Thursday, December 19, 2013

Looking ahead to 2014

So closes another year here on this little blog.  What can you look forward to in the coming year?  The old standbys, of course.  More Reading Ahead, more catching up with what I've read.  In January, I'll catch up with everyone and go over my 2013 reading challenge--I'm looking to change up a few things for my 2014 challenge.  I'm also planning a retrospective of some of the best books of 2013.

In the meantime, loyal readers, enjoy the season.  Try to find a little time to relax with a good book.  Take an audiobook with you as you run errands or drive to see loved ones this holiday season.  Make a resolution to read more in the coming year--make a wish list for yourself of books you'd like to read.  Put a night aside every week to "unplug" from the internet and television, take a little time to enjoy a book on that wish list.

And Micheline?  I think your New Year's Resolution is a library card!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Reading Ahead: January 2014, part 4

I know that between snow and holidays, the last thing you're probably thinking about right now is reading.  Unless it's wishing you had the time to do more of it.  That's where I am right now.  But think of it this way.  There's always all that time spent in the car when an audiobook might be a great addition.  Or perhaps while wrapping gifts?  That's my plan!

But if you want to bookmark this page, or make a New Year's resolution to read more in 2014, come on back to me when you're ready.  I'll still be here.  And since I'm here, I thought I might share just a few more of the titles coming up next month that I really think you might want to put on your list.

The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd.  You remember Sue Monk Kidd's name because she is the author of, among other titles, The Secret Life of Bees, which was a New York Times Bestseller and was also adapted for film.  Here, Kidd follows the journey of two women in early nineteenth century Charleston, and the intertwining of their lives.  On her eleventh birthday, Sarah Grimke is given ownership of ten-year-old house slave Hetty, also known as Handful.  What follows is the struggle for two women to live the lives they want for themselves, against all odds and with the help of one another.  Based on the life of the actual Sarah Grimke, this tale of courage in the face of a multitude of adversity is being touted as extremely powerful and moving.  Keep your eye on this one--it is bound for the bestseller's list, for sure.

A Well-Tempered Heart, by Jan-Philipp Sendker.  Julia Win came back from Burma, her father's native country, almost ten years ago.  By contemporary standards, she should be happy.  She's a successful Manhattan lawyer and quite wealthy.  However, her private life is crumbling--her long-time boyfriend has left her, and despite her big bank account, Julia is deeply unhappy with her professional life.  Julia finds herself confronted with ideas that will not go away: Why do you live alone?  What do you want in life?  Julia's story is intertwined with that of a Burmese woman named Nu Nu, who also finds herself in crisis when Burma goes to war and her two young sons become child soldiers.  Does Sendker's name seem familiar?  That's because this novel is a sequel to Sendker's well known 2012 title, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats.  My guess is this one is also going to be hugely popular, especially among book clubs, in 2014.

Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival, by Jennifer Chiaverini. Chiaverini, who made quite a name with herself with a series of novels surrounding the fictitious Elm Creek Quilters, has continued her foray into historical fiction after the major successes of Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker and The Spymistress.  Here, Chiaverini introduces readers to Kate Chase Sprague, with whom the very famous first lady Mrs. Lincoln had a very public social and political contest.  Though the two women had quite a lot in common, they could never be friends, for the success of one would only come at the downfall of the other as they battled behind the scenes of presidential campaigns--Mary Todd Lincoln's for her husband's election, and Kate Chase Sprague's for her father.  This should be delicious.

Under the Wide and Starry Sky, by Nancy Horan.  Nancy Horan made a huge impression on readers with 2007's Loving Frank, about the clandestine affair between Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Cheney, which shocked Chicago society.  Now she has returned with another historical, improbable love story, this time between Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson (author of Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, among others) and his tempestuous American wife, Fanny.  Theirs was a fierce relationship that rocked between intense darkness and acute joy.  Given Horan's deft hand with Wright and Cheney, I think this should join her first novel as a New York Times bestseller in short order.

Andrew’s Brain, by E.L. Doctorow.  You know Doctorow's name for many reasons, not the least of which because he's considered one of the great American writers; his 1975 novel Ragtime was later named one of the 100 best novels of the 20th century by the Modern Library editorial board. In his new novel, which critics are calling brilliant, sensitive, groundbreaking and dazzling, Andrew is telling the story of his life, his loves, and the tragedies which have led him to this confession in novel format.  I am really intrigued!

Still Life with Bread Crumbs, by Anna Quindlen.  Quindlen's work has long been a favorite, both among readers of contemporary fiction and especially among book clubs.  Her books are meaty, dealing with sensitive issues and harrowing situations with an expert hand. Still Life with Bread Crumbs is the story of photographer Rebecca Winter, whose work has made her a heroine for many women.  Now, however, her career is in decline and her bank account is dwindling.  She flees the city for the middle of nowhere, and yet, what started as the beginning of the end is just the beginning of her story.  I'm going to be very interested to hear what readers have to say with this one!

I'll be back with a little end of the year wrap-up, and then it will be a bit of a holiday hiatus for this librarian!  If you can find a bit of time, curl up and enjoy a book.  Consider it a gift to yourself this season.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Reading Ahead: January 2014, part 3

If you're looking ahead to recovering from the post-holiday madness, perhaps some easy reading might be in order?  A little romance, perhaps?  Or an adventure? 

Have I got you covered?  But of course!

Forget Me Not, by Fern Michaels

First Love, by James Patterson & Emily Raymond

River Road, by Jayne Ann Krentz

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Reading Ahead: January 2014, part 2

Mysteries, suspense and thrillers are the current bread and butter of the publishing industry, and the delight of millions of readers (we're a bloodthirsty lot, it would seem).  To ring in the new year, here are even more chilling titles to get your blood pumping!

The Way of All Fish, by Martha Grimes

That Old Black Magic, by Mary Jane Clark

The Execution, by Dick Wolf

Dead to Me, by Cath Staincliffe

Particularly worthy of note are the last two titles on the list.   First, Dick Wolf returns with a second Jeremy Fiske novel after his brilliant debut to the world of print fiction in The Intercept in 2013.  If you missed out on this first novel, I highly recommend catching up now, so you'll be ready for the second installment.  If the name Dick Wolf seems familiar, it's because he is a producer best known for his involvement with the Law & Order franchises (he has also written a number of episodes).  The Intercept was hugely popular, and I predict that Wolf's fame as an author is going to grow exponentially. 

The second title I wanted to point out is Dead to Me, first in a new thriller series by Cath Staincliffe.  With an unlikely team of female detectives, this is a perfect fit for fans of Tess Gerritsen or Deborah Crombie.  Thoroughly modern, sharp and fast-paced, set in North Manchester, England, this series kickoff features Detective Constable Janet Scott and her new partner Rachel Bailey, a recent transfer to the department who is as impulsive and ambitious as Scott is diplomatic and subtle.  This is absolutely on my to-read list come January.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Reading Ahead: January 2014, part 1

The holidays are over! 

Just kidding.

However, if you're looking ahead to all of the great new titles coming out in January (as I am), then the holidays are over and it's time to hunker down and weather the cold winter with lots of amazing fiction titles.  And a quilt.  Maybe a cup of hot cocoa.  Want to see what they have in store to whet your appetite?

Worthy Brown’s Daughter, by Philip Margolin

Standup Guy, by Stuart Woods

Fear Nothing, by Lisa Gardner

We'll head off chilly weather with suspense and chills, of course! What I can say is that I was lucky enough (the perks of being a blogging librarian!) to get an advanced copy of Lisa Gardner's new Detective D.D. Warren thriller, Fear Nothing.  I'm not done with it yet (you'll get a full review once I finish), but what I can say is that I absolutely cannot put it down.  D.D. has been injured in the line of duty and unable to return to work.  However, crime never sleeps, and a serial killer has all of Boston scared to breathe.  D.D. may not be in the line of duty, but she is in the cross-hairs, as the Rose Killer has her set as his next target.  I'm a huge fan of the Detective D.D. Warren series, and Gardner has absolutely done it again.  

I'm back with more books to look forward to next week.  In the meantime, happy reading!