May 2019 Bookshelf
Tears of the Trufflepig, by Fernando A. Flores
This debut novel weaves in ancient myth, foodie culture and a modern Hunter S. Thompson-like journalist on the hunt for truth. Narcotics are legal in South Texas but there’s a new contraband on the market: ancient Olmec artifacts, shrunken indigenous heads, and animal species brought back from extinction to clothe, feed, and generally amuse the very wealthy. Esteban Bellacosa has lived in the border town of MacArthur long enough to know to keep quiet and avoid the dangerous syndicates who make their money through trafficking. He soon finds himself in the middle of an increasingly perilous, surreal, psychedelic journey, where he encounters legends of the long-disappeared Aranaña Indian tribe and their object of worship: the mysterious Trufflepig, said to possess strange powers. Flores’s writing is already drawing comparisons as a wild Amor Towles. Tears of the Trufflepig could be the best book of 2019.
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, by Kim Michele Richardson
Thanks to FDR’s Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project, Troublesome Creek got its very own traveling librarian, Cussy Mary Carter, hired to distribute reading material by packhorse. Carter’s not just a book woman, she’s also the last of her kind, her skin a shade of blue unlike anyone else. Based on the combined histories of the Pack Horse Library Project and the families with blue skin, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a novel of raw courage, fierce strength, and one woman’s determination to bring a little bit of hope to the dark hollers.
The Guest Book, by Sarah Blake
The best-selling author of The Postmistress examines not just a privileged American family, but a privileged America. Moving through three generations and back and forth in time, The Guest Book asks how we remember and what we choose to forget. It reveals the untold secrets we inherit and pass on, unknowingly echoing our parents and grandparents. Blake’s triumphant novel tells the story of a family and a country that buries its past in quiet, until the present calls forth a reckoning.
Mistress of the Ritz, by Melanie Benjamin
A captivating novel based on the extraordinary real-life American woman Blanche Auzello, who secretly worked for the French Resistance during World War II. Blanche and her husband, Claude, are the mistress and master of the Ritz, allowing the glamour and glitz to take their minds off their troubled marriage, and off the secrets that they keep from their guests — and each other. In June 1940, the German army swept into Paris, setting up headquarters at the Hôtel Ritz. Suddenly, with the likes of Hermann Goëring moving into suites once occupied by royalty, Blanche and Claude must navigate a terrifying new reality. In order to survive — and strike a blow against their Nazi “guests” — they spin a web of deceit that ensnares everything and everyone they cherish. Based on true events, Mistress of the Ritz is a taut tale of suspense wrapped up in a love story for the ages.
Prairie Fever, by Michael Parker
Parker eloquently captures the desolate beauty of the Oklahoma prairie in prose that is both searing and lyrical as he tells the story of two teenage sisters in the early 1900s. Lorena is sensible while Elise is always lost in flights of fancy. When a series of events leads them to realize they have feelings for the same man — their young schoolteacher — the two are driven apart by years and hundreds of miles. With poetic intensity and deadpan humor, Parker reminds us of how our choices are often driven by our passions.
The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna, by Juliet Grames
A breakthrough debut novel about an Italian immigrant family set across two continents and 100 years. Told in a series of near-death experiences and set in both Italy and the United States, this is a book rich with romance, murder, food, stories and ghosts. The prose is inviting and unexpected, the story immersive. With hints of magical realism, recalling the work of Isabel Allende, the underlying theme is ultimately about the changing role of women in a patriarchal culture over the last century.
Rough Magic, by Lara Prior-Palmer
In 2013, the 19-year-old London native and future Stanford graduate competed in the world’s toughest horse race: the 1,000-kilometer Mongol Derby, a course in Mongolia that recreates the horse messenger system developed by Genghis Khan. Driven by a lifelong love of horses, restlessness, stubbornness, and the realization she had nothing to lose, Prior-Palmer raced for 10 days through extreme heat and terrifying storms, catching a few hours of sleep where she could in the homes of nomadic families. Battling bouts of illness and dehydration, exhaustion and bruising falls, she scrambled up mountains, forded rivers, crossed woodlands, wetlands, arid dunes and the open steppe to become the first woman to win the race and the youngest person ever to finish.
Truth Worth Telling, by Scott Pelley
One of the most experienced and award-winning correspondents in broadcast journalism, Pelley has been reporting stories for 60 Minutes since 2004. He served as anchor of the CBS Evening News from 2011 to 2017. Chatting face-to-face with world leaders and on the front lines of wars, Pelley has learned to identify the values that separate the people whose lives make a difference in the moments that count and the flaws that bring down even the most powerful. This book is about the humanity he sees in the most intense moments and serves as an inspiration for tackling the challenges in our own lives. Pelley will be at the Pinehurst Resort, 80 Carolina Vista Dr., in conversation with Kimberly Daniels Taws on June 6. Tickets are $35.
Spying on the South, by Tony Horwitz
The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist follows in the footsteps of the young Frederick Law Olmsted who traveled the South in the 1850s as an undercover correspondent for the precursor of the New York Times. Using the pen name “Yeoman.” Olmsted journeyed by horseback, steamboat, and stagecoach, finding a land on the brink of civil war. His vivid dispatches about the lives of Southerners were revelatory and reshaped the man who would reshape the American landscape as the country’s first and foremost landscape architect. Horwitz rediscovers Yeoman Olmsted amidst the discord and polarization of our own time. Is America still one country? In search of answers, and his own adventures, he follows Olmsted’s tracks.
A Piglet Named Mercy, by Kate DiCamillo
Oh, my goodness! If Mercy Watson wasn’t already the cutest pig on the shelves, now readers get to meet her as a piglet — the fabulous toast-loving house pig, Mercy Watson. (Ages 3-5.)
Sweety, by Andrea Zuill
All the young readers, and the young at heart, who truly embrace their inner oddball will absolutely fall in love with Sweety, a naked mole rat who is lovingly referred to by even her adoring Grandmother as a “square peg.” Anyone who loves dancing, mushrooms, or rainy days will be delighted to have a little Sweety in their lives. (Ages 3-6.)
Underwear!, by Jenn Harney
Getting a bare bear into his underwear after bath time is impossible for a tired papa bear when underwear makes great hair; can turn a cub into a superbear; and is so much fun to hide under a chair! But beware of a big scare. This simple silly rhyming romp is sure to have young readers giggling out loud. (Ages 2-5.)
When Your Daddy’s a Soldier, by Gretchen McLellan
Deployments are difficult for everyone, especially the little ones. In this picture book, a young boy shares the pride, sorrow, joy and difficulties he, his mom and his sister experience while Dad is serving his country far away. With moving illustrations by Caldecott honoree E.B. Lewis, this powerful picture book serves as an homage to families who serve. (Ages 3-8.)
The Line Tender, by Kate Allen
When Lucy Everhart sets out with her best friend, Fred, to create a field guide for their town as a summer project, she has no idea of the path it will lead her down. Budding marine biologists, young artists and anyone who just loves a darn good story will not be able to put this one down. (Ages 10-14.) PS
Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally