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The Briar Club, by Kate Quinn

Everyone keeps to themselves at Briarwood House, a down-at-the-heels all-female boardinghouse in the heart of Washington, D.C., where secrets hide behind white picket fences. When the lovely, mysterious widow Grace March moves into the attic room, she draws her oddball collection of neighbors into unlikely friendship — the English beauty Fliss, whose facade of perfect wife and mother covers gaping inner wounds; the policeman’s daughter Nora, who finds herself entangled with a shadowy gangster; the frustrated baseball star Beatrice, whose career has come to an end along with the women’s baseball league of World War II; and the poisonous, gung-ho Arlene, who has thrown herself into McCarthy’s Red Scare. Grace’s weekly attic room dinner parties and window-brewed sun tea become a healing balm on all their lives, but she hides a terrible secret of her own.


Women in the Valley of the Kings: The Untold Story of Women Egyptologists in the Gilded Age, by Kathleen Sheppard

The history of Egyptology is often told as yet one more grand narrative of powerful men striving to seize the day and the precious artifacts for their competing homelands. But that is only half the story. During the so-called Golden Age of Exploration, before men even conceived of claiming the story for themselves, women were working in Egypt to lay the groundwork for all future exploration. In Women in the Valley of the Kings, Sheppard brings the untold stories of these women back into this narrative, beginning with some of the earliest European women who ventured to Egypt as travelers: Amelia Edwards, Jenny Lane and Marianne Brocklehurst. Their travelogues, diaries and maps chronicled a new world for the curious. In the vast desert, Maggie Benson, the first woman granted permission to excavate in Egypt, met Nettie Gourlay, the woman who became her lifelong companion. They battled issues of oppression and exclusion and, ultimately, are credited with excavating the Temple of Mut. As each woman scored a success in the desert, she set up the women who came later. Emma Andrews’ success as a patron and archaeologist helped pave the way for Margaret Murray to teach. Murray’s work in the university led to the artists Amice Calverley’s and Myrtle Broome’s ability to work on-site at Abydos, creating brilliant reproductions of tomb art, and to Kate Bradbury’s and Caroline Ransom’s leadership in critical Egyptological institutions.

The Talented Mrs. Mandelbaum: The Rise and Fall of an American Organized-Crime Boss, by Margalit Fox

In 1850, an impoverished 25-year-old named Fredericka Mandelbaum came to New York in steerage and worked as a peddler on the streets of Lower Manhattan. By the 1870s she was a fixture of high society and an admired philanthropist. How was she able to ascend from tenement poverty to vast wealth? In the intervening years, “Marm” Mandelbaum had become the country’s most notorious receiver of stolen goods — and a criminal mastermind. By the mid-1880s as much as $10 million worth of purloined luxury goods (nearly $300 million today) had passed through her Lower East Side shop. Called “the nucleus and center of the whole organization of crime,” she planned robberies of cash, gold and diamonds throughout the country. The Talented Mrs. Mandelbaum paints a vivid portrait of Gilded Age New York — a city teeming with nefarious rogues, capitalist power brokers and Tammany Hall bigwigs, all straddling the line between underworld enterprise and “legitimate” commerce.

The Secret History of Sharks: The Rise of the Ocean’s Most Fearsome Predators, by John A. Long

Sharks have been fighting for their lives for 500 million years and today are under dire threat. They are the longest-surviving vertebrate on Earth, outlasting multiple mass extinction events that decimated life on the planet. How did they thrive for so long? By developing superpower-like abilities that allowed them to ascend to the top of the oceanic food chain. Led by Long and dozens of other extraordinary scientists, The Secret History of Sharks showcases the global search to discover the largely unknown evolution of sharks. They embark on digs to all seven continents, using cutting-edge technology to reveal never-before-found fossils and the clues to sharks’ singular story.




Beach Hair, by Ashley Woodfolk

Bed hair? Don’t care! It’s time for a day at the beach. This celebration of fun, frivolity and a little frizz is the perfect read for a summer day at the beach, the lake, or even just a sprinkler in the backyard. (Ages 2-6.)

Ursula Upside Down, by Corey R. Tabor

Toh-may-toh, toh-mah-toh; po-tay-to, po-tah-to. We’ve all got our own way of interpreting the world, and for Ursula, well, her way is to see the world upside down. Or, maybe, we’re upside down and Ursula is right after all. However you look at the world, you’ll love looking at it through Ursula’s eyes in this charming picture book from the author of the Fox versus Fox learning to read series. (Ages 3-7.)

How to Catch a Polar Bear, by Stacy DeKeyser

The summer of 1948 is heating up, and 12-year-old Nick is looking forward to hanging out with his best pals, Ace and Penny. When the two of them decide to share a paper route, Nick is left to find other ways to fill his days. Lucky for him, his uncle opened a custard stand and needs help. It just so happens the custard stand is at the zoo, where a polar bear has escaped and some very unusual hijinks keep happening. Nick decides to volunteer to be close to the action — and score some free custard. This delightful romp of a historical novel rounds out the summer with a little mystery. It’s the perfect read for fans of Stuart Gibbs’ Belly Up and Katherine Applegate’s The One and Only Ivan. (Ages 8-12.)  PS

Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally.