Readerly Top Picks In Paperback – May 2015

Many of wonderful titles we’ve loved and recommended are now out in paperback. Enjoy!

In the Kingdom of Ice by Hampton SidesIn the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyager of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides (Anchor) Sides once again proves he is a master at nonfiction in this well-researched, easily accessible account of the 1878 De Long expedition to the North Pole. Although we already know the outcome of the ill-fated journey, Sides carefully sets the stage and builds the tension, creating an adventure story as exciting and emotional as any novel.—Candace B. Levy

Neverhome by Laird HuntNeverhome by Laird Hunt (Back Bay Books) Not all Civil War soldiers were men. Ash Thompson, who enlists in place of her husband, was one such soldier. The experience changes her and her husband in ways they couldn’t have predicted. Reminiscent of True Grit, Neverhome smartly captures the isolation and courage of a determined soldier with a secret.—Jennifer Conner

That Night by Chevy Stevens (St. Martin’s Griffin) Sixteen years ago, Toni and her boyfriend were convicted of her sister’s death.  Now, out on parole, she struggles with her freedom. As she attempts to uncover what happened that fateful night, she learns the truth is more terrifying than the unknown. An absorbing psychological thriller full of suspense and betrayal, this novel’s rich characters and intense storyline will have readers on the edge of their seats up until the stunning conclusion.—Jenn Lawrence

The Book of Life by Deborah Harness PaperbackThe Book of Life by Deborah Harkness (Penguin Books) Diana Bishop and Matthew de Claremont are back in the explosive finale to the All Souls Trilogy. The stakes couldn’t be higher, and Harkness makes that clear on every page with expert pacing and heightened suspense. The author’s vivid details and precise characterization serve her well; fans of the series will delight in this final installment, while also feeling bereft at the loss of these wonderful characters. —Swapna Krishna

The End of Innocence by Allegra Jordan (August 26, Sourcebooks Landmark) Jordan delves into the complexities of war and loyalty by focusing on three young people at Harvard at the outbreak of World War I, including cousins who will end up fighting against each other for the British and German armies. This well-written and engaging novel will have readers reconsidering their ‘us vs. them’ ideas about war, and this war in particular.—Nicole Bonía

The Fever by Megan Abbott (Back Bay Books) When Deenie’s best friend is struck with a sudden and terrifying seizure, her community reacts with suspicion and fear. The race to discover the cause of the growing epidemic throws everyone into a state of paranoia. Abbott deftly weaves a tale of the inner lives of girls that is thrilling, mysterious, and commanding. With wide cross over appeal, The Fever is recommended for fans for Gillian Flynn and Courtney Summers.—Amy Riley

The Good Spy by Kai BirdThe Good Spy: The lIfe and Times of Robert James by Kai Bird (Broadway Books) The Good Spy is a detailed, accessible, non-fiction portrait of Robert Ames, a CIA operative who died in the 1983 American Embassy bombing in Beirut and one of the most important figures in the then-developing war between the Middle East and the West. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Bird writes a flawless narrative of the man, the CIA, and the Middle Eastern conflict today.—Michele Jacobsen

The High Divide by Lin Enger (Algonquin Books) In 1886, Ulysses Pope disappears from home, leaving his wife and sons behind, heading for Indian Territory to lay the ghosts of war to rest. Enger’s concisely and beautifully crafted story of family, secrets, and the passing of the Old West balances the wonder and dangers of the wilderness with a deeply emotional and complex psychological landscape.—Candace B. Levy

The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai (Penguin Books) The Hundred-Year House is the ambitious, rewarding, and captivating tale of the mysterious and cursed Devohr family and the house that tells their story. A reverse generational saga that begins with the present and divulges both house and family secrets as the story makes it way back in time, The Hundred-Year House is full of clever wit and heart-breaking family dynamics that readers will not want to miss.—Michele Jacobsen

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd PaperbackThe Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (Penguin Books) Fact and fiction seamlessly collide to make this a compelling novel about one woman who makes waves during the early-1800s abolitionist and women’s movements. Told from the viewpoints of Sarah Grimké and her handmaid, Handful, this is a moving  story of an unlikely friendship. — Julie Caldwell

The Lemon Grove by Helen WalshThe Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh (Anchor) Though ostensibly in love after years of marriage, Greg and Jenn’s relationship takes a rapid turn into bitterness and malcontent as long simmering resentments erupt, and Jenn fights an undeniable attraction to her daughter’s sexy and brooding teen-aged boyfriend. The uncomfortable terrain of sexual jealousy and disintegrating family relationships and loyalties are unflinchingly considered against the backdrop of an idyllic beach vacation in this fraught but beautifully rendered novel. The Lemon Grove packs an intense punch long past the afternoon it takes to read it.—Nicole Bonía

The Promise by Ann Weisgarber (Skyhorse Publishing) The Promise is an intriguing and poignant “outsider” tale juxtaposing the narratives of two strong women who are forced to interact when a hastily arranged marriage remakes them as maid and mistress in the household of a grieving widower and his young son.  The novel superbly explores women’s limited choices and agency in both love and career at the beginning of the 20th century. Weisgarber wisely sets her tale of longing and heartbreak against the haunting backdrop of logistically isolated Galveston, Texas, on the eve of one of the most destructive storms of the twentieth century. The Promise is an achievement not only for its fascinating historical perspective and detail, but for its deeply drawn characters and intimate portrayal of the demands of duty, loyalty, love and sacrifice.—Nicole Bonía

War of the Roses: Stormbird by Conn Iggulden (Penguin Books) In a time of political upheaval, the decisions and desires of a weak king to reach a truce with an enemy can lead to far worse consequences at home. Conn Iggulden portrays the realities of living during Henry VI’s early reign so vividly that knowledgeable readers will find themselves holding out hope for a better outcome. Well-written and engaging, readers will be anticipating the next book in the series. —Jennifer Conner

An Unwilling Accomplice by Charles Todd (William Morrow Paperbacks) Bess Crawford accompanies a wounded soldier to Buckingham Palace for his decoration ceremony, only to be accused of dereliction of duty when the soldier vanishes and commits a heinous crime. Suspense and the complexity of the plot as Bess and family friend Simon journey to catch up to the soldier, make this a compelling and enjoyable sixth installment of Charles Todd’s series.—Jenn Ravey

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian (Vintage) Emily Shepard survived the meltdown of a Vermont nuclear power plant; now only her attachment to a young orphan named Cameron and her love for Emily Dickinson’s poetry are giving her the will to survive. Exquisitely written in an unforgettable voice, Close Your Eyes, Hold Your Hands is another exceptional work from this talented and versatile author.—Beth Nolan Conners

Fives and Twenty-Fives by Michael Pitre (Bloomsbury USA) Every so often a truly epic novel is penned, one that is simultaneously overarching and specific in nature. This debut novel focuses on the forgotten victims of war: those individuals whose responsibility it is to serve and protect their country. Written by an Iraq war veteran, Fives and Twenty-Fives is rich with unflinching authenticity, destined to join the ranks of war novel greats.—Jenn Lawrence