by Renée Ahdieh
When Celine arrives in New Orleans fresh from Paris, she’s looking for a new start. It’s 1872, and options for a woman alone are limited, but Celine, who has dark secrets in her past, is determined to find a way. Celine finds herself falling in love with New Orleans, which, in the middle of carnival season, has a wild, seductive beauty. But the city has its dangers: Celine meets Bastien, a man she is attracted to but resists, who is at the forefront of a mysterious group active in the city’s underworld. And a vicious serial killer begins stalking the city (Maggie Reagan, Booklist, v.115, n.22).
All-American Muslim Girl
by Nadine Jolie Courtney
Living just outside Atlanta, Allie Abraham is the daughter of a Texas-born American history professor who is Circassian. Allie has hazel eyes, pale skin, and blonde hair, and she’s always been encouraged to keep her Muslim heritage secret for safety and convenience, but when she’s out with her father, people “take one look and decide he’s clearly From Somewhere Else.” Now, feeling compelled to embrace the religion her father turned away from, she begins to explore what it means to be Muslim while encountering prejudice in the American South, including from those who don’t consider her “Muslim enough” (Publisher’s Weekly, v. 266, i. 39).
The How & the Why
by Cynthia Hand
Being adopted as a baby has given Cass a good life with loving parents and the best friend ever. But now that she’s 18, she feels the urge to search for the woman who gave her life. Little by little—while still mindful of her parents’ feelings—Cass chips away at the blank wall dividing her from information she desperately needs in order to complete her sense of self. The narrative is told via two alternating voices that are rich and distinct: Cass’, as she moves through her senior year, and her 16-year-old birth mother’s, relayed in a series of letters written to the baby while she was pregnant. Their individual issues, dreams, needs, and visions are beautifully rendered and superbly shaped (Jeanne Fredriksen, Booklist, v.116, n.2).
The Miracles of the Namiya General Store
by Keigo Higashino
When three delinquents hole up in an abandoned general store after their most recent robbery, to their great surprise, a letter drops through the mail slot in the store’s shutter. This seemingly simple request for advice sets the trio on a journey of discovery as, over the course of a single night, they step into the role of the kindhearted former shopkeeper who devoted his waning years to offering thoughtful counsel to his correspondents (Publisher).
The Secret Commonwealth
by Philip Pullman
Twenty years after the events of La Belle Sauvage, and eight years after those of the His Dark Materials trilogy, this second volume in Pullman’s Book of Dust series blends spy thriller, otherworldly travelogue, and philosophical musing. Twenty-year-old Lyra Silvertongue’s student life in Oxford is upended when her daemon, Pantalaimon, witnesses an incident that entangles them with a covert agency to which Malcolm Polstead belongs, impelling Malcolm to investigate a shift in the global power balance. Meanwhile, Lyra’s fascination with a logic-obsessed, daemon-omitting novel causes Pan to decamp in search of her imagination. Tracked by a young alethiometer savant named Bonneville, Lyra furtively sets out for the Levant, searching for a rumored refuge for separated daemons (Publisher’s Weekly, v.266, i.40).
by Thomas Wheeler
Nimue’s druid mother lies dying, she charges her daughter with delivering something to the mage Merlin. The package contains the fey-created Sword of Power, aka the Devil’s Tooth, whose possession marks the One True King—or queen in Nimue’s case. Nimue, Arthur, Morgan, and their allies seek peace and a home for her people, but the Pendragon King Uther, among others, is intent on claiming the sword for himself, and Nimue knows the sword is both weapon and curse for those who own it (Cindy Welch, Booklist, v. 115, n.22).