Bloggers Recommend | The books you love. The bloggers you trust.

Giveaway Time: Win The Story by Thrity Umrigar!

Thrity Umrigar’s new novel, The Story Hour was one our favorite reads of August. Read our interview with Thrity Umrigar and enter to win one of 5 copies we have to share with our US readers.The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar

From the critically beloved, bestselling author of The World We Found and The Space Between Us, whom the New York Times Book Review calls a “perceptive and . . . piercing writer,” comes a profound, heartbreakingly honest novel about friendship, family, secrets, forgiveness, and second chances.

An experienced psychologist, Maggie carefully maintains emotional distance from her patients. But when she meets a young Indian woman who tried to kill herself, her professional detachment disintegrates. Cut off from her family in India, Lakshmi is desperately lonely and trapped in a loveless marriage to a domineering man who limits her world to their small restaurant and grocery store.

Moved by her plight, Maggie treats Lakshmi in her home office for free, quickly realizing that the despondent woman doesn’t need a shrink; she needs a friend. Determined to empower Lakshmi as a woman who feels valued in her own right, Maggie abandons protocol, and soon doctor and patient have become close friends.

But while their relationship is deeply affectionate, it is also warped by conflicting expectations. When Maggie and Lakshmi open up and share long-buried secrets, the revelations will jeopardize their close bond, shake their faith in each other, and force them to confront painful choices.

The Story Hour tells the tale of two very different women—Maggie, a black psychologist, and Lakshmi, a young wife from India lost in the new world of the United States—and how they change one another. Umrigar writes an insightful, emotional story. Readers will absolutely be drawn into both these women’s lives, hoping that they find peace and happiness with each other’s help.—Swapna Krishna

US Readers can win a copy by entering here. The last day for entry is Sunday, September 21. Winners will be contacted with the email address used to enter the contest.

Good luck!

Neverhome by Laird Hunt

NeverhomeNeverhome by Laird Hunt (September 9, Little, Brown)

She calls herself Ash, but that’s not her real name. She is a farmer’s faithful wife, but she has left her husband to don the uniform of a Union soldier in the Civil War. Neverhome tells the harrowing story of Ash Thompson during the battle for the South. Through bloodshed and hysteria and heartbreak, she becomes a hero, a folk legend, a madwoman and a traitor to the American cause.

Laird Hunt’s dazzling new novel throws a light on the adventurous women who chose to fight instead of stay behind. It is also a mystery story: why did Ash leave and her husband stay? Why can she not return? What will she have to go through to make it back home?

In gorgeous prose, Hunt’s rebellious young heroine fights her way through history, and back home to her husband, and finally into our hearts.

Not all Civil War soldiers were men. Constance, who enlists as Ash Thompson in place of her husband, was one such soldier. The experience changes her and her husband in ways they couldn’t have predicted. Reminiscent of True Grit, Neverhome smartly captures the isolation and courage of a determined soldier with a secret. -Jennifer Conner, Literate Housewife

The Children Act by Ian McEwan

The Children ActThe Children Act by Ian McEwan (September 9, Nan A. Talese)

Fiona Maye is a leading High Court judge who presides over cases in the family court. She is renowned for her fierce intelligence, exactitude, and sensitivity. But her professional success belies private sorrow and domestic strife. There is the lingering regret of her childlessness, and now her marriage of thirty years is in crisis.

At the same time, she is called on to try an urgent case: Adam, a beautiful seventeen-year-old boy, is refusing for religious reasons the medical treatment that could save his life, and his devout parents echo his wishes. Time is running out. Should the secular court overrule sincerely expressed faith? In the course of reaching a decision, Fiona visits Adam in the hospital—an encounter that stirs long-buried feelings in her and powerful new emotions in the boy. Her judgment has momentous consequences for them both.

The Children Act is McEwan at his finest, provoking questions of morality and issues of marriage in this slip of a book. Through Fiona, a family court judge, the reader is introduced to rich characters and a gripping story, as Fiona must decide whether to save the life of a seventeen-year-old boy refusing a blood transfusion because of religion. -Swapna Krishna, S. Krishna Books

Rainey Royal by Dylan Landis

9781616954529_8c8acRainey Royal by Dylan Landis (September 9, SoHo Press)

Fourteen-year-old Rainey Royal lives with her father, a jazz musician with a cultish personality, in a once-elegant, now decaying brownstone. Her mother has abandoned the family, and Rainey fends off advances from her father’s best friend while trying desperately to nurture her own creative drives and build a substitute family. She’s a rebel, even a criminal, but she’s also deeply vulnerable, fighting to figure out how to put back in place the boundaries her life has knocked down, and more than that, struggling to learn how to be an artist and a person in a broken world.

 Rainey Royal is told in 14 narratives of scarred and aching beauty that build into a fiercely powerful novel: the harrowing and ultimately affirming story of a young artist.

If she could, fourteen year old Rainey Royal would spend all of her time drawing and going to art museums. Instead she has to deal with her mother’s absence, being ignored by her father, and the nighttime encounters of his best friend. Landis’s writing of this aching story will make readers forget everything else as they follow a young girl filled with more heartache than love. -Natasha Vasillis, 1330v

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station ElevenStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (September 9, Knopf)

An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.
One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur’s chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them.
Fifteen years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten’s arm is a line from Star Trek: “Because survival is insufficient.” But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave.
Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all. A novel of art, memory, and ambition, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.

Mandel’s fourth novel is a gripping journey through the present and into the future. It’s easy to become absorbed in her tale of a pandemic that devastates the world, but it’s the vivid characters and their mysterious and complex linked stories that will hold you for the entirety of the novel and beyond. -Swapna Krishna, S. Krishna’s Book

The Lightkeeper’s Wife by Sarah Anne Johnson

The Lightkeeper's WifeThe Lightkeeper’s Wife by Sarah Anne Johnson (September 9, Sourcebooks Landmark)

When Hannah Rescues Billy From a Shipwreck, She Will Change Both Their Lives Forever.

Hannah Snow shouldn’t be in the water, saving shipwrecked sailors. Her husband would be furious—it’s his job to tend to the lighthouse at Dangerfield, to warn the ships off the rocks. Sailors know that the Dangerfield coastline is treacherous, but the waves constantly pull them down into the deep anyway.

But when the ship Cynthia Rose runs aground, John is away buying supplies, and Hannah rushes out into the storm. She can only fish one sailor out of the icy water—weatherworn, half-drunk Billy.

When Hannah gets word that John will not return home to her, she sinks into grief so deep that she feels she may never surface again. With Billy’s help, she continues to man the lighthouse, keeping the lamps blazing even during her darkest hours. But Billy is not all that he seems. And Hannah starts to doubt whether anything she knew about this strange man—or herself—is true.

During her husband’s absence in 1843, Hannah acts instinctively and, knowing well that he would disapprove, ventures into a storm to save a drowning sailor. While the title may superficially describe Hannah, Johnson’s novel isn’t simply standard fare for women’s historical fiction. Adventurous, well-paced, and thought provoking, The Lightkeeper’s Wife delves into the construction of gender roles and identity in a patriarchal society dependent on the sea.-Jennifer Conner, Literate Housewife


City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett

City of StairsCity of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett (September 9, Broadway Books)

An atmospheric and intrigue-filled novel of dead gods, buried histories, and a mysterious, protean city–from one of America’s most acclaimed young fantasy writers.

The city of Bulikov once wielded the powers of the gods to conquer the world, enslaving and brutalizing millions—until its divine protectors were killed. Now Bulikov has become just another colonial outpost of the world’s new geopolitical power, but the surreal landscape of the city itself—first shaped, now shattered, by the thousands of miracles its guardians once worked upon it—stands as a constant, haunting reminder of its former supremacy.

Into this broken city steps Shara Thivani. Officially, the unassuming young woman is just another junior diplomat sent by Bulikov’s oppressors. Unofficially, she is one of her country’s most accomplished spies, dispatched to catch a murderer. But as Shara pursues the killer, she starts to suspect that the beings who ruled this terrible place may not be as dead as they seem—and that Bulikov’s cruel reign may not yet be over. 

Within his story about gods versus humans, religious worship and its place within a government, and conquerors versus the conquered, Bennett provides much food for thought for readers. His secondary world is easily recognizable for its similarities to the real world, but it is in his use of magic and gods and the architecture within his world where the story really shines. Not only does he provide readers with an intense, magical whodunit, but he also brilliantly explores the origins of theology and belief systems. Exciting, extremely well-written, and thought-provoking, City of Stairs is a perfect example of high fantasy and an amazing novel.—Michelle Shannon, That’s What She Read



The Jewel by Amy Ewing

The JewelThe Jewel by Amy Ewing (September 2, HarperTeen)

The Jewel means wealth, the Jewel means beauty—but for Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Born and raised in the Marsh, Violet finds herself living in the Jewel as a servant at the estate of the Duchess of the Lake. Addressed only by her number—#197—Violet is quickly thrown into the royal way of life. But behind its opulent and glittering facade, the Jewel hides its cruel and brutal truth, filled with violence, manipulation, and death.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her life . . . all while trying to stay alive. But before she can accept her fate, Violet meets a handsome boy who is also under the Duchess’s control, and a forbidden love erupts. But their illicit affair has consequences, which will cost them both more than they bargained for. And toeing the line between being calculating and rebellious, Violet must decide what, and who, she is willing to risk for her own freedom.

Violet, a girl from a poor district, is bought as a surrogate for a royal couple who live in the Jewel. Violet is property, but changes are brewing, and Violet is as swept up in the intrigue as she is in a forbidden romance. With exquisite world building and pitch-perfect voice, Ewing explores the choices we make when our lives are not our own.—Lenore Appelhans, Presenting Lenore

The Secret Place by Tana French

9780670026326_1cbe1The Secret Place by Tana French (September 2, Viking Adult)

The photo on the card shows a boy who was found murdered, a year ago, on the grounds of a girls’ boarding school in the leafy suburbs of Dublin. The caption saysI KNOW WHO KILLED HIM.

Detective Stephen Moran has been waiting for his chance to get a foot in the door of Dublin’s Murder Squad—and one morning, sixteen-year-old Holly Mackey brings him this photo. “The Secret Place,” a board where the girls at St. Kilda’s School can pin up their secrets anonymously, is normally a mishmash of gossip and covert cruelty, but today someone has used it to reignite the stalled investigation into the murder of handsome, popular Chris Harper. Stephen joins forces with the abrasive Detective Antoinette Conway to find out who and why.

But everything they discover leads them back to Holly’s close-knit group of friends and their fierce enemies, a rival clique—and to the tangled web of relationships
that bound all the girls to Chris Harper. Every step in their direction turns up the pressure. Antoinette Conway is already suspicious of Stephen’s links to the Mackey family. St. Kilda’s will go a long way to keep murder outside their walls. Holly’s father, Detective Frank Mackey, is circling, ready to pounce if any of the new evidence points toward his daughter. And the private underworld of teenage girls can be more mysterious and more dangerous than either of the detectives imagined.

The Secret Place is a powerful, haunting exploration of friendship and loyalty, and a gripping addition to the Dublin Murder Squad series.

The Secret Place is the latest installment of French’s highly-regarded Dublin Murder Squad Series. A brutal murder at a prestigious boarding school offers two rookie detectives a chance to establish themselves. Maneuvering the byzantine world of teenage secrets proves to be dangerous and the case reveals more than just murder. French’s plotting is meticulous and the clever use of a binary narrative and timeline is utterly compelling. -Michele Jacobsen, A Reader’s Respite

Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang

Falling Into PlaceFalling Into Place by Amy Zhang (September 9, Greenwillow Books)

One cold fall day, high school junior Liz Emerson steers her car into a tree. This haunting and heartbreaking story is told by a surprising and unexpected narrator and unfolds in nonlinear flashbacks even as Liz’s friends, foes, and family gather at the hospital and Liz clings to life. This riveting debut will appeal to fans of Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver, and 13 Reasons Why, by Jay Asher.

“On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road.” Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? The nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force—Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect? Amy Zhang’s haunting and universal story will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher.

A stunning debut, Falling Into Place is the brilliant non-linear story of how one popular, affluent,  egocentric teenager goes about ending her own life. Glimpses of Liz Emerson at various points throughout her life gradually reveal a tantalizing mosaic suggesting how she became an unpleasant young woman bent on suicide. Edgy, inspired, and ultimately infused with themes of forgiveness and redemption, Falling Into Place is utterly mesmerizing. -Michele Jacobsen, A Reader’s Respite