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January 9, 2014 Edition

Spirit of Steamboat

Written by Craig Johnson

This latest in the Walt Longmire series is Johnson’s holiday present to fans: a short novella that shows readers another side of the Wyoming sheriff. Walt is kicking back in his office on Christmas Eve, deep in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol when a young woman comes in looking for Walt’s predecessor, Lucian Connally. After Walt unloads his cantankerous one-legged mentor’s gun (too late for the nursing homes’ TV screen) and the three settle in over a glass of bourbon, she tells them a story that takes them all back 25 years, to a night with a storm, a terrible car accident, and a race to save a child’s life in a vintage fixed-wing aircraft named Steamboat.

Delia’s Shadow

Written by Jaime Lee Moyer

This atmospheric story mixes ghosts with a light romance and a solid mystery in a historical setting. Following San Francisco’s 1906 earthquake, the onslaught of new ghosts that only she can see made Delia’s life a misery until she finally exiled herself to a job on the East Coast. Now she’s back, in part to see the World’s Fair, in part to visit her best friend, and in part because of a relentless ghost she’s nicknamed Shadow. Shadow’s not one of the many dead from the earthquake, and though she can’t speak, she’s made it clear that she needs Delia to put her to rest. With the help of her newly engaged friend Sadie plus Sadie’s fiancé and his friend Gabe, Delia unravels Shadow’s past, only to discover a serial killer whose crimes have gone unpunished and who is taking up his hobby again.

The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic

Written by Emily Croy Barker

Mixing fantasy, fairytale, romance, and historical fiction with abandon, Barker brings fairyland to light in a different way. Jilted grad student Nora Fischer accidentally finds her way into fairyland from her friend’s wedding weekend, and soon everything she ever dreamed of is coming true. As if by magic, she’s the belle of the ball, taken under gracious Ilissa’s wing and fawned over by Ilissa’s gorgeous son, Raclin. Almost before she knows it, she’s married to Raclin and pregnant with his heir, and then the fairytale goes dark. Struggling to learn skills that will help her survive in this new world, Nora apprentices herself to the grim magician Aruendiel, and by the time she finally finds a portal back to her own world, she wonders which life she prefers. Fans of Deborah Harkness’s All Souls Trilogy will want to pick this up.

The Madonna on the Moon

Written by Rolf Bauerdick

This inside view of a small village in Romania under Communist rule is intricate and engrossing. Our guide is 15-year old Pavel Botev, who is just beginning to understand adult mysteries, like who his bitter, alcoholic teacher might have been before Communism. Even as readers get to know Pavel’s village, things begin to go wrong. The teacher disappears, after instructing Pavel to “exterminate” the new party secretary. The sacred Madonna statue that belonged to the whole village is stolen. The town’s beloved priest, Johannes Baptiste, is brutally murdered. Pavel and his friends follow a trail of diaries, letters, and photographs to untangle some very nasty business.

At the Bottom of Everything

Written by Ben Dolnick

At the bottom of everything in Adam’s life is the secret he shares with his ex-best friend Thomas, a secret which poisoned their friendship and sent his life off-course. And, though Adam has been ignoring Thomas’ parents’ emails, it doesn’t sound like Thomas has been doing well, either. In the years since The Incident, while Adam has graduated from college and moved aimlessly through life, Thomas, the smartest kid in Adam’s school, has dropped out of college and decamped for India, looking like Skeletor and acting bizarre. And Adam goes after him, plunging himself into a spiritual journey and for the first time, confronting his past.

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