September LibraryReads Out

August 11, 2014

This batch has interesting choices and annotations with helpful insight on reader appeal.  (I do still have a Station Eleven ARC, btw, if this piques interest).  In print we have all on order or soon will (Horrorstör), and we’ll get several in audiobook as well.

The Favorite 

Most peopleSmoke gets in your eyes : and other lessons from the crematory want to avoid thinking about death, but Caitlin Doughty–a twenty-something with a degree in medieval history and a flair for the macabre–took a job at a crematory, turning morbid curiosity into her life’s work. Thrown into a profession of gallows humor and vivid characters (both living and very dead), Caitlin learned to navigate the secretive culture of those who care for the deceased.Smoke Gets in Your Eyes tells an unusual coming-of-age story full of bizarre encounters and unforgettable scenes. Caring for dead bodies of every color, shape, and affliction, Caitlin soon becomes an intrepid explorer in the world of the dead. She describes how she swept ashes from the machines (and sometimes onto her clothes) and reveals the strange history of cremation and undertaking, marveling at bizarre and wonderful funeral practices from different cultures.Her eye-opening, candid, and often hilarious story is like going on a journey with your bravest friend to the cemetery at midnight. She demystifies death, leading us behind the black curtain of her unique profession. And she answers questions you didn’t know you had: Can you catch a disease from a corpse? How many dead bodies can you fit in a Dodge van? What exactly does a flaming skull look like?  Honest and heartfelt, self-deprecating and ironic, Caitlin’s engaging style makes this otherwise taboo topic both approachable and engrossing. Now a licensed mortician with an alternative funeral practice, Caitlin argues that our fear of dying warps our culture and society, and she calls for better ways of dealing with death (and our dead).

 

 

 

 

Station eleven : a novel  The secret place  Rooms  The Children Act  The Distance : A Thriller  Product DetailsThe witch with no name  The paying guests

This is the latest by Australian novelist Flanagan, right now considered one of if not their best.  His latest The Narrow Road to the Deep North, has just been longlisted for the Man Booker Prize.  This is the first year the longlist includes, controversially, four Americans as well. The winner’s announcement should be interesting.  Narrow Road is being published next week and already has 12 holds. The title derives from a haiku by Basho and is related to the book’s themes rather than location. Would someone care for the ARC?

 

“A novel of lovThe narrow road to the deep north : a novele and war that traces the life of one man–an Australian surgeon–from a prisoner-of-war camp on the Thai-Burma Death Railway during World War II, up to the present”– Provided by publisher.

Long-listed for the Man Booker Prize August, 1943. In the despair of a Japanese POW camp on the Thai-Burma Death Railway, Australian surgeon Dorrigo Evans is haunted by his affair with his uncle’s young wife two years earlier. His life is a daily struggle to save the men under his command from starvation, from cholera, from pitiless beatings. Until he receives a letter that will change him forever. Moving deftly from the POW camp to contemporary Australia, from the experiences of Dorrigo and his comrades to those of the Japanese guards, this savagely beautiful novel tells a story of love, death, and family, exploring the many forms of good and evil, war and truth, guilt and transcendence, as one man comes of age, prospers, only to discover all that he has lost. [Summary]

Jan Karon’s Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good comes out September 2 and seems like the perfect gentle read for the dog days. Anyone interested?

 

 

“A pSomewhere safe with somebody good : the new Mitford novelublishing event: #1 New York Times-bestselling author Jan Karon returns-and invites her millions of fans to join her again in Mitford. After five hectic years of retirement from Lord’s Chapel, Father Tim Kavanagh returns with his wife, Cynthia, froma so-called pleasure trip to the land of his Irish ancestors. While glad to be at home in Mitford, something is definitely missing: a pulpit. But when he’s offered one, he decides he doesn’t want it. Maybe he’s lost his passion. His adopted son, Dooley, wrestles with his own passion-for the beautiful and gifted Lace Turner, and his vision to become a successful country vet. Dooley’s brother, Sammy, still enraged by his mother’s abandonment, destroys one of Father Tim’s prized possessions. And Hope Murphy, owner of Happy Endings bookstore, struggles with the potential loss of her unborn child and her hard-won business. All this as Wanda’s Feel Good Cafe; opens, a romance catches fire through an Internet word game, their former mayor hatches a reelection campaign to throw the bums out, and the weekly Muse poses a probing inquiry: Does Mitford still take care of its own? Millions of fans will applaud the chance to spend time, once more, in the often comic and utterly human presence of Jan Karon’s characters. Indeed, they have never been more sympathetic, bighearted, and engaging. “– Provided by publisher.

 

Surely these will be claimed lickety split? World of Trouble is the third of a series called Last Policeman, endorsed by Nancy Pearl.  Bones Never Lie comes out Sept 23rd.  If you feel so brash as to claim more than one at a time, I have no problem with that.

 

Bones never lie  : a novel / Kathy Reichs.

 

…In the acclaimed author’s thrilling new novel, Brennan is at the top of her game in a battle of wits against the most monstrous adversary she has ever encountered. Unexpectedly called in to the Charlotte PD’s Cold Case Unit, Dr. Temperance Brennan wonders why she’s been asked to meet with a homicide cop who’s a long way from his own jurisdiction. The shocking answer: Two child murders, separated by thousands of miles, have one thing in common–the killer. Years ago, Anique Pomerleau kidnapped and murdered a string of girls in Canada, then narrowly eluded capture. It was a devastating defeat for her pursuers, Brennan and police detective Andrew Ryan. Now, as if summoned from their nightmares, Pomerleau has resurfaced in the United States, linked to victims in Vermont and North Carolina. When another child is snatched, the reign of terror promises to continue–unless Brennan can rise to the challenge and make good on her second chance to stop a psychopath.  But Brennan will have to draw her bitter ex-partner out of exile, keep the local police and feds from one another’s throats, and face more than just her own demons as she stalks the deadliest of predators into the darkest depths of madness…

 

 

Cop town : a novel

 

“Atlanta, 1974. It’s Kate Murphy’s first day on the job and the Atlanta Police Department is seething after the murder of an officer. Before the day has barely begun, she already suspects she’s not cut out for the job as a cop. Her male uniform is too big, she can’t handle a gun, and she’s rapidly learning that the APD is hardly a place that welcomes women. Worse still, in the ensuing manhunt, he’ll be partnered with Maggie Lawson, a cop with her own ax to grind (and a brother and uncle already on the force)–a strategy meant to isolate Kate and Maggie from the action. But the move will backfire, putting them right at the heart of it”

 

 

 

World of TroubleCritically acclaimed author Ben H. Winters delivers this explosive final installment in the Edgar Award winning Last Policeman series. With the doomsday asteroid looming, Detective Hank Palace has found sanctuary in the woods of New England, secure in a well-stocked safe house with other onetime members of the Concord police force. But with time ticking away before the asteroid makes landfall, Hank’s safety is only relative, and his only relative–his sister Nico–isn’t safe. Soon, it’s clear that there’s more than one earth-shattering revelation on the horizon, and it’s up to Hank to solve the puzzle before time runs out . . . for everyone.

A university student from a troubled family of modest means thinks she’s going to spend an easy summer at her rich roommate’s family estate in Vermont…but no.  Full of disturbing secrets and suspense, this one already has a building queue.  Who’d like to have the arc?

Beverly-Whittemore, Miranda.  Bittersweet. Crown, 2014.

Bittersweet : a novel

On scholarship at a prestigious East Coast college, Mabel Dagmar is befriended by her roommate, the blue-blooded Genevra Winslow. Invited to spend the summer at Bittersweet, a cottage on a Vermont estate, Mabel falls in love with the moneyed laughter that carries across the still lake while fireworks burst overhead. Soon she has everything she’s ever wanted: friendship, a boyfriend, access to wealth, and the sense that she belongs. When a discovery leads to violence and reveals how the Winslows keep their power intact, Mabel must either expose them and face expulsion from paradise, or keep the family’s dark secrets and make this world her own.

For the reader who doesn’t think Lawrence Block writes Bernie Rhodenbarr Burglar mysteries fast enough, there is also likable antihero Junior Bender in Hallinan’s growing series. I have the ARC of the latest title, Herbie’s Game.  The from-the-streets realism, vivid characters and dark humor are all a lot of fun.  This just came out and has a few holds on four copies. Would anyone like the leisure of enjoying the ARC?

 

“It’s Herbie's game : a Junior Bender Mysteryeveryday business when Wattles, the San Fernando Valley’s top “executive crook,” sets up a hit. He establishes a chain of criminals to pass along the instructions and the money, thereby ensuring that the hitter doesn’t know who hired him. Then one day Wattles finds his office safe open and a single item missing: the piece of paper on which he has written the names of the crooks in the chain. When people associated with the chain begin to pop up dead, the only person Wattles can turn to to solve hisproblem is Junior Bender, professional burglar and begrudging private eye for crooks. But Junior already knows exactly who took Wattles’s list: the signature is too obvious. It was Herbie Mott, Junior’s burglar mentor and second father–and when Junior seeks him out to discuss the missing list, he finds Herbie very unpleasantly murdered. Junior follows the links in the chain back toward the killer, and as he does, he learns disturbing things about Herbies hidden past. He has to ask himself how much of the life he’s lived for the past twenty years has been of his own making, and how much of it was actually Herbies game“– Provided by publisher.

 

This was a “buzz” at BookExpo and seems like an interesting new take on the post-apocalypse. (Do you get the impression some people almost crave collapse?)  I have an extra ARC and will be reading the other one this weekend. I’d love to pass both on eventually. Let’s compare notes.

 

“An audacStation eleven : a novelious, darkly glittering novel about art, fame, and ambition set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, from the author of three highly acclaimed previous novels. One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time-from the actor’s early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as the Traveling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains-this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor’s first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the TravelingSymphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet. Sometimes terrifying, sometimes tender, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it”– Provided by publisher.

 

For aficionados of Scandinavian crime fiction, complete with a prosecutor heroine, but with more legendary and mystical elements. And apparently Oprah likes this author, too! Comment to claim.

 

The Second Deadly Sin

Oprah.com raved that Asa Larsson’s Rebecka Martinsson is a crime fighter who has all the needed gut instincts,” and listed the series as “Mysteries Every Thinking Woman Should Read.” In The Second Deadly Sin , dawn breaks in a forest in northern Sweden. Villagers gather to dispatch a rampaging bear. When the beast is brought to ground they are horrified to find the remains of a human hand inside its stomach. In nearby Kiruna, a woman is found murdered in her bed, her body a patchwork of vicious wounds, the word WHORE scrawled across the wall. Her grandson Marcus, already an orphan, is nowhere to be seen. Grasping for clues, Rebecka Martinsson begins to delve into the victim’s tragic family history. But with doubts over her mental health still lingering, she is ousted from the case by an arrogant and ambitious young prosecutor. Before long a chance lead draws Martinsson back into the thick of the action and her legendary courage is put to the test once more.

I’m not one to gobble up the Da Vinci Code read-alike list, but this one intrigued me for its focus on American history and the central question Lincoln faced and seemingly answered: Is the union perpetual or can states just leave if a majority of their populations really want to?

The Lincoln Myth uniquely covers the role of the LDS Church in preserving and challenging the union and the link between the Founders, Abraham Lincoln and Brigham Young.  There’s also a spy vs. spy love triangle and non-stop action around Europe, Utah, D.C., and even Des Moines.  Berry’s writing style is crisp and punctuates thought patterns to guide the reader through an intricate plot.  The Lincoln Myth has a holds queue but I do have the arc for the first commenter.

 

The Lincoln myth : a novel

American President Cotton Malone tackles the secrets of Mormonism, a U.S. Senator’s stealthy secession plan, and a history-shaping letter that was handed down through the chief executive line.
“September 1861: All is not as it seems. With these cryptic words, a shocking secret passed down from president to president comes to rest in the hands of Abraham Lincoln. And as the first bloody clashes of the Civil War unfold,Lincoln alone must decide how best to use this volatile knowledge: save thousands of American lives, or keep the young nation from being torn apart forever? The present: In Utah, the fabled remains of Mormon pioneers whose nineteenth-century expedition across the desert met with a murderous end have been uncovered. In Washington, D.C., the official investigation of an international entrepreneur, an elder in the Mormon church, has sparked a political battle between the White House and a powerful United States senator. In Denmark, a Justice Department agent, missing in action, has fallen into the hands of a dangerous zealot–a man driven by divine visions to make a prophet’s words reality. And in a matter of a few short hours, Cotton Malone has gone from quietly selling books at his shop in Denmark to dodging bullets in a high-speed boat chase. All it takes is a phone call from his former boss in Washington, and suddenly the ex-agent is racing to rescue an informant carrying critical intelligence. It’s just the kind of perilous business that Malone has been trying to leave behind, ever since he retired from the Justice Department. But once he draws enemy blood, Malone is plunged into a deadly conflict–a constitutional war secretly set in motion more than two hundred years ago by America’s Founding Fathers. From the streets of Copenhagen to the catacombs of Salzburg to the rugged mountains of Utah, the grim specter of the Civil War looms as a dangerous conspiracy gathers power. Malone risks life, liberty, and his greatest love in a race for the truth about Abraham Lincoln–while the fate of the United States of America hangs in the balance” — from publisher’s web site.

 

This plot gets more and more intense as it progresses.  This is coming out next month.  I’ll make sure that the first to comment gets this. Thanks!

 

 

On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office-leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin. But Nella’s life changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist-an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways… Johannes’s gift helps Nella pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand-and fear-the escalating dangers that await them all. In this repressively pious society where gold is worshipped second only to God, to be different is a threat to the moral fabric of society, and not even a man as rich as Johannes is safe. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation…or the architect of their destruction? Enchanting, beautifully written, and exquisitely suspenseful, The Miniaturist is a magnificent story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.

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