Thursday, February 23, 2017

Meg's Picks for March 2017, part 2

Need a thriller a little off the beaten path to keep you company on a rainy spring weekend? Or some cutting-edge suspense? Never you fear, I have just what you need. Read on!

A Twist of the Knife, by Becky Masterman. I'm a big fan of Masterman's Brigid Quinn series, which started with 2013's Rage Against the Dying, so this is at the top of my To-Read list this spring. Ex-FBI agent Brigid Quinn, now happily settled in Tucson, doesn’t visit her family in Florida much. But her former partner on the force, Laura Coleman―a woman whose life she has saved and who has saved her life in turn―is living there now. So when Laura calls about a case that is not going well, Brigid doesn’t hesitate to get on a plane.

On leave from the Bureau, Laura has been volunteering for a legal group trying to prove the innocence of a man who is on death row for killing his family. Laura is firmly convinced that he didn’t do it, while Brigid isn’t so sure―but the date for his execution is coming up so quickly that they’ll have to act fast to find any evidence that may absolve him before it’s too late…

A Simple Favor, by Darcey Bell. Bell's debut is a domestic thriller being likened to hugely popular titles in the genre like Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. I'm expecting this to be one of the big reads of 2017, so get your requests in now!It starts with a simple favor—an ordinary kindness mothers do for one another. When her best friend, Emily, asks Stephanie to pick up her son Nicky after school, she happily says yes. Nicky and her son, Miles, are classmates and best friends, and the five-year-olds love being together—just like she and Emily. A widow and stay-at-home mommy blogger living in woodsy suburban Connecticut, Stephanie was lonely until she met Emily, a sophisticated PR executive whose job in Manhattan demands so much of her time.

But Emily doesn’t come back. She doesn’t answer calls or return texts. Stephanie knows something is terribly wrong—Emily would never leave Nicky, no matter what the police say. Terrified, she reaches out to her blog readers for help. She also reaches out to Emily’s husband, the handsome, reticent Sean, offering emotional support. It’s the least she can do for her best friend. Then, she and Sean receive shocking news. Emily is dead. The nightmare of her disappearance is over. Or is it?
If you're a fan of thrillers that twist at every turn, this should make your list for sure.

Celine, by Peter Heller. Heller is the bestselling author of novels like The Dog Stars and The Painter, and his latest is a deeply personal novel based on the adventures of his own remarkable mother. Celine follows an aristocratic, elegant private eye who specializes in reuniting families, in an attempt to make amends for a loss in her own past. Celine, in fact, has a better record in her field than the FBI. But when a young woman, Gabriela, asks for her help, a world of mystery and sorrow opens up. Gabriela's father was a photographer who went missing on the border of Montana and Wyoming. He was assumed to have died from a grizzly mauling, but his body was never found. Now, as Celine and her partner head to Yellowstone National Park, investigating a trail gone cold, it becomes clear that they are being followed--that this is a case someone desperately wants to keep closed. If you're looking for something engrossing but different than your usual fare, this is the one to pick up.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Meg's Picks for March 2017, part 1

Want to see some of the gems that have caught my eye for next month? Read on!

All Grown Up, by Jami Attenberg. Attenberg's 2012 novel, The Middlesteins, was a New York Times bestseller, so when I heard her latest was generating some buzz in early reviews, I knew I had to share. Andrea Bern is two different people. She's who she says she is: a designer, a friend, a daughter, a sister. And then there are the things she never admits to anyone, like that she's a lonely former artist who drinks too much. Everyone seems to have different definitions of what it means to be an adult: getting married, having kids, concentrating on a career. But when tragedy strikes the tumultuous Bern family, it may ultimately be the final thing that drives them apart, or brings them together.

In the Name of the Family, by Sarah Dunant. I'm a big fan of Dunant's historical fiction (her debut, 2004's The Birth of Venus, was particularly good), so this latest novel set in Renaissance Italy is a no-brainer for me. Here, she explores the final days of the house of Borgia, in the company of young diplomat Niccolò Machiavelli. It is 1502 and Rodrigo Borgia, a self-confessed womanizer and master of political corruption, is now on the papal throne as Alexander VI. His daughter Lucrezia, aged twenty-two—already three times married and a pawn in her father’s plans—is discovering her own power. And then there is his son Cesare Borgia, brilliant, ruthless, and increasingly unstable; it is his relationship with Machiavelli that gives the Florentine diplomat a master class in the dark arts of power and politics. What Machiavelli learns will go on to inform his great work of modern politics, The Prince. This is a must for fans of historical fiction.

The Devil & Webster, by Jean Hanff Korelitz. Korelitz is the author of bestsellers like You Should Have Known and Admission, both of which have addressed hot-button issues, so I would be remiss if I didn't share her latest outing, which does the same. Naomi Roth is the first female president of Webster College, a once conservative school now known for producing fired-up, progressive graduates. So Naomi isn't surprised or unduly alarmed when Webster students begin the fall semester with an outdoor encampment around "The Stump"-a traditional campus gathering place for generations of student activists-to protest a popular professor's denial of tenure. A former student radical herself, Naomi admires the protestors' passion, especially when her own daughter, Hannah, joins their ranks. Then Omar Khayal, a charismatic Palestinian student with a devastating personal history, emerges as the group's leader, and the demonstration begins to consume Naomi's life, destabilizing Webster College from the inside out. As the crisis slips beyond her control, Naomi must take increasingly desperate measures to protect her friends, colleagues, and family from an unknowable adversary.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Reading Ahead: March 2017, part 3

If you're going a little stir-crazy from all the snow we've had over the last few days, you're not alone. Would it make you feel better to know that I've been ordering books due out in July?! Here are a few novels to tide you over until the warmer weather prevails.

Dangerous Games, by Danielle Steel. Television correspondent Alix Phillips dodges bullets and breaks rules to bring the most important news to the world—from riots in America to protests on the streets of Tehran. With her daughter in college, and working alongside cameraman Ben Chapman, a deeply private ex–Navy SEAL, Alix revels in the risks and whirlwind pace of her work. But her latest assignment puts her at the center of an explosive story that will reshape many lives, including her own: investigating damning allegations involving the Vice President of the United States, Tony Clark.
Also available in Large Print

If Not For You, by Debbie Macomber. Defying loving but controlling parents, Beth Prudhomme departs her native Chicago for Portland, where she reconnects with the black sheep of her family, her spirited Aunt Sunshine. As Beth reinvents herself, she makes new friends, including Sam, who would never win her parents' approval. Their unlikely friendship, and maybe something more, are jeopardized by the sudden arrival of Beth's mother and the revelations of some long-held secrets. Fans will be delighted with Macomber's newest.
Also available in Large Print.

Man Overboard, by J.A. Jance. Cybersecurity expert Roger McGeary finally has his life back on track after years of struggling with depression. But when he falls from the balcony of his suite on an all-expenses-paid cruise, the police quickly dismiss it as “death by misadventure,” a vague phrase leaving much to interpretation. Unsatisfied, Roger’s tough-as-nails aunt, Julia Miller, is determined to find answers and closure. By contacting Roger’s childhood friend Stuart Ramey to help her solve the mystery of his fate, Julia unwittingly sets up a collision course with a serial killer...
Also available in Large Print

Murder on the Serpentine, by Anne Perry. It is not the custom for the commander of Special Branch to receive a royal summons—so Thomas Pitt knows it must be for a matter of the gravest importance. The body of Sir John Halberd, the Queen’s confidant, has been found in the shallow water of the Serpentine in Hyde Park, bearing the evidence of a fatal blow to the head. At Her Majesty’s request, Sir John had been surreptitiously investigating Alan Kendrick, a horse-racing enthusiast who seems to have had an undue amount of influence on her son, the Prince of Wales. Now Commander Pitt must navigate the corridors of power with the utmost discretion and stealth, for it seems certain that Sir John’s killer is a member of the upper classes. Aided by his wife, Charlotte, and her social contacts, Pitt seeks out the hidden motives behind the polite façade of those to the manner born—and uncovers a threat to the throne that could topple the monarchy.