Thursday, September 29, 2016

Meg's Picks: October 2016

I just have two titles that I've held back for you this month, but they are two doozies!

Today Will Be Different, by Maria Semple. Semple is the author of the standout novel Where'd You Go, Bernadette? (2012), which followed teenager Bee on the journey of a lifetime to find her troubled, talented mother, who has disappeared. (By the way, I highly recommend it.) In her new novel, Eleanor knows she's a mess. But today, she will tackle the little things. She will shower and get dressed. She will have her poetry and yoga lessons after dropping off her son, Timby. She won't swear. She will initiate sex with her husband, Joe. But before she can put her modest plan into action-life happens. Today, it turns out, is the day Timby has decided to fake sick to weasel his way into his mother's company. It's also the day Joe has chosen to tell his office-but not Eleanor-that he's on vacation. Just when it seems like things can't go more awry, an encounter with a former colleague produces a graphic memoir whose dramatic tale threatens to reveal a buried family secret.

Paris for One, and Other Stories, by JoJo Moyes. Moyes (Me Before You, After You, etc) treats fans to the title novella and eight short stories in this collection, just right for curling up at the end of the day with a warm drink to unwind. (Yes, I'm an optimist, I can't help it. Sounds good though, doesn't it?) Nell is twenty-six and has never been to Paris. She's never even been on a romantic weekend away—to anywhere—before. Traveling abroad isn't really her thing. But when Nell's boyfriend fails to show up for their mini-vacation, she has the opportunity to prove everyone—including herself—wrong.  Alone in Paris, Nell finds a version of herself she never knew existed: independent and intrepid. Could this turn out to be the most adventurous weekend of her life? The collection is rounded out with stories equally funny and charming, what critics are calling vintage Moyes. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Reading Ahead: October 2016, part 5

Ok, I'll say it. I'm sorry. I'm sorry that two of the titles mentioned in today's post are holiday books, and that it's not even October yet. To be fair, I've held them back as long as I can. Also, I ordered both of them back in April, so if you think I'm pushing it? Trust me, I feel your pain here. Then again, you might be really excited about the prospect of cozy holiday stories, in which case, have at it!

Winter Storms, by Elin Hilderbrand. There was a time when Ms. Hilderbrand was the Queen of Summer, each new book from her a sunny romp along the shore. While she retains this title, this makes her third holiday story about the Quinn family in three years (following Winter Street, 2014, and Winter Stroll, 2015), so she may also become the Winter Queen in fairly short order. Some of the stormy weather of the past few seasons seems to have finally lifted for the Quinns. After a year apart, and an ill-fated affair with the Winter Street Inn's old Santa Claus, Mitzi has returned to rule the roost; Patrick is about to be released from prison; Kevin has a successful new business and is finally ready to tie the knot with Isabelle; and best of all, there's hopeful news about Bart, who has been captured by enemy forces in Afghanistan. If there's one holiday that brings the Quinn family together to give thanks for the good times, it's Christmas. Also available in Large Print.

Twelve Days of Christmas, by Debbie Macomber. Continuing her festive annual tradition of a holiday romance, Macomber returns with a new novel about finding love in the most unexpected of places.
Friendly and bubbly, Julia Padden likes nearly everyone, but her standoffish neighbor, Cain Maddox, presents a particular challenge. No matter how hard she’s tried to be nice, Cain rudely rebuffs her at every turn, preferring to keep to himself. But when Julia catches Cain stealing her newspaper from the lobby of their apartment building, that’s the last straw. She’s going to break through Cain’s Scrooge-like exterior the only way she knows how: by killing him with kindness. In for a penny, in for a pound, Julia starts a blog called The Twelve Days of Christmas to chronicle her project, becoming an overnight online success. Eventually she may have to choose between her growing feelings for Cain and her internet super-stardom. Also available in Large Print.

The Boy Is Back, by Meg Cabot. Reed Stewart thought he’d left all his small town troubles—including a broken heart—behind when he ditched tiny Bloomville, Indiana, ten years ago to become rich and famous on the professional golf circuit.  Then one tiny post on the Internet causes all of those troubles to return . . . with a vengeance. Becky Flowers has worked hard to build her successful senior relocation business, but she’s worked even harder to forget Reed Stewart ever existed. She has absolutely no intention of seeing him when he returns—until his family hires her to save his parents. Now they can't avoid each other, and it may be the best thing that could have happened to either of them.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Reading Ahead: October 2016, part 4

Wow, September is just rocketing right along, and I just can't seem to keep up! Good thing I keep a handy list of what's coming soon close by, or I'd really be in trouble!

Hag-Seed, by Margaret Atwood. In this modern retelling of Shakespeare's The Tempest, Felix is at the top of his game as Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival. His productions have amazed and confounded. Now he's staging a Tempest like no other: not only will it boost his reputation, it will heal emotional wounds.  Or that was the plan. Instead, after an act of unforeseen treachery, Felix is living in exile in a backwoods hovel, haunted by memories of his beloved lost daughter, Miranda. And also brewing revenge.  After twelve years, revenge finally arrives in the shape of a theater course at a nearby prison. Here, Felix and his inmate actors will put on his Tempest and snare the traitors who destroyed him. It's magic! But will it remake Felix as his enemies fall? I'm a long-time fan of Atwood's, since reading Alias Grace in college (many moons ago). There have been a number of Shakespearean retellings of late, but if Atwood is true to form, this will be a standout.

Two By Two, by Nicholas Sparks. This much anticipated new novel from Sparks (seriously, people have been requesting it for months and months already) is sure to be an instant favorite among fans. At 32, Russell Green is living the American Dream: gorgeous wife, adorable daughter, successful advertising career, an enviable home. But like so many perfect things, all is not as it appears, and within a matter of months, Russell's world has been upended. Gone are his wife, his career, and he's left to recreate life for himself and his young daughter. Also available in Large Print.

Small Great Things, by Jodi Picoult. Picoult always seems to have her finger on the pulse of hotbed topics in our culture, and her new novel is just her latest demonstration of this precision. Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene? Expect that your fellow readers will be discussing this in short order. Also available in Large Print.