Thursday, March 30, 2017

Meg's Picks: April 2017, part 2

I'll be back next week to share what I've been reading this month. In the meantime, here are a few last suggestions for some great new novels coming out next month!

Burntown, by Jennifer McMahon. McMahon is the author of several excellent novels, including my favorite, 2014's The Winter People. She's known for creepy novels that take place in small New England towns, full of foreboding and suspense--her latest is no exception. Ashford, Vermont, might look like your typical sleepy New England college town, but to the shadowy residents who live among the remains of its abandoned mills and factories, it’s known as “Burntown.” Eva Sandeski, known as Necco, has been a part of this underworld since the night her father drowned in a flood that left Necco and her mother homeless. Her mother likes to tell stories of her father's wild inventions, claiming that his last machine got her father killed. Necco has written these off as delusions caused by grief, until her mother dies under mysterious circumstances and Necco's boyfriend is murdered. Now she must rely on the other outsiders to survive, even as she must unravel her family's past. If you're in the mood for suspense that is full of twists and surprises, this might be just what you need.

I Found You, by Lisa Jewell. If you're looking for an author like Liane Moriarty or Ruth Ware to sink your teeth into, full of page-turning intrigue and believable characters, look no further than Lisa Jewell. Two decades of secrets, a missing man who may have never existed, and a man with no mystery are the center of this tale, which moves between London and a small British seaside town.
I've been a fan for some time (I highly recommend The Third Wife, 2015) and this new novel should be a great addition to your beach reading this summer.

The Forever Summer, by Jamie Brenner. Marin Bishop is a stickler for following the rules and it has always served her well--she's gotten everything she wanted. Until, that is, one careless mistake at work leaves her unemployed, alone, and dreading having to confront her parents with the news. Then a stranger claiming to be her half-sister invites her to meet family in Cape Cod, and Marin finds herself ensconced in her grandmother's beachside B&B for the summer. But the existence of a half-sister is only the first of many revelations Marin will encounter this summer. Equal parts page-turner and delicious escape, this is a title I expect many will be reading in the months to come.

Beartown, by Fredrik Backman. Does this author's name look familiar? It should--he's the bestselling author of A Man Called Ove. So I have to make sure you're aware that his new novel is due out at the end of April. People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.
Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Meg's Picks: April 2017, part 1

There's so much to choose from when it comes to extra-special titles I want to share with you every month, it's hard to narrow it down. But today and Thursday this week, I'm sharing the best of the best (in my humble opinion) April titles.

Waking Gods, by Sylvain Neuvel. Sequel to Neuvel's breakout debut, Sleeping Giants (2016). As a child, Rose Franklin made an astonishing discovery: a giant metallic hand, buried deep within the earth. As an adult, she’s dedicated her brilliant scientific career to solving the mystery that began that fateful day: Why was a titanic robot of unknown origin buried in pieces around the world? Years of investigation have produced intriguing answers—and even more perplexing questions. But the truth is closer than ever before when a second robot, more massive than the first, materializes and lashes out with deadly force. If you haven't read the first book, I highly recommend it as some of the most imaginative fiction I've read recently. I'd particularly recommend them to fans of Andy Weir's The Martian or Emily St. John Mandel's Station Eleven, for different reasons. This is absolutely on my to-read list for the coming months.

The Perfect Stranger, by Megan Miranda. Following Miranda's breakout hit, 2016's All the Missing Girls, the author returns with another psychological thriller meant to keep readers guessing all the way to the end. Confronted by a restraining order and the threat of a lawsuit, failed journalist Leah Stevens needs to get out of Boston when she runs into an old friend, Emmy Grey, who has just left a troubled relationship. Emmy proposes they move to rural Pennsylvania, where Leah can get a teaching position and both women can start again. But their new start is threatened when a woman with an eerie resemblance to Leah is assaulted by the lake, and Emmy disappears days later. Leah teams up with a young police officer assigned to the case and together they investigate Emmy's life for clues about her disappearance, causing Leah to wonder whether she ever really knew Emmy at all. For that matter, how well does Leah know herself? For fans of Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl) and Paula Hawkins (The Girl on the Train), this is an absolute must.

The Shadow Land, by Elizabeth Kostova. In a new novel both vast and deep, Kostova (The Historian, 2005, etc.) spans past and present in a gorgeous but haunted country. A young American woman, Alexandra Boyd, has traveled to Sofia, Bulgaria, hoping that life abroad will salve the wounds left by the loss of her beloved brother. Soon after arriving in this elegant East European city, however, she helps an elderly couple into a taxi—and realizes too late that she has accidentally kept one of their bags. Inside she finds an ornately carved wooden box engraved with a name: Stoyan Lazarov. Raising the hinged lid, she discovers that she is holding an urn filled with human ashes. As Alexandra sets out to locate the family and return this precious item, she will first have to uncover the secrets of a talented musician who was shattered by political oppression—and she will find out all too quickly that this knowledge is fraught with its own danger. Part mystery, part historical thriller, I'm recommending this to readers who are looking for something captivatingly different.

The Widow of Wall Street, by Randy Susan Meyers. Meyers (Accidents of Marriage, 2014, etc.) explores the seemingly blind love of a wife for her husband as he conquers Wall Street, and her extraordinary, perhaps foolish, loyalty during his precipitous fall in a tale that mirrors the story of jailed financier Bernard Madoff and his broken family. 
Phoebe recognizes fire in Jake Pierce’s belly from the moment they meet as teenagers. As he creates a financial dynasty, she trusts him without hesitation—unaware his hunger for success hides a dark talent for deception. When Phoebe learns her husband’s triumph and vast reach rests on an elaborate Ponzi scheme her world unravels. As Jake’s crime is uncovered, the world obsesses about Phoebe. Did she know her life was fabricated by fraud? Was she his accomplice? Does she stand by her man or shield her children in the aftermath? A story of survival and redefinition in the wake of personal tragedy--I have every expectation of this being popular in the months to come.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Reading Ahead: April 2017, part 4

I apologize for my brief absence from the blog, but here I am again, bringing you more spring reading!

Two from the Heart, by James Patterson, et al. A duo of heartwarming stories from Patterson and several collaborating writers. In the first, Anne McWilliams has lost everything. After her marriage falls apart and a hurricane destroys her home she realizes that her life has fallen out of focus. So she takes to the road to ask long lost friends and strangers a simple question: "What's your best story?" Can the stories of others show her what she's missing?
In the second, Tyler Bron seemingly has it all-a successful company and more money than he knows how to spend. But he has no life. So he hires a struggling novelist to write one for him. There are no limits to the fictional world that Bron's money can transform into a reality, and he soon becomes the protagonist of a love story beyond his wildest imagination. But will Tyler Bron be able to write the happy ending himself? 
For Patterson fans who feel like taking a break from his multitude of series.
Also available in Large Print

Any Day Now, by Robyn Carr. Second in Carr's new Sullivan's Crossing series (following 2016's What We Find), Carr's new novel welcomes readers back to the rugged campsite at the crossing of the Colorado and the Continental Divide trails, where travelers could be looking for a simple weekend getaway or pausing on the path to something greater. 

For Sierra Jones, Sullivan's Crossing is meant to be a brief stopover. She's put her troubled past behind her but the path forward isn't yet clear. A visit with her big brother Cal and his new bride, Maggie, seems to be the best option to help her get back on her feet. She's surprised by the warmth of the welcome offered her, and settles in to enjoy...until her past catches up with her and she has to make some hard decisions about love and future plans. I'm a fan, and I have been waiting rather impatiently for this!

Anything Is Possible, by Elizabeth Strout. For fans of Strout's bestselling works Olive Kitteridge (Pulitzer Prize winner) and My Name is Lucy Barton, this latest work is a must-read as Strout examines the richness and complexity of human emotions through a cast of remarkable yet ordinary characters whose stories are vastly different, though interconnected. Two sisters make sacrifices that they believe will lead each of them to their separate ideas of happiness. A janitor at the local school has his faith tested in an encounter with an isolated man he has come to help. A grown woman longs for her mother's love even as she comes to terms with her mother's happiness living abroad. And we revisit Lucy Barton as she reconnects with her siblings after their seventeen-year separation. Guaranteed to be a favorite.