Thursday, January 26, 2017

Meg's Picks: February 2017, part 2

If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you've probably picked up on the fact that I read a lot. (I consider it an occupational hazard.) I also read a number of different genres. Which means, of course, that I am keeping my eye out for great new titles, especially fiction, in a wide variety of styles so that I can not just read them, but share them with you! Today, you have your pick among historical fiction, a contemporary novel about the power of love and family, and a psychological thriller. Read on!

The Orphan’s Tale, by Pam Jenoff. Jenoff has a great flair for historical fiction with strong female protagonists, as is evidenced in her recent work (The Winter Guest, The Ambassador's Daughter, etc.) Her new novel, set in Nazi Germany, features Noa, cast out in disgrace by her family and living above a rail station which she cleans to earn her keep. When she discovers a boxcar with dozens of Jewish infants, in a pivotal moment, she snatches one of the babies and runs off into the night. She finds refuge with a German circus, but she must learn the flying trapeze act so she can blend in undetected, earning the resentment of the lead aerialist, Astrid. At first rivals, Noa and Astrid soon forge a powerful bond. But as the facade that protects them proves increasingly tenuous, Noa and Astrid must decide whether their friendship is enough to save one another—or if the secrets that burn between them will destroy everything.

The Mother’s Promise, by Sally Hepworth. All their lives, Alice Stanhope and her daughter Zoe have been a family of two, living quietly in northern California. Zoe has always struggled with crippling social anxiety and her mother has been her constant and fierce protector. With no family to speak of, and the identity of Zoe s father shrouded in mystery, their team of two works until it doesn t. Until Alice gets sick and needs to fight for her life. Desperate to find stability for Zoe, Alice reaches out to two women who are practically strangers, but who are her only hope: Kate, a nurse, and Sonja, a social worker. As the four of them come together, a chain of events is set into motion and all four of them must confront their sharpest fears and secrets secrets about abandonment, abuse, estrangement, and the deepest longing for family. Hepworth's work is marked by her ability to blend hope and humor into dark moments, as in The Things We Keep (2016) and The Secrets of Midwives (2015).

Dead Letters, by Caite Dolan-Leache. Ava Antipova has her reasons for running away: a failing family vineyard, a romantic betrayal, a mercurial sister, an absent father, a mother slipping into dementia. In Paris, Ava renounces her terribly practical undergraduate degree, acquires a French boyfriend and a taste for much better wine, and erases her past. Two years later, she must return to upstate New York. Her twin sister, Zelda, is dead.
Even in a family of alcoholics, Zelda Antipova was the wild one, notorious for her mind games and destructive behavior. Stuck tending the vineyard and the girls’ increasingly unstable mother, Zelda was allegedly burned alive when she passed out in the barn with a lit cigarette. But Ava finds the official explanation a little too neat. A little too Zelda. Then she receives a cryptic message—from her sister.
Just as Ava suspected, Zelda’s playing one of her games. In fact, she’s outdone herself, leaving a series of clues about her disappearance. With the police stuck on a red herring, Ava follows the trail laid just for her, thinking like her sister, keeping her secrets, immersing herself in Zelda’s drama and her outlandish circle of friends and lovers. Along the way, Zelda forces her twin to confront their twisted history and the boy who broke Ava’s heart. But why? Is Zelda trying to punish Ava for leaving, or to teach her a lesson? Or is she simply trying to write her own ending?
If you're a fan of twisted thrillers that keep you guessing to the very end, I have a feeling this would be a great addition to your reading list next month.

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