Annie's List and Reviews

May 23, 2013

Annie Leonard of The Next Chapter's Summer Reading List

Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown

Viking, June 2013, History

This is the true story of a man who came from nothing and through sheer hard work and grit became the coach of the University of Washington rowing team that eventually won the Olympic Gold medal in Hitler’s Nazi Germany. This is also the story of a nation struggling to recover from WWI, fighting its way through the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl to rise again to fight WWII; a worthy successor to books like Unbroken and Sea Biscuit.

The Yard (The Murder Squad, Book 1) by Alex Grecian

Putnam, May 2012, Mystery

Set during the early days of Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad, just after Jack the Ripper’s rampages, during the height of the Victorian era, this tale of murder and suspense is a satisfying first entry in a new series.  Readers get to know the hard-working cops that patrol the streets of London, their families, and the murderer who is stalking them and killing the police-men one by one. Readers also get glimpses of the emerging science of forensics, as law enforcement begins to use the advancements of science in their sleuthing.  The first in what promises to be a great new series of historical mysteries

After Visiting Friends: A Son’s Story by Michael Hainey

Scribner, February 2013, Memoir

This memoir that reads like a thriller is the account of a man’s search for the truth about what happened to his father 40 years ago when he was found dead in Chicago.  Filled with familiar places, and set against the backdrop of the newspaper industry of the Midwest, it is a son’s relentless quest to uncover what really happened, as well as an account of a mother’s love and sacrifices, and how families create and bury secrets. 

The Guns at Last Light, Vol. 3 of The Liberation Trilogy by Rick Atkinson

Henry Holt, May 2013, History

The long awaited final volume in the Liberation Trilogy by Pulitzer Prize winner, Atkinson is finally here.  I’ve been reading this one for a couple of weeks, savoring one incredible, rich, revealing chapter at a time; learning something new in each one – even though I would have thought I knew a little something about WWII in Europe.  This book is amazing, and will forever change the way I look at war in general, and the last World War in particular. Congratulations, Mr. Atkinson, on a remarkable achievement. 

The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway

Dutton, April 2013, Fantasy/Historical Fiction

This romp in time has it all!  There’s a dashing hero, several feisty heroines, some really nasty bad guy, plenty of mystery, suspense, humor and romance as Ridgeway navigates her eminently plausible route along the River of Time filled with paradoxes and switchbacks. For readers of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander and Deborah Harkness’s Discovery of Witches.

Mary Coin by Marisa Silver

Blue Rider Press, March 2013, Historical Fiction

Most of us have seen the iconic photograph taken by Dorothea Lange of a woman and her children during the Dust Bowl years of the Great Depression. This is the novel inspired by the photograph of this Native American migrant worker and mother of six. It is also the story of the photographer who captured the image, and a man, decades later, who tries to find the truth of the story.

Seven Locks by Christine Wade

Atria, January 2013, Historical Fiction

With an utterly unique voice, this is the story of a wife and mother living in a Dutch community in the Catskill Mountains on the eve of the American Revolution. She cares little for what her neighbors think, but when her husband abandons her to care for their farm and children alone, she must depend on her community, and her own hard work for survival. This novel gives a glimpse not only of a hidden corner of history, but also of the common citizens who were buffeted by the winds of war and politics during the early years of your nation’s history. If you like historical fiction, don’t miss this one.

The Golem & the Jinni by Helene Wecker

Harper, May 2013, Fantasy/Historical Fiction

This is the story of two mythical creatures, one ancient and one newborn, one a captive named Ahmad, and the other Chava, a Golem made of mud by a renegade Rabbi, living among their traditional peoples in the immigrant neighborhoods of New York City a century ago. As they struggle to make sense of the teeming humanity around them, they encounter each other and become unlikely companions. And then an ancient evil begins to stalk them through the streets and workshops of the ethnic enclaves populated by folk with one foot in the old world and one in the new, where everything is shifting, and enemies can hide in plain sight. I found Ahmad and Chava’s story profoundly moving and suspenseful, sometimes eerie and strange, and at others times intimately familiar. Even if you’re not a fan of the fantasy genre, give this beautifully haunting tale a spot in your beach bag this year.

The Fate of Mercy Alban by Wendy Webb

Voice, February 2013, Gothic Suspense

For fans of Phyllis Whitney and Daphne DuMaurier, this is a quintessential gothic romance from award-winning novelist Wendy Webb. The Fate of Mercy Alban tells a spine-tingling modern-day haunted house story set on Lake Superior, with all the elements a good gothic should have, including a mysterious house, a beautiful heroine, an enigmatic love interest, forgotten stories, and the retainers that know them all. Webb has woven a suspenseful mystery that skillfully skirts the boundary between what is paranormal and what is psychological.