Booklists · Beyond Bestsellers: Notable New Fiction Titles (April 2010)
Only a few books reach the top of the fiction bestseller charts, but there are many more terrific new titles available at the Library. Here are some recent favorites.
Nicoï¿½s birthmark casts him as the Halcyon, the leader prophesied to prevent the coming magical apocalypse. But in a land where all spells are written into the casterï¿½s muscles, being a cacographer who misspells demotes Nico to the bottom of the class. This title begins a new fantasy series filled with lush verbal delights, library gargoyles who spend their nights reshelving books, and a struggling wizard hero who slowly comes to believe in his destiny.
Alternate history fans will relish this detailed take on the non-end of World War II in Europe. In Conroyï¿½s scenario, Berlin is to be divided into quarters between the British, French, Russians, and the US. Uneasy with the many lies Stalin has told, President Truman decides to send American troops across the Elbe River and further into the city than the Americans were entitled to govern. Instead of fighting the Germans, the US forces are attacked by the Red Army, and a new enemy is declared.
A dreary, rainy spring day is the perfect time to get swept away to the dank, marshy shores of northern England where frumpy forensic anthropologist Ruth Gallowayï¿½s assistance has been requested. DCI Nelson is hoping the discovery of a girlï¿½s bones will close a 10-year-old cold case in the local files, but to Ruthï¿½s delight they are actually 2000 years old and well preserved. Drawn back to the present when another child goes missing, Ruth continues to aid the police in this wonderfully atmospheric and compelling mystery series debut.
ï¿½By the time Henry House was four months old, a copy of his picture was being carried in the pocketbooks of seven different women, each of whom called him her son.ï¿½ At an early age, Henry learned to charm women, starting at the all-female Wilton College where the orphan was a ï¿½practice babyï¿½ in the home economics department. His endearing but naï¿½ve character passes through the American cultural history of the 1940s, 50s and 60s, where a career as an animator connects him with Mary Poppins and the Beatles. Reminiscent of Forrest Gump and The World According to Garp.
Applauded by critics as an early front-runner for literary awards this year, The Surrendered is a complex, heart-wrenching story of the emotional toll of war. The three main characters ï¿½ June, a young refugee; Hector, an American soldier; and Sylvie, a missionary wife running a Korean orphanage ï¿½ are all affected by the deaths of close relatives, but together survive the Korean War. Even as she is dying years later, June is consumed by the tragedy of her youth and once again the trioï¿½s relationship comes into play. The story is as haunting as the unsparingly realistic details of the charactersï¿½ lives.
Using her own mission trip as the framework for this novel, local author Cathy Liggett draws attention to the charity, Beaded Hope. In her story, three Ohio women, one accompanied by her teenage stepdaughter, go on a church mission trip to South Africa. Each has a selfish reason for the need to get away, but these are quickly forgotten in the real life faced by women in Mamelodi. There they meet Jaleela, an AIDS-infected woman whose salesmanship has the Americans agreeing to help market the local beaded handicrafts back in the United States. An inspirational and tender read.
The Pittsburgh mob and old homes form the setting for the new series by the author of the Blackbird Sisters Mysteries. Roxy Abruzzo, tough as her last name sounds, owns Bada Bling Architectural Salvage and does occasional side-jobs for her Uncle Carmine, a mafia crime boss. When a family infidelity causes a society mansion to go up in smoke Roxy is on the job, saving what she can get away with, including a priceless Greek statue. But she canï¿½t save homeowner Julius Hyde from being shot. If she canï¿½t solve the murder, her little statue-lifting escapade could cost more than just her business.
When her brother James is killed in World War I, Evelyn Gifford is allowed to use the money for his education and trains to be one of Englandï¿½s first female attorneys. After all, she is the only one left to support her all-female family ï¿½ grandmother, mother, and aunt. On the professional front she fights to be taken seriously and given work where she can make a difference. On a personal side, the family suddenly grows by two people when a woman appears with a child that she claims is Jamesï¿½ son. A period piece embodied with rich historical detail and substantive characters.
The hardscrabble Pennsylvania coal country is all the Hayes brothers, Klint and Kyle, have ever known. When their father suddenly dies, the mother who abandoned them long ago shows up to move them to Arizona, putting Klintï¿½s baseball-playing ticket out of poverty at risk. Surprising even herself, the town matriarch offers to take the boys in, and Kyleï¿½s artistic interests find a welcome home in the lovely mansion. But all of the characters are hiding secret ulterior motives that will come back to haunt them in this multi-faceted novel by Oprah book club author Oï¿½Dell.
Warren Ziller moved his family to California to get rich in the 1980s real estate boom, but everything starts to go bust. Eventually, the disconnected Zillers end up inhabiting their community's model home, trying to make ends meet, before a crisis unifies the family. Author Pauchner is a whiz at writing from multiple points of view ï¿½ parent, teenager ï¿½ and covers all ranges of human emotions as the quirkiness of life just continues to happen. This tragicomedy is fresh, funny, perceptive, and thoroughly enjoyable.
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