Reading Recommendations · Beyond Bestsellers: Notable New Fiction Titles (June 2013)
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 debut novel is a fictionalized version of the author's experiences, emigrating from Zimbabwe. In the African shantytown called Paradise, Darling and her friends run free and loose. With the government in disarray formal education becomes an education of the street, but they always believe life holds great promise for them. For Darling, that promise is life in Destroyedmichygen, USA where her aunt lives. When politics turn to violence, teenage Darling is sent to America and tries to adjust to the overabundance and unsettling luxury of her new life.
For mystery readers who like a dose of exotic locale in their stories, Cox's debut fits the bill. It's late 1990's Bangkok, with all its vices and humidity, where Boston PI Sebastian Damon is investigating a suspicious death claim for a US insurance company. To maneuver his way through the seedy establishments and corrupt bureaucracy, Damon gets one of his dads buddies from 'Nam to help out. It turns out the death was a fake, but for a noble cause--so Linda Watts can follow a trail that might lead to her US pilot father who is still alive in the hills of Laos.
Named by the National Book Foundation as one of the "5 Under 35" in 2006, Gaige is certainly living up to her potential in this novel. Eric Kennedy hasn't been Eric Schroder since he was a teenager. An East German immigrant, he adopted the name and lifestyle of what he perceived as a successful American. When his divorce threatens to unravel his fantasy, he prolongs his visitation with daughter Meadow by driving around New England--for a week. The novel is written as an apology to his wife, suggested by his lawyers as he awaits trial for kidnapping.
College brings people together who would otherwise never meet, and so it is at Harvard with Ed Cantowitz and Hugh Shipley. Hugh's moneyed background is what Ed longs for, and being included in the Hampton-for-the weekends crowd only confirms this desire. After graduation, Ed goes to Wall Street to work for Hugh's father-in-law while Hugh goes to Africa to do humanitarian work. Separated by life goals and geography, not to mention a desire for the same girl, the defunct relationship is rekindled when the next generation meets at boarding school.
This police procedural is the winner of the UK's Crime Writers Association 2012 Gold Dagger for Best Crime Novel of the Year. Subplots involving an observant nun, an inspector on the witness stand, and an unrepentant robber who has recently been released from jail all weave in and out before coming together for an ending searching for redemption. Interestingly, both good and bad guys have similar ethical dilemmas. The gritty urban climate of the streets of Dublin during the current downturn of the Irish economy is well-developed in Kerrigan's terse prose.
Steampunk fans will find lots to enjoy in Schwarz's Chronicles of Light and Shadow series opener, and even better is that they won't have to wait long for the second book which comes out in August. Elle Chance is a dirigible pilot who traverses the continent carrying a mysterious package and searching for her missing (likely kidnapped) father. Heavy on the fantasy side with warlocks, absinthe fairies, and sky pirates, Elle's Europe is a dangerous place in 1903. Of course, a little romance also figures in the plot of this heroine's fast-paced adventure.
Nestled in an Appalachian-like setting, Roam is literally a ghost town. There are some people left, but the ghosts of the "old-timers" far outnumber the living. The most interesting of the living are the two McCallister sisters who are as different as can be--Helen who is ugly and mean-spirited and Rachel who is beautiful and kind. However, Rachel is blind and Helen takes advantage of the situation convincing Rachel that she is the ugly one and that the world outside of Roam is a terrible, dangerous place. A fairy tale for grown-ups with a philosophical lesson.
Jonny Valentine is an 11-year-old megastar pop singer with a mother-manager who is making the most of his celebrity. While they are out on a national tour, Jonny hopes to reunite with the father he hasn't seen in the last five years. There is a lot of backstage spirit to this book--what it's like to travel to new cities day after day, what to do during the long bus rides, and meeting a new opening group. Jonny is at once an innocent, studying with his tutor and going on fake dates for the publicity, while negotiating the music business like a seasoned pro.
Wecker's blend of historical fiction and fantasy plays out in the 1899 Lower East Side of Manhattan, the heyday and neighborhood center of US immigration. The golem, a clay lady eventually named Chava, comes from Poland, and the jinni, Ahmad from the Syrian desert, is released from an old coffeehouse decoration. Like the new US residents around them, they are trying to live quiet lives in harmony with their new world, but both have potentially destructive natures which someone wants to harness to his own advantage. Critics are all abuzz for this one.
Even after her death, Eva Peron holds a fascinating, almost frenzied, place in the heart of the Argentinians. To keep the Peronists from using her body as a rallying point, the military secretly moved the corpse around. Much of Widen's debut novel is based on facts or at least commonly accepted rumors, and is thick with noir-like details about the establishment of the CIA in South America. Whether or not US spies were part of the plan, whether you accept the final resting place of Eva Peron, Widen's thriller makes you feel like you were there and part of the event.
Need more suggestions? Contact your local branch and our staff will be happy to assist you!