Akhtiorskaya, Yelena. Panic in a Suitcase. Riverhead. Jul. 2014. 320p.
ISBN 9781594632143. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101638262. F
In this marvelous debut novel, a Russian immigrant family from Odessa arrives in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, to begin a new life, but leaving the old world to pursue the American dream isn’t quite what family members had imagined. The narrative recounts with humor and wisdom the experiences of the Nasmertov family over the course of two decades, through the fall of communism and the rise of globalization. Pasha and Marina, two of the book’s many intriguing characters, struggle to put the past behind them while confronting the rules and eccentricities of American life. Russian-owned shops and other reminders of home are everywhere in Brighton Beach, but does the freedom to return to Odessa make success in their adopted country more difficult to achieve? With beautiful prose that often feels like poetry, Akhtiorskaya portrays America from an outsider’s perspective while revealing the collective truths about families no matter where they live. VERDICT A touching and darkly funny first novel that is sure to be adored by readers everywhere. Very highly recommended.
Box, C.J. Shots Fired: Stories from Joe Pickett Country. Putnam. Aug. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9780399158582. $26.95. F
At last those hard-to-find Box short stories that appeared as limited editions or in anthologies, and three new ones, have been brought together in one volume that will be treasured by his fans. This collection of ten stories includes four featuring Joe Pickett and/or Nate Romanowski. The other tales are set in the Wind River mountains, Yellowstone, Wyoming Territory in 1835, the North Platte River in Wyoming, and modern-day Paris. An especially enthralling tale about a blizzard, pronghorns, and the Third Reich is based on a 1936 photo taken by Charles Belden that Box found at the American Heritage Center at the University of Wyoming. There is even a 1,000-word story that articulates the relationship among generations in one family. In the introduction, the author relates information about each piece—why it was written and where the ideas came from. VERDICT Artistry, creativity, and craftsmanship are hallmarks of Box’s writing. Each story is packed with adventure and intriguing characters that his fans have come to expect in his superlative storytelling. Nonstop adventure and mystery are omnipresent with unexpected twists and turns that will leave readers begging for more. [See Prepub Alert, 2/10/14.]
Fenollera, Natalia Sanmartin. The Awakening of Miss Prim. Atria. Jul. 2014. 224p. ISBN 9781476734248. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9781476734255. F
Prudencia Prim, a self-assured, erudite young woman, leaves academe behind and takes a job as a personal librarian in a remote village in France. Her academic prowess makes her a bit overqualified for this “no experience required” position, but the charming and enigmatic town of San Irenoe de Arnois is hard to resist and her employer, “the man in the wingchair,” is equally charming and enigmatic, albeit curmudgeonly. Could Mr. Darcy really exist? Miss Prim is intrigued but irritated by his questioning of her reading taste. The townspeople have a curious approach to modern life: at once very old world and startlingly progressive. Schooling is haphazard, but the children who sit at the feet of Miss Prim’s employer are intelligent, multilingual, and possess admirable grasps of the classics and philosophy. How can one town be so preciously idyllic? As she proceeds with the work of organizing her employer’s books, the women of the village begin to gently nudge Miss Prim from her rigid view of life into one that might even include love. VERDICT Readers who loved Joanne Harris’s Chocolat or, more recently, Jessica Brockmole’s Letters from Skye or Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry will be charmed by the blossoming of Miss Prim. Already a best seller in Europe, this charming and intelligent debut novel is certain to be a hit with book groups. Highly recommended.
Weiner, Jennifer. All Fall Down. Atria. Jun. 2014. 416p. ISBN 9781451617788. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781451617801. F
From the outside, it would seem that Allison Weiss has it all—a dedicated husband, a spirited daughter, and the job of her dreams. But between her father’s Alzheimer’s, her husband’s career failings, and her daughter’s sensory sensitivity, Allison struggles to maintain her vision of perfection. A pain pill here and there, originally prescribed for her sore back, quickly becomes a requirement for making it through each day. Then the unmarked envelopes from an online drug site begin arriving as Allison starts consuming ten or more pills per day to keep her cool, putting her child at risk as she gets behind the wheel while under the influence. Weiner’s (Good in Bed) latest novel is reminiscent of Susanna Kaysen’s Girl, Interrupted, as Allison struggles to first hide, and then overcome, the addiction that jeopardizes everything she has worked so hard to achieve. VERDICT An absolutely heartbreaking read that will leave readers haunted. Great for book clubs or for anyone trying to understand a loved one’s addiction.
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Abbott, Jeff. Inside Man. Grand Central. Jul. 2014. 400p. ISBN 9781455528455. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781455528462. F
Allen, Jeffery Renard. Song of the Shank. Graywolf. Jun. 2014. 584p. ISBN 9781555976804. pap. $18; ebk. ISBN 9781555970925. F
Burke, Alafair. All Day and a Night. Harper. Jun. 2014. 368p. ISBN 9780062208385. $26.99: ebk. ISBN 9780062208408. F
Chan, Darcie. The Mill River Redemption. Ballantine. Aug. 2014. 416p.
ISBN 9780345538239. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9780345541567. F
Conn, Andrew Lewis. O, Africa! Hogarth: Crown. Jun. 2014. 384p. ISBN 9780804138284. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780804138291. F
Cooley, M.P. Ice Shear. Morrow. Aug. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780062300706. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062300713. F
Dietrich, William. The Three Emperors: An Ethan Gage Adventure. Harper. May 2014. 400p. ISBN 9780062194107. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062194138. F
Dingman, Carolyn. Cancel the Wedding. Harper. Aug. 2014. 416p. ISBN 9780062276728. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062276735. F
Elkins, Kimberly. What Is Visible. Twelve: Grand Central. Jun. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9781455528967. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781455528974. F
Eve, Nomi. Henna House. Scribner. Aug. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9781476740270. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781476740300. F
Feldman, Stephanie. The Angel of Losses. Ecco: HarperCollins. Aug. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9780062228918. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062228932. F
Fellowes, Mave. Chaplin & Company. Liveright: Norton. Jun. 2014. 384p. ISBN 9780871407443. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780871407610. F
Francis, Patry. The Orphans of Race Point. Harper Perennial. May 2014. 544p. ISBN 9780062281302. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062281326. F
Frank, Judith. All I Love and Know. Morrow. Jul. 2014. 432p. ISBN 9780062302878. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062302885. F
Gudenkauf, Heather. Little Mercies. Mira: Harlequin. Jul. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780778316336. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9781460330166. F
Jewell, Lisa. The House We Grew Up In. Atria. Aug. 2014. 400p. ISBN 9781476702995. $24; ebk. ISBN 9781476703015. F
Jio, Sarah. Goodnight June. Plume. May 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780142180211. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781101620038. F
Kennedy, Thomas E. Beneath the Neon Egg. Bloomsbury USA. Aug. 2014. 192p. ISBN 9781620401415. $26. F
King, Lily. Euphoria. Atlantic Monthly. Jun. 2014. 272p. ISBN 9780802122551. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780802192516. F
King, Stephen. Mr. Mercedes. Scribner. Jun. 2014. 448p. ISBN 9781476754451. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781476754468. F
La Seur, Carrie. The Home Place. Morrow. Jul. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780062323446; $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062323446. F
Lane, Johanna. Black Lake. Little, Brown. May 2014. 224p. ISBN 9780316228831. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780316228824. F
McQueen, Holly. Charlie Glass’s Slippers: A Very Modern Fairy Tale. Atria. Aug. 2014. 464p. ISBN 9781476727059. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781476727066. F
Maum, Courtney. I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You. Touchstone. Jun. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9781476764580. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781476764566. F
Merrell, Susan Scarf. Shirley. Blue Rider. Jun. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9780399166457. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101636534. F
Montefiore, Simon Sebag. One Night in Winter. Harper. May 2014. 480p.
ISBN 9780062291882. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062291905. F
Ryan, Donal. The Thing About December. Steerforth. Aug. 2014. 208p. ISBN 9781586422288. pap. $15. F
Seiffert, Rachel. The Walk Home. Pantheon. Jul. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780307908810. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307908827. F
Weil, Josh. The Great Glass Sea. Grove. Jul. 2014. 400p. ISBN 9780802122155. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780802192868. F
Wheaton, Ken. Sweet as Cane, Salty as Tears. Premier Digital. Jul. 2014. 242p. ISBN 9781624672460. pap. $16.99; ebk. ISBN 9781624672453. F
White, Karen. A Long Time Gone. NAL: Penguin. Jun. 2014. 432p. ISBN 9780451240460. $25.95. F
Winspear, Jacqueline. The Care and Management of Lies. Harper. Jul. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9780062220509. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062220523. F
Zentner, Alexi. The Lobster Kings. Norton. May 2014. 400p. ISBN 9780393089578. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393244328. F
FaceOff. S. & S. Jun. 2014. 384p. ed. by David Baldacci. ISBN 9781476762067. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781476762081. F
Hemenway, Arna Bontemps. Elegy on Kinderklavier. Sarabande. Jul. 2014. 240p. ISBN 9781936747764. pap. $15.95. F
Camilleri, Andrea. Angelica’s Smile: An Inspector Montalbano Mystery. Penguin. Jul. 2014. 304p. tr. from Italian by Stephen Sartarelli. ISBN 9780143123767. pap. $16. M
Dahl, Julia. Invisible City. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. May 2014. 304p. ISBN 9781250043399. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466841918. m
Scerbanenco, Giorgio. A Private Venus. (Bk. 1). tr. from Italian by Howard Curtis. ISBN 9781612193359.
Scerbanenco, Giorgio. Traitors to All. (Bk. 2). Jun. ISBN 9781612193663.
ea. vol: Melville House. (Milano Quartet). 2014. 256p. tr. from Italian by Howard Curtis. pap. $16.95. M
Novels by Librarians
Bogino, Jeanne. Rock Angel. Prashanti. Sept. 2014. 400p. ISBN 9780985231361. $26.99. F
Shan O’Hara has had a rough life. Her musically talented and supportive mother withers away from cancer before Shan’s young eyes, and then after she is gone Shan’s father uses abuse to quell his own pain. As a runaway, Shan performs acts that she cannot clean from her conscience and develops a heroin addiction she can barely control. The one bright spot in Shan’s life is her guitar, Joanie, which introduces her to a “family” of bandmates, including the sexy, egotistical, and undeniably talented Quinn Marshall. Debut novelist Bogino clearly has a passion and great understanding of Nineties-era rock culture. Shan is a complex and well-written character whose struggles have the reader rooting for her; unfortunately her maybe-counterpart Quinn is hard to empathize with and can be just as detrimental to Shan’s health (mental and otherwise) as her caustic past. VERDICT This novel is true music fiction, a soulful ballad that will interest readers of rock nonfiction titles such as Nikki Six’s The Heroin Diaries or drug-fueled fiction like Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls. The easily offended should stay clear as there are titillating sexual encounters as well as drug use and excessive profanity. [Bogino is a librarian and LJ Reviewer of the Year 2013; she will be signing ARCs at BookExpo America.—Ed.]
Thomas, Will. Fatal Enquiry. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. May 2014. 304p. ISBN 9781250041043. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466837195. M
Readers rejoice and scoundrels take heed—the streets of Victorian London just got a little safer now that Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewelyn are back on the case! When Barker’s archnemesis, the villainous and aristocratic Sebastian Nightwine, returns to London with a governmental pardon in his hand and revenge in his heart, the detective duo quickly find themselves on the wrong side of the law. Soon they are battling detectives, thugs, and the feminine wiles of one Miss Sofia Ilyanova in a race to clear Barker’s good name and foil Nightwine’s most mercenary scheme to date. This reviewer missed her train stop two days in a row, so engrossed was she in Barker and Llewelyn’s latest exploits! Although this is Tulsa librarian Thomas’s (Some Danger Involved) sixth Barker and Llewelyn story, as his first book for Minotaur, it serves as a reintroduction to the series. It’s a charming one at that, powered by well-developed character dynamics and a delightfully idiosyncratic cast of characters. Newcomers are sure to be absorbed into these warm, witty, and richly atmospheric historicals, and devotees will not be disappointed. VERDICT Recommended for historical mysteries enthusiasts, Anglophiles, and Sherlockians. Fans of Alex Grecian (“Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad” series), Anthony Horowitz (The House of Silk) and Charles Todd (“Bess Crawford Mysteries”) should take special note. [Library marketing; Minotaur First Edition Selection; Thomas was profiled by Wilda Williams in “Shelf Life,” LJ 2/15/04.—Ed.]
Brown, Holly. Don’t Try To Find Me. Morrow. Jul. 2014. 368p. ISBN 9780062305848. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062305862. F
At 14, Marley faces the typical issues most teens face—identity crisis, body image, parents who don’t understand, and so on. When her mother, Rachel, finds the note on the kitchen whiteboard, “Don’t try to find me,” she doesn’t believe for a minute that Marley has actually run away. As the days pass, Rachel and her husband Paul come to realize that indeed their daughter has left home. While Paul goes into full “find Marley” mode by creating a website, Facebook page, Twitter account, and regularly appearing on TV, Rachel becomes withdrawn and even a scapegoat for her daughter’s disappearance. She has secrets and finding Marley may result in her past coming out as well. But Marley isn’t an innocent in all of this either. VERDICT A twist on the typical runaway story, this debut novel challenges the idea of why teens run away and what motivates them. A page-turner that will engross fans of Jodi Picoult or Liane Moriarty. [Previewed in Kristi Chadwick’s Mystery Spotlight feature, “Pushing Boundaries,” LJ 4/15/14.—Ed.]
Kubica, Mary. The Good Girl. Mira: Harlequin. Aug. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9780778316558. $24.95 ebk. ISBN 9781460330197. F
Mia, the daughter of a prominent judge, has vanished. Her mother and a detective, working together, do everything possible to find her. When she is eventually recovered, Mia remembers little of what happened to her. She calls herself Chloe instead of Mia. Is she suffering amnesia as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder? So, what did happen? Three main characters narrate their versions of the story, from before and after. One narrator, the kidnapper who was hired to seize Mia as part of an extortion plot, justifies his actions in hiding Mia as protecting her. Kubica’s carefully constructed, character-driven plot propels the reader through a kidnapping, a recovery, and some difficult family dynamics. VERDICT Similar in tone to William Landay’s acclaimed Defending Jacob, this excellent debut is compulsively readable and highly recommended for anyone who loves a mystery, a suspense tale, or a psychological puzzle. This could also be recommended for those who enjoy suspense, but don’t care for graphic depictions of violence or sexual intimacy: these elements are mentioned, but not detailed. [Previewed in Kristi Chadwick’s Mystery Spotlight feature, “Pushing Boundaries,” LJ 4/15/14.—Ed.]
Jazz Age Sisters
Hayes, Suzanne & Loretta Nyhan. Empire Girls. Mira: Harlequin. Jun. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780778316299. pap. $14.95; ebk. ISBN 9780778316299. F
Hayes and Nyhan team up once again (after 2013’s I’ll Be Seeing You) with this Jazz Age tale of two sisters close in age but otherwise far apart. Rose is more serious, and she considers it her duty to look after her wild younger sister and their father. Ivy is a dreamer who longs to go to New York and become a star. When their father suddenly dies, the siblings find out they have an older brother and that he is the rightful heir. The only clue to his whereabouts is a photograph taken in front of Empire House, a boardinghouse in New York City. The girls travel there, renting a room at Empire House, where the residents are welcoming but secretive. Ivy finds work at a speakeasy while Rose becomes a seamstress, and they try to figure out their future as their brother is still nowhere to be found. VERDICT Although the ending is too neatly wrapped up and some secondary characters could be more fully developed, the sisters’ internal struggle to realign their dreams and heal the breach in their relationship adds pathos and makes for an ultimately satisfying read. With historical details of Prohibition-era New York, romance, and some elements of mystery, this novel of sisterhood should have wide appeal.
Valentine, Genevieve. The Girls at the Kingfisher Club. Atria. Jun. 2014. 272p. ISBN 9781476756158. $24; ebk. ISBN 9781476739106. F
For the 12 Hamilton sisters, life is a dreary prospect. Locked in their posh Upper East Side town house by their overprotective widowed father, the girls are little more than prisoners in the proverbial gilded cage. By day, they struggle to thrive in pale, dusty rooms, but at night—at night, they dance. Marshalled by the eldest sister, Jo “The General,” the girls sneak down the back stairs and out into New York City’s legendary speakeasy scene. Earning themselves the nickname “The Princesses,” they haunt the famous nightclubs of the era, dancing and flirting with bootleggers, bartenders, and dashing bachelors of all kinds. But their father suspects what they’ve been up to, and worse, has plans to marry off or institutionalize the girls as punishment. Forced to flee into the cold, dark streets of Manhattan, they must learn to dance a new dance—of survival. VERDICT Dressed up in the thrill and sparkle of the Roaring Twenties, the classic fairy tale of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” has never been more engrossing or delightful. Valentine’s (Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti) fresh, original style and choice of setting make this a fairy tale reimagining not to be missed. [See Prepub Alert, 1/6/14.]