Thursday, April 27, 2017

Meg's Picks: May 2017, part 2

What's on my radar for next month's new fiction titles? Read on!

Proving Ground, by Peter Blauner. Don't know Blauner's name? He covered crime and politics for  New York magazine in the 1980s. His debut novel, Slow Motion Riot, won an Edgar Award, and more recently, he's been paying the bills by writing for television, including three shows in the Law & Order franchise, and by producing both for Law & Order: SVU and Blue Bloods. Here, in his first novel in more than a decade, Blauner returns to readers with a crime novel set in contemporary New York, where a troubled relationship between an infamous civil rights lawyer father and a war-hero son comes under scrutiny when Nathaniel Dresden's father is found dead in Brooklyn's Prospect Park. This has been slated as first in a new series, and I'd be doing my fellow readers a disservice if I didn't share this ASAP.

The Best of Adam Sharp, by Graeme Simsion. Simsion won the hearts of millions of readers with his quirky, endearing debut, The Rosie Project. Two decades ago, Adam Sharp’s piano playing led him into a passionate relationship with Angelina Brown, an intelligent and strong-willed actress. They had a chance at something more―but Adam didn’t take it. Now, on the cusp of turning fifty, Adam likes his life. He’s happy with his partner Claire, he excels in music trivia at quiz night at the local pub, he looks after his mother, and he does the occasional consulting job in IT. But he can never quite shake off his nostalgia for what might have been. And then, out of nowhere, from the other side of the world, Angelina gets in touch. What does she want? And is Adam willing to risk everything for a second chance?

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman. In a debut that is billed as part comedic novel, part emotional thriller and part love story, readers meet Eleanor Oliphant, whose solitary existence and quirky, deadpan inner monologue are built around a timetable to keep her interaction with other people to an absolute minimum. She tends to say just what she's thinking and lacks social skills, but her rigid world is beginning to develop cracks. She's developing a crush on a bar musician. She's reluctantly being drawn into an odd sort of friendship with bumbling IT guy Raymond, and then with Sammy, an elderly gentleman whose life she and Raymond save. And as she is teased out of her shell, we begin to uncover just why that shell was constructed in the first place. This is right at the top of my own reading list for the summer.

The Scribe of Siena, by Melanie Winawer. Being recommended to fans of Girl with a Pearl Earring and Outlander, this debut novel is a portrait of medieval Siena as seen through the eyes of a 21st-century neurosurgeon. Accomplished neurosurgeon Beatrice Trovato knows that her deep empathy for her patients is starting to impede her work. So when her beloved brother passes away, she welcomes the unexpected trip to the Tuscan city of Siena to resolve his estate, even as she wrestles with grief. But as she delves deeper into her brother’s affairs, she discovers intrigue she never imagined—a 700-year-old conspiracy to decimate the city.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Meg's Picks: May 2017, part 1

It should be no surprise that with summer on the horizon, the deluge of great books is beginning in earnest. Here are a few I've held back, saving (some of) the best for last.

Into the Water, by Paula Hawkins. Hawkins's 2015 debut, The Girl on the Train, was an international bestseller and spawned a popular film adaptation starring Emily Blunt in 2016. So it seems natural that fans of psychological suspense fiction would be interested in her followup novel, due out next week. When two different women are lost to the depths of the river that runs through town, both events occurring just months apart, it stirs up the town's dark history--these two women were not the first, and likely will not be the last, to suffer this watery fate. However, one of the women has left behind a daughter, fifteen and friendless, left to be raised by an aunt who ran away decades earlier and is loathe to return. Fans of Megan Miranda, Ruth Ware, Gillian Flynn, or Hawkins's debut should absolutely check this out. Also available in Large Print.

The Boy on the Bridge, by M.R. Carey. I'm a bit of a fan when it comes to Carey's unusual novels--I adored The Girl With All The Gifts, and am currently reading Fellside. His insight into human nature is both haunting and heartbreaking, and I'm fairly certain this new outing will have that same beautiful tension. Here, in a world where monsters live beyond the gates, a town comes to the consensus that they must send out their best, most clever citizen in order to be saved. But that clever citizen is a seven-year-old boy. If you're like me and into psychological thrillers just off the beaten track, I highly recommend Carey's work.

Less Than a Treason, by Dana Stabenow. After a long hiatus, Stabenow is gracing readers with a new Kate Shugak mystery, twenty-first in the series, and the first Kate Shugak novel since 2013's Bad Blood. If you're new to the series and would like to read it from the beginning, start with A Cold Day for Murder. Kate Shugak is a native Aleut working as a private investigator in Alaska. She's 5'1" tall, carrires a scar that runs from ear to ear across her throat, and owns a half-wolf, half-husky dog named Mutt. Resourceful, strong-willed, defiant, Kate is tougher than your average heroine—and she needs to be, to survive the worst the Alaskan wilds can throw at her. And throw their worst the wilds have: Kate and Mutt have both been shot. Mystery readers who like some adventure in their mysteries should absolutely try out Stabenow's series.

Party Girls Die in Pearls, by Plum Sykes. Chick-lit author Sykes (Bergdorf Blondes, The Debutante Divorcee) tries her hand at a mystery, just in time for summer. Set at Oxford University during the decadent 1980's, where Pimm's, punting and ball gowns are de riguer, the debut stars studious country girl Ursula Flowerbutton, who arrives for her first term anticipating nothing more sinister than days spent studying old books in cavernous libraries. But when she discovers a glamorous classmate on a chaise longue with her throat cut, Ursula is catapulted into a murder investigation. Billed as Clueless meets Agatha Christie, and sure to be a ton of fun.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Reading Ahead: May 2017, part 5

Summer is upon us, and so are the summer books! Whether you're looking for adventure, an uplifting story, or some deliciously juicy beach-reading, read on for suggestions!

A Dog’s Way Home, by W. Bruce Cameron. In light of the recent resurgence of interest in Cameron's debut, A Dog's Purpose, I thought it was only fitting to highlight this new novel due out next month.

Lucas Ray is shocked when an adorable puppy jumps out of an abandoned building and into his arms. Though the apartment he shares with his mother, a disabled veteran, doesn’t allow dogs, Lucas can’t resist taking Bella home. Bella is inexplicably drawn to Lucas, even if she doesn’t understand the necessity of games like No Barks. As it becomes more difficult to hide her from the neighbors, Lucas begins to sneak Bella into the VA where he works. There, Bella brings joy and comfort where it is needed most. After Bella is picked up by Animal Control because pit bulls are banned in Denver, Lucas has no choice but to send her to a foster home until he can figure out what to do. But Bella, distraught at the separation, doesn’t plan to wait. With four hundred miles of dangerous Colorado wilderness between her and her person, Bella sets off on a seemingly impossible and completely unforgettable adventure home.

The Broken Road, by Richard Paul Evans. The first book in a new trilogy from the much-loved Evans, The Broken Road follows local celebrity Charles, who has everything he thought he wanted but is being haunted by nightmares and a deep unhappiness. In the wake of a personal tragedy, Charles begins to question his life and his choices. When he's granted the ultimate wish, a second chance, what will he do with it? Fans will not want to miss out.

Secrets in Summer, by Nancy Thayer. Thayer's name has become synonymous with beach reads, so fans will delight in a new novel to bring along with them on vacation this summer. Memorial Day weekend means that seasonal visitors have descended on the glamorous island of Nantucket. For year-round resident Darcy Cotterill, it means late-night stargazing in the backyard of the beautiful house she grew up in and inherited from her beloved grandmother. It’s also Darcy’s chance to hit the beach and meet her new summertime neighbors. But the last person the thirty-year-old librarian expects to see staying next door is her ex-husband, Boyz, along with his wife, Autumn, and stepdaughter, Willow. What follows is a summer full of new prospects for Darcy, along with putting some unfinished business to bed, once and for all.

Same Beach, Next Year, by Dorothea Benton Frank. Frank returns readers to her beloved Lowcountry of South Carolina in a new novel, which finds two couples forming a deep friendship one enchanted summer, a friendship that will last more than twenty years, through tragedies, heartache and ruin. A heartwarming tale of solidarity and support, just the sort of read you'd need to tuck into your beach bag. Also available in Large Print