New Books July 2016

Fiction

For Two Thousand Years by Mihail Sebastian
A young Jewish student in Romania tries to make sense of a world that has decided he doesn’t belong.  Spending his days walking the streets and his nights drinking and gambling, meeting revolutionaries, zealots, lovers and libertines, he adjusts his eyes to the darkness that falls over Europe, and threatens to destroy him.  Mihail Sebastian’s 1934 masterpiece, now translated into English for the first time, was written amid the anti-Semitism which would force him out of his career and turn his friends and colleagues against him.

The Death of an Owl by Paul Torday
Andrew Landford is driving home one night, along a dark country lane, when a barn owl flies into his windscreen. It is an accident, nothing more. However Andrew is in line to be the country’s next prime minister and he has recently been appointed to a parliamentary committee concerned with the Wildlife and Countryside Act. Barn Owls are protected species, and it is a crime to kill one.  If Andrew acknowledges that he has killed the owl, he could be risking his political career.  With Andrew in the car is his old Oxford friend and political adviser, Charles Fryerne.  Charles has just joined the team that is masterminding Andrew’s route to the Tory Party leadership, and from there to No 10 Downing Street.  But the death of the owl threatens to destroy not only Andrew’s career, but everything that Charles has worked for too.  Should they come clean, or hide the story and hope it goes away?

A Hero of France by Alan Furst
Spring, 1941. Britain is losing the war.  Paris is occupied by the Nazis, dark and silent at night. But when the clouds part, and moonlight floods the city, a Resistance leader called Mathieu steps out to begin his work.  The resistance – young and old, aristocrats and nightclub owners, teachers and students – help downed British airmen reach the border with Spain. In farmhouses and rural churches, in secret hotels, and on the streets, they risk everything to open Europe’s sealed doors and lead Allied fighters to freedom.  But as the military police heightens surveillance, Mathieu and his team face a new threat dispatched from the Reich to destroy them all.

Heat & Light by Jennifer Haigh
Forty years ago, Bakerton coal fueled the country.  Then the mines closed, and the town wore away like a bar of soap.  Now Bakerton has been granted a surprise third act: it sits squarely atop the Marcellus Shale, a massive deposit of natural gas.  Prison guard Rich Devlin leases his mineral rights to finance his dream of farming.  He doesn’t count on the truck traffic and nonstop noise, his brother’s skepticism or the paranoia of his wife, Shelby, who insists the water smells strange and is poisoning their frail daughter.  Meanwhile his neighbors, organic dairy farmers Mack and Rena, hold out against the drilling—until a passionate environmental activist disrupts their lives.

 

Mystery/ Thriller

A Siege of Bitterns by Steve Burrows
Newly appointed police inspector Domenic Jejeune doesn’t mind ruffling a few feathers.  The problem is Jejeune doesn’t really want to be a detective at all; he much prefers watching birds.  Recently reassigned to the small Norfolk town of Saltmarsh, located in the heart of Britain’s premier birding country, Jejeune’s two worlds collide with the grisly murder of a prominent ecological activist. His ambitious police superintendent foresees a blaze of welcome publicity, although doubts soon emerge when Jejeune’s best theory involves a feud over birdwatching lists. A second murder does little to bolster confidence.  Jejeune must call on all his birding knowhow to solve the mystery and deal with unwelcome public acclaim, the mistrust of colleagues and his own insecurities.

The Crow Girl by Erik Axl Sund
It starts with just one body – tortured, mummified and then discarded.  Its discovery reveals a nightmare world of hidden lives.  Of lost identities, secret rituals and brutal exploitation, where nobody can be trusted.  This is the darkest, most complex case the police have ever seen.  This is the world of the Crow Girl.

The Accidental Agent by Andrew Rosenheim
A long and deadly conflict seems inevitable, unless there is a breakthrough in the development of a ‘Super Weapon’. The British and Americans are working feverishly to harness the terrifying power of the atom, convinced the Germans are also making a nuclear bomb. Science is mobilised for war.  In Chicago, Special Agent James Nessheim has resigned from the FBI, but then his former Bureau boss comes to call. A top-secret nuclear program at the University of Chicago has been infiltrated; Nessheim agrees to go undercover to help track down the spy, joining the team of legendary physicist Enrico Fermi.  Out of the blue, an old flame re-enters Nessheim’s life. But Stacey Madison’s Communist past worries Nessheim’s superiors, and complicates his assignment. As his personal and professional lives collide, Nessheim discovers an unexpected conspiracy that threatens to sabotage America’s efforts to win the war.

Ten Days by Gillian Slovo
In this gripping thriller, a death at police hands has repercussions far beyond one family plunged into grief.  As violence erupts in the middle of a stifling heatwave, a dead man becomes a useful tactic (or an urgent threat) in political games at the highest level. So while lives are at risk in Cathy Mason’s estate, across London in Westminster, careers are being made, or ruined.  From a Home Secretary’s attempts to unseat a Prime Minister, to a new Met Police Commissioner fighting for his job, to families torn apart.

Shot Through the Heart by Isabelle Grey
When a lone shooter claims the lives of five people on Christmas Day before turning the gun on himself, it’s up to DI Grace Fisher to find out, not who did it, but why and how.  Tracing the illegal weapon and its deadly load of homemade bullets, she soon uncovers a toxic web of police corruption, personal vendettas and revenge. But when the enemy is within, who will believe her?  As threats to her safety mount up and the strain of secrecy begins to wreck her friendships, Grace must decide how far she wants to pursue justice – and at what cost.

The Travelers by Chris Pavone
Meet Will Rhodes: travel writer, recently married, barely solvent, his idealism rapidly giving way to disillusionment and the worry that he’s living the wrong life. Then one night in Argentina a beautiful woman makes him an offer he can’t refuse. Soon Will’s bad choices – and dark secrets – take him across Europe, from a Bordeaux chateau to a midnight raid in Paris, from a Dublin dive-bar to a mega-yacht in the Mediterranean and an isolated cabin perched on the cliffs of Iceland.  As Will is drawn further into a tangled web of international intrigue, it becomes clear that the network of deception ensnaring him is part of an immense and deadly conspiracy with terrifying global implications – and that the people closest to him may pose the greatest threat of all.

 

Non-Fiction

A Rage for Order: the Middle East in Turmoil, from Tahrir Square to ISIS by Robert Forsyth Worth
A Rage for Order tracks the tormented legacy of what was once called the Arab Spring. Distinguished New York Times correspondent Robert F. Worth introduces a riveting cast of characters. We meet a Libyan rebel who must decide whether to kill the torturer who murdered his brother; a Yemeni farmer who lives in servitude to a poetry-writing, dungeon-operating chieftain; two young Syrian women whose close friendship devolves into enmity as their sects go to war; and an Egyptian doctor who is caught between his loyalty to the Muslim Brotherhood and his hopes for a new, tolerant democracy. In a final chapter, Worth tells the moving story of the two eighty-something statesmen whose unlikely camaraderie allowed Tunisia to escape its neighbors’ worst fates. Combining dramatic storytelling with an original analysis of the Arab world today, Worth captures the psychological and actual civil wars raging throughout the Middle East and explains how the dream of an Arab renaissance gave way to a new age of discord.

Burma ’44: the Battle that Turned Britain’s War in the East by James Holland
In February 1944, a rag-tag collection of clerks, drivers, doctors, muleteers, and other base troops, stiffened by a few dogged Yorkshiremen and a handful of tank crews managed to hold out against some of the finest infantry in the Japanese Army, and then defeat them in what was one of the most astonishing battles of the Second World War.  What became know as The Defence of the Admin Box, fought amongst the paddy fields and jungle of Northern Arakan over a fifteen-day period, turned the battle for Burma. Not only was it the first decisive victory for British troops against the Japanese, more significantly, it demonstrated how the Japanese could be defeated. The lessons learned in this tiny and otherwise insignificant corner of the Far East, set up the campaign in Burma that would follow, as General Slim’s Fourteenth Army finally turned defeat into victory.

The Gates of Europe: a History of Ukraine by Serhii Plokhy
At the western edge of the Eurasian steppe, caught between Central Europe, Russia, and the Middle East, Ukraine has long been the meeting place of empires – Roman to Ottoman, Habsburg to Russian – that left their imprint on the landscape, the language and the people. The frontier between Islam and Christianity created a class of ferocious warriors known as the Cossacks, while the encounter between the Catholic and Orthodox churches led to a religious tradition that bridges Western and Eastern Christianity. Ukraine has been a home to millions of Jews, serving as the birthplace of Hassidism – and as one of the killing fields of the Holocaust.  Award-winning historian Serhii Plokhy examines the history of Ukraine’s search for its identity, bringing together some of the major figures in Ukrainian history along with the heroes of the Maidan protests of 2013 and 2014, who embody the current struggle over Ukraine’s future.

Benjamin Franklin in London: The British Life of America’s Founding Father by George Goodwin
For the great majority of his long life, Benjamin Franklin was a loyal British royalist. In 1757, having made his fortune in Philadelphia and established his fame as a renowned experimental scientist, he crossed the Atlantic to live as a gentleman in the heaving metropolis of London.  There he mixed with both the brilliant and the powerful.  The early 1760s saw Britain’s elevation to global superpower status with victory in the Seven Years War and the succession of the young, active George III.  These two events brought a sharp new edge to political competition in London and redefined the relationship between Britain and its colonies.  They would profoundly affect Franklin himself, eventually placing him in opposition with his ambitious son William.  Though Franklin long sought to prevent the break with Great Britain, his own actions would finally help cause that very event.  On the eve of the American War of Independence, Franklin fled arrest and escaped by sea.  He would never return to London.

Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye : a Journey by Marie Mutsuki Mockett
Marie Mutsuki Mockett’s family owns a Buddhist temple 25 miles from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.  In March 2011, after the earthquake and tsunami, radiation levels prohibited the burial of her Japanese grandfather’s bones.  As Japan mourned thousands of people lost in the disaster, Mockett also grieved for her American father, who had died unexpectedly.  Seeking consolation, Mockett is guided by a colourful cast of Zen priests and ordinary Japanese who perform rituals that disturb, haunt and finally uplift her. Her journey leads her into the radiation zone in an intricate white hazmat suit; to Eiheiji, a school for Zen Buddhist monks; on a visit to a Crab Lady and Fuzzy-Headed Priest’s temple on Mount Doom; and into the “thick dark” of the subterranean labyrinth under Kiyomizu temple, among other twists and turns.  From the ecstasy of a cherry blossom festival in the radiation zone to the ghosts inhabiting chopsticks, Mockett writes of both the earthly and the sublime with extraordinary sensitivity.  Her unpretentious and engaging voice makes her the kind of companion a reader wants to stay with wherever she goes, even into the heart of grief itself.

 

Children’s Picture Books

Malala: A Brave Girl from Pakistan by Jeanette Winter
Iqbal: A Brave Boy from Pakistan by Jeanette Winter
Meet two brave young heroes of Pakistan who stood up for the right to freedom and education in these inspirational nonfiction picture books from acclaimed author-illustrator Jeanette Winter. One country: Pakistan. Two children: Iqbal Masih and Malala Yousafzai. Each was unafraid to speak out. He, against inhumane child slavery in the carpet trade. She, for the right of girls to attend school. Both were shot by those who disagreed with them-he in 1995, she in 2012. Iqbal was killed instantly; Malala miraculously survived and continues to speak out around the world. The stories of these two courageous children whose bravery transcended their youth are an inspiration to all.

Goldie Socks and the Three Libearians by Jackie Mims Hopkins
Deep in an enchanted forest, a little girl named Goldie Socks finds a storybook cottage. When she looks inside, she finds shelves and shelves filled with books. As she searches for one that is just right and a comfy place to read it, Mama, Papa and Baby Libearian discover that someone has been in their house!

To the Sea by Cale Atkinson
Sometimes Tim feels invisible at school-until one day, when Tim meets Sam. But Sam isn’t just any new friend: he’s a blue whale, and he can’t find his way home! Returning Sam to the sea is hard work, but Tim is determined to help. After all, it’s not every day you meet a new friend!

 

Children’s Fiction Books

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan  
Esperanza Ortega possesses all the treasures a young girl could want: fancy dresses, a beautiful home filled with servants in Aguascalientes, Mexico, and the promise of one day rising to Mama’s position and presiding over all of Rancho de las Rosas. Tragedy shatters that dream, forcing Esperanza and Mama to flee to California and settle in a Mexican farm labor camp. There, Esperanza must confront the challenges of hard labor, acceptance by her own people, and economic difficulties brought on by the Great Depression, while learning the value of family and community.

Salt in His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream by Deloris & Roslyn
The mere mention of the name conjures up visions of basketball played at its absolute best. But as a child, Michael almost gave up on his hoop dreams, all because he feared he’d never grow tall enough to play the game that would one day make him famous. That’s when his mother and father stepped in and shared the invaluable lesson of what really goes into the making of a champion — patience, determination, and hard work.

Clementine by Sara Pennypacker
Clementine tries to help out her friend Margaret, but ends up in a lot of trouble for it. Things get worse each day of the week, until finally she’s worried that Margaret is right: Clementine’s parents might consider her “the hard one” in the family. They’re up to something mysterious…are they thinking they’d be better off if they only had her little vegetable-named brother…”the easy one”?

 

Young Adult

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Blue has spent the majority of her sixteen years being told that if she kisses her true love, he will die. When Blue meets Gansey’s spirit on the corpse road she knows there is only one reason why – either he is her true love or she has killed him. Determined to find out the truth, Blue becomes involved with the Raven Boys, four boys from the local private school (lead by Gansey) who are on a quest to discover Glendower – a lost ancient Welsh King who is buried somewhere along the Virginia ley line. Whoever finds him will be granted a supernatural favour. Never before has Blue felt such magic around her. But is Gansey her true love? She can’t imagine a time she would feel like that, and she is adamant not to be the reason for his death. Where will fate lead them? …

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Blue and Gansey will be the same. Ronan is falling more and more deeply into his dreams … and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Gansey is needed at home, and is struggling to stay in Aglionby. And Adam? He’s made some new friends. Friends that are looking for some of the same pieces of the puzzle that Gansey, Blue, and Ronan are after. Great power is at stake, and someone must be willing to wield it.

This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen
Remy is a cynic when it comes to love. Let down by her absent musician dad and witness to her mother’s four failed marriages, she doesn’t intend ever to let anyone that close. So when Dexter comes crashing into her life, why is it suddenly so hard for Remy to follow her own rules? He’s everything she hates: messy, disorganised, impulsive, and worst of all, a musician like her absent father…