Fiction Reviews, June 1, 2012

starred review star Bohjalian, Chris. The Sandcastle Girls. Doubleday. Jul. 2012. c.320p. ISBN 9780385534796. $25.95. F

Repeatedly (and embarrassingly accurately) referred to here as The Slaughter You Know Next to Nothing About, the Armenian genocide of 1915‚ 16 takes center stage in Bohjalian’s (The Night Strangers) intergenerational novel. Elizabeth Endicott, a recent Mount Holyoke graduate, accompanies her Bostonian banker father on his philanthropic mission to Aleppo, Syria, to aid Armenian refugees fleeing atrocities committed by the Ottoman government. Her friendship with Armenian engineer Armen, who has lost his wife and baby daughter, flourishes when they are apart and can only communicate in letters. Years later, Laura Petrosian, seeking out a photograph of a woman rumored to be her Armenian grandmother, uncovers these letters among a wealth of documents‚ a treasure trove for an Armenian American novelist searching for pieces of her family history. VERDICT Bohjalian powerfully narrates an intricately nuanced romance with a complicated historical event at the forefront. With the centennial of the Armenian genocide fast approaching, this is not to be missed. Simply astounding.‚ Julie Kane, Sweet Briar Coll. Lib., VA

starred review star Engelmann, Karen. The Stockholm Octavo. Ecco: HarperCollins. Oct. 2012. c.432p. illus. ISBN 9780061995347.

Set in Sweden in the final years of the rule of the reforming king Gustav III (1771‚ 92), this is the fantastic story of young man about town Emil Larsson. Gambling salon heiress Mrs. Sparrow, who claims to see into the future, lays out an octavo for Emil, eight cards that, if properly read, will identify the eight individuals who can assist him in his pursuit of love and riches. What a strange story ensues! Plotters conspire to kill or kidnap the king, while across the continent France slides close to anarchy. A wicked countess collects fans and uses them to mesmerize her allies and poison her rivals. Assorted eccentrics appear and disappear. The novel never crosses the boundary into fantasy; rather, it’s about a time when magic was still taken seriously by the most cultured people in society. VERDICT This rollicking adventure story reads at times like a fairy tale, with Good Guys and Bad Guys and obstacles to be recognized and overcome. It’s all quite fun. As either historical novel or adventure story, this clever first novel should appeal to a broad range of readers.‚ David Keymer, Modesto, CA

starred review star Frankel, Laurie. Goodbye for Now. Doubleday. Aug. 2012. c.288p.ISBN 9780385536189. $25.95. F

Sam works at an online matchmaking site, but he’s hopeless at finding the right date for himself. When he writes an algorithm for determining the perfect match, it works so well he gets fired: a dating site doesn’t make money if its clients find their match immediately! When Sam runs the algorithm for himself, though, he does find his perfect woman, Meredith. After Meredith’s beloved grandmother dies, she’s devastated. Sam, now unemployed, spends his time tweaking his program until he creates a system that allows users to communicate with the deceased through email and simulated video chats. Meredith is soothed to no end by the contact with her grandmother, so naturally the concept is taken to the next step and introduced to the public. VERDICT Frankel tells a touching story of how this young couple deals with a new love in a world full of loss and sadness. Her first novel, The Atlas of Love, was a wonderful, heartfelt read, and while this book has a completely different story line, it retains that emotional core. Frankel is an author to watch and definitely to keep in stock.‚ Beth Gibbs, Davidson, NC

The following titles are reviewed in the June 1 print issue. Visit our Reviews Center (Beta) for the full reviews.

Andersen, Kurt. True Believers. Random. Jul. 2012. c.480p. ISBN 9781400067206. $27. F

Bernier, Nichole. The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D. Crown. Jun. 2012. c.320p. ISBN 9780307887801. $24. F

Black, Benjamin. Vengeance. Holt. Aug. 2012. c.320p. ISBN 9780805094398. $26. F

Brunt, Carol Rifka. Tell the Wolves I’m Home. Dial: Random. Jun. 2012. c.368p. ISBN 9780679644194. $26. F

Cach, Lisa. Great-Aunt Sophia’s Lessons for Bombshells. Gallery: S. & S. Jun. 2012. c.320p. ISBN 9781416513315. pap. $15. F

Coake, Christopher. You Came Back. Grand Central. Jun. 2012. c.432p. ISBN 9781455506705. $24.99. F

Cobb, William J. The Bird Saviors. Unbridled. Jun. 2012. c.320p. ISBN 9781609530709. $25.95. F

starred review star Coplin, Amanda. The Orchardist. Harper: HarperCollins. Aug. 2012. c.448p. ISBN 9780062188502. $25.99. F

Dastgir, Rosie. A Small Fortune. Riverhead: Penguin Group (USA). Jun. 2012. c.384p. ISBN 9781594488108. $25.95. F

de la Cruz, Melissa. Serpent’s Kiss: A Witches of East End Novel. Hyperion. Jun. 2012. c.336p. ISBN 9781401323967. $23.99. F

Desrochers, Suzanne. Bride of New France. Norton. Aug. 2012. c.304p. ISBN 9780393073379. $24.95. F

Dilloway, Margaret. The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns. Putnam. Aug. 2012. c.368p. ISBN 9780399157752. $25.95. F

Fales-Hill, Susan. Imperfect Bliss. Atria: S. & S. Jul. 2012. c.304p. ISBN 9781451623826. $24. F

starred review star Fairstein, Linda. Night Watch. Dutton. Jul. 2012. c.400p. ISBN 9780525952633. $26.95. F

Gamboa, Santiago. Necropolis. Europa, dist. by Penguin. Jul. 2012. 464p. tr. from Spanish by Howard Curtis. ISBN 9781609450731. pap. $18. F

Gardiner, Meg. Ransom River. Dutton. Jul. 2012. c.368p. ISBN 9780525952855. $25.95. F

Grenville, Kate. Sarah Thornhill. Grove. Jun. 2012. c.352p. ISBN 9780802120243. $25. F

Irwin, Stephen M. The Broken Ones. Doubleday. Aug. 2012. c.368p.ISBN 9780385534659. $26. F

starred review star Katzenbach, John. What Comes Next. Mysterious Pr: Grove/Atlantic. Jun. 2012. c.464p. ISBN 9780802126115. $27. F

Kohler, Sheila. The Bay of Foxes. Penguin. Jun. 2012. c.240p. ISBN 9780143121015. pap. $15. F

Lee, Don. The Collective. Norton. Jul. 2012. c.320p. ISBN 9780393083217. $25.95. F

starred review star MacMahon, Kathleen. This Is How It Ends. Grand Central. Aug. 2012. c.352p. ISBN 9781455511310. $24.99. F

starred review star Mantel, Hilary. Bring Up the Bodies. Holt. 2012. c.432p. ISBN 9780805090031. $28. F

O’Hara, Maryanne. Cascade. Viking. Aug. 2012. c.368p. ISBN 9780670026029. $25.95. F

Petterson, Per. It’s Fine By Me. Graywolf. Oct. 2012. c.208p. tr. from Norwegian byDon Bartlett. ISBN 9781555976262. $22. F

starred review star Powers, Kevin. The Yellow Birds: A Novel. Little, Brown. Sept. 2012. c.224p. ISBN 9780316219365. $24.99. F

Somerville, Patrick. This Bright River. Reagan Arthur: Little, Brown. Jun. 2012. c.464p. ISBN 9780316129312. $24.99. F

Stroud, Carsten. Niceville. Knopf. Jun. 2012. c.400p. ISBN 9780307700957. $26.95. F

Toutonghi, Pauls. Evel Knievel Days. Crown. Jul. 2012. c.304p. ISBN 9780307382153. $24. F

Tunnicliffe, Hannah. The Color of Tea. Scribner. Jun. 2012. c.320p. ISBN 9781451682823. pap. $15. F

Wachspress, Amy. Memories from Cherry Harvest. Soft Skull. Jun. 2012. c.356p. ISBN 9781593764401. pap. $15.95. F

Wall, Carolyn. Playing with Matches. Bantam. Jul. 2012. c.320p. ISBN 9780345525697. pap. $15. F

Short stories

Bolaño, Roberto. The Secret of Evil. New Directions, dist. by Norton. 2012. c.160p. tr. from Spanish by Chris Andrews with Natasha Wimmer. ISBN 9780811218153. $22.95. F

Thriller 3: Love Is Murder. Mira: Harlequin. Jun. 2012. c.608p. ed. by Sandra Brown. ISBN 9780778313441. $24.95. F

Goodison, Lorna. By Love Possessed. Amistad: HarperCollins. Jun. 2012. c.272p. ISBN 9780062127358. pap. $14.99. F

Spark, Debra. The Pretty Girl: Novella and Stories. Four Way Bks. 2012. c.330p. ISBN 9781935536185. pap. $17.95. F

Last-Minute Science Fiction

Joyce, Graham. Some Kind of Fairy Tale. Doubleday. Jul. 2012. c.352p. ISBN 9780385535786. $24.95. FANTASY

starred review star Treadwell, James. Advent. Emily Bestler: Atria: S. & S. Jul. 2012. c.464p. ISBN 9781451661644. $26. FANTASY