Bookshelf

January Books

FICTION

American Dirt, by Jeanine Cummins

On a sunny afternoon in Acapulco, a cartel massacres 16 members of a family at a barbecue. By a twist of fate, Lydia and her 8-year-old son, Luca, survive; and so begins their terrifying and interminable journey across Mexico in an attempt to cross the border. The tale exemplifies the struggle to elude the long-encompassing arms of the cartels. Who can be trusted? Propelled by fear and weighing the terror of what lies behind you against what lies ahead of you, to what lengths would you go to ensure the survival of your child? Cummins’ urgent and precise prose forbids you to stop reading until the end, then lingers long afterward.

The Truants, by Kate Weinberg

In a debut novel of suspense, Weinberg weaves a tale of obsession, deception and misguided love. Jess Walker is a young woman who enters an uninspiring university in East Anglia for the sole purpose of being a student of a charismatic professor of literature, Lorna Clay, who seems to have taken the position under a cloud of suspicion. Clay will be conducting studies on the life and work of Agatha Christie, with an underlying theme: “People disappear when they most want to be seen.” Jess not only falls under her thrall, but also that of her three new friends who introduce her to a lifestyle of excess and awakenings, with tragic and life-altering consequences. This is a moody, mesmerizing, literary read.

Run Me to Earth, by Paul Yoon

What happens when it seems that war and its atrocities are all you know, but somehow the instinct for survival and some semblance of childhood innocence prevail? That is precisely what Yoon has captured in this work, which is both elegant and spare, yet imbued with an incredible depth of emotion. The haunting story follows three orphaned children in Laos during the 1960s who find themselves working as couriers for a makeshift hospital with an enigmatic doctor. When an evacuation attempt forces the three in different directions, what follows is the tale of their lives through the decades. A magnificent read.

What I Carry, by Jennifer Longo

If a checklist exists for all the things a read requires, then this novel ticks off all the boxes. The number of foster homes Muir has found herself in far exceeds the 17 years of her life. She’s learned to pack light. Socks and toothbrush? Sure. Emotional attachments? Never. What she does have is an amazing, longtime social worker she can depend on, and what she finds is a new foster mom who is different from the rest, a for-the-first-time best friend, and a perfect boyfriend — all who actually “see” her. She also has a pillowcase resembling a blackbird’s nest of small objects acquired over the years to tell her story. Muir’s great love of the outdoors finds a home on a beautiful Pacific Northwest island as she comes to terms with her future and her imminent “aging out” of the foster care system in this unforgettable and exquisitely written book.

The Secret Guests, by Benjamin Black

A fictional account of the two daughters of the king of England, Elizabeth and Mary, who are sent to Ireland during the bombing of London. Keeping the girls’ location a secret is hard for everyone and the action starts when their secret is discovered.

Dear Edward, by Ann Napolitano

How do you go on living when the plane you’re on with your family crashes, and you’re the only survivor? That’s the dilemma for 12-year-old Edward, who is now living with his aunt and uncle, but doesn’t know how to stop feeling guilty. A wonderful story of how he discovers happiness again.

Lady Clementine, by Marie Benedict 

In 1909, Clementine steps off a train with her new husband, Winston. An angry woman attacks him from the crowd, shoving him in the direction of an oncoming train. Just before he stumbles, Clementine grabs him by his suit jacket. This will not be the last time Clementine Churchill will save her husband. Lady Clementine is the ferocious story of the ambitious woman at Churchill’s side, the story of a partner who did not flinch through the darkness of war, and who would not surrender to either expectations or to enemies.

Big Lies in a Small Town, by Diane Chamberlain 

North Carolina, 2018: Morgan Christopher’s life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit, she finds herself serving a three-year stint in the North Carolina Women’s Correctional Center. Her dream of a career in art is put on hold — until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will see her released immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy Southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to leave prison, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, and a conspiracy of small town secrets.

North Carolina, 1940: Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey, wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. Alone in the world and desperate for work, she accepts. But what she doesn’t expect is to find herself immersed in a town where prejudices run deep, where people are hiding secrets behind closed doors, and where the price of being different might just end in murder.

What happened to Anna Dale? Are the clues hidden in the decrepit mural? Can Morgan overcome her own demons to discover what exists beneath the layers of lies?

Hunter Killer, by Brad Taylor

Pike Logan and the Taskforce were once the apex predators, an unrivaled hunting machine that decimated those out to harm the United States, but they may have met their match. While Logan and Jennifer Cahill prepare to join their team on a counter-terrorist mission in the lawless tri-border region where Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay meet, they are targeted in Charleston, South Carolina. A vicious explosion kills a friend, and the perpetrators have set it up to look like an accident. While the authorities believe this was not foul play, Pike knows the attack was meant for him. He and the Taskforce are under assault. Pike and Jennifer head to Brazil and run headlong into a crew of Russian assassins. Within days they are entangled in a byzantine scheme involving Brazilian politics and a cutthroat battle for control of offshore oil fields.

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

Croc & Turtle Snow Fun, by Mike Wohnoutka

It’s time for a playdate, but the two friends have come to an impasse. Croc wants to play outside while Turtle is determined to stay inside. The result is a fabulous compromise. Perfect for classroom or home reading — any place where young listeners may find themselves at odds with their fellow playmates. Croc and Turtle are the coolest new characters on the learning-to-read scene. (Ages 2-6.)

Bear Has a Story to Tell, by Philip Stead

Bear has a story to tell but, with all his friends busily preparing for the coming winter, will he ever get to share his thoughts before he must make his own preparations? A sweet winter read-together just perfect for story time or snuggle time. (Ages 2-4.)

Scientist Scientist,
Who Do You See?
by Chris Ferrie

Borrowing the rhythm from the classic Brown Bear, Brown Bear series, Ferrie introduces the youngest scientists to some of the most famous chemists, biologists, and meteorologists as well as pioneers in technology, artificial intelligence and space travel. The perfect book for new babies or budding young experimenters. (Ages 2-5.)

Camilla, Cartographer, by Julie Dillemuth

Camilla loves maps — old ones with crisping edges that show her home as it once was; maps left behind by summer hikers; and even maps of imaginary places. So when the snow falls deep enough to obscure all the known trails, Camilla delights in making a new map to help her friend Parsley find the path to the creek. Lovely, warm illustrations bring to life this fun title that reminds readers young and old of the value of thinking, creativity and exploration. (Ages 6-8.)  PS

Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally

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