Thursday, January 12, 2017

Reading Ahead: February 2017, part 2

Suspense, mysteries, thrillers... These are the types of books that make your blood race even on the coldest winter days. Here are just a few to sample...

Echoes in Death, by J.D. Robb. Robb's near-future series featuring NYPSD Lietenant Eve Dallas has been gaining fans in droves over the years, so my advice would be to place your request now! On her drive home with mogul-husband Roarke one evening, Eve encounters a woman in desperate need of help following an attack. The woman is rushed to the ER but the woman's husband, brilliant orthopedic surgeon Dr. Anthony Strazza is found dead in the couple's home, all three of the house's safes wide open and empty. While it soon comes to light that Dr. Strazza was cold, controlling and widely disliked, evidence does not suggest his highly traumatized wife as the culprit. Dallas and her squad must answer the question: just what does the devil look like? Also available in Large Print
Humans, Bow Down, by James Patterson, et al. A little something different from Patterson and co-writers. The Great War is over. The Robots have won. The humans who survived have two choices--they can submit and serve the vicious rulers they created or be banished to the Reserve, a desolate, unforgiving landscape where it's a crime to be human. And the robots aren't content--following the orders of their soulless leader, they're planning to conquer humanity's last refuge. With nothing left to lose, Six, a feisty, determined young woman whose family was killed with the first shots of the war, is a rebel with a cause. On the run for her life after an attempted massacre, Six is determined to save humanity before the robots finish what the Great War started and wipe humans off the face of the earth, once and for all. Also available in Large Print

Gunmetal Gray, by Mark Greaney. This bestselling co-author of Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan series treats readers here to a new installment to his Gray Man series (starts with 2009's The Gray Man, if you're like me and want to start a series at the beginning). After five years on the run Court Gentry is back on the inside at the CIA. But his first mission makes him wish he had stayed on the outs when a pair of Chinese agents try to take him down in Hong Kong. Normally the Chinese prefer to stay eyes-only on foreign agents. So why are they on such high alert? What follows is a high stakes cat-and-mouse that leads Gentry across Southeast Asia. Once he gets what he's after, all he'll have to do is find his own way out...
Bone Box, by Faye Kellerman. A new entry in Kellerman's Decker/Lazarus series finds Rina Lazarus making a shocking discovery in the woods of her upstate New York community that leads her husband, police detective Peter Decker, through a series of gruesome, decades old, unsolved murders, pointing to a diabolical, serial killer who’s been hiding in plain sight. Fans are already eager, so if you're among them, place your hold now! Also available in Large Print.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Reading Ahead: February 2017, part 1

Need a thriller to heat you up during the long winter? No worries--there are bunches of new ones to choose from! Place your holds now and you'll be ready for whatever Jack Frost throws at you next month.

Right Behind You, by Lisa Gardner. Eight years ago, Sharlah May Nash’s older brother beat their drunken father to death with a baseball bat in order to save both of their lives. Now thirteen years old, Sharlah has finally moved on. About to be adopted by retired FBI profiler Pierce Quincy and his partner, Rainie Conner, Sharlah loves one thing best about her new family: They are all experts on monsters. Then the call comes in regarding a double murder at a local gas station, followed by reports of an armed suspect shooting his way through the wilds of Oregon. As Quincy and Rainie race to assist, they are forced to confront mounting evidence: The shooter may very well be Sharlah’s older brother, Telly Ray Nash, and it appears his killing spree has only just begun. Gardner writes a great thriller, and this is definitely on my to-read list. Also available in Large Print.
Heartbreak Hotel, by Jonathan Kellerman. After more than thirty Alex Delaware novels in the last three decades, Kellerman has this down to a science. At nearly one hundred years old, Thalia Mars is a far cry from the patients that child psychologist Alex Delaware normally treats. But what Thalia wants from Alex are answers to unsettling questions—about guilt, patterns of criminal behavior, victim selection. When Alex asks the reason for her morbid fascination, Thalia promises to tell all during their next session. But when he shows up the following morning, he is met with silence: Thalia is dead in her room.
When questions arise about how Thalia perished, Alex and homicide detective Milo Sturgis must peel back the layers of a fascinating but elusive woman’s life and embark on one of the most baffling investigations either of them has ever experienced. For Thalia Mars is a victim like no other, an enigma who harbored nearly a century of secrets and whose life and death draw those around her into a vortex of violence. Also available in Large Print

Most Dangerous Place, by James Grippando. Following his last adventure in Gone Again, Grippando's Jack Swyteck returns with a harrowing new case based on true events. It begins at the airport, where Jack is waiting to meet his old high school buddy, Keith Ingraham, a high-powered banker based in Hong Kong, coming to Miami for his young daughter’s surgery. But their long-awaited reunion is abruptly derailed when the police arrest Keith’s wife, Isabelle, in the terminal, accusing her of conspiring to kill the man who raped her in college. Jack quickly agrees to represent Isa, but soon discovers that to see justice done, he must separate truth from lies—an undertaking that proves more complicated than the seasoned attorney expects.
Also available in Large Print

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

But the book was better: 2017 preview

Hollywood loves to give audiences movies and television shows based on books, but if you're like me, you want to read those books first. Please understand--I don't do this for brownie-points or bragging rights. I do it because I want to get to know the characters and the story in my own imagination first, before the movie's imagery can influence me. There's always a scene or a character in a movie that sticks with you long after you're done watching, and I like the enjoyment of letting my brain do that first. In any case, whatever your reason, if you'd like a headstart on this year's book-to-screen titles, here are some coming soon to a theater near you.

Live by Night, by Dennis Lehane. Lehane's books make for some great movies, like Mystic River and Shutter Island. So this new film, set for release this month and starring Ben Affleck, is likely to be a must-see. If you're up for a story about organized crime during the Prohibition Era, I'd suggest reading the novel first.

The Zookeeper's Wife, by Diane Ackerman. Following the story of the keepers of the Warsaw Zoo during the Nazi invasion and their efforts to save hundreds of animals and people, both the novel and film are guaranteed to tug on your emotions. The film adaptation, due out in theaters this spring, stars Jessica Chastain.

Also due out this spring is the adaptation of bestselling YA novel Wonder, by R.J. Palacio.  A young boy with an extreme facial deformity struggles to adapt to being a private-school fifth-grader after years of being home-schooled. Starring Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson.

If you're a non-fiction reader, don't worry, I haven't forgotten you and neither has Hollywood. The Lost City of Z, by David Grann, tells the tale of how British explorer Percy Fawcett got lost while searching for an ancient fabled city in the Amazon in 1925. Fans of Sienna Miller and Robert Pattinson will definitely want to see the movie this spring, too.

Dave Eggers is a particular staff favorite around here, so here at the library we're very excited to see a star-studded cast for the adaptation of The Circle. A young woman lands a job at a powerful Google-like tech company and soon becomes involved with a mysterious man. Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, Karen Gillan and John Boyega are just a few of the big names attached.

If you prefer classics, Daphne Du Maurier's My Cousin Rachel is coming to screens this summer featuring Rachel Weisz and Sam Claflin.  This story of Philip and his mysterious cousin Rachel, who may or may not be guilty of murdering another family member.

If you're looking for something dark and fantastic, you'll need look no further than the adaptation of Stephen King's The Dark Tower, featuring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey in some very unexpected roles. King's opus series begins with The Gunslinger, so you might want to start now.

Finally, another classic with a crazy all-star cast will be this coming autumn's adaptation of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express. Think I'm kidding about the cast of this classic murder mystery? Johnny Depp, Kenneth Branagh, Daisy Ridley, Penelope Cruz, Michelle Pfeiffer AND Dame Judi Dench are all attached to the project, just to name a few. It should be ridiculously amazing. *fingers crossed*

PS: If you're interested, Neil Gaiman's American Gods is being turned into a series by Starz, and the casting looks amazing. It's a particular favorite title of mine, so I highly recommend you read it if you have any interest in the show coming out later this year.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

What I've Been Reading: December 2016

Well, here we are at the end-of-year roundup, and as I look back at what I've read over this past year, I feel pretty accomplished. While I didn't set a formal goal this year, I have still managed to read 85 books this year, more than any other year since I started tracking back in 2011 (I didn't include all of my re-reads, either). My reading material of choice is still predominantly fiction, and I've recently read fewer thrillers and suspense novels in favor of more contemporary fiction and even cozy mysteries. A patron and I were recently talking about how our reading tastes change, depending on overall mood, personal life, weather, etc. Apparently I'm looking for easy entertainment, and I am completely okay with that--we all read for different reasons.

In any case, here's what I've been reading lately.

Blueberry Muffin Murder & Lemon Meringue Pie Murder, by Joanne Fluke. Books 3 and 4 in Fluke's bestselling Hannah Swensen cozy mystery series. Blueberry Muffin Murder finds Hannah caught up in the whirlwind of Lake Eden's Winter Carnival, with cooking and lifestyle maven Connie Mac rolling into town and taking over everything: the Carnival cake, local shops, even Hannah's own shop kitchen! Then Ms. Mac turns up dead and it seems everyone had a motive, so it's up to Hannah to pitch in and clear her own name as well as those of her friends. In the fourth series installment, Hannah's comfortable life is upended when her beau, town dentist Norman Rhodes, announces that he's bought a house. Friends and family assume that they're engaged...only Norman hasn't popped any questions, and the house purchase is a total surprise to Hannah. Then a body is discovered on the property, and Hannah's back in the thick of another small town murder investigation. These are light and breezy reads, nothing taxing, just what the season seems to require.

Knit One, Kill Two & Needled to Death, by Maggie Sefton. I read these both via the Trumbull Library's access to Overdrive. These are the first and second books in Sefton's Knitting Mysteries, featuring corporate accountant and amateur sleuth Kelly Flynn. In the first, Kelly returns to Colorado in the wake of her beloved aunt's murder, only to find herself caught up in not only the whodunnit of the murder, but also land disputes and a deep secret her aunt had kept hidden for decades. In the second, Kelly, who has chosen to remain in Colorado, agrees to chaperone a group of knitters on an outing to see a local working alpaca farm. Upon arriving at their destination, however, the group finds their hostess dead under mysterious circumstances. Of course Kelly can't help but get involved in solving the case. Again, cozy mysteries make for great, quick reads this time of year.

Between Breaths, by Elizabeth Vargas. This memoir of anxiety and addiction from the famous television news journalist (best known for her work on 20/20, World News Tonight, and ABC news specials) chronicles Vargas's struggle with panic and anxiety attacks from an early age, as well as her later struggles with alcoholism and the strains these secrets placed on her personal life and career. Deeply moving and insightful.

Mrs. Robinson's Disgrace: the private diary of a Victorian lady, by Kate Summerscale. More non-fiction? In my reading list? I know! Headstrong, high-spirited, and already widowed, Isabella Walker became Mrs. Henry Robinson at age 31 in 1844. Her new husband moved them, by then with two sons, to Edinburgh's elegant society in 1850. But Henry traveled often and was cold and remote when home, leaving Isabella to her fantasies. Isabella chose to record her innermost thoughts and feelings, her frustrations and her infatuations (including that with a married Dr. Edward Lane) in her diary over the course of the years that followed. But when Henry found her journals, aghast at his wife's perceived infidelity, he petitioned for divorce on the grounds of infidelity. The trial became a cause celebre and the diary was read aloud in court, much of it reprinted in the daily papers. Isabella's plight, that of a frustrated wife trapped in a rigid society, reverberates even today. I found it a fascinating read.

The Hero of Ages, by Brandon Sanderson. Book three in Sanderson's bestselling and immensely popular Mistborn series (following The Final Empire and The Well of Ascension) follows new Emperor Elend Venture and his wife, the assassin Vin, as they struggle in the wake of being tricked into releasing Ruin while trying to close the Well of Ascension. They must now battle Ruin's Inquisitors, the encroaching lethal mists called the Deepness, and the increasingly heavy falls of black ash that threaten to suffocate their very existence. Sanderson is an absolute master of his craft--I had worried that having taken more than six months off between books in the series that I would be lost, but he is so skillful a writer that I felt caught up almost immediately without feeling buried by a heavy-handed recap.

Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell. I've had Rainbow Rowell's work recommended to me repeatedly for the last several years, and now that I've capitulated, I wonder what in the heck took me so long! Simon Snow is officially the worst Chosen One ever. He can't control his magic, meaning that half the time he can't get his wand to work and the other half? Fire everywhere. His girlfriend broke up with him, his mentor is avoiding him, his alleged vampire of a roommate, Baz, never even showed up at the beginning of this, their final year at the Watford School of Magicks. Oh, and there happens to be a magic-eating monster running around, and it happens to be wearing Simon's face. Chatty, hilariously funny, and chock-full of monsters--if you think this sounds like Harry Potter, you're a little bit right and mostly mistaken in the best possible ways.

And that's it for me for 2016. I'll see you in the new year for new books and new recommendations. From all of us here at The Trumbull Library, Happy New Year and Happy Reading.