Thursday, December 28, 2017

What I've Been Reading: December 2017

Well, it looks like I'm going to come up just shy of my 2017 goal to read 90 books, but I'm going to come mighty close! Here's what's been keeping me occupied these last few weeks.

Artemis, by Andy Weir. Okay, this was a book that I was really looking forward to this year. Andy Weir, if you'll remember, was the bestselling author of the debut smash The Martian, which was then made into a very popular movie starring Matt Damon. This, his follow-up, did not disappoint in the slightest. Jazz lives in Artemis, the only city on the moon, working as a porter and making ends meet by doing a little (a lot of) smuggling for the city's elite. Strapped for cash and always on the lookout for opportunities, Jazz pauses only briefly before accepting a top-secret job for one of her clients: put one of her client's competitors out of business. The job is highly dangerous to begin with but becomes deadly in short order, leaving Jazz to alternate between hiding to stay alive and working out a plan to keep her that way. This is definitely not The Martian, part 2, but it keeps with Weir's style of MacGyver in space, plenty of suspense and thrills, fast-paced plotting, vivid characters. Expect in theaters probably in 2020. The audiobook, read by actress Rosario Dawson, is exceptional and I very highly recommend it.

Grave Suspicion, by Aaron Mahnke. Aaron Mahnke is the creator of one of my very favorite podcasts, Lore, and I wanted to check out one of his novels. I got to do so via a free trial at Unfortunately, I think Lore might have spoiled me, as it's very well researched and brilliantly executed. Grave Suspicion is the tale of an extraordinary man, Sam Hawthorne, trying to keep a low profile and pass as ordinary as he leads a nomadic existence traveling from town to town in the midwest in an attempt to keep ahead of someone, or something, who seems to be hunting him. The unfortunate part, for me, is that the novel reads a bit like an early, unfinished draft, lacking the polish and tight storytelling of Lore to which I've become accustomed. Ah well, can't win them all.

The Obsidian Chamber, by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child. In preparation for the next installment in the writing team's FBI Special Agent Pendergast series, City of Endless Night, due out next month, I finally caught up with the published titles. Following the deadly confrontation at the end of The Crimson Shore, Pendergast has gone missing and is presumed dead. His ward, Constance Greene, intends to retreat into mourning, but is kidnapped before this can happen. Pendergast's longtime bodyguard, Proctor, is in hot pursuit to rescue Constance, only to be led on a wild goose chase of global proportions. Our heroes are scattered to the four winds, each in his or her own special brand of danger, their outcomes uncertain. Can each find their way home again safely? A slight change of pace for the series, but the story was no less thrilling for it. An excellent addition, and I look forward to the next installment.

The Silent Corner, by Dean Koontz. This is the first novel in Koontz's new series featuring suspended FBI Agent Jane Hawk (the second in the series, The Whispering Room, came out earlier in December and the third, The Crooked Staircase, is slated for release in May 2018). Jane's husband, Nick, had everything to live for, but took his own life, leaving behind only a chilling, brief note reading: "I very much need to be dead." Jane begins to dig for the truth, certain that Nick would never have committed suicide, and what she finds puts her life, and that of her son, in peril. People with no history of depression or suicidal thoughts are taking their lives in record numbers, and Jane's queries instantly make her a target. Driven by righteous rage, Jane pursues the truth, no matter the cost. Classic Koontz, full of paranoia and suspenseful vigilance.

Northern Lights, by Nora Roberts. Published more than a dozen years ago, Northern Lights is a re-read for me, but I'm counting the re-read. This is a favorite of mine, the story of a grieving man running from his past only to stumble headlong into an...unusual situation that, against all odds, becomes home for him. Nate Burke was a Baltimore cop who needed a change of scene after losing his partner. Haunted by guilt, he took a job as far away as he could, in Lunacy, Alaska. But the city cop is just what the Lunatics need, and Nate finds purpose in his work and his life...and love. Character is king in this book, and I loved it all over again.

This makes 86 books for me in 2017, and while I might squeeze in one or two more between now and January 1, I'm not banking on it. In the meantime, wishing all of my fellow readers a Happy and healthy New Year, and I'll see you again in January!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Meg's Picks: January 2018, part 2

Looking for note-worthy reads to get your pulse racing? Look no further than this assortment of new psychological thrillers, slated for release in the next few weeks.

The Woman in the Window, by A.J. Finn. This is another one of those titles that I can't help sharing twice--if you miss out, you can't say I didn't warn you! My original preview is here.

Need to Know, by Karen Cleveland. In pursuit of a Russian sleeper cell on American soil, CIA analyst Vivian Miller uncovers a secret that will endanger her job, her family, and her very life. After accessing a potential Russian operative's files, Vivian finds a secret dossier of deep-cover agents living in the US and is immediately in over her head. She's sworn to protect her country against threats both foreign and domestic, but now she finds herself torn between loyalty and betrayal, faced with a paralyzing decision: who can she trust? Movie rights have been sold to Universal, Charlize Theron is attached to the project, and the early reviews are full of praise. Miss out at your own peril!

Two Girls Down, by Louisa Luna. Luna's debut is already generating all sorts of buzz. When two young sisters disappear outside a strip mall in their small Pennsylvania town, their devastated mother engages Alice Vega, bountyhunter, to help. Vega is immediately shut out by the local police, already stretched thin by budget cuts and a growing OxyContin and meth epidemic in their small town. She does, however, find an unlikely ally in disgraced former cop, Max Caplan, eager to put his scandal behind him. With little to go on and their window of opportunity closing rapidly, it's up to this unlikely duo to untangle a web of lies and secrets to save the girls before time runs out.

A happy holiday to all! I'll be back next week to wrap up what I've been reading in 2017. Be well, and happy reading.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Meg's Picks: January 2018, part 1

Thrillers, mysteries, family sagas or mind-bending fiction, there's a little of everything coming next month. Here are a few I've hand-picked for you--don't miss out!

The Wife, by Alafair Burke. Need a new psychological thriller to look forward to? Advance reviews are raving about Burke's (The Ex, 2016, etc.) latest. When Angela met Jason while catering a dinner party in East Hampton, her assumption was that their romance would be short-lived. To her surprise, the relationship with the NYU professor blossomed and they got married the following summer. For Angela, this is a chance to reboot her life, a chance to leave her tragic past behind her and create a new future for her and her son. Six years later, Jason's new book is a bestseller and Angela is much too close to the spotlight for her comfort. Then a woman comes forward with an accusation against her husband, followed by a second, and suddenly Angela's perfect new life is crumbling around her. If forced to choose between defending her husband and saving her own life, which way will Angela go? Also available in Large Print.

Eternal Life, by Dara Horn. Horn's work (A Guide for the Perplexed, The World to Come, etc.) is very popular around here, and we expect the same from her latest. Rachel made a bargain to save the life of her first son. Her recent troubles? Widowhood, a failing business, an unemployed middle-aged son? Those are dim in comparison to the fact that she cannot die. And she should know--she's been trying to free herself from her bargain for 2,000 years. That's dozens of marriages, hundreds of children, countless countries. The only person who can understand, unfortunately, is a man she once loved and who now stalks her through the centuries, convinced they belong together. A novel of the power of faith, the purpose of death, and our reasons for being alive.

The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin. I am expecting this to be one of 2018's sleeper hits, so don't say I didn't warn you. In fact, I'm warning you twice, as this was one of my sneak-previews of 2018, just a few weeks ago. You can read my preview here.

The Mitford Murders, by Jessica Fellowes. From the author of the Downton Abbey companion books comes a crime novel with a new heroine set amid historical giants, perfect for fans of classic murder mysteries. It's 1920 and Louisa Cannon dreams of escaping her life of poverty in London. Her salvation is a position at the Asthall Manor, working for the Mitfords, in the Oxfordshire countryside. There she will become nursemaid, chaperone and confidante to the Mitford sisters, especially sixteen-year-old Nancy. But then a nurse, Florence Nightingale Shore, goddaughter to her namesake, is killed on a train in broad daylight, and Louisa and Nancy find themselves entangled in the case with a murderer hot on their heels. Based on an unsolved crime.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Reading Ahead: January 2018, Part 4

There is so much great fiction just on the horizon. Want to know what readers are eyeing? Take a look!

Still Me, by JoJo Moyes. This third entry in Moyes's Louisa Clark series (following Me Before You and After You) finds Louisa newly arrived in New York City, ready for a new adventure and determined to make her long-distance relationship work. Working for the super-rich Gopniks puts Louisa in  a very different social circle--running alongside high society has its perks, such as putting her into contact with a whisper of her past. But it also comes with drawbacks, and Louisa soon finds herself carrying a number of secrets, not all of them her own, which could change her circumstances in a heartbeat. If forced to choose, which life will Louisa lead? Also available in Large Print.

The Girls in the Picture, by Melanie Benjamin. Benjamin (The Swans of Fifth Avenue, The Aviator's Wife, etc.) here showcases the friendship between two of Hollywood's earliest female legends: screenwriter Frances Marion and superstar Mary Pickford. It's 1914 and Frances Marion is twenty-five, having just left her North California home (and her second husband) behind for the allure of Los Angeles. She's determined to live independently as an artist, but the only word on everyone's lips is "flickers", the silent moving pictures enthralling theater-goers. It's in this fledgling industry that Frances finds her true calling: writing stories for this marvelous new art form. She also meets the talented and popular actress Mary Pickford, the two finding instant kinship as two driven, creative women in a burgeoning industry. And together, they fight against the male-dominated business and against the limitations placed on them because of their gender. The result is a tale of friendship and forgiveness, populated with cameos by historical figures like Charlie Chaplin, Lillian Gish and Rudolph Valentino. Hollywood buffs and historical fiction fans alike should add this to their reading lists.

Sisters Like Us, by Susan Mallery. Fourth in Mallery's Mischief Bay series (following A Million Little Things, 2017), Sisters Like Us finds Harper Szymanski in trouble--newly divorced with a house she can't afford and a teenage daughter who's pulling away. Her fledgling virtual-assistant business is time consuming, but it's helping to pay the bills. Her sister, Dr. Stacey Bloom, is in a different predicament--she's realized that spending half her life in school has helped her to build a great career, but has left her quite unprepared for motherhood. Worse, they live in dread of their mother's harsh judgement of their life choices. Separately, their lives may verge on disaster, but together? There's nothing these sisters cannot handle.

Fall From Grace, by Danielle Steel. Sydney Wells's perfect life is shattered by the sudden death of her husband. Now widowed at 49, she discovers that he failed to include her in his will and his vicious daughters are not sharing. Without a home and desperately short of funds, Sydney finds a job in fashion, only to find herself hopelessly out of her depth and a scapegoat in her new boss's schemes. When you've sunk as low as you can go, how do you rebuild? Is it possible to rebuild your life after disgrace and come out on top? Sydney is about to find out. Also available in Large Print

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Reading Ahead: January 2018, Part 3

Feeling the need for something suspenseful and thrilling to keep you warm on a winter's night? Consider one of the following, due out in just a few weeks!

Act of Revenge, by Dale Brown & Jim DeFelice. Part of the writing duo's ongoing Dreamland series (following Puppet Master, 2016), Act of Revenge finds Louis Massina racing against time to save the city of Boston when terrorists attack on Easter Sunday. The robotics master, aka the Puppet Master, takes the attack personally--this is his city, and one of his employees is among the hostages taken. Step One: stop the attacks. Step Two? Track down the terror mastermind and make him pay.

Dark In Death, by J.D. Robb. An unbelievable 46th* entry into Robb's (aka Nora Roberts) long-running and best-selling series. In a case of death imitating art, NYPSD Lieutenant Eve Dallas is called on-scene when a woman is murdered during a screening of Psycho. The clues are few and Dallas is puzzled, only to get a tip from an unexpected source: an author of police thrillers who recognizes the details...from her own book. Dallas is certain this isn't just coincidence; upon further investigation, another recent crime is also straight from the author's work. If the theory holds, the NYPSD may be in for a long-running series, unless Dallas and her team can catch a killer and fast.

Promise Not to Tell, by Jayne Ann Krentz. Seattle gallery owner Virginia Troy is a woman with a dark past, including a childhood as part of a cult and the tragic death of her mother. Now, one of her artists has taken her own life, but not before sending Virginia a message, one that makes Virginia not only question the supposed suicide, but her own past, as well. A private investigator who is also a survivor of the same cult, Cabot Sutter may be the only one who can help her now. As they struggle to unravel the clues sent to Virginia, it becomes clear that someone thinks she knows more than she does, and is willing to kill to keep those secrets from coming out.

*Technically, including novellas, short stories and anthologies, this is the 58th entry in the series, but the 46th stand-alone novel.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Reading Ahead: January 2018, Part 2

Ready or not, more suspense and thrillers are on the horizon!

The Take, by Christopher Reich. Reich's (Invasion of Privacy, etc.) latest follows a hero, Simon Riske, who is part James Bond and part Jack Reacher. The London-based freelance industrial spy lives a mostly quiet life despite his job title. In fact, he does his best to avoid messy, complicated jobs, preferring to do odd jobs for banks and insurance companies. Until now. A former brother-in-arms, gangster Tino Coluzzi, has orchestrated the greatest street heist in Paris history. Their shared history ended with Riske in prison, so when the CIA asks Riske to intervene, he's only too ready to make this fight thief vs thief. If you're looking for something to take the edge off while you're waiting for the next Reacher, I highly recommend Reich.

Unbound, by Stuart Woods. There's no shortage of Stone Barrington novels these days! In the wake of personal tragedy, former CIA operative Teddy Fay takes a personal leave to travel and process his grief, only to land in Santa Fe with pal Stone Barrington. There, fate hands Teddy the means to work through his loss: a chance to exact revenge. But it will take all Stone's skill to help Teddy while keeping innocents out of the crossfire once the battle heats up.

Hellbent, by Gregg Hurwitz. Fans are loving Hurwitz's Orphan X series (which starts with 2016's Orphan X, in case you missed it), and this third installment is sure to win more readers over. And you might want to join them, especially since Hurwitz is hard at work on a script to bring an Orphan X adaptation to the big screen. Orphan X himself is Evan Smoak, taken from his home at age twelve and trained as an off-the-books government assassin. He eventually broke with the Orphan program and reinvented himself as the Nowhere Man, dedicated to helping the truly desperate. Now, Evan's past is reaching out: Jack Johns, the only father Evan has ever known, is in the crosshairs as the government works to eradicate the last traces of the Orphan program. Jack's task for Evan: find and protect Jack's last protege from the new head of Orphan.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Reading Ahead: January 2018, Part 1

January is full of new thrillers ready for readers!

The Whispering Room, by Dean Koontz. This is one of those instances where I ordered copies for the library months ago, and it was originally slated for release in January. And then they bumped it up to November! So Koontz fans, please stop in and grab a copy, as it's available now! This is the second in Koontz's new series featuring Jane Hawk, following The Silent Corner (there's a third in the series coming this spring, just a heads-up!). A shocking act of carnage, performed by the most beloved and mild-mannered teacher one could imagine. As Jane investigates the teacher's personal life for clues, and what looks like the secret journal chronicling an insane woman's innermost thoughts puts Jane on the hunt for the secret cabal responsible.

City of Endless Night, by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child. Book 16 in this writing team's much beloved and best-selling series featuring FBI Special Agent A.X.L. Pendergast (following 2016's Obsidian Chamber, which I happen to be reading now) finds Pendergast reunited with Lieutenant CDS Vincent D'Agosta on a case with diabolical undertones. Grace Ozmian, reckless daughter of a tech billionaire, is found dead...and missing her head. Something unique to NYC has attracted the evil eye of this killer, and he has only just begun. With the city teetering on the brink of hysteria, it's up to this duo to find the killer...before he finds them. Also available in Large Print

Into the Black Nowhere, by Meg Gardiner. Sequel to her UNSUB series debut of 2017, Into the Black Nowhere follows FBI rookie Caitlin Hendrix, newly assigned to the FBI's elite Behavioral Analysis Unit, tracking a serial killer outside of Austin, TX. It starts with a woman found in the woods, in a white nightgown and positioned in a Sleeping Beauty pose. Then they find another woman, and Caitlin's profile narrows their manhunt to a charismatic, successful professional who easily gains people's trust. But he escapes the police, and now Caitlin and the team must catch him before he can kill again.

Looking for something a little seasonal in the meantime? Stop by our big display of holiday books and give yourself the gift of reading!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

What I've Been Reading: November 2017

Readers, it was good while it lasted. I'd been running ahead of the game for my 2017 reading challenge (you can follow along with me on, if you fancy). But recently, with the holiday, a new fascination with podcasts (Lore is my current obsession, but I've also been listening to The Black Tapes, The Bright Sessions, and Alice Isn't Dead, all of which I highly recommend) which have replaced my normal audiobooks while I commute, and a number of hit-or-miss attempts at getting into new books... Well, I've fallen behind a bit, and my reading list for November feels a little pitiful compared to my usual. Ah well, in any case, here's what I've been reading...

Sleeping Beauties, by Stephen King & Owen King. This first father/son King collaboration is an eerie, chilling tale. The women of the world are falling asleep only to begin to hibernate, shrouded in cocoons. Attempts to wake the women result in...dangerous consequences. After a few days, even the last few holdouts are dropping off, leaving the men to fend for themselves. But what is actually happening to the women as they sleep? And what has caused the phenomenon? And finally, what of the rumors of a woman at the Dooling Women's Prison who can sleep and wake again without any of the effects of the Aurora phenomenon? Fascinating and goosebump-inducing.

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, by Matthew J. Sullivan. The dynamite debut was one of the most compelling, surprising novels I've read in some time. Lydia Smith works as a bookseller, a custodian both of the written word and also the Book Frogs, the lost and lonely regulars who are a fixture of the shop. When one of the Book Frogs, a troubled young man named Joey, commits suicide in the bookstore just before closing one night, he leaves Lydia (his favorite of the staff) with a clue as to what might have prompted his early exit. The clue is a picture of Lydia as a child, and the past it brings back is fraught with long-suppressed memories of a trauma that made national headlines. Lydia is left with only one choice: to finally deal with the demons of her past in hopes of finding an answer to Joey's troubling end. I loved the language, the pacing, the story--this novel was perfection.

The Last Mrs. Parrish, by Liv Constantine. Like twisted psychological thrillers that keep you guessing every step of the way? Me, too! In which case, this needs to be on your list of books to read ASAP. Amber Pearson knows exactly what she wants and will do anything and everything to get it. The problem? She wants someone else's life, specifically that of Daphne Parrish, the perfect wife, perfect mother, and perfect socialite of the elite Bishops Harbor, CT. The best part of the package, though, is Daphne's devastatingly handsome (and super-rich) husband, Jackson. Amber begins to insinuate herself into the Parrish's life, preying on Daphne's sympathy and graciousness, soon becoming her most trusted confidante. But everyone has secrets, even the most perfect of people, which may just ruin everything for Amber. This was a great page-turner, it kept me guessing right to the end--very satisfying!

The Double Bind, by Christopher Bohjalian. This is my book club's selection for our December meeting. A single encounter can change a person's life, for good or ill. For Laurel Eastbrook, a violent attack during a bike ride along rural roads during her college years is such a defining moment. She goes on to become a social worker, working with the homeless, and retreats into her photography. Then she meets Bobbie Crocker, a homeless man with a history of mental illness and a box of photos he won't let anyone else see. When Bobbie dies, Laurel discovers a secret that takes her far from her small, safe lift. Speaking of twists? This is masterfully plotted.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Meg's Picks: 2018 Sneak Preview!

I know it's early days yet, with the turkey hangovers and the Black Friday bruises still healing. But if you need something to dream about during the holiday shenanigans, an image of quiet time with a book on a cozy evening after the holiday rush is over to get you through? (Cuz I know I do!) Here are a few of the titles coming in 2018 that I am the very most excited about!

The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah. Slated for release in early February 2018, this new novel by best-selling author Hannah (and her first since her runaway hit The Nightingale was published in 2015) takes place in a very different setting: 1974, in the Alaskan wilderness. Leni is just 13 when her father, a former Vietnam POW, convinces her mother Cora to take their family from Seattle to settle in Alaska and live off the land, and off the grid. While the summer of their arrival is full of golden glory, the winter snows bring trouble to Leni and her family. Readers are already placing their holds--make sure you're one of them!

The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin. Due out in mid-January, this novel has been generating buzz for months already. In 1969, a mystical woman has come to New York City's Lower East side, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The four Gold children, adolescents on the cusp of adulthood, sneak out to hear their fortunes. What they each learn that night, they hide from one another, and yet their fortunes shape the next five decades for each of them. If you like family sagas and character driven stories both deep and ambitious, I'm recommending this for you.

The Woman in the Window, by A.J. Finn. Fans of Gillian Flynn, Tana French and Ruth Ware, take note! Looking for a new twisted psychological thriller to while away the cold? Look no further than this debut novel, already an international bestseller. Anna Fox is a recluse, living alone in her New York City home, unable to venture out. She spends her time day drinking, watching old movies...and spying on her neighbors. Of particular interest is the new family who has moved in across the street, a couple and their teenage son. They seem perfect, until one night Anna sees something she shouldn't and her reality begins to crumble. This is due out just after the first of the year, so place your holds now!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Reading Ahead: December 2017, part 3

Count to Ten, by James Patterson and Ashwin Sanghi. This latest installment of Patterson's Private series (if you're new to this particular series, start with Private, 2010) finds Jack Morgan, head of the Private agency, working to convince Santosh Wagh to come back (Santosh had quit as head of Private India after almost dying during an incident in Mumbai) and head up the new headquarters in Delhi. Santosh reluctantly accepts, but soon finds himself in another life-and-death situation. (Please note: This was originally scheduled for publication in December, and the release date has been moved up to mid November--this title is currently available at the library.)

Enchantress of Numbers, by Jennifer Chiaverini. Chiaverini continues her tradition of illuminating the lives of fascinating women in history through fiction, here focusing on the first computer programmer, Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace (she also happened to be Lord Byron's only legitimate child). Estranged from her very famous (and infamous) father, Ada was raised by her mathematician mother and provided with a very rigorous education grounded in math and science. Fearing any hint that her daughter would follow in Byron's footsteps, Ada's mother snuffs any signs of creativity, passion or poetry in her young daughter. Once debuting in London society as a highly eligible young heiress, Ada finally comes into her own, making friends who share her love of learning, falling in love...and uncovering the secret behind her parents estrangement. For readers who enjoy historical fiction, this should be a natural addition to your reading lists.

Happy Thanksgiving, readers! I'll be back next week to share what I've been reading, as well as a sneak preview of some of the great books coming in 2018. Happy reading!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Reading Ahead: December 2017, part 2

While the list for December publications is rather scant, I've come to the conclusion that January is overflowing with new titles! So we'll finish off December's list a bit early this month and get a jump on next year, what do you think?

Death at Nuremberg, by WEB Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV. Fourth in the father-son writing team's Clandestine Operations series (following 2016's Curtain of Death), this new novel takes place during the creation of the CIA and the beginning of the Cold War. When Jim Cronley finds out he's just won the Legion of Merit, he's only waiting for the other shoe to drop. Sure enough, he's also being reassigned: he'll be protecting the U.S. chief prosecutor of the Nuremberg trials from a rumored Soviet kidnapping. Cronley is also supposed to hunt down and dismantle the infamous Odessa, an organization dedicated to helping Nazi war criminals escape to South America. His hands are more than full, his life on the line. Who will prove to be the most dangerous threat? Time will tell. Fans of espionage fiction will want to make sure to add this to their reading list.

The Demon Crown, by James Rollins. Book thirteen in Rollins's long-running and extremely popular Sigma Force series (after The Seventh Plague, 2016) finds the Sigma Force members faced with an impossible choice: join forces with the newly resurrected Guild, their most hated enemy, or allow the world to face an extinction-level event, the weaponization of a compound found in bones encased in amber and hidden for more than a century. The fan-base for this series is growing steadily--are you among them?

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Reading Ahead: December 2017, part 1

The list for new December fiction may run on the short side this year, but what it lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality! Read on to see what I mean.

The Wanted, by Robert Crais. Crais's newest entry in his long-running, award-winning Elvis Cole/Joe Pike series (following 2015's The Promise). When single mother Devon Connor contacts PI Elvis Cole, it's because her troubled teen son suddenly has money to burn and she's worried that he's dealing drugs. The truth is much worse: with two others, the boy has been responsible for a series of high-end burglaries, and after the trio steals from the wrong man, they find themselves under fire from hired assassins. Cole and Pike may not even be a match for the hitmen...

Year One, by Nora Roberts. First in a new series (Chronicles of the One) from prolific best-seller Roberts, Year One begins on New Year's Eve at the start of an epidemic that quickly decimates half the world's population. As society collapses, science and technology are replaced by magick, some good and some bad. But a new authority has risen and neither the immune nor the gifted are safe. In the wake of the end, what will the new beginning be? This is a little different for Roberts, and may win her some new fans. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

What I've been reading: October 2017

Hard to believe that it's already Halloween, when it still felt almost summery last week! I have, of course, been enjoying some great reads this month, and I can't wait to share them!

Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing, by Jennifer Weiner. This funny and incredibly candid collection of essays from best-selling novelist Weiner (Good In Bed, In Her Shoes, etc.) covers everything. From weight, sex, love, motherhood, marriage(s), and writing to divorce, reality TV, Twitter fights and dog ownership, the essays cover all of it and more. I've been a fan of her writing since her debut and found this collection equally entertaining--I couldn't put it down.

Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens, by Eddie Izzard. Izzard, comedian, actor, writer, here brings his own brand of sharp and clever humor to the page in essays that cover topics like mad ancient kings, politics both historical and sexual, chickens with guns, running marathons, and a number of other, more personal bits. He has long been one of my very favorite comedians, and if you're a fan, I highly recommend this memoir.

How to Find Love in a Bookshop, by Veronica Henry. Nightingale Books has been a fixture in its little village home for decades. After proprietor Julian passes away, his daughter Emilia returns to run it in its stead. She misses her father, as do the shop regulars, and together they form something close to family. Running the shop is not altogether easy, and the urge to sell to a local developer is hard to resist. More than anything, this is a story of stories, of books and how they connect to readers, of how readers connect to one another, and the stories each of us have to tell one another. Thoroughly enjoyed this one.

The Paris Architect, by Charles Belfoure. This is my book club's pick for our November meeting. It is 1942 in German-occupied Paris, and gifted architect Lucien Bernard has accepted a commission that will earn him a great deal of money, and quite possibly get him killed. His benefactor asks him to create hiding places for wealthy Jews being smuggled out of the country, hiding places so ingenious that no German officer could ever find them. And Lucien does these jobs, studiously ignoring the personal aspects...until one of his jobs fails, and Lucien's work becomes very personal, indeed. Belfoure, an architect himself, brings his knowledge to every detail. This was an enthralling read, and one I can't wait to discuss with our group.

Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell. I adore Rainbow Rowell's work, YA and adult titles alike. Her YA books do not condescend to the reader; she meets them on equal ground. Here, Park is used to being a relative oddity in his 1986 Omaha neighborhood, one of two (his brother being the other) half Korean kids in their entire school. His method of coping with teasing on the bus is to ignore the others, listening to loud music on his headphones and reading comic books. Then the new girl gets on the bus, a pale girl with a ton of red hair, an immediate new target for the bullies in the back seats. There's nowhere for her to sit except next to Park, and this is how the unlikeliest of friendships grows over the course of the school year together. Bittersweet and heartbreakingly honest, this was a book I devoured over the course of two evenings, I couldn't do anything else until I knew how it ended.

The Summer That Made Us, by Robyn Carr. Two sisters had three daughters each, and they all spent summers at their family lake house. Those were the best of times. Until tragedy struck one summer, and everyone scattered, and the family was no longer close and each woman went her separate way. Until tragedy becomes the catalyst to bring them together again, decades later. It's a story of loss and of hope and rebuilding one's life after catastrophe, of learning and loving and moving on. And while it was interesting and certainly readable, it felt a bit unfinished, maybe a little rushed. There were story lines left unfinished, sub-plots left unexplored, as though there was too much in the beginning to tie up in the end. Which makes me wonder whether this might be the first in a new series? Time will tell.

The Little French Bistro, by Nina George. I enjoyed this one so much, I couldn't keep it to myself. You can read my review here.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Can't Keep it to Myself: The Little French Bistro

Nina George's second novel, The Little French Bistro (after 2015's reader favorite The Little Paris Bookshop) follows her first novel's theme: it's never too late to start over. German housewife Marianne is stuck. She's been married for all of her adult life to a man who does not love her, does not value or respect her. Frankly, she's not even sure Lothar likes her. On a trip to Paris, Marianne reaches her breaking point. She walks away from her life. Or she tries to. She's thwarted, rescued, and is given the chance to reexamine her next step. On a whim, she leaves Paris for the Breton seaside town of Kedruc, aided by fortune and the kindness of strangers.
Once in Kedruc, Marianne learns to make friends, to have a space of her own, to help others and be helped in return. She learns to live a life that makes her happy, governed by her own choices. She becomes part of the community full of vibrant, eccentric people with their own stories to tell. And yet, when her past catches up with her, she has some incredibly hard choices to make. Uplifting, inspiring, colorful and delightful, this book was a great read and I can't help but recommend it to others.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Meg's Picks: November 2017

While my list of picks for November is not long, it is still very exciting!

Artemis, by Andy Weir. Fans of Weir's debut, The Martian, (and that includes the film adaptation starring Matt Damon) have been eagerly anticipating what Weir will do next. That wait is over in a few short weeks when Artemis is released. This is not The Martian, Volume 2. Rather this is a heist. Set on the moon. Artemis is the first and only city on the moon, and if you're not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire, life can be tough. The occasional bit of smuggling helps cover one's debts, especially when base pay barely covers rent on the lunar surface. For Jazz Bashara, that's the way she makes ends meet. And then she sees the opportunity for a big score, the perfect crime. Although, there's no such thing, and when the job goes sideways, it's only the beginning of bigger problems for Jazz. I expect this to be brilliantly imaginative and entertaining, given advance reviews.

The Revolution of Marina M., by Janet Fitch. Fitch is not prolific, but her work (White Oleander, Paint it Black) is reliably eye-opening and thought provoking. In her first novel in a decade, Fitch brings readers a sweeping historical saga of the Russian Revolution, seen through the eyes of one young woman. The novel opens in St Petersburg on New Year's Eve, 1916 and Marina Makarova is a young woman of privilege, aching to be free of the confines of her genteel life. Her wishes are granted abruptly by the swift, violent force of history. Soon Marina will be marching for workers rights, falling in love with a young poet, and betraying everything her family has stood for. Against the stark background of a country in turmoil, Marina's coming-of-age story is marked by the private heroism of an ordinary woman in extraordinary times. My guess is that this will be a favorite of readers this winter, and a favorite of book clubs for years to come.

Heather, the Totality, by Matthew Weiner. This debut novel by the creator of the award-winning show, Mad Men, and executive producer of The Sopranos is an entry into noir thrillers that fans will not want to miss. The Breakstones have created the perfect life in Manhattan, including the perfect daughter, Heather, who is the light of their lives. Perfection only goes so far, and tensions strain the family's relationships. When construction begins on a nearby penthouse, a dangerous stranger enters the family's protective sphere, threatening to destroy everything they've created for themselves.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Reading Ahead: November 2017, part 4

New novels from a variety of favorites? You got it! Read on!

Secrets of Cavendon, by Barbara Taylor Bradford. Fourth in her Cavendon Chronicles (following 2016's The Cavendon Luck), Bradford's latest opens in the summer of 1949 after an unprecedented stretch of calm for the aristocratic Ingham family and the Swanns, who have loyally served them for generations. However, since the end of World War II, changes have arrived at Cavendon Hall. With a new generation at the helm, the door also opens to new scandal and intrigue, forcing the two families to band together once more to protect one another. 

In the Midst of Winter, by Isabel Allende. Actually scheduled for release on October 31, Allende's  (The House of the Spirits, Daughter of Fortune, etc.) latest finds three very different people brought together after a minor traffic accident during a Brooklyn snowstorm sparks far more serious problems in a story that shifts from modern day Brooklyn to 1970s Chile and Brazil. Allende has been a reader favorite for years; if you haven't read her work before, I can't recommend it highly enough.

Future Home of the Living God, by Louise Erdrich. Erdrich (The Round House, LaRose, etc.) brings readers something a little different. Evolution is reversing itself, and science cannot seem to stop nature from running backwards: woman after woman is giving birth to babies who appear to be a primitive species of humans. For Cedar Hawk Songmaker, this is particularly troubling, as she is four months pregnant. Though she wants to share with her adoptive parents, she also feels compelled to find her own mother, Mary Potts, on the Ojibwe reservation in an effort to find out more about her own origin. Meanwhile, society begins to collapse, with martial law on the horizon and a registry of women being compiled. I'm recommending this chilling dystopian tale to readers looking for more after reading Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale.

Looking for something scary to read this season? Stop by the Main Library and pick up something spine-tingling--we've got a display of scary stories just across from the Circulation Desk.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Reading Ahead: November 2017, part 3

New books by some of our classic favorite authors are coming soon to a library shelf near you!

Past Perfect, by Danielle Steel. The Gregory family has a picture perfect life in Manhattan, until Blake is offered a dream job in San Francisco. He agrees without hesitation, or consulting his family. He buys a magnificent, irresistibly underpriced historic Pacific Heights mansion as their new home. An earthquake their first night in the house jars them, but also exposes a hidden link to the home's past, and the family who lived there more than a hundred years ago... Also available in Large Print

Every Breath You Take, by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke. Fourth in the duo's Under Suspicion series (following 2016's The Sleeping Beauty Killer) follows television producer Laurie Moran's investigation of the unsolved Met Gala murder, where a wealthy widow was pushed to her death from the museum's rooftop. The leading suspect then, and now, was the widow's much younger boyfriend and personal trainer, Ivan Gray. A tip from a NYPD connection has Laurie digging deeper into the case, uncovering a longer, and more dangerous, suspect list. This collaboration is winning both authors increasing numbers of fans.

The Story of Arthur Truluv, by Elizabeth Berg. Berg's fans are ravenous for a new novel; it has been nearly three years since the publication of her last book, The Dream Lover. Arthur Moses's days look very much the same. He tends his roses, his cat Gordon, and takes the bus to the cemetery each day to have lunch with his beloved late wife. It is only by a single chance encounter that his life changes. Maddy Harris, eighteen, hides out in the cemetery to escape the other kids at her school. One afternoon, she joins Arthur, a gesture that surprises them both, forging an unlikely friendship. They find Arthur's neighbor, Lucille, within their orbit, and then the three are friends together. Poignant and thought-provoking, I expect this to be a reader, and book club, favorite in the months to come.
Also available in Large Print.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Reading Ahead: November 2017, part 2

More continuations of long-running series are on the slate for November new releases!

Tom Clancy Power and Empire, by Marc Cameron. President Jack Ryan finds himself dealing with a newly aggressive Chinese government in this continuation of Tom Clancy's iconic series. It seems that, as pawns are moved around on a global chessboard, President Zhao is determined to limit President Ryan's options at an upcoming summit. But it is revealed that this is only the tip of the iceberg--a routine traffic stop in Texas uncovers a Chinese spy, one of a network that may change everything... Also available in Large Print

Typhoon Fury, by Clive Cussler & Boyd Morrison. Latest in Cussler's Oregon Files series (following 2016's The Emperor's Revenge) begins with Juan Cabrillo and the crew of the Oregon on a job searching for a half-billion dollars worth of artwork when they suddenly encounter deeper waters: the commander of a Filipino insurgency is using a little-known World War II drug to turn soldiers into super warriors. Cabrillo and crew are now up against not just the rebel leader, but the African mercenary who wants the drug for his own nefarious plans. And then things start to get really dangerous.

Hardcore Twenty Four, by Janet Evanovich. Stephanie Plum seems to be a magnet for trouble, and this time she has her hands more than full. First there's the professional grave robber who won't let Stephanie bring him in unless she agrees to care for his pet boa constrictor. Then a grisly series of incidents literally litter the streets with headless corpses. And if that isn't enough? An old flame returns to make a hash of her already complicated personal life. Can Jersey's favorite bounty hunter get herself out of multiple sticky situations? Fans can't wait to find out. Also available in Large Print.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Reading Ahead: November 2017, part 1

Today I bring you new series entries from some of today's most popular novelists.

The Midnight Line, by Lee Child. Jack Reacher is back in a new story (the 22nd entry in Child's bestselling series, following 2016's Night School) that finds Reacher in a small Wisconsin town where he spots a West Point ring in a pawn shop window. It's a small ring, a woman's ring, and it's from 2005--a hard year to graduate from the Point, leading into Iraq, then Afghanistan. Four hard years to earn that ring. What made her have to give that up? Reacher, nothing better to do, decides to find the woman and return the ring to her. This small errand quickly becomes the first link in a long, dark chain that takes Reacher through dives in small towns across the midwest, the terrain becoming steadily more and more dangerous. Classic thrills from fan favorite Child. Also available in Large Print

End Game, by David Baldacci. This is the fifth installment in Baldacci's Will Robie series (who was last seen in 2015's The Guilty). Will Robie and Jessica Reel are two of the most lethal people alive, the people that the government calls in when someone is needed to take out a threat to national security, with the utmost secrecy. Through every mission, their handler, code name Blue Man, has had their backs. But now Blue Man is missing, having vanished off the grid during a rare vacation. The team fears the worst, and Robie and Reel are sent to investigate. What they didn't count on was a situation so dire that they'll be lucky to make it out alive, with Blue Man or without... Also available in Large Print.

The People vs Alex Cross, by James Patterson. Alex Cross has never found himself on the wrong side of the law...until now. Now he has been charged with gunning down followers of nemesis Gary Soneji, and finds himself becoming the poster child for trigger-happy cops. Cross knows it was self-defense, but will a jury see it that way? What follows promises to be the trial of the century. Also available in Large Print. (The Alex Cross series began in 1993 with Along Came a Spider. The most recent entry was Cross the Line, 2016).

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

What I've been reading: September 2017

It's that time again! Time to wrap up what I've been reading lately!

The Shark Club, by Ann Kidd Taylor. Maeve Donnelly's life was forever changed when, at age eleven, she was kissed by her crush, and moments later, was bitten by a blacktip shark. Eighteen years later, she's enamored with sharks, swims with them, studies them. But that boy? There's unfinished business, and a lot of painful history to overcome. They're more mature now, surely after years apart they can put their shared past to rest? It's when Maeve returns home between study sojourns that her life seems to blow up all over again--her brother's debut novel turns out to be about Maeve's lovelife debacles, her old flame works at her grandmother's hotel, and Maeve is going to have to do some serious soul-searching in order to choose the right path forward. Light and easy reading, though I'll admit I found myself surprisingly moved by the ending.

When You Are Engulfed In Flames, by David Sedaris. David Sedaris is my spirit animal. There, I've said it. This is the second of his books I've read (both audiobook format, if I'm putting it all out there), and I love his style, his insight, and his humor. The audiobook version is particularly effective--some writers are excellent at reading their own writing, and Sedaris is among them. Cringe-worthy and hilarious, Sedaris's stories of his mishaps and misadventures (like sneezing a lozenge into the lap of a sleeping seatmate on a plane, or moving to Tokyo to quit smoking) make me laugh, make me think, and in many cases, make me nod along thinking, "Oh yeah, I know that feeling." Commuters, if you need an audiobook to help you pass the time in a more enjoyable way, I definitely recommend this one.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette?, by Maria Semple. Told through emails, letters, texts, and from multiple points of view, this novel is equal parts family drama, mystery, and laugh-out-loud funny comedy. Just before Christmas, and a long-anticipated family trip to Antarctica, Bernadette Fox goes missing. In the leadup, she has run over a fellow mom at her daughter's school, dodged people who recognize her from a past she left behind over fifteen years ago, and handled her agoraphobia by staying in the family's shambles of a home and designated everything to a virtual assistant located in India so that she doesn't have to go into Seattle, which she loathes. In the aftermath, Bernadette's fifteen-year-old daughter Bee is left to piece together what happened to her mother, following a trail of letters and emails, and drag her Microsoft guru father along for the ride. Thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining. Bonus info: Cate Blanchett, Kristen Wiig, and Billy Crudup all star in the movie adaptation, which is due out next year.

Secrets in Death, by J.D. Robb. This forty-fifth (!) entry in Robb's (aka Nora Roberts) long-running near-future cop-thriller series featuring NYPSD Lieutenant Eve Dallas brings the murder to the homicide cop. Dallas is having drinks with an associate only to have the city's top celebrity gossip hound drop dead at her very feet. Larinda Mars made herself a household name churning the rumor mill of the rich and famous, but after her death, Dallas uncovers that where Mars's real money came from was blackmailing the rich and famous to keep the worst of the worst out of the media. The suspect list gets longer all the time as Dallas reveals more and more dirt, meaning she has to tread carefully among the elite. It's when a choice bit of information brings the case close to home that Dallas finds herself in over her head. Fast and easy reading, I can't quit this series.

Breaking Silence, by Linda Castillo. Third in Castillo's bestselling Chief Kate Burkholder series finds the former-Amish police chief faced with a terrible accident on an Amish farm: a couple and an uncle are found dead in their barn, apparently from asphyxiation caused by methane gas and poor ventilation. Four children are left orphans. It soon becomes clear that foul play was involved, however, and the chief, to bring a killer to justice, must uncover who might have wanted these simple, honest, hardworking folks dead. Is it related to a shocking rash of hate-crimes against the Amish in the area? Nail-bitingly tense plotting made this a very fast read for me, I couldn't stand to put it down, I needed to know what happened.

The Magdalen Girls, by V.S. Alexander. Teagan and Nora, young women in Dublin in 1962, find themselves held as penitents at the The Sisters of Holy Redemption, working in one of the city's Magdalen Laundries. What were once havens have turned into grim workhouses. The two girls become fast friends, arriving within days of one another, neither there for more than being ordinary girls, though some inmates are fallen women or petty criminals. They find themselves stripped of their identities, including their names, as well as their dignity. The Mother Superior, Sister Anne, metes out severe punishments in the name of love, all the while hiding a secret of her own. It is when Teagan and Nora befriend the elusive Lea that they finally begin to hatch a plan to escape. What they haven't counted on is their reception in a society that has a keen eye and a hard edge where soiled reputations are concerned. Fascinating and grim at the same time.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Meg's Picks: October 2017, part 3

Today I bring you two compelling novels: one a debut sure to be a favorite, another a favorite sure to be a bestseller. Read on!

The Last Mrs. Parrish, by Liv Constantine. For readers who crave more twisty psychological thrillers (like Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train, etc.), look no further than Constantine's debut, about a coolly manipulative woman and the wealthy "golden couple" from Connecticut who become her fixation. Amber Patterson deserves more that what she has; she's tired of being a plain nobody who fades into the background. What she wants is what Daphne Parrish has: money, power, prestige, looks, and a perfect marriage. What Amber has is a plan: to worm her way into the Parrish family's circle, and claim it for her own. What she hasn't counted on? Her own dark past coming to haunt her, and potentially ruin everything. Expect this to be on everyone's reading list in the coming months.

The Trust, by Ronald H. Balson. A new novel from bestselling author Balson (Once We Were Brothers) finds private investigator Liam Taggart returning home for his uncle's funeral, only to uncover that the cause of death may not have been natural after all. Years after a bitter family confrontation drove him away from home, Liam is reluctant to return. When he does, he learns that not only was his uncle shot to death, but that his uncle had foreseen his own violent demise, evidenced by a shocking last will and testament that leaves his entire estate to a secret organization, but that no distributions shall be made until his killer is identified. The investigation draws Liam further and further into a past, and a family, he had abandoned, forcing him to confront all he had left behind...and why.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Meg's Picks: October 2017, part 2

New work from old favorites, and new books from favorites-to-be!

In the Midst of Winter, by Isabelle Allende. Allende (The House of the Spirits, Daughter of Fortune, The Japanese Lover, etc.) never fails to surprise her readers. In her latest, two NYU professors and a Guatemalan nanny find themselves with a body to dispose of in the midst of a Brooklyn blizzard. Isn't this how all love stories begin? The story of these three very different people moves from Brooklyn to Guatemala, to Chile and Brazil, from the present to the 1970s and back. Given Allende's keen insight into the human heart, this is sure to be a favorite.

Last Christmas in Paris, by Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb. It's August 1914 and everyone's saying that this war will be over by Christmas. Evie Elliott watches her brother Will and his best friend Thomas go off to war, then anticipates their plans to spend the holidays in Paris together once the unpleasantness is over. And yet, nothing goes as planned. Evie and Thomas correspond during their separation, experiencing very different sides of the war. Evie grows frustrated with her expected roles as a young lady, wishing to be more involved in helping the war effort. Meanwhile Thomas faces not only the ugly realities of war but also an attack on his father's newspaper business back home due to War Office regulations regarding the press. And years later, Thomas must put his past to rest, only to find one last surprise waiting for him. I'm recommending this for book clubs as well as fans of historical fiction like Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale and Mary Ann Shaffer's The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

Without Merit, by Colleen Hoover. The Voss family is anything but normal. They live in a repurposed church, cancer-survivor mom residing in the basement, dad and mom's former nurse living upstairs. The eldest siblings are irritatingly perfect. The youngest, a half-brother, isn't allowed to do or eat anything fun. And then? Then there's Merit, who collects trophies she hasn't won and secrets her family forces her to keep. When she falls in love with a boy she cannot have, Merit re-examines her life, only to find it full of lies she can no longer handle. Compelled to tell the truth before making her exit once and for all, Merit must finally come to grips with her reality, including the consequences of telling the ugly truth. Hoover (It Ends With Us, 2016) is absolutely one to watch.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Meg's Picks: October 2017, part 1

I am always so excited to share my picks with you, readers! Here are some gems coming up next month, from some of my very favorite authors. If you're tired, bored with your usual authors, or feel as though it's been ages since you read something that really captured you, I urge you to try one of these.

Strange Weather, by Joe Hill. In this collection of four short novels, Hill (Horns, The Fireman, etc.) carries on his tradition of describing the darkness just beneath the surface of everyday life. Snapshot is the tale of a Silicon Valley adolescent who finds himself threatened by a thug who owns a camera which can erase memories one snapshot at a time. In Aloft, a young man goes skydiving only to find himself a castaway on a cloud made of impossibly substantial vapor. Rain explores the apocalyptic event of a rain of bright nails from the sky, starting in Boulder, Colorado and spreading around the globe. Finally, Loaded is the story of a heroic mall security guard who stops a mass shooting, only to find his story, and sanity, unraveling under the bright lights of fame that follow. I'm a huge Joe Hill fan, and I'm very much looking forward to this collection.

Manhattan Beach, by Jennifer Egan. Egan's latest (following Look at Me, A Visit from the Goon Squad, etc.) has already been long-listed for the National Book Award for Fiction (A Visit from the Goon Squad has already won her a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction). One day Anna Kerrigan, aged twelve, accompanies her father to visit a man called Dexter Styles. What Anna will take away from this meeting is a strong memory for the ocean waves beyond the house, and the charged mystery between the two men. Years later, Anna's father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna is working at the Brooklyn Naval Yard; with so many men off to war, women are being hired to fill these jobs. When she meets Dexter Styles again, this time in a nightclub, she begins to understand the complexity of her father's life, and the reasons he may have disappeared. This is Egan's first historical novel and it has a distinct noir edge by the sound of things. I expect this to be on the bestsellers' list in short order. Also available in Large Print.

Paris in the Present Tense, by Mark Helprin. Following In Sunlight and In Shadow (2012), Helprin's new novel is set in present-day Paris, caught between violent unrest and its inescapable glories. Seventy-four-year-old Jules Lacour, a maitre at Paris-Sorbonne, cellist, widower, veteran of the war in Algeria, and child of the Holocaust, must find a balance between the obligations of his past and the light and beauty of his present. He in confronted all at once by a series of circumstances which challenge his principles, livelihood and home. And yet, he also finds love and defends his family. Helprin's work is full of truth and beauty, and readers are missing out if they pass this one up.