Dead Wake: the Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson

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It is a story that many of us think we know but may not.  Erik Larson tells a thrilling story, switching between hunter and hunted, while painting a larger portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era. Gripping and important, Dead Wake captures the sheer drama and emotional power of a disaster whose intimate details and true meaning have long been obscured by history.

“In his gripping new examination of the last days of what was then the fastest cruise ship in the world, Larson brings the past stringingly alive…He draws upon telegrams, war logs, love letters, and survivor depositions to provide the intriguing details, things I didn’t know I wanted to know…Thrilling, dramatic and powerful.”—NPR

“Larson has a gift for transforming historical re-creations into popular recreations, and Dead Wake is no exception…[He] provides first-rate suspense, a remarkable achievement given that we already know how this is going to turn out…The tension, in the reader’s easy chair, is unbearable…”—The Boston Globe

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The Dogs of Littlefield by Suzanne Berne

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When Littlefield, Massachusetts, named one of the Twenty Best Places to Live in America, falls under the scrutiny of sociologist Dr. Clarice Watkins to study the elements of “good quality of life”, someone begins poisoning the town’s dogs. Are the poisonings in protest to an off-leash proposal for Baldwin Park—the subject of much town debate—or the sign of a far deeper disorder?

“Berne (Missing Lucile, 2010, etc.), who won the Orange Prize for her first novel, A Crime in the Neighborhood (1997), is a sure hand at the dinner parties, school concerts, teacup tempests, and true moments of suspense that make a suburban comedy of manners par excellence. It’s too bad about the dogs, but they died for a good cause.”—Kirkus (Starred Review)

“A look at suburban life that manages to be both scathing and sympathetic, Berne’s latest is a smart,amusing satire.”—Booklist

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Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

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A young man and woman fall in love in their unnamed home country before a civil war forces them to flee to the west. Hamid writes powerfully of their joys, tragedies, and experiences as refugees in a poetic style.

“It was as if Hamid knew what was going to happen to America and the world, and gave us a road map to our future… At once terrifying and … oddly hopeful.” –Ayelet Waldman, The New York Times Book Review

“This is the best writing of Hamid’s career… Readers will find themselves going back and savoring each paragraph several times before moving on. He’s that good. … Breathtaking.” —NPR.org

“In spare, crystalline prose, Hamid conveys the experience of living in a city under siege with sharp, stabbing immediacy. He shows just how swiftly ordinary life — with all its banal rituals and routines — can morph into the defensive crouch of life in a war zone. … [and] how insidiously violence alters the calculus of daily life. … By mixing the real and the surreal, and using old fairy-tale magic, Hamid has created a fictional universe that captures the global perils percolating beneath today’s headlines.” ––Michiko Kakutani, New York Times 

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Some writer! : the story of E. B. White by Melissa Sweet.

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In Some Writer!, the two-time Caldecott Honor winner Melissa Sweet mixes White’s personal letters, photos, and family ephemera with her own exquisite artwork to tell his story, from his birth in 1899 to his death in 1985. This authorized tribute is the first fully illustrated biography of E. B. White and includes an afterword by Martha White, E. B. White’s granddaughter. Pure scrapbook delight for the eyes and heart!

“Whether the name E. B. White is a new discover or a much-loved author, Some Writer! will captivate readers of all ages.”—Christian Science Monitor

“Sweet raises her collage skills to new heights while bringing her love and admiration for fellow Mainer E. B. White to the page for everyone to appreciate. Just as her astounding collages blend materials that might have been found in a barn in Maine, the text carefully blends her words with those of the beloved writer of children’s books… Sweet has written and drawn a fast-moving, thorough, deeply researched, and accessible biography.”—Horn Book, STARRED review

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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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