At Check These Out!, each month you will find a few recently published or upcoming titles that are worth “checking out” from the library. All titles are either currently available or have a record in the catalog where you can place a hold and be among the first to read them when they hit the library's shelves. For many of these titles, you will also find interviews with the author on the LAPL Blog and/or a longer, more in depth review on LAPL Reads.
Kelli Estes tells parallel stories separated by 150 years: one of a woman’s struggle to get into the US Army to fight in the Civil War, the other of a young woman’s efforts to navigate the aftermath of serving in Afghanistan. While both of the main characters are Estes’ creations, they represent real women and the very real trauma inflicted on them while, and after, serving our country.
Today We Go Home is a fascinating and gripping read about the women, both past and present, who serve our country.
Young and New Adult author & editor Dahlia Adler provides some YA authors the opportunity to reimagine thirteen of Poe’s best known works. The results are stories with periods that range from Poe’s lifetime to the near future and characters that are as inclusive and diverse as the original stories can be homogenous.
This is a must-read collection for fans of Poe and his works. While this collection is being targeted at Young Adult readers, it could be enjoyed by any Poe enthusiast. It could also be a great introduction for someone unfamiliar with Poe’s short stories and poetry because all of the original versions of the reimagined titles are included in the collection.
His Hideous Heart is a marvelous celebration of not only the groundbreaking and enduring work of Edgar Allan Poe, but also this group of new authors that took up the challenge of recreating his timeless tales
January Scaller is living a life of which many can only dream. Her father, Julian, is a scholar and adventurer, who travels the globe looking for interesting and unique items for his employer, Mr. Locke. Because Julian’s trips are deemed too dangerous for January to accompany him, she becomes Mr. Locke’s ward, living in his Vermont mansion, which is filled with treasures of every shape, size, and origin. January travels with Mr. Locke when he takes trips and attends the functions he hosts in his home. She has tutors to teach her and, after her studies, she is able to spend her days reading (primarily penny novels of fantasy, adventure, and mystery). All of her needs are met, but January misses her father terribly. Then, one day while traveling in Kentucky with Mr. Locke, January finds a Door. When she opens it, it doesn’t lead into the building of which it seemed to be a part, but rather into a different world. A world with a high stone bluff, a bright sun, and an endless ocean laid out before her. When she steps back through it, she is back in Kentucky. This is the first Door that January discovers, but it will not be her last. And, as she learns more about them, she will also come to realize that her life, her very existence, is inextricably tied to these Doors.
In The Ten Thousand Doors of January, debut author Alix E. Harrow tells a story that is both as grand and large as the multiple worlds it encompasses and also as intimate as a young woman’s desperate need for the love and attention her absent father rarely provides. It is also a wild adventure, a sharp critique of our cultural norms, both past, and present, and a wickedly funny and powerful exploration of the power of words and stories. The Ten Thousand Doors of January is a triumphant debut!
Sam Holloway is a nice guy. He has a stable, but a not terribly exciting, job with an electronic parts distributor. He meets up with a couple of friends several nights a week at a local pub, where they talk about comics, movies, videogames and what it might be like to meet a nice woman. Yes, Sam is a bit of a geek, but he is also a good guy, and everyone seems to know that. What no one knows though, is that on nights when Sam isn’t at the pub with his friends, he dons a homemade superhero costume and patrols the streets of his hometown as The Phantasm, attempting to thwart crime and right wrongs. He doesn’t have a great track record. Fighting crime simply isn’t as easy in real life as it appears in the comics, but he continues his patrols because it helps give him a sense of purpose and usefulness that the rest of his life lacks.
Sam meets Sarah when she observes him buying food for a homeless person at a local bakery. When she sees him a few days later at the pub, she approaches him and they begin to talk. This is unprecedented in Sam’s experiences. He’s never been terribly social and is even worse when it comes to women and dating. Sarah represents what Sam both fears and desires the most. The question is, is he brave enough to risk his comfortable life, his comfortable existence, for the unknown future that Sarah may represent?
In The Secret Life of Sam Holloway, Rhys Thomas explores how crippling and isolating grief can be and how we all hide behind masks, both literal and figurative, for differing reasons.
The Secret Life of Sam Holloway is a gentle, lovely book in the same vein as Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. It is about both hiding and allowing oneself to be found. It is also about what it really means to be truly brave, which doesn’t often require donning a mask, but taking it off.
Felix J. Palma, a Spanish writer known primarily for his short fiction in his home country, has published a series of three novels in the US: The Map of Time (2011), The Map of the Sky (2012) and The Map of Chaos (2016). Now Palma has returned to that for which he is best known, the short story, with his first collection of short fiction published in the US. It is a wonderful collection of 11 stories, with themes that range across the incredible, disturbing, humorous and romantic.
Palma’s fiction is reminiscent of anthology TV shows like The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery, The Outer Limits, and the short fiction of Shirley Jackson and Richard Matheson.
This is a must-read collection for readers who enjoyed Palma’s earlier trilogy. It will also be of interest to those readers who enjoy their fiction with a healthy dose of the macabre.
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