January Books

FICTION

Direct Fire, by A.J. Tata

A thriller that cuts to the heart of our cyber-security threat. When Jake Mahegan receives a distress call from Gen. Savage in North Carolina, he rushes to the commander’s home — and walks right into an ambush. Joining forces with Savage’s combat JAG officer, Mahegan follows the trail to a killer, a Syrian refugee-turned-terrorist who vows to avenge the bombing of a Syrian wedding by killing as many Americans as possible. Terrorist cells are gathering in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Hackers are emptying the nation’s banks of millions of dollars. And their final act of vengeance will bring the whole world to its knees. 

Munich: A Novel, by Robert Harris

Hugh Legat is a rising star of the British diplomatic service, serving at 10 Downing Street as private secretary to Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. Rikard von Holz is on the staff of the German Foreign Office — and secretly a member of the anti-Hitler resistance. The two men were friends at Oxford in the 1920s, but have not been in contact since. Now, when Legat flies with Chamberlain from London to Munich, and von Holz travels on Hitler’s train overnight from Berlin, their paths are set on a disastrous collision course. Robert Harris, author of Conspirator: A Novel of Ancient Rome, places characters of historical importance — Hitler, Chamberlain, Mussolini, Daladier — at the heart of an electrifying, novel you can’t put down.

The Woman in the Window, by A.J. Finn 

With captivating prose Finn crafts a novel about a woman who watches her neighbors through the telephoto lens of her camera. After witnessing a brutal attack, her attempts to contact the authorities turn her life into a nightmare. A fantastic thriller where nothing is as it seems.

Need to Know, by Karen Cleveland 

A gripping novel by a CIA insider about an agent tasked with identifying Russian spies living in plain sight. After accessing the computer of a potential Russian operative, Vivian stumbles on a secret dossier of deep-cover agents within America’s borders. A few clicks later, everything that matters to her — her job, her husband, even her four children — is threatened. Vivian becomes torn between loyalty and betrayal, allegiance and treason, love and suspicion. A frightening glimpse into what may be happening today. 

The Chalk Man, by C.J. Tudor

In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence in a sleepy little English village. The chalk men are their secret code — little chalk stick figures they leave for one another as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them to a dismembered body, and nothing is ever the same. In 2016, Eddie gets a letter in the mail, containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out that his childhood friends get the same message, they think it could be a prank . . . until one of them turns up dead. This is a suspense novel of the highest rank where every character is wonderfully compelling, where every mystery has a satisfying payoff, and where the twists will shock even the savviest reader.

The Black Painting, by Neil Olson

There are four cousins in the Morse family, long fractured by the loss of a cursed Goya painting, when their grandfather summons them to his mansion at Owl’s Point. The family finds the old man dead, his horrified gaze pinned on the spot where the painting once hung. As suspects mount in this literary mystery, cousin Teresa hopes to solve the puzzle of the painting and her grandfather’s death, but to do so she must uncover ugly family secrets, and confront those who would keep them hidden.

Green, by Sam Graham-Felsen

Boston, 1992: “House of Pain” is on the radio, Arsenio Hall is on TV, and Bill Clinton is in the White House. The city’s school system is largely segregated and former working-class neighborhoods are in the early stages of gentrification. Dave (or, as he longs to be called, Green) is the white boy at the mostly black Martin Luther King Middle School, where he is lonely, constantly taunted, and desperate to fit in. Dave’s life takes a sudden turn for the better when he befriends Marlon, who lives in the public housing around the corner from Dave’s own gentrified block. Marlon confounds Dave’s assumptions about black culture: He’s nerdy, neurotic and a Celtics fan whose favorite player is the white, skinny Larry Bird. Together, the two boys seem almost able to resist the contradictory personas forced on them by the outside world. But as the school year progresses, challenges arise in the form of girls and bullies, family secrets and national violence, and Marlon and Dave struggle not to betray themselves or each other in this coming-of-age novel.

Fire Sermon, by Jamie Quarto

A daring debut novel of obsession, lust and salvation by the highly lauded author of the story collection I Want To Show You More, Qurto charts with bold intimacy and immersive sensuality the life of a married woman entirely devoted to her husband, Thomas, their two beautiful children, and to God. Devoted, that is, until what begins as a platonic intellectual and spiritual exchange between writer Maggie and poet James transforms into an erotically charged bond that challenges Maggie’s sense of loyalty and morality, drawing her deeper into the darkness of desire.

NONFICTION

Jackie, Janet & Lee: The Secret Lives of Janet Auchincloss and Her Daughters Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Lee Radziwill, by J. Randy Taraborrelli

If the Bouvier women personified beauty, style and fashion, it was their lust for money and status that drove them to seek out powerful men, no matter what the cost to themselves or to those they stepped on in their relentless climb to the top. Based on hundreds of new interviews with friends and family of the Bouviers, among them their own half-brother, as well as letters and journals, Taraborrelli paints an extraordinary psychological portrait of two famous sisters and their ferociously ambitious mother.

The Meaning of Birds, by Simon Barnes

One of our most eloquent nature writers explores how birds achieve the miracle of flight; why birds sing; what they tell us about the seasons of the year; and what their presence tells us about the places they inhabit. The Meaning of Birds muses on the uses of feathers, the drama of raptors, the slaughter of pheasants, the infidelities of geese, and the strangeness of feeling sentimental about blue tits while enjoying a chicken sandwich. Barnes explores both the intrinsic wonder of what it is to be a bird and the myriad ways in which birds can help us understand the meaning of life.

Stirring the Pot with Benjamin Franklin: A Founding Father’s Culinary Adventures, by Rae Katherine Eighmey

In this remarkable work, Eighmey presents Franklin’s delight and experimentation with food throughout his life. At 16, he began dabbling in vegetarianism. In his early 20s, he convinced his printing press colleagues to forgo their breakfast of beer and bread for porridge. He applied his scientific discoveries to the kitchen and ate with curiosity in France and England on his diplomatic missions. Franklin saw food as key to understanding the developing culture of the United States, penning essays presenting maize as the defining grain of America. Stirring the Pot conveys all of this Founding Father’s culinary adventures, demonstrating that his love of food shaped not only his life but also the character of the young nation he helped build.

The Monk of Mokha, by Dave Eggers

From the best-selling author of The Circle and What Is the What, a heart-pounding true story that weaves together the history of coffee, the struggles of everyday Yemenis living through civil war, and the courageous journey of a young man — a Muslim and U.S. citizen — following the most American of dreams.

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

Dear Girl, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Sometimes you feel pink and sparkly; sometimes you feel just the opposite.  Sometimes you want to ask: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?  Sometimes you want to make your room awesome (and sometimes I wish you would just want to make your bed!). Sometimes you are brave and sometimes you are tentative, but whatever you are, you are awesome. From the author of Uni the Unicorn, in this celebration of girl power no obstacle is too high, no dream too big, and no wish too grand for a strong woman. (All ages.) 

I Am Harriet Tubman, by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Chris Elipoulos

A few years ago, best-selling author and History Channel host Brad Meltzer, motivated by his own experience raising three children, decided to offer them a different kind of hero. He was tired of the princesses and reality stars that people looked up to, and knew from his love of history that there were incredible real world heroes that children would be fascinated by and look up to. The Ordinary People Change the World series was born as a way to give today’s kids the right role models and to encourage them to live heroically. Harriet Tubman, the newest addition to the series, is an American hero who had a pivotal role in the fight against slavery and will become the first African-American woman to have her face appear on American currency when the $20 bill is revamped in 2020. (Available January 16. Ages 6-10.)

Upside-Down Magic: Dragon Overnight, by Sarah Mlynowski, Emily Jenkins and Lauren Myracle

Nory, Elliott, Andres and Bax are classmates in Dunwiddle Magic School’s Upside-Down Magic class. In a classroom in which students all have magical abilities, lessons are unconventional, students are unpredictable, and magic has a tendency to turn wonky at the worst possible moment. Dragon Overnight, will be published Jan. 30 and is the fourth book in the fun Upside-Down Magic series.  Meet the authors Friday, Feb. 2 at 4 p.m. at The Country Bookshop.  This event is free and open to the public. (Ages 7-10.) PS

Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally.

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