October 2011

Reading Recommendations · Beyond Bestsellers: Notable New Fiction Titles (October 2011)

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.

The Great Night

Chris Aidan
Three mortals passing through San Francisco�s Buena Vista Park get caught in the web of resident fairies who are celebrating the longest day of the year in this retelling of Shakespeare�s A Midsummer Night�s Dream. These fairies are not the Disney type and since Queen Titania is in a mood of despair, reeking havoc is more likely to occur than having wishes granted and dreams come true. This is a dark and unsteadying tale, written by one of The New Yorker�s �20 under 40� authors to watch.

In Zanesville

Jo Ann Beard
�I�d like to be the kind of person who can do something weird and not become weird because of it, but that�s out of reach for me � I am what I do at this point, and if I do this I�m done for.� The angst of adolescence is played out in Beard�s small Midwest town where two teenage girls share the delights and horrors of high school in the 1970s--babysitting, the latest fashions, marching band with dorky uniforms, clueless parents--as boys and an invitation from the popular clique threaten their commitment to each other.

Minding Ben

Victoria Brown
Having come to the US to work as a nanny herself, Brown�s first novel is filled with �been there, done that� insight as she presents a Manhattan/West Indies version of The Nanny Diaries meets The Help. Lying about her age, Grace Caton is hired as a nanny for a 4-year-old boy. The position that Grace hopes will lead to a green card turns out to be more of a live-in servant than a caregiver. Her off-hours and trips to the playground, both spent with other Caribbean immigrants, offer a different perspective of New York City.

The Borrower

Rebecca Makkai
Children�s librarian Lucy Hull looks forward to sharing great works of literature with her favorite customer, 10-year-old Ian Drake. One day Lucy comes to work to find Ian camped out overnight in the library, packed up and planning to run away from home. The two lost souls set out on a drive together, and with each hour, each day, it becomes harder to say who kidnapped whom. Makkai interlaces the twosome�s adventures and tall tales with background on Lucy�s Russian family and parodies of children�s classics.

The Illusion of Murder

Carol McCleary
Having met the charming Jules Verne (The Alchemy of Murder, 2010), journalist Nellie Bly vows to best his fictional character�s 80-day trip around the world. She�s made it as far as the Suez Canal when witnessing a murder puts her in danger, both personally and in probability of slowing her travels. The exotic lure of 1889 Egypt and the peculiarities of Victorian society manners combine to make a splendid story. Best of all, it sets up the possibility of tracing the real Nellie Bly�s route as the series continues.

The Magic Bullet: A Locked Room Mystery Featuring Shadwell Rafferty and Sherlock Holmes

Larry Millett
Millett�s mystery series featuring Shadwell Rafferty, amateur sleuth and barkeep, with assistance from acquaintance Sherlock Holmes, has been a puzzler�s delight all along but this sixth entry is particularly enjoyable. As Millett�s artistic eye for the period details the political and physical ambiance of 1917 St. Paul, Rafferty�s mind is thirty stories above street level where paranoid local financier Artemus Dodge has been shot dead in a fortified vault of a room, locked from the inside and no evidence of intrusion.

This Beautiful Life

Helen Schulman
�Last night, both of Elizabeth Bergamot�s children had had parties to go to. Bad mother Liz! She�d chaperoned the wrong one. She was going to mommy prison. Literally she was.� When clueless, 15-year-old Jake forwards a sexy, come-on video made by a girl wanting his attention, the Bergamot family�s life becomes chaos. Already trying to find their social footing as they are adjusting to life in the Big Apple following the move from a small college town, Jake�s actions tilt the scale into a downhill slide.

The Final Storm: A Novel of the War in the Pacific

Jeff Shaara
Bestselling author Shaara intended to write a trilogy about World War II but found that he couldn�t stop with just the European front. The intensity and authenticity that he has given to his previous novels is now taken westward to the Pacific, bringing the WWII plotline to a conclusion there. He is a master of blending historical figures and events with fictional ones, here presenting the story from both American and Japanese perspectives on the battlefields as well as remembering those Stateside.

Shut Your Eyes Tight

John Verdon
Once the NYPD�s �most highly decorated detective�, Dave Gurney finds his futile attempt at retirement interrupted yet again (following the author�s highly charged debut, Think of a Number, 2010). The beheading of a society bride, now four months past, is intriguing, but the last case practically cost Gurney his life. This one turns equally gruesome and equally personal as Dave�s wife, Madeleine, becomes a part of the criminal�s equation. Gripping, compelling, a bit unsettling �it�s all that and more.

The Gods of Greenwich

Norb Vonnegut
The world of collapsing hedge funds and the egotistical men who run them are the subject of this financial thriller. When fund manager Jimmy Cusack loses his largest investor, he suddenly finds himself out of business and getting desperate for money. Feeling lucky to be taken in by Leeser Capital, an uber-successful company in unfavorable times, Jimmy doesn�t really question the job as long as he can make his mortgage payments. Oh, how we love to see the snobby superrich get it in the end!.
Need more suggestions? Contact your local branch and our staff will be happy to assist you!