Thursday, July 23, 2015

Meg's Picks: August 2015, part 1

Some months, I feel like I'm grasping for enough titles of special interest to share with readers. This is not one of those months!

We Never Asked For Wings, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. I shared this earlier in the year as one of the summer preview titles, and I'm still really excited about it. Diffenbaugh is the author of the 2011 bestselling novel The Language of Flowers, which has been a particular favorite of book clubs for the last few years. For fourteen years, Letty Espinosa has worked three jobs around San Francisco to make ends meet while her mother raised her children. But now Letty’s parents are returning to Mexico, and Letty must step up and become a mother for the first time in her life. Being billed as a novel of hope and hard choices, this new novel is sure to be a reader favorite--book clubs in particular should take note.

The Dust That Falls From Dreams, by Louis De Bernieres. If De Bernieres's name looks familiar, it's with good reason: he also authored bestseller Corelli's Mandolin. He returns now with a powerfully moving new novel about a British family whose lives and loves are indelibly shaped by the horrors of World War I and the hopes for its aftermath. In the brief golden years of the Edwardian era the McCosh sisters—Christabel, Ottilie, Rosie and Sophie—grow up in an idyllic household in the countryside south of London. On one side, their neighbors are the proper Pendennis family, recently arrived from Baltimore, whose close-in-age boys—Sidney, Albert and Ashbridge—shake their father’s hand at breakfast and address him as “sir.” On the other side is the Pitt family: a “resolutely French” mother, a former navy captain father, and two brothers, Archie and Daniel, who are clearly “going to grow up into a pair of daredevils and adventurers.” In childhood this band is inseparable, but the days of careless camaraderie are brought to an abrupt halt by the outbreak of The Great War, in which everyone will play a part.
The Night Sister, by Jennifer McMahon.  Once the thriving attraction of rural Vermont, the Tower Motel now stands in disrepair, alive only in the memories of Amy, Piper, and Piper's kid sister, Margot. The three played there as girls until the day that their games uncovered something dark and twisted in the motel's past, something that ruined their friendship forever. Now adults, Piper and Margot have tried to forget what they found that fateful summer, but their lives are upended when Piper receives a panicked midnight call from Margot, with news of a horrific crime for which Amy stands accused. Suddenly, Margot and Piper are forced to relive the time that they found the suitcase that once belonged to Silvie Slater, the aunt that Amy claimed had run away to Hollywood to live out her dream of becoming Hitchcock's next blonde bombshell leading lady. As Margot and Piper investigate, a cleverly woven plot unfolds—revealing the story of Sylvie and Rose, two other sisters who lived at the motel during its 1950s heyday. Each believed the other to be something truly monstrous, but only one carries the secret that would haunt the generations to come. McMahon's previous novel, The Winter People, was a New York Times bestseller, so thriller readers just might want to check this one out.

Coming of Age at the End of Days, by Alice LaPlante. LaPlante is on fire. She debuted with the bestselling Turn of Mind. She followed up with the incredibly popular A Circle of Wives. So I'd be remiss if I didn't mention her new novel, which is being billed as less psychological thriller and more intense psychological study. When do-it-her-way teenager Anna, depressed and vulnerable, falls for the new boy next door, it must be a turning point, right? Well, yes. Except the boy's family is part of an extremist religion, and Anna is finding this attractive, too. Can she be rescued from a situation that is getting increasingly more dangerous? 

The Fall of Princes, by Robert Goolrick. Goolrick's debut novel, A Reliable Wife, remains one of my favorite books of all time. Here, 1980s Manhattan shimmers like the mirage it was, as money, power, and invincibility seduce a group of young Wall Street turks. Together they reach the pinnacle, achieving the kind of wealth that grants them access to anything--and anyone--they want. Until, one by one, they fall. Evocative of novels like Bonfire of the Vanities and The Wolf of Wall Street, Goolrick paints an authentic portrait of an era, tense and stylish, perfectly mixing adrenaline and melancholy.

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