Cherie Priest's unique brand of steampunk involves feisty heroines, eccentric villains and robust anti-heroes, all elaborately cavorting in a brilliantly realized alternate-history version of Civil-War-era America.

April 18: "[W]ould it be too bold to imagine that all warm-blooded animals have arisen from one living filament…?"

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…