Title: The Spirit Keeper
Author: K. B. Laugheed. This is her debut novel.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Readers: Editor Kristina, retiree Sulyn, parents Emry and Sarah L.
Summary: The thirteenth child conceived of miserable Irish exiles, Katie O’Toole dreams of a different life. Little does she know that someone far away is dreaming of her.
In 1747, savages raid her family home, and seventeen-year-old Katie is taken captive. Syawa and Hector have been searching for her, guided by Syawa’s dreams. A young Holyman, Syawa believes Katie is the subject of his Vision: the Creature of Fire and Ice, destined to bring a great gift to his people. Despite her flaming hair and ice-blue eyes, Katie is certain he is mistaken, but faced with returning to her family, she agrees to join them. She soon discovers that in order to fulfill Syawa’s Vision, she must first become his Spirit Keeper, embarking on an epic journey that will change her life—and heart—forever.
Our Take: A fun book for readers who want a little bit of everything: history, romance, adventure and more.
Title: Motherhood Comes Naturally (and Other Vicious Lies)
Author: Jill Smokler. She is the author of a previous book of parenting essays, Confessions of a Scary Mommy and blogs at ScaryMommy.com
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir
Readers: Mothers Sulyn, Megan V., Katie and Reinventing Mommy.
Summary: Newly pregnant and scared out of her mind, Jill Smokler lay on her gynecologist’s examination table and was told the biggest lie she’d ever heard in her life: “Motherhood is the most natural thing in the world.”
Instead of quelling her nerves like that well intentioned nurse hoped to, Jill was instead set up for future of questioning exactly what DNA strand she was missing that made the whole motherhood experience feel less than natural to her. Wonderful? Yes. Miraculous? Of course. Worthwhile? Without a doubt. But natural? Not so much.
Our Take: A funny and candid look at real parenthood that would make a great gift for new parents. Our readers enjoy Smokler’s frankness, but warn that she may offend more sensitive readers.
Title: They Used to Call Me Snow White… But I Drifted: Women’s Strategic Use of Humor
Author: Gina Barreca. She is the author of several works of non-fiction focusing on women.
Readers: Stay-at-home mom Marina, prosecutor Rochelle, retiree Sulyn, teacher Ninian and publishing professional Gigi.
Summary: Snow White became an instant classic for both academic and general audiences interested in how women use humor and what others (men) think about funny women. Barreca, who draws on the work of scholars, writers, and comedians to illuminate a sharp critique of the gender-specific aspects of humor, provides laughs and provokes arguments as she shows how humor helps women break rules and occupy center stage. Barreca’s new introduction provides a funny and fierce, up-to-the-minute account of the fate of women’s humor over the past twenty years, mapping what has changed in our culture and questioning what hasn’t.
Our Take: This re-release is definitely more of an academic feminist tome than a light romp. Our readers were intrigued but wish the new edition had more current examples in it.
Title: Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy
Author: Elizabeth Kiem. This is her first novel.
Genre: Young Adult, Thriller
Readers: Professor JoLee, copyeditor Lori, lawyer Cait, day care teacher EMarie and retiree Sulyn.
Summary: Marina is born of privilege. Her mother, Sveta, is the Soviet Union’s prima ballerina: an international star handpicked by the regime. But Sveta is afflicted with a mysterious second sight and becomes obsessed with exposing a horrific state secret. Then she disappears.
Fearing for their lives, Marina and her father defect to Brooklyn. Marina struggles to reestablish herself as a dancer at Juilliard. But her enigmatic partner, Sergei, makes concentration almost impossible, as does the fact that Marina shares her mother’s “gift,” and has a vision of her father’s murder at the hands of the Russian crooks and con artists she thought they’d left behind.
Now Marina must navigate the web of intrigue surrounding her mother’s disappearance, her ability, and exactly whom she can—and can’t—trust.
Our Take: Definitely a YA with crossover appeal and a unique story to tell. A couple of our readers wanted more, but the overall verdict is it’s a tight and fun thriller.
Title: In Love (This is a re-issue of the novel, which was first published in 1953.)
Author: Alfred Hayes. Hayes wrote screenplays, novels and poetry from the 40’s to the 70’s.
Genre: Literary fiction
Readers: Retiree Sulyn, publishing professional Gigi, professor Michal, stay-at-home mom Megan V. and communications director Barbara.
Summary: New York in the 1950s. A man on a barstool is telling a story about a woman he met in a bar, early married and soon divorced, her child farmed out to her parents, good-looking, if a little past her prime. They’d gone out, they’d grown close, but as far as he was concerned it didn’t add up to much. He was a busy man. Then one day, out dancing, she runs into a rich awkward lovelorn businessman. He’ll pay for her to be his, pay her a lot. And now the narrator discovers that he is as much in love with her as she is with him, perhaps more, though it will take him a while to realize just how utterly lost he is.
Our Take: Like a lot of literary fiction, there were people who loved it passionately and those who didn’t connect to it. Take a look at what they have to say to get an idea of where you may fit in.