Booklists · Beyond Bestsellers: Notable New Fiction Titles (May 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.
This fictional biography tells the story of The Browns, a sibling trio from Arkansas whose tempered harmony graced the national charts in the 1950s and 60s but faded from the music scene. Countless hours touring on the road contrast with downtime back in the logging community where they grew up and where their friend Elvis comes to take breaks. Told from the viewpoint of the aging Maxine who craved the applause and spotlight, she frets about their loss in status while watching Elvis be crowned The King.
Boyleï¿½s lengthy, descriptive prose sets up a showdown between two characters who seemingly want the same thing ï¿½ the preservation of nature. But where National Park Service biologist Alma Boyd Takesue proposes to rescue the channel islandsï¿½ native animal population from invaders, Dave LaJoy and his followers are against killing any species, indigenous or not. While conflict between these two is the focus of the story, it is the force of nature that neither had thought to reckon with which shows its strength.
Readers who are willing to invest time savoring observations will find this highly praised debut novel well worth the effort. Julius, a young Nigerian immigrant, is working in a New York hospital, just about to finish medical school. To relieve the tension of the day, he begins to take walks around the city. As he walks, he watches and ponders. He is an active examiner of the world around him and the stream-of-conscious writing brings the city, its people, and his thoughts to life.
The tale of Bruno Littlemore is a reflective memoir of life lived to the extreme. Bruno escapes confinement, enjoys fine food and wine, reads great literature, falls in love, and ultimately commits a horrible crime. The catch? Bruno is a chimpanzee. Rescued from the zoo and discovered to be unusually intelligent, he is given the freedom to live as a human. Debut author Hale demonstrates his love of language in this daring and controversial novel. Approach with caution, read on, and delight in this innovative story.
Both Sunny, a new college student after her stint in jail for shooting her husband, and Jackson Jones, her landlord and an anthropology professor at the university, have a thirst for knowledge. While Sunny soaks up scientific facts so opposite to her religious upbringing, Jackson becomes intrigued with the snake handling church where Sunny was married to the preacher. Robert Hellenga is a compelling storyteller who carries the readers along with snake-like twists and surprises ready to strike without warning.
In rural upstate New York, a small town has secrets. Precocious teenager Alice Piper doesnï¿½t take much of anything at face value, and the disappearance of a local woman is on her radar. Her father and a reporter have questions about the health standards of the local agribusiness. When Alice goes missing shortly after Wendy Whiteï¿½s body is found, you can bet thereï¿½s a connection. In a story told from multiple viewpoints, the question becomes whether a crime is ever justifiable for the good of the community.
This charming and whimsical twist on a fairy tale follows the adventures of child prodigy Eleonora Cohen, who stows away on her fatherï¿½s business trip to exotic Stamboul. When a boating accident kills her father, his friend (and undercover spy) Moncef Bey becomes her guardian. A whiz at languages, eight-year-old Eleonora becomes a pawn in deciphering military codes. When word of her status as a seer reaches the Sultan, he tests her before inviting her to come live at the palace and serve as an advisor for him.
As a historical character, Marie Grosholtz (eventually to become Madame Tussaud) offers a writer a unique opportunity to fictionalize the turbulent times of the French Revolution. While helping her uncle run the Salon de Cire where wax figures played out the current events of the day, she was hired as a tutor in wax modeling for the king’s sister. While she spends her days in the opulence of the court of Louis XVI, her uncle permits the revolutionaries to meet in the Salon and plot the overthrow of the king.
As explained in The Baker Street Letters, the rental agreement for the Heath brothersï¿½ law office at 221B Baker Street includes that they answer any letters addressed to Sherlock Holmes. Lovelorn Reggie has been ignoring the correspondence while working on the case of a taxicab driver accused of murdering two American tourists. But the post shouldnï¿½t be overlooked when letters arrive from a descendent of the fiendish Professor Moriarty. Brother Nigel arrives as ï¿½the game is afoot,ï¿½ leading to a nail-biting chase.
Irene and Garyï¿½s marriage has deteriorated to the point of politeness. Irene is indulging him in his latest project, building a log cabin by hand on an isolated Alaskan island, rather than see him walk out on her. Two grown children are not doing much better, although daughter Rhoda did get a marriage proposal from boyfriend Jim. The harsh and rugged Alaskan countryside reflects the storyï¿½s mood, setting characters in an unending uphill battle just to have a brief glimmer of a perfect dream come true.
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