Your Library Curated: Best New Books

  • A Dog Named Doug by Karma Wilson and Matt Myers:  Here’s a challenge for a tired parent:  Try to get through the tongue twisters and antics of a very energetic canine in A Dog Named Doug without collapsing from laughter. The first line sets the stage:  “Once there was a dog named Doug. Doug liked to dig, but when Doug dug, oh boy, did Doug DIG!” Readers young and old will delight in Doug’s journey, which brings them from the Old West to Hollywood and from the African savannah to the White House. And what world tour would be complete without a visit to Stonehenge? In fact, Doug digs so deep underground that he ends up on the other side of the world. (Where, naturally, he finds himself upside down.) This book was so enjoyable and fun that kids will want to read it again and again!  dog named doug
  • Geraldine by Elizabeth Lilly:  No one likes  moving, especially Geraldine the giraffe. It doesn’t help when her mother reminds her not to be a drama queen or when her father suggests that moving will be “a Grand Adventure.” Back in Giraffe City, Geraldine was just Geraldine. But as the only giraffe at her new school, she feels like “That Giraffe Girl.” Never shy before, Geraldine now hides behind trees and basketball poles during lunch and recess. But one day, Geraldine discovers someone else in her lunchtime hiding spot:  a girl named Cassie with a long, twisty braid who identifies herself as “that girl who wears glasses and like MATH and always organizes her food.” As Geraldine and Cassie hide and hang out together, they realize that they’re not so unusual. geraldine
  • The Secrets Between Us by Thrity Umrigar:  Thrity Umrigar’s eighth novel follows the main character of her bestselling The Space Between Us (2006), the servant Bhima, over the course of a year. The life of Parvati, a minor character entwined with Bhima’s in this sequel. Parvati has the sadder background of the two:  Sold into prostitution as a young girl by her desperately poor father, she spent two decades in a brothel before one of her regulars asks her to marry him. She trades one horrific life for another, as she is regularly abused by him and is left penniless when he dies. Now Parvati exists by selling six cauliflowers a day from her spot at an outdoor market; she sleeps under the stairwell outside her nephew’s apartment and eats leftovers from a nearby restaurant. Bhima has been forced to leave one of her servant jobs and is looking for a way to earn extra money to help send her granddaughter, Maya, to college. She meets Parvati at the market, and they form a working partnership. As the two lonely women grow closer, they gradually begin to share their stories, listening without judgment to the secrets they’ve hidden from others–poverty, illiteracy, sexual abuse, multiple abortions, offspring who died from AIDS. Nothing is left unsaid. secrets between us
  • The Race to Save the Romanovs by Helen Rappaport:  By the early 20th century, thanks to Queen Victoria’s prodigious matchmaking, almost all the ruling families across Europe were related. Among Victoria’s favorite grandchildren was Alexandra Feodorovna, who went on to marry her cousin Nicholas II, the czar of Russia. Alexandra’s new husband looked so similar to George, their mutual cousin and the future king of England, that they could have passed for identical twins. So why, given all the family ties, were “Alicky” and “Nicky” left to die at the hands of revolutionaries? Many of the royal cousins attempted to create a plan for rescue, but the bulk of the blame for their deaths has generally been laid on King George V. But in her new book, The Race to Save the Romanovs, historian Helen Rappaport argues that British anti-royal sentiment in that era was so strong that rescuing the Romanovs could have been disastrous for King George’s family. This is not the sweet, sacrificial Nicholas and Alexandra of other biographies, Rappaport writes–with substantial evidence–that the czar was a weak leader, and the czarina was a decided and sometimes oblivious partisan. They were, however, deeply devoted to one another and to their children. Rappaport concludes that no rescue attempt would have succeeded because the Romanovs would never have abandoned the motherland. race to save the romanovs
  • All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin:  Nina Browning’s days are filled with the typical activities of Nashville’s wealthiest residents:  “Meetings and parties and beauty appointments and workouts and tennis games and lunches, and, yes, even some very worthwhile charity work.” She has lavish homes and designer clothes, and her husband, Kirk, is a tech titan–albeit one with a fondness for bourbon and long business trips. The Brownings have it all, and the best part is that their only child, Finch, has just been accepted to Princeton (sure, a check to the university endowment may have greased the wheels). But their elite world comes crashing down when Finch is accused of texting his buddies a partially nude photo of a passed-out girl at a party, along with a racist comment. Finch is at the mercy of his private school’s disciplinary committee, and his Ivy League future is in jeopardy. Kirk’s reaction is to protect their son at any cost. But Nina finds herself seeking answers as to why Finch would have done what he did. She is drawn to the young girl in the photo and desperate to make things right. Nina’s own past resurfaces as she probes what really happened that night at the party and what it means for her family’s future. all we ever wanted
  • Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse:  After a sudden climate apocalypse, one of the only places left intact was Dinetah, a former Navajo reservation that has become a land where gods and supernatural heroes walk among humans. Preternaturally deadly monster hunter Maggie Hoskie is one of the byproducts of the supernatural rebirth of Dinetah. When her search for a missing girl and her monstrous captor goes south, Maggie is left with questions. Who created the monster that abducted the girl, and why? Maggie’s investigation leads her to reluctantly team up with Kai Arviso, an overly charismatic young medicine man with powers of his own. The further they dig to find the truth behind the monster, the more Maggie is forced to recognize that confronting her past may be the key to solving the mystery. trail of lightning
  • My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows:  Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows, the team of young adult authors otherwise known as the Lady Janies, penned the 2016 New York Times bestseller My Lady Jane–inspired (more or less) by hapless historical figure Lady Jane Grey, who ruled as queen of England for only nine days. Now, they’ve whipped up another ghostly journey into the past in the latest installment of their Jane-centric series, but their new inspiration is a different famous Jane. This time, the eponymous protagonist is none other than Charlotte Bronte’s indomitable heroine Jane Eyre. With this crew of authors at the helm, don’t expect a simple retelling. In the opening pages of My Plain Jane, we meet not only Jane but also her friend Charlotte Bronte, both of whom are students at the infamous Lowood School. As a young aspiring author, Charlotte is working on her “Very-First-Ever-Attempt-at-a-Novel” and thinks Jane will make the perfect heroine in her story. Jane has the ability to see ghosts, which convinces the very attractive supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood that she would make a fine addition to his Society for the Relocation of Wayward Spirits. But Jane rejects the job offer and instead sets off to fulfill her destiny by securing the governess position at Rochester’s Thornfield Hall. Off she trots with a ghostly Helen Burns at her side, who proves to be a fantastic comic foil for Jane.  my plain jane
  • A Thousand Beginnings and Endings by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman:  As a collection of Asian myths and legends, A Thousand Beginnings and Endings could be required reading for any classroom. Fifteen acclaimed Asian and Asian-American authors breathe fresh life into 15 popular Asian folktales and myths, elevating this anthology to a higher level. Editors Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman have compiled these diverse narratives to represent the stories and cultures of East and South Asian peoples, who are all too often disregarded in modern media and publishing. Spanning Chinese, Filipino, Gujarati, Hmong, Japanese, Korean, Punjabi and Vietnamese cultures, authors such as Renee Ahdieh, E.C. Myers and Aisha Saeed have reimagined the stories of their ancestors from their own viewpoints, crafting layered tales with nuance and cultural wherewithal. For example, in Ahdieh’s “Nothing into All,” a brother and sister try to lift themselves out of poverty by using the magic of forest goblins to transform common objects into gold, but the dueling good and evil in their natures result in twisted desires and irreversible consequences. The retooled stories included here fall into many categories–fantasy, science fiction, romance–and each gives the reader newfound insight into Asian culture and history.   a thousand beginnings and endings
  • The Lost Vintage by Ann Mah:  Quick quiz:  Which group is larger–Americans who have Nobel Prizes or Americans who have passed the Masters of Wine test? Is that your final answer? At press time, the U.S. sported a mere 47 of the latter, fewer than the number of Americans who have won the Nobel in the last decade. The Masters of Wine roster is the very definition of “elite.” At the beginning of Ann Mah’s second novel, The Lost Vintage, protagonist Kate Elliott has committed to an extended visit with extended family in Meursault, France, and in the hopes of shoring up her knowledge of French wines in advance of her third–and final–sitting for the test. To earn her keep during her excursion, Kate helps her cousin reclaim a cellar storage space that contains several surprises, not the least of which is a World War II-era diary from the great half-aunt named Helene who has been more or less expunged from the family history. As Kate digs deeper, it appears that her relative may have been a collaborator during WWII, which is a bitter pill to swallow, but she’s determine to uncover the truth nonetheless. lost vintage
  • Untamed Cowboy by Maisey Yates:  Maisey Yates gives readers a twist on the friends-to-lovers trope by adding layers of negative family history on both sides, considerably raising the emotional stakes in her latest romance, Untamed Cowboy. Kaylee Capshaw has been in love with Bennett Dodge since she was 13, but to protect her heart, she never pursued him. She’s struggled to cope with unrequited feelings ever since, even as the best friends share a veterinary practice in rural Gold Valley, Oregon. Kaylee has psychological reasons to keep her attraction to Bennett a secret–her parents’ marriage was a disaster and Kaylee was constantly aware she was unwanted and unloved. Her friendship with Bennett is important to her and Yates develops a long, comfortable, affectionate history between them. After his mother’s death when he was a child, followed by too many stepmothers to count, Bennett has followed a strict plan for his life that ensures a quiet, well-organized existence. Powerful emotion isn’t allowed and he’s unaware that he subconsciously, purposefully, never considered Kaylee as a potential girlfriend. When his sensible fiancee breaks off their engagement and immediately fall in love with another man, Bennett is at loose ends. He’s disappointed but thinks he’s coping with the situation as well as could be expected. But then his regimented life is hit by a bombshell when a social worker arrives on his doorstep with the son he didn’t know existed. untamed cowboy
  • The House That Lou Built by Mae Respicio:  In her charming debut novel, Mae Respicio brings young readers into the warm and loving Filipino community of Lucinda Bulosan-Nelson, a determined San Francisco middle school student with an unusual dream. Lou wants a circular saw for her 13th birthday, and she wants to build her own house:  “The idea started off as a daydream, a dare to myself:  What if I made something no other girl has?” And Lou has just about all she needs as she inherited a plot of land from her late father. She has a growing set of construction skills; she’s already making sets for Barrio Fiesta, a neighborhood fundraiser for the Filipino American Community Senior Center. And thanks to her woodworking teacher, Mr. Keller, she’s learning about tools, drafting and innovative architectural designs, including tiny houses. But Lou’s ambitious plans, and her budding friendship with classmate Jack, might all come to nothing if her mom gets a job out of state, and if no money can be found to pay the back taxes on Lou’s new land.   house that lou built
  • Front Desk by Kelly Yang:  Intrepid fifth-grader Mia Tang gets a crash course in capitalism when she oversees the front desk at the motel that her Chinese-American parents operate. Loosely based on author Kelly Yang’s experiences as a new immigrant to America, this story shimmers with good cheer, working-class realities and Mia’s unshakeable belief that people can make a difference if they pull together. front desk
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