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.