Reading Recommendations · Beyond Bestsellers: Notable New Fiction Titles (September 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.
The ï¿½School of Nightï¿½ was a secret society of 16th-century intellectuals whose members included Shakespeare, Marlowe, Ralegh, and royal scientist Thomas Harriot. Their adventures alternate with those of contemporary Elizabethan scholar Henry Cavendish, hired to find a stolen document that verifies the groupï¿½s existence. Solving the puzzle involves deciphering literary clues as both the historic and modern plots play out to reveal the motive behind the man who hired Henry.
Three generations of the Krasnansky family take advantage of the brief period in 1978 when Soviet Jews were allowed to leave Russia, on the premise of migration to Israel. Unfortunately they are stranded in Rome for the summer when their US sponsor has to renege on her offer. Not where they meant to be, unprepared to live in Italy long term, the family members have to find a way to survive for an undetermined amount of time. Touching and hopeful, their story shows that strength lies in a family coming together.
Tragic circumstances cause 16-year-old Margo to flee living with her extended family. Margo hides out on a familiar Michigan river, using survival skills that she learned from her grandfather and from reading about her heroine, Annie Oakley. Margo hunts and fishes for her simple needs; itï¿½s people that make her life complex. National Book Award and National Book Critic Circle finalist Campbell will likely see those honors again with this effort.
Crime reporter Jimm Juree gives up her job at the Chiang Mai Daily Mail to relocate to Thailandï¿½s southern coast and help her eccentric family operate a low budget resort. Just when she thought everyone there merely died of boredom, a buried VW hippie van is unearthed with two skeleton passengers inside. Then a visiting abbot is killed at a nearby temple. So begins a giggle inducing mystery series with a zany ensemble of characters in a foreign land of intrigue.
In a sequel to Pucciniï¿½s Madame Butterfly, Davis-Gardner opens with the suicide of Butterfly and then imagines the life her son Benji has when parental responsibilities are thrust upon Lt. Pinkerton and his America wife. Benji grows up on the family farm in Illinois, denied his heritage and treated as an orphan, adapting to American ways as he fiercely clings to the few comforts that remind him of his mother. The plot follows him into adulthood and a return to Japan as his American parents pay for their deception.
Judy Lohden is a talented 16-year-old singer and student at a prestigious Ann Arbor performing arts school who just happens to be only 3ï¿½ 9ï¿½. As her story begins, Judy is hiding out in a seedy local motel after a scandalous video, taped on a night she canï¿½t remember, has gone viral. DeWoskin creates a unique character with a clear believable voice, depicting the struggle of a talented new student who sees her hope for acceptance overwhelmed by peer pressure.
The lush and exotic setting of 19th century Istanbul makes for wonderful mysteries, and Goodwin is taking advantage of every aspect of it in his series featuring Inspector Yashim. The first in this series, The Janissary Tree, won the Edgar for Best Mystery Novel in 2007, and the series has not failed to satisfy in the two installments since then. Now appearing for the fourth time, Yashim delves into the illnesses/deaths of the new pashaï¿½s young harem wives as well as suspicious Russian politics.
Spanish author Palma makes his US debut with this genre-bending novel, the winner of Spainï¿½s Ateneo de Sevilla XL Prize in 2008, and the beginning of a trilogy. Time travel interweaves the three stories set in London 1888-2000, where H. G. Wellsï¿½ Time Machine has become a reality. Historical icons like Jack the Ripper, Bram Stoker, and Wells himself enter into the plots as fictional characters test the supposition that the fourth dimension can be manipulated to change history. If you could do it, would you?
Edgar winner Pattison begins a third mystery series set in the future, 30 years after global terrorism has all but wiped out humanity. For the survivors, like hero Hadrian Boone, life has become bleak and desperate. With a corrupt government that wants to keep its citizens in dire need, its youth turn to suicide. The loss of his good friend and the colonyï¿½s leading scientist finally sparks Hadrian to seek fellow rebels whose desire for values and ethics supersede material need.
The Fangs have to be one of the wackiest families to hit the literary scene this year. Parents Caleb and Camille are performance artists who use Child A and Child B (aka Annie and Buster) in their schemes of mischief. ï¿½The Fangs simply throw their own bodies into a space as if they were hand grenades and wait for the disruption to occur.ï¿½ The ultimate test comes when Caleb and Camille go missing, most likely dead. A and B must work out whether their parents are indeed dead or performing their greatest act.
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