Read On: Haunting new releases and brilliant literary debuts

“The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly”

by Sun-mi Hwang (Penguin original, $15)

A lovely, lovely little book with a wonderful cover. A bestseller in South Korea, the is the story of a little hen who calls herself Sprout and her desire to fly. But as a chicken, flying is not really an option. It’s a story about striving for what you want, overcoming hardships, and realizing your dreams; even when those dreams are not always fulfilled in the way you had planned. It’s about motherhood, unconditional love and the sacrifices that a mother makes.

“I Shall Be Near to You”

by Erin Lindsay McCabe (Crown, $24)

Fabulous debut novel about a young woman who pretends to be man so she can follow her husband into the Civil War. The descriptions of the battles and war hospitals will blow you away and you cannot stop turning the pages. Based on a true story, Erin brings to life the story of what many women did to follow their men during the Civil War.

“The Bird Skinner”

by Alice Greenway (Atlantic Monthly Press, $25)

I finished “The Bird Skinner” over the weekend and simply loved it. “White Ghost Girls” was a true favorite of mine when it was published in 2006. Greenway’s writing flows with perfection, capturing the essence of coastal Maine in the fog, or the anger in Jim when he can’t move around as he used to due to his amputated leg. She moves back and forth in time with the ease of a feather, allowing the reader to savor the story as it unfolds on the pages. Greenway is a master of her literary craft, and “The Bird Skinner” is a true testament of her skill as both a writer and a storyteller.

“North of Boston”

by Elizabeth Elo (Pam Dorman Books, $27.95)

This is a very good, suspenseful read about a woman who can stay in cold water for long periods of time. The story takes you from Boston to the Arctic North as witness to a horrible killing.

“A Well Tempered Heart”

by Jan-Philipp Sendker (Other Press, $16)

The sequel to “The Art of Hearing Heartbeats”, Sendker again takes us on a journey of forgiveness through the country of Burma. Beautifully written, with a magical understanding of love and forgiveness and what lies in between. Most of us could benefit from listening to our heartbeats, being a little more patient and find a little more love and forgiveness in our lives.

“The Crane Wife”

by Patrick Ness (Penguin, $26.95)

This is such a fabulous read. Wonderfully magical like “The Snow Child”, it is inspired by a Japanese Fairy Tale. Lovely and sad, the love story between George and Kumiko is perhaps an illusion but the paper tiles they create are very real and incredibly intricate in their art.

“The Kept”

by James Scott (Harper, $25.99)

A haunting tale and a brilliant literary debut, complete with secrets, violence, and small town whisperings. Scott tells a story with literary precision while he uncovers secrets about Caleb’s mother and his family’s murder, all the while Caleb is trying to protect he and his mother from further violence.

Annie Philbrick is the co-owner of Bank Square Books in downtown Mystic.

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