Barbara Conaty

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President-Adjacent | Historical Fiction About the First Ladies and Their Circles

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The President’s Wife

Wood’s book is a stately and dignified account that is beautifully leavened by intimate glimpses of Edith and Woodrow in their happiness, grief, anger, and optimism.
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The Librarian of Burned Books

Terrific research buttresses strong writing that will keep readers riveted. Molly Guptill Manning’s When Books Went to War and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 are great tandem reads for Labuskes’s latest.
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In a Land Without Dogs the Cats Learn To Bark

Twenty years in the making, this saga alludes to the romantic work of Lermontov while also doing a great reprise of the jazz scene in Tbilisi. Compelling notes of Keith Gessen, Gary Shteyngart, and Jonathan Safran Foer will resonate for readers keeping up with Soviet absurdities in ex-USSR states.
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Daughters of Victory

Reminiscent of Janet Fitch’s novels about the Russian Revolution, Saab’s book indulgently lingers too long in several plot complications.
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The Last Russian Doll

Loesch’s writing can be lyrically evocative. Many red herrings and detours mar the story’s momentum so that the strong opening pages fade to a mélange of thriller, mystery, and fantasy.
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Winterland

Spanning the final decades of the 1900s, Meadows’s latest is a genre-bender that fluently integrates sports with accents from political and psychological thrillers. Most novels about gymnastics are written for YA audiences, but this one is for seasoned readers.
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Lost Souls of Leningrad

Like the novels of Helen Dunmore, David Benioff, and others, Parry’s work covers appalling agonies. There is an O. Henry quality in the revelation of an amazing connection among the characters. Readers of Ruta Sepetys’s Between Shades of Gray and Salt to the Sea will enjoy the action focused on the teenager.
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The Half Life of Valery K.

Scientific research, KGB shenanigans, queer love, and the heartache of suffering children are just a few of the enriching intricacies Pulley traces with intelligent wit and confident narration. A gifted writer of well-drawn characters, Pulley has given the nuclear noir genre a fresh and stimulating take on Chernobyl-style terror.
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