New Books June 2016

Fiction

Mãn by Kim Thúy
Mãn has three mothers: the one who gives birth to her in wartime, the nun who plucks her from a vegetable garden, and her beloved Maman, who becomes a spy to survive. Seeking security for her grown daughter, Maman finds Mãn a husband – a lonely Vietnamese restaurateur who lives in Montreal.  Thrown into a new world, Mãn discovers her natural talent as a chef.  She and her husband seem to drift along, but when she encounters a married chef in Paris, everything changes in the instant of a fleeting touch, and Mãn discovers the all-encompassing obsession and ever-present dangers of a love affair.

Beauty is a Wound by Eka Kurniawan
One storm swept afternoon, after twenty-one years of being dead, the beautiful Indonesian prostitute Dewi Ayu rise from her grave to avenge a curse placed on her family. Amidst the orange groves and starfruit trees, her children and grandchildren have been living out lives of violence, incest, murder, madness and heartbreak. They are creatures of breathtaking beauty – all but one of them, whose ugliness in unparalleled. And Beauty is her name.

River of Ink by Paul M.M. Cooper
All Asanka knows is poetry. From his humble village beginnings in the great island kingdom of Lanka, he has risen to the prestigious position of court poet and now delights in his life of ease. But when Kalinga Magha arrives upon Lanka’s shores, Asanka’s world is changed beyond imagining. Violent, hubristic and unpredictable, Magha usurps the throne, laying waste to all who stand in his way. To Asanka’s horror, Magha tasks him with the translation of an epic Sanskrit poem, which the king believes will have a civilising effect on his subjects, soothing their discontent and snuffing out the fires of rebellion he suspects are igniting across the island. Asanka has always believed that poetry makes nothing happen, but as each new chapter he writes is disseminated through the land and lines on the page become cries in the street, his belief and his loyalties are challenged. And, as Magha circles ever closer to the things Asanka treasures most, the poet will discover that true power lies not at the point of a sword, but in the tip of a pen.

Orhan’s Inheritance by Aline Ohanesian
When Orhan’s brilliant and eccentric grandfather, who built a dynasty out of making kilim rugs, is found dead, submerged in a vat of dye, Orhan inherits the decades – old business. But his grandfather has left the family estate to a stranger thousands of miles away, Seda, an aging woman in a retirement home in Los Angeles. Over time, Orhan begins to unearth the story that eighty-seven-year-old Seda so closely guards-a story that, if it’s told, has the power to undo the legacy upon which Orhan’s family is built and could unravel Orhan’s own future.

Hunting the Eagles (Eagles of Rome book 2) by Ben Kane
AD 14: Five long years have passed since the annihilation of three legions in the wilds of Germania. Although the bones of 15,000 soldiers now moulder in the Teutoburg Forest, not all the Romans were slain in the bloody ambush.  Demoted, battle-scarred and hell-bent on revenge, Centurion Tullus and his legionaries begin their fightback. Ranged against them is the charismatic chieftan Arminius, who is gathering thousands of hostile tribesmen, and determined to crush the Romans for a second time.  The eagle belonging to Tullus’ old legion is still in enemy hands, but as the Romans’ reprisals take their army deep into German tribal lands, he remains convinced that it is within reach. But Arminius and his warriors are perilously close.

The Yid by Paul Goldberg
Moscow, February 1953. A week before Stalin’s death his final pogrom, “one that would forever rid the Motherland of the vermin,” is in full swing. Three government goons arrive in the middle of the night to arrest Solomon Shimonovich Levinson, an actor from the defunct State Jewish Theater. But Levinson, though an old man, is a veteran of past wars, and his shocking response to the intruders sets in motion a series of events both zany and deadly as he proceeds to assemble a ragtag group to help him enact a mad-brilliant plot: the assassination of a tyrant.

Thus Bad Begins by Javier Marias
As a young man, Juan de Vere takes a job that will haunt him for the rest of his life. Eduardo Muriel is a famous film director – urbane, discreet, irreproachable – an irresistible idol to a young man. Muriel’s wife Beatriz is a soft, ripe woman who slips through her husband’s home like an unwanted ghost, finding solace in other beds. And on the periphery of all their lives stands Dr Jorge Van Vechten, a shadowy family friend implicated in unsavoury rumours that Muriel cannot bear to pursue himself – rumours he asks Juan to investigate instead. But as Juan draws closer to the truth, he uncovers more questions, ones his employer has not asked and would rather not answer.

Cometh the Hour (The Clifton Chronicles book 6) by Jeffrey Archer
Cometh the Hour opens with the reading of a suicide note, which has devastating consequences for Harry and Emma Clifton, Giles Barrington and Lady Virginia. Giles must decide if he should withdraw from politics and try to rescue Karin, the woman he loves, from behind the Iron Curtain. But is Karin truly in love with him, or is she a spy? Lady Virginia is facing bankruptcy, and can see no way out of her financial problems, until she is introduced to the hapless Cyrus T. Grant III from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who’s in England to see his horse run at Royal Ascot. Sebastian Clifton is now the Chief Executive of Farthings Bank and a workaholic, whose personal life is thrown into disarray when he falls for Priya, a beautiful Indian girl. Meanwhile Sebastian’s rivals are still plotting to bring him and his chairman Hakim Bishara down, so they can take over Farthings.

 

Mystery / Thriller

The Long Room by Francesca Kay
When Stephen Donaldson joins the Institute, he anticipates excitement, romance and new status. Instead he gets the tape-recorded conversations of ancient communists and ineffectual revolutionaries, until the day he is assigned a new case: the ultra-secret PHOENIX. Is PHOENIX really working for a foreign power? Stephen hardly cares; it is the voice of the target’s wife that mesmerizes him. Dangerously in love, and lonely, Stephen sets himself up for a vertiginous fall that will forever change his life.

The Hollow Men by Rob McCarthy
Dr Harry Kent is a former Army medic, hospital registrar, police surgeon, drug addict and defender of anyone the world would rather brush aside.  Solomon Idris has taken eight people hostage in a chicken takeaway, and is demanding a lawyer and a BBC reporter.  Harry is sent in to treat the clearly ill teenager…before the siege goes horribly wrong.  When Solomon’s life is put in danger again from the safety of a critical care ward, it becomes clear he knows something people will kill to protect.  Determined to uncover the secret that drove the boy to such desperate action, Harry soon realises that someone in the medical world, someone he may even know, has broken the doctors’ commandment ‘do no harm’ many times over.

The Other Side of Silence by Philip Kerr
Bernie Gunther, our sardonic former Berlin homicide detective and unwilling SS officer, is now living on the French Riviera. It is 1956 and Bernie is the go-to guy at the Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat, the man you turn to for touring tips or if you need a fourth for bridge. A local writer, Somerset Maugham, needs someone to fill the fourth seat in a regular game, and it turns out that he needs professional advice. Maugham is being blackmailed and the people now blackmailing him are spies.

In the Cold Dark Ground by Stuart MacBride
Sergeant Logan McRae is in trouble. His missing-persons investigation has just turned up a body in the woods – naked, hands tied behind its back, and a bin bag duct-taped over its head. The Major Investigation Team charges up from Aberdeen, under the beady eye of Logan’s ex-boss Detective Chief Inspector Steel. And, as usual, she wants him to do her job for her.  But it’s not going to be easy: a new Superintendent is on her way up from the Serious Organised Crime Task Force, hell-bent on making Logan’s life miserable; Professional Standards are gunning for Steel; and Wee Hamish Mowat, head of Aberdeen’s criminal underbelly, is dying – leaving rival gangs from all over the UK eying his territory.

Good Girls Don’t Die by Isabelle Grey
Accused of grassing up a fellow officer and driven brutally out of home and job, Grace Fisher is thankful to survive some dark times and find haven with the Major Investigation Team in Essex.  One female student is missing, last seen at a popular bar in Colchester. When a second student, also out drinking, is murdered and left grotesquely posed, the case becomes headline news.  Someone is leaking disturbing details to a tabloid crime reporter.  With another victim, and under siege by the media, the murder enquiry hits a dead end.

The Blood Strand by Chris Ould
Having left the Faroes as a child, Jan Reyna is now a British police detective, and the islands are foreign to him. But he is drawn back when his estranged father is found unconscious with a shotgun by his side and someone else’s blood at the scene. Then a man’s body is washed up on an isolated beach. Is Reyna’s father responsible? Looking for answers, Reyna falls in with local detective Hjalti Hentze. But as the stakes get higher and Reyna learns more about his family and the truth behind his mother’s flight from the Faroes, he must decide whether to stay, or to forsake the strange, windswept islands for good.

 

Non-Fiction

The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy by Michael McCarthy
Nature has many gifts for us, but perhaps the greatest of them all is joy; the intense delight we can take in the natural world, in its beauty, in the wonder it can offer us, in the peace it can provide.  Michael McCarthy, one of Britain’s leading writers on the environment, proposes this joy as a defence of a natural world which is ever more threatened, and which, he argues, is inadequately served by the two defences put forward hitherto: sustainable development and the recognition of ecosystem services.  It presents not only a new way of looking at the world around us, but blends with it a remarkable and moving memoir of childhood trauma from which love of the natural world emerged.

Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939 by Adam Hochschild
From the moment it began in 1936, the Spanish Civil War became the political question of the age. Millions of people around the world felt passionately that rapidly advancing fascism must be halted in Spain; if not there, where? Volunteers from dozens of other countries went to help defend the Spanish Republic.  Hochschild has discovered some less familiar yet far more compelling characters who reveal the full tragedy and importance of the war including a nineteen-year-old Kentucky woman, who came to wartime Spain on her honeymoon; a young man who left his Pennsylvania college and became the first American casualty in the battle for Madrid; and a Texas oilman who covertly violated US law and sold Franco most of the fuel for his army.  There are Britons in Hochschild’s cast of characters as well: a London sculptor who fought with the American battalion; a Cambridge man who joined Franco’s army and found himself fighting against the Americans; and a third is someone whose experience of combat in Spain had a profound effect on his life, George Orwell.

The Serengeti Rules: The Quest to Discover How Life Works and Why It Matters by Sean B. Carroll
How does life work? How does nature produce the right numbers of zebras and lions on the African savanna, or fish in the ocean? How do our bodies produce the right numbers of cells in our organs and bloodstream? In The Serengeti Rules, award-winning biologist and author Sean Carroll tells the stories of the pioneering scientists who sought the answers to such simple yet profoundly important questions. Carroll recounts how our deep knowledge of the rules and logic of the human body has spurred the advent of revolutionary life-saving medicines, and makes the compelling case that it is now time to use the Serengeti Rules to heal our ailing planet.

Left of Boom: How a Young CIA Case Officer Penetrated the Taliban and Al-Qaeda by Douglas Laux & Ralph Pezzullo
On September 11, 2001, Doug Laux was a freshman in college, on the path to becoming a doctor. But with the fall of the Twin Towers came a turning point in his life. After graduating he joined the Central Intelligence Agency, determined to get himself to Afghanistan.  Dropped into a remote region of Afghanistan, he received his baptism by fire.  Doug confounded his peers by dressing like a native and mastering the local dialect, making contact and building sources within several deadly terrorist networks. His new approach resulted in unprecedented successes, including uncovering the largest IED network in the world, responsible for killing hundreds of US soldiers.  His double life was building to an explosive resolution, with repercussions that would have far reaching consequences.

 

Children’s Fiction

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
Ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen and her best friend Ellen Rosen often think of life before the war. It’s now 1943 and their life in Copenhagen is filled with school, food shortages, and the Nazi soldiers marching through town. When the Jews of Denmark are “relocated,” Ellen moves in with the Johansens and pretends to be one of the family. Soon Annemarie is asked to go on a dangerous mission to save Ellen’s life.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio
August Pullman wants to be an ordinary ten-year-old.  But Auggie is far from ordinary. Ordinary kids don’t make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds or get stared at wherever they go.  Born with a terrible facial abnormality, Auggie has been home-schooled by his parents his whole life, in an attempt to protect him from the cruelty of the outside world. Now, for the first time, he’s being sent to a real school – and he’s dreading it. All he wants is to be accepted – but can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, underneath it all?

Children’s Picture Books

The Jungle Book: Mowgli’s Rainy Day by Brittany Rubiano
Mowgli loves life in the Jungle. He gets to swing from trees, run through tall grass, and swim in rivers. He has many friends, like his playful brother wolf cubs, the spirited flying squirrels, and the honest rhinos. Best of all, he has Bagheera, the wise panther, and Baloo, the fun-loving bear.  One day a great storm comes to the Jungle. Fortunately, Bagheera and Baloo know just what Mowgli should do. The only problem is they have two very different ideas–take shelter and dance in the rain. How will the man-cub spend his rainy day?

Waiting by Kevin Henkes
What are you waiting for? An owl, a puppy, a bear, a rabbit, and a pig sit happily on a windowsill, waiting for something amazing to happen. The owl is waiting for the moon. The pig is waiting for the rain. The bear is waiting for the wind. The puppy is waiting for the snow. And the rabbit is just looking out the window because he likes to wait! What will happen? Will patience win in the end? Or someday will the friends stop waiting and do something unexpected?

The Story of Peppa Pig by Scholastic
The Story of Peppa Pig is a tale of a loveable, slightly bossy little piggy, named Peppa.  Discover what happens when Mummy Pig, Daddy Pig, Peppa and George move to the little house on the hill and find out just how much Peppa loves those muddy puddles!

Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry
When Stick rescues Stone from a prickly situation with a Pinecone, the pair becomes fast friends. But when Stick gets stuck, can Stone return the favor? Author Beth Ferry makes a memorable debut with a warm, rhyming text that includes a subtle anti-bullying message even the youngest reader will understand.

City Dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems
In spring, when City Dog runs free in the country for the first time, he spots Country Frog sitting on a rock, waiting for a friend. “You’ll do,” Frog says, and together they play Country Frog games. In summer, they meet again and play City Dog games. Through the seasons, whenever City Dog visits the country he runs straight for Country Frog’s rock. In winter, things change for City Dog and Country Frog. Come spring, friendship blooms again, a little different this time.

Happy Pig Day! by Mo Willems
Piggie celebrates her favorite day of the year! But will Gerald the Elephant be included in the festivities?

A Big Guy Took My Ball! by Mo Willems
Piggie is devastated when a big guy takes her ball! Gerald is big, too…but is he big enough to help his best friend?