Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Reading Ahead: September 2016, part 6

Yes, part 6. I don't think I've ever reached a part 6 before! There are just so many delectable titles being published next month, I couldn't weed it down any further than I have!

Razor Girl, by Carl Hiaasen. As with all things Hiaasen, everything ordinary is anything but in this wildly hilarious and entertaining novel. When Lane Coolman's car is bashed by the eponymous Razor Girl, Merry Mansfield, nothing is as it seems. The crash scam sets in motion one of the funniest, craziest Hiaasen tales yet--one that will thrill fans even as it defies description, foiling every reviewer I've consulted!

Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett. I adore Patchett's work, like State of Wonder and Bel Canto, so every new title she puts out is cause for celebration, as far as I'm concerned!One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny’s mother, Beverly—thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families.Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them.

Here I Am, by Jonathan Safran Foer. Foer has made a huge impact with readers in past works like Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and Everything is Illuminated. I'm expecting his new work to have a similar effect. Unfolding over four tumultuous weeks in present-day Washington, D.C., Here I Am is the story of a fracturing family in a moment of crisis. As Jacob and Julia Bloch and their three sons are forced to confront the distances between the lives they think they want and the lives they are living, a catastrophic earthquake sets in motion a quickly escalating conflict in the Middle East. At stake is the meaning of home―and the fundamental question of how much aliveness one can bear.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Reading Ahead: September 2016, part 5

The (eventual) return of cooler temperatures always means a resurgence of new mysteries to curl up with each fall, and this year is no different. If a cup of tea and some armchair sleuthing sounds like a cozy autumn evening to you, perhaps these titles will get you halfway there.

Downfall, by J.A. Jance.With a baby on the way, sudden deaths in the family from which to recover, a re-election campaign looming, and a daughter heading off for college, Cochise County Sheriff Joanna Brady has her hands full when a puzzling new case hits her department, demanding every resource she has at her disposal.Two women have fallen to their deaths from a small nearby peak, referred to by Bisbee locals as Geronimo. What’s the connection between these two women? Is this a case of murder/suicide or is it a double homicide? And if someone else is responsible, is it possible that the perpetrator may, even now, be on the hunt for another victim? Also available in Large Print.

Blind Sight, by Carol O’Connell. I'm a huge fan of O'Connell's Mallory mysteries (you can start with Mallory's Oracle, if you're new to these excellent crime novels), so you can bet this will make my reading list in the near future. A blind child and a Catholic nun disappear from a city sidewalk in plain sight of onlookers. There, then gone—vanished in seconds. Those who witnessed the event still cannot believe it happened. Detective Kathy Mallory and the NYPD’s Special Crimes Unit enter the investigation when the nun’s body is found with three other corpses in varying stages of decomposition left on the lawn of Gracie Mansion, home to the mayor of New York City. Sister Michael was the last to die. The child, Jonah Quill, is still missing. Like Jonah, the police are blind. Unknown to them, he is with a stone killer, and though he has unexpected resources of his own, his would-be saviors have no suspect, no useful evidence, and no clue — except for Detective Mallory’s suspicions of things not said and her penchant for getting to the truth beneath lies.

Revenge in a Cold River, by Anne Perry. Perry returns fans to Victorian London and Commander William Monk of the Thames River Police in this chilling new mystery. When Monk is called to investigate the drowning of an escaped prisoner, he’s forced to contend with customs officer McNab, who clearly bears a bitter grudge against him. But the reason is a mystery in itself. Monk’s memory loss—a secret he guards closely—leaves him vulnerable to repercussions from his missing past, especially his exploits overseas in the tumultuous Gold Rush days of San Francisco. What is patently clear is that McNab seems hellbent on using whatever information he has to ruin Monk's future as an officer of the law, unless Monk can beat him at his own game.

Pushing Up Daisies, by M.C. Beaton.When Agatha Raisin left behind her PR business in London, she fulfilled her dream of settling in the cozy British Cotswolds where she began a successful private detective agency. Unfortunately, the village she lives in is about to get a little less cozy. Lord Bellington, a wealthy land developer, wants to turn the community garden into a housing estate. When Agatha and her friend Sir Charles Fraith attempt to convince Lord Bellington to abandon his plans he scoffs: “Do you think I give a damn about those pesky villagers?” So when Agatha finds his obituary in the newspaper two weeks later, it’s no surprise that some in town are feeling celebratory. The villagers are relieved to learn that Bellington’s son and heir, Damian, has no interest in continuing his father’s development plans. But the police are definitely interested in him―as suspect number one.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Reading Ahead: September 2016, part 4

Variety is the spice of life! There are readers dedicated to a single genre (biographies, mysteries, sci-fi, etc.), but I'm one of those readers who will try just about anything, at least once! So if you're looking for something different, these are some I'd recommend giving a go next month. Why? Read on!

Nutshell, by Ian McEwan. McEwan (Atonement, On Chesil Beach) is a reader favorite and a bestseller, perhaps because he tends not to revisit the same themes over and over. Here, he tells a tale of murder and deceit, but makes it fresh with the manner of the telling. Trudy has betrayed her husband, John. She's still in the marital home—a dilapidated, priceless London townhouse—but John's not there. Instead, she's with his brother, the profoundly banal Claude, and the two of them have a plan. But there is a witness to their plot: the inquisitive, nine-month-old resident of Trudy's womb.
The Wonder, by Emma Donoghue. Best known for her runaway bestseller Room (2010), Donoghue treats readers to another unforgettable story in her new novel. English nurse Lib Wright, a veteran of Florence Nightingale's Crimean campaign, is hired to watch over eleven-year-old Anna O'Donnell, a girl living in a small Irish village and purported to be living solely off of manna from heaven. I've long been in love with Donoghue's writing style, and am very much looking forward to this new novel. I'll be shocked if book clubs aren't all clamoring for copies in the near future.

Fates and Traitors, by Jennifer Chiaverini. Having left her quilters behind for the intrigue during the American Civil War, Chiaverini (Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker, The Spymistress, etc.) now takes on the story of one of the most infamous men in history: John Wilkes Booth. The subject of more than a century of scholarship, speculation, and even obsession, Booth is often portrayed as a shadowy figure, a violent loner whose single murderous act made him the most hated man in America. Lost to history until now is the story of the four women whom he loved and who loved him in return: Mary Ann, the steadfast matriarch of the Booth family; Asia, his loyal sister and confidante; Lucy Lambert Hale, the senator’s daughter who adored Booth yet tragically misunderstood the intensity of his wrath; and Mary Surratt, the Confederate widow entrusted with the secrets of his vengeful plot.