The Summer 2014 Indie Next List for Reading Groups Preview

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Here is a preview of the Summer 2014 Indie Next List for Reading Groups, which ABA member stores in the IndieBound movement will be receiving in the July Red Box.

In addition to booksellers’ Top 10 favorites, the list presents titles in seven discussion-starting categories — Exciting New Voices, Memorable Memoirs, New Works From Old Favorites, Unconventional Delights, Familiar Faces Fictionalized, Engrossing Nonfiction, and Compelling Tales Well Told — that offer something for reading groups of every kind.

The twice-yearly Indie Next List for Reading Groups is the most requested of any printed list that the American Booksellers Association produces. Stores are encouraged to use the list as a handout at author events and special reading group nights and to present it as a take-away in in-store displays.

“Indie booksellers are strong proponents of reading groups of all types, and we are grateful to the many booksellers across the country who nominated their favorites to make this another outstanding list,” said ABA Development Officer Mark Nichols. “Now, we hope booksellers will take a few minutes to nominate some of their favorite new titles publishing this fall for the September and October Indie Next Lists:

  • July 1 is the nomination deadline for the September 2014 Indie Next List.
  • August 5 is the nomination deadline for the October 2014 Indie Next List.

Stores that would like to receive additional copies of the Summer 2014 Indie Next List for Reading Groups should send a request via e-mail to Nichols.

The Summer 2014 Indie Next List for Reading Groups

The Top Ten

1. Ordinary Grace: A Novel, by William Kent Kreuger
(Atria, 9781451645859, $16)
“Death visits small-town New Bremen, Minnesota, in 1961 and particularly touches 13-year-old Frank Drum and his family. Frank, his Methodist minister father, his ‘fed up with God’ mother, his Julliard-bound older sister, and his inseparable, perceptive, but stuttering 10-year-old brother endure a summer of repeated tragedy that tests their faith and their relationships, both within their family and within the community. Krueger, the author of the Cork O’Connor series, expertly weaves this tale of mystery as he always does, but also illuminates characters as never before.” —William Bauer, Redbery Books, Cable, WI

2. The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, by Daniel James Brown
(Penguin Books, 9780143125471, $17)
“In the early 1930s, nine young University of Washington students were part of the rowing crew striving to become the final team picked to represent the USA at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, even as Hitler was brazenly building his Third Reich. This is the emotional story of the crew and those who put their trust in them. Fiercely determined by the hard times of the Great Depression, they poured their hearts into sculpting a victorious team. A most impressive story, expertly told!” —Carol Hicks, The Bookshelf, Truckee, CA

3. Benediction: A Novel, by Kent Haruf
(Vintage, 9780307950420, $15)
“Following the earlier novels Plainsong and Eventide, Holt, Colorado, a small town on the Eastern Plains, is again the home for a cast of characters exquisitely rendered by Haruf. Dad Lewis is dying, and as he grows weaker his life story unfolds, one of hard work, heartbreak, grave errors, and lasting love. Woven through are memorable characters, each deeply human and written with great respect for the human condition. Haruf’s prose is as deliberate as poetry and is stunning in its power.” —Cathy Langer, Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, CO

4. Life After Life: A Novel, by Kate Atkinson
(Back Bay Books, 9780316176491, $18)
“There are not enough superlatives to describe Life After Life. The many lives of Ursula Todd combine to present a stunning exposition of the complexity, fragility, and utter randomness of human existence. Atkinson has produced a wry, observant, and provocative novel suffused with a subtle humor that simultaneously entertains and challenges the reader. It is a towering achievement!” —Bill Cusumano, Nicola’s Books, Ann Arbor, MI

5. Gone Girl: A Novel, by Gillian Flynn
(Broadway Books, 9780307588371, $15)
Gone Girl is a wonderfully paced, dazzlingly written story about a married couple whose lives unravel on their fifth wedding anniversary when Amy goes missing and feckless Nick becomes the prime suspect. Alternating between Nick’s account of the present day murder investigation and Amy’s journal entries from their courtship and marriage, this isn’t as much of a ‘whodunnit’ but rather more of a psychological ‘whydunnit’ that keeps readers hooked to the very last page.” —Claire Benedict, Bear Pond Books of Montpelier, Montpelier, VT

6. A Place at the Table: A Novel, by Susan Rebecca White
(Touchstone, 9781451608892, $14.99)
“This is an intricate yet accessible story of three characters — a young gay man disowned by his parents, a chef who was born the daughter of slaves, and a well-heeled woman in a troubled marriage — whose lives converge at a venerable restaurant in Manhattan. Their life stories unfold at Café Andres, leading to a stunning revelation that proves there are no real coincidences in life. Heartfelt but not sappy, tragic but not disastrous, A Place at the Table celebrates the ultimate triumph of life and spirit. Book clubs and foodies will eat this one up!” —Nancy Simpson-Brice, The Book Vault, Oskaloosa, IA

7. The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World’s Greatest Piece of Cheese, by Michael Paterniti
(Dial Press Trade Paperbacks, 9780395337014, $16)
“While working in a deli, a young Paterniti encountered what was then considered the finest cheese in the world — Páramo de Guzmán. Too poor at the time to buy a taste, Paterniti vowed to one day meet this fascinating, magical cheese again. Years later, with family in tow, he made good on his vow by traveling to the rustic Spanish village where the cheese is produced. Enter Ambrosio, the brilliant, salt-of-the-earth cheesemaker with an infectious zest for life and a love for creating something simply and beautifully. Paterniti spent the next decade embedded in the rural village, playing Sancho Panza to Ambrosio’s Don Quixote while piecing together a meandering mélange of stories about food, flavor, love, loss, betrayal, and revenge. What begins as an investigative journalist’s foodie memoir becomes a culture study, a travelogue, a comedy, and an allegory.” —Nick Berg, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

8. The Rosie Project: A Novel, by Graeme Simsion
(Simon & Schuster, 9781476729091, $15.99)
“Don Tillman is a brilliant geneticist, but he has always been rather socially maladroit. Imagine his surprise when a friend tells him that he would make a wonderful husband. Intrigued, he starts The Wife Project and commences the search for the perfect spouse. While in the midst of his extremely precise hunt for a wife, Rosie Jarman blows into Don’s life like a wild wind. Rosie is on a quest of her own — The Father Project — the search for her biological father. Rosie is the antithesis of Don’s image of the perfect wife of his scientific calculations, but somehow he finds himself putting The Wife Project on the back burner to aid Rosie. Much ado about a comedy of errors ensues in this hilarious, quirky romance!” —Rachel King, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, NY

9. The Invention of Wings: A Novel, by Sue Monk Kidd
(Viking, 9780670024780, hardcover, $27.95)
“An engrossing tale of two Southern women, one a slave and the other an aristocrat, this historical fiction is based on the real life of Sarah Grimke of Charleston, South Carolina, and her maid, Hetty. Kidd writes beautifully of the imagined details of the lives of the women as they intertwine over the course of many years. The issue of slavery and the abolitionist movement are intricately crafted to enlighten the reader. A wonderful read with much for groups to discuss!” —Stephanie Crowe, Page & Palette, Fairhope, AL

10. Life After Life: A Novel, by Jill McCorkle
(Algonquin/A Shannon Ravenel Book, 9781616203221, $14.95)
“Let yourself be drawn into the world of Pine Haven Estates in Fulton, North Carolina, and treat yourself to a cast of characters so rich that you will be bereft every time the point of view changes, only to find yourself enchanted anew. Pine Haven Estates is a retirement community, where life and death are inevitable companions. Its inhabitants and the people who care for and about them are at the center of this story that examines the cycle of life — what it means to be alive, as well as how one faces the end of life. McCorkle’s first novel in 17 years depicts a community well worth visiting and offers a wonderfully satisfying reading experience.” —Terry Gilman, Mysterious Galaxy, San Diego, CA

Exciting New Voices

Being Esther: A Novel, by Miriam Karmel
(Milkweed Editions, 9781571311054, $15)
“Esther’s daughter worries about her widowed mother living alone, but Esther resists being ‘sent to Bingoville’ and prefers living in her familiar North Side Chicago apartment building with its mix of neighbors, including her childhood friend. This is a pitch-perfect portrait of a woman reflecting on her past struggles and joys, meeting each day with zest despite her failing health and memory. A gem!” —Ellen Sandmeyer, Sandmeyer’s Bookstore, Chicago, IL

Burial Rites: A Novel, by Hannah Kent
(Back Bay Books, 9780316243926, $15)
“Kent’s debut explores what happens when a condemned woman is sent to board with a local family while she awaits the day of her execution. Set in Iceland in 1829, the stark and rugged landscape is counterpoint to the complex moral and emotional negotiations between the condemned woman, Agnes, the priest sent to rescue her soul, and the family that takes her in. Kent’s prose ranges from spare to lyrical and perfectly captures the mood and feeling of this unique place and time.” —Mark LaFramboise, Politics and Prose Bookstore and Coffeehouse, Washington, DC

Ghana Must Go: A Novel, by Taiye Selasi
(Penguin Books, 9780143124979, $16)
“Readers know when they are in the presence of something special and brilliant. It is a voice familiar and kind, a plot careful and unraveling, a set of characters whose hearts pound between the covers. Selasi delivers a powerful debut about family, race, and the nature of story in this contemporary novel, set in neighborhoods from Brookline, Massachusetts, to Lagos, Nigeria. A literary descendant of Zadie Smith and Arundhati Roy, Selasi is a new force in the global community of readers.” —Nicole Magistro, The Bookworm of Edwards, Edwards, CO

Reconstructing Amelia: A Novel, by Kimberly McCreight
(Harper Perennial, 9780062225443, $15.99)
“Throw out all the clichéd superlatives! McCreight’s remarkable debut novel is about Kate Baron, a high-powered lawyer who believes that her daughter Amelia has committed suicide — until she receives the anonymous text, ‘She didn’t jump.’ I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough as Kate races to reconstruct her daughter’s life. This novel will have crossover appeal to fans of Jodi Picoult as well as young adults and is also perfect for discussion groups.” —Jerry Brown, The Bookstore, Radcliff, KY

The Paris Architect: A Novel, by Charles Belfoure
(Sourcebooks Landmark, 9781402294150, $14.99)
“In 1942, the city of Paris was overrun by German soldiers and security troops who were on the lookout for Jews. There were some Parisians who wanted to hide the Jews, and some who wanted to turn them in. In the middle was Lucien Bernard, one of the few men capable of assisting either side if he so chose. Lucien was an architect who built secret hiding spaces for Jews in old homes. He was also short on cash and willing to risk his life for the city he loved. When something went terribly wrong, Lucien was forced to rethink his dedication and come up with a way to make amends in this powerful and gripping story.” —Linda Bond, Auntie’s Bookstore, Spokane, WA

The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards: A Novel, by Kristopher Jansma
(Penguin Books, 9780143125020, $16)
“This masterful debut is a labyrinth of themes and a playground of words. Jansma succeeds in making the reader feel that every sentence was meant for them, every symbol placed strategically for them to uncover. This is a book for people who love books, written by someone who loves writing, and it reawakens readers to the mind-blowing beauty and magic of language.” —Stephenie McCollum, Copperfield’s Books, Sebastopol, CA

We Need New Names: A Novel, by NoViolet Bulawayo
(Back Bay Books, 9780316230841, $15)
We Need New Names speaks with an urgency uncommon in the fiction being published in America today. It is vitally important that stories such as these, stories being lived in the world, be given a place in the literary realm where artful language can help articulate and give shape to things beyond the easy imagination of many. Bulawayo has done a beautiful job of this in her powerful debut, detailing the story of a young girl going from life in Zimbabwe to becoming an immigrant in Detroit. This is a novel we need.” —Rick Simonson, The Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, WA

Memorable Memoirs

After Visiting Friends: A Son’s Story, by Michael Hainey
(Scribner, 9781451676617, $16)
“Hainey’s search for the truth about his father’s early death is one of the most compelling memoirs I’ve read. An insider’s tribute to the hard-working and hard-drinking big city newsmen of the 1950s and ’60s, After Visiting Friends is also an unsentimental love song to a Chicago of all-night bars, jazz clubs, and three major daily newspapers. I was engaged, moved, and kept guessing (as Hainey was for more than 10 years) until the truth won out. A brave, intimate, and honest portrait of a family and its secrets.” —Linda Bubon, Women & Children First, Chicago, IL

Her: A Memoir, by Christa Parravani
(Picador, 9781250044396, $16)
“Whether you are a fan of memoirs, a fiction reader, or just plain love great writing, this true story of twin sisters separated first by violence and then by tragedy is a must-read. Parravani offers a deep look inside the inner life of twins and shows how addiction can tear at the very heart of a family. A mesmerizing read.” —Laura Hansen, Bookin’ It, Little Falls, MN

A House in the Sky: A Memoir, by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett
(Scribner, 9781451645613, $16)
“As a child, Amanda escaped from her bleak, impoverished surroundings by immersing herself in the wonders and exotic locales in old National Geographic magazines. As a young adult, she found that she could make good money as a cocktail waitress and take herself to those same faraway places. Fearless, curious, hungry for experience and adventure, Amanda traveled the world. It was when she went to Somalia that her hunger for adventure took her too far. Amanda and her friend Nigel were kidnapped for ransom and held for more than a year. Sometimes difficult to read, this is ultimately a story beautifully told, with a happy outcome.” —Cathy Langer, Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, CO

Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler: A True Love Story, by Trudi Kanter
(Scribner, 9781476700281, $16)
“Kanter’s ability to take you inside her memories is phenomenal. Her tone is fluid, yet full of the tension of the times. You are there, seeing through her eyes. Her use of unique phrases — ‘it was delicious to know who was walking with whom’ — and the way she speaks directly to her husband’s memory add a refreshing and dreamlike familiarity to her prose. A love story, a reminder of a cruel period in history, and a book filled with hope, beautifully written. Perfect for book groups!” —Linda Bond, Auntie’s Bookstore, Spokane, WA

New Works From Old Favorites

Jewelweed: A Novel, by David Rhodes
(Milkweed Editions, 9781571311061, $16)
“Can people really start over? Jewelweed proves that many can in spite of lost loves, war, and imprisonment. Blake Bookchester has just been paroled from a system that promotes postmodern slavery and a war on minorities and the poor. He returns to his hometown, Words, Wisconsin, where he will try to reconcile with his past and forge a new future. Other people who form this small community will grab your heart and not let go. Jewelweed, a plant that looks like little pieces of jewelry strung together on heavy green thread, is an apt description of the people of Words, all tied together and realizing the importance of community to their individual lives. You will not want to miss a word of Rhodes’ magical, soul-felt novel.” —Karen Briggs, Great Northern Books & Hobbies, Oscoda, MI

The Lost Art of Mixing: A Novel, by Erica Bauermeister
(Berkley Trade, 9780425265031, $15)
The Lost Art of Mixing is the poignant and often hilarious sequel to The School of Essential Ingredients. Cooking classes brought the characters together in the first book and entwined their stories with one another as effectively as the ingredients they were learning to blend. In this book, new characters are introduced and the resultant ‘mixing’ of their lives with the original characters gives the reader further insights into their personalities and circumstances. Happily, while neatly answering questions regarding the fate of the characters, the threads of this story also lend themselves to future volumes.” —Melanie Mayberry, Cornerstone Cottage Kids, Hampton, IA

The Lowland: A Novel, by Jhumpa Lahiri
(Vintage, 9780307278265, $15.95)
“In this epic tale, two brothers close in age but of very different temperaments are inseparable in their younger years in Calcutta. They become more distant as they mature, however, due to the political passions and ideology of the older, more outgoing brother. An ensuing tragedy forces the younger brother to evaluate his strong bond to his brother and to take on responsibilities he never expected. This is a story of decisions and consequences, family ties and separation, deceit and honesty, as well as cultural differences and similarities. Lahiri’s exquisite prose is like quicksilver, sometimes shocking and sometimes warm and comforting.” —Janice Shannon, BookTowne, Manasquan, NJ

The Obituary Writer: A Novel, by Ann Hood
(W.W. Norton, 9780393346770, $15.95)
“Vivien, who suffered an incredible loss in the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, helps others cope with their grief by making their lost loved ones come alive on the page. Claire, a young wife and mother in suburban Washington, D.C., who is caught up in the excitement of the 1960 Kennedy inauguration, wants ‘more’ but she’s not quite sure ‘more’ of what. Theirs are compelling lives of love and loss, romance and friendship, marriage and motherhood, promises made and unreasonable hopes kept alive, and the mystery that is their connection. Literary mystery, love story, and historical fiction, all beautifully told with expertly drawn characters, make this one great novel!” —Judy Crosby, Island Books, Middletown, RI

The Silver Star: A Novel, by Jeannette Walls
(Scribner, 9781451661545, $16)
“In this novel by bestselling memoirist Walls, 12-year-old Bean and her older sister Liz are left to fend for themselves when their musically inclined mother takes her leave of them to ‘sort things out.’ The sisters embark on a trip from California to Virginia to find their Uncle Tinsley and, hopefully, some stability. Bean’s impetuous enthusiasm and clear sense of what is right are the girls’ best defense against the prejudices, injustices, and abuse that await them in 1970s Byler, Virginia. Scout Finch has met her match in Bean in this wonderfully woven tale of perseverance, strong family bonds, the triumph of love and loyalty, and the emergence of unlikely heroes. Pitch perfect and pure pleasure!” —Linda McLoughlin Figel, Pages: A Bookstore, Manhattan Beach, CA

Sisterland: A Novel, by Curtis Sittenfeld
(Random House Trade Paperbacks, 9780812980332, $15)
“Sisters always have special relationships, but identical twin sisters are a world unto themselves, especially if they have ESP. The lives of Violet and Kate go from mad closeness to fragile separation as they attend different colleges and then return to their native St. Louis. Clairvoyance has colored their lives, and suddenly Vi is the on national news to warn of an earthquake that will strike within a week and wreak havoc in everyone’s life. Kate, meanwhile, has tried to ignore her visions and is married and raising two children. Sittenfeld is a funny and sagacious chronicler of the world we live in and the ways — sometimes quirky, sometimes conventional — in which we seek security, loyalty, and love.” —Sarah Bagby, Watermark Books and Café, Wichita, KS

Unconventional Delights

The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel, by Neil Gaiman
(William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780062255662, $14.99)
“Gaiman is a magnificent storyteller, creating scenes so complete that you aren’t just reading, but rather inhabiting a universe that’s thoroughly believable yet truly otherworldly. The story’s terror — the claustrophobia and vulnerability of childhood, the way a child’s wants, needs, and fears go unnoticed by adults, and the horrors that can result — is perfectly balanced against the consolation of books, the magic of the natural world, and the power of those who do listen, understand, and take action to set the universe to rights at whatever cost to themselves. Painful and wonderful, gorgeous and horrifying, truly fantastic, essential and classic, this is a book to return to again and again.” —Carol Schneck Varner, Schuler Books & Music, Okemos, MI

The President’s Hat, by Antoine Laurain
(Gallic Books, 9781908313478, $14.95)
“You see a hat by itself, no owner in sight. It might be in a restaurant, or perhaps on a train’s luggage shelf. And this is not just anyone’s hat, but one that belongs to François Mitterand himself. And if you happen to put this hat on, how will your life change? You could gain the confidence to stand up to your boss, or maybe to your married lover. Laurain’s delightful novel can be read in so many different ways — as a Francophile lark, as a sweet and modern fairytale, as a pointed satire, and even as a philosophical treatise. The best part is that it is completely and utterly charming no matter which way you approach it!” —Daniel Goldin, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

The Returned: A Novel, by Jason Mott
(Harlequin MIRA, 9780778317074, $14.95)
“What would you do if someone you loved — someone who meant the world to you and made your life complete — died? What would you do if 50 years later that person showed up on your doorstep never having aged and without any recollection of where they had been? This is the question that faces people around the world in Mott’s intriguing novel. Part science fiction, part family drama, part philosophical treatise on human nature, The Returned delves deep into the human psyche without forsaking a genuinely riveting story, and will leave you breathless in the end!” —Heather Christman, Warwick’s, La Jolla, CA

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves: A Novel, by Karen Joy Fowler
(Plume, 9780142180822, $16)
“Rosemary is not yet six when her sister, Fern, is removed to a center for research. Fern and Rosemary were inseparable, and her family falls apart after the removal: Lowell, her brother, disappears when he discovers where Fern was sent; their father becomes a distant, brooding man; and their mother is a shell of her former self. Why a research facility? Because Fern is a chimpanzee. In this extraordinary novel written by a gifted author, Fowler opens our eyes to the inhumane treatment of animals by humans and helps us to identify what it truly means to be human.” —Karen Briggs, Great Northern Books & Hobbies, Oscoda, MI

Woke Up Lonely: A Novel, by Fiona Maazel
(Graywolf Press, 9781555976729, $15)
Woke Up Lonely is a wild thing of genius, so funny and so smart. Maazel presents us with a warped mirror of our country and the time we live in. The Helix, a cult of the lonely, and its founder, Thurlow Dan, along with his ex-wife, Esme, and their daughter, Ida, head a superb cast of characters. The story unfolds in a winding, fun-house fashion, sporting locales from Washington, D.C., to North Korea to Cincinnati. I envy those who are about to read this truly one-of-a-kind work of fiction.” —Cody Morrison, Square Books, Oxford, MS

Familiar Faces Fictionalized

The Aviator’s Wife: A Novel, by Melanie Benjamin
(Bantam, 9780345528681, $15)
“We know Charles Lindbergh as the hero who was the first to fly solo across the Atlantic, and his wife, Anne, as a poet and writer. In The Aviator’s Wife, Benjamin offers a vivid portrait of the private side of the man and his family. The story is told from Anne’s point of view and portrays a life where the family’s every move is monitored by the press and fed to the public. From Anne’s growing self-confidence as Charles’ co-pilot in exploration to the tragic kidnapping of their firstborn son to Lindbergh’s extra-marital affairs, we share the joys and sadness of the aviator’s wife in this poignant novel.” —Vicki Erwin, Main Street Books, St. Charles, MO

Frances and Bernard: A Novel, by Carlene Bauer
(Mariner, 9780544105171, $14.95)
“The main characters in this lovely gem of a novel are loosely based on Flannery O’Connor and Robert Lowell. The story is told entirely in the form of letters — not an easy feat, but Bauer makes it work beautifully. Frances and Bernard meet in the late 1950s at a writer’s colony, and though they don’t immediately click, Bernard sends Frances a letter that begins an intense philosophical, spiritual, and physical relationship. A true treat for readers!” —Cody Morrison, Square Books, Oxford, MS

Mrs. Poe: A Novel, by Lynn Cullen
(Gallery Books, 9781476702926, $16)
“Readers who enjoyed imagining the private lives of famous figures in Loving Frank and The Paris Wife will savor the behind-the-scenes peek into the intimacies of Edgar Allen Poe, his infirm young wife, and Frances Osgood, the writer who stole his heart. As compulsively readable — and often as dark — as Poe’s works, Mrs. Poe is a well-researched and detailed novel whose supporting cast of characters include Margaret Fuller, Horace Greeley, and other literati of mid-19th century New York.” —Cheryl McKeon, Book Passage, San Francisco, CA

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, by Therese Anne Fowler
(St. Martin’s Griffin, 9781250028662, $15.99)
Z gives voice to a much misunderstood and largely unknown literary figure. While Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald led a very public life in many ways, Zelda was often forced to operate in a lifestyle that would make any modern woman squirm with discontent, if not cry out with a vengeance. Fowler breathes fresh and vibrant life into a voice that very much deserved to be heard on its own. Any lover of the art, literature, and culture of the Jazz Age will not be disappointed with this read.” —Kari Meutsch, Phoenix Books, Essex Junction, VT

Engrossing Nonfiction

Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World, by Matthew Goodman
(Ballantine Books, 9780345527271, $16)
“Jules Verne wrote a popular tale about a man circling the globe in 80 days to win a bet. Dynamic reporter Nellie Bly threw her hat in the ring with the declaration that a real woman could beat Phileas Fogg’s record. Hot on her trail was reporter Elizabeth Bisland, a magazine journalist. Would the women beat the fictional record set by Verne? Which woman would come in first? They couldn’t have been more different, the scrappy Bly who once had herself committed to Bedlam in order to write an expose and the demure, fashionable Bisland. If you like strong women and adventurous travel this story is a veritable feast!” —Deon Stonehouse, Sunriver Books & Music, Sunriver, OR

Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for the Lost Heroes of World War II, by Mitchell Zuckoff
(Harper Perennial, 9780062133403, $15.99)
“This true story is more riveting, captivating, and exciting than any fiction author can write. In search of a lost cargo plane on the ice cap of Greenland, a B17 crashes with nine people aboard. In a second rescue mission, a Grumman Duck — an amphibious plane — disappears in the milky sky of Greenland. Zuckoff gives us a harrowing and nail-biting WWII story of hope, despair, perseverance, heroism, and survival, as well as a contemporary account of how volunteers are trying to recover the Grumman Duck and to bring home the remains of its crew.” —Jean-Paul Adriaansen, Water Street Books, Exeter, NH

The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War, by Daniel Stashower
(Minotaur, 9781250042668, $16.99)
“This engaging book by Edgar Award-winning author Stashower is filled with anecdotes, quotes from contemporary sources, and excellent backstories that interweave four strands of little-known American history: the rise of Allan Pinkerton, America’s original ‘private eye’; the critical period between Lincoln’s election and his inauguration, when the country teetered on the precipice; how Lincoln dealt with the crisis before he had the power of office; and the plot to assassinate him before he took office on March 4, 1861. Highly recommended for anyone fascinated by American history.” —Jim McFarlane, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, by Michelle Alexander
(The New Press, 9781595586438, $19.95)
“This book is a thoroughly researched and remarkably written analysis of a new racial caste system that functions in a similar manner to the earlier Jim Crow system. Components of the New Jim Crow include stop-and-frisk policies focused nearly exclusively on communities of color, harsh and unequal sentencing laws imprisoning people for years for non-violent drug crimes, police departments awash in federal grant money for drug arrests, lack of meaningful representation in court for defendants, and harsh laws that brand felons for life and deny voting rights and other public services. All Americans need to read this book and work to change this system.” —Joan Grenier, Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley, MA

Compelling Tales Well Told

The Death of Bees: A Novel, by Lisa O’Donnell
(Harper Perennial, 9780062209856, $14.99)
“Beginning with two children who bury their parents in their garden, The Death of Bees had me hooked from page one. Streetwise teen Marnie and her younger, socially awkward, violin prodigy sister find their parents dead and attempt to cover up their deaths to avoid foster care, with both help and hindrance from some surprising sources. Told from the point of view of multiple characters, this lively, suspenseful, and darkly hilarious tale transfixed me from gruesome start to wonderfully satisfying finish. Brilliant, delightful, and thought provoking!” —Carol Schneck Varner, Schuler Books & Music, Okemos, MI

Little Wolves: A Novel, by Thomas Maltman
(Soho Press, 9781616953430, $15)
“Keep an eye on Tom Maltman. He hit the ground running with Night Birds and has now given us another award-worthy novel. Maltman populates Little Wolves with folks not unlike us, except that they harbor deep secrets and commit horrific crimes. You will be drawn into the intriguing murder plot, of course, but you will also be captivated by Maltman’s lyrical prose, adept storytelling, and artistic rendering of the moody Midwestern prairie of the 1980s. Maltman has done for the Midwest what Steinbeck did for the Salinas Valley.” —Bev Denor, LaDeDa Books, Manitowoc, WI

Norwegian by Night: A Novel, by Derek B. Miller
(Mariner, 9780544292666, $14.95)
“Sheldon Horowitz, an 80-year-old Korean War veteran, has a touch of dementia and goes to live with his daughter and son-in-law in Norway, where he becomes further disoriented. One day, what sounds like violence breaks out in the upstairs apartment and a young boy’s life appears to be at risk. Sheldon becomes the boy’s protector/abductor, fleeing in disguise through the countryside as exiled Serbian war criminals and Norwegian cops give pursuit and the old man’s Marine sniper skills come back to him. A wild, compelling, politically complex, and sometimes funny tale that is a very rich read, this is highly recommended.” —Richard Howorth, Square Books, Oxford, MS

The Painted Girls: A Novel, by Cathy Marie Buchanan
(Riverhead Trade, 9781594632297, $16)
“At the end of the 19th century, Paris was the center of the world for all arts, and humanity struggled with massive changes in the very structure of society. Degas and Zola were players on this stage as were three sisters who aspired to the world of ballet. Based on historical figures and incidents, this novel delivers great atmosphere and fully realized characters who weave through the harsh yet rich tapestry of the times and tell a story of family, romance, degradation, and fulfillment.” —Karen Frank, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT

The Son: A Novel, by Philipp Meyer
(Ecco, 9780062120403, $16.99)
“Epic yet intimate, Meyer’s The Son is the best kind of historical fiction. Vivid characters and great storytelling bring to life a distant time and place, while the themes and issues explored are completely relevant to our time. The interwoven perspectives of the three generations of the McCullough family create a counterpoint as each comments on the others, their mores and their expectations, and how these change over time. This is what great literature should be: a page-turner with a serious moral purpose.” —Scott Kinberger, Books Inc., San Francisco, CA