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The Bookshelf

“World Without End” by Ken Follett. Eighteen years after “Pillars of the Earth” weighed in with almost 1,000 pages of juicy historical fiction about the construction of a 12th-century cathedral in Kingsbridge, England, bestseller Follett returns to 14th-century Kingsbridge with an equally weighty tome that deftly braids the fate of several of the offspring of “Pillars” families with such momentous events of the era as the Black Death and the wars with France. Four children, who will become a peasant’s wife, a knight, a builder and a nun, share a traumatic experience that will affect each of them differently as their lives play out from 1327 to 1361. Follett studs the narrative with gems of unexpected information, such as the English nobility’s multilingual training and the builder’s technique for carrying heavy, awkward objects. The four well-drawn central characters will captivate readers as they prove to be heroic, depraved, resourceful or mean. Fans of Follett’s previous medieval epic will be well rewarded.

“The Almost Moon” by Alice Sebold. Murder, madness, and marital woes are the knotty conundrums Sebold offers readers in her latest tale of psychological horror. In a moment of panic, Helen Knightly kills her dementia-ridden mother. Appalled but not apologetic, Helen spends the next 24 hours pondering the chain of events that led her to this choice. From the very first sentence, which is a masterpiece of understated horror, readers are fully immersed in the perspective of an unstable yet highly functioning mind. The pace is superb – a slow tease that alternates between calm, reflective flashbacks and tense, tight descriptions of Helen’s attempts to hide her crime and avoid the police. Readers who appreciate suspense will find themselves unable to put the book down, especially near the end, when the question of whether or not Helen will escape the consequences of her actions becomes almost too much to bear.

“Historical Atlas of California” by Derek Hayes. Using nearly 500 historical maps and many other illustrations – from rough sketches drawn in the field, to commercial maps, to beautifully rendered works of art – this lavishly illustrated volume is the first to tell the story of California’s past from a unique visual perspective. Covering 500 years of history, it offers a compelling and informative look at the transformation of the state from before European contact through the Gold Rush and up to the present. The maps are accompanied by a concise, engaging narrative and by extended captions that elucidate the stories and personalities behind their creation. At once a valuable reference and an exhilarating adventure through history, the “Historical Atlas of California” distills an enormous amount of information into one volume and presents a fascinating chronicle of how California came to be what it is today.

“The Intellectual Devotional: American History” by David S. Kidder and Noah D. Oppenheim. Modeled after those bedside books of prayer and contemplation that millions turn to for daily spiritual guidance and growth, the national bestseller “The Intellectual Devotional” drew a year’s worth of readings from seven different fields of knowledge. In this follow-up volume, authors Kidder and Oppenheim have turned to the rich legacy of American history for their selections. From Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin to Martin Luther King Jr., from the Federalist Papers to Watergate, the giant figures, cultural touchstones and pivotal events of our national heritage provide a bountiful source of reflection and education that will refresh knowledge, revitalize the mind and open new horizons of intellectual discovery.

“Explorer: A Daring Guide for Young Adventurers” by Henry Hardcastle. Dare to venture into the unknown! A novelty rich guide reveals the secrets to exploring all corners of the world, from jungles to oceans, from mountains to deserts, to frozen tundra. The year is 1930, and the president of the Society of Intrepid Explorers has laid out essential tips for all young adventurers determined to go where no modern human has gone before. Whether the goal is uncovering a lost civilization, finding a strange new species or making a chance discovery along the way, here are the crucial tools intrepid readers will need to prepare for, navigate and survive all manner of expeditions, as well as to imagine the world of possibilities just waiting to be explored. (Ages 6 to 9)


Compiled by manager Susan Beck at The Book Seller, 107 Mill Street, Grass Valley, 272-2131. Hours are Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. Ð 7 p.m.; Saturday, 9:30 a.m. Ð 5:30 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m. Ð 4 p.m.

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