Thursday, August 23, 2012

Back to School Days

I know, I know, I can't believe it either, but the fact remains that Trumbull schools are back in session next Monday.  Where did the summer go?  Hope you all made the most of it, and got some great reading done, too.  I know I have!  And of course I'm looking forward to all the new titles that are coming this fall.  In the spirit of that back-to-school rush and all the learning that comes with it, here are a few sneak peeks at a few of the big titles coming up in the next few months...

A Dangerous Inheritance, by Alison Weir, coming in October.  A tale of two Kates, Lady Katherine Grey (sister to the Nine Days Queen, Lady Jane Grey) in 1554 and Kate Plantagenet (bastard daughter to Richard III, the last of the Plantagenet kings) in 1483 share many things, despite the gap of history.  Forbidden love, brushes with treason, and strong connections to the looming bulk that is the Tower of London.  If you're a fan of British history, Weir is an absolute master, and you should make sure to add this, as well as her other work, to your list. 

Astray: Stories, by Emma Donoghue, coming in October.  Your eyes do not deceive you.  Best-selling author of last year's break-away hit, Room, (and by the way, if you haven't read it, please do yourself a favor and remedy that, okay?) Emma Donoghue is back with a collection of stories scattered throughout place and time, all centered upon the wayward soul.  Those who cross boundaries both real and imagined, those who do so for love or in fear or for gain.  I, for one, am very much looking forward to this one.

Flight Behavior, by Barbara Kingsolver, coming in November.  Best-selling Kingsolver has gone back to her roots in her latest work, set in her native Appalachia.  A restless farm wife, resigned to a life of disappointment brought on by a mistake in her youth, finds herself traveling toward a brief diversion.  Before she can arrive at her illicit destination, she happens upon an unexplainable phenomenon, a lake of fire in the valley near her home.  What she takes to be a warning against her actions then draws media, scientists, and religious leaders with theories of their own.  The influx of strangers makes a stark contrast to the norm for the small rural community, and then things really get interesting.  I'm really intrigued by the reviews, and can't wait to read it for myself!

Happy back-to-school, and as ever, happy reading!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Can't keep it to myself: Gone Girl

I know, could I be later to the party?  Fact is, I read Gillian Flynn's Dark Places a few years ago and it's still one that haunts me.  Her newest novel, Gone Girl, is most certainly going to be one I'll still be thinking about years from now, too.  I finally got my hands on a copy this past weekend, and I cleared my schedule as best I could to find some quality reading time. 


Sharp, witty, and unflinchingly honest, while still maintaining plenty of tension that keeps the plot moving.  And yet, I read it intently, carefully, unwilling to move ahead too quickly for fear that I'd miss some vital clue.  Gone Girl is told in alternating chapters by Nick Dunne, who is anything but a perfect husband, and his wife Amy, in diary entries that span their relationship.  Their separate threads combine into a well-woven tale of a marriage fraught with idealism and failure, perfection and oblivion, excess and resentment.  This tale both begins and ends in Amy's disappearance on their fifth wedding anniversary, like a point of impact in which her story shows how the damage occurred, and Nick's encompasses the ensuing mess. 

The cops always look at the husband first in cases like this, and Nick certainly seems like he could have done it, evasive and bitter as he appears.  But did he?  And if he didn't, what happened to Amy?  What's in the gift box, confiscated from their home as evidence?  If he didn't do it, why so many lies?

I can say that this is by far one of the best thrillers I've read in the last year, and I highly recommend it.  I'd liken it, a bit, to thrillers by S.J. Watson and Chevy Stevens, if you're looking for something similar.

Happy reading!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Three on Thursday: Chill Out

Cooler weather will be upon us in a matter of weeks, but it's still on the hot and sticky side these days.  If you're looking for something to give you chills in spite of the heat, I've got three titles guaranteed to give you goosebumps.

Archive 17, by Sam Eastland.  Can you get colder than Sibera?  Even in the summer, it snows!  It's 1939 and Russia is on the brink of war with Germany.  Stalin, desperate for cash to fund his regime in the coming war, orders the former investigator to the Tsar to search for the legendary cache of gold hidden during the reign of Tsar Nicholas II.  Investigator Pekkala must now go undercover among dangerous criminals still loyal to the Tsar, in Siberia, where he once endured the nightmarish existence of a Gulag prisoner.  Richly detailed and heart-stoppingly suspenseful.

Niceville, by Carsten Stroud.  Mystery and disaster reign supreme in Niceville, where evil outlives men and touches the existence of all inhabitants.  Nick Kavanaugh, a cop with a dark streak of his own, and his wife Kate become embroiled in a plot of robbery, murder and inexplicable disappearances as they try to get to the bottom of all that is wrong with Niceville.  For those who like their suspense with an extra dose of fright and strangeness.  PS, Harlan Coben loves this guy.

Play Nice, by Gemma Halliday.  Is it ever possible to recreate yourself, become a different person and live a different life?  Anna Smith, a single thirty-something in California, is just trying to live a good life.  Except that she was once Anya Danielovich, master assassin, and her new life is really her way of attempting to atone for her past of betrayal and murder-for-hire.  Just when she believes she may finally be free and clear of the past, she realizes that someone has her dossier, and she's his next hit, until the tables are turned on both Anna and her would-be assassin.  Now her old skills and her new enemy may just be what keep her alive.  Great cat and mouse thriller.

Got a new thriller to share?  I'd love to read your comments!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Dog Days

Ah, August.  Here in Connecticut, August is shorthand for "hazy, hot and humid" as well as "cram in every last bit of summer before the school year starts".  If you're looking for a handy read to take along on one of those last-minute trips during the dog days of summer, here are some suggestions.  (Note: No puppies were harmed in the writing of this post.)

Must Love Dogs, by Claire Cook.  Likened to the romantic comedy of greats like Susan Isaacs and the late Nora Ephron, Must Love Dogs is both sweet and outrageously funny.  When divorced pre-school teacher Sarah decides to get back into the dating pool for the first time in over a decade, she is more than a little hesitant.  It's the man's personal ad, which includes "loves dogs", that catches her eye.  And yet the man she meets at the cafe, holding the promised yellow rose, is the last person she ever expected.  With a supporting cast of characters full of hijinks, this really is a great summer read.

The Dixie Hemingway Mysteries, starting with Curiosity Killed the Cat Sitter, by Blaize Clement.  Dixie used to be a Florida sheriff's deputy, until tragedy struck and her world crashed down around her.  Now her days are taken one day at a time, full of pet treats and walks, and the only mysteries she's solving have to do with a mess on the floor.  At least, until one of those messes turns out to be a dead man face-down in a dog's water bowl.  When local police are stumped and the investigation grinds to a halt, Dixie starts to do a little digging of her own, with chilling consequences.  A mystery series with heart, and plenty of treats.  Also, if you're looking for more pet mysteries, try those by Esri Allbritten, Spencer Quinn or Laurien Berenson.

The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein.  If you haven't read this already, and really even if you have, this is a must-read.  I've talked about it here before, but I'd be remiss if I let this opportunity pass by without mentioning it again.  If you've ever wondered what your dog is thinking, Stein's novel gives you a pretty good idea. from the frustration of not having thumbs to the unconditional love of an owner.  Steadfast, silent and loyal, Enzo is race car driver Denny Swift's best friend, through ups and downs both personal and professional.  If ever there was a book about what it means to be a friend, this is it.

Can't take the heat?  Get reading!  I'll have Three on Thursday to keep you cool through the last of the summer's heat. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Reading Ahead: September 2012, part 3

Inadvertently, I think I saved the best for last.  At least, I think several of these are extremely interesting and noteworthy, in any case.  What am I running on about?  Take a look:

Trust Your Eyes, by Linwood Barclay

The Tombs, by Clive Cussler and Thomas Perry

The Time Keeper, by Mitch Albom

Zoo, by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

The Casual Vacancy, by J.K. Rowling

Wicked Pleasures, by Penny Vincenzi

Wow, huh?  Adult fiction with a black-comedy bent from J.K. Rowling?  Sign me up!   New suspense from the master of plot-twists, Linwood Barclay?  Yes, please!  New fiction from the hugely popular bestselling author Mitch Albom?  Okay!  

Now then, go place your holds and enjoy the last of the Summer Games.  I'll see you post-Olympics with some gold-medal worthy fiction.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Reading Ahead: September 2012, part 2

I cannot tell a lie.  I've been so caught up in watching the Olympics that I haven't been reading as much as I might be otherwise.  That said, my list of books I want to read is growing at an alarming rate.  Here are some you might want to add to your list, too.

Hiss and Hers, by M.C. Beaton

Severe Clear, by Stuart Woods

Telegraph Avenue, by Michael Chabon

Frozen Heat, by Richard Castle

Delusion in Death, by J.D. Robb

Can you guess what my picks are?  J.D. Robb's new entry in the Eve Dallas series, of course!  Those are such fast and fun reads; my guilty pleasure, I guess.  Michael Chabon is also of interest--he is typically quirky and a little offbeat, but I find myself lost in his work so easily, it's a joy to read.  Finally, are you familiar with Richard Castle?  His Heat series, starting with 2009's Heat Wave, has been gaining a strong, loyal following of readers, and there is great anticipation for this latest title.  A great choice if you're looking to get in on a newer author of police thrillers. 

See you Thursday with the last installment of up-and-coming September bestsellers!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Reading Ahead: September 2012, part 1

Yes, you read the title of the post correctly.  We're already talking about books being released in September.  (Although, if you want to know the truth, we librarians are also ordering books for 6 months from now, in some cases.  Those will be here before you know it!)  I can't believe I've been seeing back-to-school commercials on television for two weeks already, but whether you're looking forward to getting back into that routine, or you're looking to catch up with some reading time post-Olympics (guilty!), I've got some titles for you to put on your list.

One Last Thing Before I Go, by Jonathan Tropper

A Wanted Man, by Lee Child

Mirage, by Clive Cussler & Jack B. Du Brul

Winter of the World, by Ken Follett

NW, by Zadie Smith

Low Pressure, by Sandra Brown

Father Night, by Eric Van Lustbader

I'm particularly keen on Ken Follett's new title, sequel to 2010's Fall of Giants.   He has a great talent for historical fiction, and Fall of Giants was extremely popular.  I've also been a fan of Jonathan Tropper since reading his first novel, Plan B, back when it was released in 2000.  There is a lot of critical accolade for his newest title, so I'm eager  to see how it fares with readers.  

So tell me--what is catching your eye?  Keep your dance card open, though--I have more titles to share next week!