belief. Perfect for reading groups!"
--Sharon Flesher, Brilliant Books, Traverse City, MI
This Month's #1 Indie Next List Pick Author Interview
photo: Doug Knutson
Independent booksellers have named History of Wolves: A Novel by Emily Fridlund (Atlantic Monthly Press) the number-one Indie Next List pick for January. Fridlund's debut was also chosen by booksellers for the Winter/Spring 2017 Indies Introduce program, and it was featured as an Editors' Buzz Book at BookExpo America 2016. The first chapter of History of Wolves won the Southwest Review's McGinnis-Ritchie Award for Fiction Prize in 2013.
Fridlund, who holds an MFA from Washington University and a Ph.D. in literature and creative writing from the University of Southern California, has been published in the Boston Review, the New Orleans Review, and the Portland Review, among other publications. Her stories have twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and in 2015 Catapult, a collection of her short stories to be published next year by Sarabande Books, won the Mary McCarthy Prize.
Here, Fridlund discusses the inspiration for History of Wolves and what it means to have the support of indie booksellers for her debut novel.
History of Wolves began as a short story. Why did you decide to expand it into a novel?
I initially wrote the first chapter as a short story that focused on Linda's experiences at school and her relationship to her new teacher, Mr. Grierson. I wanted to think about issues related to desire and gender and power, and in particular what would happen if a sexual "predator" is himself pursued by an observant and lonely teenage girl. When I finished that story, I thought I was done with Linda and her austere northern Minnesota landscape. But I found there was something about Linda's voice that stayed with me. Because of her age and inexperience, there is a certain distance between what the reader knows and what she does, a gap that creates tension in the narrative. At the same time, those very same qualities that make Linda naïve--her isolation, her loneliness and youth--also make her an incredibly acute and natural observer of the world around her. She's paying fierce attention. Because she takes in all the details, she is often very good at reading people, even as she struggles, in her inexperience, to make sense of events as they unfold. I found this peculiar combination of canniness, ferocity, and ignorance compelling. I realized that lingering in Linda's voice a little longer might allow me to explore other ideas that interested me related to perception, belief, and storytelling.
The setting for History of Wolves--the bitter cold of northern Minnesota and the claustrophobic wilderness that Linda calls home--effectively becomes an additional character critical to the narrative. How did you prepare to write so extensively about Linda's world?
From the beginning, I thought of Linda's emotional landscape and northern Minnesota as closely linked. The novel's setting is based on a region of Minnesota I visited around the time the initial story expanded into a novel--somewhere west of Duluth, north of Brainerd--but it is also an invented place, based on Linda's unusual way of seeing and being in the world. The setting of the novel was, perhaps first and foremost, a way for me to get at and reveal my characters, Linda in particular. In the earliest drafts, I drew freely from my own experiences. I was a kid who loved being outside, roaming the scrappy suburban woods in my backyard and camping with my family up north. I was also inspired by my reading, especially Minnesota nature writers like Sigurd Olson and Helen Hoover, and also Barry Lopez's marvelous work on wolves....
"When Major Gryffth Hockaday returns home after years fighting in the Civil War, he discovers that his wife had given birth to a child who later died, both events occurring under mysterious circumstances. Knowing he cannot be the father of the child, he has murder charges brought against his wife. The trial and the story of what happened unfold through letters and diary entries written by Placidia Hockaday and other family members, culminating in a shocking truth. Inspired by actual events, the characters and story that Rivers has created are truly memorable and The Second Mrs. Hockaday is a unique and fascinating read."
--Sherri Gallentine, Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena, CA
The Bear and the Nightingale By Katherine Arden
(Del Rey, 9781101885932, $27)
"The Bear and the Nightingale is an enchanting mix of fairy tale, fantasy, and historical fiction set in medieval Russia. Nestled between the northern wilderness and civilization is a village where old and new traditions live side by side. Vasya, the last daughter of Pyotr and Marina, is born on the howling winds of autumn. Different from the others in her village, she is destined to be like her grandmother and is gifted with powers by birthright. As time goes by, Vasya is tested. Caught in the conflict between the old spirits and the new religion, Vasya must do everything in her power to save her family and village. Arden's novel is the rich, mesmerizing fairy tale you've been waiting for!"
--Jennifer Steele, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI
The Dry By Jane Harper
(Flatiron Books, 9781250105608, $25.99)
"This story of a small town and the secrets it has been protecting for decades is fast-paced and never predictable. In a remote section of rural Australia during an extended drought, devastating weather conditions collide with an unexpected turn of events that ultimately results in the murder of a young family. Bearing the scars of the town's past, Aaron Falk returns home for the funeral and is forced to make a choice between saving himself and facing a secret he has been hiding from for 20 years. This is an amazing debut that I could not put down!"
--Dana Gillespie, East City Bookshop, Washington, DC
Everything You Want Me to Be By Mindy Mejia
(Atria/Emily Bestler Books, 9781501123429, $26)
"To some extent we are all chameleons. We fit ourselves to the situations we find ourselves in, act differently around our boss than with our family, and tell little white lies out of kindness. But what if that's all you did? Hattie Hoffman is just a teenager, but she has already mastered the art of observing the people around her, assessing their desires and expectations and molding herself accordingly. Everything You Want Me to Be is a chilling mystery that explores the mutability of identity through the eyes of three very different people. If you're looking for the next captivating thriller that everyone will be comparing to Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train, this is it!"
--Lauren Peugh, Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, AZ
Fever Dream By Samanta Schweblin Megan McDowell (Transl.)
(Riverhead Books, 9780399184598, $25)
"Haunting, foreboding, eerie, and ominous, Schweblin's Fever Dream is the first of the Argentine author's books to appear in English. Despite its brevity, Fever Dream throbs with a quickened pulse, as heightening tension is its most effective quality. An intriguing yet purposefully vague plot adds to the story's mystique, one of peril, poison, and the unexplained terror of worms. Metaphorical in scope, Schweblin's impressively constructed tale leaves much to the imagination but is all the richer for doing so. Unsettling and compelling, this is a delirious, potent novel not to be overlooked."
--Jeremy Garber, Powell's Books, Portland, OR
Lucky Boy By Shanthi Sekaran
(Putnam, 9781101982242, $27)
"Soli is an 18-year-old Mexican girl who enters the U.S. illegally and gives birth to a baby boy. Rashi and Kavya Reddy are an Indian-American couple in Berkeley who have unsuccessfully tried to have children. Their stories intersect when Soli is arrested and her baby is taken from her by Child Protective Services and given into foster care with the Reddys, who become attached to baby Ignacio and want to adopt him. Sekaran does a good job describing the trials and tribulations of illegal immigrants, and Soli's hope of regaining custody rings true. A compelling read that examines very topical parental rights and immigration issues."
--Valerie Koehler, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, TX
Difficult Women By Roxane Gay
(Grove Press, 9780802125392, $25)
"A 'difficult woman' has become shorthand for one who speaks her mind, who questions patriarchal power, and who refuses to be defined by a standard of femininity. The women who populate Gay's story collection are all difficult in their own ways--mothers, sisters, lovers, some married and some single, most of flesh and one of glass--yet they are all searching for understanding, for identity, and for ways to make sense of a sometimes nonsensical, cruel world. Some of Gay's stories are graphic, some are allegorical, and all are important commentaries on what being female looks and feels like in modern America."
--Becky Gilmer, Bloomsbury Books, Ashland, OR
Books for Living By Will Schwalbe
(Knopf, 9780385353540, $25.95)
"Anyone can recommend a book, but it's rare that someone can fully articulate its lifelong impact. Schwalbe has the rarest of voices -- both intimate and universal -- and with deep care and reflection he offers readers the most personal and heartfelt parts of himself in his latest collection. This is not a list of Schwalbe's favorite books, but is instead an explanation of how certain books and authors taught him timeless lessons about our deepest longings. Schwalbe's voice leaps off the page and fills the room as only the liveliest conversations can. I can't stop thinking about this book and want to read every title mentioned, if only to keep the conversation going."
--Miriam Landis, Island Books, Mercer Island, WA
The River at Night By Erica Ferencik
(Gallery/Scout Press, 9781501143199, $26)
"What would you do to save the lives of your friends? In this debut novel, Winifred and her three friends are about to find out. Instead of a trip to a comfortable, fancy resort in some exotic destination, they embark on an excursion to the Allagash wilderness in upstate Maine. What happens next is everyone's nightmare, yet it leads to the kind of wisdom few people ever achieve. This is a tense, disturbing, yet satisfying story of the strength of friendship in the face of a severe challenge."
"This is the perfect dead-of-winter read! Ryan DeMarco is shocked to learn that his friend Thomas Huston, an internationally bestselling author, has disappeared into the woods, leaving his slaughtered family behind in their once-serene home. How could a man who has it all--perfect career, perfect wife, perfect kids--become such a monster? This is the question DeMarco sets out to answer, all while on a wild chase to track down Huston before he freezes to death in the harsh northern Pennsylvania winter."
--Maggie Henriksen, Saturn Booksellers, Gaylord, MI
The Most Dangerous Place on Earth By Lindsey Lee Johnson
(Random House, 9780812997279, $27)
"If only we had had the wisdom back in high school, to see behind the facades of the kids who intimidated us, fascinated us, irritated us, and disgusted us--and to understand how the ways we collided with each other and with life would play out for us. Johnson's literary superpower is to plunge us into such a school and make us feel it all again as if we are there--only this time with all of the wisdom we lacked previously."
--Nina Barrett, Bookends & Beginnings, Evanston, IL
Her Every Fear By Peter Swanson
(William Morrow, 9780062427021, $26.99)
"Swanson builds tension in Her Every Fear like a chess grandmaster slowly revealing his game. Kate Priddy tries to escape her dark past with a move to Boston, only to discover that she is not the only one trying to hide their secrets, and that many are darker than her own. Moving seamlessly between each character's point of view, Swanson's heart-stopping thriller draws readers into this terrifying and twisted tale of revenge and holds them until the surprising end."
--Luisa Smith, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA
Little Deaths By Emma Flint
(Hachette Books, 9780316272476, $26)
"In 1965, Ruth Malone, recently separated from her husband, wakes to find her children gone. Both are found dead and Ruth finds herself the prime suspect, tried and convicted by the court of public opinion because she is a single parent and rumors abound about her drinking and dating habits. Flint has created a compelling whodunit based on true events, and I was riveted from page one. This is a literary thriller that will have you parked in your reading chair until you turn the last page!"
--Sarah Harmuth Letke, Redbery Books, Cable, WI
Freebird By Jon Raymond
(Graywolf Press, 9781555977603, $26)
"This multigenerational story is a road-trip novel, an ecological disaster drama, and a harrowing post-Iraq War PTSD portrait all rolled into one highly readable, gorgeously written book. Raymond tells this story peering over the shoulders of three strong characters, each of whom have to reconcile feelings of love--both romantic and familial--with the brutal realities of life during wartime. Despite its dark turns, Freebird is a book filled with hope for its characters as well as love for the real world it ably attempts to recreate and offer respite from."
--John Francisconi, Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT
Burning Bright By Nick Petrie
(Putnam, 9780399174575, $26)
"Burning Bright solidifies Petrie's place among the best thriller writers working today. His hero, Peter Ash, wanders from town to town, living outdoors because his PTSD will not allow him to remain inside walls for very long. When he discovers a woman on the run from shadowy killers, Ash knows he must help her in spite of his near-crippling claustrophobia. Petrie gives us characters we love, warts and all, and there is a true sense of forward propulsion to his action-packed tale. Peter Ash is a hero for today and Burning Bright puts Petrie in the company of Lee Child and Robert Ludlum."
--William Carl, Wellesley Books, Wellesley, MA
The Sleepwalker By Chris Bohjalian
(Doubleday, 9780385538916, $26.95)
"Once again, master storyteller Bohjalian has crafted a thoughtful, suspenseful novel that grabs hold and doesn't let go until the end. Exploring the world of sleepwalking and parasomnia, he recounts the story of the night Liana's mother disappeared. At turns a harrowing mystery and a heartbreaking tale of a family coping with their mother's affliction, The Sleepwalker is filled with beautiful prose that culminates in a twist readers never see coming."
--Kathleen Carey, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, NY
The Old Man By Thomas Perry
(Mysterious Press, 9780802125866, $26)
"Dan Chase is a wealthy old man living a quiet life after the death of his wife and his daughter's move to another part of the country. But wait--he is being followed, and then his house is broken into and he has to kill the intruder. Next, the old man turns to his 'go' bag as it seems he has many identities, stashes of currency, and a plan to disappear. There are secrets to be discovered all throughout this tale and Perry keeps readers wondering what will come next. This is definitely one of Perry's best!"
--Barbara Kelly, Kelly's Books to Go, South Portland, ME
Leopard at the Door By Jennifer McVeigh
(Putnam, 9780399158254, $26)
"Leopard at the Door is a beautifully layered coming-of-age novel set in a Kenya still under the yoke of colonial British rule. Rachel, whose beloved mother died when she was 12, returns to the country she loves after six years in England. She struggles against the expectations of her father and his new partner, Susan, whom Rachel has a difficult time accepting. Fine writing weaves Rachel's story with the essence of Kenya, the treatment of its people, and the uprising of the Mau Mau who seek independence. This is a thrillingly taut novel--with a clever title, too!"
--Biddy Kehoe, Hockessin Book Shelf, Hockessin, DE
The Midnight Cool By Lydia Peelle
(Harper, 9780062475466, $26.99)
"The journey of middle-aged swindler Billy and his young, idealistic partner Charles is a journey into the history and heart of the oft-maligned American dream. As the nation considers whether it will join World War I, Billy and Charles must weigh the merits of freedom against patriotic obligation, their life on the road against the temptation of putting down roots, and their diverging desires against the love and loyalty they bear for each other. As Billy says, 'I reckon that's the beauty and the shame of it, all at once.' Peelle's exploration of this beauty and shame is exquisitely wrought, richly populated, and ultimately devastating. I finished the novel in tears."
--Mairead Small Staid, Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, MI
After the Crash By Michel Bussi
(Hachette Books, 9780316309691, $15)
"This old-fashioned crime novel considers the miraculous survival of a three-month-old infant girl in an airplane crash in which all perished—including a second three-month-old baby. An 18-year struggle is unleashed between two rival sets of grandparents on opposite ends of the economic scale, one of which is accorded custody of the child. Does she really belong to that family? Is her brother really her brother? As the age of majority of the survivor approaches, the questions become more urgent and the private detective who has been on the case for 18 years tries to bring some closure."
--Darwin Ellis, Books on the Common, Ridgefield, CT
All the Winters After By Seré Prince Halverson
(Sourcebooks Landmark, 9781492635215, $15.99)
"This is the compelling story of a damaged young woman, Nadia, who has taken refuge in a cabin in the Alaskan woods for the last 10 years after escaping an abusive marriage. Kachemak Winkel, the cabin's owner, returns to Alaska after a long absence, still mourning for his parents and older brother who lost their lives in a plane crash 20 years earlier. Two young, damaged souls are at the heart of this beautifully written novel, and the wild and dangerous beauty of Alaska is present throughout. Perfect for book groups!"
--Patricia Worth, River Reader Books, Lexington, MO
"Open the pages of A Certain Age and be drawn into Williams' rich, atmospheric world of Manhattan in the 1920s--a world where society pages hint at gossip, speakeasies tease with gin, and secrets and hidden desires lie just below the polished veneer of the fashionably dressed and well-bred families of the city. This deft retelling of Richard Strauss' comic opera Der Rosenkavalier is simply exquisite."
--Dawn Rennert, The Concord Bookshop, Concord, MA
The Charm Bracelet By Viola Shipman
(St. Martin's Griffin, 9781250071330, $15.99)
"This is the story of three women slowly losing themselves until they are reunited in Scoops, Michigan, at the beginning of summer: Arden, working at a job that gives her nothing but a paycheck; Lauren, becoming sadder as she moves farther from doing what she loves most; and Lolly, gradually forgetting all the things in her life that brought her joy and happiness. Linked together like the charms on their wrists, Arden, Lauren, and Lolly will remind each other of times gone by, how to appreciate the present, and how to embrace whatever the future brings. Reading this sweet story reminded me how lucky we are if we are close to those who share our history."
--Sylvia Smith, Bookmiser, Roswell, GA
The Children's Home By Charles Lambert
(Scribner, 9781501117404, $15)
"Tragically disfigured and reclusive, Morgan lives in a secluded country estate with only his housekeeper, Engel, to keep him company--until the children start to arrive. The first, an infant named Moira, is left in a basket on the doorstep; others soon follow--including the oddly precocious David--the eldest at five years old. But what does the children's enigmatic presence portend for Morgan and the world in which he lives? Through lyrical prose, Lambert creates an absorbing and dream-like narrative that recalls both the pastoral gothic of Shirley Jackson and the dystopic vision of John Wyndham."
--Dan Doody, University Book Store, Seattle, WA
Dodgers By Bill Beverly
(Broadway Books, 9781101903759, $15)
"Four young black men, following orders, leave their tightly bound South Central Los Angeles community, and drive across the country to perform a hit to prevent a witness from testifying against their boss. They are ghetto born, raised, and trained, so they have outlaw skills and the resulting respect in their community. In wide-open America, they are profoundly out of their comfort zone. What each young man does with his skills, wits, sense of duty, and--for one in particular--a dawning sense of what the future holds for such a lifestyle, forms the core of this powerful novel. Provocative, gripping, and timely, Dodgers is a riveting read that leaves a lasting impression."
--Sheryl Cotleur, Copperfield's Books, Sebastopol, CA
Fallen Land By Taylor Brown
(St. Martin's Griffin, 9781250116840, $15.99)
"Fallen Land by debut novelist Brown is like a blend of Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain and Cormac McCarthy's The Road. In the setting of the southern Appalachians and crossing Georgia during Sherman's March to the Sea, Brown shares the beautifully written story of Callum, a young Irish immigrant, and Ava, the orphan daughter of a Carolina doctor who perished in the war. Together they stay one step ahead of a loosely formed band of vicious bounty hunters at the trailing end of Sherman's scorching destruction of the South. Determination, survival, and love all combine to form a thrilling and romantic story set during the final days of the Civil War."
"A pandemic called Dragonscale has infected civilization and threatens to end it. The contagion spreads quickly and people are spontaneously combusting. Harper Grayson is a nurse struggling to save those who are infected. When she contracts Dragonscale, Harper is rescued by an enigmatic man known only as The Fireman, who takes her to a camp populated by those who have learned to control their disease. Longtime fans of Hill and his father, Stephen King, will enjoy the homage to King's masterpiece The Stand, while new readers will appreciate Hill's work on its own merit."
--Sharon K. Nagel, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI
Mothering Sunday: A Romance By Graham Swift
(Vintage, 9781101971727, $15)
A beautiful afternoon on Mothering Sunday--now known as Mother's Day--in 1924 provides the backdrop for this exquisite tale of love, longing, and memory. Jane Fairchild, a housemaid, has been the longtime lover of the heir-apparent of the estate next door. Their final cataclysmic afternoon together will alter the course of her destiny in ways that she never contemplated. Told in flashbacks by the nonagenarian Jane, this rare gem of a novella will haunt readers long after they turn the final pages. Superb!"
--Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books, Excelsior, MN
The Portable Veblen By Elizabeth McKenzie
(Penguin Books, 9781101981597, $16)
"This story of an engaged couple trying to navigate crazy family dynamics, betrayal, and professional dilemmas on their way to getting married is one of the funniest, most unique novels I've ever read. If you simply list the story's elements--a hippy commune, a combat field-medicine controversy, screaming snails, a devious pharmaceutical exec, a long-dead social theorist, the world's greatest hypochondriac, and a main character who believes a squirrel is following her around California trying to tell her something--you would think that there is just no way it could all come together, but it absolutely does, and ingeniously so. A terrific book!"
--Rico Lange, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA
The Railwayman's Wife By Ashley Hay
(Washington Square Press, 9781501128660, $16)
"The Railwayman's Wife is a remarkable story drenched by the wells of sadness, yet it leaves readers marveling at the beauty of it all. Annika Lachlan is grieving her beloved husband and attempting to find solace in books. But the town of Thirroul, Australia, is home to more than one person damaged by grief. Brought together as members of a club no one would choose to join, each begins to move towards healing. The Railwayman's Wife immerses the reader in Ani's life, and as one savors the novel's heartbreaking prose, a world is revealed in which hope and grief are forever intertwined and love may be the strongest current of all."
--Luisa Smith, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA
The Travelers By Chris Pavone
(Broadway Books, 9780385348508, $16)
"Full of twists and turns, secrets and lies, and enough misdirection to keep you guessing, Pavone's third novel delivers everything readers have come to expect from his thrillers. As in his previous work, the world of publishing takes a central role: This time it's a fading travel magazine and its companion travel agencies in the midst of an acquisition. Will and Chloe are a young married couple dealing with a home in need of extensive repairs so Chloe decides to take a less active role at Travelers magazine after Will is brought on board as the European correspondent. When Will meets an alluring woman while on assignment, she will change his life in ways he never could have foreseen."
--Billie Bloebaum, Third Street Books, McMinnville, OR