Friday, April 1, 2016

New Books Coming Your Way, April 5, 2016

Aunty Lee's Chilled Revenge by Ovidia Yu
368 p. (Mystery; Singapore)

Slightly hobbled by a twisted ankle, crime-solving restaurateur Aunty Lee begrudgingly agrees to take a rest from running her famous café, Aunty Lee’s Delights, and turns over operations to her friend and new business partner Cherril.

The café serves as a meeting place for an animal rescue society that Cherril once supported. They were forced to dissolve three years earlier after a British expat killed the puppy she’d adopted, sparking a firestorm of scandal. The expat, Allison Fitzgerald, left Singapore in disgrace, but has returned with an ax to grind (and a lawsuit). At the café one afternoon, Cherril receives word that Allison has been found dead in her hotel—and foul play is suspected. When a veterinarian, who was also involved in the scandal, is found dead, suspicion soon falls on the animal activists. What started with an internet witch hunt has ended in murder—and in a tightly knit, law-and-order society like Singapore, everyone is on edge.

Before anyone else gets hurt—and to save her business—Aunty Lee must get to the bottom of what really happened three years earlier, and figure out who is to be trusted in this tangled web of scandal and lies.

Purchase: Amazon | B & N | Book Depository | IndieBound

Kill 'Em and Leave: Searching for James Brown and the American Soul by James McBride
256 p. (Non-fiction; biography)

James Brown is arguably among the most famous African Americans in the world. James McBride, himself a black man and a musician with southern roots, traveled South on a tip from Brown’s grandson promising to give him a scoop on the real man behind the legend. Despite his enormous influence, Brown’s musical legacy remains largely underappreciated, his will is a legal nightmare, and as his fortune is dispersed to warring lawyers, not a penny has been paid to educate the poor white and black children of Georgia, according to his wishes. His body is lying in a coffin on his daughter’s front yard and the man himself has remained an elusive enigma. McBride met with relatives, neighbors, friends, Brown’s “adopted” son Al Sharpton, fellow musicians who played in Brown’s band—who have never talked about Brown on the record before—and yet what he discovered what not what he expected. In this gripping narrative—at once adventure, music narrative, and social commentary—McBride comes to understand the reason that Brown has remained hidden to us all these years and what that means for us today.

Purchase: Amazon | B & N | Book Depository | IndieBound

Country of Red Azaleas by Domnica Radulescu
320 p. (Fiction; Bosnia/Serbia)

From the moment Marija walks into Lara's classroom, freshly moved to Serbia from Sarajevo, Lara is enchanted by her vibrant beauty, confidence, and wild energy--and knows that the two are destined to be lifelong friends. Closer than sisters, the girls share everything, from stolen fruit and Hollywood movies as girls to philosophies and even lovers as young women. But when the Bosnian War pits their homelands against each other in a bloodbath, Lara and Marija are forced to separate for the first time: romantic Lara heads to America with her Hollywood-handsome new husband, and fierce Marija returns to her native Sarajevo to combat the war through journalism behind Bosnian lines.

In America, Lara seeks fulfillment through work and family, but when news from Marija ceases, the uncertainty torments Lara, driving her on a quest to find her friend. As Lara travels through war-torn Serbia and Bosnia, following clues that may yet lead to the flesh-and-blood Marija, she must also wrestle with truths about her own identity.

Purchase: Amazon | B & N | Book Depository | IndieBound

Even in Paradise by Elizabeth Nunez
320 p. (Fiction; Carribean)

Peter Ducksworth, a Trinidadian widower of English ancestry, retires to Barbados, believing he will find an earthly paradise there. He decides to divide his land among his three daughters while he is alive, his intention not unlike that of King Lear, who hoped "That future strife/May be prevented now." But Lear made the fatal mistake of confusing flattery with love, and so does Ducksworth. Feeling snubbed by his youngest daughter, Ducksworth decides that only after he dies will she receive her portion of the land. In the meantime, he gives his two older daughters their portions, ironically setting in motion the very strife he hoped to prevent.

Beautifully written in elegant prose, this is a novel about greed, resentment, jealousy, betrayal, and romantic love in the postcolonial world of the Caribbean, giving us a diverse cast of characters of African, Indian, Chinese, Syrian/Lebanese, and English ancestry.

Purchase: Amazon | B & N | Book Depository | IndieBound

Return Flights by Jarita Davis
88 p. (Poetry; Cape Verde)

These poems—varying from narrative to imagist to lyrical—reflect the “sodade” of Cape Verdean culture that is shaped by separation and longing—longing for the home that has been left behind and for loved ones who have departed. Cape Verdean communities extend beyond national boundaries and are paradoxically independent of place, even when inspired by it. Return Flights marks a turning point for Cape Verdean American culture, one in which a partially forgotten past becomes a starting point for possible futures, both of new transoceanic contacts and of new reinventions of culture.

Purchase: Amazon | B & N | Book Depository | IndieBound

Hardly War by Don Mee Choi
112 p. (Poetry; Korea/Vietnam)

Hardly War, Don Mee Choi's major second collection, defies history, national identity, and militarism. Using artifacts from Choi's father, a professional photographer during the Korean and Vietnam wars, she combines memoir, image, and opera to explore her paternal relationship and heritage. Here poetry and geopolitics are inseparable twin sisters, conjoined to the belly of a warring empire.

Like fried potato chips – I believe so,
utterly so – The hush-hush proving
ground was utterly proven as history –
Hardly=History – I believe so, eerily so
– hush hush – Now watch this
performance – Bull's-eye – An uncanny
human understanding on target –
Absolute=History – loaded with
terrifying meaning – The Air Force
doesn't say, hence Ugly=Narration –

Purchase: Amazon | B & N | Book Depository | IndieBound

Glory over Everything: Beyond The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
384 p. (Historical fiction; African-American)

The author of the New York Times bestseller and beloved book club favorite The Kitchen House continues the story of Jamie Pyke, son of both a slave and master of Tall Oakes, whose deadly secret compels him to take a treacherous journey through the Underground Railroad.

This new, stand-alone novel opens in 1830, and Jamie, who fled from the Virginian plantation he once called home, is passing in Philadelphia society as a wealthy white silversmith. After many years of striving, Jamie has achieved acclaim and security, only to discover that his aristocratic lover Caroline is pregnant. Before he can reveal his real identity to her, he learns that his beloved servant Pan has been captured and sold into slavery in the South. Pan’s father, to whom Jamie owes a great debt, pleads for Jamie’s help, and Jamie agrees, knowing the journey will take him perilously close to Tall Oakes and the ruthless slave hunter who is still searching for him. Meanwhile, Caroline’s father learns and exposes Jamie’s secret, and Jamie loses his home, his business, and finally Caroline.

Heartbroken and with nothing to lose, Jamie embarks on a trip to a North Carolina plantation where Pan is being held with a former Tall Oakes slave named Sukey, who is intent on getting Pan to the Underground Railroad. Soon the three of them are running through the Great Dismal Swamp, the notoriously deadly hiding place for escaped slaves. Though they have help from those in the Underground Railroad, not all of them will make it out alive.

Purchase: Amazon | B & N | Book Depository | IndieBound

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