February 2012

Reading Recommendations · Beyond Bestsellers: Notable New Fiction Titles (February 2012)

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.

420 Characters: Stories

Lou Beach
It’s surprising how much can be told in so little – 420 characters, the amount of space allowed in a Facebook status update. While this might sound like just some sort of literary gimmick, it’s quite effective in Beach’s capable hands. A flash of emotion, a quick peek of a moment in time, all this and more is evident in each miniaturized tale. Just as you settle in to reading the story, the last line can often deliver a zinger that upsets everything you thought about what you were reading.

Plugged

Eoin Colfer
The author of the very popular Artemis Fowl series for teens takes a shot at a grown-up crime thriller. Well, lots of shots, actually. Former Irish Army/UN peacekeeper Daniel McEvoy is living the lowlife as a door bouncer at a seedy New Jersey casino. His female companion of the moment gets murdered, and he finds a hit man in the office of the guy who (illegally) did his hair transplants. As one reviewer says, “Outrageous characters… uproariously funny plot twists, and brutal, nonstop action make this a sure-fire winner.”

The Maid

Kimberly Cutter
Jehanne – Joan of Arc – may have had a brief life, but her quest for righteousness and unwavering bravery has inspired many bards to tell her tale. Cutter’s debut novel begins with the young girl hearing the voices of angels, confusing her by asking her to take on burden that even the king of France can’t accomplish. Truly sent on a mission by God, she was misunderstood, mocked, and ridiculed even as a child. This fictional rendition of her heroic deeds is scrupulously researched and among the best works to sing her praises.

The Angel Esmeralda: Nine Stories

Don DeLillo
It would seem like a natural progression from short stories to novels, but after 15 novels DeLillo is finally publishing his first short story collection. The stories were written over a span of nearly 30 years. Some actually were the basis for what became novels, but many have never been public before. He groups the stories in three sections, each centering around a particular historical moment, exploring various situations of his characters in reaction to the notable event. A real treat from a post-modernist master.

River of Smoke

Amitav Ghosh
Continuing the Opium Wars plot that began in Sea of Poppies, Ghosh sets his second installment of the planned trilogy in Canton (now Ghangzhou), China. A storm in the Indian Ocean has stranded three ships there. As the passengers begin to make a life in the culturally diverse city, their reasons for being in the area, some more secretive than others, begin to come clear. This is a masterful tale of a place and time, now considered exotic, with such authentic writing that it seems the author did step off one of those ships.

Fall from Pride

Karen Harper
Ohio native Karen Harper kicks off a new mystery/romance series set in the Buckeye State’s Amish country where quaint and charming is accompanied by arson. Sarah Kauffman’s painted quilt squares seem to be some kind of fire hazard as the barns with them are going up in smoke. Investigator Nate MacKenzie doesn’t accept the simple answer of God’s will as the cause. With Sarah’s help he searches for a more human catalyst and gives Sarah cause to rethink life outside her closed community.

Taft 2012

Jason Heller
In this Rip Van Winkle tale, Cincinnati’s own “Big Bill” suddenly appears on the White House lawn, having mysteriously disappeared and not been seen since just before Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration 99 years ago. As if acclimating to the 21st century isn’t funny enough, the former President quickly inspires grassroots support for the upcoming election and he finds a D.C. connection with great-great-granddaughter Rachel who represents Ohio on Capital Hill. Start printing the campaign bumper stickers!

The Stranger’s Child

Alan Hollinghurst
Just listed as a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award for fiction this year, Hollinghurst’s story of a dead poet’s true intent evokes the scent of wood polish in the drawing room of an English manor house and the whispered secrets within those walls. A biographer researching the life of aristocrat Cecil Vance poses whether a love poem, which rose to national popularity when the young author died in WWI, was written, as previously thought, for his classmate’s sister, or more likely for his classmate, George.

The Call

Yannick Murphy
A New England veterinarian’s work log is the basis for this humorous, subtle psychological study of a simple, yet complicated, man. Jottings about calls received from clients, actions taken in response, results and follow-ups are interspersed with David Appleton’s observations and concerns. His concerns aren’t just about his clients though, especially when suspicions arise about the hunting accident when his son was shot and the spaceship he sees hovering over the town at night. A real charmer.

Tides of War

Stella Tillyard
In this stellar piece of historical fiction, Tillyard explores both the battlefields and the home front through newlyweds James and Harriet Raven. James is called up to serve with the British forces in Spain under the command of the Duke of Wellington while his young wife Harriet is taken under the wing of the Duchess of Wellington who encourages her to experience the freedom that comes when the men are away. Both battle scenes and Regency society are treated with equal care to detail, an unusual combination in writing.
Need more suggestions? Contact your local branch and our staff will be happy to assist you!