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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Remaining April Titles

I am back from a week in California for my daughter's wedding. It was beautiful and I had time to read, at least on the plane ride back and forth. There are some more April titles I want to tell you about before moving into the actual month of  April.

Donna Leon has Falling in Love: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery coming on April 7th. I love Leon's Brunetti series, this is the 24th one. They take place mostly in Venice and her sense of place is extraordinary. I really think her stories of Italian versions of Louise Penny's stories. This particular title brings back an opera singer who was featured in the first book in the series. This time Italian soprano Flavia Petrelli has an obsessive fan who is filling all her dressing rooms with yellow roses. It results in murder.

Louis Begley has Killer, Come Hither also coming on April 7th. Begley is usually a literary author but in this one has turned to a sly thriller. Jack Dana had been a soldier but is now a successful novelist. His uncle Harry, a big-time lawyer, has apparently committed suicide. Jack finds this hard to believe and starts investigating.

Emily Schultz has The Blondes coming out on April 21st. This is really Schultz first big novel. A rabies like disease that is only affecting blonde women has it's victims attacking and killing innocent bystanders. Hazel Hayes has just found out she is pregnant because of an affair with a married professor. She lives in New York City and tries to escape to Canada. OK - it is a strange plot but everyone says it is really, really funny.

Bruce Holsinger has The Invention of Fire is also coming out on April 21st. This is the 2nd in the John Gower series which takes place in 14th century London. I have a weakness for historical mysteries. I admit that right up front. His first title in the series, A Burnable Book, was a really good read. I am looking forward to this one by the prize winning medieval scholar. Here Gower is pulled into an investigation by the sheriff when 16 dead men are found in a privy with their bodies ragged with inexplicable holes. Apparently, guns are being invented.

Allison Brennan has Compulsion coming out on April 7th. Compulsion is the 2nd in the Max Revere series following Notorious.  Max is an investigative reporter who is covering the murder trial of Adam Bachman, a serial killer. At the same time, she is trying to find the missing parents for a family. When Max scores a pre-trial interview with the killer, she leaves feeling he knows something about the missing couple. As she investigates, she gets closer to danger. Said to be riveting.

Kimberly McCreight has Where They Found Her coming out on April 14th. This is McCreight's second novel after the award winning Reconstructing Amelia. I am sure she felt some pressure to do just as well. The majority of reviewers think she has. At the start of this title, a dead baby is discovered buried near the river in a university town. Molly Anderson, a freelance journalist, is asked to cover the crime for the local paper as their usual reporter is unavailable.. As Molly investigates, the dark secrets of the town are uncovered going back 20 years. Told from 3 points of views, most call it compelling with a tightly constructed plot.

Finally, Benjamin Percy has The Dead Lands coming out on April 14th. Percy had the genre blending (literary, thriller and sf) Red Moon. This title is a continuation where post-apocalypse people have gathering into what had been St. Louis. They were very tightly ruled when a woman galloped in and spoke of civilization in the west flourishing. A small group sets out against the wishes of the ruler of the community, led by......Lewis Meriwether and Mina Clark. Not exactly a retelling of Lewis and Clark expedition. If you like dystopian stories that are well written, this may be for you. Reviewers who preferred a quicker plot did not like it while those that preferred a more literary offering, loved it. You get to decide.

OK - those are the ones I wanted to make sure to mention. Hope you find something you like.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

April's LibraryReads

They announced the top ten today so this is hot off the press. Most are ones I would have put on my list but there is at least one surprise - a debut. The top vote getter tops the list and the rest follow in no particular order.

Number one is Sara Gruen's At the Water's Edge. If you liked her first one, Water for Elephants, then I am sure nothing will keep you from reading this one regardless of what I say. Not that it should and not that I won't say decent things about it. Critics all seem to like it, some more enthusiastically than others. It takes place during WWII in Scotland. Strangely enough, 3 Americans - Ellis, his wife Maddie and Ellis' friend, Hank - take off to hunt the Loch Ness monster. It seems a strange thing to do during wartime but Ellis is colorblind and can not serve in the military. Ellis' father is a wealthy former Army Colonel finds Ellis embarrassing and cuts him off financially. When they get to Scotland, Ellis and Hank go hunting for the monster leaving Maddie to  take care of herself. The story has more to do with Maddie's growth as a person than time or place really. I think everyone credits Gruen with character development and engaging storytelling.

Now the rest:
The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan. This title, although  light and fluffy, has gotten good solid reviews. The plot is trite - an American girl goes to Oxford, meets the Prince, they fall in love and get married - but the humor and characterization makes it universally liked. Some of the quotes; "pure fun from start to finish"; "it was frothy, it was smart; it was funny and it was a great read"; and "I loved, loved, loved every second of it and had to force myself to put it down". Sounds like they liked it right?

A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley. Sara Thomas, an amateur codebreaker who has Aspergers Syndrome, is hired to break the code in a 300 year old diary kept by Mary Dunda, a Jacobite exile. Love stories from 2 ages and adventure too. No one does it better than Kearsley.

The Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg. I spoke of this one last week. This is the retelling of the life of George Sand in the form of a novel. George Sand left her husband and children to start a life of art in Paris. She takes on a man's name, often wears men's clothes and smokes cigars. A very interesting character for sure.

Still the One by Jill Shalvis. This is the 6th in her Animal Magnetism series. Darcy Stone is a National Geographic photographer who has been badly injured and is back home to heal. A.J. Colton is an ex Navy physical therapist. Colton is involved with trying to get grants to ensure veterans can receive the physical therapy they need and Stone is involved with rescuing service dogs who don't pass their final exam. They have hurdles to jump before the happy ending.

Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova. Joe O'Brien is a 44 year old policeman with 4 children in their 20's when he is diagnosed with Huntington's Disease. In this story, Genova sheds light on this disease as her first novel, Still Alice, did on Alzheimer's. Joe's children have a 50 percent chance of having the gene. Do they want to know? After Joe loses his job, will he lose heart? Genova, a neuroscientist, knows what she writes.

House of Echoes by Brendan Duffy. This is the debut by Duffy and I have read some reviews that compare it to The Shining. A young family, Ben and Caroline Tierney ; their son Charlie and a baby leave Manhattan for a run down estate in upstate New York. Their hope is to renovate the estate and turn it into a hotel. As they settle, things become strange. Caroline becomes bi-polar; Charlie withdraws and animals with severed heads appear around the building. Hope you like to be scared.

The Precious One by Marisa del los Santos. 'Taisy' Cleary's father, Wilson, left the family 17 years ago and only came back once. Suddenly, he is calling on Taisy to come meet her step sister and help him write his memoir. Why? This one comes highly recommended by reviewers and is literary in genre.

The Bone Tree by Greg Iles. I also spoke of this one last week. It continues the story from Natchez Burning and follows Penn Cage's attempt to clear his father who has been accused of murder. Once again I will say that you really should read the first one before starting this one but both, though long, will be worth the effort.

Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight.  This is the new one by the author of  Reconstructing Amelia, Molly Anderson, a freelance journalist who recently lost a baby, is called to cover a story of the discovery of the body of an infant in the woods in a college town. She is headed toward danger when she unearths some of the secrets of the town - some that have been hidden for almost 20 years. Sounds like a good one.

Hope there is something here for you. I have added a few to my list.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

April's Big Names

On to another month and the publishing business is picking up. There are quite a few big name authors who are coming out with titles this month.

David Baldacci comes out with Memory Man on April 21st. This seems to be the beginning of a new series for Baldacci. Adam Decker is a football player who sustained a head injury and now, remembers everything. Almost 20 years later, as a police detective, he comes home to find his world destroyed and his wife and daughter murdered. The scene, which he is unable to forget, causes him to leave his job, lose his home, and basically live on the streets. When someone goes to the police and confesses to the killing and a horrific event takes place, Decker is called back in to find the perpetrators.

Elizabeth Berg is one of my favorite authors. Her titles aren't suspenseful or thrilling but quiet truths. This one, The Dream Lover, comes out on April 7th. Unlike her others, this is a fictional retelling of the life of George Sand, the famous, unconventional French novelist. It is just different enough to perhaps gain her some more fans or perhaps not ..... reviewers are going both ways.

Greg Iles' last novel, Natchez Burning, was extremely successful. He comes out with another title featuring Penn Cage. In the first work, Cage and his fiancee survived an attack by a secret KKK-like sect. In this title, The Bone Tree (out also on April 21st), he finds that the real leader is the chief of the state police's Criminal Investigations Bureau. Sounds like something Cage would have trouble accepting, especially since his father is on the run after being accused of murder. Most strongly suggest reading Natchez Burning first, both hefty volumes but worth the effort.

Who can resist the next Iris Johansen. Your Next Breath comes out on April 28th. This is the 4th in the Catherine Ling series. Ling's son Luke was kidnapped when he was two years old. Now, 9 years later, he is suddenly returned. As she attempts to rebuild her relationship with Luck, she finds that many of her closest associates are being picked off, one by one. Is Luke in danger too? Ling has to find out who is doing this.

Lisa Scottoline has Every Fifteen Minutes coming out on April 14th. This is a stand-alone which features Dr. Eric Parrish who is the Chief of the Psychiatric Unit of a major hospital. He is going through a messy divorce and trying to be the single father of his 7 year old daughter. He thinks though that at least things at work are going well until they start crumbling around him. He is charged with sexual harassment and of acting inappropriately with a patient. He has a 17 year old patient with OCD who has disappeared after it is discovered that a girl has been murdered. Parrish needs to find out who is behind all these things and makes some strange decisions. I love Scottoline, her plots always surprise me.

Stuart Woods has Hot Pursuit coming out on April 7th. This is the 33rd in the Stone Barrington series. These are always fun reads. Barrington goes to pick up his plane, a Citation M2 and discovers the pilot who is delivering it is an attractive young lady who is moving to NY. Stone and she start seeing each other but unfortunately, he ex criminal boyfriend keeps popping up. Trouble is also brewing on the international stage. Stone just has to help.

Next week, I will look at some 'not quite as big' name authors. Hope you find something to read from those above.