By day Ronald H. Balson is a trial attorney in Chicago, but by night (or the weekend, or whenever he has time), he writes. His practice took him around the globe and seeing villages in Poland inspired his debut novel, ONCE WE WERE BROTHERS, which he self-published. With virtually no marketing or publicity, it steadily built word-of-mouth acclaim (the average Goodreads rating is 4-1/2 stars) until an eagle-eyed editor at St. Martin's Press snapped it up.
ONCE WE WERE BROTHERS is a heart-wrenching story about two boys, as close as can be without blood relation, who find themselves on opposite sides of the Holocaust as they struggle to survive in war-torn Poland. Sixty years later, their lives collide in a quest for redemption. The result is an enthralling tale of love, survival, and triumph of the human spirit, perfect for fans of SARAH'S KEY by Tatiana de Rosnay.
"This novel is uplifting and moving, intelligently written and featuring historically accurate context and an unusual insight into human character and motivations. Highly recommended for all readers." – Library Journal, starred review
"...readers will be riveted by this novel’s central question: Will justice long delayed be denied?" – Kirkus Reviews
"Many will enjoy this gripping novel for its narrative drive and its emotional storytelling." – BooklistRead more
Hello friends! Did you have a nice weekend? We did. We're rested and ready to share more awesome news with you this week, starting with the Spring 2014 Indies Introduce program.
The Indies Introduce list consists of titles from 10 Adult and 10 Children's debut authors, all chosen by booksellers as the best in new talent for the upcoming season, and two terrific Macmillan titles made the cut:
THE WIVES OF LOS ALAMOS by TaraShea Nesbit
Bold and emotionally charged, THE WIVES OF LOS ALAMOS is told in the collective voices of the wives of the men who created the atom bomb. Mostly in their mid-twenties and hailing from around the country, the women arrived in New Mexico ready for adventure. What they found was anything but—they lived in barely finished houses in a rugged military town encircled by barbed wire. Though they were strangers, they joined together adapting to a landscape as fierce as it was absorbing, forging friendships and creating families and a true community all amidst intense secrecy and chaos of the war. Think THE GIRLS OF ATOMIC CITY meets THE ASTRONAUT WIVES' CLUB, only fiction.
“In this fascinating and artful debut, TaraShea Nesbit gives voice to the women closest to one of gravest and most telling moments in our collective history: the development and testing of the nuclear bomb at Los Alamos. Tender and mundane details of marriage and domesticity quietly collide with the covert and solemn work at hand. With chilling implications and charged, sure-footed prose, this is a novel—and writer—of consequence.” — Paula McLain, author of THE PARIS WIFE
SHOTGUN LOVESONGS by Nickolas Butler
Hank, Leland, Kip and Ronny were all born and raised in the small town of Little Wing, Wisconsin and are now coming into their own (or not) as husbands and fathers. One stayed while others left to make good, with varying degrees of success. Seamlessly woven into their patchwork is Beth, whose presence among them—both then and now—fuels the kind of passion one comes to expect of love songs and rivalries. Now all four have returned to Little Wing in hopes of finding their place in the world. SHOTGUN LOVESONGS explores the age-old question of whether or not you can ever truly come home again and the kind of steely faith and love returning requires.
"This debut, told in the alternating voices of four lifelong friends, could do for Wisconsin farm towns what THE LAST PICTURE SHOW did for Texas football towns. Living with the main characters under the microscope that is small-town life, we experience their heartbreaks, successes, failures, loves, and losses. This novel is crafted with heart-wrenching sorrow and joy, displaying the pain and beauty possible when relationships carry from childhood into adulthood." — Kelly Estep, Carmichael’s Bookstore, Louisville KY
By turns epic and intimate, TELLING OUR WAY TO THE SEA: A Voyage of Discovery in the Sea of Cortez by Aaron Hirsh captures the complex beauty of both the marine world he explores and the people he explores it with.
When Hirsh, fellow biologist Veronica Volny, and historian of science Graham Burnett lead twelve college students to a remote fishing village on the Sea of Cortez, they come upon a bay of dazzling beauty and richness. But as the group pursues various threads of investigation—ecological and evolutionary studies of the sea, the desert, and their various species of animals and plants; the stories of local villagers; the journals of conquistadors and explorers—they recognize that the bay, spectacular and pristine though it seems, is but a ghost of what it once was.
"In prose that marries lush scientific details and poetic language (complete with transfixing descriptions of sea cucumber regeneration), Hirsh delivers an important work about the power of place and the power of stories—scientific, historical, and personal—to shape our understanding of our world." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
The Daily Beast featured it in "This Week’s Hot Reads: August 5, 2013." They said,
"Skill as a scientist and skill as a writer rarely inhabit the same person, but when they do, the results can be incredible. [...] There is all sorts to enjoy here: adventure, exploration, local history, rigorous science patiently explained, even some sections about conquistadors (it’ll make sense when you get there), all told in deft prose. But what binds this book is Hirsh’s infectious enthusiasm."
Download the chapbook here (PDF).Read more
"This is a book you won’t soon forget."
Carla Norton, author of the #1 New York Times nonfiction bestseller PERFECT VICTIM (which, by the way, the FBI have on their Behavioral Sciences Unit reading list!), has written her debut novel and it's a scalp-tingling psychological thriller called THE EDGE OF NORMAL!
In many ways, Reeve LeClaire looks like a typical twenty-two year old girl. She’s finally landed her own apartment, she waitresses to pay the bills, and she wishes she wasn’t so nervous around new people, but Reeve is anything but normal. Ten years ago she was kidnapped and held captive. After a lucky escape, she’s spent the last six years trying to rebuild her life—a recovery thanks in large part to her indispensable therapist Dr. Ezra Lerner. But when he asks her to help another girl rescued from a similar situation, Reeve realizes she may not simply need to mentor this young victim—she may be the only one who can protect her from a cunning predator who is still out there.
"Norton skillfully keeps the suspense taut with myriad surprises while giving a tender look at victims whose ordeals are rehashed by lawyers, the media, and pop psychologists. Reeve’s realistic maturation into a woman who refuses to remain a victim adds to the intriguing story. 100,000-copy first printing." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Norton has created a page-turner with well-developed characters, a truly horrible villain, and the psychological depth of Jonathan Kellerman at his best." —Booklist (starred review)
"Winner of a Royal Palm Literary Award for best unpublished mystery, this nail-bitingly delicious tale will be a treat for psychological thriller fans." —Library Journal (starred review)
"Norton skillfully develops her tricky subject, gradually shifting from an emphasis on its tabloid aspects to a close identification with the victim/heroine in a story of justice served by the one who deserves it most." —Kirkus Reviews
if you want "wrenching" read Carla Norton's EDGE OF NORMAL #readadv— Talia Sherer (@taliasherer) August 2, 2013
Get whitelisted and download an e-galley from Edelweiss now!Read more
Fiona McFarlane's debut, THE NIGHT GUEST, (which you may recognize as our cover of the month from June!) is the suspenseful story of Ruth, a widow living alone and isolated in a beach house on the southern coast of Australia, and the mysterious arrival of Frida who claims to be a care worker sent by the government. THE NIGHT GUEST is already getting stellar reviews.
ABA’s Debut Dozen Fall 2013
October 2013 Indie Next List
Amazon Big Books of Fall 2013
Amazon Best Books of the month October 2013
Bookish – Must Read Fiction, Fall 2013
The Millions “Most Anticipated” Preview
Vogue.com – Fall’s Guilty Reading Pleasures
Oprah.com Fall Reading List for Book Clubs
"An enrapturing debut novel that toys with magical realism while delivering a fresh fable. McFarlane’s rendering of Ruth’s interior is quiet and exacting, and she builds suspense so gently that the danger is, at first, hardly noticeable."
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"This book is at once a beautifully imagined portrait of isolation and an unsettling psychological thriller." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Gothic in sensibility, with a touch of magic realism, this novel feels at once like a classic and a fresh, original tale . . . Fans of psychologically oriented Scandinavian fiction should feel a familiar draw to this first novel, which is already creating significant buzz around the globe.”
—Library Journal (starred review)
“McFarlane’s crisp, clean prose is a pleasure to read.” —Booklist (starred review)
“Enthralling... This stellar debut will haunt you—and remind you to call your mother.”
—Entertainment Weekly (A-)
“A novel of uncanny emotional penetration... What makes THE NIGHT GUEST especially unnerving is the way it immerses the reader in a mind that is slowly slipping its moorings. You’re in [Ruth’s] head, and that head gets less and less sound as the novel progresses, but it’s a strangely delightful place to be, for all the darkness surrounding it.” —Laura Miller, Salon
“[A] striking debut.” —Megan O’Gray, Vogue.com
Krakens and witches and bandits, oh my!
S. M. Wheeler's incredible girl-and-her-kraken fantasy debut, SEA CHANGE, is inspiring the most heartfelt and awestruck reviews.
The unhappy child of two powerful parents who despise each other, young Lilly turns to the ocean to find solace, which she finds in the form of the eloquent and intelligent sea monster Octavius, a kraken. In Octavius’s many arms, Lilly learns of friendship, loyalty, and family. When Octavius, forbidden by Lilly to harm humans, is captured by seafaring traders and sold to a circus, Lilly becomes his only hope for salvation. Desperate to find him, she strikes a bargain with a witch that carries a shocking price.
"Wheeler’s stunning debut is a sophisticated fantasy whose lush descriptions, lyrical dialogue, and engaging structure are reminiscent of the very best fairy tales. [...] With an almost poetic sensibility, Wheeler explores gender, sexuality, friendship, and love, offering up complex characters and emotional depth all laced with subtle magic." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Wheeler’s truly original, fanciful, and transformative story will delight fantasy lovers of all types, as well as those readers attached to coming-of-age narratives and feminist sf." —Library Journal (starred review)
Librarians, the Bloomsbury USA team is eager to approve your NetGalley requests for Samantha Shannon's epic futuristic debut, THE BONE SEASON! This is book one in a seven part saga that will appeal to both teen and adult Fantasy readers.
In the year 2059 several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others' minds. When Paige is arrested and sent to the prison for clairvoyants she is assigned to a Rephaite keeper who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master and her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.
Check out the book trailer on YouTube.
"Not only has Shannon dynamically and shrewdly imagined every element of this spooky yet earthy world-at-war, from its unforgiving hierarchy to vile if essential herbal concoctions, encounters with monstrous predatory creatures, and the terror of 'spirit combat,' she has also tapped into the timeless wellsprings of fear and prejudice, repression and resistance. The result is a dazzlingly brainy, witty, and bewitching tale of outrageous courage, heroic compassion, transcendent love, and the quest for freedom." —Booklist (starred review)
While you're waiting for approval you can start by reading an excerpt on THE BONE SEASON Facebook page.Read more
Fans of historical and international Mysteries, take note! Susan Spann's CLAWS OF THE CAT is a kick butt debut featuring a ninja detective navigating the political and social perils of sixteenth-century Japan and it's Library Journal's Debut of the Month!
When a samurai is brutally murdered in a Kyoto teahouse, master ninja Hiro has no desire to get involved. But the beautiful entertainer accused of the crime enlists the help of Father Mateo, the Portuguese Jesuit priest who Hiro is sworn to protect, leaving the master shinobi with just three days to find the killer and save the girl and the priest from the dead man’s vengeful son.
"While Spann demonstrates admirable attention to detail in her ninja detective debut, it’s the contemporary tone of her prose that makes this intriguing 16th-century historical so accessible. Laura Joh Rowland fans will like this book for the time period, but the 'buddy tone' is reminiscent of Ian Morson’s 'Nick Zuliani' series and Gary Corby’s 'Athenian Mysteries' series." —Library Journal (starred review, Debut of the Month)
"Spann's debut provides an absorbing look at Japanese culture along with a sharp mystery." —Kirkus Reviews
"[S]et in a mostly untapped period of Japanese history, the book should do well with fans of [Laura Joh Rowland and I. J. Parker]." —Booklist
It's Friday and that means that Talia and I want to share with you the books that we're currently reading (both of which happen to have the most epic and bold covers).
THE INVENTION OF MURDER by Judith Flanders
Flanders retells the gruesome stories of many different types of murder—both famous and obscure—from the crimes (and myths) of Sweeney Todd and Jack the Ripper to the tragedies of the murdered Marr family in London’s East End; Burke and Hare and their bodysnatching business in Edinburgh; and Greenacre, who transported his dismembered fiancée around town by omnibus... as you might have guessed Talia's loving it.
THE BONE SEASON by Samantha Shannon
In the year 2059 several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others people's miiiiiiinds! Ali has been reading this one with a homemade foil hat on her head.
What are your #FridayReads?Read more