Reading Recommendations · Featured List: Beyond Bestsellers: Notable New Fiction Titles (October 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.
Sgt. Lester Ferris, soon to be retired from military service, is finishing out his time by serving as brevet-consul on the island of Mancreu. Mancreu is also coming to an end, its ecology destroyed by man and nature, with a rising volcano signaling the end is near. Ferris befriends a street savvy, comic book-loving boy who urges him to take on a superhero identity in an attempt to thwart the criminal activity that runs amok when people sense impending catastrophe. Dense but darkly humorous.
Iggulden, author of fascinating historicals about Julius Caesar and Genghis Khan, begins a new series about the fifteenth century fight for the English crown. Henry VI prefers praying in the chapel to wearing armor, so it’s no wonder his reign offers the power-hungry House of York the opportunity to seize control. When Henry’s marriage to Margaret of Anjou includes ceding lands to the French, the British lords living in France are ready to support a new regime. An engrossing beginning to 50 years of political turmoil.
Finally of legal age to claim her place as the rightful ruler of Tearling, Kelsea Glynn is retrieved from the couple who secreted her away and raised her since childhood to claim the throne from her uncle. This fairytale fantasy series has a strong beginning, with the tough and just 19-year-old coping in an unfamiliar setting. Although Kelsea intellectually understands what she needs to accomplish, bringing it to life, especially under adversity, is another matter. Movie rights have been sold, with Harry Potter producer Heyman promising Emma Watson the title role.
A kidnapping goes wrong when Colin abducts Mia, but suddenly decides not to turn her over to the brute who hired him. When Mia is found, months later, she has selective amnesia and can’t help fill in the details for the time she was missing. The puzzle pieces are laid out as Mia’s mother, the Chicago detective working the case and Colin reveal snippets of before, after, and during at a pace that makes you feel like your head is whipping around in all directions. It takes a shocking reveal before everything falls into place. Gone Girl fans will adore this one.
When the actor playing King Lear dies during a performance, the audience is unaware that most of them, indeed most of mankind, will soon succumb to a fatal pandemic. Flash forward 15 years or so to a small band of performers called the Traveling Symphony who caravan across the Great Lakes region bringing music and Shakespearean theater to the small pockets of remaining settlements. Like troubadours of old, they also serve as a source of news from the outside world. A unique dystopian novel with nostalgia for the arts as a step above survival mode.
Fans of The Help will find a similar charm in the coming-of-age story of Liberty, better known as Ibby, Bell who is left on the doorstep of her grandmother’s New Orleans mansion. Whether due to age or frequent visits to the sanitarium, Fannie delegates acclimating Ibby to her new home to the two Black women who work in the house, cook Queenie and her daughter Doll. The Civil Rights era of the early 1960s provides a vivid historical setting where the three women and the city of New Orleans grow into a comfortable and loving home for the teenage girl.
It wouldn’t be right to have an October list without at least one good horror story, and this one ranks high in creep factor. Catherine, an auction house art appraiser, goes to evaluate the private collection of one of England’s most noted and reclusive taxidermists. Besides stuffed animals dressed up and placed in dioramas, there are dolls and puppets. The house itself resembles a fun house maze, then add in beady glassy eyes behind every door and filmy curtain. Catherine’s not the most emotionally stable lady anyway. What will being trapped in the house do to her?
Chanteuse Naomi Hill demands to be center stage. Whether at the Blue Angel jazz club or in her personal relationships, she clamors for attention. From observing on the sidelines, her 10-year-old daughter Sophia is wise beyond her years. While her school grades may not show it, she understands so much more than a young child should. Exploration of the mother-daughter dynamic is highlighted in this debut novel set in mid-1960s Chicago, where the rare coincidence of talent and luck, plus the people you surround yourself with, can make or break a star.
Scalzi combines the excitement of a modern thriller with the throwback feel of an Asimov science fiction novel. A virus known as Haden’s Syndrome has left a percentage of the population “locked in”, meaning their brains work fine but their bodies won’t move. To get around, Hadens can get threeps (robot-like bodies named after, you guessed it) or use a volunteer human (Integrator) for a short experience. When an inhabited Integrator commits a crime, Haden FBI agent Chris Shane needs to determine who had control of the action – the Haden or the Integrator. Come meet the author and listen to him talk about Lock In at Books by the Banks.
Yanique’s debut novel is a multigenerational love letter to her native home, the US Virgin Islands. The story begins in the early 1900s as the Dutch turn ownership of the territory over to the Americans. Three characters – two sisters, Eeona and Anette, and their half-brother Jacob - and a narrator recount the story of the Bradshaw family. Over 60 years pass as children and grandchildren see the idyllic islands blossom with tourism and buckle under fierce storms. There is a magical quality to the writing, mimicking the lilt and pace of the Creole patois. Yanique will be a featured author at Books by the Banks.
Need more suggestions? Contact your local branch and our staff will be happy to assist you!