Best Sellers

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Yikes - only one week left this month!

Somehow, April has almost passed me before I am ready to be finished with it. This is going to have to be a long post to get in everything I want to say. First, I review original ebooks (meaning they are only published in electronic format) for Library Journal's website. I was asked to review a title written by Natalie J. Damschroder. I had never read anything by her before. In fact, she is a romantic suspense author who has published mainly paperbacks or ebooks. I don't usually read paperbacks and I haven't read a lot of romantic suspense lately. Well, this author blew me away. The plot was so suspenseful I finished the title in record time. I would have purchased it as a paperback for the library if it had been available. I was forced, instead, to purchase it in ebook format through Overdrive, along with two other titles that she penned. If you read in electronic format, and like sexy romantic suspense, try Acceptable Risk. I found it definitely worth my while. It covers all the bases - action, adventure, a touch of the paranormal, romance, intrigue, suspense, murder. What more could you want.

OK - now on to the May entries that will shortly be here for everyone to check out and read. On May 15, Steve Berry is coming out with a new standalone - The Columbus Affair. Berry seems to become more and more popular with each entry. This one has a suicidal journalist traveling the world looking for a historical treasure that will change the way we look at Christopher Columbus and save his daughter's life at the same time.

Marcia Clark, after the popularity of Guilt by Association - her first novel, comes out with Guilt by Degree on May 8th. D.A. Rachel Knight is back and takes on a near impossible case involving a homeless man. Soon, she is fighting for her life and the plot takes twists and turns from there. The story moves quickly and is hard to put down. Clark will win more fans with this one.

Also on May 8th, Edward Falco picks up Mario Puzo's pen and offers us The Family Corleone, a prequel of the Godfather based on a Puzo screenplay. Falco has won a Robert Penn Warren Prize as an essayist. This ought to be interesting. Vito Corleone wonders about the fate of his children while Sonny agitates to join his father in the 'family'. If you miss the Sopranos and loved The Godfather, try this one.

If you are in the mood for romance, Mary Balogh comes out with The Proposal on May 1st. Lady Gwendoline Muir has been a young widow who has appeared in several of Balogh's novels. This time out, she is the focus. A story of two wounded people who find each other and fall in love. Just in time for spring, birds and flowers.

Lastly, I'll add a western. Michael McGarrity, a former Santa Fe County sheriff and an Anthony Award nominated mystery author, offers a story of the Southwest in Hard Country which comes out May 10th. After his wife dies in childbirth and his brother is killed, John Kerney gives up his ranch and hunts for the killers while looking for a place to settle with his newborn son. There is good buzz about this title so if you like westerns, historical fiction or books about the Southwest, give it a try.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Nominations for Major Mystery Awards

Spring is the time that the Mystery Writers Association announces their annual Edgar award for best novel and the Sister’s In Crime announce theirs for the same category. If you want to see what they are judging, here are the nominee’s for the awards:

Edgar Award for Best Novel

Ace Atkins’ The Ranger – Quinn Colson, an Army Ranger, returns to his home town to attend the funeral of his uncle who had been the sheriff. He discovers that they declared his uncle’s death a suicide and decides to spend his time investigating. Meth dealers, crooked politicians and dishonest developers watch out for Quinn on the prowl. This appears to be a new series for Atkins and it has been compared to Lee Child’s Reacher series.
Mo Hayder’s Gone – this title is the fifth in the Jack Caffery-Flea Marley series. When a car is hijacked with an 11 year old girl in the back seat, the search is on. The hijacker calls the police and they discover that that the girl was the aim – not the car and that more kidnappings are planned. An edge of your seat thriller that is hard to put down. THE WINNER

Keigo Higashino’s The Devotion of Suspect X – a Japanese thriller that is slow to start but then hard to put down. Described as a multi-faceted cultural reading experience that is also a superbly crafted psychological suspense novel. A divorced single mother receives a surprise visit from her violent ex-husband and the ex-husband ends up dead. The mother’s next door neighbor helps her cover up the murder. This thriller is more about the how than the whom but is highly recommended.

Anne Holt’s 1222 – Norway’s number 1 crime writer continues a series featuring Hanne Wilhelmsen, a wheelchair bound disabled on the job police woman. 269 passengers from a derailed train during a snow storm take refuge in a centuries old hotel. That night, one of the passengers is murdered. Hanne is called upon to investigate when the storm continues and no rescue is in sight.
Philip Kerr’s Field Gray – this is the seventh in the Bernie Gunther series. In this series, he follows Germany, where Bernie is a policeman, from pre WWII to post WWII. This title finds Bernie as a suspect and the witness, questioned by US Army war crimes investigators, by the CIA, and by French intelligence. It is really the story of Germany and is more historical novel than crime thriller.
Agatha Best Novel

Donna Andrews’ The Real Macaw – In this 13th book in the series, Meg has to deal with her 4 months old set of twin boys, her extended family, her blacksmithing business and a house full of animals that had been rescued from a closing shelter while investigating a murder. Humor abounds.
Krista Davis’ The Diva Haunts the House –Sophie Winston is in charge of decorating for the community haunted house. Her rival, Natasha Smith, tries to outdo her by throwing her own Halloween party but her effort even has a dead body in the decoration. This is the 5th book in this humorous series.
G.M. Malliet’s Wicked Autumn- The first book in a series about Father Max Tudor – the village clergyman whose was an MI5 British agent in his past life. The self-appointed leader of the community, Wanda Batton-Smythe is found dead while setting up the Harvest Fest. Who better to help investigate this village mystery than a former spy?
Margaret Maron’s Three-Day Town – The 17th in the Deborah Knott series also brings back Sigrid Harald, a character that Maron had not written about in 16 years. Deborah and her husband of one year, Dwight Bryant, take a belated honeymoon to New York. They were given the use of an apartment near Times Square and were asked to deliver a box containing a vulgar bronze sculpture to Sigrid Harald. Upon their arrival in New York, the building superintendent is found dead in their apartment. This becomes a working vacation. Maron is a master and the book is a success.
Louise Penny’s A Trick of the Light – a murder in the small town of Three Pines and who should investigate? Inspector Armand Gamache with his second in command, Jean Guy Beauvoir, of course. This is the 7th in the series and is just as entrancing and well written as the others. Penny is an award winner already, will she get another one?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

For Literary Lovers

The month of May will have some wonderful literary novels arriving. Three of the ones I am going to discuss are by relatively well known authors and one by an author that might be new to you. Two of them are out on May 8, 2012.

John Irving's In One Person is being published by Simon & Schuster. In it Irving returns to intense sexual and political concerns. His editor says "IN ONE PERSON addresses the search for identity and connection in a world that is not always tolerant of unconventional people." Others say that only Irving could make you laugh while discussing Aids, homophobia and bullying. Billy Abbot is the bisexual protagonist and he shares his life, moving back and forth in time. People who have read the advance reader's copies either love it or hate it but isn't that true of all of Irving's works? He does like to push the envelope and he does that in this work.

Varley O'Connor's May 8th entry is The Master's Muse. This title is a work of biographical fiction following the lives of Tanaquil Le Clercq, a top ballerina with the NYC Ballet and wife of the well known choreographer and director George Balanchine. Tanaquil was struck down by polio in 1956 and never walked again. George quits the ballet to work with his wife on regaining the ability to walk but when that doesn't happen, he returns to his work and Tanaquil must redefine herself as a person and find a new role in life. Very moving and an interesting read for those who love ballet.

Peter Carey's US edition of The Chemistry of Tears comes out on May 15. Carey has won the Booker Prize ( a literary prize awarded to the best full length original novel, written in the English language, by an author from the British Commonwealth) twice. It is a story of learning to deal with secret grief. A museum conservator learns that her married lover has died. While hiding her pain, she is sent to work on a 19th century automaton - a swan. There she discovers the diaries of the man who built the swan and the story goes back and forth between the two eras. Stories two centuries apart that somehow Carey makes into a cohesive tale.

Paul Theroux's The Lower River arrives on May 22. Many who have read the advanced copies of this title compare it to Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. That gives you some idea of the esteem this title and author has created. It is the story of Ellis Hock who when his wife leaves him taking the family home, returns to the Lower River in Malawi. This is where he servied in the Peace Corps many years ago and he remenbers being happy there. When he arrives, he finds the school, church and clinic that he had help build, only rubble. Theroux delves deeply into whether a healthy interest in a different culture can coincide with the arrogance and egotism that we bring to that culture. It is a fictional look of a clash of cultures,  Western imperial arrogance and benevolence pitted against weary, restless Malawi natives who have eked out miserable lives born of poverty and despair. Many think it may be his best work.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

May is a Good Month for Books

I don't know where to start - there are so many good things coming up in May. I believe I will start with 3 non-fiction books. I usually don't talk about nonfiction but these are exciting entries and I think that they will appeal to many of you.

One of my favorite books of all time is 'Black and Blue' by Anna Quindlen. Quindlen has written 6 best selling novels and won a Pulitzer Prize for her New York Times column. When she writes, she writes well.  Towards the end of April/beginning of May, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake will be arriving in the library. Quindlen is now in her 50's and this is a memoir or a series of essays on what life is like for women of all ages. Look at this quote from the book that discusses her view of women's bodies. "I’ve finally recognized my body for what it is: a personality-delivery system, designed expressly to carry my character from place to place, now and in the years to come. It’s like a car, and while I like a red convertible or even a Bentley as well as the next person, what I really need are four tires and an engine.” How can you not love that quote. Imagine a book full of them. I can't wait for it to get here.

Robert Caro has been writing a multivolume work on "The Years of Lyndon Johnson". The first 3 volumes - 'The Path to Power'; 'Means of Ascent' and 'Master of the Senate' have won one National Book Award; one Pulitzer Prize and two National Book Critics Circle awards. The fourth volume, The Passage of Power, will be out on May 1 and covers the 5 years from 1958 when he ran for president till 1964 when he was in the White House following Kennedy's assassination. He draws on interviews and primary documents to tell his story. A fascinating man and if this one runs true to the former works, a fascinating book.

Finally, Mike Scotti's The Blue Cascade: A Memoir of Life after War is being released on May 15.  Scotti in 2003 as a 1st Lieutensnt in the Marine Corp was sent to Iraq and then Afghanastan. He decided to use a home video camera to record his expeirences with the thought of writing a book on his return. When he returned, instead of a book, he produced and narrated 'Severe Clear', an award winning documentary. He also experienced an invasive sense of depression - he described it as "the feeling of isolation from the people all around you at home. Everyone's complaints seem trivial: The plane is delayed 30 minutes. They put onions on your sandwich. You don't like your job. "You think you got problems, pal?" is the thought that would go through my mind. I would think of the people I knew that were still over there -- in convoys hitting IEDs that rip apart armored vehicles and the troops inside them, or on patrol caught in a firefight in some dusty alley somewhere. Or of close friends that I had already lost. This sense of isolation, if not dealt with, can quickly lead to problems with loved ones, with colleagues or worse; self-destructive behaviors feed upon themselves, pulling the vet down the wrong path. The isolation can also manifest itself in feelings of anger or resentment." This book seems to be valuable reading for soldiers who need to understand what is happening to them as well as others who can benefit from understanding what the soldiers are going through.