Book: Born Under a Million Shadows by Andrea Busfield
Saw it first at: Misfit Salon
Publisher: Black Swan in 2009
The Taliban have disappeared from Kabul's streets, but the long shadows of their brutal regime remain. In his short life eleven-year-old Fawad has known more grief than most: his father and brother have been killed, his sister has been abducted, and Fawad and his mother, Mariya, must rely on the charity of family to eke out a hand-to-mouth existence. Then Mariya finds a position as housekeeper for a charismatic western woman, Georgie, and Fawad dares to hope for an end to their struggle. He soon discovers that his beloved Georgie is caught up in a dangerous love affair with the powerful Afghan warlord Haji Khan, a legendary name on the streets of Kabul. At first resentful of Haji Khan's presence, Fawad learns that love can move a man to act in surprising ways, and an overwhelming act of generosity persuades him of the warlord's good intentions. But even a man as influential as Haji Khan can't protect Fawad from the next tragedy to blight his young life, a tragedy so devastating that it threatens to destroy the one thing Fawad thought he could never lose: his love for his country.
Book: The Last War by Ana Menendez
Saw it first at: One Literature Nut
Flash, a photojournalist, chases conflicts around the globe with her war correspondent husband, Brando. Now Brando is in Iraq, awaiting her arrival. Yet instead of racing to join him, Flash idles in Istanbul, vaguely aware that her marriage is faltering. Losing herself in a fog of memory and recrimination, Flash ponders her life with the ambitious and handsome husband she calls "Wonderboy." Her malaise is compounded by the arrival of a mysterious letter informing her that Brando has been unfaithful to her in Baghdad. Devastated and unwilling to confront him over the phone, Flash spirals deeper into regret, anger, and indecision. Were she and Brando ever happy?
Wandering the strange, shimmering streets of Istanbul, Flash is followed by a woman in a black abaya—Alexandra, a fierce and captivating colleague who shared dangerous days with the couple in Afghanistan. Their meeting rekindles long-buried secrets and forces Flash to face hard truths about her marriage, her husband, and herself. The Last War is a haunting and intense novel that reveals the personal costs of combat journalism while probing crucial questions of cruelty and violence, love and identity.
Book: Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier
Recommended by: Juju
Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks
Dimple Lala doesn't know what to think. Her parents are from India, and she's spent her whole life resisting their traditions. Then suddenly she gets to high school and everything Indian is trendy. To make matters worse, her parents arrange for her to meet a "suitable boy." Of course it doesn't go well -- until Dimple goes to a club and finds him spinning a magical web . Suddenly the suitable boy is suitable because of his sheer unsuitability. Complications ensue. This is a funny, thoughtful story about finding your heart, finding your culture, and finding your place in America.
Book: Newspaper Blackout by Austin Kleon
Recommended by: Nastasha (Vasilly)
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Poet and cartoonist Austin Kleon has discovered a new way to read between the lines. Armed with a daily newspaper and a permanent marker, he constructs through deconstruction—eliminating the words he doesn't need to create a new art form: Newspaper Blackout poetry. Highly original, Kleon's verse ranges from provocative to lighthearted, and from moving to hysterically funny, and undoubtedly entertaining. The latest creations in a long history of "found art," Newspaper Blackout will challenge you to find new meaning in the familiar and inspiration from the mundane. Newspaper Blackout contains original poems by Austin Kleon, as well as submissions from readers of Kleon's popular online blog and a handy appendix on how to create your own blackout poetry.
Saw it first at: The Book Vixen
Publisher: Orchard Books
Seventeen year old Lady Alexandra is strong-willed and sharp-tongued -- in a house full of older brothers and their friends, she had to learn to hold her own. Not the best makings for an aristocratic lady in Regency London. Yet her mother still dreams of marrying Alex off to someone safe, respectable, and wealthy. But between ball gown fittings, dances, and dinner parties, Alex, along with her two best friends, Ella and Vivi, manages to get herself into what may be her biggest scrape yet. When the Earl of Blackmoor is mysteriously killed, Alex decides to help his son, the brooding and devilishly handsome Gavin, uncover the truth. But will Alex's heart be stolen in the process? In an adventure brimming with espionage, murder, and other clandestine affairs, who could possibly have time to worry about finding a husband? Romance abounds as this year's season begins!
Book: A Beginner's Guide to Acting English by Shappi Khorsandi
Saw it first: on The Graham Norton Show on BBC America, where the author was a guest
Publisher: Ebury Press
In the tradition of Nancy Mitford's "The Pursuit of Love" and Gerald Durrell's "My Family and Other Animals", comes a story of a young narrator in the midst of her eccentric family. But rather than landed gentry or bohemian travellers, it's a mad extended Iran clan who flee Tehran to 1980s Britain after the fall the Shah. Five year old Shappi and her beloved brother Peyvand arrive with their parents in London - all cold weather and strange food - without a word of English. If adapting to a new culture isn't troubling enough, it soon becomes clear that the Ayatollah's henchmen are in pursuit. With the help of MI5, Shappi's family go into hiding. So apart from checking under the family car for bombs every morning, Shappi's childhood is like any other kids - swings in the park, school plays, kiss-chase and terrorists.