In the Spotlight!
AN EXTRAORDINARY UNION by Alyssa Cole (9781410497901).
The first in a new trilogy, The Loyal League, this Civil War era historical romance has received four starred reviews and is on many “Must Read” lists. “No one suspects that a mute slave girl on a Southern estate is really a spy working for the Loyalty League, a secret society of freed blacks and slaves funneling information to the Union. Her disguise was working perfectly until a handsome Confederate soldier with a Scottish brogue nearly ruins everything,” says a starred, Booklist review. A starred Library Journal proclaims: “Courageous, passionate protagonists fight for justice, freedom, and the right to love in an exceptional story that both educates and entertains and beautifully launches a unique series.” For readers who like Jennifer Chiaverini. (African-American — 5/17/2017)
Characters You Will Fall in Love With
In Nancy Pearl’s discussions on Reader’s Advisory, she observes that all works of fiction are broadly made up of four experiential elements or “doorways”: story, character, setting, and language. When readers open a book, read the first few pages, and choose to go on, they enter the world of that book. A book with character as its biggest doorway is a book in which readers feel so connected with the characters that when the book is over they feel they’ve lost someone dear to them. Books with character elements are sometimes easy to find — usually having the name of the character in the title of the book. We’ve got several perfect “character” books that we’ve either recently published or will be publishing over the next few months. Most of the editors here have fallen in love with at least one of these characters, if not all of them!
THE BOOK OF POLLY by Kathy Hepinstall (9781410497765). From international best-selling author, Hepinstall models her strong-willed, straight talking protagonist on her own mother, a Louisiana native. Willow Havens is ten years old and obsessed with the fear that her 68-year-old mother will die. Her mother, Polly, is a cantankerous, take-no-prisoners Southern woman who lives to chase varmints, drink margaritas, and antagonize the neighbors. “Replete with sparkling vitality and endearing warmth, this novel is for those who enjoy a spirited helping of Southern sass in their stories,” says Library Journal. For fans of Rebecca Wells’s Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. (Core — 3/8/2017)
ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE by Gail Honeyman (9781410499646). Meet Eleanor Oliphant: she struggles with social skills, her appearance and has become a creature of habit and a loner. Her weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. Everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three establish a deep friendship. Library Journal says: “Honeyman’s exquisite, heartbreaking, funny, and irresistible novel brings to life a character so original and pitch-perfect that it is nearly impossible to believe this is a debut.” “Move over Ove — there’s a new curmudgeon to love,” cheers a starred Booklist review. (Basic 5— 5/3/2017)
GINNY MOON by Benjamin Ludwig (9781410498205). Ginny Moon is charming, heartbreaking, and poignant. Ginny is an outsider trying to find a place to belong and just trying to make sense of a world that doesn’t add up. Ludwig’s novel was inspired by his conversations with other parents at Special Olympics basketball practices. Received three starred reviews, “Ludwig’s excellent debut is both a unique coming-of-age tale and a powerful affirmation of the fragility and strength of families,” proclaims a starred Publishers Weekly review. “Grabs readers by the heart and doesn’t let go . . . A triumphant achievement,” agrees a starred Library Journal review. And Booklist’s starred review called it “a heartwarming and unforgettable page-turner about autism, family, and how special-needs children are treated.” For readers who liked The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. (Wheeler Hardcover — 5/3/2017)
LILLIAN BOXFISH TAKES A WALK by Kathleen Rooney (9781410499660). This Indie Next Pick, which received three starred reviews, is based on Margaret Fishback, a poet and one of the highest paid female ad copywriters during the 1930s. Set on New Year’s Eve in 1984, 85-year-old Lillian Boxfish walks the length of Manhattan and recalls an eventful life set against the ever changing backdrop of American culture. “Effervescent with verve, wit, and heart, Rooney’s nimble novel celebrates insouciance, creativity, chance, and valor,” said a starred Booklist review. Library Journal’s starred review said: “Lillian’s needle-sharp observations are astute and her unceasing love for New York City shines through.” For readers who enjoy colorful characters and women breaking down barriers. (Core — 5/3/2017)
RABBIT CAKE by Annie Hartnett (9781432838416). Twelve-year-old Elvis Babbitt has a head for the facts: she knows science proves yellow is the happiest color, she knows a healthy male giraffe weighs about 3,000 pounds, and she knows that the naked mole rat is the longest living rodent. She knows she should plan to grieve her mother, who has recently drowned while sleepwalking, for exactly eighteen months. But there are things Elvis doesn’t yet know—like how to keep her sister Lizzie from poisoning herself while sleep-eating or why her father has started wearing her mother’s silk bathrobe around the house. Elvis investigates the strange circumstances of her mother’s death and finds comfort, if not answers, in the people (and animals) of Freedom, Alabama. An Indie Next Pick and People Pick of the Week, Publishers Weekly’s starred review called it “a winning debut,” while Kirkus Reviews called it “charming and beautifully written” in their starred review. Perfect for books clubs, this is an in-house favorite! (Peer Picks — 5/17/2017)
RISE AND SHINE, BENEDICT STONE by Phaedra Patrick (9781410498151). New York Times bestselling Patrick returns with a novel about family, forgiveness and one man’s second chance at happiness. Business at Benedict Stone’s jewelry shop has dried up and his marriage is on the rocks. His life is in desperate need of a jump start . . . then a surprise arrives at his door in the form of his audacious teen-aged niece who turns his orderly life upside down. Publishers Weekly called it “delightful.” For fans of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry. (Core — 6/7/2017)
THE SEVEN RULES OF ELVIRA CARR by Frances Maynard (9781432838737). Elvira Carr believes in rules, crisp schedules, no surprises, and taking people at face value. At 27, she still lives with her naysaying and overbearing mother who’s kept her in reclusive servitude. When her mother has a stroke, Elvira is suddenly on her own. She ingeniously comes up with seven ironclad rules to guide her days. She’ll need clever thinking and curiosity to unravel the mystery of her family and pave her own way. Maynard is a part-time teacher of adults with learning difficulties, including Asperger’s and dyslexia. For readers who enjoyed The Rosie Project. (Superior — 8/16/2017)