Thursday, July 21, 2016

Meg's Picks: August 2016, part 1

If August is anywhere near as hot and humid as the last few weeks have been, you may find yourself in need of some reading materials to keep you company while you're trying to stay cool. Luckily, there are some very cool titles being published next month.

A Great Reckoning, by Louise Penny. Canadian-born mystery author (and winner of any number of awards, including Anthony and Agatha ) Penny has become quite a reader favorite recently, and I'm predicting that her new title, the thirteenth to feature Inspector Armand Gamanche, will win her even more devoted fans.
When an intricate old map is found stuffed into the walls of the bistro in Three Pines, it at first seems no more than a curiosity. But the closer the villagers look, the stranger it becomes. Given to Armand Gamache as a gift the first day of his new job, the map eventually leads him to shattering secrets. To an old friend and older adversary. It leads the former Chief of Homicide for the Sûreté du Québec to places even he is afraid to go. But go he must. Interested in the origins of Gamanche's adventures? Start with the first in the series, Still Life.

Sleeping Giants, by Sylvain Neuvel. Advance buzz about Neuvel's debut caught my eye when they recommended the novel to readers who enjoyed books like Andy Weir's The Martian (whose film adaptation starring Matt Damon was nominated for seven Oscars)  and Max Brooks's World War Z (adapted both as a film in 2013 & starring Brad Pitt). Now, I adored both books and thoroughly enjoyed both films, so I was really intrigued! A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand. Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.  But some can never stop searching for answers. Equal parts action, mystery, sci-fi and adventure, I have a feeling this will be adapted to film--soon! (Edited to add: This was actually moved up and is already available in print. Get your copy today!)

The Book That Matters Most, by Ann Hood. Best-selling author Hood has made some serious impact on readers with titles like The Knitting Circle and An Italian Wife. Her new novel is a story of friendship, love, loss and secrets that is sure to be a favorite for readers and book clubs. Ava’s twenty-five-year marriage has fallen apart, and her two grown children are pursuing their own lives outside of the country. Ava joins a book group, not only for her love of reading but also out of sheer desperation for companionship. The group’s goal throughout the year is for each member to present the book that matters most to them. Ava rediscovers a mysterious book from her childhood―one that helped her through the traumas of the untimely deaths of her sister and mother. Alternating with Ava’s story is that of her troubled daughter Maggie, who, living in Paris, descends into a destructive relationship with an older man. Ava’s mission to find that book and its enigmatic author takes her on a quest that unravels the secrets of her past and offers her and Maggie the chance to remake their lives.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Reading Ahead: August 2016, part 4

You know my favorite part of reading in the summer? It's the sudden speed with which I seem to be able to devour books. Whole series read in a matter of weeks. How is it that it happens this way? I don't know, and I don't want to jinx it, but if you're looking for quick reads to jump start your own reading, here are a few, light and fluffy, coming out in August.

Family Tree, by Susan Wiggs. Sometimes the greatest dream starts with the smallest element. Annie Harlow knows how lucky she is. The producer of a popular television cooking show, she loves her handsome husband and the beautiful Los Angeles home they share. And now, she’s pregnant with their first child. But in an instant, her life is shattered. And when Annie awakes from a yearlong coma, she discovers that time isn’t the only thing she’s lost. It is only when she returns to her family home, a Vermont maple farm which has been in the family for generations, that she can put her past to rest, and build herself a new future. Wiggs does feel-good fiction like few others.

Always A Cowboy, by Linda Lael Miller. This is the second in Miller's Carsons of Mustang Creek series (following Once A Rancher, published earlier this year), in which readers get to know the middle Carson brother, Drake, the quintessential cowboy. In charge of the family ranch, he knows the realities of this life, its pleasures and heartbreaks. Lately, managing the wild stallions on his property is wearing him down. When an interfering so-called expert arrives and starts offering her opinion, Drake is wary, but inexplicably drawn to her.

Texas Tall, by Janet Dailey. The late author lives on in her body of work, including this new addition to her Tylers of Texas series (following 2015's Texas Tough). With the family ranch in trouble and their need for one resurfacing, a rancher and his ex-wife find themselves presented with a second chance at love and a life together, if only they can right the wrongs of their shared past.

Rushing Waters, by Danielle Steel. Hurricane Ophelia is bearing down on New York City. And in a matter of hours, six people, along with their families, friends, and millions of other New Yorkers living around them, will be caught up in the horrific flooding it unleashes. A day of chaos takes its toll. Lives, belongings, and loved ones are swept away. Heroes are revealed as the city and New Yorkers struggle to face a natural disaster of epic proportions. And then the real challenge begins, as the survivors face their futures, with damage to repair and scars to heal.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Reading Ahead: August 2016, part 3

Easy reading is the order of the day during the summer months--entertaining page-turners that can be packed along on your beach or poolside excursions (though please don't let the books go for a swim!). Here are a few that fit just that bill which are slated for publication just in time for the dog-days of summer.

Curious Minds, by Janet Evanovich & Phoef Sutton. Evanovich and Sutton have been writing their bestselling Lizzy and Diesel series together for several years (since the series started in 2010 with Wicked Appetite). Now the duo is launching a new series, Knight and Moon, with this first title, Curious Minds. Emerson Knight is an awkward introvert, but thankfully he's also rich and brilliant, otherwise he might be homeless. Riley Moon has just graduated from Harvard Business and Harvard Law, and thought she'd won her dream job as a junior analyst with mega-bank Blane-Grunwald. Until she received her first assignment, that is, which turns out to be babysitting Emerson Knight. But what starts off as an inquiry about missing bank funds in the Knight account leads to inquiries about a missing man, missing gold, and a life-and-death race across the country.

Three Sisters, Three Queens, by Philippa Gregory. Gregory, who has been enchanting readers with novels of English history like The White Princess (currently being adapted as a Starz series)  and The Other Boleyn Girl, now brings readers the tale of Henry VIII's two sisters, Mary and Margaret, along with Katherine of Aragon--three women who all played pivotal roles in the Tudor saga, becoming queens of France, Scotland and England, respectively. An absolute must for fans.

Sweet Tomorrows, by Debbie Macomber. Bestseller Macomber brings her popular Rose Harbor series (a companion series to her Cedar Cove series) to a close here with Sweet Tomorrows. Nine months ago, Mark Taylor abruptly left Cedar Cove on a perilous mission to right a wrong from his past. Though Mark finally confessed his love for her, innkeeper Jo Marie Rose is unsure if he’s ever coming back. The Rose Harbor Inn barely seems the same without Mark, but Jo Marie can’t bear to lose herself in grief once more. Determined to move forward, she begins dating again, and finds companionship when she takes on a boarder who is starting a new chapter herself. The inn seems to be working its magic again—Emily opening herself up to love, Jo Marie moving on—until Jo Marie receives shocking news.

First Star I See Tonight, by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Piper Dove is a woman with a dream—to become the best detective in the city of Chicago. First job? Trail former Chicago Stars quarterback, Cooper Graham. The problem? Graham’s spotted her, and he’s not happy.

Which is why a great detective needs a first rate imagination. “The fact is . . . I’m your stalker. Not full-out barmy. Just . . . mildly unhinged.”
Piper soon finds herself working for Graham himself, although not as the bodyguard he refuses to admit he so desperately needs. Instead, he’s hired her to keep an eye on the employees at his exclusive new nightclub. But Coop’s life might be in danger, and Piper’s determined to protect him, whether he wants it or not. Phillips is known for treating readers to memorable characters and laugh-out-loud humor, which sounds like some great beach reading to me!