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Matchless: A Christmas Story

SUMMARY: Every year, NPR asks a writer to compose an original story with a Christmas theme. In 2008, Gregory Maguire reinvented the Hans Christian Andersen classic “The Little Match Girl” for a new time and new audiences. When it was first translated from Danish and published in England in the mid-nineteenth century, audiences likely interpreted the Little Match Girl′s dying visions of lights and a grandmother in heaven as metaphors of religious salvation. Maguire′s new piece, entitled “Matchless,” reilluminates Andersen′s classic, using his storytelling magic to rekindle Andersen′s original intentions, and to suggest transcendence, the permanence of spirit, and the continuity that links the living and the dead.

A Match Made in Texas

EDITORIAL REVIEW: Kaylie Chatam is a pediatric nurse–she cares for babies and children. But her new patient is a very handsome man. One with a harrowing secret. Why is Stephen Gallow recuperating from a serious injury at her family home in Texas? And why has Kaylie been asked to nurse him back to health? Her dear maiden aunts seem to be playing matchmaker. But Kaylie isn’t expected to find true love and marry–everyone knows that. Except Stephen…who just may hold the cure for them both!

Massie

SUMMARY: Massie gets BE-yoo-tiful: After Massie Block gets kicked off her high horse and out of her ultra exclusive Westchester riding camp, her parents force her to do the unthinkable-find a summer job. Not one for dog-walking or brat-sitting, Massie comes up with the ah-bvious solution: She’ll be a sales rep for the cosmetics brand Be Pretty. Massie fully hearts her new role as fairy gawdmother of makeup-until she discovers transforming LBRs into glam-girls takes more than a swish of her royal purple mascara wand.

The Masque of Africa

Like all of V. S. Naipaul’s “travel” books, *The Masque of Africa* encompasses a much larger narrative and purpose: to judge the effects of belief (in indigenous animisms, the foreign religions of Christianity and Islam, the cults of leaders and mythical history) upon the progress of civilization.
From V. S. Naipaul: “For my travel books I travel on a theme. And the theme of *The Masque of Africa *is African belief. I begin in Uganda, at the center of the continent, do Ghana and Nigeria, the Ivory Coast and Gabon, and end at the bottom of the continent, in South Africa. My theme is belief, not political or economical life; and yet at the bottom of the continent the political realities are so overwhelming that they have to be taken into account.
“Perhaps an unspoken aspect of my inquiry was the possibility of the subversion of old Africa by the ways of the outside world. The theme held until I got to the South, when the clash of the two ways of thinking and believing became far too one-sided. The skyscrapers of Johannesburg didn’t rest on sand. The older world of magic felt fragile, but at the same time had an enduring quality. You felt that it would survive any calamity.
“I had expected that over the great size of Africa the practices of magic would significantly vary. But they didn’t. The diviners everywhere wanted to ‘throw the bones’ to read the future, and the idea of ‘energy’ remained a constant, to be tapped into by the ritual sacrifice of body parts. In South Africa body parts, mainly of animals, but also of men and women, made a mixture of ‘battle medicine.’ To witness this, to be given some idea of its power, was to be taken far back to the beginning of things.
“To reach that beginning was the purpose of my book.”
*
The Masque of Africa* is a masterly achievement by one of the world’s keenest observers and one of its greatest writers.

Masked

EDITORIAL REVIEW: **WELCOME TO THE SECOND “GOLDEN AGE” OF SUPERHEROES AND HEROINES ** Superheroes have come a long way since the “Man of Steel” was introduced in 1938. This brilliant new collection features original stories and novellas from some of today’s most exciting voices in comics, science fiction, and fantasy. Each marvelously inventive tale shows us just how far our classic crusaders have evolved—and how the greatest of heroes are, much like ourselves, all too human. In “Call Her Savage,” **MARJORIE M. LIU **enters the dark heart of a fierce mythic heroine who is forced, by war, to live up to her own terrible legend. In “A to Z in the Ultimate Big Company Superhero Universe (Villains Too),” **BILL WILLINGHAM **presents a fully-realized vision of a universe where epic feats and tragic flaws have transformed the human race. In “Vacuum Lad,” **STEPHEN BAXTER **unveils the secret origins of the first true child of the space age—and disproves the theory that “nothing exists in a vacuum.” In “Head Cases,” **PETER DAVID **and **KATHLEEN DAVID **blast through the blogosphere to expose the secret longings of a Lonely Superhero Wife. In “The Non-Event,” **MIKE CAREY **removes the gag order on a super-thief named Lockjaw . . . and pries out a confession of life-altering events. Also includes stories by Mike Baron • Mark Chadbourn • Paul Cornell • Daryl Gregory • Joseph Mallozzi • James Maxey • Ian McDonald • Chris Roberson • Gail Simone • Matthew Sturges . . . and an introduction by Lou Anders, “one of the brightest and best of the new generation of science fiction editors” (Jonathan Strahan, *The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year*).

Mary Tudor: Princess, Bastard, Queen

SUMMARY: She was the first woman to inherit the throne of England, a key player in one of Britain’s stormiest eras, and a leader whose unwavering faith and swift retribution earned her the nickname “Bloody Mary.” Now, in this impassioned and absorbing debut, historian Anna Whitelock offers a modern perspective on Mary Tudor and sets the record straight once and for all on one of history’s most compelling and maligned rulers.    Though often overshadowed by her long-reigning sister, Elizabeth I, Mary lived a life full of defiance, despair, and triumph. Born the daughter of the notorious King Henry VIII and the Spanish Katherine of Aragon, young Mary was a princess in every sense of the word—schooled in regal customs, educated by the best scholars, coveted by European royalty, and betrothed before she had reached the age of three. Yet in a decade’s time, in the wake of King Henry’s break with the pope, she was declared a bastard, disinherited, and demoted from “princess” to “lady.” Ever her deeply devout mother’s daughter, Mary refused to accept her new status or to recognize Henry’s new wife, Anne Boleyn, as queen. The fallout with her father and his counselors nearly destroyed the teenage Mary, who faced imprisonment and even death. It would be an outright battle for Mary to work herself back into the king’s favor, claim her rightful place in the Tudor line, and ultimately become queen of England, but her coronation would not end her struggles. She flouted the opposition and married Philip of Spain, sought to restore Catholicism to the nation, and fiercely punished the resistance. But beneath her brave and regal exterior was a dependent woman prone to anxiety, whose private traumas of phantom pregnancies, debilitating illnesses, and unrequited love played out in the public glare of the fickle court.     Anna Whitelock, an acclaimed young British historian, chronicles this unique woman’s life from her beginnings as a heralded princess to her rivalry with her sister to her ascent as ruler. In brilliant detail, Whitelock reveals that Mary Tudor was not the weak-willed failure as so often rendered by traditional narratives but a complex figure of immense courage, determination, and humanity.

Mary Ann in Autumn

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A hilarious and touching new installment of Armistead Maupin’s beloved Tales of the City series
Twenty years have passed since Mary Ann Singleton left her husband and child in San Francisco to pursue her dream of a television career in New York. Now a pair of personal calamities has driven her back to the city of her youth and into the arms of her oldest friend, Michael “Mouse” Tolliver, a gardener happily ensconced with his much-younger husband.
Mary Ann finds temporary refuge in the couple’s backyard cottage, where, at the unnerving age of fifty-seven, she licks her wounds and takes stock of her mistakes. Soon, with the help of Facebook and a few old friends, she begins to reengage with life, only to confront fresh terrors when her checkered past comes back to haunt her in a way she could never have imagined.
After the intimate first-person narrative of Maupin’s last novel, Michael Tolliver Lives, Mary Ann in Autumn marks the author’s return to the multicharacter plotlines and darkly comic themes of his earlier work. Among those caught in Mary Ann’s orbit are her estranged daughter, Shawna, a popular sex blogger; Jake Greenleaf, Michael’s transgendered gardening assistant; socialite DeDe Halcyon-Wilson; and the indefatigable Anna Madrigal, Mary Ann’s former landlady at 28 Barbary Lane.
More than three decades in the making, Armistead Maupin’s legendary Tales of the City series rolls into a new age, still sassy, irreverent, and curious, and still exploring the boundaries of the human experience with insight, compassion, and mordant wit.

Mary and O’Neil

SUMMARY: Mary and O’Neil frequently marveled at how, of all the lives they might have led, they had somehow found this one together. When they met at the Philadelphia high school where they’d come to teach, each had suffered a profound loss that had not healed. How likely was it that they could learn to trust, much less love, again? Justin Cronin’s poignant debut traces the lives of Mary Olson and O’Neil Burke, two vulnerable young teachers who rediscover in each other a world alive with promise and hope. From the formative experiences of their early adulthood to marriage, parenthood, and beyond, this novel in stories illuminates the moments of grace that enable Mary and O’Neil to make peace with the deep emotional legacies that haunt them: the sudden, mysterious death of O’Neil’s parents, Mary’s long-ago decision to end a pregnancy, O’Neil’s sister’s battle with illness and a troubled marriage. Alive with magical nuance and unexpected encounters, Mary and O’Neil celebrates the uncommon in common lives, and the redemptive power of love.

The Marx Sisters

The Marx Sisters (Brock and Kolla Series #1) by Barry Maitland
Detective Kathy Kolla’s first case is one for the books. Meredith Winterbottom, a resident of Jerusalem Lane–a quaint section of London inhabited by Eastern European immigrants–and a great-granddaughter of Karl Marx, is found dead. Was she the victim of greedy real-estate developers, or was she killed for the politics of another age? When a second Marx sister is killed, David Brock, Chief Inspector of Scotland Yard, is brought in to help. As Kathy and Brock delve into the Lane’s eccentric melting pot, they find unpublished letters from Marx to Engels; a possible fourth volume of *Das Kapital*; an endless list of shady suspects; and a plot to end Kathy’s investigating days for good. Can they unravel the mystery before Kathy’s first case is her last?
*The Marx Sisters* is a classic British whodunit, one that adds an unforgettable team to the ranks of great fictional detectives.
“Cleverly devious, sagaciously cunning … Maitland’s first mystery is a pleasure to read.” –*Los Angeles Times*
“Intelligently devised and subtly plotted … A traditional crime novel with memorable and enjoyable detectives, suspects and victims.”.–*The Dallas Morning News*
“A fine morsel … There is no lack of suspense and no lack of skill in their presentation. More please, Mr. Maitland.” –*The Washington Times*
Barry Maitland teaches at the University of Newcastle in Australia. He has received the Ned Kelly Award (Australia’s Edgar), and *The Marx Sisters* was short-listed for the British Crime Writers Association’s John Creasy Award for Best First Mystery.

Martyr

SUMMARY: John Shakespeare, Elizabethan England’s most remarkable investigator and brother of William Shakespeare, follows a trail of illicit passions and family secrets, as he attempts to uncover a plot to assassinate Sir Francis Drake, England’s most famous sea w

Marrying the Playboy Doctor

Moving to the small town of Cedar Bluff is a fresh start for paramedic Kylie Germaine and her young son, Ben. She’s determined to forget the past and focus on her job–and raising Ben. But gorgeous emergency doctor Seth Taylor has other ideas….
Seth appreciates beautiful women, and he can’t wait to get to know his new colleague better. But he soon discovers that, as a single mom, Kylie’s priorities lie elsewhere. Still, for the first time Seth’s smitten, and Cedar Bluff’s most eligible bachelor finds himself wanting to put a ring on Kylie’s finger and become a father to her little boy.

Marrying Mozart

Marrying Mozart by Stephanie Cowell
**Amadeus** meets **Little Women** in this irresistibly delightful historical novel by award-winning author Stephanie Cowell. The year is 1777 and the four Weber sisters, daughters of a musical family, share a crowded, artistic life in a ramshackle house. While their father scrapes by as a music copyist and their mother secretly draws up a list of prospective suitors in the kitchen, the sisters struggle with their futures, both marital and musical—until twenty-one-year-old Wolfgang Mozart walks into their lives. Bringing eighteenth-century Europe to life with unforgiving winters, yawning princes, scheming parents, and the enduring passions of young talent, Stephanie Cowell’s richly textured tale captures a remarkable historical figure—and the four young women who engage his passion, his music, and his heart.