Reading Recommendations · Beyond Bestsellers: Notable New Fiction Titles (September 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.
Cozy fans will adore this new series debut by the author of the China Bayles and Beatrix Potter mysteries. The garden club of Darling, Alabama has just inherited the house and garden of deceased member, Dahlia Blackstone, including the ghost who haunts the grounds. The membership roster includes a wonderful cast of characters, essential to gossip in a 1930s small-town ï¿½ the phone operator, the boardinghouse owners and tenants, the beauty salon owner, the librarian, and the mayorï¿½s wife. Even murder is a delightful excuse to stop and smell these roses.
Air raids aside, some things frighten mothers more than the thought of their homes being attacked. The early 1940s was also a time when parents ï¿½defined the seasons based on the diseases that preyed upon their childrenï¿½; meningitis and pneumonia in winter, scarlet fever in spring, polio and diphtheria in the summer. Life magazine photographer, Claire Shipley, learns a miracle is still out of reach when the penicillin canï¿½t be produced fast enough. Military backing rushes the process along, but commercial espionage among pharmaceutical companies is rife as the race for the cure is on.
Although Davidia Jones grows up poor, ugly, and a victim of colorism in Glass, Alabama, she has high hopes for a ï¿½Molly Ringwald Endingï¿½. Abuse made her mute for 10 years, but when she runs away from home at 15 and lands in Hollywood she finds her voice and uses it to become a blues/jazz singer in a nightclub. She never forgets her high school crush, James Farrell, reigning gorgeous guy and source of many daydreams. When Fate throws them together again, he doesnï¿½t even remember Davie --but his mean older sister does.
Following on her successful debut mystery, Sworn to Silence, Castillo continues to rock the tranquil world of Ohioï¿½s Amish country with crime. In this second outing, a brutal and vehemently violent murder of all seven members of an Amish family has occurred. Police Chief Kate Burkholder is stunned by the gory details, but also as a former member of the Amish community, it seems all the more shocking to her. A hidden diary with a connection to Internet pornography helps her solve the case. Not for the squeamish, but certainly a compelling story.
Deford, known as a sports writer, presents a story thatï¿½s a little bit of everything ï¿½ romance, memoir, historical, mystery ï¿½ and mostly just wonderful seductive writing. At age 86, Sydney Stringfellow Branch uses the excuse of the 2004 Olympics to bond with her son. Sydney was a member of the 1936 US Olympic swim team, competed in Berlin, and fell in love with the son of a German diplomat. She has never shared the details before, how politics and the impending war wreaked havoc with her romance, and why she and Teddyï¿½s father never spoke of that time in their lives.
Even if you havenï¿½t read Doigï¿½s critically acclaimed novel, The Whistling Season, it wonï¿½t take long for Morrie Morgan to feel like an old friend. The story begins as Morrie is set to make his fortune doing the books for a local copper mining company. Butte, Montana in 1919 is a polyglot of miners from all over the globe; a conglomerate society of workers, merchants, and the company men who fear a strike is imminent. Sure enough Morrieï¿½s soft heart is won over by the workers, although he tries to remain neutral observing the rumblings from his job at the heart and pulse of the town ï¿½ the local public library.
Convincing writing with a sparsity of details is the strength of this entertaining short story collection. Fragmented scenes and more-often-than-not nameless characters combine in intriguing situations to build to open-ended conclusions. From Van Goghï¿½s doctor who appears to be ripping off his clientï¿½s works to fruit sellers to pastry chefs, the characters span a fanciful variety of careers and circumstances. These are 12 appealing snapshots of literary wit and enough room for reader interpretation to keep it involving.
Furst is the reigning king of rich atmospheric spy novels, the good old-fashioned kind that are full of slow stewing intrigue, invisible ink, and mysterious packages swapped by intelligence agents instead of technological gadgets and fast pace action. All 11 of his novels take place at the impending outbreak of World War II. This one plays out on the coast of northern Greece as Hitlerï¿½s army draws ever closer to invading. A police official becomes a conduit for Jews from Berlin to reach Turkish shores, all the while investigating suspicious activities at the port.
ï¿½The Sanctuary of the Redeemersï¿½is named after a damn lie, for there is no redemption that goes on there and less sanctuaryï¿½ï¿½ Thomas Cale escapes from the bleak and dreary life of starvation and military training that thousands of young men live, only find a beautiful world of plenty, honest hard-working people, and, oh yes, the opposite sex. He doesnï¿½t realize that he holds a special place in a holy war that will be fought, and both sides need him badly to win. The first in a gritty medieval, science fiction/fantasy trilogy.
Carolyn Parkhurst has a lot going on in this novel. First of all, thereï¿½s Octaviaï¿½s manuscript, where she has rewritten the last chapter of her seven novels changing their endings, sprinkled throughout the book. Then thereï¿½s Octaviaï¿½s real life, where her famous hard rocker son has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend. Not having communicated for the last four years, she only knows Milo in the two-dimensional world the media creates. Is he capable of the type of violence in his song lyrics? Can she connect with him again? Most of all, can she change his inevitable ending?
Need more suggestions? Email the Popular Library or contact your local branch and our staff will be happy to assist you.