Gods of Howl Mountain, by Taylor Brown
This is the third novel by the acclaimed author of The River of Kings and Fallen Land set in the high country of 1950s North Carolina. Gods of Howl Mountain is a dark and compelling story of family secrets, whiskey running, vengeance and love. Maybelline Docherty, “Granny May,” is a folk healer with a dark past. She concocts potions and cures for the people of the mountains — her powers rumored to rival those of a wood witch — while watching over her grandson, Rory Docherty, who has returned from the Korean War with a wooden leg and nightmares of the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. Rory runs bootleg whiskey in a high-powered car to roadhouses, brothels and private clients in the mill town at the foot of the mountains. With gritty and atmospheric prose, Brown brings to life a perilous mountain and the family who rules it, tying together past and present in one captivating narrative.
What You Don’t Know about Charlie Outlaw, by Leah Stewart
After a series of missteps in the face of his newfound fame, actor Charlie Outlaw flees to a remote island in search of anonymity and a chance to reevaluate his recent breakup with his girlfriend, actress Josie Lamar. Soon after his arrival on the peaceful island, his solitary hike into the jungle takes him into danger he never anticipated. As Charlie struggles with gaining fame, Josie struggles with its loss. The star of a cult TV show in her early 20s, Josie has spent the two decades since searching for a role to equal that one, and feeling less and less like her character, the heroic Bronwyn Kyle. As she gets ready for a reunion of the cast at a huge fan convention, she thinks all she needs to do is find a part and replace Charlie. But she can’t forget him, and to get him back she’ll need to be a hero in real life.
Tangerine, by Christine Mangan
Lucy Mason was the last person Alice Shipley expected to see since arriving in Tangier with her new husband, John. After the accident at Bennington, the two friends — once inseparable roommates — haven’t spoken in over a year. But there Lucy was, trying to make things right and return to their old rhythms. Too afraid to venture out into the bustling medina and oppressive heat, Alice hadn’t adjusted to life in Morocco. Lucy, fearless and independent, helps her emerge from her flat and explore the country. Soon a familiar feeling starts to overtake Alice — she feels controlled and stifled by Lucy at every turn. When John goes missing, Alice starts to question everything around her: her relationship with her enigmatic friend, her decision to come to Tangier, and her own state of mind. Tangerine is a sharp dagger of a book, a tightly wound debut replete with exotic imagery and charm. Full of precise details and extraordinary craftsmanship, it will leave you absolutely breathless.
Caribbean Rim, by Randy Wayne White
Marine biologist Doc Ford has been known to help his friends out of jams, but he’s never faced a situation like this. Murder, sunken treasure and pirates both ancient and modern send Ford on a nightmare quest in this thrilling new novel. His old pal Carl Fitzpatrick has been chasing sunken wrecks most of his life, but now he’s run afoul of the Florida Division of Historical Resources. Its director, Leonard Nickelby, despises amateur archaeologists, which is bad enough, but now he and his young “assistant” have disappeared — along with Fitzpatrick’s impounded cache of rare Spanish coins and the list of uncharted wrecks Fitz spent decades compiling. Some of Fitz’s own explorations have been a little dicey, so he can’t go to the authorities. Doc is his only hope. But greed makes people do terrible things: rob, cheat, even kill. With stakes this high, there’s no way the thieves will go quietly — and Doc just put himself in their crosshairs.
Anatomy of a Miracle, by Jonathan Miles
The last place Private First Class Cameron Harris walked was in a field in the Darah Khujz District of Zabul Province, in Afghanistan. A paraplegic for the last four years, he lives with his older sister, Tanya, in their Biloxi, Mississippi, family home — a narrow, 50-year-old shotgun-style house that wasn’t designed for the turning radius of a wheelchair — in a neighborhood where only half the houses made it through the storm surge of Hurricane Katrina. One hot August afternoon on their daily trip to the Biz-E-Bee convenience store, as Cameron waits outside for Tanya, he suddenly and inexplicably stands up. In the aftermath of this “miracle,” Cameron finds himself a celebrity at the center of a contentious debate about what’s taken place. And when scientists, journalists and a representative from the Vatican start digging, Cameron’s deepest secrets are endangered. Written as a closely observed journalistic rendering, filtered through a wide lens that encompasses the vibrant characters, Anatomy of a Miracle is a remarkable story of the perils of grace.
The Flight Attendant, by Chris Bohjalian
From The New York Times best-selling author of The Guest Room, a powerful story of how an entire life can change in one night when a flight attendant wakes up in the wrong hotel, in the wrong bed, with a dead man — and no idea what happened. Cassandra Bowden is no stranger to morning hangovers. She’s a binge drinker with a taste for adventure who lives with occasional blackouts and the accompanying self-loathing. When she awakens in a Dubai hotel room, she tries to piece together the previous night, counting the minutes until she has to catch her crew shuttle to the airport. She quietly slides out of bed, careful not to aggravate her pounding head, and looks at the man she spent the night with. She sees his dark hair. His utter stillness. And a slick, wet pool of blood on the crisp white sheets. Afraid to call the police, Cassie lies to the other flight attendants and pilots; she lies on the way to Paris as she works the first class cabin; and she lies to the FBI agents in New York who meet her at the gate. Soon it’s too late to come clean. Could she have killed him? If not, who did? The Flight Attendant unveils a spellbinding story of the devastating consequences of addiction, and of murder far from home.
Educated: A Memoir, by Tara Westover
The first time Tara Westover set foot in a classroom she was 17 years old. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills bag.” In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father’s junkyard. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent. As a way out, Tara began to educate herself, learning enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University. Her quest for knowledge would transform her, taking her to Harvard and, then, Cambridge University. With acute insight, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education offers: the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes, and the will to change it.
The Beekeeper: Saving the Stolen Women of Iraq, by Dunya Mikhail, translated by Max Weiss
Since 2014, Daesh (ISIS) has been brutalizing the Yazidi people of Northern Iraq: sowing destruction, killing those who won’t convert to Islam, and enslaving young girls and women. The Beekeeper, by the acclaimed poet and journalist Dunya Mikhail, tells the harrowing stories of several women who lost their families and loved ones, been sexually abused, psychologically tortured, and forced to manufacture chemical weapons. In extensive interviews an unlikely hero emerges: a beekeeper, who uses his knowledge of the local terrain, along with a wide network of transporters, helpers, and former cigarette smugglers, to bring these women, one by one, through the war-torn landscapes of Iraq, Syria, and Turkey, back to safety. In the face of inhuman suffering, this powerful work of nonfiction offers a counterpoint to Daesh’s genocidal extremism: hope, as ordinary people risk their own lives to save those of others.
Bears and Blossoms, by Shirley Parenteau
Readers who fell in love with Bears on Chairs will squeal with delight as Big Brown Bear and the four little bears welcome spring with a picnic under flowering trees. But when a great wind threatens their yummy honey-on-bread lunch, the bears declare, “The Wind is just right!” and set off flying kites. With rhyming text and delightful illustrations, Bears and Blossoms is the perfect read-together book to celebrate the coming of spring. (Ages 2-5.)
The Horse’s Haiku, by Michael Rosen
From field to barn to field, the grace, playfulness and beauty of the horse is celebrated through haiku in this stunningly simple, quietly lovely picture book. Horse lovers of all ages will smile with appreciation at author Michael Rosen’s clever insights into the cool quirkiness of horses and his genuine understanding of the connection between horse and rider told exclusively through haiku. (Age 6-adult.)
Dory Fantasmagory: Head in the Clouds,
by Abby Hanlon
You really just can’t help but love Dory Fantasmagory. One of the newest kids on the chapter book scene, this series has it all: a fun-loving character, an imaginary best friend, a goofy school buddy, an invisible arch nemesis evil witch and a good kid-problem or two. In Head in the Clouds, Dory must rebel against the wearing of the horrible “bunchy coat,” contend with an overzealous neat freak playdate, and save the tooth fairy from an imaginary evil witch nemesis. Chapter books really have never been full of so much fun and adventure. (Ages 7-10.)
Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire, by John August
Arlo Finch moves to a new town where he joins the Rangers program and learns about the mysterious Long Woods and the magic seeping out from within them. Arlo must face down fierce enemies and help friends in need on his way to becoming a better Ranger. Filled to the brink with plot twists, turns and surprises throughout. Readers who like fantasy or realistic fiction will adore Arlo — review by Henry Bauer, 12. (Ages 10-14.)
Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally.