Small in size but epic in scope: a delightful, profoundly meaningful adventure.


Palestinian author Nimr spins an elegant fable of literacy, romance, and derring-do.

The Village, as locals call it, “was so isolated that no one knew of its existence, except for a few of the merchants who traded with the villagers.” It is also a place where books are forbidden to girls for fear that reading will turn their heads from the truth, and adult women who dare express independence are sent to the “House of Shamed Wives.” Young Saeed will have none of it, and after he escapes to the city, becoming a bookseller and falling in love with the beautiful Jawaher, he returns to help lift a curse and liberate the Village, though at terrible cost. Shams and Qamar, Saeed and Jawaher's daughters, take separate paths when they are orphaned: Shams lives quietly while Qamar, armed with a book Saeed had treasured—one that gives Nimr’s tale its title—embarks upon truly wondrous journeys indeed, most involving love and loss. In the first, Qamar leaves Gaza for Egypt in a caravan in which, night after night, she takes the role of a Scheherazade-like storyteller: “I told them a story I’d read in a book,” she recounts, “about a sailor lost in the Sea of Darkness, who remained there for many years, fighting the waves, horrors, and monsters of the sea, until finally he triumphed and returned to his family.” Brigands beset the caravan, and though they edit her heavily to be sure that the bad guys in any given story win the day, her talents win her an elevated place in a palace—and then, in turn, aboard a pirate ship and in royal households from Morocco to India. Nimr’s story is both fabulous and utterly matter-of-fact, and, notably, at every turn women are the leaders and the shapers of their worlds. The writing is lovely, too, as when Qamar tells us, “On the watery surface, I could see my life clearly written, each stroke of the oars another page of my life.”

Small in size but epic in scope: a delightful, profoundly meaningful adventure.

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62371-866-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Interlink

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.


An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.


In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8272-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet