Barbara’s Picks, Jul. 2014, Pt. 1: Chris Bohjalian, Deborah Harkness, Sam Kean, Liane Moriarty, & More

Bohjalian, Chris. Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands. Doubleday.
Jul. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9780385534833. $25.95. CD: Penguin Random Audio. POP FICTIONbohjalianchris
Emily Shepard is hiding out in a shelter made of ice and trash bags after a nightmarish meltdown at a nuclear plant in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom that left her parents dead. Since the meltdown might have been her father’s fault, she’s not reaching out for help, but she does take a homeless boy named Cameron under her wing. More heartfelt, engaged work from relentlessly best-selling, best-book author Bohjalian, and how can you not love a heroine who identifies with Emily Dickinson?

Harkness, Deborah. The Book of Life. Viking. Jul. 2014. 592p. ISBN 9780670025596. $28.95. CD: Penguin Random Audio. SUSPENSE
Having met up dramatically in the entertaining A Discovery of Witches and traveled to the past to take care of some serious business in Shadow of Night, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present and continue hunting for Ashmole 782, a long-missing magical manuscript that lots of dark creatures covet. Last in a trilogy that has sold more than a million copies in the United States and has keep readers turning pages in 38 foreign editions.

Jans, Nick. A Wolf Called Romeo. Houghton Harcourt. Jul. 2014. 256p.ISBN 9780547858197. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780547858210. PETS
No, not some lovesick lad; this Romeo is a black wolf that sauntered into Jans’s yard in Alaska jansand returned to bond with him and his neighbors—and even their pets. Jans, who has lived in Alaska for 30 years, had never seen anything like it. Given the current controversy over wolves in this country, this book is essential reading. Lots of photos from award-winning writer and photographer Jans.

Johansen, Erika. The Queen of the Tearling. Harper. Jul. 2014. 448p. ISBN 9780062290366. $26.99;ebk. ISBN 9780062290373. lrg. prnt. FANTASY/LITERARY FICTION
Just 19 and raised in exile, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn is returning to the land of her birth to reclaim her throne. Though the Queen’s Guard is accompanying her, she doesn’t know whom to trust, but she does have the powerfully magical Tearling sapphire around her neck. Rights have been sold to 20 countries, Warner Bros. has bought the rights to The Queen of the Tearling in conjunction with Harry Potter producer David Heyman, and Emma Watson looks to star, so how can you go wrong?

Kean, Sam. The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons: And Other True Stories of Trauma, Madness, Affliction, and Recovery That Reveal the Surprising History of the Human Brain. Grand Central. Jul. 2014. 400p. ISBN 9780316182348. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780316242257; lib. ebk. ISBN 9780316242264.CD: Hachette Audio. NEUROSCIENCE
Strokes, seizures, accidents: if they don’t kill, they can traumatize the brain so badly that an individual’s personality can be significantly changed. But, explains the New York Times best-selling author of the terrific The Violinist’s Thumb, early neuroscientists saw such trauma as an opportunity to study the brain’s wondrous workings.

Moriarty, Liane. Untitled. Amy Einhorn: Putnam. Jul. 2014. 416p. ISBN 9780399167065. $26.95. CD: Penguin Random Audio. POP FICTION
What’s worse than a terrible riot at Pirriwee Public’s annual school Trivia Night that leaves one parent dead? The sneaking suspicion that the death was actually murder. All of which gives top-spot New York Times best-selling author Moriarty (The Husband’s Secret) a chance to visit issues of parenting, divorce, and shattered families in shuttered suburbia.

Netzer, Lydia. How To Tell Toledo from the Night Sky. St. Martin’s. Jul. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9781250047021. $25.99. POP FICTION
At the Toledo Institute of Astronomy, George Dermont is hoping to prove the scientific toledoexistence of a Gateway to God. Clear-eyed mathematician Irene Sparks has come to the institute to direct work on its massive superconductor. Imagine their surprise when they fall for each other, then discover that their mothers raised them together and subsequently separated them in an attempt to engineer true love. Just the kind of touchingly offbeat stuff you could expect from the author of Shine Shine Shine, a big debut that was a New York Times Notable Book, a Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist, and more.

Seiffert, Rachel. The Walk Home. Pantheon.Jul. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780307908810. $25.95. LITERARY FICTION
Young Stevie’s parents have lived in Glasgow for decades, having fled Ireland during the Troubles. His father has tried to keep the family safe and happy, but when he discovers that some of the folks he marches with in the annual Protestant Orange Walk through Glasgow have ties to loyalist paramilitaries from Belfast, his whole life is threatened. From a  Booker Prize finalist, one of Granta’s 20 “Best of Young British Novelists” in 2003, and recipient of the E.M. Forster Award.

Vollmann, William T. Last Stories and Other Stories. Viking. Jul. 2014. 704p. ISBN 9780670015979. $36. SHORT STORIES
National Book Award winner for the magisterial Europe Central, Vollmann offers a story collection that still thinks big with a blend of love, sex, and death. For instance, a Bohemian farmer’s dead wife rises from the dead, but their continued love has some unfortunate consequences, while a journalist can’t quite hold onto his memory of the killing of a Bosnian couple.

Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.