Thursday, June 27, 2013

In Memoriam: Vince Flynn

It pains me to share with my fellow readers that on June 19, 2013, Vince Flynn, author of numerous best-selling novels, passed away at age 46 after a three-year long battle with prostate cancer.  He was an extremely talented writer and a staff favorite here at the library.  He, and his work, will be very much missed.

Regular blogging schedule will resume next week.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ten on Tuesday: Weekend getaways

If you're not taking a looooong vacation this weekend, maybe you've got a long weekend by the beach or lakeside planned?  If so, you might be considering bringing a book with you (hey, you might want to be prepared in case of rain, plan ahead!), and there are few things as satisfying to this reader than finishing a book a.  Combine all of these things and you get today's Ten on Tuesday--a list of fast, entertaining reads to bring along for your long-weekend getaway.  (Note, these are not specifically "beach reads", which tend to be lighter and fluffier, but rather short-er fiction with great entertainment value.)

1) The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  The recent movie remake has caused a great surge in popularity for this classic title.  Love, wealth, deceit and decadence.

2) The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak.  There's plenty of cross-over between the young adult and adult collections these days (Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hunger Games, etc.), and this is a great choice--historical fiction set in WWII.

3) Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn.  While this looks a little longer than other titles on this list, it's deeply engrossing and is a fast read.  This was one of last summer's "must read" titles, so if you missed it, it's time to catch up!

4) Visitation Street, by Ivy Pochoda.  Publishers Weekly has been talking this one up, a gritty mystery set in Red Hook, Brooklyn, new from the author of The Art of Disappearing.

5) Red Sparrow, by Jason Matthews.  Again, a little on the longer-side (save it for a 4-day weekend, perhaps), but you can't go wrong with seduction and spies in Russia, can you?

6) The Buddha in the Attic, by Julie Otsuka.  An award-winning novel in eight parts, following the journeys of eight Japanese "picture brides" to their new homes and husbands in America nearly a century ago.  A story of loyalty, identity and culture.

7) The Round House, by Louise Erdrich.   A huge reader favorite this past spring.  When a woman is attacked and falls into a depression, her teenage son and three of his friends set out to find answers...and seek revenge.  Both a coming-of-age tale and a tale of suspense.

8) Flight Behavior, by Barbara Kingsolver.  I know, I still can't stop talking about this.  Read my original review here.  Then go read the book.

9) Astray, by Emma Donoghue.  I'm not the hugest fan of short stories, but Donoghue (also the author of Room, among others) is amazing no matter the format.  I particularly enjoyed The Widow's Cruse.

10) Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan.  If you prefer your fiction a little on the quirky side, this is fantastic.  Humor, adventure, and young love--all set in a hole-in-the-wall San Francisco bookstore.

I'll be back Thursday to share what I've been reading this month, and I've been on vacation, so it's a LONG list!  Happy reading!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Three on Thursday: Get your summer reading started!

So, technically tomorrow is the first day of summer.  Given that the pool water is a brisk 52 degrees and we've gotten an epic amount of rain in the last few weeks, you may be wondering if I'm pulling your leg.  I assure you, summer is officially starting tomorrow, whatever the weather.  If you've got a little time off coming your way in the coming months, I've got a few recommendations.

If you're looking to read what everyone else is reading this summer:

Read And the Mountains Echoed, by Khaled Hosseini.  I know, I just reviewed it earlier this week.  But I can't say enough good things about it.  And I guarantee, this is going to be one of the big fiction titles that everyone will be talking about all summer. 

My prediction for this summer's sleeper hit:

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls, by Anton DiSclafani.  I gave a preview of this title last month, and I'm sticking to my guns.  In fact, it's on my vacation reading list!  I'll be back next week with a full review.

If you prefer non-fiction:

Hitchhiking with Larry David, by Paul Samuel Dolman.  After a painful breakup, a man turns accidental tourist and hitchhikes around Martha's Vineyard, meeting many interesting characters in the process.  Among these chance encounters is actor Larry David, with whom the author forges a unique friendship.  Funny and moving, this should be a great escape for some summer reading.

I'll be back next week with more summer-centric reads, as well as catching up on what I've been reading.  In the meantime, happy reading!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Can't keep it to myself: And the Mountains Echoed

I mentioned a couple of months ago that I was looking forward to the release of Khaled Hosseini's (you may have heard of him--he wrote The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns--he's kind of a big deal) new book And the Mountains Echoed.  I am here today to tell you that he did not disappoint this reader, not even a little bit.

From the first page, I was captivated.  From meeting young Abdullah and his beloved little sister Pari in a tiny village in 1940s Afghanistan, readers follow family members and acquaintances through the years, showing how chance encounters create enduring impressions.  Many of the reviews I've read of the book center on family and relationships being at the core of the book, but I would say that it is more basic, more primal than that.  Simply, it is a book of choices and consequences, the impact of a split second decision, the guilt or grief that follows a person after making a grave mistake.  At the same time, it is of simple joys and bittersweet reunions, of loss and regret, of what motivates us to act as we do.  I cannot bear to give away any more about the book, because I cannot bear to spoil Hosseini's beautiful stories and lyrical language--I simply cannot do it justice in a blog post.  I can only say that this is a powerful book, full of fallible characters that you can't help but love even as they make you feel uncomfortable, rich with the textures of emotion and history. 

Highly, highly recommended. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Reading Ahead: July 2013, part 4

As promised, here is the wrap-up for the July releases, with a little something for everyone.

There's humor...

Big Girl Panties, by Stephanie Evanovich.  No relation to the other famous Evanovich, but this debut is being billed as just as full of fun and humor.

Chose the Wrong Guy, Gave Him the Wrong Finger, by Beth Harbison.  Harbison, known for her wry take on love and relationships, is back with a novel about second chances.  Quinn Barton was supposed to marry her high school sweetheart, Burke, but those plans were derailed when she chose to run away with Burke's best man, and brother, Frank.  Only that didn't work out either, and Quinn has spent the ensuing years doing penance by working in her family's bridal shop.  When both brothers return to town for another wedding, the time has come for Quinn to face them and her past decisions, once and for all.

Love stories...

True Love, by Jude Deveraux

First Sight, by Danielle Steel

And a bit of historical fiction.

The White Princess, by Philippa Gregory

I'll be back next week with a great book I can't keep to myself!  In the meantime, as always, happy reading!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Reading Ahead: July 2013, part 3

Sometimes I really love a novel with substance, something I can sink my teeth into.  A family saga, a historical drama, a story that's deep and engrossing and serious.  For me, summer is often the perfect time for novels like this.  Long, lazy days, too hot to do much but sit in the shade, hope for a breeze and read.  Or a weekend of rained-out picnic and beach plans is a great opportunity to get some great reading time in.  Heck, if you haven't noticed by now, I can make just about any excuse to find some downtime with a book.  Here are a few that I'm looking forward to whiling away some hours with this summer.

The Light in the Ruins, by Chris Bohjalian

Fin and Lady, by Cathleen Schine

Sea Creatures, by Susanna Daniel

While the first may be a no-brainer (Bohjalian has a particularly deft touch with historical family sagas--this one takes place across generations in Tuscany), the other two titles may have you a little curious. 

Fin and Lady, written by Cathleen Schine (most recently notable for The Three Weissmanns of Westport) takes place in 1964--eleven-year-old Fin and his seventeen-year-old half-sister Lady have been orphaned, and Lady is now Fin's guardian and his only hope.  Lady brings Fin back to Greenwich Village with her from the dusty Connecticut farm he and their mother had been living on, and he promptly finds out that he will need to be as responsible for taking care of Lady as she is for taking care of him.  An unconventional family drama set in unconventional times.

In Susanna Daniel's second novel, Sea Creatures, (after 2010's popular Stiltsville) readers find Georgia moving back to her hometown of Miami with her sleep-disordered husband and mute three-year-old son, scandal and disappointment trailing in her wake.  In trying to change her circumstances, however, Georgia must deal with some steep consequences both for herself and her family.  This is getting a lot of critical praise, and I think it may be a great pick for book clubs and thoughtful readers alike.

Are you remembering that I promised you love stories and humor this week?  I haven't forgotten!  I'll be back on Thursday with the wrap-up of July's new release list.  Happy reading!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Reading Ahead: July 2013, part 2

The ladies of the thriller genre (the bad girls, if you will) are out in force this summer, so I hope you're ready to pick your poison.  I know I am!

Death Angel, by Linda Fairstein

Please Don’t Tell, by Elizabeth Adler

Unseen, by Karin Slaughter

Hunting Eve, by Iris Johansen

Stranded, by Alex Kava

Bombshell, by Catherine Coulter

Which ones do you foresee adding to your list?  I have one definite from this list, and I am all but salivating.  If you have been keeping up with my "What I've Been Reading" posts lately, you'll have already picked my favorite out of the list.  Which?  The new Will Trent novel by Karin Slaughter, of course: Unseen.   This latest finds Will working undercover in Macon, Georgia, cut off from his normal support as well as the woman he loves, Sara Linton.  When said woman's stepson is gunned down and the prime suspect is the man's wife, both Will and Sara wind up involved in the case without the other's knowledge.  No good can come of this...

Enjoy your weekend, happy reading, and I'll be back next week with love and humor titles coming out in July.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Reading Ahead: July 2013, part 1

With the sudden warmup at the end of last week, apparently summer has arrived and is here to stay.  In fact, the sudden influx of 90-degree temperatures here in CT were prompting a lot of my friends to post photos of snow and margaritas on their Facebook pages--everyone who had been wishing for summer suddenly wanted to cool off again!  Ah well, no one is happy all of the time, right?  Unless, of course, you're a fan of thriller novels looking ahead to see what chilling delights are being released this summer.  Might that be you?  I hope so, because the summer of the thriller is just getting started!

The Highway, by C.J. Box

Unleashed, by David Rosenfelt

The English Girl, by Daniel Silva

Light of the World, by James Lee Burke

The Curiosity, by Stephen Kiernan*

Hidden Order, by Brad Thor

Downfall, by Jeff Abbott

The Fire Witness, by Lars Kepler*

For the average thriller reader, you already are rubbing your hands together with glee and placing your holds.  However, I do want to point out two titles which are particularly worthy of note.  The first is Stephen Kiernan's debut novel, The Curiosity, which is being billed as a thoroughly original thriller about the nature of life and humanity.   A team of scientists in the Arctic make a stunning discovery--the body of a man frozen under layers of ice.  He is brought back to their lab and successfully reanimated.  When he begins to regain his memories, he shares that the last thing he remembers was falling overboard into the Arctic 1906.  I'm intrigued!

The other book I'd like to give some special attention to is, the latest Lars Kepler's latest Detective Inspector Joona Linna novel, The Fire Witness.   Flora Hansen makes her living as a medium, claiming to speak with the dead.  But after a gruesome murder at a home for wayward girls, Flora begins to have very real, vivid visions.  When she calls the police to report what she has seen, no one listens to her.  No one, that is, except for Joona Linna.  For fans of Jo Nesbo's Harry Hole novels or Steig Larsson's work, I highly recommend this Swedish series--start with The Hypnotist

You may have noticed that today's list featured only male authors.  No worries--I'll share this summer's bad girls of thriller novels in Thursday's post.  In the meantime, happy reading!