Bookshelf

April Bookshelf

FICTION

Astrid Sees All, by Natalie Standiford

Set in New York City in the 1980s, two young girls arrive after college. Carmen is a native New Yorker with connections, confidence and charisma, while Phoebe is from Baltimore, enamored with Carmen, and desperate to find her place in the city, its art scene and the underground. She lands a job at a club as Astrid, who reads fortunes from movie ticket stubs. All the while, a serial killer stalks the city, and girls are disappearing. Astrid Sees All has a fabulously seedy vibe: music, fashion, art, drugs, danger and sex.

The Girls in the Stilt House, by Kelly Mustian

The Natchez Trace in Mississippi is a place that is deep, verdant, and ripe with stories and secrets. It is also a place where, in the 1920s, many scratched out an existence through sharecropping, bootlegging, trapping, fishing and hard labor during a time of racism, segregation and social disparity. In Mustian’s magnificent novel, mostly written at Weymouth, a violent act inexorably binds the lives of two teenage girls of different races. They struggle to survive, harbor their secrets, and protect those dear to them as their individual stories unfold. Readers will be held in this novel’s grasp from start to finish, experiencing the power and sensitivity provided by a great new voice in literary fiction.

Gold Diggers, by Sanjena Sathian

In a marvelous marriage of coming of age, magical realism, immigration, ambition and history, Gold Diggers is a blazingly brilliant novel stretching from the East Coast to the West Coast. Neeraj is an awkward young Indian American teen. Anita is his neighbor and childhood friend. With the help of her mother’s family recipe of an alchemical solution derived from stolen gold, the two are given powers of achievement and abilities to reach their previously unattainable goals and the thought-provoking consequences that follow them for years to come.

The Last Bookshop in London, by Madeline Martin

August 1939: London prepares for war as Hitler’s forces sweep across Europe. Grace Bennett has always dreamed of moving to the city, but the bunkers and blackout curtains that she finds on her arrival were not what she expected. And she certainly never imagined she’d wind up working at Primrose Hill, a dusty old bookshop nestled in the heart of London. Through blackouts and air raids as the Blitz intensifies, Grace discovers the power of storytelling to unite her community in ways she never dreamed — a force that triumphs over the darkest nights of the war.

The Elephant of Belfast, by S. Kirk Walsh

Inspired by true events, this vivid and moving story of Hettie, a young woman zookeeper, and Violet, the elephant she’s compelled to protect through the German blitz of Belfast during WWII, speaks to not only the tragedy of the times, but also to the ongoing sectarian tensions that still exist in Northern Ireland. Dodging the debris and carnage of the Luftwaffe attack, Hettie runs to the zoo to make sure that Violet is unharmed. The harrowing ordeal and ensuing aftermath set the pair on a surprising path that highlights the indelible, singular bond that often brings mankind and animals together during terrifying times.

Good Company, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

In a follow-up of her bestselling debut novel The Nest, Sweeney explores the strains and deep bonds that mark longtime marriages and friendships. Flora Mancini is a voice actor; her husband, Julian, stars in a cop show. Margot, her best friend since college, is a longtime superstar on a hit TV show, married to a gentle doctor. The women and Julian came up together as students in New York City, scraping to find work in theater and participating in Julian’s small theater company, Good Company. Twenty years later, they all live in Los Angeles, and dote on Flora and Julian’s daughter, Ruby. When Margot stumbles across an envelope containing her husband’s wedding ring — the one he claims he lost one summer when Ruby was 5 — all of their lives are upended.

The Drowning Kind, by Jennifer McMahon

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Invited and The Winter People comes a chilling new novel about a woman who returns to the old family home after her sister mysteriously drowns in its swimming pool . . . but she’s not the pool’s only victim. A haunting, twisty and compulsively readable thrill ride from the author Chris Bohjalian has dubbed the “literary descendant of Shirley Jackson,” The Drowning Kind is a modern-day ghost story that illuminates how the past is never really far behind us.

NONFICTION

World Travel: An Irreverent Guide,
by Anthony Bourdain and Laurie Woolever

A guide to some of the world’s most interesting places, as seen and experienced by writer, television host and relentlessly curious traveler, the late Anthony Bourdain. In World Travel, a life of experience is collected into an entertaining, practical, fun and frank travel guide that gives readers an introduction to some of his favorite places — in his own words. It features his essential advice on how to get there, what to eat, where to stay and, in some cases, what to avoid. Supplementing Bourdain’s words are a handful of essays by friends, colleagues and family that tell even deeper stories about a place, including sardonic accounts of traveling with Bourdain by his brother, Chris, and a guide to Chicago’s best cheap eats by legendary music producer Steve Albini.

Broken Horses, by Brandi Carlile

The critically acclaimed singer-songwriter, producer and five-time Grammy winner opens up about a life shaped by music in this candid, heartfelt, intimate story. Though imperfect in every way, her dysfunctional childhood was as beautiful as it was strange, and as nurturing as it was difficult as her musically gifted but impoverished family moved 14 times in 14 years. Carlile takes readers through the events of her life that shaped her very raw art — from her start to her first break opening for the Dave Matthews Band, to sleepless tours over 15 years and six studio albums while raising two children with her wife and, ultimately, to the Grammy stage where she converted millions of viewers into instant fans.

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

More Than Fluff, by Madeline Valentine

Cute, adorable, fluffy Daisy duck just can’t take it anymore. Everyone wants to HUG her, and all she wants is for everyone to stay out of her personal bubble. When her subtle hints don’t quite do the trick, Daisy boldly asks her friends for wing bumps, pinky shakes and high-fives. The perfect choice for those kiddos with personal space issues or just someone needing a little “me” time, More Than Fluff gives young readers words to ask for what they need. (Ages 2-5.)

Beast in Show, by Anna Staniszewski

Of course, everyone thinks their pet is the best, but Julia is sure Huxley will win top prizes in the dog show. They arrive to find it’s not an ordinary dog show at all and the talent portion is really out of this world. A wonderful tale of giving your all and doing your best no matter what, Beast in Show is just perfect for anyone who loves someone furry. (Ages 3-6.)

G My Name is Girl: A Song of Celebration from Argentina to Zambia,
by Dawn Masi

A playful celebration of everything girl, G My Name is Girl is also a wonderful worldwide journey and a fun way to honor the characteristics that strong, confident young women possess. Clever parents and grandparents will recognize the format as that of a classic travel game and enjoy sharing the rhyme with a whole new generation. (Ages 3-8.)

Mars! Earthlings Welcome,
by Stacy McAnulty

Humor and fun facts bring nonfiction alive for the youngest readers in McAnulty’s Our Universe series. In the newest installment, Mars! Earthlings Welcome, budding scientists learn that Mars may have once had rivers and streams, is Earth’s closest neighbor, and has 37 whole minutes longer in its day than Earth. For classrooms and curious kids (and parents), this series is a great way to learn more about our great big universe. (Ages 4-8.)

Peter Easter Frog, by Erin Dealy

Who says bunnies should have all the fun? Hippity hoppity Peter the Easter . . . frog is here to help out Easter Bunny any way he can. A fun holiday story of kindness, sharing and friends with a few giggle-inducing surprises along the way. (Ages 3-5.)  PS

Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally.

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