By Tim Gautreaux (Knopf, $25.95)
When Sam Simoneaux returns home from World War I, he settles in New Orleans where he finds a job as a floor walker in one of the city’s largest department stores. When a little girl disappears from the store on his shift, he loses his job but finds a new one on a steamboat. This is a story of redemption and loss set against the backdrop of the Mississippi River during the 1920s. Colorful characters, unexpected plot twists and intriguing locales make this perfect summer reading.
‘The 7th Victim’
By Alan Jacobson (Vanguard Press, $25.95)
FBI Special Agent Karen Vail, the first female ever promoted to the profiling unit, tries to track down the Dead Eyes Killer. As the killer becomes bolder, Vail discovers the seventh victim holds the key to his capture and as she gets closer to cracking the case it becomes apparent that she might just get murdered in the process. Vail is smart, tough and a character who holds the reader in her grip until the last terrifying page.
‘Don’t Cry: Stories’
By Mary Gaitskill (Pantheon, $23.95)
Gaitskill’s stories are brilliantly executed. In her latest collection, she presents such indelible situations as the raw grief of a widow, the struggles of a depressed woman, the confusion of a man returning from war, and young people adrift in a college town in 1980. As in her previous work, her writing in “Don’t Cry” is fierce, vibrant and brilliant.
‘The Secret Keeper’
By Paul Harris (Dutton, $25.95)
In this debut novel by Harris – a journalist who has covered the conflict in Sierra Leone for Reuters and the Associated Press – the story pivots on the experiences of a fictional British journalist and his two visits to the war-torn area in 2000 and 2004. When he falls in love with an American aid worker running an orphanage for ex-child soldiers, he can’t shake the feeling that she is hiding something from him. Fully dimensional characters and a crisp narrative combine to make this an exciting story of the consequences of truth.
‘The Way We Were’
By Marcia Willett (St. Martin’s Press, $25.95)
In her 10th novel published in the United States, Willett’s richly crafted story of two friends unfolds over a period of 30 years. The past and present are intertwined and set against the lush backdrop of the English countryside in this beautifully written tale. Joy, infidelities, an unexpected pregnancy and past loves that trigger new temptations are all components of this well-honed story.
By Jean Hanff Korelitz (Grand Central Publishing, $24.99)
The author, a New Jersey-based writer, provides readers with a fascinating look at the complex college admission process and what can happen when ghosts from the past pop up to turn a life upside down. At the core of the story is 38-year-old Portia Nathan, a Princeton admissions officer. Her reluctance to confront reality is suddenly tested when a life-altering decision resurfaces and she is faced with an extraordinary test.
‘The Man in the Window: A Thriller’
By K.O. Dahl (Minotaur Books, $25.95)
When an antiques dealer in Oslo is found murdered, sitting naked in an armchair in the display window of his shop, Inspector Frolich and Chief Inspector Gunnarstranda are called in to track down clues. These include missing war objects and a series of strange numbers written in ink on the body. This is the second installment in the Oslo police mystery series by Dahl, one of Norway’s award-winning crime writers.
‘How God Changes Your Brain’
By Andrew Newberg, M.D., and Mark Robert Waldman (Ballantine, $27)
The authors are convinced that not only do prayer and spiritual practice reduce stress, anxiety and depression, but just 12 minutes of meditation each day improves memory and may even slow the aging process itself. In their new book, they explain the best way to “exercise” the brain as they guide readers through specific drills derived from a wide variety of Eastern and Western spiritual practices. Newberg is director at the Center for Spirituality and Mind at the University of Pennsylvania, and his co-author, Waldman, is an associate fellow at the same school,
‘The White War: Life and Death on the Italian Front 1915-1919′
By Mark Thompson (Basic Books, $30)
In this stunning account of a forgotten aspect of WW I, Mark Thompson re-examines the fierce fighting that was staged on the stony plateaus and snow peaks where Italy first attached the Austro-Hungarian Empire and how it helped shape Italy’s 20th century history. Meticulously researched and brilliantly written, this book, is war reporting at its very best and does full justice to one of the most tragic and previously untold stories.
‘When You Lie About Your Age, the Terrorists Win: Reflections on Looking in the Mirror’
By Carol Leifer (Villard, $24)
This laugh-out-loud book, by one of our more accomplished stand-up comedians, has a simple premise: When you deny your age, you deny yourself, and when you lie about your age, you become your inauthentic twin. But most important, when you lie about your age, they win, and by they, the author means the terrorists. Her observations include that you should never refer to a woman as “ma’am,” even if she’s 90 years old, because nobody likes it; if you put your lover’s name on your body, leave room in front for a possible “I Hate” down the road; and be cautious with collagen because your lips are not supposed to be the flotation devices for your face in case it capsizes.
‘The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power, and the Future of the World’
By Michelle Goldberg (Penguin Group, $25.95)
Investigative journalist Goldberg builds a strong case that the emancipation of women has become the key human rights struggle of the 21st century. She examines the backlash against modernization and globalization that is occurring around the world. From HIV/AIDS to overpopulation, sex ratio imbalances and infant mortality, the health of entire societies are tied to women’s reproductive freedoms. Yet the condition of women has increasingly been sidelined, with disastrous and underreported consequences. This essential, thought-provoking book is nothing less than a call to arms to all who are concerned about the health of our planet.
‘The Hourglass Solution: A Boomer’s Guide to the Rest of Your Life’
By Jeff Johnson and Paula Forman (Da Capo, $25)
With 75 million baby boomers in the United States, many are just discovering that their lives are no longer as happy and fulfilled as they once were. The authors have written a pragmatic guide that evaluates the life narrative through an hourglass: Adulthood is at the top of the glass when it is possible to make choices from many options. In the neck, however, is middle age when many feel constrained by earlier choices made. If we redefine the future and reassess our options, Johnson and Forman believe that the years after 50 can be every bit as exciting as those that came before.
‘Invisible Sisters: A Memoir’
By Jessica Handler (PublicAffairs, $24.95)
Handler’s baby sister was born with Kostmann’s Syndrome, a congenital blood disorder so rare it appears in one in every two million births. When a younger sister was diagnosed with leukemia, Jessica’s world and that of her family began to unravel. By the time she was 9, Jessica had begun introducing herself as the “well sibling” as she pondered the very real possibility that she might soon become the only one left. This is a true story of love, loss and coping with family tragedy.
‘Mainly on Directing: “Gypsy,” “West Side Story,” and Other Musicals’
By Arthur Laurents (Knopf, $25)
Laurents’ latest book is brutally honest, bitchy, insightful and incredibly opinionated. Laurents, a gifted playwright, screenwriter and director, helped create two of the biggest Broadway hits: “West Side Story” and “Gypsy.” In his notable new book, he writes frankly about the two loves in his life, theater and his partner of 52 years, Tom Hatcher. Hatcher, a hunk originally from Tulsa, Okla., was, Laurents claims, his inspiration. Moving, exhilarating and provocative, this crisply written narrative is as exciting as an opening night. Dim the house lights, settle back and enjoy.
‘A Different Life: Growing Up Learning Disabled and Other Adventures: A Memoir’
By Quinn Bradlee with Jeff Himmelman (PublicAffairs, $24.95)
Quinn Bradlee is the son of longtime Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee and columnist and best-selling author Sally Quinn. He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and a hole in his heart. His condition was eventually diagnosed as Velo-Cardio-Facial Syndrome (VCFS), a widespread but little understood disorder that is expressed through a range of physical ailments and learning disabilities. In his new book, he reveals how he coped with his condition and how he came of age. This is an unforgettable memoir that is touching as well as inspirational.
‘Joseph P. Kennedy Presents: His Hollywood Years’
By Cari Beauchamp (Knopf, $35)
Joseph P. Kennedy was 31 years old in 1919 when he became one of the first investors to see movie making as a gold mine. This highly readable, remarkable book primarily documents a four-year period, from 1926-30, when Kennedy established himself as a major mover and shaker in the Hollywood business community. How he kept several businesses going, maintained a wife and family in Massachusetts, and a mistress – Gloria Swanson – in Hollywood, is the extraordinary true story of this driven man and how he made his West Coast fortune and in the process changed the way movies are made.
‘Cheer! Inside the Secret World of College Cheerleaders’
By Kate Torgovnick (Touchstone, $15)
In recent years, cheerleading has evolved into something close to an extreme sport. For example, today’s cheerleaders often build human pyramids where a single slip can bring 10 people crashing to the mat. Torgovnick, a regular contributor to such publications as The New York Times and Newsweek, takes readers behind the scene of the ultra-competitive universe of college cheerleading.
‘Girl on the Couch: Life, Love, and Confessions of a Normal Neurotic’
By Lorna Martin (Ballantine, $14)
Martin found herself approaching her mid-30s without a partner, a mortgage or even a cat. When she decides to try therapy, she connects with “Dr. J.” After a year on the couch, she changes her life for the better and learns how to live a truly happy and contented life. Witty, self-deprecating, and insightful, this book is an unexpected pleasure.
‘Spymaster: My Thirty-Two Years in Intelligence and Espionage Against the West’
By Oleg Kalugin (Basic Books, $18.95)
The author spent more than three decades as an agent for the KGB, living a double life in the United States, matching wits against the CIA, eventually becoming one of the agency’s youngest generals. This is both a fascinating personal memoir as well as a detailed portrait of Cold War history. Unflinchingly honest, this paperback edition has been revised and updated since first published in 1994 in the U.S. as “The First Directorate.”
‘The Eye of Jade: A Mei Wang Mystery’
By Diane Wei Liang (Simon & Schuster, $15)
Beijing is the setting for this spellbinding novel in the Mei Wang series. Wang, the first ever female private detective in China’s teeming capital, is surprised when an old family friend comes to her office to ask her help in finding the whereabouts of a rare piece of white jade. This is classic detective fiction that is as fast paced as a runaway bullet train.