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The Shadow Land

posted by: May 1, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover art for The Shadow LandBulgaria, which lies along the Black Sea coast in Europe, is an ancient country whose capital city of Sofia dates from the Fifth century. Ottoman Turks, tsars and Soviet-style communists have all had a crack at ruling the country, which is now a parliamentary democratic republic. The legacy of Bulgaria’s shifting governance and political instability drives Elizabeth Kostova’s novel, The Shadow Land.  

 

New college grad Alexandra Boyd is an American abroad. She’s just arrived in Sofia and reaches out to help an elderly couple struggling down the steep steps of the upscale Hotel Forest. No good deed goes unpunished as a cab ride later, she realizes she’s accidentally mixed a piece of their luggage in with hers. With the help of her taxi driver, nicknamed Bobby, Alexandra starts a journey in attempt to return the bag which contains a deeply personal item: the ashes of a man named Stoyan Lazarov. And while Americans like Alexandra turn to the police for help, Bobby isn’t as trusting of the new state’s authority. As the pair crisscrosses Bulgaria tracking the elusive Lazarov family, they realize they, too, are being followed.

 

At its heart, this story is gripping historical fiction. As Alexandra and Bobby gradually piece together the life of Stoyan Lazarov, they also uncover the horror of government-sanctioned “work camps,” survivor’s guilt and unending atonement. A recent past that won’t stay hidden looms, threatening all of Bulgaria with its darkness. Readers who enjoy historical fiction with a political bent, such as The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna or Anthony Marra’s A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, should add The Shadow Land to their reading list.


 
 

This month's BCPL's Reading Challenge is read a book set in Asia. Here are some of our suggestions. Select any title to learn more or to request a copy. You can participate in BCPL's Reading Challenge on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with #Bwellread to earn prizes at the end of each month!

 

 BCPL Reading Challenge 2017 In Partnership with WBALTV

Cover art for The Arab of the Future Cover art for Black WaterCover art for Cambodia Noir Cover art for China Rich Girlfriend Cover art for The Coroner's Lunch Cover art for A Fine Balance Cover art for Four Years in the Mountains of Kurdistan Cover art for The Good Earth Cover art for Henna House Cover art for Hiroshima Cover art for Hunters in the Dark Cover art for In Order to Live Cover art for Island of a Thousand Mirrors Cover art for Jade Dragon Mountain Cover art for The Kite Runner Cover art for Memoirs of a Geisha Cover art for Midnight in Siberia Cover art for The Morning They Came For Us Cover art for Music of the Ghosts Cover art for The Quiet American Cover art for Sarong Party Girls Cover art for The Secret Chord Cover art for Selection Day Cover art for Shogun Cover art for Snow Flower and the Secret Fan Cover art for A Strangeness in My Mind Cover art for The Teeth of the Comb and Other Stories Cover art for The Temporary Bride Cover art for The Translation of Love Cover art for Waking Lions Cover art for Walking the Himalayas Cover art for The Wind Up Bird Chronicles Cover art for Women of Silk Cover art for A Word for Love


 
 

The Empty Ones

posted by: March 29, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover art for The Empty OnesRobert Brockway’s The Empty Ones is a punk rock take on a weird and spooky world full of butt kicking, hard drinking and surprising emotional investment. This book will turn the volume up to 11, and follow it up with a punch straight to the heart when you least expect it.

 

A continuation to the first book in the series, The Unnoticeables, this book picks up shortly thereafter. Telling the next step for our rough–around-the-edges “heroes,” it also tells a little more of their history. Brockway does a great job of gradually revealing the mysteries of its world and the nature of the eldritch enemies his characters face while darkly foreshadowing the future ahead of them. The ending completes a satisfying story while setting up the next chapter, leaving readers excitedly waiting for the third and final volume of the series.

 

Readers who enjoy more bizarre humor and “out there” fiction will enjoy it for sure; this book is weird and there’s just no way around it. Joyously counter-culture and unrelentingly vicious at points, it balances this with surprising heart and depth of character in ways you won’t always expect. It’s is a heck of a ride that readers may just need to strap in for and enjoy. Brockway also does a good job of capturing the unique feeling of the exhaustion you get when it feels like the world has nothing but further misfortune for you, no matter what you do — but you push on anyway.

 

I highly recommend reading The Unnoticeables before starting on this one — the mythos is convoluted enough that it could be a little confusing to try and jump in midstream. If you enjoyed this title, you should also try David Wong’s John Dies at the End, which similarly is a story full of strange humor and surprisingly dark moments. Both Wong and Brockway write for the internet humor site Cracked, and they share an esoteric style of writing. Readers might enjoy other stories of magic and adventure, such as Jim Butcher’s Storm Front or Daniel Polansky’s Low Town.


 
 

The Bear and the Nightingale

posted by: March 27, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover art for The Bear and the NightingaleKatherine Arden’s enchanting debut novel buries readers in the freezing winter of medieval Russia, a place still steeped in myth and fairy tale. The Bear and the Nightingale is an atmospheric debut that brings to life 14th century Russian history, makes it relatable to readers and fills it with magic.

 

Vasya grows up in the northern wilderness, the daughter of the wealthy lord of a remote village. The family’s wealth doesn’t spare Vasya’s mother, who dies giving birth to her, or the children from spending long winter evenings huddled together around the giant kitchen stove as their nurse spins folktales about demons and sprites.

 

Their kind but distracted father lets the children, especially Vasya, grow untamed. She may be a little unusual, but she is also brave, intelligent and kind. She tells no one, not even her brother, that she actually sees and speaks with the sprites in the house and the horses in the stable.

 

When her wild behavior starts to scare off potential suitors, her father is finally convinced he needs to remarry in an effort to tame his youngest daughter.

 

His new wife, a deeply devout woman, forbids the villagers from honoring the old traditions by leaving out dishes of food for sprites in the house or barns. Vasya realizes it isn’t because her stepmother doesn’t believe they exist, but because she sees them too that she is determined to rid the village of these old customs. However, by starving the spirits that have kept them safe and prosperous for years, the village allows an ancient evil to creep back into their midst.

 

Because she can see what is happening, it's up to Vasya to save herself, her family and her village from demons straight from her nurse's stories.

 

The Bear and the Nightingale is perfect for a cold winter night. The compelling plot and lyrical writing will hold readers under its spell, unable to put down the book or go to bed at a decent hour. Vasya is an unforgettable heroine who Arden has crafted so carefully, she seems like a real person. While readers are supplied with proper villains, their evil is complex and nuanced.

 

Readers who enjoy books by Neil Gaiman or Naomi Novik’s Uprooted will enjoy this title.


 
 

New Next Week on March 28, 2017

posted by: March 24, 2017 - 8:00am

The following titles will be released next week. Select any title to learn more or to request a copy. Be sure to visit our Hot Titles webpage for more exciting upcoming titles.

Cover art for Almost Missed You Cover art for The Ashes of London Cover art for Before This is Over Cover art for Black Book Cover art for Casey Stengel Cover art for Change of Seasons Cover art for A Crown of Wishes Cover art for The Devil's Feast Cover art for An Extraordinary Union  Cover art for Hashimoto's Protocol Cover art for How to Be a Bawse Cover art for It Happens All the Time Cover art for Miramar Bay Cover art for Mustache Shenanigans Cover art for My Darling Detective Cover art for A New Way to Bake Cover art for a Perfect Obsession Cover art for PhenomenaCover art for Red Clover Inn Cover art for Richard Nixon Cover art for The Satanic Mechanic Cover art for Strange The Dreamer Cover art for The Women in the Castle


 
 

Normal

posted by: March 22, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover art for NormalWarren Ellis has a dark view of the future, and he wants to give you the inside scoop. In his newest book Normal, the prolific author of dozens of graphic novels shares his creepy and worryingly plausible view of the future of surveillance and technology in the world.

 

The book begins at Normal Head, an isolated facility in the Pacific Northwest. Normal is where futurists, people whose job it is to look forward and prepare for catastrophes, go to recover when the pressures of their jobs drive them to depression, exhaustion and madness. The protagonist is a newly arrived patient who investigates a strange disappearance of another patient at the facility.

 

While not being an uplifting tale, the book does present an interesting take on where the future of technology may head. Normal is almost more an education on problems humanity may face in the future than a story. It stares unblinkingly at a future that the reader may feel is implausible, but can’t entirely dismiss as impossible. Though it sounds grim, the book is full of memorable and funny — if bizarre — characters, each defined by their quirks and their fears.

 

Overall the book is a great read, especially for fans of speculative, near-future sci-fi. Not truly dystopian, it shows how we got from present day to a world destroyed. Normal is weird and quirky and dark but ultimately delightful.

 

Readers who enjoyed this are also likely to enjoy some of Ellis’ other works, such as Trees, a graphic novel set in a near future where our world has been irrevocably changed by massive technological columns (the titular Trees) from space. They might also enjoy Transmetropolitan, another graphic novel by Ellis that is set in the full on dystopian future, though that series is a good deal more crude and adult than this book. For something a little more hopeful, though no less dark, readers could also try Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. This book, also set in the near future, discusses the dangers of government surveillance through the eyes of a teenager living in San Francisco in the wake of a terrorist attack.

 


 
 

New Next Week on March 21, 2017

posted by: March 17, 2017 - 8:00am

The following titles will be released next week. Select any title to learn more or to request a copy. Be sure to visit our Hot Titles webpage for more exciting upcoming titles.

Cover art for The 1997 Masters Cover art for The Arrangement Cover art for Bound Together Cover art for Captain Fantastic Cover art for The Collapsing Empire Cover art for Dead Man Switch Cover art for The Devil and Webster Cover art for The First Love Story Cover art for The Gargoyle Cover art for Grace Notes Cover art for The Greatest Story Ever Told- So Far Cover art for The Ground Beneath Us Cover art for The Hope Chest Cover art for If Not You For Cover art for Ike and McCarthy Cover art for Man Overboard Cover art for Mercies in Disguise Cover art for Mississippi Blood Cover art for Murder on the Serpentine Cover art for My Life to Live Cover art for No One Cares About Crazy People Cover art for The Novel of the Century Cover art for The River of Kings  Cover art for Scared SelflessCover art for The Secrets you Keep Cover art for Sensemaking Cover art for A Simple Favor Cover art for The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Cover art for a Twist of the Knife Cover art for Vicious Circle Cover art for Wake a Sleeping Tiger


 
 

The Wanderers

posted by: March 13, 2017 - 7:00am

The WanderersIn Meg Howrey’s The Wanderers, the first mission to Mars is approaching. Helen, Yoshi and Sergei are a team of astronauts that want to be chosen for the mission. But first, the team must be successful in a 17–month-long simulation on Earth — proving they are the right team that is prepared for any challenges. Though the astronauts believe they are on Earth in an eerily realistic simulation, they begin to question if everything is real or not.

 

Howrey thoroughly explores the relationships of the astronauts to the people in their lives and to each other. Helen, Yoshi and Sergei demonstrate how the life choice of being an astronaut affects themselves and those around them. Helen feels that she may not have been and continues not to be the mother her daughter, Mireille, needed her to be. Dmitri, Sergei’s son, hides how he truly feels and behaves from his father. Yoshi’s wife, Madoka, believes her husband doesn’t know who she really is and that it would destroy their marriage.

 

Though this story seems very much like one about the first mission to Mars, it really isn’t at all. This is a story about humanity. It’s about the way the astronauts and the people in their lives are affected by the demanding and adventurous life of an astronaut. It’s about the urge to travel into space and what it is really like once you have been in space. Howrey’s beautiful language and view into the personal thoughts of this group of people make The Wanderers an intriguing and charming read.


 
 

New Next Week on March 14, 2017

posted by: March 10, 2017 - 7:00am

The following titles will be released next week. Select any title to learn more or to request a copy. Be sure to visit our Hot Titles webpage for more exciting upcoming titles.

Cover art for The Art of Discarding Cover art for Before the War Cover art for The Body Builders Cover art for it Both Born Cover art for Chameleon in a Candy Store Cover art for Cheech Cover art for The Cutthroat Cover art for Deadliest Enemy Cover art for The Devil's Triangle Cover art for Every Wild Heart Cover art for Everything Under the Heavens Cover art for The Fall of Lisa Bellow Cover art for The Family Gene  Cover art for The Forgotten Girls Cover art for Free Women, Free Men Cover art for Her Secret Cover art for Heretics Cover art for Himself Cover art for The Idiot Cover art for In This Grave Hour Cover art for Martin Luther Cover art for Never Let You Go Cover art for Never Out of Season Cover art for One of the Boys Cover art for Printer's Error Cover art for the Rules Do Not Apply Cover art for Strangers Tend to Tell me Things Cover art for Pretend The Truth About Your Future Cover art for Utopia For Realists Cover art for The Wanderers Cover art for White Tears Cover art for The Woman on the Stairs Cover art for Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy


 
 

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