Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Reading Ahead: December 2017, part 3

Count to Ten, by James Patterson and Ashwin Sanghi. This latest installment of Patterson's Private series (if you're new to this particular series, start with Private, 2010) finds Jack Morgan, head of the Private agency, working to convince Santosh Wagh to come back (Santosh had quit as head of Private India after almost dying during an incident in Mumbai) and head up the new headquarters in Delhi. Santosh reluctantly accepts, but soon finds himself in another life-and-death situation. (Please note: This was originally scheduled for publication in December, and the release date has been moved up to mid November--this title is currently available at the library.)

Enchantress of Numbers, by Jennifer Chiaverini. Chiaverini continues her tradition of illuminating the lives of fascinating women in history through fiction, here focusing on the first computer programmer, Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace (she also happened to be Lord Byron's only legitimate child). Estranged from her very famous (and infamous) father, Ada was raised by her mathematician mother and provided with a very rigorous education grounded in math and science. Fearing any hint that her daughter would follow in Byron's footsteps, Ada's mother snuffs any signs of creativity, passion or poetry in her young daughter. Once debuting in London society as a highly eligible young heiress, Ada finally comes into her own, making friends who share her love of learning, falling in love...and uncovering the secret behind her parents estrangement. For readers who enjoy historical fiction, this should be a natural addition to your reading lists.

Happy Thanksgiving, readers! I'll be back next week to share what I've been reading, as well as a sneak preview of some of the great books coming in 2018. Happy reading!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Reading Ahead: December 2017, part 2

While the list for December publications is rather scant, I've come to the conclusion that January is overflowing with new titles! So we'll finish off December's list a bit early this month and get a jump on next year, what do you think?

Death at Nuremberg, by WEB Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV. Fourth in the father-son writing team's Clandestine Operations series (following 2016's Curtain of Death), this new novel takes place during the creation of the CIA and the beginning of the Cold War. When Jim Cronley finds out he's just won the Legion of Merit, he's only waiting for the other shoe to drop. Sure enough, he's also being reassigned: he'll be protecting the U.S. chief prosecutor of the Nuremberg trials from a rumored Soviet kidnapping. Cronley is also supposed to hunt down and dismantle the infamous Odessa, an organization dedicated to helping Nazi war criminals escape to South America. His hands are more than full, his life on the line. Who will prove to be the most dangerous threat? Time will tell. Fans of espionage fiction will want to make sure to add this to their reading list.

The Demon Crown, by James Rollins. Book thirteen in Rollins's long-running and extremely popular Sigma Force series (after The Seventh Plague, 2016) finds the Sigma Force members faced with an impossible choice: join forces with the newly resurrected Guild, their most hated enemy, or allow the world to face an extinction-level event, the weaponization of a compound found in bones encased in amber and hidden for more than a century. The fan-base for this series is growing steadily--are you among them?

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Reading Ahead: December 2017, part 1

The list for new December fiction may run on the short side this year, but what it lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality! Read on to see what I mean.

The Wanted, by Robert Crais. Crais's newest entry in his long-running, award-winning Elvis Cole/Joe Pike series (following 2015's The Promise). When single mother Devon Connor contacts PI Elvis Cole, it's because her troubled teen son suddenly has money to burn and she's worried that he's dealing drugs. The truth is much worse: with two others, the boy has been responsible for a series of high-end burglaries, and after the trio steals from the wrong man, they find themselves under fire from hired assassins. Cole and Pike may not even be a match for the hitmen...

Year One, by Nora Roberts. First in a new series (Chronicles of the One) from prolific best-seller Roberts, Year One begins on New Year's Eve at the start of an epidemic that quickly decimates half the world's population. As society collapses, science and technology are replaced by magick, some good and some bad. But a new authority has risen and neither the immune nor the gifted are safe. In the wake of the end, what will the new beginning be? This is a little different for Roberts, and may win her some new fans. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

What I've been reading: October 2017

Hard to believe that it's already Halloween, when it still felt almost summery last week! I have, of course, been enjoying some great reads this month, and I can't wait to share them!

Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing, by Jennifer Weiner. This funny and incredibly candid collection of essays from best-selling novelist Weiner (Good In Bed, In Her Shoes, etc.) covers everything. From weight, sex, love, motherhood, marriage(s), and writing to divorce, reality TV, Twitter fights and dog ownership, the essays cover all of it and more. I've been a fan of her writing since her debut and found this collection equally entertaining--I couldn't put it down.

Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens, by Eddie Izzard. Izzard, comedian, actor, writer, here brings his own brand of sharp and clever humor to the page in essays that cover topics like mad ancient kings, politics both historical and sexual, chickens with guns, running marathons, and a number of other, more personal bits. He has long been one of my very favorite comedians, and if you're a fan, I highly recommend this memoir.

How to Find Love in a Bookshop, by Veronica Henry. Nightingale Books has been a fixture in its little village home for decades. After proprietor Julian passes away, his daughter Emilia returns to run it in its stead. She misses her father, as do the shop regulars, and together they form something close to family. Running the shop is not altogether easy, and the urge to sell to a local developer is hard to resist. More than anything, this is a story of stories, of books and how they connect to readers, of how readers connect to one another, and the stories each of us have to tell one another. Thoroughly enjoyed this one.

The Paris Architect, by Charles Belfoure. This is my book club's pick for our November meeting. It is 1942 in German-occupied Paris, and gifted architect Lucien Bernard has accepted a commission that will earn him a great deal of money, and quite possibly get him killed. His benefactor asks him to create hiding places for wealthy Jews being smuggled out of the country, hiding places so ingenious that no German officer could ever find them. And Lucien does these jobs, studiously ignoring the personal aspects...until one of his jobs fails, and Lucien's work becomes very personal, indeed. Belfoure, an architect himself, brings his knowledge to every detail. This was an enthralling read, and one I can't wait to discuss with our group.

Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell. I adore Rainbow Rowell's work, YA and adult titles alike. Her YA books do not condescend to the reader; she meets them on equal ground. Here, Park is used to being a relative oddity in his 1986 Omaha neighborhood, one of two (his brother being the other) half Korean kids in their entire school. His method of coping with teasing on the bus is to ignore the others, listening to loud music on his headphones and reading comic books. Then the new girl gets on the bus, a pale girl with a ton of red hair, an immediate new target for the bullies in the back seats. There's nowhere for her to sit except next to Park, and this is how the unlikeliest of friendships grows over the course of the school year together. Bittersweet and heartbreakingly honest, this was a book I devoured over the course of two evenings, I couldn't do anything else until I knew how it ended.

The Summer That Made Us, by Robyn Carr. Two sisters had three daughters each, and they all spent summers at their family lake house. Those were the best of times. Until tragedy struck one summer, and everyone scattered, and the family was no longer close and each woman went her separate way. Until tragedy becomes the catalyst to bring them together again, decades later. It's a story of loss and of hope and rebuilding one's life after catastrophe, of learning and loving and moving on. And while it was interesting and certainly readable, it felt a bit unfinished, maybe a little rushed. There were story lines left unfinished, sub-plots left unexplored, as though there was too much in the beginning to tie up in the end. Which makes me wonder whether this might be the first in a new series? Time will tell.

The Little French Bistro, by Nina George. I enjoyed this one so much, I couldn't keep it to myself. You can read my review here.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Can't Keep it to Myself: The Little French Bistro

Nina George's second novel, The Little French Bistro (after 2015's reader favorite The Little Paris Bookshop) follows her first novel's theme: it's never too late to start over. German housewife Marianne is stuck. She's been married for all of her adult life to a man who does not love her, does not value or respect her. Frankly, she's not even sure Lothar likes her. On a trip to Paris, Marianne reaches her breaking point. She walks away from her life. Or she tries to. She's thwarted, rescued, and is given the chance to reexamine her next step. On a whim, she leaves Paris for the Breton seaside town of Kedruc, aided by fortune and the kindness of strangers.
Once in Kedruc, Marianne learns to make friends, to have a space of her own, to help others and be helped in return. She learns to live a life that makes her happy, governed by her own choices. She becomes part of the community full of vibrant, eccentric people with their own stories to tell. And yet, when her past catches up with her, she has some incredibly hard choices to make. Uplifting, inspiring, colorful and delightful, this book was a great read and I can't help but recommend it to others.

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).