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New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog The Accidental Empress
by Allison Pataki

Library Journal Starred Review. Fifteen-year-old Elisabeth ("Sisi"), heroine of this second historical novel from Pataki (The Traitor's Wife), is utterly enchanted by her sister's intended fiance, Franz Joseph, the dashing young Emperor of the Habsburgs. Franz is equally attracted to her, and before long the free-spirited Sisi has married Franz and taken her sister's planned place as Empress, to her sister's relief but her controlling mother-in-law's horror. Unprepared for the realities of her new role, particularly the stifling rules of protocol and lack of control over her environment, Sisi repeatedly clashes with the wishes of both her mother-in-law and, more dangerously, her husband. VERDICT Sisi's story is still popular in Austria but is less well known outside of it, and this novel offers an engrossing introduction to this colorful 19th-century personality. Even historical fiction readers who have grown weary of "royal marriage" plots will find much to savor here in the striking depictions of the Viennese court and intriguing descriptions of the political maneuvers between Austria and Hungary. Highly recommended for fans of both Michelle Moran and Philippa Gregory. [For another fictional interpretation of Sisi's life, see Daisy Goodwin's The Fortune Hunter.-Ed.]-Mara Bandy, Champaign P.L., IL (c) Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Independent Booksellers List
Click to search this book in our catalog Calico Joe
by John Grisham

Library Journal Growing up in Arkansas, Grisham dreamed of being a professional baseball player. Now, in his 28th novel, this superb storyteller takes his turn at bat in this memorable story of forgiveness and redemption. In the 1973 season, Warren Tracey, an over-the-hill pitcher from the New York Mets, tangles with Joe Castle, a hot new Chicago Cubs rookie from Calico Rock, AR-halting both their careers. Before their confrontation, Joe had demonstrated his stunning skills and earned the admiration of fans nationwide, including Warren's young son. As a little leaguer, Paul Tracey had idolized Joe and tolerated his own philandering father. Thirty years later, Paul challenges Warren, now cancer-ridden, to seek Joe's forgiveness. Verdict Incorporating the jargon and depicting the rituals of America's favorite pastime, Grisham has written a classic story filled with human emotion. General readers, together with Grisham fans, will appreciate this touching tale.-Jerry P. Miller., Cambridge, MA (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list A major change of pace from megaseller Grisham. Joe Castle, from Calico Rock, Arkansas, took the baseball world by storm in 1973. He homered in his first three major league at bats for the Chicago Cubs. Two months later, he was still hitting more than .500. Then, in his next at bat after homering off Warren Tracey, a surly journeyman pitcher, Tracey drilled a fastball at Joe's head. The damage was severe. Joe's right eye socket was destroyed, and he never played again, retreating back to Calico Rock, far from the public eye. Tracey soon retired from the Mets and drifted into booze and a succession of ex-wives. Thirty years later, Tracey's estranged son, Paul, on learning of his father's impending death from cancer, tries to bring Warren Tracey and Joe Castle together. His motive? Closure. But perhaps, more than anything, Paul needs to see his father do one decent thing in a life filled with regrets and bad behavior. Grisham, of course, is known for his courtroom thrillers but has long harbored a desire to write a baseball novel. Inspired by the real-life story of Yankee pitcher Carl Mays, whose fastball struck and killed Cleveland shortstop Roy Chapman in 1920, Grisham tells his own version of a hit-batsman tragedy, but Paul, the narrator, is curiously deadpan given the highly charged emotions at play. The end result is a solid baseball story but one that never delivers the emotional payoff readers will expect. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The name Grisham and a 1,000,000-copy first printing say it all.--Lukowsky, Wes Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

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Oprah's Book Club
Click to search this book in our catalog Ruby
by Cynthia Bend

Publishers Weekly Bond's debut novel is difficult to read for its graphic and uncomfortable portrayal of racism, sexual violence, and religious intolerance in East Texas in the 1960s and '70s. Bond is a gifted storyteller, able to make the reader squirm with anger and unease as she vividly depicts how easily bad things happen to good people. Ruby Bell is a middle-aged black woman living a feral existence in the woods of Liberty Township, a poor black community where the intolerant and superstitious inhabitants treat her with disgust as a social outcast and an unrepentant sinner because she's a prostitute. Ephram Jennings grew up with Ruby and has been in love with her for years, despite her reputation. He too is shunned and ridiculed-because of his feelings for her. Their romance remains sad and painfully one-sided, regardless of Ephram's tender good intentions. Even his doting older sister, Celia, is embarrassed and ashamed by Ephram's behavior, and her deep, visceral hatred of Ruby goes back decades. Flashbacks reveal why Ruby chose a life of prostitution and why Celia hates her, as well as why Ephram struggles to get out from under his sister's influence. All of the family drama is set amid an ingrained culture of sexual exploitation of women and children, racial brutality, and the community's passive acceptance that these things are facts of life. This is a grim tale, well told, but there's no comfort in these pages-just tragedy and heartache. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal The citizens of Liberty, TX, have always watched Ruby Bell, first as a small child playing in the Piney Woods with her devoted cousin Maggie, then as a beautiful young woman on her way to a new life in New York City during the 1950s, and finally as she wanders aimlessly down the red dirt roads upon her return in the 1970s, muttering incoherently at the invisible spirits that torment her. Grocery clerk and childhood friend Ephram Jennings decides to reach out to Ruby, but his doing so angers his sister Celia and mobilizes his church brethren to intervene. Through multiple flashbacks, we learn of Ruby's past, rife with abuse and neglect, including lynchings, prostitution, and child rape. The strength and will that Ephram and Ruby need to fend off the rest of the world is threatened even as their bond grows stronger. Educator and debut novelist Bond knows the dark potentialities of her setting and explores them adroitly through each well-drawn character. Ruby's story is truly that of a people and a place, outlined lyrically and honestly, even when the most brutal events unfold. -VERDICT Definitely not for the faint of heart or for those who prefer lighter reads, this book exhibits a dark and redemptive beauty. Bond's prose is evocative of Alice Walker and Toni Morrison, paying homage to the greats of Southern gothic literature. [See Prepub Alert, 10/14/13.]-Jennifer B. Stidham, Houston Community Coll. Northeast (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list *Starred Review* Ephram Jennings, the son of a backwoods preacher, has been in love with the beautiful Ruby Bell ever since childhood. But Ruby has been so badly used by the men in her small African American town of Liberty, Texas, that she flees for New York City as soon as she is able, in search of the mother who abandoned her. When Ruby's best friend dies, Ruby returns home, only to succumb to the bad memories that haunt her still. Once sharply dressed and coiffed, she now wanders the streets with ripped clothing and vacant eyes. But Ephram still sees her as the lighthearted girl with pigtails, running free in the woods. And so he begins his long, sweet courtship, bringing her a homemade cake, cleaning her filthy house, and always treating her with kindness. At long last, out from under his overbearing sister's dominion, he feels himself come alive. But the church folks in town view their relationship as the work of the devil and seek to bring Ephram back to God and to cast out Ruby. In her first novel, Bond immerses readers in a fully realized world, one scarred by virulent racism and perverted rituals but also redeemed by love. Graphic in its descriptions of sexual violence and suffering, this powerful, explosive novel is, at times, difficult to read, presenting a stark, unflinching portrait of dark deeds and dark psyches.--Wilkinson, Joanne Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

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Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Kira-Kira
by Cynthia Kadohata

School Library Journal Gr 6-8-Katie's first word is "kira-kira," the Japanese word for "glittering," and she uses it to describe everything she likes. It was taught to her by her older sister, Lynn, whom Katie worships. Both girls have trouble adjusting when their parents move the family from Iowa to a small town in rural Georgia, where they are among only 31 Japanese-Americans. They seldom see their parents, who have grueling jobs in chicken-processing plants. Then Lynn becomes deathly ill, and Katie is often left to care for her, a difficult and emotionally devastating job. When her sister dies of lymphoma, Katie searches for ways to live up to her legacy and to fulfill the dreams she never had a chance to attain. Told from Katie's point of view and set in the 1950s, this beautifully written story tells of a girl struggling to find her own way in a family torn by illness and horrendous work conditions. Katie's parents can barely afford to pay their daughter's medical bills, yet they refuse to join the growing movement to unionize until after Lynn's death. All of the characters are believable and well developed, especially Katie, who acts as a careful observer of everything that happens in her family, even though there is a lot she doesn't understand. Especially heartbreaking are the weeks leading up to Lynn's death, when Katie is exhausted and frustrated by the demands of her sister's illness, yet willing to do anything to make her happy. Girls will relate to and empathize with the appealing protagonist.-Ashley Larsen, Woodside Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list Gr. 6-12.atie Takeshima worships her older sister, Lynn, who knows everything and takes care ofatie while their parents are working long hours in their small Georgia town in the late 1950s. It's Lynn who showsatie the glittering beauty (kira-kira) of the stars and who preparesatie for the prejudice she will encounter as one of the fewapanese American kids in their school. But whenatie is 10, Lynn, 14, falls ill, and everything changes. Slowly the roles are reversed;atie becomes caregiver and does what Lynn has taught her. There's no surprise. It's clear that Lynn will die, andatie goes through all the stages of grief. The real story is in the small details, never self-consciously poetic but tense with family drama. In her first novel for young people,adohata stays true to the child's viewpoint in plain, beautiful prose that can barely contain the passionate feelings.ust as heart wrenching as the sisters' story is whatatie knows of her father's struggle, whether it's his backbreaking work in the factory or his love for his family. The quiet words will speak to readers who have lost someone they love--or fear that they could. --Hazel Rochman Copyright 2004 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Set in the 1950s and '60s, Kadohata's moving first novel is narrated by a first-generation Japanese-American girl who moves with her family from Iowa to Georgia when their "Oriental foods grocery store" goes out of business. There, Katie and her family face hardships, including discrimination (she is ignored by the girls at school, for example), and the harsh conditions at the poultry plant where her mother works ("thugs" make sure workers do not gather so that they cannot organize). Katie's father often sleeps at the hatchery between shifts, and when their babysitter goes away, Katie and her brother must stay in the hot car outside the plant while their mother works. But it's her doting older sister Lynn's struggle with lymphoma that really tests her family. Katie's narrative begins almost as stream-of-consciousness, reflecting a younger child's way of seeing the world. But as she matures through the challenges her family faces, so does the prose. Kadohata movingly captures the family's sustaining love-Lynn and Katie secretly save their treat money for years so they can help their parents buy a house, and when ailing Lynn gets to pick the house, she chooses a sky blue one, because Katie as a "little girl,... had told her [she] wanted our first to be sky blue." The family's devotion to one another, and Lynn's ability to teach Katie to appreciate the "kira-kira," or glittering, in everyday life makes this novel shine. Ages 11-up. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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World Fantasy Awards
Click to search this book in our catalog Godmother Night
by Rachel Pollack

Publishers Weekly Departing from the future society she traced in Unquenchable Fire and Temporary Agency (a Nebula Award finalist), Pollack imagines with flair a fantasy world sprawled across the back of a giant turtle. At a dance at a college in a city "in the eastern part of the turtle, not far from the sea," two young women, Laurie and Jaqe, meet and fall in love. They also meet Mother Night, who helps the couple cope with the obstacles strewn across their path by family and society. An older, redheaded woman who rides around on a motorcycle, surrounded by a crew of younger, similarly carrot-topped women, Mother Night is in fact Death. While she helps Laurie and Jaqe in their quest for peace and justice, she also brings about the early demise of one of the lovers, shortly after a baby daughter is born. Mother Night becomes a true godmother to this child, watching over her and disclosing to her secrets of the departed. Pollack's fairy-tale plot is resourceful and original, but here, as in her earlier fiction, the emphasis is on character as she portrays women's intimate relationships with one another with resonance and realism. This is another fine outing by one of the most gifted and sensitive fantasists working today. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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