Reading Recommendations · Beyond Bestsellers: Notable New Fiction Titles (May 2014)
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.
This is a debut story collection from an author who is a 2013 National Book Foundation "5 Under 35" Honoree. While much is expected with that sort of accolade, it is certain that Antopol’s soulful and honest writing doesn’t disappoint. Her eight stories embrace the immigrant experience, mainly old Eastern Blok Jews settling in new lives. Even a generation or so removed, the stories endure and are passed down to explain rifts in the family, fortune both good and bad, and the lingering effect of the past in our lives.
Black brings Raymond Chandler’s legendary detective, Phillip Marlowe, back into service in this pitch-perfect missing person case. There is the inevitable femme fatale (the black-eyed blonde of the title) and the hard-boiled imagery of a hot California summer described in similes and metaphors. Every suspicious character is impeccably intriguing. Even though Marlowe won’t be played for a sucker by a beautiful dame, his loyalty to his client is never in question although his belief in her story may be. A real treat for nostalgic mystery fans.
This first in a trilogy would seem to have a built in reader base of Hunger Games fans. Set on Mars where society is rigidly divided into color sectors, 16-year-old Darrow (a Red) is recruited by a group of rebels to infiltrate the upper class (the Golds). The ruse works, and Darrow soon becomes a leader among the elite where the war games are every bit as brutal as his previous hardscrabble existence. A fully developed society and classic conflicts give this novel its appeal. Golden Son will be published in January and continue Darrow’s clandestine quest.
Fictional biographies of well-loved public figures hold a certain risk, as the controversy surrounding Charyn’s 2010 novel about Emily Dickinson’s secret life proves. Not everyone is ready for their Disneyfied images to be shattered, but for people who would like a “warts-and-all” tale of Abraham Lincoln Charyn’s newest work fits the bill. Written in Lincoln’s voice, it’s hard to believe that all his bumbling around actually led to his election as President. According to this account, he may have been the most surprised of anyone.
If you enjoyed our On The Same Page title, A Star for Mrs. Blake, you will enjoy this period piece which takes place in London in1920. A melancholy atmosphere depicts the after-war setting while following the lives of three women, forever changed by losses in their families. As their stories are told, a subplot follows the choosing and interment of Britain’s Unknown Warrior. The simple story is so representative of the UK experience where the fighting may have ended with Armistice Day but the effects of World War I lasted so much longer.
The Victorians loved a “good gruesome murder” as is evidenced in their penny dreadful publications. Kasasian has used just such a murder for the start of a new mystery series featuring a logically observant private detective and his young female ward. March fast-talks her way into being part of the investigating team by paying for a charity job, and Sidney Grice soon finds himself with a partner he never wanted. The seedy underbelly of nineteenth century Whitechapel is the atmospheric setting for this nod to Holmes and Watson with Ripper-like undertones.
In 1943 families were uprooted and moved to an unknown Southwest destination where gifted scientists had been chosen for a special project. Today we know this place as Los Alamos, New Mexico and the project as the development of the atomic bomb. Told in one collective voice of the wives, Nesbit spins a stunningly personal tale of daily life and concerns based on her research into the real families who were involved. “Who we were before the war was still who we were during, and after, because wherever we go, we take ourselves with us.”
When 9-year-old Miles decides to eavesdrop on his mother’s conversations about whether he can watch Survivor, he gets an earful – about his parents’ imminent divorce. But the sneaky techniques that he and best friend Hector hone through middle school and high school turn up scoop on his mother’s boyfriend, plus other helpful teenage stuff. This clever novel combines a mystery element in a story that’s basically about family and taking care of those close to you. Heartbreak, confusion, and high jinx combine to make a touching coming-of-age story.
Best-selling suspense author Dennis Lehane calls this “a twisty, sexy, electric thrill ride”, and it certainly is a rollercoaster of a plot. Two plots are actually in play – the college years when George and Liana (first introduced as Audrey) meet and the present when George sees Liana (now Jane) in a local bar. Whatever her name is, the girl is a master strategist who manipulates George and the bad guys she’s been involved with in a crazy chase while she remains brilliantly just out of reach. The book is optioned for a feature film so read it now.
Audrey and Caroline are best friends living in the “colored section” of small town Mt. Sterling, Kentucky in the 1950s. Both dream of a life elsewhere, but only Audrey breaks free. While Caroline, the first to discover boys, is chained to a backwoods life of caring for ailing relatives and eking by, Audrey’s jazz piano talent is her ticket to a job at New York’s Apollo Theater. Debut author Townsend compares the inescapable effects of segregation on her characters, even where Audrey and Caroline’s places in society couldn’t be more different.
Need more suggestions? Contact your local branch and our staff will be happy to assist you!