Reading Recommendations · Beyond Bestsellers: Notable New Fiction Titles (July 2014)
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.
At 44, Anna Brundage is trying to make a comeback with her new CD and a European tour. In her youth she had been an indie-rock darling, but her third album tanked and she fell out of vogue. In this stream-of-consciousness novel, Anna reflects on her unconventional childhood, her unexpected success, and the performer’s inherent need for a personal connection to the audience. A lyrical and intimate read as road-weary Anna tries to understand her life, the people in it, and her desires for the future.
Downing finished off an atmospheric espionage series set in World War II Berlin and now travels backward a bit in time to 1913 and the brink of World War I for this new series launch. Jack McColl is a luxury car salesman with an affinity for languages. His worldly travels give him ample opportunity to gather intelligence for the British Navy while conducting business. There’s also opportunity for romance, but journalist Caitlin Hanley’s family may have political ties in Ireland that are potentially threatening to the Crown. Will heart or head win out?
Laura Bridgman was considered to be the 19th century’s second most famous woman, bested only by Queen Victoria. Charles Dickens is quoted as saying that visiting Laura was his prime interest in coming to America. Yet today hardly anyone knows about the amazing young girl who lost four of her five senses to scarlet fever when she was two. Elkins gives Laura a voice to tell her own tale in this debut novel – how she learned to sign, her life at Perkins Institute in Boston, and how her exhibitions were celebrity events. A unique and touching story in so many ways.
Friedman’s first entry in this series, Don’t Ever Get Old, was nominated for four mystery awards last year. While it’s not necessary to read that one first, this second effort does take place just months later. Cranky eighty-seven-year-old retired cop Buck Schatz has been compared to an octogenarian version of Dirty Harry. Buck has the opportunity to close some unsolved bank robberies when an aged nemesis wants to turn himself in. Of course, it can’t be that simple. Buck “heads to the final confrontation pushing a walker and packing a Magnum.”
This dense, linguistically rich novel is set in the not-too-distant future when people have become dependent on their “Memes” (think super-super iPhone) so much that memory is no longer necessary. When Anana’s father disappears from the dictionary (both the book and his job), she sets out to find him. Word flu, seemingly spread through the Memes, is causing people to lose their ability to speak. Literary allusions abound and the nostalgic longing for physical print items is poignant. The thriller ends in the most sentimental of locales – Oxford, England – home of the OED.
When Army Corporal Elijah Russell’s talent with horses is revealed, he is transferred to a small Special Forces unit. His assignment is to train horses for a special mission, as well as teaching the Green Berets who will ride them. Elijah’s gentle hand with the animals contrasts with the brutal realism of battle scenes as the group progresses toward the caves near the Afghan border. Rescuing POWs is the given reason for the trek, but the captain’s ruthless push to the goal makes his true intention suspect. A modern Western combined with the modern war novel.
At age 25, John Lago is planning his last job – the assassination of a high level law partner who also is the subject of an FBI investigation. You see, John is washed up because an intern older than 25 would be too suspicious. As the most successful “intern” at HR, INC., John has written a handbook for those who will follow him, reliving his numerous hits as he lays out the rules for a long and rewarding career. Filled with whip-smart dark humor and fast-paced ferocious action, this hipster thriller will appeal to fans of Bazell’s Beat the Reaper and Duane Swierczynski.
To say that Kupersmith is a “writer to watch” is an understatement, but the recent college grad has presented a collection of nine stories that seem mature beyond her years in that gentle way of Far Eastern mysticism. The tales are based on Vietnamese folklore passed down by her grandmother and highlight that special place where the real and spirit worlds intersect. Most are charmingly haunting, but “Little Brother” shows a talent for the creep factor. “Reception” and “The Red Veil” totter on the brink of uneasiness and denote a flair for pacing and tone.
Just as Richard Haddon is finally reaching some financial success as an artist, it may come at too great a price. All at once, his exhibit opens, his mistress leaves him, and his wife discovers the affair. When The Blue Bear sells, a particularly sentimental piece which Richard painted for his pregnant wife several years previously, it’s possible his ex-lover may be the buyer. Giving up this symbolic artwork convinces him that he wants his wife back at all costs. A very smart and contemporary examination of the emotional cost of infidelity.
Kettering native Weisgarber uses the 1900 Galveston storm, the worst US natural disaster of the twentieth century, as the basis of a novel that contrasts the survival skills of two women. Catherine Wainwright impulsively marries a childhood friend so she can escape the scathing gossip of Dayton society. Previously employed as a concert pianist and music teacher, Catherine is out of her element on Oscar’s dairy farm on Galveston Island. Nan, Oscar’s housekeeper who is keeping a deathbed promise to look after his son, certainly can’t see any use for the city lady.
Need more suggestions? Contact your local branch and our staff will be happy to assist you!