Whether your goal while reading is to be educated and explore or to be relaxed and entertained, there are new releases from New Hampshire authors sure to fit the bill. So find yourself a comfy chair and settle into a warm spot in the sun, or a quiet patch of shade, because for many of us, summer is the best time to turn the page.

Compiled by Sarah Pearson (Book description submitted by authors or publishers.)

Before Evil

By Brandon K. Gauthier

Adolf Hitler. Joseph Stalin. Benito Mussolini. Mao Zedong. Kim Il Sung. Vladimir Lenin. These cruel dictators wrote their names on the pages of history in the blood of countless innocent victims. Yet they themselves were once young people searching for their place in the world, dealing with challenges many of us face — parental authority, education, romance, loss — and doing so in ways that might be uncomfortably familiar.

Historian Brandon K. Gauthier of Concord has created a fascinating work — epic yet intimate, well-researched but immensely readable, clear-eyed and empathetic —looking at the lives of these six dictators, with a focus on their youths. We watch Lenin’s older brother executed at the hands of the Tsar’s police — an event that helped radicalize this overachieving high-schooler. We observe Stalin grappling with the death of his young, beautiful wife. We see Hitler’s mother mourning the loss of three young children — and determined that her first son to survive infancy would find his place in the world.

The purpose isn’t to excuse or simply explain these horrible men, but rather to treat them with the empathy they themselves too often lacked. We may prefer to hold such lives at arm’s length so as to demonize them at will, but this book reminds us that these monstrous rulers were also human beings — and perhaps more relatable than we’d like.

A Stranger in Papa Ben’s Cabin

By Michelle Tangen

When someone close to them vanishes, Arlington Maine Detectives Corey Banks and Sean McDonald travel to Vermont to investigate the disappearance. For both men, for two very different reasons, this case is personal.

Though Corey was initially hesitant to work with Sean, A Stranger in Papa Ben’s Cabin sees a friendship further develop between the two detectives as they work to solve this unusual case. Featuring a secondary character from Tangen’s first book, A Stranger on Ghost Beach, this story also touches on the issues of homophobia, drinking and driving, and the main character’s depression spurred by a sudden tragic loss years earlier.

Tangen lives in Rochester and worked as a nursing assistant for 45 years.

Mercury Rising

By R.W.W. Greene

The year is 1975 – Robert Oppenheimer has invented the Atomic Engine, the first human has walked on the moon, and Jet Carson and the Eagle Seven have sacrificed their lives to stop alien invaders. Brooklyn, however, just wants to keep his head down, pay his mother’s rent, earn a little scratch of his own, and maybe get laid sometime. Simple pleasures! But life is about to get really complicated when a killer with a baseball bat and a mysterious box of 8-track tapes sets him up for murder.

So, his choices are limited – rot away in prison or sign up to defend the planet from those who dropped a meteorite on Cleveland. Brooklyn crosses his fingers and picks the Earth Orbital Forces, believing that after a few years in the trenches – assuming he survives – he can get his life back. Unfortunately, the universe has other plans. Brooklyn is launched into a quest to save humanity, find his true family, and grow as a person – while simultaneously coping with high-stakes space battles, mystery science experiments and the realization that the true enemies perhaps aren’t the tentacled monsters on the recruitment poster… Or are they?

Girl as Birch

By Rebacca Kaiser Gibson

In Girl as Birch, Rebecca Kaiser Gibson of Marlborough mimics the flexible (adaptable? too pliant? healthily, if secretly, resilient, then, finally, aligned) motion of a birch in strong wind, as it relates to the options seemingly available to her, growing up as a girl. The poems imitate in form the experiences they evoke. The leitmotifs of red, birches, mirrors, walls enclosing gardens, labyrinths as metaphors for constraint, recur throughout the book. Without being a manifesto, Girl as Birch explores female gender roles with both pliant and uprising imagery and action. Restriction and rebellion, silence and speech, appearance and artifice, passion and repression, the past and being present, buffet and embolden the speaker of these poems. The elastic and varied syntax, pace, music, and the use of rhetoric and wit express deft self-examination. The book moves from serial impressionistic poems of early childhood to discrete lyric poems of memory and experience and on to a sense of emotional, social, spiritual evolution, not resolution.

Gibson teaches poetry at Tufts University. She is also the author of the full-length collection Opinel.

Managing and Leading Nonprofit Organizations

By Paul L. Dann

Long-time Hopkinton resident Paul Dann recently published Managing and Leading Nonprofit Organizations: A Framework For Success. Dann draws on over 30 years of developing and advancing nonprofits to provide practical strategies that support success in creating and maintaining a positive organizational culture.

Filled with practical, applicable strategies for successfully leading nonprofit organizations, the book is a one-stop resource for nonprofit board members, managers, founders, employees, and other leaders seeking to take their nonprofit to the next level. It reveals the power of thoughtfully articulated leadership practice at the individual, team, and organizational level. It allows the reader to develop and refine their ability to lead others in the nonprofit and public context, using practical strategies, universally applicable examples, and useful leadership tools. It perfectly balances simple and straightforward techniques that can be immediately applied to any organizational environment with more complex and nuanced material for more experienced practitioners.

Dann is executive director of NFI North, a nonprofit mental health and human services agency providing care to children, youth, families, and adults throughout New Hampshire and Maine. He is a faculty member in the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire.

In Her Boots

By KJ Dell’Antonia

Rhett Gallagher’s adventurous life is imploding. Just as she turns the big 4-0, her long-term relationship collapses and her gran’s death draws her back to the family farm. The only silver lining is that Rhett’s inspirational book, The Modern Pioneer Girl’s Guide to Life — written under a pseudonym — has become a wild success, so much so that when her big publicity moment comes, self-doubting Rhett panics and persuades her best friend, Jasmine, to step into the limelight in her stead.

But their prank turns into something more when the controlling mother Rhett hasn’t seen in two decades announces her intent to sell the farm Rhett loves and expected to make her own. To save her inheritance — and her identity — Rhett must concoct a scheme that will protect her home and finally prove to her mother, and to herself, that she can stand on her own two feet.

Dell’Antonia is the former editor of Motherlode and current contributor to The New York Times, as well as the author of How to Be a Happier Parent and the instant New York Times bestseller and Reese’s Book Club Pick, The Chicken Sisters.

She lives in Lyme, but retains a fondness for her childhood in Texas and Kansas.

A Sprinkling of Stardust over the Outhouse

By Paul Brogan

A Sprinkling of Stardust Over the Outhouse is the long-awaited follow-up to Paul Brogan’s highly successful first book, Was That a Name I Dropped? released in 2011.

Paul came out as gay when he was 10, in the early 1960s and faced a number of obstacles for doing so. He approached them, without losing sight of who he was, eventually winning over even the naysayers who urged him to be someone other than himself.

A Sprinkling of Starlight is a true story that is rich in detail as it tells Paul’s story with humor and heart as well as harsh and sometimes shockingly brutal reality.