The Dry by Jane Harper

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This is a #1 international bestseller.  I could not put this book down!  The author writes in beautiful, descriptive language and, at the same time, keeps socking the reader between the eyes with the revelations that unfold in this story of an investigation into a family murder in an outback country town in Australia – a town that seeps with anger, bitterness, violence, and oppressive heat.  I can’t believe this is a first novel.

“A stunner…It’s a small-town, big-secrets page-turner with a shocker of an ending….”–Booklist, starred review

“Devastating debut…a suspenseful tale of sound and fury as riveting as it is horrific.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“A nail-biting thriller…A chilling story set under a blistering sun, this fine debut will keep readers on edge and awake long past bedtime.”–Kirkus, starred review

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A Pale Horse by Charles Todd

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Chosen by the Weston Tuesday Mystery Book Group!

The exemplary 10th Inspector Ian Rutledge historical whodunit offers tight plotting and rich characterization amid understated but convincing evocations of post–WWI England. Haunted by memories of battle, unable to find a safe haven after his discharge from a psychiatric hospital and the abrupt departure of his fiancée, shell-shocked veteran Rutledge has returned to his prewar life as a Scotland Yard inspector. This time out, the War Office wants him to locate a mysterious person of interest, connected with (and perhaps the same as) an unidentified corpse found at a Yorkshire abbey. Rutledge toils diligently to uncover personal secrets and shames that may have motivated someone to kill, and their connection to a long-ago romance between the suspected killer’s wife and the local inspector investigating the case.

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News of the World by Paulette Jiles

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In News of the World, a National Book Award finalist, elderly, genteel Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, a former soldier and onetime printer, makes his living traveling through post–Civil War Texas with a sheaf of newspapers, reading for dimes to audiences hungry for outside news.  The former Johanna Leonberger, a ten-year-old German girl taken captive by the Kiowa in a brutal raid, is now by all measures Kiowa herself. When an aunt and uncle offer a $50 gold piece for Johanna’s safe return, Captain Kidd reluctantly takes the job.  400 miles in 213 pages – action, memorable characters, and gorgeous prose.

“Lyrical and affecting, the novel succeeds in skirting cliches through its empathy and through the depth of its major characters.” – Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“My respect for Paulette Jiles grows with every novel she writes, the News of the World is her best yet…She writes with great clarity, understanding, and a forgiving heart.” – Nancy Pearl, librarian, bestselling author, and literary critic

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Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

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While there is no shortage of books set during World War II, this story was a worthwhile addition that offered a fresh perspective. It focuses on a young woman working as a teacher in London, a soldier sent abroad, and their circle of friends. The sharp, witty dialogue in particular was one of my favorite parts of the novel.

“An audacious, provocative voice.” – New York Times Book Review

“Cleave kick-starts his stories from the first breath and never takes his feet off the pedals’”- Washington Post

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Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

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Trevor Noah is a successful comedian who recently took over as the host of The Daily Show, but you learn none of that reading his book. Instead, this memoir focuses on his life growing up in South Africa during apartheid, the child of a black mother and white father, an interracial relationship that was illegal at the time of his birth. Noah writes with humor and honesty about the joys and challenges of his life, and dedicates much of his book to his mother, who is in many ways the real hero of the story.

“A gritty memoir . . . studded with insight and provocative social criticism . . . with flashes of brilliant storytelling and acute observations.”Kirkus Reviews

“[A] substantial collection of staggering personal essays . . . Incisive, funny, and vivid, these true tales are anchored to his portrait of his courageous, rebellious, and religious mother who defied racially restrictive laws to secure an education and a career for herself—and to have a child with a white Swiss/German even though sex between whites and blacks was illegal. . . . [Trevor Noah’s] electrifying memoir sparkles with funny stories . . . and his candid and compassionate essays deepen our perception of the complexities of race, gender, and class.”Booklist (starred review)

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The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

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In mid-1800s Ireland, an English nurse is sent to investigate an Irish family claiming that their daughter has not eaten anything for several months. Consuming only a small amount of water each day, the young girl claims that her religious faith is sustaining her, and the skeptical nurse is forced to confront her own beliefs as she spends more time with the family. While the plot is simple, I was engrossed in the characters and descriptions of Ireland.

“[Donoghue’s] contemporary thriller Room made [her] an international bestseller, but this gripping tale offers a welcome reminder that her historical fiction is equally fine.”―Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Outstanding…. Exploring the nature of faith and trust with heartrending intensity, Donoghue’s superb novel will leave few unaffected.”―Sarah Johnson, Booklist (starred review)

“A fine work, adept and compelling in voice, plot, and moral complexity…. Donoghue deals out the cards with real skill.”―Katherine A. Powers, Boston Globe

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Finding Nouf by Zoe Ferraris

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When sixteen-year-old Nouf goes missing and is found drowned in the desert outside Jeddah, Nayir—a desert guide hired by her prominent family to search for her—feels compelled to find out what really happened.

“Ferraris, who has lived in Saudi Arabia…gives a fascinating glimpse into the workings and assumptions of Saudi society.” –Publishers Weekly

“Ferraris writes with authority on how Saudi insiders and outsiders alike perceive the United States … With equal authority, she stakes her own claim on the world map, opening Saudi Arabia up for mystery fans to reveal the true minds and hearts of its denizens.” – Los Angeles Times

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Upstream: Selected Essays by Mary Oliver

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First line:  “‘In the beginning I was so young and such a stranger to myself I hardly existed. I had to go out into the world and see it and hear it and react to it, before I knew at all who I was, what I was, what I wanted to be.’ This is a gem of a book that left me breathless with the simplicity of her choice of words combined with the magnitude of her reflection on nature.  I keep asking myself  “how does Mary Oliver do it?”  Emotionally powerful.

“Uniting essays from Oliver’s previous books and elsewhere, this gem of a collection offers a compelling synthesis of the poet’s thoughts on the natural, spiritual and artistic worlds .  . . With each page, the book gains accumulative power. The various threads intertwine and become taut.”
– The New York Times

“There’s hardly a page in my copy of Upstream that isn’t folded down or underlined and scribbled on, so charged is Oliver’s language…I need a moment away from unceasing word drip of debates about the election, about whether Elena Ferrante has the right to privacy, about whether Bob Dylan writes ‘Literature.’ I need a moment, more than a moment, in the steady and profound company of Mary Oliver and I think you might need one too.”—Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s Fresh Air

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Hillbilly Elegy: a Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance

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J.D. Vance grows up very poor in the Ohio rustbelt and after deciding to enlist in the Marine Corps eventually he pursues a law degree at Yale.  It’s a very personal account of the author’s childhood and parts of it felt similar to Jeannette Walls’ “The Glass Castle.” I liked it because while the author conveyed a lot of love and respect for aspects of his culture, he also comments on the contradictions, inconsistencies, and issues.

“[An] understated, engaging debut…An unusually timely and deeply affecting view of a social class whose health and economic problems are making headlines in this election year.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“[Vance’s] description of the culture he grew up in is essential reading for this moment in history.” (David Brooks, New York Times)

“J.D. Vance’s memoir, “Hillbilly Elegy”, offers a starkly honest look at what that shattering of faith feels like for a family who lived through it. You will not read a more important book about America this year.” (The Economist)

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The Murder of Mary Russell: A novel of suspense featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes by Laurie R. King

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Weston Library has a new mystery book group and this was the first pick!

“The great marvel of King’s series is that she’s managed to preserve the integrity of Holmes’s character and yet somehow conjure up a woman astute, edgy, and compelling enough to be the partner of his mind as well as his heart.”The Washington Post Book World

“The most sustained feat of imagination in mystery fiction today.”—Lee Child

“Leaping narrative energy has always been a hallmark of this series, and it reaches something of a peak in this latest volume. . . . The lean momentum of the story never falters. . . . It’s a stunning prolonged feat of storytelling, and it succeeds in making The Murder of Mary Russell the best installment so far in an excellent series.”The Christian Science Monitor

“Worried about Mary Russell? Well, you should be. She’s opened her door to the wrong man and deeply troubling secrets are set to tumble out, rewriting her history and putting herself and the people she loves in a dangerous spot. Once again, King spins a tantalizing tale of deception and misdirection for her readers’ delight and scores a direct hit in her latest Russell-Holmes mystery.” — Deborah Walsh for LibraryReads

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