Friday, January 30, 2015

Incoming Books: January 30, 2015

The Silver Witch - Paula Brackston

We have our Incoming Books feature for January 30, 2015.

This list is a bit bigger than expected since I won a contest for a box of eight books from Penguin/Random House. (What luck!) They are at the bottom of this post.

We’ve been out of the country visiting relatives in North Yorkshire, England for the holidays. Hence the silence on the blog front. We hope you had a fun holiday season, are recovering nicely and keeping up with your new year resolutions.

The Silver Witch by Paula Brackston

A year after her husband’s sudden death, ceramic artist Tilda Fordwells finally moves into the secluded Welsh cottage that was to be their new home. She hopes that the tranquil surroundings will help ease her grief, and lessen her disturbing visions of Mat’s death. Instead, the lake in the valley below her cottage seems to spark something dormant in her – a sensitivity, and a power of some sort. Animals are drawn to her, electricity shorts out when she’s near, and strangest of all, she sees a new vision; a boatful of ancient people approaching her across the water. 

On this same lake in Celtic times lived Seren, a witch and shaman. She was respected but feared, kept separate from the community for her strange looks. When a vision came to her of the Prince amid a nest of vipers she warned of betrayal from one of his own. Prince Brynach both loved and revered her, but could not believe someone close to him wished him harm, even as the danger grew. 

In her own time, Tilda’s grief begins to fade beside her newfound powers and a fresh love. When she explores the lake’s ancient magic and her own she discovers Seren, the woman in her vision of the boat. Their two lives strangely mirror each other’s, suggesting a strong connection between the women. As Tilda comes under threat from a dark power, one reminiscent of Seren’s prophecy, she must rely on Seren and ancient magic if death and disaster are not to shatter her life once more. 

St. Martin's Press | April 2015 | ARC | 320 pages

The Rabbit Back Literature Society - Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen

The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen (translated from the Finnish by Lola M. Rogers)

Only nine people have ever been chosen by renowned children’s author Laura White to join the Rabbit Back Literature Society, an elite group of writers in the small town of Rabbit Back. Now a tenth member has been selected: a young literature teacher named Ella.

Soon Ella discovers that the Society is not what it seems. What is its mysterious ritual known as "The Game"? What explains the strange disappearance that occurs at Laura White’s winter party? Why are the words inside books starting to rearrange themselves? Was there once another tenth member, before her? Slowly, as Ella explores the Society and its history, disturbing secrets that had been buried for years start to come to light. . . .

In Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen’s chilling, darkly funny novel, The Rabbit Back Literature Society, praised as "Twin Peaks meets the Brothers Grimm" (The Telegraph), the uncanny brushes up against the everyday in the most beguiling and unexpected of ways.

St. Martin's Press | January 2015 | Hardcover | 352 pages

Wild Cards IV Aces Abroad - ed George RR Martin

Wild Cards IV: Aces Abroad edited by George Martin

Wild Cards IV: Aces Abroad -- book four of the original Wild Cards series now in trade paperback—featuring two brand-new stories.

The action-packed alternate fantasy returns for a new generation, featuring fiction from #1 New York Times bestselling author George R. R. Martin, Michael Cassutt, Melinda M. Snodgrass, Lewis Shiner, and more—plus two completely new stories from Kevin Andrew Murphy and bestselling author Carrie Vaughn. Forty years after the Wild Card Virus’s release, the World Health Organization decides it’s time to take a delegation of Aces, Jokers, politicians, and journalists on a fact-finding mission to learn how other countries are dealing with the virus that reshaped humanity. Leading the team is Gregg Hartmann, a senator with presidential aspirations and a dangerous ace up his sleeve. Joining him is a menagerie of some of the series’ best and most popular Wild Cards, including Dr. Tachyon, aces Peregrine and Golden Boy, and jokers Chrysalis, Troll, and Father Squid. From the jungles of Haiti and Peru to the tumultuous political climate of Egypt, from a monastery in Japan to the streets of the most glamorous cities of Europe, the Wild Cards are in for an eye-opening trip. While some are worshiped as actual gods, those possessing the most extreme mutations are treated with a contempt that's all too familiar to the delegates from Jokertown. New alliances will be formed, new enemies will be made, and some actions will fulfill centuries-old prophecies that make ripples throughout the future of the Wild Cards universe.

Tor Books | January 2015 | Trade Paperback | 528 pages


The Burning Dark by Adam Christopher

Adam Christopher’s dazzling first novel, Empire State, was named the Best Book of 2012 by SciFi Now magazine. Now he explores new dimensions of time and space in The Burning Dark.

Back in the day, Captain Abraham Idaho Cleveland had led the Fleet into battle against an implacable machine intelligence capable of devouring entire worlds. But after saving a planet, and getting a bum robot knee in the process, he finds himself relegated to one of the most remote backwaters in Fleetspace to oversee the decommissioning of a semi-deserted space station well past its use-by date.

But all is not well aboard the U-Star Coast City. The station’s reclusive Commandant is nowhere to be seen, leaving Cleveland to deal with a hostile crew on his own. Persistent malfunctions plague the station’s systems while interference from a toxic purple star makes even ordinary communications problematic. Alien shadows and whispers seem to haunt the lonely corridors and airlocks, fraying the nerves of everyone aboard.

Isolated and friendless, Cleveland reaches out to the universe via an old-fashioned space radio, only to tune in to a strange, enigmatic signal: a woman’s voice that seems to echo across a thousand light-years of space. But is the transmission just a random bit of static from the past—or a warning of an undying menace beyond mortal comprehension?

Tor Books | March 2014 | Hardcover | 336 pages

Severance - Chris Bucholz

Severence by Chris Bucholz

In Severance, the debut novel from famed writer Chris Bucholz, the inhabitants of a generation ark find two unlikely heroes who fight to keep everything together.

After 240 years traveling toward Tau Prius and a new planet to colonize, the inhabitants of the generation ship Argos are bored and aimless. They join groups such as the Markers and the Breeders, have costumed orgies, and test the limits of drugs, alcohol, and pain just to pass the time.

To Laura Stein, they’re morons and, other than a small handful of friends, she’d rather spend time with her meat plant than with any of her fellow passengers. But when one of her subordinates is murdered while out on a job, Laura takes it as her responsibility to find out what happened. She expects to find a personal grudge or a drug deal gone wrong, but instead stumbles upon a conspiracy that could tear the ship in two.

Labeled a terrorist and used as a pawn in the ultimate struggle for control, Laura, with help from her friend Bruce and clues left by a geneticist from the past, digs deep into the inner working of the ship, shimmying her way through ductwork, rallying the begrudged passengers to rise up and fight, and peeking into an unsavory past to learn the truth and save their future.

Paperback | 324 pages | Apex Book Company | November 19, 2014

Drifters - John L Campbell

Drifters by John L. Campbell

The survivors of the Omega Virus make a desperate effort to find the living. But the walking dead aren’t done with them yet…

Helicopter pilot Vladimir Yurish is a man of his word. The last thing he wants is to abandon the safety of the U.S.S. Nimitz and his newly adopted son Ben. Still, a promise is a promise, no matter how close to death it brings him…

Angie West has fought hard to keep strangers alive, but now it’s time to tend to her own. Only, when she finds her family missing and their hideout burned and looted, she realizes the threat to her family isn’t just the undead—the living can do so much worse…

Halsey has done well for himself, given the circumstances. Between his secluded ranch and precise shooting, the plague hasn’t touched him. Until a Black Hawk crashes on his property, bringing the war to his front door…

Amid the chaos of a destroyed civilization, the survivors encounter a new threat. And these new monsters can’t be outrun—or outwitted…

Paperback | 352  Pages | 6 Jan 2015 | Berkley

The Stargods Trilogy - Irene Radford

The Stargods Trilogy by Irene Radford

Operating on the wrong side of interstellar law one time too many, the three O’Hara brothers find themselves in a life-or-death flight from intergalactic police forces. In a last desperate escape attempt, they stumble across what must be a lost or abandoned colony world. Forced to bring their shuttle down in search of repair facilities, the O’Haras encounter humans who have returned to a hunter-gatherer level of society. Here is a place where technology can make them seem like gods—a land where they will remain trapped unless they can find a way to mine and manufacture the things they need to repair their ship. They don’t believe the legends about dragons and magic, and they are certain technology will see them through—at least until they confront their first dragon and feel their own unique powers expanding beyond their control….

Here, together in one volume for the first time, are the three novels which reveal the truth behind the legend of the Stargods, the events which changed the future of an entire world.

Paperback | 896  Pages | 6 Jan 2015 | DAW

Iron Axe - Steven Harper

Iron Axe by Steven Harper

In this brand new series from the author of the Clockwork Empire series, a hopeless outcast must answer Death’s call and embark on an epic adventure….

Although Danr’s mother was human, his father was one of the hated Stane, a troll from the mountains. Now Danr has nothing to look forward to but a life of disapproval and mistrust, answering to “Trollboy” and condemned to hard labor on a farm.

Until, without warning, strange creatures come down from the mountains to attack the village. Spirits walk the land, terrifying the living. Trolls creep out from under the mountain, provoking war with the elves. And Death herself calls upon Danr to set things right.

At Death’s insistence, Danr heads out to find the Iron Axe, the weapon that sundered the continent a thousand years ago. Together with unlikely companions, Danr will brave fantastic and dangerous creatures to find a weapon that could save the world—or destroy it.

Mass Market Paperback | 384  Pages | 6 Jan 2015 | NAL

Unbound - Jim C Hines

Unbound by Jim C. Hines

For five hundred years, the Porters have concealed the existence of magic from the world.

Now, old enemies have revealed the Porters’ secrets, and an even greater threat lurks in the shadows. The would-be queen Meridiana, banished for a thousand years, has returned in the body of a girl named Jeneta Aboderin. She seeks an artifact created by Pope Sylvester II, a bronze prison that would grant her the power to command an army of the dead.

Michigan librarian Isaac Vainio is powerless to stop her, having been stripped of his power and his place among the Porters by Johannes Gutenberg himself. But Isaac is determined to regain his magic and to rescue his former student Jeneta. With no magic of his own, Isaac must delve into the darker side of black-market magic, where he will confront beings better left undisturbed, including the sorcerer Juan Ponce de Leon.

With his loyal fire-spider Smudge, dryad warrior Lena Greenwood, and psychiatrist Nidhi Shah, Isaac races to unravel a mystery more than a thousand years old as competing magical powers battle to shape the future of the world. He will be hunted by enemies and former allies alike, and it will take all his knowledge and resourcefulness to survive as magical war threatens to spread across the globe. Isaac’s choices will determine the fate of his friends, the Porters, the students of Bi Sheng, and the world.

Only one thing is certain: even if he finds a way to restore his magic, he can’t save them all….

Hardcover | 320  Pages | 6 Jan 2015 | DAW | Adult

The Empty Throne - Bernard Cormwell

The Empty Throne by Bernard Cornwell

This eighth entry in New York Times bestselling author Bernard Cornwell's epic Saxon Tales series brings to life the harrowing and turbulent tale of a nation torn apart by sectarian and religious strife, a political struggle dominated by dynastic rivalries, and the remarkable strength that elevates some characters above their time.

“My name is Uhtred. I am the son of Uhtred, who was the son of Uhtred . . .”

Britain, early tenth century AD: a time of change. There are new raids by the Vikings from Ireland, and turmoil among the Saxons over the leadership of Mercia. A younger generation is taking over.

Æthelred, the ruler of Mercia, is dying, leaving no legitimate heir. The West Saxons want their king, but Uhtred has long supported Æthelflaed, sister to King Edward of Wessex and widow of Æthelred. Widely loved and respected, Æthelflaed has all the makings of a leader—but could Saxon warriors ever accept a woman as their ruler? The stage is set for rivals to fight for the empty throne.

Uhtred is still suffering from the wounds he received in battle. To recover his strength he needs to find the sword that caused the injury, but lost amid the battle’s blood and mud, how could it be traced and who among the Vikings or Saxons might be holding it?

In the end it is one champion, one hero, who will destroy the new Viking threat to Mercia and ultimately decide the fate of England.

Harper | 01/06/2015 | Pages: 320 | Hardbound

The Year of Reading Dangerously - Andy Miller

The Year of Reading Dangerously by Andy Miller

An editor and writer's vivaciously entertaining, and often moving, chronicle of his year-long adventure with fifty great books (and two not-so-great ones)—a true story about reading that reminds us why we should all make time in our lives for books.

Nearing his fortieth birthday, author and critic Andy Miller realized he's not nearly as well read as he'd like to be. A devout book lover who somehow fell out of the habit of reading, he began to ponder the power of books to change an individual life—including his own—and to the define the sort of person he would like to be. Beginning with a copy of Bulgakov's Master and Margarita that he happens to find one day in a bookstore, he embarks on a literary odyssey of mindful reading and wry introspection. From Middlemarch to Anna Karenina to A Confederacy of Dunces, these are books Miller felt he should read; books he'd always wanted to read; books he'd previously started but hadn't finished; and books he'd lied about having read to impress people.

Combining memoir and literary criticism, The Year of Reading Dangerously is Miller's heartfelt, humorous, and honest examination of what it means to be a reader. Passionately believing that books deserve to be read, enjoyed, and debated in the real world, Miller documents his reading experiences and how they resonated in his daily life and ultimately his very sense of self. The result is a witty and insightful journey of discovery and soul-searching that celebrates the abiding miracle of the book and the power of reading.

Harper Perennial | 12/09/2014 | Pages: 352 | Trade Paperback

The Linwoods - Catharine Maria Sedgwick

The Linwoods by Catharine Maria Sedgwick

A compelling historical novel of two families wrestling with questions of honor, class, loyalty, democracy, and independence during the American Revolution, now available in a Harper Perennial Modern Classics Legacy Edition.

In The Linwoods, Catharine Maria Sedgwick illuminates the American character and explores issues of civic virtue and national identity in the early republic, through the lives of two families: the Linwoods, dutiful loyalists, and the Lees, passionate revolutionaries. At the novel’s heart is Isabella Linwood, a bright and independent young woman who will transform from a proud Tory to ardent Rebel, challenging not only British rule but its accepted social, economic, and political institutions, including the aristocracy, slavery, and patriarchal authority.

This Legacy Edition features a lush design and French flaps.

Harper Perennial | 11/04/2014 | Pages: 480 |  Trade Paperback

Cookie's Case - Andy Siegel

Cookie’s Case by Andy Siegel

Tug Wyler is embroiled in the mysterious medical malady of a sexy stripper who slipped on a banana peel during her signature act.

Cookie, an angel in stiletto heels, is by far the most popular performer at Jingles Dance Bonanza. To her devoted audience, she's a friend, therapist, and shoulder to cry on, all rolled into one. While meeting an old pal at the club, Tug doesn't expect to pick up a new client but quickly realizes the gallant Cookie -- dancing in a neck brace, each leg kick potentially her last -- is in need of a committed champion.

Righting wrongs is never a simple task for Tug, a sharp-witted and unorthodox trial lawyer who repeatedly finds himself in the middle of unusual cases and causes. But that doesn't stop him from trying. Believing that Cookie is the victim of a spine surgeon with a sloppy touch, Tug takes her case. But as he seeks both medical remedy and a fair shake for Cookie, he realizes -- a tad too late -- that sinister sights are now trained on him. In Cookie's Case, this offbeat attorney will go farther than he ever has for justice.

Open Road Media | Paperback | 281 pages | February 10, 2015

A Season for Martyrs - Bina Shah

A Season for Martyrs by Bina Shah

A harrowing account of the last three months of Benazir Bhutto’s life.

October, 2007. Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto returns home after eight years of exile to seek political office once more. Assigned to cover her controversial arrival is TV journalist Ali Sikandar, the estranged son of a wealthy landowner from the interior region of Sindh. While her presence ignites fierce protests and assassination attempts, Ali finds himself irrevocably drawn to the pro-democracy People’s Resistance Movement, a secret that sweeps him into the many contradictions of a country still struggling to embrace modernity. As Shah weaves together the centuries-old history of Ali’s feudal family and its connection to the Bhuttos, she brilliantly reveals a story at the crossroads of the personal and the political, a chronicle of one man’s desire to overcome extremity to find love, forgiveness, and even identity itself.

Paperback | 288 pages | November 4th 2014 |  Open Road Media

Hiding in Plain Sight - Nuruddin Farah

Hiding in Plain Sight by Nuruddin Farah

From an acclaimed African writer, a novel about family, freedom, and loyalty.

When Bella learns of the murder of her beloved half brother by political extremists in Mogadiscio, she’s in Rome. The two had different fathers but shared a Somali mother, from whom Bella’s inherited her freewheeling ways. An internationally known fashion photographer, dazzling but aloof, she comes and goes as she pleases, juggling three lovers. But with her teenage niece and nephew effectively orphaned – their mother abandoned them years ago—she feels an unfamiliar surge of protective feeling. Putting her life on hold, she journeys to Nairobi, where the two are in boarding school, uncertain whether she can—or must—come to their rescue. When their mother resurfaces, reasserting her maternal rights and bringing with her a gale of chaos and confusion that mirror the deepening political instability in the region, Bella has to decide how far she will go to obey the call of sisterly responsibility.

Hardcover | 352 Pages | 30 Oct 2014 | Riverhead

Five Days Left - Julie Lawson Timmer

Five Days Left by Juliet Lawson Timmer

Destined to be a book club favorite, a heart-wrenching debut about two people who must decide how much they’re willing to sacrifice for love.

Mara Nichols is a successful lawyer, devoted wife, and adoptive mother who has received a life-shattering diagnosis. Scott Coffman, a middle school teacher, has been fostering an eight-year-old boy while the boy’s mother serves a jail sentence. Scott and Mara both have five days left until they must say good-bye to the ones they love the most.

Through their stories, Julie Lawson Timmer explores the individual limits of human endurance and the power of relationships, and shows that sometimes loving someone means holding on, and sometimes it means letting go.

Hardcover | 352 Pages | 9 Sep 2014 | G.P. Putnam’s Sons 

Summer House with Swimming Pool - Herman Koch

Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch

The blistering, compulsively readable new novel from Herman Koch, author of the instant New York Times bestseller The Dinner.

When a medical procedure goes horribly wrong and famous actor Ralph Meier winds up dead, Dr. Marc Schlosser needs to come up with some answers. After all, reputation is everything in this business. Personally, he’s not exactly upset that Ralph is gone, but as a high profile doctor to the stars, Marc can't hide from the truth forever.

It all started the previous summer. Marc, his wife, and their two beautiful teenage daughters agreed to spend a week at the Meier’s extravagant summer home on the Mediterranean. Joined by Ralph and his striking wife Judith, her mother, and film director Stanley Forbes and his much younger girlfriend, the large group settles in for days of sunshine, wine tasting, and trips to the beach. But when a violent incident disrupts the idyll, darker motivations are revealed, and suddenly no one can be trusted. As the ultimate holiday soon turns into a nightmare, the circumstances surrounding Ralph’s later death begin to reveal the disturbing reality behind that summer’s tragedy.

Featuring the razor-sharp humor and acute psychological insight that made The Dinner an international phenomenon, Summer House with Swimming Pool is a controversial, thought-provoking novel that showcases Herman Koch at his finest.

Random House | June 03, 2014 | Pages: 400 | Hardbound

If I Knew You Were Going to be this Beautiful - Judy Chicurel

If I Knew You Were Going to Be This Beautiful I Never Would Have Let You Go by Judy Chicurel

It is the summer of 1972, and Katie has just turned eighteen. Katie and her town, Elephant Beach, are both on the verge: Katie of adulthood, and Elephant Beach of gentrification. But not yet: Elephant Beach is still gritty, working-class, close-knit. And Katie spends her time smoking and drinking with her friends, dreaming about a boy just back from Vietnam who’s still fighting a battle Katie can’t understand. 

In this poignant, evocative debut collection, Judy Chicurel creates a haunting, vivid world, where conflicts between mothers and daughters, men and women, soldiers and civilians and haves and have-nots reverberate to our own time. She captures not only a time and place, but the universal experience of being poised between the past and the future. At once heartbreaking, mesmerizing, and nostalgic, Chicurel shows us that no matter how beautiful some dreams are, there comes a time when we must let them go.

Hardcover | 288 Pages | 30 Oct 2014 | G.P. Putnam’s Sons 

The Paying Guest - Sarah Waters

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned; the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. And in South London, in a genteel Camberwell villa—a large, silent house now bereft of brothers, husband, and even servants—life is about to be transformed as impoverished widow Mrs. Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are obliged to take in lodgers.

With the arrival of Lilian and Leonard Barber, a modern young couple of the “clerk class,” the routines of the house will be shaken up in unexpected ways. Little do the Wrays know just how profoundly their new tenants will alter the course of Frances’s life—or, as passions mount and frustration gathers, how far-reaching, and how devastating, the disturbances will be.

Short-listed for the Man Booker Prize three times, Sarah Waters has earned a reputation as one of our greatest writers of historical fiction, and here she has delivered again. A love story, a tension-filled crime story, and a beautifully atmospheric portrait of a fascinating time and place, The Paying Guests is Sarah Waters’s finest achievement yet.

Hardcover | 576 Pages | 16 Sep 2014 | Riverhead


The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

Following a terrible fight with her mother over her boyfriend, fifteen-year-old Holly Sykes slams the door on her family and her old life. But Holly is no typical teenage runaway: A sensitive child once contacted by voices she knew only as “the radio people,” Holly is a lightning rod for psychic phenomena. Now, as she wanders deeper into the English countryside, visions and coincidences reorder her reality until they assume the aura of a nightmare brought to life.

For Holly has caught the attention of a cabal of dangerous mystics—and their enemies. But her lost weekend is merely the prelude to a shocking disappearance that leaves her family irrevocably scarred. This unsolved mystery will echo through every decade of Holly’s life, affecting all the people Holly loves—even the ones who are not yet born.

A Cambridge scholarship boy grooming himself for wealth and influence, a conflicted father who feels alive only while reporting on the war in Iraq, a middle-aged writer mourning his exile from the bestseller list—all have a part to play in this surreal, invisible war on the margins of our world. From the medieval Swiss Alps to the nineteenth-century Australian bush, from a hotel in Shanghai to a Manhattan townhouse in the near future, their stories come together in moments of everyday grace and extraordinary wonder.

Rich with character and realms of possibility, The Bone Clocks is a kaleidoscopic novel that begs to be taken apart and put back together by a writer The Washington Post calls “the novelist who’s been showing us the future of fiction.”

An elegant conjurer of interconnected tales, a genre-bending daredevil, and a master prose stylist, David Mitchell has become one of the leading literary voices of his generation. His hypnotic new novel, The Bone Clocks, crackles with invention and wit and sheer storytelling pleasure—it is fiction at its most spellbinding.

Random House | September 02, 2014 | Pages: 640 | Hardbound

Close Your Eyes Hold Hands - Chris Bohjalian

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian

A heartbreaking, wildly inventive, and moving novel narrated by a teenage runaway, from the bestselling author of Midwives and The Sandcastle Girls.

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands is the story of Emily Shepard, a homeless teen living in an igloo made of ice and trash bags filled with frozen leaves. Half a year earlier, a nuclear plant in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom had experienced a cataclysmic meltdown, and both of Emily's parents were killed. Devastatingly, her father was in charge of the plant, and the meltdown may have been his fault. Was he drunk when it happened? Thousands of people are forced to flee their homes in the Kingdom; rivers and forests are destroyed; and Emily feels certain that as the daughter of the most hated man in America, she is in danger. So instead of following the social workers and her classmates after the meltdown, Emily takes off on her own for Burlington, where she survives by stealing, sleeping on the floor of a drug dealer's apartment, and inventing a new identity for herself -- an identity inspired by her favorite poet, Emily Dickinson. When Emily befriends a young homeless boy named Cameron, she protects him with a ferocity she didn't know she had. But she still can't outrun her past, can't escape her grief, can't hide forever—and so she comes up with the only plan that she can.

A story of loss, adventure, and the search for friendship in the wake of catastrophe, Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands is one of Chris Bohjalian’s finest novels to date—breathtaking, wise, and utterly transporting.

Unabridged Compact Disc | Read by Grace Blewer |  July 08, 2014 | Random House Audio 

Bark - Lorrie Moore

Bark by Lorrie Moore

These eight masterly stories reveal Lorrie Moore at her most mature and in a perfect configuration of craft, mind, and bewitched spirit, as she explores the passage of time and summons up its inevitable sorrows and hilarious pitfalls to reveal her own exquisite, singular wisdom.

In “Debarking,” a newly divorced man tries to keep his wits about him as the United States prepares to invade Iraq, and against this ominous moment, we see—in all its irresistible wit and darkness—the perils of divorce and what can follow in its wake . . .

In “Foes,” a political argument goes grotesquely awry as the events of 9/11 unexpectedly manifest themselves at a fund-raising dinner in Georgetown . . . In “The Juniper Tree,” a teacher visited by the ghost of her recently deceased friend is forced to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” in a kind of nightmare reunion . . . And in “Wings,” we watch the inevitable unraveling of two once-hopeful musicians, neither of whom held fast to their dreams nor struck out along other paths, as Moore deftly depicts the intricacies of dead-ends-ville and the workings of regret . . .

Here are people beset, burdened, buoyed; protected by raising teenage children; dating after divorce; facing the serious illness of a longtime friend; setting forth on a romantic assignation abroad, having it interrupted mid-trip, and coming to understand the larger ramifications and the impossibility of the connection . . . stories that show people coping with large dislocation in their lives, with risking a new path to answer the desire to be in relation—to someone . . .

Gimlet-eyed social observation, the public and private absurdities of American life, dramatic irony, and enduring half-cracked love wend their way through each of these narratives in a heartrending mash-up of the tragic and the laugh-out-loud—the hallmark of life in Lorrie-Moore-land.

Random House | February 25, 2014 | Pages: 208 | Hardbound

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