Thursday, October 19, 2017

Meg's Picks: November 2017

While my list of picks for November is not long, it is still very exciting!

Artemis, by Andy Weir. Fans of Weir's debut, The Martian, (and that includes the film adaptation starring Matt Damon) have been eagerly anticipating what Weir will do next. That wait is over in a few short weeks when Artemis is released. This is not The Martian, Volume 2. Rather this is a heist. Set on the moon. Artemis is the first and only city on the moon, and if you're not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire, life can be tough. The occasional bit of smuggling helps cover one's debts, especially when base pay barely covers rent on the lunar surface. For Jazz Bashara, that's the way she makes ends meet. And then she sees the opportunity for a big score, the perfect crime. Although, there's no such thing, and when the job goes sideways, it's only the beginning of bigger problems for Jazz. I expect this to be brilliantly imaginative and entertaining, given advance reviews.

The Revolution of Marina M., by Janet Fitch. Fitch is not prolific, but her work (White Oleander, Paint it Black) is reliably eye-opening and thought provoking. In her first novel in a decade, Fitch brings readers a sweeping historical saga of the Russian Revolution, seen through the eyes of one young woman. The novel opens in St Petersburg on New Year's Eve, 1916 and Marina Makarova is a young woman of privilege, aching to be free of the confines of her genteel life. Her wishes are granted abruptly by the swift, violent force of history. Soon Marina will be marching for workers rights, falling in love with a young poet, and betraying everything her family has stood for. Against the stark background of a country in turmoil, Marina's coming-of-age story is marked by the private heroism of an ordinary woman in extraordinary times. My guess is that this will be a favorite of readers this winter, and a favorite of book clubs for years to come.

Heather, the Totality, by Matthew Weiner. This debut novel by the creator of the award-winning show, Mad Men, and executive producer of The Sopranos is an entry into noir thrillers that fans will not want to miss. The Breakstones have created the perfect life in Manhattan, including the perfect daughter, Heather, who is the light of their lives. Perfection only goes so far, and tensions strain the family's relationships. When construction begins on a nearby penthouse, a dangerous stranger enters the family's protective sphere, threatening to destroy everything they've created for themselves.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Reading Ahead: November 2017, part 4

New novels from a variety of favorites? You got it! Read on!

Secrets of Cavendon, by Barbara Taylor Bradford. Fourth in her Cavendon Chronicles (following 2016's The Cavendon Luck), Bradford's latest opens in the summer of 1949 after an unprecedented stretch of calm for the aristocratic Ingham family and the Swanns, who have loyally served them for generations. However, since the end of World War II, changes have arrived at Cavendon Hall. With a new generation at the helm, the door also opens to new scandal and intrigue, forcing the two families to band together once more to protect one another. 

In the Midst of Winter, by Isabel Allende. Actually scheduled for release on October 31, Allende's  (The House of the Spirits, Daughter of Fortune, etc.) latest finds three very different people brought together after a minor traffic accident during a Brooklyn snowstorm sparks far more serious problems in a story that shifts from modern day Brooklyn to 1970s Chile and Brazil. Allende has been a reader favorite for years; if you haven't read her work before, I can't recommend it highly enough.

Future Home of the Living God, by Louise Erdrich. Erdrich (The Round House, LaRose, etc.) brings readers something a little different. Evolution is reversing itself, and science cannot seem to stop nature from running backwards: woman after woman is giving birth to babies who appear to be a primitive species of humans. For Cedar Hawk Songmaker, this is particularly troubling, as she is four months pregnant. Though she wants to share with her adoptive parents, she also feels compelled to find her own mother, Mary Potts, on the Ojibwe reservation in an effort to find out more about her own origin. Meanwhile, society begins to collapse, with martial law on the horizon and a registry of women being compiled. I'm recommending this chilling dystopian tale to readers looking for more after reading Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale.

Looking for something scary to read this season? Stop by the Main Library and pick up something spine-tingling--we've got a display of scary stories just across from the Circulation Desk.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Reading Ahead: November 2017, part 3

New books by some of our classic favorite authors are coming soon to a library shelf near you!

Past Perfect, by Danielle Steel. The Gregory family has a picture perfect life in Manhattan, until Blake is offered a dream job in San Francisco. He agrees without hesitation, or consulting his family. He buys a magnificent, irresistibly underpriced historic Pacific Heights mansion as their new home. An earthquake their first night in the house jars them, but also exposes a hidden link to the home's past, and the family who lived there more than a hundred years ago... Also available in Large Print

Every Breath You Take, by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke. Fourth in the duo's Under Suspicion series (following 2016's The Sleeping Beauty Killer) follows television producer Laurie Moran's investigation of the unsolved Met Gala murder, where a wealthy widow was pushed to her death from the museum's rooftop. The leading suspect then, and now, was the widow's much younger boyfriend and personal trainer, Ivan Gray. A tip from a NYPD connection has Laurie digging deeper into the case, uncovering a longer, and more dangerous, suspect list. This collaboration is winning both authors increasing numbers of fans.

The Story of Arthur Truluv, by Elizabeth Berg. Berg's fans are ravenous for a new novel; it has been nearly three years since the publication of her last book, The Dream Lover. Arthur Moses's days look very much the same. He tends his roses, his cat Gordon, and takes the bus to the cemetery each day to have lunch with his beloved late wife. It is only by a single chance encounter that his life changes. Maddy Harris, eighteen, hides out in the cemetery to escape the other kids at her school. One afternoon, she joins Arthur, a gesture that surprises them both, forging an unlikely friendship. They find Arthur's neighbor, Lucille, within their orbit, and then the three are friends together. Poignant and thought-provoking, I expect this to be a reader, and book club, favorite in the months to come.
Also available in Large Print.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Reading Ahead: November 2017, part 2

More continuations of long-running series are on the slate for November new releases!

Tom Clancy Power and Empire, by Marc Cameron. President Jack Ryan finds himself dealing with a newly aggressive Chinese government in this continuation of Tom Clancy's iconic series. It seems that, as pawns are moved around on a global chessboard, President Zhao is determined to limit President Ryan's options at an upcoming summit. But it is revealed that this is only the tip of the iceberg--a routine traffic stop in Texas uncovers a Chinese spy, one of a network that may change everything... Also available in Large Print

Typhoon Fury, by Clive Cussler & Boyd Morrison. Latest in Cussler's Oregon Files series (following 2016's The Emperor's Revenge) begins with Juan Cabrillo and the crew of the Oregon on a job searching for a half-billion dollars worth of artwork when they suddenly encounter deeper waters: the commander of a Filipino insurgency is using a little-known World War II drug to turn soldiers into super warriors. Cabrillo and crew are now up against not just the rebel leader, but the African mercenary who wants the drug for his own nefarious plans. And then things start to get really dangerous.

Hardcore Twenty Four, by Janet Evanovich. Stephanie Plum seems to be a magnet for trouble, and this time she has her hands more than full. First there's the professional grave robber who won't let Stephanie bring him in unless she agrees to care for his pet boa constrictor. Then a grisly series of incidents literally litter the streets with headless corpses. And if that isn't enough? An old flame returns to make a hash of her already complicated personal life. Can Jersey's favorite bounty hunter get herself out of multiple sticky situations? Fans can't wait to find out. Also available in Large Print.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Reading Ahead: November 2017, part 1

Today I bring you new series entries from some of today's most popular novelists.

The Midnight Line, by Lee Child. Jack Reacher is back in a new story (the 22nd entry in Child's bestselling series, following 2016's Night School) that finds Reacher in a small Wisconsin town where he spots a West Point ring in a pawn shop window. It's a small ring, a woman's ring, and it's from 2005--a hard year to graduate from the Point, leading into Iraq, then Afghanistan. Four hard years to earn that ring. What made her have to give that up? Reacher, nothing better to do, decides to find the woman and return the ring to her. This small errand quickly becomes the first link in a long, dark chain that takes Reacher through dives in small towns across the midwest, the terrain becoming steadily more and more dangerous. Classic thrills from fan favorite Child. Also available in Large Print

End Game, by David Baldacci. This is the fifth installment in Baldacci's Will Robie series (who was last seen in 2015's The Guilty). Will Robie and Jessica Reel are two of the most lethal people alive, the people that the government calls in when someone is needed to take out a threat to national security, with the utmost secrecy. Through every mission, their handler, code name Blue Man, has had their backs. But now Blue Man is missing, having vanished off the grid during a rare vacation. The team fears the worst, and Robie and Reel are sent to investigate. What they didn't count on was a situation so dire that they'll be lucky to make it out alive, with Blue Man or without... Also available in Large Print.

The People vs Alex Cross, by James Patterson. Alex Cross has never found himself on the wrong side of the law...until now. Now he has been charged with gunning down followers of nemesis Gary Soneji, and finds himself becoming the poster child for trigger-happy cops. Cross knows it was self-defense, but will a jury see it that way? What follows promises to be the trial of the century. Also available in Large Print. (The Alex Cross series began in 1993 with Along Came a Spider. The most recent entry was Cross the Line, 2016).

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

What I've been reading: September 2017

It's that time again! Time to wrap up what I've been reading lately!

The Shark Club, by Ann Kidd Taylor. Maeve Donnelly's life was forever changed when, at age eleven, she was kissed by her crush, and moments later, was bitten by a blacktip shark. Eighteen years later, she's enamored with sharks, swims with them, studies them. But that boy? There's unfinished business, and a lot of painful history to overcome. They're more mature now, surely after years apart they can put their shared past to rest? It's when Maeve returns home between study sojourns that her life seems to blow up all over again--her brother's debut novel turns out to be about Maeve's lovelife debacles, her old flame works at her grandmother's hotel, and Maeve is going to have to do some serious soul-searching in order to choose the right path forward. Light and easy reading, though I'll admit I found myself surprisingly moved by the ending.

When You Are Engulfed In Flames, by David Sedaris. David Sedaris is my spirit animal. There, I've said it. This is the second of his books I've read (both audiobook format, if I'm putting it all out there), and I love his style, his insight, and his humor. The audiobook version is particularly effective--some writers are excellent at reading their own writing, and Sedaris is among them. Cringe-worthy and hilarious, Sedaris's stories of his mishaps and misadventures (like sneezing a lozenge into the lap of a sleeping seatmate on a plane, or moving to Tokyo to quit smoking) make me laugh, make me think, and in many cases, make me nod along thinking, "Oh yeah, I know that feeling." Commuters, if you need an audiobook to help you pass the time in a more enjoyable way, I definitely recommend this one.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette?, by Maria Semple. Told through emails, letters, texts, and from multiple points of view, this novel is equal parts family drama, mystery, and laugh-out-loud funny comedy. Just before Christmas, and a long-anticipated family trip to Antarctica, Bernadette Fox goes missing. In the leadup, she has run over a fellow mom at her daughter's school, dodged people who recognize her from a past she left behind over fifteen years ago, and handled her agoraphobia by staying in the family's shambles of a home and designated everything to a virtual assistant located in India so that she doesn't have to go into Seattle, which she loathes. In the aftermath, Bernadette's fifteen-year-old daughter Bee is left to piece together what happened to her mother, following a trail of letters and emails, and drag her Microsoft guru father along for the ride. Thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining. Bonus info: Cate Blanchett, Kristen Wiig, and Billy Crudup all star in the movie adaptation, which is due out next year.

Secrets in Death, by J.D. Robb. This forty-fifth (!) entry in Robb's (aka Nora Roberts) long-running near-future cop-thriller series featuring NYPSD Lieutenant Eve Dallas brings the murder to the homicide cop. Dallas is having drinks with an associate only to have the city's top celebrity gossip hound drop dead at her very feet. Larinda Mars made herself a household name churning the rumor mill of the rich and famous, but after her death, Dallas uncovers that where Mars's real money came from was blackmailing the rich and famous to keep the worst of the worst out of the media. The suspect list gets longer all the time as Dallas reveals more and more dirt, meaning she has to tread carefully among the elite. It's when a choice bit of information brings the case close to home that Dallas finds herself in over her head. Fast and easy reading, I can't quit this series.

Breaking Silence, by Linda Castillo. Third in Castillo's bestselling Chief Kate Burkholder series finds the former-Amish police chief faced with a terrible accident on an Amish farm: a couple and an uncle are found dead in their barn, apparently from asphyxiation caused by methane gas and poor ventilation. Four children are left orphans. It soon becomes clear that foul play was involved, however, and the chief, to bring a killer to justice, must uncover who might have wanted these simple, honest, hardworking folks dead. Is it related to a shocking rash of hate-crimes against the Amish in the area? Nail-bitingly tense plotting made this a very fast read for me, I couldn't stand to put it down, I needed to know what happened.

The Magdalen Girls, by V.S. Alexander. Teagan and Nora, young women in Dublin in 1962, find themselves held as penitents at the The Sisters of Holy Redemption, working in one of the city's Magdalen Laundries. What were once havens have turned into grim workhouses. The two girls become fast friends, arriving within days of one another, neither there for more than being ordinary girls, though some inmates are fallen women or petty criminals. They find themselves stripped of their identities, including their names, as well as their dignity. The Mother Superior, Sister Anne, metes out severe punishments in the name of love, all the while hiding a secret of her own. It is when Teagan and Nora befriend the elusive Lea that they finally begin to hatch a plan to escape. What they haven't counted on is their reception in a society that has a keen eye and a hard edge where soiled reputations are concerned. Fascinating and grim at the same time.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Meg's Picks: October 2017, part 3

Today I bring you two compelling novels: one a debut sure to be a favorite, another a favorite sure to be a bestseller. Read on!

The Last Mrs. Parrish, by Liv Constantine. For readers who crave more twisty psychological thrillers (like Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train, etc.), look no further than Constantine's debut, about a coolly manipulative woman and the wealthy "golden couple" from Connecticut who become her fixation. Amber Patterson deserves more that what she has; she's tired of being a plain nobody who fades into the background. What she wants is what Daphne Parrish has: money, power, prestige, looks, and a perfect marriage. What Amber has is a plan: to worm her way into the Parrish family's circle, and claim it for her own. What she hasn't counted on? Her own dark past coming to haunt her, and potentially ruin everything. Expect this to be on everyone's reading list in the coming months.

The Trust, by Ronald H. Balson. A new novel from bestselling author Balson (Once We Were Brothers) finds private investigator Liam Taggart returning home for his uncle's funeral, only to uncover that the cause of death may not have been natural after all. Years after a bitter family confrontation drove him away from home, Liam is reluctant to return. When he does, he learns that not only was his uncle shot to death, but that his uncle had foreseen his own violent demise, evidenced by a shocking last will and testament that leaves his entire estate to a secret organization, but that no distributions shall be made until his killer is identified. The investigation draws Liam further and further into a past, and a family, he had abandoned, forcing him to confront all he had left behind...and why.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Meg's Picks: October 2017, part 2

New work from old favorites, and new books from favorites-to-be!

In the Midst of Winter, by Isabelle Allende. Allende (The House of the Spirits, Daughter of Fortune, The Japanese Lover, etc.) never fails to surprise her readers. In her latest, two NYU professors and a Guatemalan nanny find themselves with a body to dispose of in the midst of a Brooklyn blizzard. Isn't this how all love stories begin? The story of these three very different people moves from Brooklyn to Guatemala, to Chile and Brazil, from the present to the 1970s and back. Given Allende's keen insight into the human heart, this is sure to be a favorite.

Last Christmas in Paris, by Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb. It's August 1914 and everyone's saying that this war will be over by Christmas. Evie Elliott watches her brother Will and his best friend Thomas go off to war, then anticipates their plans to spend the holidays in Paris together once the unpleasantness is over. And yet, nothing goes as planned. Evie and Thomas correspond during their separation, experiencing very different sides of the war. Evie grows frustrated with her expected roles as a young lady, wishing to be more involved in helping the war effort. Meanwhile Thomas faces not only the ugly realities of war but also an attack on his father's newspaper business back home due to War Office regulations regarding the press. And years later, Thomas must put his past to rest, only to find one last surprise waiting for him. I'm recommending this for book clubs as well as fans of historical fiction like Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale and Mary Ann Shaffer's The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

Without Merit, by Colleen Hoover. The Voss family is anything but normal. They live in a repurposed church, cancer-survivor mom residing in the basement, dad and mom's former nurse living upstairs. The eldest siblings are irritatingly perfect. The youngest, a half-brother, isn't allowed to do or eat anything fun. And then? Then there's Merit, who collects trophies she hasn't won and secrets her family forces her to keep. When she falls in love with a boy she cannot have, Merit re-examines her life, only to find it full of lies she can no longer handle. Compelled to tell the truth before making her exit once and for all, Merit must finally come to grips with her reality, including the consequences of telling the ugly truth. Hoover (It Ends With Us, 2016) is absolutely one to watch.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Meg's Picks: October 2017, part 1

I am always so excited to share my picks with you, readers! Here are some gems coming up next month, from some of my very favorite authors. If you're tired, bored with your usual authors, or feel as though it's been ages since you read something that really captured you, I urge you to try one of these.

Strange Weather, by Joe Hill. In this collection of four short novels, Hill (Horns, The Fireman, etc.) carries on his tradition of describing the darkness just beneath the surface of everyday life. Snapshot is the tale of a Silicon Valley adolescent who finds himself threatened by a thug who owns a camera which can erase memories one snapshot at a time. In Aloft, a young man goes skydiving only to find himself a castaway on a cloud made of impossibly substantial vapor. Rain explores the apocalyptic event of a rain of bright nails from the sky, starting in Boulder, Colorado and spreading around the globe. Finally, Loaded is the story of a heroic mall security guard who stops a mass shooting, only to find his story, and sanity, unraveling under the bright lights of fame that follow. I'm a huge Joe Hill fan, and I'm very much looking forward to this collection.

Manhattan Beach, by Jennifer Egan. Egan's latest (following Look at Me, A Visit from the Goon Squad, etc.) has already been long-listed for the National Book Award for Fiction (A Visit from the Goon Squad has already won her a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction). One day Anna Kerrigan, aged twelve, accompanies her father to visit a man called Dexter Styles. What Anna will take away from this meeting is a strong memory for the ocean waves beyond the house, and the charged mystery between the two men. Years later, Anna's father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna is working at the Brooklyn Naval Yard; with so many men off to war, women are being hired to fill these jobs. When she meets Dexter Styles again, this time in a nightclub, she begins to understand the complexity of her father's life, and the reasons he may have disappeared. This is Egan's first historical novel and it has a distinct noir edge by the sound of things. I expect this to be on the bestsellers' list in short order. Also available in Large Print.

Paris in the Present Tense, by Mark Helprin. Following In Sunlight and In Shadow (2012), Helprin's new novel is set in present-day Paris, caught between violent unrest and its inescapable glories. Seventy-four-year-old Jules Lacour, a maitre at Paris-Sorbonne, cellist, widower, veteran of the war in Algeria, and child of the Holocaust, must find a balance between the obligations of his past and the light and beauty of his present. He in confronted all at once by a series of circumstances which challenge his principles, livelihood and home. And yet, he also finds love and defends his family. Helprin's work is full of truth and beauty, and readers are missing out if they pass this one up.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Reading Ahead: October 2017, part 4

Tales of secrets unveiled, challenges won and obstacles overcome are on every reader's list next month!

Merry and Bright, by Debbie Macomber. In this holiday novel of first impressions and second chances, bestseller Macomber introduces readers to Merry Knight, who spends her days taking care of her family and trying to evade her stressed-out boss at the consulting firm where she's temping. Her social life is the last thing on her mind, but when her mother and brother sign her up for an online dating profile (minus photo) and matches begin to roll in, Merry reluctantly agrees to see what happens. She begins chatting with a charming stranger, their exchanges becoming the brightest part of her day. When it comes to meeting him face to face, will it be a total disaster? Also available in Large Print.

Fairytale, by Danielle Steel. In this modern retelling of the Cinderella story, Steel pits a happy family against tragedy, with Camille, heiress to a Napa Valley vineyard and estate, caught in the middle. Will she succeed against nefarious plots against her inheritance and her very life? Will her knight in shining armor ride to her rescue? Will her fairy godmother save her? Or is it up to Camille to save herself. Steel's legion of fans won't want to miss out. Also available in Large Print

Lilac Lane, by Sherryl Woods. Kiera Malone struggled alone for years to raise her three children, and when she finally opened herself to the possibility of a relationship again, tragedy strikes and leaves her overwhelmed by her loss. She is persuaded by her father and her daughter to visit them in Chesapeake Shores. With the promise of family ties and a job at her son-in-law's Irish pub, Keira agrees. What she definitely did not count on is finding herself working in the pub alongside the surliest chef she's ever known, and what's more, he's also her neighbor. The town's matchmakers claim where there's heat, there's fire, but can these two wounded souls get past their conflict?

The Stolen Marriage, by Diane Chamberlain. Tess Demello is riddled with guilt and cannot live the lie that is her life. It's 1944, she's pregnant and alone after ending the relationship with the love of her life and leaving her budding career as a nurse. Instead, she marries the baby's father, a secretive man who stays out all night, and Tess finds herself in a strange and loveless marriage. What's worse, they've moved to Henry's hometown, where he is much beloved by Tess is a stranger, treated as an outcast. Everyone seems to know something about her husband that Tess does not, and when a girl from town dies, suspicion falls on Tess. It is only when tragedy strikes their town that Tess finds her place in the community, but it may finally unveil Henry's secret life and shatter both their lives in the process. Readers looking for a captivating page-turner, look no further.
Also available in Large Print.