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September 23, 2005 Edition

The Diezmo, by Rick Bass

It has been six years since the Battle of San Jacinto, but Mexico still refuses to accept its defeat and continues harrying Texas. Hungry for glory and honor and anxious to test themselves in battle, teenagers James Alexander and his friend James Shepherd join an expedition that is to patrol the border between the Republic of Texas and Mexico but instead goes rogue, bringing down the full wrath of General Santa Anna. Written in the form of a memoir, this chronicles a painful event in Texas history.

Captain Alatriste, by Arturo Perez-Reverte

The swashbuckling tale of a former soldier-turned-mercenary who takes an assignment to scare two English travelers in Spain. But when Alatriste finds himself on their side against his partner, a vicious Italian, trouble starts. Wryly amusing and well-translated, this is a riveting story of honor and betrayal during the Spanish Inquisition.

No Man’s Land,” by Duong Thu Huong

Another smooth translation from an internationally renowned author. Mien, widowed during the Vietnam war, is remarried and living happily with her husband and their small son when she returns home one day to find that her first husband has not died after all. Encouraged by village mores to abandon Hoan and return to Bon, she moves into the shack that Bon calls home, though she does not love him. An intense and personal novel that unveils Vietnam’s social workings before and after the war.

Plenty Good Room, by Cheri Paris Edwards

Tamara Britton has overcome a difficult and unstable childhood to work for the Care for Kids Agency, counseling families in crisis. Now she finds herself the temporary foster mother to a foul-mouthed young girl, and discovers that the years of advice she’s given others hasn’t prepared her to actually live with a teenager. Sienna, for her part, isn’t used to living with anyone’s rules but her own, and she and Tamara quickly butt heads. With the support of friends and church, the two do eventually bond in this first novel that will leave readers hoping for a sequel.

The Secret Portrait, by Lillian Stewart Carl

Legend has it that when Bonny Prince Charlie was routed from Scotland, he left behind a treasure trove of gold coins. Now, journalist Jean Fairburn has been given a coin from the hoard, and hot on its heels, a dead body. Finding herself under suspicion, she’s got to wrest herself away from the treasure hunt long enough to solve the murder. If she’s lucky, she may even discover the identity of the ghost.

The Assassin’s Dream, by J.D. Townsend

It’s 2174, not 1984, and Big Mother, not Big Brother, rules the world in this Orwellian vision of the future. Kay Black is the product of genetic engineering, produced by the Ministry of Births to have all the skills she needs to be the best assassin possible, and she fits neatly into her world. Until one of her assignments brings her face-to-face with a prominent scientist who tells her things that shake her from her place in her carefully ordered world and threaten her life.

Flight, by Ginger Strand

Every member of the Gruen family has big decisions to make and secrets hidden away, and Leanne’s upcoming wedding just adds to the tensions they already feel. Will, raised on the farm he now owns, is a commercial pilot about to hit mandatory retirement age, but with a plan to keep himself in the air. His wife Carol wants to turn the farm into a bed-and-breakfast and is looking forward to independence. And daughters Margaret and Leanne are on different sides of marriage, each pondering her gains and losses in this beautifully written debut novel.

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