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Something New: January 14, 2014

Newest hardcover fiction and nonfiction released on January 14, 2014.


A Star for Mrs. Blake by April Smith
Amazon Says: The United States Congress in 1929 passed legislation to fund travel for mothers of the fallen soldiers of World War I to visit their sons’ graves in France. Over the next t more...
Amazon Says: The United States Congress in 1929 passed legislation to fund travel for mothers of the fallen soldiers of World War I to visit their sons’ graves in France. Over the next three years, 6,693 Gold Star Mothers made the trip. In this emotionally charged, brilliantly realized novel, April Smith breathes life into a unique moment in American history, imagining the experience of five of these women. They are strangers at the start, but their lives will become inextricably intertwined, altered in indelible ways. These very different Gold Star Mothers travel to the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery to say final good-byes to their sons and come together along the way to face the unexpected: a death, a scandal, and a secret revealed.  None of these pilgrims will be as affected as Cora Blake, who has lived almost her entire life in a small fishing village off the coast of Maine, caring for her late sister’s three daughters, hoping to fill the void left by the death of her son, Sammy, who was killed on a scouting mission during the final days of the war. Cora believes she is managing as well as can be expected in the midst of the Depression, but nothing has prepared her for what lies ahead on this unpredictable journey, including an extraordinary encounter with an expatriate American journalist, Griffin Reed, who was wounded in the trenches and hides behind a metal mask, one of hundreds of “tin noses” who became symbols of the war.   With expert storytelling, memorable characters, and beautiful prose, April Smith gives us a timeless story, by turns heartwarming and heartbreaking, set against a footnote of history––little known, yet unforgettable. less...
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Snapshot by Lis Wiehl
Amazon Says: Two little girls, frozen in black and white. One picture worth killing for. The Civil Rights Movement is less than a distant memory to Lisa Waldren—it is someone else’s me more...
Amazon Says: Two little girls, frozen in black and white. One picture worth killing for. The Civil Rights Movement is less than a distant memory to Lisa Waldren—it is someone else’s memory altogether, passed on to her through the pages of history. Her life as a federal prosecutor in Boston feels utterly remote from the marches in the South that changed her father’s generation—and the entire nation—forever. But the truth is, she was there. When a photograph surfaces showing a blond, four-year-old Lisa playing with an African-American girl at a civil rights march in Fort Worth, Lisa is faced with a jarring revelation: the girls may have been the only witnesses who observed the killer of civil rights leader Benjamin Gray . . . and therefore the only ones who can exonerate the death row inmate falsely accused of the murder. Soon, Lisa finds herself in the dangerous world her father had shielded her from as a child. After some searching, the Waldrens find the other little girl from the photo and, in the process, uncover conspiracy mere steps away from the likes of Bobby Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and J. Edgar Hoover. Based on real events and a photograph snapped by author Lis Wiehl’s own G-man father, Snapshot is a remarkably original marriage of mystery and history. less...
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Apple Tree Yard: A Novel by Louise Doughty
Amazon Says: An intelligent, erotically charged thriller with deep moral implications Yvonne Carmichael, a renowned geneticist, public authority, and happily married mother more...
Amazon Says: An intelligent, erotically charged thriller with deep moral implications Yvonne Carmichael, a renowned geneticist, public authority, and happily married mother of two, sits in the witness box. The charge is murder. Across the courtroom, not meeting her eye, sits her alleged accomplice. He wears the beautiful pin-striped suit he wore on their first meeting in the Houses of Parliament, when he put his hand on her elbow and guided her to a deserted chapel, where she began to undress. As the barrister's voice grows low and sinuous, Yvonne realizes she's lost herself and the life she'd built so carefully to a man who never existed at all. After their first liaison, Yvonne's lover tells her very little about himself, but she comes to suspect his secrecy has an explanation connected with the British government. So thrilled and absorbed is she in her newfound sexual power that she fails to notice the real danger about to blindside her from a seemingly innocuous angle. Then, reeling from an act of violence, Yvonne discovers that her desire for justice and revenge has already been compromised. Everything hinges on one night in a dark little alley called Apple Tree Yard. Suspenseful, erotically charged, and masterfully paced, Louise Doughty's Apple Tree Yard is an intelligent psychological thriller about desire and its consequences by a writer of phenomenal gifts. less...
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Amazon Says: "In this intelligent and humane book, Rosemary Mahoney writes of people who are blind....She reports on their courage and gives voice, time and again, to their miraculous dign more...
Amazon Says: "In this intelligent and humane book, Rosemary Mahoney writes of people who are blind....She reports on their courage and gives voice, time and again, to their miraculous dignity."--Andrew Solomon, author of Far From the Tree "This joyful, thoughtful book took me on an emotional journey and introduced me to people I'll never forget.  With her wonderfully sharp prose and great sense of humor and humanity, Rosemary Mahoney has written a riveting narrative that combines world-class reporting, science, history, and travel writing.  For The Benefit of Those Who See has changed forever the way I view my senses, and made me aware of how I do and don't experience the world." -- Will Schwalbe, author of The End of Your Life Book Club "Rosemary Mahoney is one of a handful of nonfiction writers so original and so surprising that I look forward to each new book with an excitement bordering on impatience.  What makes For the Benefit of Those Who See especially absorbing is that it turns on Mahoney's greatest strength: her idiosyncratic and unblinking eye.  As it explores the world of the blind, this provocative and revelatory work teaches us a great deal about what it means to see.  And when I finished this book, I returned to the world feeling that all my senses had been sharpened." -- George Howe Colt, author of The Big House In the tradition of Oliver Sacks's The Island of the Colorblind, Rosemary Mahoney tells the story of Braille Without Borders, the first school for the blind in Tibet, and of Sabriye Tenberken, the remarkable blind woman who founded the school. Fascinated and impressed by what she learned from the blind children of Tibet, Mahoney was moved to investigate further the cultural history of blindness. As part of her research, she spent three months teaching at Tenberken's international training center for blind adults in Kerala, India, an experience that reveals both the shocking oppression endured by the world's blind, as well as their great resilience, integrity, ingenuity, and strength. By living among the blind, Rosemary Mahoney enables us to see them in fascinating close up, revealing their particular "quality of ease that seems to broadcast a fundamental connection to the world." Having read FOR THE BENEFIT OF THOSE WHO SEE, you will never see the world in quite the same way again. less...
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Mayhem by Sarah Pinborough
Amazon Says: "A compulsively readable story that starts as a conventional murder mystery and morphs, by degrees, into a horrifying supernatural thriller," The Guardian said of Mayhem. A more...
Amazon Says: "A compulsively readable story that starts as a conventional murder mystery and morphs, by degrees, into a horrifying supernatural thriller," The Guardian said of Mayhem. A virtuoso fantasy writer, Sarah Pinborough has won numerous awards including the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story. In Mayhem Pinborough turns her attention to one of the most baffling and notorious crime sprees in Victorian times. Already frustrated in their attempts to capture serial murderer Jack the Ripper, the detectives of Scotland Yard are suddenly confronted with a new monster, dubbed the Torso Killer for his habit of leaving behind neatly wrapped parcels of his victims' body parts, minus the heads. With the terrible increase in mutilated corpses to examine, the highly regarded police surgeon Dr. Thomas Bond has lost the ability to sleep. True, a growing dependency on opium affords him some solace in his loneliest and most desperate hours, but he also fears the grip of the drug. During Dr. Bond's nightly tours of London's underbelly in search of pharmaceutical respite from the horrors that plague him by day, he encounters a mysterious Jesuit priest scouring the opium dens himself, clearly in search of someone--or something. The doctor at first rejects the strange priest's unnatural theories about the Torso Killer as an affront to scientific thought. But over time Dr. Bond's opium-addled mind begins to crumble under the growing impression that there might be some awful truth to the Jesuit's ideas. As the police struggle to capture two serial killers, the troubled forensics expert begins to suspect that he may actually know the Torso Killer personally. If he is right, Dr. Bond will need all the strength he can muster to save his small circle of loved ones from falling victim to the bloody depravities of this twisted creature. less...
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Mercy Snow: A Novel by Tiffany Baker
Amazon Says: In the tiny town of Titan Falls, New Hampshire, the paper mill dictates a quiet, steady rhythm of life. But one day a tragic bus accident sets two families on a course toward more...
Amazon Says: In the tiny town of Titan Falls, New Hampshire, the paper mill dictates a quiet, steady rhythm of life. But one day a tragic bus accident sets two families on a course toward destruction, irrevocably altering the lives of everyone in their wake. June McAllister is the wife of the local mill owner and undisputed first lady in town. But the Snow family, a group of itinerant ne'er-do-wells who live on a decrepit and cursed property, have brought her--and the town--nothing but grief. June will do anything to cover up a dark secret she discovers after the crash, one that threatens to upend her picture-perfect life, even if it means driving the Snow family out of town. But she has never gone up against a force as fierce as the young Mercy Snow. Mercy is determined to protect her rebellious brother, whom the town blames for the accident, despite his innocence. And she has a secret of her own. When an old skeleton is discovered not far from the crash, it beckons Mercy to solve a mystery buried deep within the town's past. less...
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Perfect: A Novel by Rachel Joyce
Amazon Says: A spellbinding novel that will resonate with readers of Mark Haddon, Louise Erdrich, and John Irving, Perfect tells the story of a young boy who is thrown into the murky, d more...
Amazon Says: A spellbinding novel that will resonate with readers of Mark Haddon, Louise Erdrich, and John Irving, Perfect tells the story of a young boy who is thrown into the murky, difficult realities of the adult world with far-reaching consequences. Byron Hemmings wakes to a morning that looks like any other: his school uniform draped over his wooden desk chair, his sister arguing over the breakfast cereal, the click of his mother’s heels as she crosses the kitchen. But when the three of them leave home, driving into a dense summer fog, the morning takes an unmistakable turn. In one terrible moment, something happens, something completely unexpected and at odds with life as Byron understands it. While his mother seems not to have noticed, eleven-year-old Byron understands that from now on nothing can be the same.   What happened and who is to blame? Over the days and weeks that follow, Byron’s perfect world is shattered. Unable to trust his parents, he confides in his best friend, James, and together they concoct a plan. . . .   As she did in her debut, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce has imagined bewitching characters who find their ordinary lives unexpectedly thrown into chaos, who learn that there are times when children must become parents to their parents, and who discover that in confronting the hard truths about their pasts, they will forge unexpected relationships that have profound and surprising impacts. Brimming with love, forgiveness, and redemption, Perfect will cement Rachel Joyce’s reputation as one of fiction’s brightest talents. Praise for Perfect   “Touching, eccentric . . . Joyce does an inviting job of setting up these mysterious circumstances, and of drawing Byron’s magical closeness with Diana.”—Janet Maslin, The New York Tiimes   “Haunting . . . compelling.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune   “[Joyce] triumphantly returns with Perfect. . . . As Joyce probes the souls of Diana, Byron and Jim, she reveals—slowly and deliberately, as if peeling back a delicate onion skin—the connection between the two stories, creating a poignant, searching tale.”—O: The Oprah Magazine   “Perfect touches on class, mental illness, and the ways a psyche is formed or broken. It has the tenor of a horror film, and yet at the end, in some kind of contortionist trick, the narrative unfolds into an unexpected burst of redemption. [Verdict:] Buy It.”—New York   “Joyce’s dark, quiet follow-up to her successful debut, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, could easily become a book club favorite. . . . Perfect is the kind of book that blossoms under thoughtful examination, its slow tendencies redeemed by moments of loveliness and insight. However sad, Joyce’s messages—about the limitations of time and control, the failures of adults and the fears of children, and our responsibility for our own imprisonment and freedom—have a gentle ring of truth to them.”—The Washington Post   “There is a poignancy to Joyce’s narrative that makes for her most memorable writing.”—NPR’s All Things Considered less...
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The Visionist: A Novel by Rachel Urquhart
Amazon Says: An enthralling first novel about a teenage girl who finds refuge--but perhaps not--in an 1840s Shaker community. After 15-year-old Polly Kimball sets fire to the family farm more...
Amazon Says: An enthralling first novel about a teenage girl who finds refuge--but perhaps not--in an 1840s Shaker community. After 15-year-old Polly Kimball sets fire to the family farm, killing her abusive father, she and her young brother find shelter in a Massachusetts Shaker community called the City of Hope. It is the Era of Manifestations, when young girls in Shaker enclaves all across the Northeast are experiencing extraordinary mystical visions, earning them the honorific of "Visionist" and bringing renown to their settlements. The City of Hope has not yet been blessed with a Visionist, but that changes when Polly arrives and is unexpectedly exalted. As she struggles to keep her dark secrets concealed in the face of increasing scrutiny, Polly finds herself in a life-changing friendship with a young Shaker sister named Charity, a girl who will stake everything--even her faith--on Polly's honesty and purity. less...
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Amazon Says: NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY KIRKUS REVIEWS In a memoir of family bonding and cutting-edge physics for readers of Brian Greene’s The Hidden Reality more...
Amazon Says: NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY KIRKUS REVIEWS In a memoir of family bonding and cutting-edge physics for readers of Brian Greene’s The Hidden Reality and Jim Holt’s Why Does the World Exist?, Amanda Gefter tells the story of how she conned her way into a career as a science journalist—and wound up hanging out, talking shop, and butting heads with the world’s most brilliant minds.   At a Chinese restaurant outside of Philadelphia, a father asks his fifteen-year-old daughter a deceptively simple question: “How would you define nothing?” With that, the girl who once tried to fail geometry as a conscientious objector starts reading up on general relativity and quantum mechanics, as she and her dad embark on a life-altering quest for the answers to the universe’s greatest mysteries.        Before Amanda Gefter became an accomplished science writer, she was a twenty-one-year-old magazine assistant willing to sneak her and her father, Warren, into a conference devoted to their physics hero, John Wheeler. Posing as journalists, Amanda and Warren met Wheeler, who offered them cryptic clues to the nature of reality: The universe is a self-excited circuit, he said. And, The boundary of a boundary is zero. Baffled, Amanda and Warren vowed to decode the phrases—and with them, the enigmas of existence. When we solve all that, they agreed, we’ll write a book.   Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn is that book, a memoir of the impassioned hunt that takes Amanda and her father from New York to London to Los Alamos. Along the way, they bump up against quirky science and even quirkier personalities, including Leonard Susskind, the former Bronx plumber who invented string theory; Ed Witten, the soft-spoken genius who coined the enigmatic M-theory; even Stephen Hawking.   What they discover is extraordinary: the beginnings of a monumental paradigm shift in cosmology, from a single universe we all share to a splintered reality in which each observer has her own. Reality, the Gefters learn, is radically observer-dependent, far beyond anything of which Einstein or the founders of quantum mechanics ever dreamed—with shattering consequences for our understanding of the universe’s origin. And somehow it all ties back to that conversation, to that Chinese restaurant, and to the true meaning of nothing.   Throughout their journey, Amanda struggles to make sense of her own life—as her journalism career transforms from illusion to reality, as she searches for her voice as a writer, as she steps from a universe shared with her father to at last carve out one of her own. It’s a paradigm shift you might call growing up.   By turns hilarious, moving, irreverent, and profound, Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn weaves together story and science in remarkable ways. By the end, you will never look at the universe the same way again. Praise for Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn   “Nothing quite prepared me for this book. Wow. Reading it, I alternated between depression—how could the rest of us science writers ever match this?—and exhilaration.”—Scientific American   “To Do: Read Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn. Reality doesn’t have to bite.”—New York   “A zany superposition of genres . . . It’s at once a coming-of-age chronicle and a father-daughter road trip to the far reaches of this universe and 10,500 others.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer less...
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