Reading Recommendations · Beyond Bestsellers: Notable New Fiction Titles (July 2012)
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 melancholy period piece will be popular with the Downton Abbey crowd and readers who like to explore that “upstairs, downstairs” side of British life. Coral Glynn comes to Hart House to nurse matriarch Edith Hart who is dying of cancer. In fact, Edith dies more quickly than supposed, leaving Coral homeless. But Edith’s son, Clement, wounded in the war, proposes a marriage, somewhat of convenience. A child’s murder sends Coral fleeing to London to avoid the local police, pointing out the unfortunate mismatch of her marriage. Very atmospheric.
“In our family,” my grandmother had told me, “a sister always dies.” So Janie is told to watch over her younger sibling, Hannah. Belonging is everything for Janie – belonging to her Korean heritage, her family, and her desire to fit in when the family moves to America. Her sister, Hannah, disappears as a teenager and Janie internalizes the loss. When the family moves back to Korea for her father to receive cutting-edge cancer treatments, Janie is expected to find Hannah in order to make the family whole again.
This is Elias’ fourth mystery featuring the blind violin teacher Daniel Jacobus, offering a wonderful tour backstage of a world-class orchestra replete with diva personalities. The rare occasion is the appointment of a new concertmaster; the not-so-rare occasion is a snit fit from the megalomaniacal conductor. Jacobus, once a brilliant musician himself, reminds one of television’s House, acerbic yet astute, and his blindness heightens his other senses. Details are lovingly composed and layered, just like a musical masterwork. Encore, please!
What could be more English than a country manor house mystery combined with an eerie tale? While preparations are underway for Emerald Torrington’s 20th birthday celebration, there is an accident on a nearby branch of the railway. The Torringtons are told to provide shelter until further notice. All the passengers who turn up seem beneath the status-conscious matriarch, who sequesters them in a front room, except for one first-class passenger who unearths some hidden family secrets during the festivities.
It’s time for the 20-year reunion of the Harvard class of 1989, and the four former roommates are looking forward to it. Like their fellow graduates, Clover, Addison, Mia, and Jane assess their lives as they write their updated entries for “the red book” which every class member receives. None of the four are living a life according to their initial career choices, having been derailed by children, company layoffs, or a successful husband. It is a life-changing reunion weekend for them all, and things will be much different when the next five years roll around.
Set in a rather ambiguously not-too-distant future, Kosmatka’s tale combines the excitement of the Olympics with the science fiction of Jurassic Park. The crowning Olympic event is the Gladiator competition, a fight-to-the-death between genetically created monsters. The US has won the gold for the last three times, and millions of dollars have been poured into creating another winner. But as a computer chooses which attributes will produce the specialized combination, the scientists are ill-prepared for what an unbeatable killing machine really means.
Of all the criminals, the most despised are the murderers of children. Consequently of all lawyers, the most threatened and seemingly amoral are the defenders of those child killers. But what if the murderer is also a child? Should another child’s life lose all potential? And should a lawyer have to choose between serving his client and alienating his family, friends, and community? The pressure of a highly emotional case is the basis for this legal thriller which poses ethical questions about blame for a crime and treatment of those who carry out justice.
Robinson has won every science fiction writing award that there is, so every new book is a treat and possible top of the genre for the year. In 2312, he envisions a world 300 years in the future. It’s a large world because people inhabit almost every planet, even asteroids, in our solar system. Swan Er Hong, who lives on Mercury, is a creator of habitats. But based upon information she finds after her grandmother dies, she may now need to be a destroyer. While technology has evolved, social and political behavior has not. A space adventure with a moral message.
Edward Mason thinks fortune has come his way when he finds out that he stands to inherit a former plantation/peach orchard on Chesapeake Bay. But before she deems him worthy, Miss Mary Bayly insists he hears the story of her home and his forefathers. The novel takes place during one long day, as Edward tours the grounds while family secrets are unveiled. Perhaps the heartache began when Miss Mary’s grandfather sold all the slaves but surely this family, so tied to this patch of land, has had its share of misfortune. A prequel to Mason’s Retreat,
Chivalry is alive and well in the character of Pasquale Tursi who, after 50 years, has come to Hollywood to find out the fate of the beautiful American starlet who stayed in his family’s hotel on the Italian coast. Pasquale’s smitten infatuation puts the Hollywood set to shame, including Richard Burton whose affair was being covered up and Michael Deane, then studio lackey sent to keep things quiet and later major Hollywood force, who is rather washed up now. Numerous plotlines come together as the story fades into sunset with a closeup on the romantic couple.
Need more suggestions? Contact your local branch and our staff will be happy to assist you!