September 2010

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.

The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree

Susan Wittig Albert
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 � the phone operator, the boardinghouse owners and tenants, the beauty salon owner, the librarian, and the mayor�s wife. Even murder is a delightful excuse to stop and smell these roses.

A Fierce Radiance

Lauren Belfer
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 �defined the seasons based on the diseases that preyed upon their children�; 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 can�t 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.

32 Candles

Ernessa T. Carter
Although Davidia Jones grows up poor, ugly, and a victim of colorism in Glass, Alabama, she has high hopes for a �Molly Ringwald Ending�. 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 doesn�t even remember Davie --but his mean older sister does.

Pray for Silence

Linda Castillo
Following on her successful debut mystery, Sworn to Silence, Castillo continues to rock the tranquil world of Ohio�s 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.

Bliss, Remembered

Frank Deford
Deford, known as a sports writer, presents a story that�s a little bit of everything � romance, memoir, historical, mystery � 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 Teddy�s father never spoke of that time in their lives.

Work Song

Ivan Doig
Even if you haven�t read Doig�s critically acclaimed novel, The Whistling Season, it won�t 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 Morrie�s 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 � the local public library.

The Surf Guru: Stories

Doug Dorst
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 Gogh�s doctor who appears to be ripping off his client�s 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.

Spies of the Balkans

Alan Furst
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 Hitler�s 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.

The Left Hand of God

Paul Hoffman
�The Sanctuary of the Redeemers�is named after a damn lie, for there is no redemption that goes on there and less sanctuary�� 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 doesn�t 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.

The Nobodies Album

Carolyn Parkhurst
Carolyn Parkhurst has a lot going on in this novel. First of all, there�s Octavia�s manuscript, where she has rewritten the last chapter of her seven novels changing their endings, sprinkled throughout the book. Then there�s Octavia�s 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.