Reading Recommendations · Beyond Bestsellers: Notable New Fiction Titles (September 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.
College student Rosemary Cooke has tried to escape her past but she realizes that she truly was shaped by her unique family unit. Until age five, her family consisted of her psychology professor father, her dedicated mother, an older brother, and a twin sister. She returned from a visit to her grandparents to find that her sister was gone, changing the dynamics of the family in ways that could not be anticipated. Try to avoid the spoilers about Rosemary's sister Fern and let her story unfold in the pages of this compelling novel about what makes us uniquely human.
Jodi and Todd Gilbert have a very comfortable relationship. She enjoys the details of domestic duties after seeing clients in the morning, and he enjoys the refined quality of their home life. Jodi knows that Todd’s affections occasionally stray and he knows that she knows, but it’s never been a problem until Natasha, the daughter of Todd’s oldest friend. Mentioned as one of this summer’s read-alikes for Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl (another being Beukes’ The Shining Girls featured last month), the story simmers to a boiling point and the final confrontation.
“Mo Hayder has for years been a master of chilling, seamlessly plotted thrillers ….Poppet is Hayder at her most terrifying: a gripping, edge-of-your-seat novel set in a high-security mental ward.” Mysterious happenings at an old Victorian workhouse turned mental asylum escalate to the point where Bristol Detective Jack Caffery has to be called in. The likely blame falls to an unlikely character – The Maude, the ghost of a dwarf who ran the workhouse. Hayder’s last novel, Gone, won the Edgar for Best Mystery in 2012 and critics say this is even better.
Pushcart Prize winner Holt explores the desire to keep aflame the friendship of two young girls. Ten-year-old Sarah and Jenny write letters to Yuri Andropov, asking him to commit to world peace. When Jenny’s is answered with an invitation to visit Russia, she becomes a media darling until dying with her family in a plane crash. The Cold War slogan, “trust, but verify”, becomes Sarah’s mantra when the college graduate receives word that Jenny’s father was a Soviet spy and her friend may still be alive somewhere in Russia. A haunting and eloquent debut novel.
Planning to travel to New York and want to know where the best lodging and restaurants are? Not so easy for the non-human visitors to the Big Apple until Zoë Norris and the staff of Underworld Publishing write their guide. Zoë is human - the only one in an office of vampires, zombies, and the like. She’s just a girl trying to do her job without being eaten, bitten, or otherwise mauled. After all, New York’s a tough city. This hilarious urban fantasy is the beginning of a planned series. The next assignment for Underworld Publishing? New Orleans
“Meticulous, intelligent prose is the real star of this excellent espionage thriller from former CIA operations officer McCarry….” An unnamed spy narrator is sent to China and given no instructions other than to learn the language, immerse himself in the culture, avoid other Americans, and wait for more instructions. When the ultimate purpose of infiltrating the Chinese equivalent of the CIA is revealed, our young hero has been close to death at least twice. Beautiful women, successful corporate CEOs, his own handler– no one is who they appear to be.
While this novel is essentially a mystery – two girls go out in a rubber raft in a New York City harbor but only one can be found the next morning – it is just as powerful viewed as a story of the neighborhood of Red Hook and its inhabitants. Kids from the projects and a newly arrived street artist are obviously suspect, but any sympathy given to survivor Val quickly fades despite a storeowner’s attempt to rally the neighborhood in the search for June. Pochoda’s realistic writing takes you right to the waterfront and brings the area and its memorable residents to life.
Rose Baker is a meek and prim steno/typist working at a New York police station in the 1920s. Although she is subjected to the sordid details of criminal interrogations, Rose manages to keep her morals about her until the new girl, Odalie, is hired. Obsessively intrigued by the insouciant lifestyle of the flapper, Rose finds herself moving in with Odalie and accompanying her to speakeasies. Reminiscent of the social lure of the upper class in novels like The Great Gatsby and Dreiser’s An American Tragedy, Rose, now in over her head, will not escape unscathed.
Silber can definitely write, having been honored as a Finalist for the National Book Award (Ideas of Heaven: A Ring of Stories) and a PEN/Hemingway Award winner. This novel is made up of six interconnected stories, spanning from the 1920s to today, which try to differentiate between being a fool and doing foolish things. Even an intelligent person can be a fool for love while the most altruistic person can become so enamored with an ideal that he loses common sense. With the best of intentions, her characters balance personal and practical to mixed results.
In 1968, four teenagers try to find an escape from their dreary future lives in the hardscrabble, small town of Brewster, New York. Will the key be college, perhaps on an athletic scholarship, or will the circumstances of family life lead at least one of them to run away before finishing high school? With nods to the hip cultural and political events of the time, author Slouka hints of an older version of The Outsiders as he combines a teenager’s passionate allegiance to those who accept him with family rebellion for a gut-wrenching conclusion.
Need more suggestions? Contact your local branch and our staff will be happy to assist you!