Fiction

The mars room book cover

The mars room

Rachel Kushner

FICTION Kushner Rachel
Fiction

"From twice National Book Award-nominated Rachel Kushner, whose Flamethrowers was called "the best, most brazen, most interesting book of the year" (Kathryn Schulz, New York magazine), comes a spectacularly compelling, heart-stopping novel about a life gone off the rails in contemporary America. It's 2003 and Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences at Stanville Women's Correctional Facility, deep in California's Central Valley. Outside is the world from which she has been severed: the San Francisco of her youth and her young son, Jackson. Inside is a new reality: thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive; the bluffing and pageantry and casual acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike; and the deadpan absurdities of institutional living, which Kushner evokes with great humor and precision. Stunning and unsentimental, The Mars Room demonstrates new levels of mastery and depth in Kushner's work. It is audacious and tragic, propulsive and yet beautifully refined."--

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Snap book cover

Snap

Belinda Bauer

FICTION Bauer Belinda
Fiction, Thriller, Suspense

Jack's in charge, said his mother as she disappeared up the road to get help. I won't be long. Now eleven-year-old Jack and his two sisters wait on the hard shoulder in their stifling, broken-down car, bickering and whining and playing I-Spy until she comes back. But their mother doesn't come back. She never comes back. And after that long, hot summer's day, nothing will ever be the same again. Three years later, Jack's fifteen now and still in charge ... alone in the house. Meanwhile across town, a young woman called Catherine While wakes to find a knife beside her bed, and a note reading I could have killed you. The police are tracking a mysterious burglar they call Goldilocks, for his habit of sleeping in the beds of the houses he robs, but Catherine doesn't see the point of involving the police. And Jack, very suddenly, may be on the verge of finding out who killed his mother. A twisty, masterfully written novel that will have readers on the edge of their seats.

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The Verdun affair : a novel book cover

The Verdun affair : a novel

Nick Dybek

FICTION Dybek Nick
Historical Fiction, Fiction

"A sweeping, romantic, and profoundly moving novel, set in Europe in the aftermath of World War I and Los Angeles in the 1950s, about a lonely young man, a beautiful widow, and the amnesiac soldier whose puzzling case binds them together even as it tears them apart. In 1921, two young Americans meet in Verdun, the city in France where one of the most devastating battles of the war was waged. Tom is an orphan from Chicago, a former ambulance driver now gathering bones from the battlefield; Sarah is an expatriate from Boston searching for the husband who wandered off from his division and hasn't been seen since. Quickly, the two fall into a complicated affair against the ghostly backdrop of the ruined city. Months later, Sarah and Tom meet again at the psychiatric ward of an Italian hospital, drawn there by the appearance of a mysterious patient the doctors call Douglas Fairbanks (after the silent film actor)--a shell-shocked soldier with no memory of who he is. At the hospital, Tom and Sarah are joined by Paul, an Austrian journalist with his own interest in the amnesiac. Each is keeping a secret; each has been shaken by the horrors of war. Decades later, Tom, now a successful screenwriter, encounters Paul by chance in LA, still grappling with the questions raised by this gorgeous and incisive novel: How to begin again after unfathomable trauma? How to love after so much loss? And who, in the end, was Douglas Fairbanks? From the bone-strewn fields of Verdun to the bombed-out cafes of Paris, from the riot-torn streets of Bologna to the riotous parties of 1950s Hollywood, The Verdun Affair is a riveting tale of romance, grief, and the far-reaching consequences of a single lie"--

Anne M's picture

This novel seems like an ode to Hemingway--and not because of the obvious World War I, ambulance driver, fascism details. It is something in the characters, their interactions with one another, a love story gone wrong. -Anne M

The book of Essie book cover

The book of Essie

Meghan MacLean Weir

FICTION Weir Meghan
Fiction

[A] novel of family, fame, and religion that tells the emotionally stirring, wildly captivating story of the seventeen-year-old daughter of an evangelical preacher, star of the family's hit reality show, and the secret pregnancy that threatens to blow their entire world apart.

Meredith's picture

An inside look at the perfect God-fearing family, thanks to their youngest child, Esther (Essie). The book begins with Essie’s secret: she’s pregnant. But that’s not her only secret. It’s the one her family knows, the one they’re scrambling to fix for the sake of their show, but she’s a step ahead of them, and the people she’s picked to help her soon will be, too. An addictive story with smart pacing and a satisfying conclusion. -Meredith

The house of the seven gables : a romance book cover

The house of the seven gables : a romance

Nathaniel Hawthorne

FICTION Hawthorne, Nathaniel
Fiction

Hawthorne's tale about the brooding hold of the past over the present is a complex one, twisting and turning its way back through many generations of a venerable New England family, one of whose members was accused of witchcraft in 17th century Salem. More than 200 years later, we meet the family in its decaying, gabled mansion, still haunted by the presence of dead ancestors: Hepzibah, an elderly gentlewoman fallen on had times; her ineffectual brother, Clifford; and young Phoebe, a country maiden who cheerfully takes it upon herself to care for her two doddering relations. There's also Holgrave, a free-spirited daguerreotypist, who makes a surprising transformation into conventional respectability at the story's end. These people seem to be symbols for Hawthorne's theme more than full-bodied characters in their own right. As such, it can only be difficult for today's young adults to identify with them, especially since they are so caught up in a past that is all but unknown to present day sensibilities. Talented Joan Allen, twice nominated for Academy Awards, reads the tale in a clear, luminous voice. Because she has chosen not to do voices, however, it is sometimes difficult to tell which character is speaking. Still, she is more than equal to the task of handling Hawthorne's stately prose in a presentation that will be a good curriculum support for students of Hawthorne or those seeking special insight into this work of fiction. Carol Katz, Harrison Library, NY.

Anne M's picture

Hear me out. We were all forced to read The Scarlet Letter in high school (and you really should reread it, because it actually is a pretty great book) and you might feel compelled to move on to someone else's book, but The House of the Seven Gables is good! First, there is a curse that dates back to Puritan misdeeds involving witchcraft allegations. And there is a lot of drama between the current generation of the Pyncheon family, involving inheritance, destitution, insanity, and murder. Of course, a young, pretty cousin, Phoebe, comes to town and begins charming everyone, including the mysterious boarder/historian/daguerreotype enthusiast, who is investigating what happened to the Pyncheon family in the 17th Century. Or does the boarder have ulterior motives? Oh, it is a fantastic novel. Both Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and H.P. Lovecraft hailed the book as "weird." -Anne M

Beauty queens book cover

Beauty queens

Libba Bray

YOUNG ADULT FICTION Bray, Libba
Fiction, Young Adult, Adventure

When a plane crash strands thirteen teen beauty contestants on a mysterious island, they struggle to survive, to get along with one another, to combat the island's other diabolical occupants, and to learn their dance numbers in case they are rescued in time for the competition.

Amanda's picture

What happens when a plane full of teenage beauty queens crashes on a desert island? Instead of going full Lord of the Flies, they build a successful society! This book is hilarious and heartfelt, but it also is deeply satirical and intriguing. Plus, it has great diversity representation! -Amanda

Final girls : a novel book cover

Final girls : a novel

Riley Sager

FICTION Sager Riley
Fiction, Horror, Thriller, Suspense

Emerging as the lone survivor of a serial killer's massacre a decade earlier, Quincy Carpenter struggles to ignore traumatic memories and move on as one of a group of other survivors who look to her for answers when one of them is found dead in a suspicious suicide.

Amanda's picture

I never read scary books, but I absolutely loved this one! Strong women, a really compelling plot, and a plot twist that's still haunting me nearly a month later. I can't recommend this book enough! -Amanda

An extraordinary union book cover

An extraordinary union

Alyssa Cole

FICTION Cole Alyssa
Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance

Amanda's picture

This book is fantastic! Elle is a free black woman, serving as a Union spy during the Civil War. She clashes with another spy while they're both undercover, and sparks fly! -Amanda

House of names book cover

House of names

Colm Tóibín

eAUDIO
Fiction

From the thrilling imagination of bestselling, award-winning Colm Tóibín comes a retelling of the story of Clytemnestra—a spectacularly audacious, violent, vengeful, lustful, and instantly compelling queen of Greek mythology—and her children. "I have been acquainted with the smell of death." So begins Clytemnestra's tale of her own life in ancient Mycenae, the legendary Greek city from which her husband King Agamemnon left when he set sail with his army for Troy. Clytemnestra rules Mycenae now, along with her new lover Aegisthus, and together they plot the bloody murder of Agamemnon on the day of his return after nine years at war. Judged, despised, cursed by gods she has long since lost faith in, Clytemnestra reveals the tragic saga that led to these bloody actions: how her husband deceived her eldest daughter Iphigeneia with a promise of marriage to Achilles, only to sacrifice her because that is what he was told would make the winds blow in his favor and take him to Troy; how she seduced and collaborated with the prisoner Aegisthus, who shared her bed in the dark and could kill; how Agamemnon came back with a lover himself; and how Clytemnestra finally achieved her vengeance for his stunning betrayal—his quest for victory, greater than his love for his child. In House of Names, Colm Tóibín brings a modern sensibility and language to an ancient classic, and gives this extraordinary character new life, so that we not only believe Clytemnestra's thirst for revenge, but applaud it. He brilliantly inhabits the mind of one of Greek myth's most powerful villains to reveal the love, lust, and pain she feels. Told in fours parts, this is a fiercely dramatic portrait of a murderess, who will herself be murdered by her own son, Orestes. It is Orestes' story, too: his capture by the forces of his mother's lover Aegisthus, his escape and his exile. And it is the story of the vengeful Electra, who watches over her mother and Aegisthus with cold anger and slow calculation, until, on the return of her brother, she has the fates of both of them in her hands.

Anne M's picture

If you like Madeline Miller or other Greek stories reinterpreted (and haven't had the pleasure of reading on of Toibin's other books), you'll like this one. The audiobook (read by Juliet Stevenson, Charlie Anson, and Pippa Nixon) is fantastic. -Anne M

The Spellman files book cover

The Spellman files

Lisa Lutz

FICTION Lutz, Lisa
Fiction

Kara's picture

The Spellman Family series is irreverent and funny. Izzy Spellman works in her family's PI business and always solves the case with the help of her quirky but dedicated family. -Kara