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In the Stacks: New fiction

Posted: September 5, 2013 - 12:07am

New fiction for adult readers includes “The River of No Return” by Bee Ridgway (for fans of Deborah Harkness) and “The Babylon Rite” by Tom Knox (for fans of Dan Brown) in addition to the titles below.

“Better Food for a Better World,” by Erin McGraw.

When three couples, all friends from college, pool their money and buy a struggling ice cream store in Northern California, they rename it Natural High to honor of their college days and appeal to the hipsters of Marin County. The six start out with the best intentions – they’re going to change the world with sustainable, delicious, ice cream. But three years in, the dream has gone a little sour. With repair costs and ingredient prices rising, but most everyone’s income standing still, the six find themselves falling further and further into debt. Cecilia, who would rather be skimming violin strings, can’t stand teaching the hopeless young students whose tuition makes ends meet. Vivy, who spent years with her husband, Sam, running a theatrical agency for especially quirky acts, misses the unpredictability that wacky entertainers bring to life. And Nancy, always sweet and easygoing, hates the taskmaster she becomes when it becomes obvious that the group needs some leadership. When Vivy starts planning an entertainment series featuring her old acts, she runs into resistance. Cecilia, meanwhile, finds an undercover outlet for her musical hungers, and suddenly marriages and friendships that seemed solid and immovable are fraying.

“Love Water Memory,” by Jennie Shortridge.

When Lucie Walker wakes up, she’s in up to her knees in the San Francisco Bay. Her legs ache with cold and she can’t understand why there’s a guy in a swimsuit trying to walk her in towards shore. What’s she doing in the water in the first place? It takes days in a psychiatric ward as Jane Doe before a man in Seattle recognizes her photo on the nightly news and comes to get her. He says his name is Grady and that they are engaged. He also says she’s changed, a lot, since she left Seattle nine days earlier. Told in alternating chapters by Lucie, Grady, and Lucie’s estranged Aunt Helen, this is a light exploration of our reliance on memories for scaffolding and meaning in relationships, both personal and superficial. New Lucie finds herself bewildered by the lack of warm welcomes as she slides back into her life and embraces the changes that take place as she gets reacquainted with her neighbors, friends, and coworkers, but most especially Grady and her aunt. But questions linger: if she’s as different from her old self as the constant surprised reactions (and Grady himself) tell her, who is it that Grady loves? With a wedding date quickly approaching, Lucie has to be sure: does her new self love Grady? And does he love the Lucie she is now?

“Exile,” by Betsy Dornbusch.

This first in a new fantasy series follows convicted murderer Draken vae Khellian as he is cast out of the Black Guard, exiled to Akrasia, and left to fend for himself. Starting from scratch is nothing new for Draken – no one who knew his lowly beginnings would have ever predicted his rank as Bowrank Commander in the Guard, and although he’s alone in a strange country, Draken is not without resources. But this country is very unlike his homeland: magic holds sway here as the many restless spirits attest, not to mention the fae-like Moonlings. Draken’s fighting skills soon lead him into the heart of the kingdom, where the queen is undermined by plotting and the country is on the edge of a revolution. He allies with a necromancer and his half-Moonling companion, but there is much Draken doesn’t understand about this new country, and while he could be of use to either side, he hesitates to commit himself.

“The Cobweb Bride,” by Vera Nazarian.

What would happen if Death went on strike, if he stilled his scythe until his demands were fulfilled? In this fairytale-like novel, when Death decides he wants a bride, soldiers are skewered by pikes and yet carry on. Pigs continue to squeal after the slaughter. The elderly breathe their last breaths again and again. Death’s demand goes out across the kingdom of Lethe and all single young women are encouraged to travel to the northern forest in which he makes his home. Percy (short for Persephone), a young and ungainly girl, volunteers to go in place of her more eligible older and younger sisters and to bring about her long-suffering grandmother’s release from life. The kingdom’s own Infanta, released from her invalid life by a murderer and yet not able to die, realizes that she’s stronger as a dead woman and joins the vast procession towards Death. Original and riveting, not much here will go the way you expect.

•••

Want something family-friendly to do this Sunday? Come out to the Douglas Library at 3 p.m. for the library’s monthly Family Movie Afternoon.

For information about upcoming programs, or to place a hold, visit www.juneau.org/library or call 586-5249.

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