This week I received an amazing array of fabulous books:
The fantastic people from Penguin sent me a finished edition of The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway (May 2013). Isn’t that a great cover? This is a debut novel which has been getting five star reviews all over the place. The publisher writes: “If you loved The Night Circus or The Snow Child then prepare to be swept away by this stunning debut novel…” The book is an hisotrical adventure story about forbidden love that begins in 1812 on a battlefield in Spain when twenty-two year old Lord Nicholas Falcott is about to die…but then inexplicably finds himself leaping forward in time nearly two hundred years. He has been saved by a mysterious organization called The Guild. As Nicholas rebuilds his life in the twenty-first century, he one day receives a summons from The Guild…he is to return to his previous time on to confront his past. Back in 1815, Julia Percy is the keeper of her late grandfather’s closely guarded secret about the manipulation of time. When she and Nicholas are drawn to each other, they face danger from unknown enemies, and Julia begins to understand her grandfather’s last, ominous words…’Pretend.’ Doesn’t that sound great?
Bee Ridgway was born and raised in Amherst, Massachusetts and attended Oberlin College before going to work for Elle Magazine. She later attended Cornell for a doctoral degree in English Literature and eventually taught American Literature at Bryn Mawr. She lives with her partner in Philadelphia. The River of No Return is her first novel. Learn more about Ridgway and her work by visiting the author’s website.
I won a copy of Is This Tomorrow by Caroline Leavitt (Algonquin Books, May 2013) through the Library Thing Early Review Program. The year is 1956 and Ava Lark rents a house with her twelve year old son, Lewis, in a Boston suburb. Ava is beautiful, divorced and Jewish, as well as a working mother – and she is ostracized by her neighbors. Lewis misses his father, but makes friends with two other fatherless children: Rose and Jimmy. When Jimmy goes missing, the neighborhood seizes on the opportunity to further alienate Ava and Lewis. Years later, Lewis and Ava reunite to finally untangle the mystery behind those tragic days and they must decide: Should you tell the truth even if it hurts those you love, or should some secrets remained buried? Leavitt’s latest novel is getting rave reviews and being described as richly layered, an intimate meditation, and masterful.
Caroline Leavitt is the prize-winning author of Girls In Trouble, Coming Back To Me, Living Other Lives, Into Thin Air, Family, Jealousies, Lifelines, Meeting Rozzy Halfway and Pictures of You. Pictures of You was a New York Times bestseller, a Costco “Pennie’s Pick,” A San Francisco Chronicle Editor’s Choice “Lit Pick,” and also on the Best Books of 2011 lists from The San Francisco Chronicle, The Providence Journal, Bookmarks Magazine and Kirkus Reviews. The recipient of a 1990 New York Foundation of the Arts Award for Fiction for Into Thin Air, she was also a National Magazine Award nominee for personal essay, and she was awarded a 2005 honorable mention, Goldenberg Prize for Fiction from the Bellevue Literary Review, for “Breathe,” a portion of Pictures of You. She teaches novel writing online at both Stanford University and UCLA, as well as working with writers privately. She lives in New Jersey. Learn more about Leavitt and her work by visiting the author’s website.
After Her by Joyce Maynard is described as a “haunting novel of sisterhood, sacrifice, and suspense.” Based loosely on the events surround Marin County, California’s Trailside murders, After You begins in 1979 and centers around two sister, Rachel and Patty, whose father is a detective. When the bodies of young women begin turning up on the trails of the mountain they love, the girls’ father is put in charge of the investigation. But when the case is not solved, Rachel makes a decision to use herself as “bait” to help her father solve the crimes – but instead of vindicating her father, Rachel’s actions destroy his career and alter the lives of everyone she loves. Thirty years later, still hoping to uncover the identity of the killer, Rachel discovers evidence which points to the perpetrator, but also unearths a long-buried family secret.
Joyce Maynard first came to national attention with the publication of her New York Times cover story, “An Eighteen Year Old Looks Back on Life”, in 1973, when she was a freshman at Yale. Since then, she has been a reporter and columnist for The New York Times, a syndicated newspaper columnist, a regular contributor to NPR and national magazines including Vogue, O, The Oprah Magazine, Newsweek, The New York Times Magazine, MORE, Salon, and many more. Her essays have been widely published in collections, and featured in The New York Times. She is the author of fourteen books. Her novel, Labor Day, is currently being developed as a motion picture to be adapted and directed by Jason Reitman. Maynard has taught at writing programs around the country, and runs workshops in both fiction and memoir at her home in Mill Valley, California. She also runs workshops at other sites in the US and internationally, including the Lake Atitlan Writing Workshop in San Marcos La Laguna, Guatemala, which she founded in 2002. Learn more about Maynard and her work by visiting the author’s website.
Help for the Haunted by John Searles begins with a call in the middle of a February night. Sylivie Mason’s parents are known for helping “haunted souls” find peace, and when they take Sylvie out to a church on the outskirts of town that snowy winter night, they leave her in the car and disappear into the church. Later, Sylvie wakens to the sound of gunfire. A year later, Sylvie is struggling to come to terms with what happened that night. Moving back and forth in time, Sylvie pursues the mystery and in the process uncovers secrets which have haunted her family for years. Described as “capturing the vivid eeriness of Stephen King’s works with the compelling quirkiness of John Irving’s beloved novels,” Help for the Haunted promises a captivating journey told in the resonant voice of a young heroine.
John Searles is the author of the national bestsellers Boy Still Missing and Strange But True. He appears regularly as a book critic on NBC’s Today show. He is the editor-at-large of Cosmopolitan. His essays have been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other national newspapers and magazines. He lives in New York City.
Finally, Crown Publishing sent me an Advance Readers Edition of Save Yourself by Kelly Braffet (August 2013). Book description from the publisher:
Patrick Cusimano is in a bad way. His father is in jail; he works the midnight shift at a grubby convenience store; and his brother’s girlfriend, Caro, has taken their friendship to an uncomfortable new level. On top of all that, he can’t quite shake the attentions of Layla Elshere, a goth teenager who befriends Patrick for reasons he doesn’t understand, and doesn’t fully trust. The temptations these two women offer are pushing Patrick to his breaking point. Meanwhile, Layla’s little sister, Verna, is suffering through her first year of high school. She’s become a prime target for her cruel classmates, not just because of her strange name and her fundamentalist parents: Layla’s bad-girl rep proves to be too a huge shadow for Verna, so she falls in with her sister’s circle of outcasts and misfits whose world is far darker than she ever imagined. Kelly Braffet’s characters, indelibly portrayed and richly varied, are all on their own twisted path to finding peace. The result is a novel of unnerving power—darkly compelling, addictively written, and shockingly honest.
Kelly Braffet is the author of Josie and Jack and Last Seen Leaving. She is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and Columbia University, where she received her MFA. Kelly lives in upstate New York with her husband, the writer Owen King. Learn more about Braffet and her work by visiting the author’s website.
Did any wonderful books arrive at YOUR home this week?