Best Sellers

Saturday, August 25, 2012

And the Books Continue

This week, I am going to start with some of the more popular authors who have books coming out next month. I'm not sure they need the publicity but just in case you didn't know, now you will.

Ken Follet is a perennial favorite. One of my most favorite books is his 'The Pillars of the Earth'. I read many different genres or types of books and in historical fiction, I think Follet excels. Now I kind of like Hilary mantel's Thomas Cromwell books too but Follet's work is outstanding. Follet published the very popular 'Fall of Giants' in 2010. It was the first in the Century Trilogy cover the time of WWI and the Russian Revolution and covering 5 families from different places (American, Russian, Welsh, English and German). On September 18, the second in the series arrives, Winter of the World, which will follow the same 5 families through the rise of Hitler through WWII.

Lee Child's books always go right up the charts. The Wanted Man comes out on September 11 and I am sure will head the same way. If you read 'Worth Dying For', Child's 2010 Reacher title, this book takes up minutes after that one ends. Reacher is picked by 2 men and a woman while attempting to hitchhike to Virginia. He realizes that something about them is off kilter and then becomes involved in a case involving almost every Federal agency. Reviews have been very strong but then, Child's is that type of author.

Tess Gerritsen's Rizzoli & Isles series are also very popular. Her titles are always well written, suspenseful and full of surprises. In The Last to Die, which comes out on Aug 28, Policewoman Jane Rizzoli transports a charge to a special school in Main to protect the twice orphaned boy from future harm. When his story matches eerily with two other teens at the school,she decides that it's much more than a coincidence. And so the story goes..... Get ready for a roller coaster ride on this one.

OK - now on to some authors whose names you might not know.

Tim O'Brien, the executive editor of the Huffington Post, debuts a historical thriller, The Lincoln Conspiracy, on September 18. An Irish-American detective, Temple McFadden, comes upon two diaries immediately after Lincoln's assassination. One of the diaries is written by Mary Todd Lincoln and the other in code by John Wilkes Booth. Two different gangs are trying to gain control of the diaries. What could be in them that causes such concern. Lots of action, good historical detail and a very enthralling plot. Reviews are tremendous.

So I read Wolf Hall and loved it and am listening to Bring Up the Bodies and really enjoying that. I can't help it, I like historical fiction. Carolly Erickson, a prize-winning author of historical fiction and nonfiction, has penned  The Unfaithful Queen which comes out on September 18. Henry the VIII is a popular subject of fiction right now. This work tells the story of his 5th wife, Catherine Howard. She was young, lively and pretty so Henry married her. Henry was old, not particularly attractive, and close to impotent. Catherine had been involved with men before her marriage and she didn't stop when she became Queen. When the King is informed of her exploits, her family abandoned her and she ends up as her cousin, Anne Boleyn did. The sense of intrigue in the Tudor Court is fascinating.
Douglas Nicholas, an award winner poet, has written what started out in the form of a short story as a Christmas present for his wife and ended up has an exceptionally descriptive tale of 13th century England.  A woman, her lover, her "granddaughter", and an apprentice are travelling through an epic snowstorm, and "something" is killing people. A compelling plot, intriguing characters, nasty villains, sorcery, shape shifters, castles, and sword fights! What more could you ask for?! But what is best about this book is Nicholas' descriptions of people and places. He really transports you to a time and place. It is part fable, part fantasy and part mythology. People seem to have the need to reread this one and then read it again. That is usually the definition of a classic.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

So Many Books, So Little Time

There are so many good books coming out in September. It is going to be hard to decide which to include in this blog. There are literary ones; suspense titles and even two nonfiction that I need to read. Let's get those nonfiction titles out of the way.

I have a confession to make. I have not cooked Thanksgiving dinner in......well YEARS! and I mean at least 12 years. That's what happens when someone else volunteers to hold the dinner and happens to like to cook. This year, I have family coming for Thanksgiving so will be cooking the traditional things for the first time in ages. Now, there was a time that I liked to cook. I've made pumpkin pies from pumpkins - the real pumpkins. But when you relinquish the cooking for so long, it is a little frightening when you have to go back to a full blown, complete, home cooked turkey dinner. That is why I was so excited to see Sam Sifton's title Thanksgiving: How To Cook It Well. Sifton is the national editor of the New York Times but he use to be its lead restaurant critic and manned its Thanksgiving Help Line. I'm cheating some here because this title doesn't come out until Oct 12 but I am so excited about his coming to my rescue, I had to include it.

I have always loved reading about the Civil War period and Abraham Lincoln. Walter Stahr's title Seward: Lincoln's Indispensable Man, which comes out on Sept 18, covers a figure who has not really been covered in popular history. Seward was the governor of New York and a U.S Senator before becoming Lincoln's Secretary of State and closest advisor. In addition, there are many stories about Seward's late night dinner parties. This title ought to add some clarity to Lincoln's 'Team of Rivals'.

Hank Phillipp Ryan is a multi talented author. Not only is she an award winning investigative reporter for the NBC station in Boston, she is an award winning mystery author. Her title, The Other Woman comes out on Sept 4. Here she center her story on Jane Ryland, a rising star in television news until she refused to reveal her sources and ended up disgraced and covering fluff for a local newspaper. In her spare time, she follows the mistress of a candidate running for the U.S. Senate. Meanwhile, Detective Jake Brogan is tracking a serial killer who leaves the bodies of dead young women under a bridge. Then they realize that their cases are connected, - someone is covering up a dirty scandal by cold hearted, ruthless means.

Kevin Powers offers The Yellow Birds on Sept 11. Much has been written about this controversial title. The author is a poet and a veteran of the Iraq war (he enlisted when he was 17). In this story, he follows two very young soldiers who struggle with the facts of war while trying to survive in Iraq. Some critics laud the book for it's beautiful language while others slam it for it's lack of true plot. What the soldiers have to do to survive and have to see while they are doing it, destroys them. The one returning one, relives his experiences while trying to drown them in a bottle. Very effecting. You either hate it or love it. There doesn't seem to be an in between.

While Keven Powers gave us his impression of war at 17, David Abrams, a 20 year veteran of the U.S. Army who served in Iraq, gives us his impression in Fobbit which come out on Sept 4. The term fobbit refers to US soldiers stationed at a Forward Operating Base who rarely leave the safety of the base. Abrams was a journalist for the Army and kept a journal for a year while attached to the 3rd Infantry Division. Fobbit is a darkly comic look at this time based on his journal. Abrams' antihero is Staff Sergeant Change Gooding who writes edited and polished press releases of what is happening. It is funny and you will laugh but inside, you will ache. Humor about a very serious subject.

Because I don't want to end on a downer, I will end with this story of old time Hollywood. Emma Straub gives us Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures on Sept 4. Laura is a Midwestern girl who becomes a Hollywood star in the Golden Age of movies. This story follows her from the beginning as she tries to balance career, family, and personal happiness, all while remaining true to herself.It is written with warmth and is more character driven than a story of glitz and glamour.
Enjoy thinking about these titles until I add some more, next week.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

More Fall Mysteries

I am continuing with the fall mysteries/suspense titles. Sometimes, it can be difficult telling the difference between mystery and suspense but the easiest way I know if is - if there is a reoccuring detective or investigator - it is probably a mystery. So - some of these fit that definition and some don't. See what you think. I am going to include quite a few on list list so I can move on to other genres next week.

Archer Mayor comes out with Paradise City in Oct. This is the 23rd in his Joe Gunther series. Joe and his Vermont Bureau of Investigation cohorts track a string of thefts across Vermont. Their trail leads them to a murder in Boston. Who is buying up all these things and can they find the killer? Of course, it is hard to defeat Joe.

Maggie Barbieri's title Extra Credit comes out in Dec. Her detective is Professor Alison Bergeron who is pulled into investigating when the estranged uncle of her two stepdaughters gives both of them $10,000 and then is found dead with $250,000 stuffed in his mattress. Is it a suicide? Can Alison get to the bottom of the mystery? This is part of a series which includes Murder 101, Extracurricular Activities, Third Degree, Quick Study and Final Exam.

Jane Tesh comes out with the 2nd in her Grace Street Mysteries featuring North Carolina based P.I. David Randall. He investigates a long-ago murder with the assistance of his psychic friend. Mixed Signals comes out in Oct.

Also in North Carolina (who knew that so many exciting things happened in the state) Snadra Balzo's Dead Ends investigates two murders in the North Carolina High Country. This title, the second in the Main Street Murders series featurning journalist AnnaLise Griggs, comes out in September.

Garment of Shadows, the next in Laurie R. King's Sherlock Holmes and wife Mary Russell series, comes out in September. Mary wakes up in Morocco, covered in blood, with no memory of how and why she got there. Has she killed someone? Holmes has been pulled into the intrigues surrounding a possible war between Spain and France when he realizes his wife is missing. Mary searches for her memory and Holmes searches for Mary while becoming involved in a highly charged political situation. The cultural atmosphere descriptions are fantastic. This is one of the best in the series.

OK - I admit it. I love San Francisco. My daughter lives in the area and I have an affinity to any of the fiction titles that use SF as a background. I can't say that isn't why I have included Death on Telegraph Hill in this list. Shirley Tallman's historical mystery series features Sarah Woolson, a female lawyer, comes out in Oct. It has the atmosphere of the 1880's San Francisco down perfectly. Walking home from listening to Oscar Wilde with her brother, a shot comes through the fog, strikes and injures her brother. Was he the target? What could be the reason?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Fall Mysteries

There are quite a few mysteries coming out in the fall. There are so many of them in fact, that I can't possibly cover them in one try. Not all of these will be in the catalog right away but I guarantee that the records will be coming within the next month.

Marcia Muller continues her Sharon McCone series in November with Looking for Yesterday. A woman who was accused and acquitted of her best friends murder is beaten badly and shows up on McCone's doorstep. Can McCone find the real killer before someone else dies?

I have lived in that area of North Carolina where Margaret Maron places her Judge Deborah Knott series. Maron's sense of place is outstanding. Every time I read one of her books, I think I am back there. Also in November, she continues the series with The Buzzard Table. A long lost nephew of an elderly wealthy woman arrives to study southern vultures. Something about the man tickles Knott's memory. A murder surfaces and Knott is off on the case working with the usual suspects.

Sandra Parshall writes a series with a Virginia based veterinarian Rachel Goddard and the local Sheriff Tom Bridger. The 5th in the series, Bleeding Through, is coming in September. Goddard and Bridger take on 2 cases at once. While taking a group of teens to clean up trash, the body of the sister of one of the teens is found wrapped in plastic. Also, Rachel's sister comes to visit claiming she is being stalked and the stalker turns his attention to Rachel. This is an exciting series and all of them will be added to the catalog within the next few weeks.

Max Allan Collins writes a sort of classic Spillane, hard boiled detective series starring Nathan Heller. Heller becomes involved in some historic cases: the death of Marilyn Monroe; the Lindbergh kidnapping; with characters like Huey Long; Clarence Darrow and Amelia Earhart. In Target Lancer, coming in November, he takes on the Kennedy assassination.

Tim O'Mara debuts with Sacrifice Fly in October with a former Brooklyn police office, Raymond Donne,  whose bad knees lead him to change professions. He becomes a teacher at a local Brooklyn high school. When one of his students, a star baseball player, stops showing up for class, Donne goes looking for him only to find the student's father beaten to death and the student and his sister missing.

Finally, one of my favorite mystery authors, Louise Penny gives us another Chief Inspector Gamache title, The Beautiful Mystery, in September. Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir investigate a murder at a monastery in the Quebec wilderness. OK - there is a murder and there are villains but something about this series is very peaceful. Penny's description of the countryside is idyllic.