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God of Animals by Aryn Kyle

When her older sister runs away to marry a rodeo cowboy, Alice Winston is left to bear the brunt of her family's troubles — a depressed, bedridden mother; a reticent, overworked father; and a run-down horse ranch. As the hottest summer in fifteen years unfolds and bills pile up, Alice is torn between dreams of escaping the loneliness of her duty-filled life and a longing to help her father mend their family and the ranch.

To make ends meet, the Winstons board the pampered horses of rich neighbors, and for the first time Alice confronts the power and security that class and wealth provide. As her family and their well-being become intertwined with the lives of their clients, Alice is drawn into an adult world of secrets and hard truths, and soon discovers that people — including herself — can be cruel, can lie and cheat, and every once in a while, can do something heartbreaking and selfless. Ultimately, Alice and her family must weather a devastating betrayal and a shocking, violent series of events that will test their love and prove the power of forgiveness.

An Absolute Gentleman by R.M. Kinder

A gripping first novel, based on the author's real-life relationship with a convicted murderer, that delves with subtlety and nuance rather than violence and sensationalism into the mind of a serial killer.

Meet Arthur Blume: charming guy, small-town college English professor, struggling writer, and occasional murderer. In this chilling debut novel, acclaimed author R.M. Kinder draws on her firsthand experience of dating a convicted murderer to brilliantly channel the voice of a polite, even sympathetic man who just happens to be a serial killer.

An Absolute Gentleman opens in a prison cell, where Arthur Blume is hard at work writing an account of his life-one stained in places with abuse and cruelty, but also characterized by everyday banality. Only as the plot unravels do the chinks in Arthur's armor of normality begin to surface, and the monster beneath the pleasant fa‡ade appears as Arthur closes in on his next victim.

Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean

Bit by bit, the ravages of age are eroding Marina's grip on the everyday. An elderly Russian woman now living in America, she cannot hold on to fresh memories—the details of her grown children's lives, the approaching wedding of her grandchild—yet her distant past is miraculously preserved in her mind's eye.

Vivid images of her youth in war-torn Leningrad arise unbidden, carrying her back to the terrible fall of 1941, when she was a tour guide at the Hermitage Museum and the German army's approach signaled the beginning of what would be a long, torturous siege on the city. As the people braved starvation, bitter cold, and a relentless German onslaught, Marina joined other staff members in removing the museum's priceless masterpieces for safekeeping, leaving the frames hanging empty on the walls to symbolize the artworks' eventual return. As the Luftwaffe's bombs pounded the proud, stricken city, Marina built a personal Hermitage in her mind—a refuge that would stay buried deep within her, until she needed it once more. . . .

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