March is Women’s History Month. What better place to start than with a new book from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Anne Tyle, one of our most esteemed living fiction writers.

Some may remember her great novels from years ago: Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, The Accidental Tourist, and Breathing Lessons, among many others. Baltimore has been her principal location for her fiction as it is in her newest book, French Braid. Beginning with a family vacation in 1959, Tyler takes us along on a brilliantly perceptive journey deep into one family’s foibles from a boyfriend with a red Chevy in the 1950s to a longed-for reunion with a grandchild in our pandemic present.

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Margaret Atwood, celebrated as the author of The Handmaid’s Tale, offers us nearly two decades of her musings in Burning Questions: Essays and Occasional Pieces, 2004-2021. In more than 50 pieces, Atwood aims her prodigious intellect and impish humor at the world, taking us on a roller-coaster ride from a financial crash, the rise of Trump, a pandemic, and climate crisis. She even dispenses advice on how to define granola.

With half a dozen books, Jenny Colgan has established herself as a great contemporary chronicler of life in Britain. Her newest book, Welcome to the School by the Sea, is the first in a new series. This story features two new students (one wanting to fit in and one wanting to get out) at a boarding school by the sea in Cornwall and a new teacher at the school, who wants to make her mark but fears it may strain her relationship with her boyfriend.

The multi-talented musician Alicia Keys has penned a coming-of-age graphic novel in Girl on Fire. This authentic, honest young adult novel is illustrated in full color by Brittney Willliams, in a contemporary setting. The story confronts real-world issues such as racial profiling, bullying, police and gang violence.

A second young adult novel comes from V.E. Schwab, author of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, in Gallant. This is a story of a young woman who never knew her family and has only her mother’s journal warning her to stay away from Gallant, the family home. Of course, the young woman receives a letter beckoning her there, so she goes. She finds Gallant is both life and death, a crumbling wall between them, but pulling her to them.

A third young adult novel, The Ogress and the Orphans is a highly-anticipated follow up from Newbery medal winner, Kelly Barnhill for The Girl Who Drank the Moon. One day a child goes missing from the Orphan House. The Mayor accuses the Ogress, but the children know it can’t be true. The Ogress, along with a flock of crows, secretly deliver gifts to the people. The orphans struggle with how to tell the story of the Ogress’s goodness to people who refuse to listen and fail to see the real villain in their midst.

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For younger readers, Michelle Duster brings us a picture book, Ida B. Wells, Voice of Truth: Educator, Feminist, and Anti-Lynching Civil Rights Leader, born 160 years ago. Duster is Wells’ great-granddaughter. She tells how her ancestor challenged the racist and sexist norms of the late 19th and early 20th century through her writing and speaking. The book is illustrated by Coretta Scott King Award Honoree Laura Freeman.

Four noted authors in the literary and mystery fields—Cara Black, Donna Leon, Jaqueline Winspear, and Kate Quinn—release new books in March. Cara Black’s fictional detective Aimee LeDuc, who now runs the family detective agency, often zips around Paris on her scooter dressed in heels, pearls, and designer clothes, that she scrouged from resale and charity shops—all while raising a young daughter. In Murder at the Porte de Versailles, Aimee becomes entangled in a dangerous web of international spycraft and terrorist threats in Paris’s 15th arrondissement by trying to prove the innocence of her friend’s partner who is found unconscious after a bomb explodes at the police laboratory. And her daughter’s biological father keeps pressuring Aime to leave Paris for Brittany, where they can be together as a family.

A Sunlit Weapon is Jacqueline Winspear’s 17th Maisie Dobbs mystery in which a series of attacks on British pilots in 1942 leads Maisie into a mystery involving Eleanor Roosevelt. While Maisie is asked to investigate attacks on pilots ferrying new planes to the Biggin Hill Aerodrome, her husband receives an assignment for security of the visiting American First Lady. Of course, Maisie finds a connection between the two plots.

Kate Quinn, author of The Rose Code and The Alice Network, also mines World War II stories of real-life heroines in The Diamond Eye, about a Ukrainian woman who becomes an ace sniper for the Russians fighting the Germans. Called the Lady of Death by the Nazis, she is sent to the U.S. on a goodwill tour where finds unexpected friendships with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and a mysterious fellow sniper. But when an old enemy surfaces, she’s in a fight for her life.

For Donna Leon, Give unto Others is her 31st Commissario Guide Brunetti mystery set in Venice, which is as much a part of her stories as the plot. This time Brunetti undertakes a private investigation at the behest of a family friend, enlisting the unofficial help of his Questura cohorts. But the unofficial inquiry soon turns official, raising the question what role loyalty should play in the life of a police inspector.

And the multi-talented entertainer Dolly Parton teams up with James Patterson in Run, Rose, Run. Their collaboration tells the story of a young singer-songwriter on the rise and on the run, determined to do whatever it takes to survive. The book also features 12 new songs written by Dolly Parton especially for this book.

George Rishel is the owner of The Sly Fox Bookstore, which has been in business for 23 years. The Sly Fox is located on the West Side Square in Virden. They can be reached at slyfox@royell.net or 217-965-3641. Find them on Facebook or at www.slyfoxbookstore.com.

This story was originally printed in the March 2022 issue of The Prairie Land Buzz Magazine, a free magazine distributed monthly in 11 Illinois counties. For more information, additional stories and more, visit http://www.thebuzzmonthly.com.

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