The bookshelf |

The bookshelf

“Peony in Love” by Lisa See. Lisa See’s haunting new novel, based on actual historical events, takes readers back to 17th-century China after the Manchus seize power and the Ming dynasty is crushed. Steeped in traditions and ritual, this story brings to life another time and place, even the intricate realm of the afterworld, with its protocols, pathways and stages of existence, a vividly imagined place where one’s soul is divided into three, ancestors offer guidance, misdeeds are punished and hungry ghosts wander the earth. Immersed in the richness and magic of the Chinese vision of the afterlife, transcending even death, “Peony in Love” beautifully explores the many manifestations of love. Ultimately, Lisa See’s novel addresses universal themes: the bonds of friendship, the power of words and the age-old desire of women to be heard. It is an unforgettable journey of love and destiny, desire and sorrow.

“The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss. This powerful debut novel follows the story of Kvothe, a boy beset by fate who became a hero, a bard, a magician and a legend. Told in Kvothe’s own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen. The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature. A high-action story written with a poet’s hand, “The Name of the Wind” is a masterpiece that will transport readers into the body and mind of a wizard. This is the type of assured, rich first novel most writers can only dream of producing. The fantasy world has a new star.

“Whistling in the Dark” by Lesley Kagen. The loss of innocence can be as dramatic as the loss of a parent or the discovery that what’s perceived to be truth can actually be a big fat lie, as shown in Kagen’s compassionate debut, a coming-of-age thriller set in Milwaukee during the summer of 1959. Ten-year-old Sally O’Malley fears that a child predator who has already murdered two girls will target her or her little sister, Troo, next. The girls’ mother is hospitalized, their stepfather abandons them for a six-pack, and their big sister, Nell, who was left strict instructions to take care of them, is too busy making out with her boyfriend to notice that Sally and Troo are on the loose. And, so is the murderer. Kagen sharply depicts the vulnerability of children in an era when life is not as innocent as it appears. Sally, “a girl who wouldn’t break a promise even if her life depended on it,” makes an enchanting protagonist. (Trade Paper Original)

“Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America 1789-7989” by Michael Beschloss. From the acclaimed bestselling author of “The Conquerors,” Michael Beschloss has brought us a brilliantly readable and inspiring saga about crucial times in America’s history when a courageous president dramatically changed the future of the United States. With surprising new sources and a dazzling command of history and human character, Beschloss brings to life these flawed, complex men and their wives, families, friends and foes. Never have we had a more intimate, behind-the-scenes view of presidents coping with the supreme dilemmas of their lives.

“Ranger’s Apprentice: Book Three: The Icebound Land” by John Flanagan. The smashing New York Times bestselling series continues. Kidnapped after the fierce battle with Lord Morgarath, Will and Evanlyn are bound for Skandia. Halt has sworn to rescue Will and will do anything to keep his promise, even defy his king. Rather than creating a host of strange creatures and magical powers, Flanagan concentrates on character, offering readers a young protagonist they will care about and relationships that develop believably over time. Will’s world is a colorful place, threatened by an evil warlord and his fierce minions, but it’s the details of everyday living and the true-to-life emotions of the people that are memorable. (Ages 10-14)


Compiled by manager Susan Beck at The Book Seller, 107 Mill St., Grass Valley, 272-2131. Hours are Mondays through Fridays, 9:30 a.m.Ð7 p.m.; Saturdays, 9:30 a.m.Ð 5:30 p.m.; and Sundays, 11 a.m.Ð4 p.m.

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