Curl up with these characters on cold nights

"Allegiant" by Veronica Roth
HarperCollins (hardcover, 2013)

With young adult dystopian fiction a current publishing trend, author Veronica Roth faces much competition to rise above the pack. And yet pre-orders to the final book of her "Divergent" trilogy are outselling the "Hunger Games", according to Amazon it's a 5:1 ratio. She has struck a blockbuster movie deal with the first of the franchise coming to theaters in 2014. What's all of the hub-bub? Allegiant concludes the story of Tris, a young girl that lives in a far distant future where the world has been divided in five factions. Each faction represents a virtue of humanity; Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave) and Erudite (the intelligent). At 16 years old they are required to take an aptitude test to determine which faction they most belong in. They may choose to remain with their family, following in their footstops or move to the new faction and embrace their ideological identity. The main character Tris takes the test and it is discovered she is a "divergent" meaning she fits in with several factions. She is told this is to be kept a secret. She decides to join a faction and goes through cleverly constructed initiation tests. She learns more about the tensions of her world and the violent atrocities that occur. Book two (Insurgent) takes up exactly where book one left off. Tris and a group of companions must navigate an increasingly jumbled society with action and drama ramp up the last half of the book into a wicked cliff-hanger. "Allegiant" is the most hotly anticipated young adult novel of all time.

"For Adam's Sake" by Allegra Di Bonaventura
Liveright (2013)

Before the whaling ships, before Benedict Arnold burned the city, and long before Eugene O'Neill picked up a pen; there was a New London tradesman named Joshua Hempstead. His diary, kept from 1711-1758, reveals he owned a slave named Adam Jackson. The narrative starts in the 1650's with the first 40 families to settle New London. Then it breezes through the first difficult decades of political scandal, religious tensions and social drama. There are detailed accounts of the motivations of influential families such as the Winthrops, the Livingstons, the Edgecombs, and the Rogers. History books tend to mark slavery in New England as merely a footnote. Allegra brings this period to life revealing the complex psychological relationships masters had with their slaves, who were often considered members of the family. While not a comprehensive book about the slave trade itself, it is a thorough history of the first 100 years of Southeastern CT settlement and the definitive examination of life in Colonial New England.

"Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest
for Lost Heroes of World War II" by Mitchell Zuckoff
Harper (hardcover, 2013)

A cargo plane crashes into a Greenland icecap during WWII. A young B-17 crew attempts to locate them. They crash onto the roof of a glacier with all nine men on board surviving. Rescue sled dog teams vanish into crevasses. Supplies are dropped at intervals around the wreckage too far to safely get to. An amphibious Coast Guard duck plane daringly skids onto the ice and rescues a portion of the crew only to disappear on its second trip back to the ship. They attempt the very same skid with a much larger PBY Catalina. The narrative flips from the 1942 day-by-day survival to the 2012 attempt by scientists and the Coast Guard to locate the missing. This gripping story with its maps and photographs will keep readers up until the cold dark hours.

"The House of Hades" by Rick Riordan
Disney Press (hardcover, 2013)

This is the fourth book of the "House of Olympus" series in which 7 demigods must stop the awakening of Gaia. It carries on after the final cliffhanger from the last book where the main characters Annabeth and Percy were thrown into the underworld of Tartarus. Now they must safely fight their way to freedom while the crew of the Argos II face danger of their own. An adventure for readers 10 and up chock-full of roman and greek mythological creatures, the goods continued to be delivered by Riordan. Never heard of Percy Jackson? Dive right into this brilliant novel and be blown away.

"Midnight" by Kevin Egan
Tor Books (hardcover, 2013)

Every once in a while a legal thriller comes along that begs you to read it start to finish in one sitting. At the iconic New York County Courthouse policy states when a judge dies his staff are employed until the end of the calendar year. When Judge Alvin Canter suffers a fatal heart attack in his chambers on December 31 his clerk and secretary foolishly decide they must cover it up; they both need their jobs. Within the first few scenes things begin to go terribly wrong with their idea. Through their own carelessness their secret is discovered by various third parties. With one lie stacking upon another lie their plan is always moments from becoming completely unraveled. "Midnight" is a tale of deceit and blackmail. It is a nerve-racking tension ride that ends in a shocking showdown.

ILLUSTRATED CHILDREN'S BOOKS

"The Dark" by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen
Little, Brown Books for young Readers (hardcover, 2013)

Laszlo is afraid of the dark. The dark lives in the same house as Laszlo. Mostly, though, the dark stays in the basement and doesn't come into Lazslo's room. But one night, it does. This is the story of how Laszlo stops being afraid of the dark. (ages 3-6)

"Mr. Wuffles!" by David Wiesner
Clarion Books (hardcover, 2013)

Mr. Wuffles ignores all his cat toys but one, which turns out to be a spaceship piloted by small green aliens. Between motion sickness and damaged equipment, the aliens are in deep trouble. When the space visitors take shelter behind the radiator to repair the damage, they make a host of insect friends. The Result? A humorous exploration of cooperation! (ages 4-8)

"Steam Train, Dream Train" by Sherri Duskey Rinker,
illustrated by Tom Lichenheld
Chronicle Books (hardcover, 2013)

The dream train pulls into the station, and one by one the train cars are loaded: elephants fill the tanker cars with paints, tortoises stock the auto rack with race cars, and bouncy kangaroos stuff the hopper cars with balls. Sweet and silly dreams are guaranteed. (ages 4-6)

"That is Not a Good Idea!" by Mo Willems
Balzer + Bray (hardcover, 2013)

One day, a very hungry fox meets a very plump goose. A dinner invitation is offered. Will dinner go as planned? Or the dinner plans involve a secret ingredient? (Don't forget to listen to the baby geese!) From the brilliant mind of Mo Willems comes a surprising lesson about listening to your inner gosling. (ages 4-8)

"Vader's Little Princess" by Jeffrey Brown
Chronicle Books (hardcover, 2013)

Darth Vader faces the trials and tribulations of raising princess Leia. From tea parties to TIE fighters, Vader's parenting skills are put to the test. (all ages)

Christopher Jones is the co-owner and events coordinator of the Monte Cristo bookshop, 38 Green St., in downtown New London. www.montecristobookshop.com

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