The Long March Home by Marcus Brotherton and Tosca LeeAt war: In 1941, three best friends enlist -- including a 16-year-old lying about his age -- and are sent to the Philippines for basic training. Then the Japanese invade. Forced on the Bataan Death March, the trio fight to survive while flashbacks depict their lives back home in Alabama.
Is it for you? Well-researched and action-packed, The Long March Home has realistic violence, mild profanity, and talk of mature subjects.
Reviewers say: "stunning...a must-read literary triumph" (Booklist).
Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea by Rita Chang-EppigWhat it's about: the real-life "pirate queen" Shek Yeung, who took control of a fleet of 400 ships and more than 40,000 pirates after the death of the fleet's former captain, her husband Zheng Yi.
Book buzz: Deep as the Sky is "is clever and serpentine, exploring questions of power, violence, gender, and fate" and "not to be missed" (Publishers Weekly).
Did you know? Not only was Shek Yeung history's most successful female pirate, but she also survived well into retirement age and was able to live in comfort after making a deal with the ruling Qing government.
The Dissident by Paul GoldbergHow it started: with Viktor Moroz, a Jewish refusenik forbidden to immigrate from the Soviet Union to Israel, accidentally discovering a grisly murder scene that could have enormous international consequences.
How it's going: After being spotted leaving the crime scene by a KGB agent, Viktor is given the enormous task of solving the crime or risk becoming the primary suspect himself.
Is it for you? Although Viktor's circumstances are difficult, the story also highlights the inevitable moments of dark, absurdist humor to be found when facing a giant, inefficient totalitarian system.
Crow Mary by Kathleen GrissomInspired by: the true story of an Indigenous woman named Goes First (renamed Mary after being wed to a white fur trader) who endures a long journey from Montana to Saskatchewan during which she makes friends, enemies, and important discoveries about herself and the world around her.
Read it for: the strong, vital bonds she forms with other Indigenous women she meets including a Métis woman who helps with her culture shock and five Nakoda women that she saves in an unanticipated act of heroism.
Reviewers say: "This moving story of one woman’s grit, survival, and resilience will keep readers turning the pages" (Publishers Weekly).
The Housekeepers by Alex HayWhat it's about: Mrs. King has worked hard to rise above her origins and holds the respectable position of housekeeper at the grandest house in Mayfair, but when she's suddenly and inexplicably dismissed by her employers, Mrs. King decides to call on some unsavory connections from her criminal past to get rich and get even.
The plan: On the night of her former employer's highly anticipated annual costume ball, Mrs. King and a motley crew of allies will infiltrate the party and steal everything that isn't nailed down. And while she's there, Mrs. King may even get the chance to investigate why she was fired with no explanation.
For fans of: dramatic capers, Edwardian upstairs-downstairs social dynamics, and the Robert Altman film Gosford Park.
Loot by Tania JamesCalled to the palace: In 1794 in the Kingdom of Mysore (now part of India), talented 17-year-old toymaker Abbas is ordered to work with French clockmaker Lucien Du Leze to craft a life-sized wooden tiger that growls and makes music.
What happens: In 1799, the British defeat Mysore's ruler, prompting Lucian and his daughter to flee to France. Abbas follows a few years later, eventually ending up in England where he hunts for the looted tiger.
Reviewers say: "At once swashbuckling and searing, this is a marvelous achievement" (Publishers Weekly); "rich, sprawling, picaresque" (Booklist).
The Ghost Ship by Kate MosseSeries alert: The Ghost Ship is the final entry in the Burning Chamber trilogy, which follows the persecution and upheaval faced by the Joubert family of French Huguenots in the late 16th and early 17th centuries.
This time: Louise Reydon-Joubert, granddaughter of the characters in the first novel The Burning Chambers, is on the run from a longstanding family feud. She finds a surprising haven on the titular ghost ship, a feared vessel that sails the Barbary Coast with a crew who aren't what they seem.
About the author: Other works by British novelist Kate Mosse include the Languedoc trilogy and the standalone novel The Taxidermist's Daughter.
After Anne by Logan SteinerWhat it's about: the life and career of Canadian writer Lucy Maud Montgomery, best known for the Anne of Green Gables series of novels.
Read it for: the solace she finds in writing while dealing with depression and a difficult marriage; insights into the commonalities between Maud and her indelible creation, Anne Shirley.
For fans of: strong, passionate women who refuse to sacrifice their dreams and ambitions because society pressures them.
The Brightest Star by Gail TsukiyamaWhat it is: a richly detailed fictional biography of pioneering Chinese American actress Anna May Wong, exploring her childhood, early work in the silent era, struggles with racist casting in post-Hays Code Hollywood, and eventual breakout stardom in Europe.
For fans of: Miss Del Rio by Barbara Louise Mujica.
Did you know? In 1951 Wong became the first person of Asian descent to star as a series lead on American television in The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong. The titular character was created for her, even sharing Wong's birth name.
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