December 2011

Reading Recommendations · Beyond Bestsellers: Notable New Fiction Titles (December 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.

Joy for Beginners

Erica Bauermeister
At a dinner celebrating her cancer remission, Kate tells her five friends about agreeing to go on a Grand Canyon rafting trip with her daughter. While they are still in a stupor about Kate�s announcement, she calls on each of them to do something difficult and daring. Kate chooses tasks that, while challenging, support each of the friends she knows so well � cleaning out an ex-husband�s belongings, learning to bake bread, gardening, traveling, and getting a tattoo. An inspiring story about friendship and life�s blessings.

Daughters of the Revolution

Carolyn Cooke
The sexual revolution of the 1960s is fine with Goddard Byrd, headmaster of an ever-so-selective boy�s prep school in New England. God even accommodated the decision to integrate with relatively little difficulty, but admitting girls is not something the out-dated educator could ever fathom. What will he do when a typographical error leads to not just admittance, but a scholarship, for the institution�s first female? A slice-of-life look at a critical era of social change in US history.

The Time In Between

Mar�a Due�as
The decadence and glamour of life during the build-up of World War II is told through a seamstress who rises to dress the elite in this international bestseller. When the borders close and Sira Quiroga is detained in Morocco, she turns to her dressmaking skills to earn a living. Her craft allows her to gather news of the world outside as she pins and fits the expatriate wives of both Axis and Ally military. Eventually she is approached to return to her native Spain as a spy for the British, becoming an unsung hero of the war.

The Woodcutter

Reginald Hill
Wolf Hadda is a successful British businessman who has been set up to serve time in prison for pedophilia. During his seven years of silence, he has time to ponder who would do that to him and why, as well as make future plans. When he chooses to speak, convincing psychiatrist Alva Ozigbo of a breakthrough, he is released and returns to the Cumbrian village where he grew up. �A grim-dandy psychological thriller about betrayal and revenge� from the author of the Dalziel and Pascoe mystery series.

Chang�s Beads and Two-Toned Shoes

William Kennedy
Kennedy won a Pulitzer Prize in 1983 with his novel, Ironweed, set in his hometown of Albany, New York. It�s been almost ten years since his last novel, but he returns to write another gem of political commentary, seen through the eyes of journalist Daniel Quinn. We meet Quinn as a young boy, nestled in the jazz legacy of his father, then as a young reporter in 1957 Havana just on the brink of revolution, and lastly back in racial-torn Albany on the day Robert Kennedy is assassinated. A do-not-miss book of 2011.

The Ridge

Michael Koryta
Koryta is an upcoming author in the area of supernatural, emphasis on natural, reminding readers that messing with Mother Nature is not a good idea. Like last year�s So Cold the River, which took place in French Lick, Indiana, Blade Ridge in eastern Kentucky has a force running below the surface that must be kept in a delicate balance. When a big cat wildlife refuge goes in next to an eccentric local�s lighthouse, blue lights appear and the cats grow restless. There may be truth in old local legends that shouldn�t be ignored.

The Devil All the Time

Donald Ray Pollock
Following last year�s debut collection of short stories (Knockemstiff), Pollock again looks at the sordid and sad life of �noir rednecks� in Southern Ohio/West Virginia. This novel, reminiscent of Deliverance but set in the Appalachian Midwest, feels like short stories until it all comes together at the end. The serial killing duo, animal-sacrificing father, and immoral preacher won�t be everyone�s cup of tea, but the critics are wild about Pollock�s clear and dark prose.

The Wreckage

Michael Robotham
It takes a while for the various plotlines in this action-packed story to come together, but they are all so interesting that it doesn�t seem long enough. In a nutshell, Iraqi banks are being robbed and no one knows where the money is going; a petty thief who holds the key to some information someone wants badly scams a retired cop and he�s determined to get his wife�s jewelry back, meanwhile a high profile international banker has gone missing. Stories interweave through the numerous cat-and-mouse games at an unrelenting pace.

Salvage the Bones

Jesmyn Ward
This National Book Award winner for fiction for 2011 takes place in 12 days � 10 days leading up to Hurricane Katrina, the day of, and the day after. It�s a hardscrabble life in Bois Savage, Mississippi for Esch, her three brothers, and their father. But there�s also the constant preparation for oncoming storms to keep them alert. As Katrina is blowing in, Esch realizes that she is pregnant; her brother�s prize pit bull has just had a litter of puppies, and Esch�s father gets hurt and incapacitated. A heartbreaking commentary on the fight to live at the poverty level.

A Bad Night�s Sleep

Michael Wiley
In this hard-edged Chicago gumshoe thriller, it�s difficult to tell the good cops from the bad ones. That�s pretty much ex-cop Joe Kozmarski�s plea when he is arrested for shooting a uniformed officer during a break-in where he was doing surveillance. The crooks were cops, and now Joe is going to pay his debt to the force by going undercover for the Board of Ethics to prove who really are the bad guys. Tough job, because neither side actually trusts him and even he�s not sure they should.
Need more suggestions? Contact your local branch and our staff will be happy to assist you!