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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Last of the January Titles

I have left too many books for this last entry in 2015 for January titles. My remedy is to shorten my descriptions and give you as many titles as possible for your choice. It is going to be quite a month.

Tawni O'Dell has Angels Burning coming out on January 5. O'Dell writes charter driven, psychological suspense novels and this one is no different. The coal mining area of PA is a frequent place setting. In this story a teenage girl goes missing and the man imprisoned for killing Police Chief Dove Carnahan's mother is released. All lead Dove to face some dark issues in her past.

Benjamin Black has Even the Dead: A Quirke Novel coming out on January 12. When John Banville writes mysteries, he assumes the name of Benjamin Black and this is the seventh in his Quirke series. Quirke is a pathologist with severe problems of his own. In this one, Quirke is experience hallucinations and blackouts while investigating a suspicious death. Then his daughter asks for his help in finding a missing pregnant woman. Quickly, he is pulled into a dark mystery. Beautiful writing.

After the Crash by Michel Bussi has been on the best seller list in France for two years. On January 5, it moves to the US. The plot line is very interesting.In the days before DNA, a plane crashes into the Swiss Alps. There is only one survivor out of 169 people. - a 3 month old girl. There were 2 girls of the same age on the plane and no one knows which family has the surviving infant. 18 years later, the private detective on the case from the beginning, is completing his case files. His intention is to present them to the young girl herself before killing himself. Then, suddenly, he finds a revelation and then is killed before he can say anything. Hmmmm - sounds good.

If you like historical fiction, and I do, then Bernard Cornwell is an author you follow. Warriors of the Storm, the ninth in the Saxon Stories or The Last Kingdom series, comes out on January 19. The BBC is creating a television series from these titles. This title focuses on the fight for Northumbria as Uhtred tries to fight off the Vikings and the Irish who have bonded to take over that part of England.

Reed Farrel Coleman has Where It Hurts coming out on January 26. Coleman is a gritty, hard boiled mystery author kind of like Dennis Lehane or Robert Crais. Here he starts a new series about a retired Suffolk County cop who lost everything when his son died. He now is a courtesy van driver for a run down hotel where he lives. An ex-con he knows, asks him to find out who beat the con's son to death and the investigation begins.

Sarah Graves has The Girls She Left Behind coming out on January 12. This is the second of Graves' Lizzie Snow series - a much darker series than her previous Home Repair is Homicide series. This one is intricately plotted and very atmospheric - kind of like Chevy Stevens or perhaps a little like Laura Lippman. Anyway, Snow has left Boston to take a job as deputy sheriff in Bearkill Maine.
Her long missing niece may have been spotted in the area. when a teen aged girl goes missing and Henry Gemerle, a sociopath who locked three young girls in a basement for years escapes a mental hospital AND Jane Crimmins who was one of Gemerle's prisoners before escaping comes to town, things heat up in Maine.

Lastly, Thomas Perry has Forty Thieves coming on January 8. Perry writes dark and disturbing suspense stories kind of like Jeffrey Deaver or Don Winslow - maybe even Andrew Klavan. In this title a husband and wife detective team (Sid and Ronnie Abel) take on a husband and wife assassins for hire (Ed and Nicole Hoyt) when the police can find the killer of a middle aged research scientist and someone wants to make sure that the Abels can't find the answer.

OK - there you go for January. I think there is enough for me to keep reading next month. How about you?

Friday, December 18, 2015

More January Titles

While preparing for the holidays, you can't help but be attracted by some of the holiday titles. However, here, we are talking about January titles to get us ready for next month. I will not post next week, however, I will try to post between Christmas and New Years on the lookout. OK - for some more January titles.....

If you read W.E.B. Griffin, he has The Hunting Trip under his real name, William E. Butterworth III, on December 29. That is almost January. This title is not in his usual category but contains quite a bit of humor and is kind of autobiographical although he says it is not an autobiography. It tells the story of Philip W. Williams III who becomes a special agent and best selling novelist and describes some raucous adventures across Europe and the US.

Carla Buckley has The Good Goodbye coming out on January 12. Buckley writes psychological suspense and this one really pulls the heart strings. Arden and Rory are cousins who are as close as sisters. Arden's mother and Rory's father own a restaurant together that recently has had financial problems because of a bad investment made by Rory's father. When they can't go to the schools of their dreams, they end up at a low tier state university. Then, a tragedy occurs. There is a fire in the dorm room and both girls are in the ICU and a boy is dead. The families were in turmoil before the incident and now the stress makes it much worse. The story investigates what was really happening behind the outward scene and secrets are revealed. Reviewers say it is compelling and emotional.

Carol Goodman also writes psychological suspense and if you have read Kimberly McCreight (Reconstructing Amelia) or Tana French (The Likeness) - give her a try. River Road comes out on January 19 and it is a compelling, character-driven work. Nan Lewis is a creative writing professor who hits a deer on the way home from a holiday party on the same stretch of road where her 4 year old daughter was killed by a hit and run driver.  The next morning, the body of her favorite student is found in the same spot. Police have her as a primary suspect. What happened that night?

Ann Morgan has Beside Myself coming out on January 12. I've been waiting for this one sounds very interesting. I would compare it to S.J. Watson's Before I Go To Sleep or Mary Kubica's The Good Girl. This story focuses on two twins, Helen - the stronger, favored twin and Ellie, slower, quieter. One day, Helen convinces Ellie to change their clothes and hair and teaches her how to use Helen's mannerisms. They think it will be fun to see how long it takes people to notice. Well, no one does notice and when Helen is ready to give up and change back, Ellie refuses. What was suppose to be a funny joke turned into a life long nightmare for the real Helen. Will she ever be able to be the person she was born to be? Is she really Helen? Just the kind of thing I have to read and find out.

A debut novelist is the last suggestion. Nicholas Petrie has The Drifter coming out on January 12. As a debut author, I can't really tell you to who I would compare him. I can tell you that he won an award for short fiction while an undergraduate at the University of Michigan. I can tell you that he has an MFA from the University of Washington. I can tell you that he won an award for a short story he wrote, This story is about a veteran with PTSD, Peter Ash. He has spent a year roaming the woods because he is severely claustrophobic when around people. Ash, however, comes to the aid of the family of a veteran friend who committed suicide. While she tries to fix up her house, he discovers a huge, ugly, vicious dog under the porch and a suitcase full of money and plastic explosives. As he investigates, danger moves closer. This appears to be the first in a series. All reviewers say it is hard to put down and the characterizations are really, really good.

Hope you find one of these that strikes your fancy. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

LibraryReads for January

The LibraryReads list for January came out today. Three of them are titles I have already put on request for me. Let's see what you think.

Number one vote getter for January is Elizabeth Strout's My Name is Lucy Barton. Strout writes emotional literary fiction with complex characters. Her plots tend to be slow paced and the mood reflective. If I was comparing her to someone, it might be Ron Rash or Geraldine Brooks. In this tale, Lucy Barton recalls her 9 week stay in the hospital after what was suppose to be a routine operation. Her husband sent for her long estranged mother. Lucy and her mother talked about everything but what had caused the estrangement. Having been raised in poverty, Lucy escaped and became an author. Truly, this is about family relationships and how they form us.

The next is The Readers of Broken Wheel by Katarina Bivald. This is a translated Swedish novel that features a Swedish girl names Sara that goes to visit her older American pen pal, Amy, in a small town in Iowa, called Broken Wheel. Sara and Amy had written each other with book recommendations and viewpoints. When Sara arrives, she finds that Amy had died. The people of Broken Wheel though know all about Sara and welcome her with open arms. When she decides to stay, she realizes that no one else in Broken Wheel actually cares about books so she opens a small bookstore. Of course librarians are going to love a book about the power of books and reading and that is what this is.

Next comes, The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin. She generally writes historical, literary fiction like Louise Erdrich or Barbara Kingsolver. This story takes us to the 1960's in Manhattan and the friendship between Truman Capote and Babe Paley.Babe made the mistake of confiding in Truman and when he wrote about the secrets.....they were friends no more. Throughout the story though, the descriptions and stories of the 'in' crowd in the Manhattan of that time, are fascinating.

Then we have Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz. I don't think I have to tell you all what his books are like. He has been popular for horror/thrillers for many many years. This story features Bibi Blair who at 22 is diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Two days later, she has been cured and is convinced she was cured because she is suppose to save someone named Ashley Bell. Her search to find Ashley Bell lead her to mystery and crime.

Next come short stories by Helen Ellis, American Housewife. All the stories have to do with American woman at home. What she reveals is not always pretty, is often humorous and sometimes scary. Her stories are David Sedaris-like. Some of the titles are: What I Do All Day; The Wainscoting War; Dumpster Diving With the Stars and Southern Lady Code. Some reviewers have loved it and thought it hilarious while others have not cared for it. If you like Sedaris, give Ellis a try and see what you think.

OK - NOW - this is one I have on my list. I love Bill Bryson and have read everything he has written. I find his humor, my type of humor. His new title, The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain made my list as well as this list. The first book of his I read was Notes on a Small Island. It reported on a walk he took around England before moving back to the US with his wife. Well, he wrote several more books over here and then, several years ago, he moved back to England with his wife and children. This is a repeat at the walking travelogue. I can't wait. Everyone of his books had me laughing out loud.

Next we have Sally Hepworth's The Things We Keep. Hepworth is an Australian author who generally writes emotional stories - what might be defined as 'women's fiction'. I would compare her to Kristen Hannah or Emily Giffin. This story is about a woman with early-onset Alzheimer's who voluntarily moves into a residential facility. There she meets a man about the same age with a different form of dementia. They develop a relationship. There is a second story which takes place about 18 months later where a single mother becomes the cook at the facility and we meet her 7 year old daughter. We get to see both residents through new eyes. Very very touching - sad but also uplifting. I have this on my list also.

Jane K. Cleland's Ornaments of Death is on the list although it actually is out already. Hummm. Oh well - it is the 10th in the Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery series. Josie prepares for her annual Christmas Party and the arrival of a relative. After the party, Ian, the cousin, goes missing with two valuable seventeenth century miniatures. Cleland writes gentle, cozy, mysteries so you know that Josie must investigate.

Then we have Ian Rankin who writes police procedurals with a strong sense of place (Scotland)
. If you read Denise Mina or George Pelacanos - you might give Rankin a try. Even Dogs in the Wild is the 20th in the Inspector Rebus series. Rebus is now retired but he gets called into a crime being investigated by Siobhan Clarke - the murder of a former Lord Advocate. Also involved is a potshot taken at Rebus' nemesis - Big Ger Cafferty - a semi retired gangster. Rebus is the only person Cafferty will trust. The plot is complex but the dialogue filled with one lines is both menacing and a dark humor. Rebus has his fans for his hilarious one liners and his well earned wisdom.

Lastly is another one that I am waiting for - What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan. This one is also already out and Macmillan is a debut author but the plot sounds great. Rachel Jenner is recently divorced and she and her eight year old son, Ben, are walking in the park. After running ahead, he disappears. Rachel is distraught. Days pass with no word or sign.Eventually, even Rachel becomes a suspect. Where is Ben?!? Reviewers say it is gripping, suspenseful and hard to put down. Sounds really good!

Hope you find something tempting above. Some January some December but if they sound good - who cares. Enjoy.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Not Too Many Big Names This Month

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and have started your holiday shopping. I, in fact, have only done the shopping for the grandchild but....that is why gift cards come in handy for the others. OK - when you start out looking at who is coming out with books this month - and you have trouble finding A list author's - you realize that maybe some of the others might be ready to move up. Let's see.

The only real blockbuster name for January is Stuart Woods. He has Scandalous Behavior coming out on January 12. This is the 36th in the Stone Barrington series. Stone, weary from all of his adventures, goes to a quiet English country town. However, if there is one thing we all know, it is that it won't be quiet for long.

Jeff Abbott might be ready to move up with his Sam Capra series. He has The First Order coming out on January 5. I read Abbott back in 1994 when he wrote almost cozy mysteries about Jordan Poteet. His last one in this series was published in 1996 with a suggestion from his publisher that he turn toward harder mysteries. Since then he has gone through mysteries to suspense to almost adventure suspense with the Sam Capra series. This series reads like Robert Ludlum's Bourne series or Vince Flynn's. work. Sam is an ex-CIA agent who owns a bar in Miami. He watched his brother be executed by extremists in an online video but was he really? Apparently not, and when Sam discovers his brother is plotting a murder - Sam needs to stop him.

Alafair Burke has The Ex coming out on January 26. Burke is an interesting person. She graduated from Stanford Law School, was the assistant district attorney for Portland, Oregon and is now a Professor of Law at Hofstra University in NY. Quite a background for the author of legal thrillers. Her work has been compared to Lisa Scottoline, Lisa Fairstein and Phillip Margolin. This story has a top criminal defense lawyer, Olivia Randall, defending an ex-fiancee, Jack Harris, who is being charged with a triple murder. This could be Burke's breakout - some reviewers say it is better than Grisham.

Tim Dorsey has Coconut Cowboy also coming out on January 26. I love the Serge A. Storms series and this is the 19th one. Storms is a lovable serial killer that only kills the people who really need to be kills. Kind of like a happy Dexter. His cohort, Coleman, is a drug addled, happy go lucky, laid back to the extreme, type of guy. They decide on a motorcycle tour where one towns speed trap leads them to uncover unbridled corruption. Oh oh - Storms knows how to handle that. No one writes like Dorsey - well perhaps Dave Barry a little but Barry is more preachy about things than Dorsey. Dorsey is straight out humor.

The Bitter Season by Tami Hoag comes out on January 12. If I was going to compare Hoag to any other authors, it would probably be Lisa Gardner or maybe Tess Gerritsen. This one brings back Nikki Liska and Sam Kovac, the fifth in the series, although Nikki is now working on cold cases so she can spend more time with her sons. They both miss each other - Nikki because of the boredom of her new case and Sam because of the stress of training a new partner on a double murder investigation. Strangely and gradually, their two cases are drawn together. Hoag's work is really plot driven and fast paced. If you try this one, you will be in for a ride.

OK - I'll be back with more of these 'second tier' authors next week. Hope you find something here that tempts you.