Thursday, January 28, 2016

What I've Been Reading: January 2016

I wish I had more interesting news here, but the reading doldrums continue here. I'm reading about a book a week, though my goal for the year (have you set your reading goal on would have me reading double that. I'm sure this will pick up as soon as I stop binge-watching Jessica Jones on Netflix and knitting during my lunch hour! In any case, there are still some good ones to share from this month.

Still Life With Crows, by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child. I have not been this dedicated to a series in at least a few years. I cannot stop reading them, and have no desire to try! Here, FBI Special Agent Pendergast finds his curiosity piqued by a murderous tableau found in a Kansas cornfield. Is it a serial killer, or a darker curse lurking on the very land itself?

The Orchardist, by Amanda Coplin. This is my book club's choice for February, so I decided to get an early start on it. This is a haunting story of a solitary orchardist who provides shelter to two runaway teenage girls in the untamed American West, and the dramatic consequences of his actions, which spin out across the following decades. At the same time, he must also confront the troubling circumstances surrounding his own past, and how he came to the orchard decades before. I have a feeling this will provoke a lot of good discussion--it is packed with layers of stories and characters that build beautifully on one another. This is one to be savored, not devoured.

The Japanese Lover, by Isabelle Allende. If you want to know what our staff is buzzing about right now, this is it--a multi-generational saga that reaches from present-day San Francisco to WWII-era Poland and America. Engrossing from the first page, this is another novel to be savored, even as you can't stop turning the pages long past your bedtime. Very highly recommended. Also available in Large Print and Audiobook formats.

Brimstone, by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child. You guessed it, book 5 in the Special Agent Pendergast series! Back on the East Coast after his case in Kansas, Pendergast encounters some old friends from previous books, chief among them Vincent D'Agosta, now working in a lesser capacity for the Southampton Police Department. Their worlds collide once more while both investigate the sinister homicide of a universally hated art-critic who, it turns out, spent his last night alive trying frantically to make amends with those he wronged most in the past, resulting in a long list of rather unusual suspects. This series is so compulsively readable, maybe it's no wonder I'm not getting so much else done these days?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Meg's Picks: February 2016, part 2

 I was messing around over on recently, and checking through all of the books I've logged over there--I've been recording what I've read there as well as here since 2012! And one of the things I noticed is that I read a LOT of new fiction. Probably 95% of what I read in a given year has been published within the last two years. If you're like me and love the new, shiny books, here are a couple to tempt you next month.

Missing Pieces, by Heather Gudenkauf. Gudenkauf's name may ring some bells--she wrote 2009's NYT bestseller The Weight of Silence, among others. She returns to readers here with the story of Sarah Quinlan, whose husband lost his mother when he was a teenager. Returning home with him after his aunt Julia's accident, she realizes that there's something shady going on with this family.

A Friend of Mr. Lincoln, by Stephen Harrigan. Historical fiction fans, you might want to pay attention here. This is the story of Micajah "Cage" Weatherby, who had been part of Lincoln's inner circle in the 1830s and 1840s, when the ambitious young lawyer was a rising member of the state assembly. Cage is approached by Wiliam Herndon, Lincoln's law partner, who wants his help in publishing a book on the real Lincoln, the man they all knew, the man before he was president. And so begin Cage's recollections of the young, up-and-coming Lincoln, as Cage soon becomes the chronicler of the raw beginnings of greatness. This has been garnering praise for months pre-publication, so my best guess is this is going to be a standout.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Meg's Picks: February 2016, part 1

There are some novels coming out next month that I am positively giddy about. I have been waiting with baited breath for these, in some cases, for more than six months already! I cannot wait for the wait to be over! Shall we get on with it?

Hidden Bodies, by Caroline Kepnes. The original working title was Love, so if you click on these links and wonder what's up, that's it. Don't worry. By the street date, we'll have the catalog record updated. In any case, Kepnes's 2014 debut novel, You, was a huge favorite of mine, one I couldn't keep to myself (you can read my glowing review here). You'll want to catch up and read You before Hidden Bodies comes out, though, because it picks up where You left off: Joe Goldberg, antihero extraordinaire, feels most complete when he is fully engrossed in obsessing about a love interest. Here, his new obsession is employee Amy Adam, who drives him to madness when she leaves him for the promise of Hollywood. This is at the very top of my reading list for February!

I'm Traveling Alone, by Samuel Bjork. Bjork is already an international bestseller, but this novel marks his US debut. A six-year-old girl is found in the Norwegian countryside, hanging lifeless from a tree and dressed in strange doll's clothes. Around her neck is a sign that says "I'm traveling alone." A special homicide unit in Oslo re-opens with veteran police investigator Holger Munch at the helm. Holger's first step is to persuade the brilliant but haunted investigator Mia Kr├╝ger, who has been living on an isolated island, overcome by memories of her past. When Mia views a photograph of the crime scene and spots the number "1" carved into the dead girl's fingernail, she knows this is only the beginning. Could this killer have something to do with a missing child, abducted six years ago and never found, or with the reclusive religious community hidden in the nearby woods? Critics have made obvious comparisons to Jo Nesbo and Stieg Larsson, so if that sounds like you, check this one out.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Reading Ahead: February 2016, part 4

Need a novel set to warm your heart on a winter's day? We've got just the ticket!

A Girl’s Guide to Moving On, by Debbie Macomber. In Macomber's latest, a mother and her daughter-in-law bravely leave their troubled marriages and face the challenge of starting over. Leaning on each other, Nichole and Leanne discover that their inner strength and capacity for love are greater than they ever imagined. Macomber's work has been described to me as easy-reading with a heart of gold. Also available in Large Print.

Blue, by Danielle Steel. Actually being published at the end of January (tricky publishers and their last minute changes!), Steel's newest novel finds Ginny Carter, who was once a rising star in TV news, married to a top anchorman, with a three-year-old son and a full and happy life in Beverly Hills—until her whole world dissolved in a single instant on the freeway two days before Christmas. In the aftermath, she pieces her life back together and tries to find meaning in her existence as a human rights worker in the worst areas around the globe.
Then, on the anniversary of the fateful accident—and wrestling with the lure of death herself—she meets a boy who will cause her life to change forever yet again. Thirteen-year-old Blue Williams has been living on the streets, abandoned by his family, rarely attending school, and utterly alone. Following her instincts, Ginny reaches out to him. Leery of everyone, he runs from her again and again. But he always returns, and each time, their friendship grows. Also available in Large Print.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Reading Ahead: February 2016, part 3

February has fiction you'll love. Try one of these for a perfect match!

Brotherhood in Death, by J.D. Robb. Dennis Mira just had two unpleasant surprises. First he learned that his cousin Edward was secretly meeting with a real estate agent about their late grandfather’s magnificent West Village brownstone, despite the promise they both made to keep it in the family. Then, when he went to the house to confront Edward about it, he got a blunt object to the back of the head. Luckily Dennis is married to Charlotte Mira, the NYPSD’s top profiler and a good friend of Lieutenant Eve Dallas. And if Dallas is on the case, the person responsible for Dennis's attack and subsequent kidnapping of his cousin? Doesn't have a prayer. Robb, actually Nora Roberts, is a favorite and her long-running Eve Dallas series has millions of fans.

She’s Not There, by Joy Fielding. If you're a fan of authors like Mary Higgins Clark but you haven't read Joy Fielding, you really should consider giving her a try--why not start here?
Fifteen years ago, at a posh resort in Baja, Mexico, Caroline Shipley's world collapsed. The trip was supposed to be a celebration. Caroline’s husband, Hunter, convinced her to leave their two young daughters, Michelle and Samantha, alone in their hotel suite while the couple enjoyed an anniversary dinner in the restaurant downstairs. But returning afterward, Caroline and Hunter make a horrifying discovery: Two-year-old Samantha has vanished without a trace. What follows are days, weeks, and years of anguish for Caroline. And now, with a single phone call, Caroline finds her life turned upside-down all over again, as the caller claims to be Samantha.

Cometh the Hour, by Jeffrey Archer. Archer's Clifton Chronicles (this latest is book 6) have all been New York Times bestsellers, and fans have been lining up for this one for months already. (New to the series? Start with Only Time Will Tell.) It opens with a suicide note, which has devastating consequences for Harry and Emma Clifton, Giles Barrington and Lady Virginia. From Louisiana to London to Siberia, this family saga is sprawling and captivating, perfect for cozying up on a chilly night and losing yourself in the Cold War.