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May 9, 2013 Edition

The Flight of Gemma Hardy

Written by Margot Livesey
Illustrated by Davina Porter

Fans of Jane Eyre will be delighted to find this updated and re-imagined tale of loss and family. Set in the 50s and 60s, this is the story of Gemma Hardy, whose widowed father drowns at sea when she is only ten. Sent from her home in Iceland to live in Scotland with her mother’s brother, Gemma is happy at first, but when her uncle passes away unexpectedly, her aunt and cousins make it clear she is unwelcome. After an unhappy few years at boarding school, Gemma takes a position as a nanny to a girl living in the remote Orkney Islands. Yes, there is an age-inappropriate romance. Yes, there are hidden secrets that tear the lovers apart. And yes, there is reconciliation – but not before Gemma makes a break for her childhood home to rediscover relatives on her father’s side. Porter is always a superb reader: here, she adds Icelandic to her already fluid Scots and English repertoire.

Devil’s Peak

Written by Deon Meyer
Illustrated by Simon Vance

Three disparate, desperate lives come together in this breakneck thriller set in post-apartheid South Africa. Former mercenary Tiny Mpayipheli has lost his beloved son in a gas station shoot-out, turning him from a doting father into a deadly crusader seeking revenge on those who hurt children. Alcoholic Inspector Benny is combing the streets for the vigilante killer, all the while hearing the clock counting down and the bottle calling: he has six months to prove to his wife that he can live a sober life, or he will lose his children for good. When sex worker Christine van Rooyen’s young daughter goes missing, her attempts to recover her daughter bring the two men together. Vance’s controlled and precise voice is a strong counterpoint to the chaos and violence of the story.

Lover at Last

Written by J.R. Ward
Illustrated by Jim Frangione

Those following the Black Dagger Brotherhood will be rewarded by a wrapping up of two loose ends in this latest installment in the long-running series. (Those who’ve not come across this series before will want to start at the beginning with Dark Lover, available as a downloadable audiobook from ListenAlaska.) Fans of Laurell Hamilton’s Meredith Gentry series will dive right in to this erotic and macabre in which vampires live in humanity’s shadow, battling against the soulless humans (called the Lessening Society) who are trying to destroy them. Qhuinn, once a bitter and brutal warrior in the Brotherhood has finally mellowed enough to attract a mate and they are ready to start a family, something Qhuinn always longed for but never thought he’d have. But Blay is still there, trying hard to ignore his unrequited feelings for Qhuinn and lose himself in the battle over the vampire throne. Other story arcs swirl around these two, but the romance between Qhuinn and Blay centers this installment.

Earthseed

Written by Pamela Sargent
Illustrated by Amy Rubinate

Nominally written for young adults, this is still Pamela Sargent, whose sci-fi stories are legend. A sentient ship filled with children of Earth flies through space intent on its goal: a habitable planet onto which it can disgorge its passengers to replenish the human race. The children have been created from gene banks by the ship – it is the only parental figure they’ve ever known. So tensions rise when the ship begins conducting training exercises and testing the teens in preparation for their new lives on the planet. And then something completely unexpected happens, something that leaves the young people wondering whether there have been groups of Earthseeds before them – and whether the ship’s mission will be fulfilled when they are gone.

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