STPL’s Most Popular March 2018

 

Annabelle and Bayard Van Duyvil live a charmed life in New York: he’s the scion of an old Knickerbocker family, she grew up in a Tudor house in England, they had a fairytale romance in London, they have three-year-old twins on whom they dote, and he’s recreated her family home on the banks of the Hudson and named it Illyria. Yes, there are rumors that she’s having an affair with the architect, but rumors are rumors and people will gossip. But then Bayard is found dead with a knife in his chest on the night of their Twelfth Night Ball, Annabelle goes missing, presumed drowned, and the papers go mad. Bay’s sister, Janie, forms an unlikely alliance with a reporter to try to uncover the truth, convinced that Bay would never have killed his wife, that it must be a third party, but the more she learns about her brother and his wife, the more everything she thought she knew about them starts to unravel. Who were her brother and his wife, really? And why did her brother die with the name George on his lips?

 

Nuclear war, dystopian unrest, a genetic mutation that divides twins in life and unites them in death—the “refreshingly nuanced” (Booklist, starred review) first novel in award-winning poet Francesca Haig’s richly imagined and action-packed post-apocalyptic trilogy “is poised to become the next must-read hit” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).

Four hundred years after a nuclear apocalypse, all humans are born in pairs: the deformed Omegas, who are exploited and oppressed, and their Alpha twins, who have inherited the earth—or what’s left of it. But despite their claims of superiority, the Alphas cannot escape one harsh fact: whenever one twin dies, so does the other.

Cass is a rare Omega whose mutation is psychic foresight—not that she needs it to know that as her powerful twin, Zach, ascends the ranks of the ruling Alpha Council, she’s in grave danger. Zach has a devastating plan for Omega annihilation. Cass has visions of an island where a bloody Omega resistance promises a life of freedom. But her real dream is to discover a middle way, one that would bring together the sundered halves of humanity. And that means both the Council and the resistance have her in their sights.

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Bookseller comes a gripping literary suspense novel set in the 1960s about a deeply troubled family and three women who will reveal its dark truths. In the autumn of 1960, Angie Glass is living an idyllic life in her Wisconsin hometown. At twenty-one, she’s married to charming, handsome Paul, and has just given birth to a baby boy. But one phone call changes her life forever. When Paul’s niece, Ruby, reports that her father, Henry, has committed suicide, and that her mother, Silja, is missing, Angie and Paul drop everything and fly to the small upstate town of Stonekill, New York to be by Ruby’s side. Angie thinks they’re coming to the rescue of Paul’s grief-stricken young niece, but Ruby is a composed and enigmatic seventeen-year-old who resists Angie’s attempts to nurture her. As Angie learns more about the complicated Glass family, staying in Henry and Silja’s eerie and ultra-modern house on the edge of the woods, she begins to question the very fabric of her own marriage. Through Silja’s flashbacks, Angie’s discovery of astonishing truths, and Ruby’s strategic dissection of her parents’ state of affairs, a story of love, secrets, and ultimate betrayal is revealed.

The first rule is don’t fall in love

Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but because of a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries. From performing with Shakespeare, to exploring the high seas with Captain Cook, to sharing cocktails with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tom has seen a lot. But now, after over 400 years of reinventing himself to escape detection, he just wants an ordinary life. The only rule he has to follow is Don’t fall in love.

When Tom catches the eye of a captivating woman named Camille at the dog park, everything begins to unravel. Caught between the danger of discovery and the desire to build a real life, Tom learns that the thing he can’t have might just be the thing that saves him.

A wild, bittersweet, time-travelling story, How to Stop Time is about losing and finding yourself, about the certainty of change, about the perils of love and about the mistakes that humans are doomed to repeat. It asks the question, How many lifetimes does it take to learn how to live?

 

It’s been ten years since the events that changed Johnny Merrimon’s life and rocked his hometown to the core. Since then, Johnny has fought to maintain his privacy, but books have been written of his exploits; the fascination remains. Living alone on six thousand acres of once-sacred land, Johnny’s only connection to normal life is his old friend, Jack. They’re not boys anymore, but the bonds remain. What they shared. What they lost.

But Jack sees danger in the wild places Johnny calls home; he senses darkness and hunger, an intractable intent. Johnny will discuss none of it, but there are the things he knows, the things he can do. A lesser friend might accept such abilities as a gift, but Jack has felt what moves in the swamp: the cold of it, the unspeakable fear.

More than an exploration of friendship, persistence, and forgotten power, The Hush leaves all categories behind, and cements Hart’s status as a writer of unique power.

Friends since childhood, and lovers and business partners as adults, Niamh and Ruairidh are owners of a small Hebridean company, Ranish Tweed, that weaves its own very special version of Harris Tweed. Although it’s a small company, their fabrics have become internationally sought-after as a niche brand in the world of fashion and haute couture. 

But the threads of their relationship are beginning to fray. As they prepare for an important showing at the Première Vision fabric fair, held in Paris every year, Niamh accuses Ruairidh of having an affair with Irina, a Russian fashion designer they work with–a fight that ends with Ruairidh storming off and getting into Irina’s car. Moments later, Niamh watches in horror as the car containing her life partner explodes in a ball of flame. 

With Niamh a prime suspect in the murder, the Parisian police hound her even after she returns to Harris to bury the pitiful remains of her lover and business partner. Amid the grief and struggles that follow, she begins to suspect that things are not what they seem; and when there is an attempt on her life, she becomes convinced that what looked like a terrorist attack on her lover might be something more personal by far . . .

In Every Moment We Are Still Alive tells the story of a man whose world has come crashing down overnight: His long-time partner has developed an fatal illness, just as she is about to give birth to their first child … even as his father is diagnosed with cancer.

Reeling in grief, Tom finds himself wrestling with endless paperwork and indecipherable diagnoses, familial misunderstandings and utter exhaustion while trying simply to comfort his loved ones as they begin to recede from him. 

But slowly, amidst the pain and fury, arises a story of resilience and hope, particularly when Tom finds himself having to take responsibility for the greatest gift of them all, his newborn daughter. 

Written in an unforgettable style that dives deep into the chaos of grief and pain, yet also achieves a poetry that is inspiring, In Every Moment We Are Still Alive is slated to become one of the most stirring novels of the year.

After ten years together, Sylvie and Dan have a comfortable home, fulfilling jobs, and beautiful twin girls, and they communicate so seamlessly they finish each other’s sentences. They have a happy marriage and believe they know everything there is to know about each other. Until it’s casually mentioned to them that they could be together for another sixty-eight years . . . and panic sets in. 
            
They decide to bring surprises into their marriage to keep it fresh and fun. But in their pursuit of Project Surprise Me—from unexpected gifts to restaurant dates to sexy photo shoots—mishaps arise, with disastrous and comical results. Gradually, surprises turn to shocking truths. And when a scandal from the past is uncovered, they begin to wonder if they ever really knew each other at all.
            
With a colorful cast of eccentric characters, razor-sharp observations, and her signature wit and charm, Sophie Kinsella presents a humorous yet moving portrait of a marriage—its intricacies, comforts, and complications. Surprise Me reveals that hidden layers in a close relationship are often yet to be discovered.
      
As addictive, cinematic, and binge-worthy a narrative as The Wire and The KillingTwo Girls Down introduces Louisa Luna as a thriller writer of immense talent and verve.   
When two young sisters disappear from a strip mall parking lot in a small Pennsylvania town, their devastated mother hires an enigmatic bounty hunter, Alice Vega, to help find the girls. Immediately shut out by a local police department already stretched thin by budget cuts and the growing OxyContin and meth epidemic, Vega enlists the help of a disgraced former cop, Max Caplan. Cap is a man trying to put the scandal of his past behind him and move on, but Vega needs his help to find the girls, and she will not be denied. 
With little to go on, Vega and Cap will go to extraordinary lengths to untangle a dangerous web of lies, false leads, and complex relationships to find the girls before time runs out, and they are gone forever.
When secrets tear love apart, can the truth mend it?

Mae Summers and Gabe Broadbent grew up together in the idyllic Summers’ Inn, perched at the edge the St. Lawrence River. Mae was orphaned at the age of six and Gabe needed protection from his alcoholic father, so both were raised under one roof by Mae’s grandparents, Lily and George. A childhood friendship quickly developed into a first love—a love that was suddenly broken by Gabe’s unexpected departure. Mae grew up and got over her heartbreak, and started a life for herself in New York City.

After more than a decade, Mae and Gabe find themselves pulled back to Alexandria Bay by separate forces. Hoping to find solace within the Summers’ Inn, Mae instead finds her grandparents in the midst of decline and their past unravelling around her. A lifetime of secrets that implicate Gabe and Mae’s family reveal a version of the past that will forever change Mae’s future.

From the bestselling author of Mating for Life comes a poignant generational story about family and secrets. With honesty and heart, Marissa Stapley reminds us of the redemptive power of love and forgiveness, and that, ultimately, family is a choice.

 

 

 

  Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? In this elegant assessment of the human condition in the third millennium, cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, which play to our psychological biases. Instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise, not just in the West, but worldwide. This progress is not the result of some cosmic force. It is a gift of the Enlightenment: the conviction that reason and science can enhance human flourishing.

Far from being a naïve hope, the Enlightenment, we now know, has worked. But more than ever, it needs a vigorous defense. The Enlightenment project swims against currents of human nature–tribalism, authoritarianism, demonization, magical thinking–which demagogues are all too willing to exploit. Many commentators, committed to political, religious, or romantic ideologies, fight a rearguard action against it. The result is a corrosive fatalism and a willingness to wreck the precious institutions of liberal democracy and global cooperation. 

With intellectual depth and literary flair, Enlightenment Now makes the case for reason, science, and humanism: the ideals we need to confront our problems and continue our progress.

 

A charming, practical, and unsentimental approach to putting a home in order while reflecting on the tiny joys that make up a long life.

In Sweden there is a kind of decluttering called döstädning meaning “death” and städning meaning “cleaning.” This surprising and invigorating process of clearing out unnecessary belongings can be undertaken at any age or life stage but should be done sooner than later, before others have to do it for you. In The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, artist Margareta Magnusson, with Scandinavian humor and wisdom, instructs readers to embrace minimalism. Her radical and joyous method for putting things in order helps families broach sensitive conversations, and makes the process uplifting rather than overwhelming.

Margareta suggests which possessions you can easily get rid of (unworn clothes, unwanted presents, more plates than you’d ever use) and which you might want to keep (photographs, love letters, a few of your children’s art projects). Digging into her late husband’s tool shed, and her own secret drawer of vices, Margareta introduces an element of fun to a potentially daunting task. Along the way readers get a glimpse into her life in Sweden, and also become more comfortable with the idea of letting go.

 
Before she became known as the woman who enticed a king from his throne and birthright, Bessie Wallis Warfield was a prudish and particular girl from Baltimore. At turns imaginative, ambitious, and spoiled, Wallis’s first words as recalled by her family were “me, me.” From that young age, she was in want of nothing but stability, status, and social acceptance as she fought to climb the social ladder and take her place in London society. As irony would have it, she would gain the love and devotion of a king, but only at the cost of his throne and her reputation.
In WALLIS IN LOVE, acclaimed biographer Andrew Morton offers a fresh portrait of Wallis Simpson in all her vibrancy and brazenness as she transformed from a hard-nosed gold-digger to charming chatelaine. Using diary entries, letters, and other never-before-seen records, Morton takes us through Wallis’s romantic adventures in Washington, China, and her entrance into the strange wonderland that is London society. During her journey, we meet an extraordinary array of characters, many of whom smoothed the way for her dalliance with the king of England, Edward VIII.
WALLIS IN LOVE goes beyond Wallis’s infamous persona and reveals a complex, domineering woman striving to determine her own fate and grapple with matters of the heart.
  The Year of Less

In her late twenties, Cait Flanders found herself stuck in the consumerism cycle that grips so many of us: earn more, buy more, want more, rinse, repeat. Even after she worked her way out of nearly $30,000 of consumer debt, her old habits took hold again. When she realized that nothing she was doing or buying was making her happy-only keeping her from meeting her goals-she decided to set herself a challenge: she would not shop for an entire year.

The Year of Less documents Cait’s life for twelve months during which she bought only consumables: groceries, toiletries, gas for her car. Along the way, she challenged herself to consume less of many other things besides shopping. She decluttered her apartment and got rid of 70 percent of her belongings; learned how to fix things rather than throw them away; researched the zero waste movement; and completed a television ban. At every stage, she learned that the less she consumed, the more fulfilled she felt.

The challenge became a lifeline when, in the course of the year, Cait found herself in situations that turned her life upside down. In the face of hardship, she realized why she had always turned to shopping, alcohol, and food-and what it had cost her. Unable to reach for any of her usual vices, she changed habits she’d spent years perfecting and discovered what truly mattered to her.

Blending Cait’s compelling story with inspiring insight and practical guidance, The Year of Less will leave you questioning what you’re holding on to in your own life-and, quite possibly, lead you to find your own path of less.

On the heels of her bestselling journal Start Where You Are, author and illustrator Meera Lee Patel takes us deeper into her artistic vision and emotional journey in this stunning new four-color book. A mix of personal reflections, inspirational quotes, questions for reflection, and breathtaking watercolor visuals, My Friend Fear asserts that having big fear is an opportunity to make big changes, to discover the remarkable potential inside ourselves.

 

 

 

 

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