New Books August 2017

Fiction

A Boy in Winter by Rachel Seiffert
Penned in with his fellow Jews, under threat of deportation, Ephraim anxiously awaits word of his two sons, missing since daybreak. Come in search of her lover, to fetch him home again, away from the invaders, Yasia must confront new and harsh truths about those closest to her. Here to avoid a war he considers criminal, German engineer Otto Pohl is faced with an even greater crime unfolding behind the lines, and no one but himself to turn to. And in the midst of it all is Yankel, a boy determined to survive this. But to do so, he must throw in his lot with strangers. As their stories mesh, they come to know the compromises demanded by survival, the oppressive power of fear, and the possibility of courage in the face of terror.

Inheritance from Mother byMinae Mizumura
Mitsuki Katsura, a Japanese woman in her mid-fifties, is a French-language instructor at a private university in Tokyo. Her husband, whom she met in Paris, is a professor at another private university. He is having an affair with a much younger woman. In addition to her husband’s infidelity, Mitsuki must deal with her ailing eighty-something mother, a demanding, self-absorbed woman who is far from the image of the patient, self-sacrificing Japanese matriarch. Mitsuki finds herself dreaming of the day when her mother will finally pass on. While doing everything she can to ensure her mother’s happiness, she grows weary of the responsibilities of a doting daughter and worries she is sacrificing her chance to find fulfillment in her middle age.

Darke by Rick Gekoski
Dr James Darke has expelled himself from the world. He writes compulsively in his ‘coming of old age’ journal; he eats little, drinks and smokes a lot. Meditating on what he has lost – the loves of his life, both dead and alive – he tries to console himself with the wisdom of the great thinkers and poets, yet finds nothing but disappointment. But cracks of light appear in his carefully managed darkness; he begins to emerge from his self-imposed exile, drawn by the tender, bruised filaments of love for his daughter and grandson.

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney
She took 1930s New York by storm, working her way up writing copy for R.H. Macy’s to become the highest paid advertising woman in the country. It was a job that, she says, “in some ways saved my life, and in other ways ruined it.” Now it’s the last night of 1984 and Lillian, 85 years old but just as sharp and savvy as ever, is on her way to a party. It’s chilly enough out for her mink coat and Manhattan is grittier now―her son keeps warning her about a subway vigilante on the prowl―but the quick-tongued poetess has never been one to scare easily. On a walk that takes her over 10 miles around the city, she meets bartenders, bodega clerks, security guards, criminals, children, parents, and parents-to-be, while reviewing a life of excitement and adversity, passion and heartbreak, illuminating all the ways New York has changed―and has not.

Spoils by Brian Van Reet
It is April 2003. American forces have taken Baghdad and are now charged with winning hearts and minds. But this vital tipping point is barely recognized for what it is, as a series of miscalculations and blunders fuels an already-smoldering insurgency intent on making Iraq the next graveyard of empires. Van Reet explores the lives on both sides of the battle lines: Cassandra, a nineteen-year-old gunner on an American Humvee who is captured during a deadly firefight and awakens in a prison cell; Abu al-Hool, a lifelong mujahedeen beset by a simmering crisis of conscience as he struggles against enemies from without and within, including the next wave of far more radicalized jihadists; and Specialist Sleed, a tank crewman who goes along with a “victimless” crime, the consequences of which are more awful than any he could have imagined.

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong
Freshly disengaged from her fiancé and feeling that life has not turned out quite the way she planned, thirty-year-old Ruth quits her job, leaves town and arrives at her parents’ home to find that situation more complicated than she’d realized. Her father, a prominent history professor, is losing his memory and is only erratically lucid. Ruth’s mother, meanwhile, is lucidly erratic. But as Ruth’s father’s condition intensifies, the comedy in her situation takes hold, gently transforming her all her grief.

Missing Fay by Adam Thorpe
A spirited, restless fourteen-year-old, Fay, goes missing from a Lincoln council estate. Is she a runaway, or a victim – another face on a poster gradually fading with time? The story of her last two days before she vanishes is interwoven with the varied lives of six locals – whether aware or unaware of her presence or absence, all touched in life-changing ways. David is an eco-campaigner on a family holiday on the bleak Lincolnshire coast; Howard, a retired steel worker with some dodgy friends; Cosmina, a Romanian immigrant struggling as a care-home nurse; Sheena, middle-aged and single, running a kiddies’ clothes shop, is sexually entangled with the peculiar Gavin, while dreaming of Paul, up the lane; Mike, the misanthropic owner of the haunted second-hand bookshop, is secretly in love with Cosmina; and Chris, a TV producer become Trappist monk, can’t quite leave the ordinary world behind. All are involuntary witnesses to the lost girl; paths cross, threads touch, connections are made or lost. Is Fay alive or dead? Or somewhere in between?

 

Mystery / Thriller

The Night Visitor by Lucy Atkins
Professor Olivia Sweetman has worked hard to achieve the life she loves, with a high-flying career as a TV presenter and historian, three children, and a talented husband. But as she stands before a crowd at the launch of her new bestseller she can barely pretend to smile. Her life has spiraled into deceit, and if the truth comes out, she’ll lose everything. Only one person knows what Olivia has done. Vivian Tester is the socially awkward sixty-year-old housekeeper of a Sussex manor who found the Victorian diary on which Olivia’s book is based. Now Olivia’s unofficial research assistant, Vivian has secrets of her own. As events move between London, Sussex, and the idyllic South of France, the relationship between these two women grows more entangled and complex. Then a bizarre act of violence changes everything.

Prague Nights by Benjamin Black 
Prague, 1599. Christian Stern, a young doctor, has just arrived in the city. On his first evening, he finds a young woman’s body half-buried in the snow. The dead woman is none other than the emperor’s mistress, and there’s no shortage of suspects. Stern is employed by the emperor himself to investigate the murder. In the search to find the culprit, Stern finds himself drawn into the shadowy world of the emperor’s court – unspoken affairs, letters written in code, and bitter rivalries. But there’s no turning back now.

Soot by Andrew Martin
In August, an artist is found murdered in his home – stabbed with a pair of scissors. Matthew Harvey’s death is much discussed in the city. The scissors are among the tools of his trade – for Harvey is a renowned cutter and painter of shades, or silhouettes, the latest fashion in portraiture. It soon becomes clear that the murderer must be one of the artist’s last sitters, and the people depicted in the final six shades made by him become the key suspects. But who are they? And where are they to be found? Later, in November, a clever but impoverished young gentleman called Fletcher Rigge languishes in the debtor’s prison, until a letter arrives containing a bizarre proposition from the son of the murdered man. Rigge is to be released for one month, but in that time, he must find the killer. If he fails, he will be incarcerated again, possibly for life.

The Force by Don Winslow
Detective sergeant Denny Malone leads an elite unit to fight gangs, drugs and guns in New York. For eighteen years he’s been on the front lines, doing whatever it takes to survive in a city built by ambition and corruption, where no one is clean. What only a few know is that Denny Malone himself is dirty: he and his partners have stolen millions of dollars in drugs and cash. Now he’s caught in a trap and being squeezed by the Feds, and he must walk a thin line of betrayal, while the city teeters on the brink of a racial conflagration that could destroy them all.

Three Drops of Blood and a Cloud of Cocaine by Quentin Mouron
Sheriff McCarthy, a church-going family man, is trying to keep a boundary between the sordidness of his investigations and his private life. He is also trying to keep faith in human nature. But Franck, willing to kill for the sake of a good pun, dominates the story. He is a disturbing, violent, decadent character, a man always rushing to the bathroom for another line of coke, revealing the darker workings of the case with a blood curdling laugh.

Testimony by Scott Turow
Bill ten Boom has walked out on everything he thought was important to him: his career, his wife, even his country. Invited to become a prosecutor at The Hague’s International Criminal Court, it was a chance to start afresh. But when his first case is to examine the disappearance of four hundred Roma refugees – an apparent war crime left unsolved for ten years – it’s clear this new life won’t be an easy one. Whispered rumours have the perpetrators ranging from Serb paramilitaries to the U.S. Army, but there’s no hard evidence to hold either accountable, and only a single witness to say it happened at all. To get to the truth, Boom must question the integrity of every person linked to the case – from Layton Merriwell, a disgraced US Major General, to flirtatious barrister, Esma Czarni – as it soon becomes apparent that every party has a vested interest and no qualms in steering the investigation their way.

Broken River by J. Robert Lennon
Following a string of affairs, Karl and Eleanor are giving their marriage one last shot: they’re moving with their twelve-year-old daughter Irina from Brooklyn to a newly renovated, apparently charming old house near the upstate New York town of Broken River. Before their arrival, the house stood empty for over a decade. The reason is no secret. Twelve years previously, a brutal double murder took place there, a young couple killed in front of their child. The crime was never solved, and most locals consider the house cursed. The family may have left the deceptions of their city life behind them, but all three are still lying to each other, and to themselves. Before long the family’s duplicity will unleash forces none of them could possibly have anticipated, putting them in mortal danger.

 
Non-Fiction

The Silk Road: A New History of the World by Peter Frankopan 
For centuries, fame and fortune were to be found in the west – in the New World of the Americas. Today, it is the east which calls out to those in search of riches and adventure. Sweeping right across Central Asia and deep into China and India, a region that once took centre stage is again rising to dominate global politics, commerce and culture. A major reassessment of world history, The Silk Roads is a dazzling exploration of the forces that have driven the rise and fall of empires, determined the flow of ideas and goods and are now heralding a new dawn in international affairs.

The Book Smugglers of Timbuktu: The Quest for This Storied City and the Race to Save Its Treasures by Charlie English
The historical race to reach one of the world’s most mythologized places, and the story of how a contemporary band of archivists and librarians, fighting to save its ancient manuscripts from destruction at the hands of al Qaeda, added another layer to the legend. To Westerners, the name “Timbuktu” long conjured a tantalising paradise, an African El Dorado where even the slaves wore gold. Beginning in the late eighteenth century, a series of explorers gripped by the fever for “discovery” tried repeatedly to reach the fabled city. But one expedition after another went disastrously awry, succumbing to attack, the climate, and disease. Timbuktu was rich in another way too. A medieval centre of learning, it was home to tens of thousands of ancient manuscripts, on subjects ranging from religion to poetry, law to history, pharmacology, and astronomy. When al-Qaeda–linked jihadists surged across Mali in 2012, threatening the existence of these precious documents, a remarkable thing happened: a team of librarians and archivists joined forces to spirit the manuscripts into hiding.

Last Hope Island: Britain, Occupied Europe and the Brotherhood that Helped Turn the Tide of War by Lynne Olson
When the Nazi blitzkrieg rolled over continental Europe in the early days of World War II, the city of London became a refuge for the governments and armed forces of six occupied nations ― Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Norway, Czechoslovakia, and Poland ― who escaped there to continue the fight. So, too, did General Charles de Gaulle, the self-appointed representative of free France. As the only European democracy still holding out against Hitler, Britain became known to occupied countries as ‘Last Hope Island’. Lynne Olson takes us back to those perilous days when the British and their European guests joined forces to combat the mightiest military force in history and restore order to a broken continent.

Inheritors of the Earth: How Nature is Thriving in an Age of Extinction by Chris D. Thomas
Many animals and plants actually benefit from our presence, raising biological diversity in most parts of the world and increasing the rate at which new species are formed, perhaps to the highest level in Earth’s history. From Costa Rican tropical forests to the thoroughly transformed British landscape, nature is coping surprisingly well in the human epoch. Chris Thomas takes us on a gripping round-the-world journey to meet the enterprising creatures that are thriving in the Anthropocene, from York’s ochre-coloured comma butterfly to hybrid bison in North America, scarlet-beaked pukekos in New Zealand, and Asian palms forming thickets in the European Alps. In so doing, he questions our irrational persecution of so-called ‘invasive species’, and shows us that we should not treat the Earth as a faded masterpiece that we need to restore. After all, if life can recover from the asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs, might it not be able to survive the onslaughts of a technological ape?

Blood and Silk: Power and Conflict in Modern Southeast Asia by Michael Vatikiotis
This is a first-hand account of what it’s like to sit at the table with deadly Thai Muslim insurgents, mediate between warring clans in the Southern Philippines and console the victims of political violence in Indonesia – all in an effort to negotiate peace, and understand the reasons behind endemic violence. Peering beyond brand new shopping malls and shiny glass towers in Bangkok and Jakarta, Michael Vatikiotis probes the heart of modern Southeast Asia. Why are the region’s richest countries such as Malaysia riddled with corruption? Why do Myanmar, Thailand and the Philippines harbour unresolved violent insurgencies? How do deepening religious divisions in Indonesia and Malaysia and China’s growing influence affect the region and the rest of the world? Vatikiotis tells the story of modern Southeast Asia using vivid portraits of the personalities who pull the strings, mixed with revealing analysis that is underpinned by decades of experience in the countries involved, from their silk-sheathed salons to blood-spattered streets. The result is a fascinating study of the dynamics of power and conflict in one of the world’s fastest growing regions.

 
Children’s Picture Books

Nanette’s Baguette by Mo Willems 
A hilarious new tongue-twister about a little girl, Nanette, on a mission to buy a baguette. It’s Nanette’s very first solo trip to the bakery. But will Nanette get the baguette from baker Juliette? Or will Nanette soon be beset with regret?

Play by Jez Alborough
The sun is still up and Bobo the little chimp wants to play with his jungle friends, but then the sun goes down and he’s all alone… The perfect bedtime read for every playful little monkey!

Sir Ned and the Nasties by Brett and David McKee
The whole kingdom is plagued by the screeching, howling din made by the Nasties, so the King sends Sir Ned to deal with them. A wolf, a witch and a troll help Ned along the way, but it turns out he has walked into danger – these three are the notorious nasties themselves! Luckily he works out why they sound so awful and teaches them to listen to each other, so they ask him to join the band rather than turning him into dinner.

The Big Green Book by Robert Graves
The little boy Jack discovers a big green book of magic in the attic, and learns all sorts of spells – spells to change the look of things, spells to make him old and grey, or disappear entirely! Of course I can’t tell you how all these things were done, because this was a long time ago and the big green book has now disappeared. But if you want to read about what Jack did with his new magic powers, and how his poor old aunt and uncle were quite bewildered, then take a look inside…

Grumpy Frog by Ed Vere
Grumpy Frog is not grumpy. He loves green, and he loves to hop, and he loves winning. But what happens when Grumpy Frog doesn’t win, or encounters – horror of horrors – a Pink Rabbit? Join Grumpy Frog as he learns about compromise and tolerance, friendship and the power of saying sorry.

Cowboy Pug by Laura James
Pug and his faithful companion, Lady Miranda, are going to be cowboys for the day – and first of all they’re going horsetrading! But with their noble steed Horsey safely acquired, it’s not long before they find themselves on the wrong side of the law. Can Pug the reluctant hero overcome his fears and save the day once more?

Fairy Magic by Cerrie Burnell
When Isabelle meets a lovely fairy called Summer-Blue, she discovers a magical world, hidden in the woods at the bottom of her garden. She can’t wait to share what she’s learned with her family, but her sister and brothers don’t believe in fairies, and they don’t believe Isabelle! As a deaf child Isabelle can see and sense things that her family can’t. Her hearing aid helps her to understand their world – but how can she persuade them to step into hers?

The Night Box by Louis Greig 
An enchanting bedtime story about a small boy who is the custodian of night.

Rapunzel by Bethan Woollvin
Golden-haired princess Rapunzel is kept trapped in her lofty tower by a wicked witch, who lops off locks of her beautiful hair and sells them for her own profit. Can Rapunzel ever figure out a way to escape?

King Coo by Adam Stower
If Peter Pan had been a girl with a beard, then he’d have probably been called King Coo.

King of the Sky by Nicola Davies
Starting a new life in a new country, a young boy feels lost and alone – until he meets an old man who keeps racing pigeons. Together they pin their hopes on a race across Europe and the special bird they believe can win it.

 
Young Adult

Zeustian Logic by Sabrina Malcolm
The aftermath of a mountain-climbing accident, a petrolhead neighbour, a troubled little brother, what boy wouldn’t prefer the company of the Greek gods, astronomists and his best friend, Attila the Pun? After Tuttle’s father dies on Mount Everest, his mother is distant and muffled by her grief. Tuttle tries to discover the true story about what happened on the mountain while he cares for his younger brother, tackles a tough English assignment at school (and computer games at home) with his friend Attila, and battles the car-obssessed Boyd and Derek next door.

Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell
Kellen is moments away from facing his first mage’s duel and the start of four trials that will make him a spellcaster. There’s just one problem: his magic is gone. As his sixteenth birthday approaches, Kellen falls back on his cunning in a bid to avoid total disgrace. But when a daring stranger arrives in town, she challenges Kellen to take a different path. Ferius Parfax is one of the mysterious Argosi – a traveller who lives by her wits and the three decks of cards she carries. She’s difficult and unpredictable, but she may be Kellen’s only hope.