Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi; translated by Marilyn BoothWhat it is: a multi-generational family saga set in 20th-century Oman, which focuses on three sisters and unfolds against a backdrop of dramatic societal change.
Why you might like it: At the center of this novel, told in linked vignettes, is a group of complex female characters navigating a deeply patriarchal society.
Book buzz: Celestial Bodies is the first novel written in Arabic to win the Man Booker International Prize; its author, Jokha Alharthi, is the first female Omani writer to be translated into English.
Marley by Jon ClinchStarring: Jacob Marley, erstwhile friend and business partner of A Christmas Carol's Ebenezer Scrooge.
What happens: Friends become partners-in-crime become bitter rivals in this atmospheric novel, which traces the men's complicated relationship from their initial boyhood meeting to their dramatic falling out.
You might also like: Louis Bayard's Mr. Timothy, which imagines the post-Christmas Carol fate of Tiny Tim.
The Innocents by Michael CrummeyIntroducing: Everard and Ada Best, adolescent siblings whose only contact with the outside world is a ship that periodically delivers supplies to the desolate Newfoundland outport where they eke out a hardscrabble existence following their parents' deaths.
Why you might like it: Magical realist touches and a vividly rendered setting lend a timeless quality to this bleak and often disturbing tale by Canadian author Michael Crummey (River Thieves), which was inspired by an incident recorded in an 18th-century clergyman's diaries.
On Swift Horses by Shannon PufahlWhat it's about: the complicated emotional ties that bind two brothers, Korean war veterans Lee and Julius, and Muriel, a gambler who marries Lee but feels drawn to Julius, who's gay.
Why you might like it: Shifting between the racetracks of 1950s San Diego and the casinos of Las Vegas, this character-driven novel offers an intimate exploration of hidden subcultures in lush, lyrical prose.
Reviewers say: "a queer Western for an utterly contemporary audience" (Booklist).
Ribbons of Scarlet: A Novel of the French Revolution's Women by Kate Quinn, Stephanie Dray, Laura Kamoie, Sophie Perinot, Heather Webb, and E. KnightWhat it's about: the French Revolution, as seen through the eyes of six complex women, each brought to life by a different author.
Why you might like it: This well-researched collaborative novel by an impressive roster of historical fiction writers includes portraits of real-life women both famous (Charlotte Corday, Princess Élisabeth of France) and lesser-known (Louise Reine Audu, Pauline Léon).
A Country Road, A Tree by Jo BakerStarring: Irish playwright Samuel Beckett (although he remains nameless throughout this spare, evocative novel).
What happens: Soon after his 1939 arrival in Paris, World War II begins; for the next six years, he and his lover, Suzanne Dechevaux-Dumesnil, hide from the Germans while aiding the French Resistance.
Is it for you? Written in second person and in present tense, A Country Road, A Tree marks a stylistic departure from the author's previous novel, Longbourn.
Mistress of the Ritz by Melanie BenjaminIntroducing: Claude Auzello, director of the Hotel Ritz, and his wife, American expatriate Blanche, who risk everything to aid the Resistance after the Nazis take over the iconic Paris hotel in 1940.
Read it for: a dual narrative that slowly reveals the secrets and lies that form the foundation of the couple's tempestuous marriage, plus a detailed below-stairs look at life at the Ritz.
For fans of: WWII-set fiction by Martha Hall Kelly, Pam Jenoff, or Kate Quinn.
Resistance Women by Jennifer ChiaveriniFeaturing: Mildred Fish Harnack, Greta Kuckoff, Sara Weitz, and Martha Dodd, four brave women who, along with their friends and partners, form a Berlin resistance cell known as the Rote Kapelle ("Red Orchestra").
Reviewers say: "A riveting, complex tale of the courage of ordinary people" (Kirkus Reviews).
About the author: When she's not busy with her popular Elm Creek Quilts series, Jennifer Chiaverini writes atmospheric and well-researched historical novels such as The Enchantress of Numbers.
A Hero of France by Alan FurstIntroducing: a Frenchman known only as "Matthieu," who leads a resistance cell that rescues downed British pilots and returns them to England so that they can rejoin the fight.
What happens: So successful are Matthieu and his associates that they begin to attract unwanted attention from friend and foe alike.
What sets it apart: Unlike most previous books in the Night Soldiers series, which are set during the Interwar period, this suspenseful 13th installment takes place during WWII.
Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark SullivanItaly, 1943: 17-year-old Pino Lella is already risking his life by helping Jewish refugees cross the border into Switzerland; the stakes get even higher after he's assigned to chauffeur a high-ranking officer in the Third Reich and takes advantage of his position to spy on the Germans.
Inspired by: the wartime exploits of a real-life resistance fighter of the same name, whom the author met and befriended.
Media buzz: a planned big screen adaptation is currently in the works, so keep an eye out.
Contact your librarian for more great books!
Somerset County Library System of New Jersey1 Vogt Drive
P.O. Box 6700
Bridgewater, New Jersey 08807