Fly Trap by Frances Hardinge; HarperCollins, 592 pages ($16.99) Ages 10 and up.
Twelve-year-old orphan Mosca Mye; her guard goose, Saracen; and their companion, the con man Eponymous Clent, find themselves in the midst of a thrilling new adventure in this richly imagined, darkly humorous, beautifully written sequel to "Fly By Night." After barely escaping a revolution in Mandelion, the three find themselves trapped in the town of Toll, an odd place that changes personality from day to night, where townsfolk live in fear of Clatterhorses that patrol at night, where legend has it that only Luck, hidden away in a tower, keeps the town safe. This is a realm of walled towns, of powerful guilds. It's a world where a host of miniature gods must be worshipped to ward off disaster, although Mosca, as the daughter of an atheist, has her doubts. Mosca, meaning fly, was born on the eve sacred to Palpitattle, He Who Keeps Flies Out of Jam Jars and Butter Churns, and her name gives her a low status in Toll. Mosca and Eponymous find themselves embroiled in a scheme to rescue the mayor's kidnapped daughter. There are ransom notes and side plots, deliciously horrible villains and a fascinating cast of characters including a kindly midwife, the radical Brand Appleton and a night-dwelling girl with a claw hand of sharp knives. Mosca is a fascinating character -- brave, smart, funny and a hero, because she can read.
-- Jean Westmoore
This Life Is in Your Hands: One Dream, Sixty Acres, and a Family Undone by Melissa Coleman; HarperCollins, 352 pages ($25.99)
Eliot Coleman is the Pied Piper of the organic, local food movement. In 1968, he and his young wife went to visit Helen and Scott Nearing, pioneers in an alternative, rural lifestyle, on their farm in Maine. The Colemans settled on 60 acres next door to the Nearings, built a house and had three children. Melissa, the oldest, remembers the long winters, the delicious food her parents raised and her mother's battle with depression. But the event that draws all other memories down into the well is the drowning of her 3-year-old sister when Melissa was 6. This memory puts all others in question -- were the Colemans and the Nearings and others like them focused on the wrong things? Distracted by their ideology?
Melissa, who loved her childhood and her parents, doesn't have the answers. But her memoir is an important piece of the puzzle.
-- Los Angeles Times
The Ranger by Ace Atkins; Putnam, 352 pages ($25.95)
"The Ranger" goes for extreme thrills, complemented by in-depth character studies and a view to the motives that turn people corrupt. Lee Child's Jack Reacher and Greg Illes' Penn Cage will find a kindred spirit in Army Ranger Quinn Colson, Ace Atkins' new take-charge hero.
Fresh from his tour of duty in Afghanistan, Colson returns to his hometown Jericho, Miss., for the funeral of his uncle Sheriff Hampton Beckett. The sheriff's death was ruled a suicide, but Deputy Lillie Virgil believes he was murdered and appeals to Colson to help find his murderer. But as he tries to find the truth behind his uncle's death, Colson plunges into a morass of violence and corruption that has overpowered his rural hometown.
While Colson acts as the archetypical character come to clean up the town, "The Ranger" avoids cliches. Colson is a man struggling with his duties as a soldier and what he owes his family.
-- McClatchy Newspapers