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January Bookshelf

January Books


The Curse of Pietro Houdini, by Derek B. Miller

From the Dagger Award-winning author of Norwegian by Night comes a vivid, thrilling, moving World War II art heist adventure where enemies become heroes, allies become villains, and a child learns what it means to become an adult. In August 1943, 14-year-old Massimo is all alone, attacked by thugs, and finds himself bloodied at the base of the Montecassino. It is there in the Benedictine abbey’s shadow that a charismatic and cryptic man calling himself Pietro Houdini rescues Massimo and brings him up the mountain to serve as his assistant in preserving the treasures that lie within the monastery walls. When it becomes evident that Montecassino will soon become the front line in the war, Pietro Houdini and Massimo execute a plan to smuggle three priceless Titian paintings to safety down the mountain. They are joined by a nurse concealing a nefarious past, a café owner turned murderer, a wounded German soldier, and a pair of lovers along with their injured mule, Ferrari. Together they will lie, cheat, steal, fight, kill and sin their way through battlefields to survive, all while smuggling the Renaissance masterpieces and the bag full of ancient Greek gold they have rescued from the “safe keeping” of the Germans.

Old Crimes, by Jill McCorkle

North Carolina’s McCorkle, the author of the New York Times bestselling Life After Life and Hieroglyphics, delivers a collection of stories that offers an intimate look at the moments when a person’s life changes forever. Old Crimes delves into the lives of characters who hold their secrets and misdeeds close, even as the past continues to reverberate over time and across generations. Despite the characters’ yearnings for connection, they can’t seem to tell the whole truth. In “Low Tones,” a woman uses her hearing impairment as a way to guard herself from her husband’s commentary. In “Lineman,” a telephone lineman strains to connect to his family even as he feels pushed aside in a digital world. In “Confessional,” a young couple buys a confessional booth for fun, only to discover the cost of honesty.

House of Ash and Shadow, by Leia Stone

Seventeen-year-old Fallon Bane was born with a devastating curse: a single touch from another person will cause her excruciating pain. She has accepted that she will die without ever being kissed, without even hugging her own father, though it breaks her heart every day. When her father falls ill, she breaks into the magical Gilded City to find a healer, Fae, who can save him. When Ariyon Madden agrees to help, everything Fallon knows about herself and her curse changes. During her father’s healing, Ariyon reaches out and touches Fallon’s bare skin. She waits for the agony . . . but it never comes. For the first time in her life, she imagines a new future for herself. However, that fantasy is quickly destroyed, because not only does Ariyon flee from her in disgust when he learns of her curse, he also reveals her existence to powerful Fae who want to hurt her.


Meditations by Marcus Aurelius,
translated by David V. Hicks and C. Scot Hicks

Marcus Aurelius ruled the Roman Empire at its height, yet he remained untainted by the immense wealth and absolute power that had corrupted many of his predecessors. He knew the secret of how to live the good life amid trying and often catastrophic circumstances, of how to find happiness and peace when surrounded by misery and turmoil, and how to make the right choices — even if they are more difficult — without regard for self-interest. Offering a vivid and fresh translation of this important piece of ancient literature, Meditations brings Aurelius’ inspiring words to life and shows his wisdom to be as relevant today as it was in the second century. Two brothers, both headmasters at independent schools, began translating the meditations from the original Greek by emailing back and forth over a period of years. The result is this translation that is a profound pleasure to read.




Out Cold: A Little Bruce Book, by Ryan T. Higgins

That beloved, grumpy old bear Bruce is back, and this time he’s stuck inside with a cold. When the mice decide to bring the outdoors indoors to cheer him up, things don’t quite go as planned. Now Bruce may be grumpier than ever! (Ages 2-6.)

K Is in Trouble, by Gary Clement

Are you a kid who is tragically misunderstood . . . by everyone? Do the arbitrary rules of the world puzzle and confound you? Well, meet your soulmate, K, a kid who doesn’t deserve any of the tragedies that befall him. But happen they do, and it never seems to stop! This darkly tragic graphic novel will warm the cold heart of every kid who feels they’ve been wronged by this cruel, cruel world — and may even bring tiny smiles to their faces. Fans of Roald Dahl will love this Kafkaesque ode to the long-suffering child. (Ages 8-12.)

As Night Falls: Creatures that Go Wild after Dark, by Donna Jo Napoli, illustrations by Felicita Sala

Listed among the New York Times’ best-illustrated books of 2023, this animal science-themed picture book gives a peek into the animals that come alive just as the rest of the world is quieting down. Vibrant illustrations depict animals from the microscopic to the majestic with a clever food chain twist. A bedtime book like no other, this one is sure to become a family favorite. (Ages 3-7.)  PS

Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally.