Spot-Lit for March 2014

Spot-Lit

Here’s our hand-picked list of fiction titles coming out in March. Click the titles below and then the Full Display button to read summaries or reviews or to place holds.

General Fiction / Literary Fiction  

Bark    Orchard of Lost Souls    Curse on Dost    Blazing World    Boy, Snow, Bird

Bark: stories  by Lorrie Moore
The Orchard of Lost Souls  by Nadifa Mohamed
A Curse on Dostoevsky  by Atiq Rahimi
The Blazing World  by Siri Hustvedt
Boy, Snow, Bird  by Helen Oyeyemi

First Fiction

Redeployment    Burnable Book    Wives of Los Alamos    Precious Thing    Weight of Blood

Redeployment  by Phil Klay
A Burnable Book  by Bruce Holsinger
The Wives of Los Alamos  by Tarashea Nesbit
Precious Thing  by Colette McBeth
The Weight of Blood  by Laura McHugh

Crime Fiction /Suspense

Accident    Disappeared    Why Kings Confess    Black-Eyed Blonde    Watching You

The Accident  by Chris Pavone
The Disappeared  by Kristina Ohlsson
Why Kings Confess  by C.S. Harris
The Black-Eyed Blonde  by Benjamin Black
Watching You  by Michael Robotham

SF / Fantasy / Horror

Man Came Out    Undead Pool    Murder of Crows    Trpoic of Serpents    Code Zero

A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain  by Adrianne Harun
The Undead Pool  by Kim Harrison
A Murder of Crows  by Anne Bishop
The Tropic of Serpents  by Marie Brennan
Code Zero  by Jonathan Maberry

Romance

                    Evening Stars          Replacement Wife          Love Comes Calling

Evening Stars  by Susan Mallery
The Replacement Wife  by Tiffany Warren
Love Comes Calling  by Siri Mitchell

To see all on-order fiction, click here.

Heartwood 4:2 – Lands of Memory

Jacket with citationTurn off your interruptive devices and find a comfortable chair where you can slip into the dreamlike short fiction of Felisberto Hernández’s Lands of Memory.

The book consists of two novellas and four short stories all featuring a Uruguayan pianist as the first-person narrator. These pages are concerned with phenomena and spirit and thought and memory; they’re about people and events remembered later by a probing and persistent mind. The two longer pieces are especially satisfying – filled with episodic scenes, rich in detailed remembrances of the narrator’s life, and pieced together in sometimes surprising ways. As is the case with richly orchestrated music, those who immerse themselves in this concentrated and reflective storytelling will be well rewarded.

One of the things I especially like about Hernández’s writing is his narrators’ sensitivity to the world around him. This is not always a blessing, as can be seen in the passage below, which will give you an idea of what you can expect to find in Lands of Memory:

At times, without recalling the notes of a melody, I could remember the feeling it had given me and what I’d been looking at when I heard it. One evening as I was listening to a brilliant piece while staring out the window, my heart came out of my eyes and absorbed a house many stories tall that I saw across the way. Another night, in the penumbra of a concert hall, I heard a melody floating upon ocean waves that a great orchestra was making; in front of me, on a fat man’s bald pate, gleamed a little patch of light; I was irritated and wanted to look away, but since the only comfortable position for my eyes left my gaze resting on the gleam of that pate, I had no choice but to allow it to enter my memory along with the melody, and then what always happens happened: I forgot the notes of the melody – displaced by the gleaming pate – and the pleasure of that moment remains supported in my memory only by the bald pate. Then I decided always to look at the floor whenever I was listening to music. But once, when a lady behind me was with a very young child, I saw water appear between my own feet, gliding along like a viper, and then suddenly its head began to grow larger in a depression in the floor and eyes of foam came running along the liquid body to gather in the head.

____________________________

Felisberto Hernández’s work has influenced Latin American writers from Julio Cortázar to Gabriel García Márquez to Roberto Bolaño.

Heartwood | About Heartwood

Spot-Lit for February 2014

Spot-Lit

Lots of good fiction is coming out this February, including many strong debuts. Click the titles below and then the Full Display button to read reviews or to place titles on hold.

General Fiction / Literary Fiction 

Still Life Bread Crumbs    I Shall Be Near to You    Unnecessary Woman    Golden State    I Always Loved You

Still Life with Bread Crumbs  by Anna Quindlen
I Shall Be Near to You  by Erin McCabe
An Unnecessary Woman  by Rabih Alameddine
Golden State  by Michelle Richmond
I Always Loved You  by Robin Oliveira 

First Fiction

Spinning Heart    Archetype    Dust    While Beauty Slept    One More Thing

The Spinning Heart  by Donal Ryan
Archetype  by M.D. Waters
Dust  by Yvonne Owuor
While Beauty Slept  by Elizabeth Blackwell
One More Thing  by B.J. Novak

Crime Fiction / Suspense

Runner    Cold Storage    After I'm Gone    Officer and a Spy    Poisoned Pawn

Runner  by Patrick Lee
Cold Storage, Alaska  by John Straley
After I’m Gone  by Laura Lippman
An Officer and a Spy  by Robert Harris
The Poisoned Pawn  by Peggy Blair

SF / Fantasy / Horror

Annihilation    Darkling Sea    Martian    Influx    Red Rising

Annihilation  by Jeff Vandermeer
A Darkling Sea  by James Cambias  (debut)
The Martian  by Andy Weir  (debut)
Influx  by Daniel Suarez
Red Rising  by Pierce Brown  (debut)

To see all the on-order fiction, click here.

Spot-Lit for October 2013

Spot-Lit

Here’s our fiction selector’s picks for October releases based on early reviews.

And quite a variety it is. From a Kite Runner read-alike set in Croatia (The Hired Man), to going below-stairs with the servants of Pride and Prejudice (Longbourn), to Dan Simmon’s latest icy thriller, to the first new novel from Donna Tartt in over a decade. In the crime category find previously unpublished stories by Grand Master veteran Lawrence Block, and a new thriller from the redoubtable George Pelecanos (who you may know for his scriptwriting in The Wire). Fantasy author Stephen Donaldson wraps up his long-running, ten-volume Thomas Covenant series, and Mercedes Lackey similarly delivers the goods in her latest Valdemar novel. Fans of speculative short fiction should take a look at Rachel Swirsky’s How the World Became Quiet.

Finally, a mention of a highly anticipated debut featuring the unlikely romance between a genetics professor and a barmaid (The Rosie Project), a set-up not unlike that in Courting Greta – another acclaimed debut we Spot-Lit this past June.

That’s only touching on some of these selections – click on the titles below for additional information or to place items on hold.  Happy reading!

General Fiction / Literary Fiction 

Longbourn     Hired Man     Goldfinch     Two Hotel Francforts

Longbourn  by Jo Baker

The Hired Man  by Aminatta Forna

The Goldfinch  by Donna Tartt

The Two Hotel Francforts  by David Leavitt

First Fiction

Rosie Project     Night Guest     Paris Architect     Last Animal

The Rosie Project  by Graeme Simsion

The Night Guest  by Fiona McFarlane

The Paris Architect  by Charles Belfoure

The Last Animal  by Abby Geni

Crime Fiction / Suspense

Abominable     Catch and Release     Pagan Spring     Double

Abominable  by Dan Simmons

Catch and Release  by Lawrence Block

Pagan Spring  by G.M. Malliet

The Double  by George Pelecanos

SF / Fantasy / Horror

Last Dark     How the World Became Quiet     Bastion     Wolves

The Last Dark  by Stephen R. Donaldson

How the World Became Quiet  by Rachel Swirsky

Bastion  by Mercedes Lackey

The Wolves of Midwinter  by Anne Rice

To see all the on-order fiction, click here.

Heartwood 3:5 – Squaring the Circle

Squaring the Circle-4Fans of captivating, compact storytelling of an almost mythological quality, will relish these 24 very short tales about fantastical, imaginary places.

The first story, “Vavylon,” is about a city whose social hierarchy is reflected in the design of the city. Anyone, it is asserted with egalitarian zeal, can reach the highest levels – provided, that is, they can climb its well-greased ramps. In “Gnossos,”a retelling of the Icarus myth, the high-soaring Icarus discerns the one way out of the labyrinthine city his father Dedalus designed. As his wings melt and he plunges toward the city it transform into a network of honeycomb cells, the smooth walls of each containing a solitary citizen, each holding a ball of yarn. In “Dava,” a brilliantly imaginative piece with a striking conclusion, three climbers summit a remote peak in what they believe is a first ascent, only to discover evidence of previous climbers and, more remarkably, a precipitous, saddleback ridge leading to an unmapped and even steeper peak capped by a citadel. “Sah-Harah” is another perfectly executed story about which I’ll say nothing more than that it brings the best of Borges to mind.

These stories were written at the very same time that Italo Calvino was composing his similarly wonderful and fantastical book Invisible Cities, both authors unaware of the other’s work. Săsărman’s book was suppressed by Romanian censors before eventually being released in mutilated form in 1975. It did not appear in its complete form until 1992 when it was translated into French. Ursula K. Le Guin, the multiple-award-winning doyenne of fantasy fiction, (whose too often overlooked Earthsea series I frequently recommend to Harry Potter fans) has done a painstaking job of translating these selected stories beautifully into English. In staying with its original design, Săsărman’s own bold geometric drawings preface each story.

Heartwood | About Heartwood

Spot-Lit for August 2013

Spot-Lit

Lots of good fiction is headed your way this month. Click the titles below and then the Full Display button to read summaries or reviews or to place titles on hold.

General Fiction / Literary Fiction  

Infatuations    Girl You Left Behind    Amor and Psycho    Claire    Tumbledown

The Infatuations  by Javier Marias

The Girl You Left Behind  by Jojo Moyes

Amor and Psycho  by Carolyn Cooke

Claire of the Sea Light  by Edwidge Danticat

Tumbledown  by Robert Boswell

First Novels

Returned    Wicked Girls    People in the Trees    Queens Gambit    Bone Season

The Returned  by Jason Mott

The Wicked Girls  by Alex Marwood

The People in the Trees  by Hanya Yanagihara

Queen’s Gambit  by Elizabeth Fremantle

The Bone Season  by Samantha Shannon

Crime Fiction / Suspense

 Let Me Go   Sandrine's Case   Good Thief   How the Lighht Gets In   Bad Blood   Place of confinement

Let Me Go  by Chelsea Cain

Sandrine’s Case  by Thomas Cook

Good Thief’s Guide to Berlin  by Chris Ewan

How the Light Gets In  by Louise Penny

Bad Blood  by Arne Dahl

A Place of Confinement  by Anna Dean

SF / Fantasy

Thinking Woman          Kill City Blues          Children of Fire

The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic  by Emily Barker

Kill City Blues  by Richard Kadrey

Children of Fire  by Drew Karpyshyn

Romance

Passion of the Purple          Serving of Scandal          Storm Warrior

The Passion of the Purple Plumeria  by Lauren Willig

A Serving of Scandal  by Prue Leith

Storm Warrior  by Dani Harper

To see all the on-order fiction, click here.

I’d Love for You to Read This

Love is in the air—and on the page. It’s time once again to announce the winners of the summer’s hottest awards: the Romance Writers of America’s RITAs. The RITAs are named after RWA’s very first president, Rita Clay Estrada, and have been awarded every year since 1982. It’s not simply an honorary but an actual award—a golden statuette of a woman, whom I assume to be none other than Rita herself, reading a book. According to RWA’s website, it “has become the symbol for excellence in published romance fiction.”

I’ll say!

Past recipients include Nora Roberts, LaVyrle Spencer, Francine Rivers, Diana Gabaldon, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Robin Lee Hatcher, Tess Gerritsen, Debbie Macomber, Julia Quinn, Jill Shalvis, Tessa Dare, and my new favorite author, Darynda Jones.

I know I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again: as one of the few admitted romance readers on staff, I feel it’s my duty, right, and pleasure to present this list to you, dear reader. And I’m not even vying for a nomination for Librarian of the Year. Mainly because I’m not a librarian, but also because I’m ever-so-humble. Wink wink.

I’m including links to the catalog so you can easily find a copy now, because you know these holds queues are going to blow up as word starts to gets out.

Best Contemporary Single Title Romance:
The Way Back Home by Barbara Freethy

Best Historical Romance:
A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean

Best Romantic Suspense:
Scorched by Laura Griffin

Best Inspirational Romance:
Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden

Best Short Contemporary Series Romance:
A Night of No Return by Sarah Morgan

Best Long Contemporary Series Romance:
A Gift for All Seasons by Karen Templeton

Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements & Best First Book:
The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James

Best Paranormal Romance:
Shadow’s Claim by Kresley Cole

Best Young Adult Romance:
The Farm by Emily McKay

Best Romance Novella:
Seduced by a Pirate by Eloisa James

You’ll notice I didn’t include a link for every title. That’s because the library hasn’t yet purchased all of them. If you’re interested, feel free to talk to a librarian. Let them know it’s now an award winner and that Carol sent ya.

At the same time they announced the RITA winners, RWA also announced the Golden Heart Winners. What’s a Golden Heart? The short version: it’s an award given to outstanding unpublished manuscripts. The final round of the contest is judged by romance editors. Many winners go on to enjoy a career as a published romance novelist. Recipients are awarded an actual golden heart pendant. Gotta love literal literary prizes!

Perhaps you’d like to submit your own manuscript for next year’s Golden Heart competition. Maybe you’ve always dreamed of putting pen to paper (or keys to screen) and want to begin writing, but you don’t know where to start. We’ve got some excellent writing resources sitting in the stacks waiting to help guide you through the process of writing a romantic novel–including how to write those steamy love scenes.

Another valuable resource is Romantic Times. Each issue is packed with well-written reviews for everything from contemporary to paranormal, inspirational to erotica. I used to subscribe at home but I’ve since let my subscription lapse, since I can get each issue for free from the library. It’s also a great way to get a feel for what’s popular in romance publishing right now. You may notice themes or topics not currently trending–maybe this is the direction in which you’re meant to go.

Imagine your future as a literary trendsetter. It’s a good future, yes? Now go grab a RITA winner and get to work “researching.”

Carol

Spot-Lit for July 2013

Spot-Lit

Lots of good fiction is headed your way this July. Click the titles below and then the Full Display button to read summaries or reviews or to place titles on hold.

General Fiction / Literary Fiction 

              My Education         Impossible Lives of Greta Wells         Light in the Ruins

My Education  by Susan Choi

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells  by Andrew Sean Greer

The Light in the Ruins  by Chris Bohjalian

First Fiction

Curiosity Ten Things Loteria Gamal Byzantium Daedalus Incident

The Curiosity  by Stephen Kiernan

Ten Things I’ve Learnt About Love  by Sarah Butler

Lotería  by Mario Alberto Zambrano

The Gamal  by Ciaran Collins

Byzantium  by Ben Stroud

The Daedalus Incident  by Michael Martinez

Crime Fiction / Suspense

Skinner Visitation Street Summertime All the Cats Are Bored Last Word Crocodile Eye for an Eye

Skinner  by Charlie Huston

Visitation Street  by Ivy Pochoda

Summertime, All the Cats are Bored  by Philippe Georget

The Last Word  by Lisa Lutz

The Crocodile  by Maurizio de Giovanni

Eye for an Eye  by Ben Coes

SF / Fantasy / Romance / Western

The Humans      Fifth Grave Past the Light      If the Shoe Fits      Winter Kill

The Humans  by Matt Haig

Fifth Grave Past the Light  by Darynda Jones

If the Shoe Fits  by Megan Mulry

Winter Kill  by Bill Brooks 

To see all the on-order fiction, click here.

Spot-Lit for May 2013

So, you’ve probably heard that Dan Brown, John Sandford, John Le Carré, Isabel Allende, and Kite Runner author Khaled Hosseini all have new books out or due out this month. Below are some more titles getting a lot of advance review buzz and/or publisher support. Click on the titles to read more or to place holds.

General Fiction / Literary Fiction 

Dual InheritanceA Dual Inheritance  by Joanna Hershon
A friendship formed at Harvard in 1962 then abruptly broken off is the focus of this love-triangle novel which spans the past fifty years. Hershon’s novel is being compared to Freedom, Rules of Civility, and The Marriage Plot.

FoolsFools  by Joan Silber
Occurring in many locations around the globe, and spanning the 1920s to Occupy Wall Street, these interlinked stories look at the ways people dupe one another – subtly or otherwise – and are likewise duped.

First Novels

ConstellationA Constellation of Vital Phenomena  by Anthony Marra
After her father is abducted, an eight-year-old girl and her neighbor, Akhmed, take refuge in a bombed out hospital in Chechnya where Sonja, the sole remaining doctor, treats the wounded and mourns her missing sister. In writing that is detailed and eloquent, Akhmed and Sonja explore their pasts and the events that have bound them together.

Red SparrowsRed Sparrow  by Jason Matthews
Pitting Putin’s SVR against the CIA, this exceptional spy thriller includes a host of villains, hit-men, and politicos while employing such spy-trade techniques as counterintelligence, surveillance, “sexpionage,” cyber-warfare and covert communications. Ex-CIA man Matthews knows his stuff.

Under Tower PeakUnder Tower Peak  by Bart Paul
Iraq-war vet Tommy Smith and his wilderness guide partner find themselves in the thick of things when they discover the wreckage of a missing billionaire’s airplane high in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Thugs and family members all seek their self-interest and Tommy has to dust off the sniper skills he thought he’d retired for good. 

Crime Fiction

End of the WorldThe End of the World in Breslau  by Marek Krajewski
Hard-drinking Eberhard Mock investigates the grisly murders of two seemingly unrelated victims in the Polish town of Breslau in 1927. Evidence deliberately left at both crime scenes points to a single suspect. Suspicion falls on Mock’s wife when she begins to display unusual behavior.

RedeemerThe Redeemer  by Jo Nesbø
Renegade detective Harry Hole has little to go on in solving the contract killing of a musician. Flawed, frail human nature is revealed in the characters of The Redeemer – along with their ambiguous quests for redemption. This is masterfully plotted crime writing that explores the darkest corners of the human psyche.

SF / Fantasy / Horror

Human DivisionThe Human Division  by John Scalzi
A bold, hard-SF novel in which earthlings find their own Colonial Union has deceived them and conscripted humans in a generations-long fight with aliens. Things get interesting when the aliens appeal to the betrayed humans to join them in the fight against the CU…  Bradbury and Heinlein fans will want to grab this.

nos4a2NOS4A2  by Joe Hill
Charles Talent Manx has a thing for abducting children. Victoria McQueen is the only victim to ever escape his grasp. That was long ago, but he hasn’t forgotten her. And now he has her son.

Red MoonRed Moon  by Benjamin Percy
This supernatural thriller featuring werewolves (lycans) in a story with strong social and geopolitical undercurrents should attract more than just horror fans. Percy’s book is drawing comparisons to Justin Cronin’s The Passage and Max Brooks’s World War Z.

New (to Me) Short Stories

I don’t set out intentionally to read short stories. Really. As I look through reviews and hear of books, I simply write down the titles that seem interesting. When I revisit that list later, though, it becomes painfully obvious that I’ve got a short story addiction. I’m sure it reveals some kind of character flaw, a lack of focus perhaps or maybe an inability to commit. Luckily for me denial is a favorite response to problems. So I’m afraid society will have to pry that copy of Winesburg, Ohio out of my cold dead hands.

If you share my affliction, or simply feel like trying something new, here a few superb recent collections.

weliveinwater

We Live in Water by Jess Walter
This is the first collection of short stories from Walter, who has recently become well known for the novel Beautiful Ruins, but let’s hope it is not his last. Each story has a strong sense of place, Spokane for the most part, and the empathy Walter displays for his down-and-out characters is matched only by his ability to bring out the humor in everyday situations. Particular standouts include “Virgo” (the tale of a newspaper editor who makes the horoscope section way too personal), “Wheelbarrow Kings” (detailing a misguied attempt to cash in a big screen TV for drug money), and “Don’t Eat Cat” (a dystopian view of a future Seattle that wants to mainstream drug addicted zombies).

athousandmoronsA Thousand Morons by Quim Monzo
Absurdity abounds in this surreal collection of brief stories. Be prepared for a man in a nursing home who decides to take up cross dressing (“Mr. Beneset”), and a woman who methodically tries to rid herself of every memory she has every had (“Saturday”). Interspersed are more meditative stream of consciousness pieces such as “I’m Looking Out of the Window” in which the title accurately describes all of the action. If you can, briefly, abandon your sense of reality this collection is well worth the effort and might lead you to see the world in a different light.

The People of Forever are Not Afraid: A Novel by Shani Boianjiu
Ipeopleofforever know, I know… this title states it is “A Novel”. But it is really a series of connected short stories, in my view, so I’m going to stretch a point. Each story, or chapter if you must, is a different episode from the lives of three young women who grew up together and were conscripted into the Israeli army. While the stories are connected, there is no linear sense of progression. Instead each serves as a vivid description of a time and place, be it a dusty checkpoint in the middle of nowhere with a group of protestors literally demanding to be tear-gassed, or a Tel Aviv sandwich shop which promises to make a sandwich any way the customer demands. Tying everything together is a direct and effective use of language which brings every scene to life.

revengeRevenge: Eleven Dark Tales by Yoko Ogawa
Ogawa is one of my favorite authors and is a prolific writer. Sadly many of her works are not translated into English. Imagine my delight then, when I found out, thanks Spot-Lit, that a collection had just been translated. Revenge is a series of stories that are connected but often in ways that seem oblique at first. I hesitate to describe the plots of the various stories. Let’s just say her language is sparse but very affecting and the overall impact is a quiet foreboding that is ultimately toxic. This may not sound like a compliment but trust me, it is. Here is an example, from the story “Afternoon at the Bakery”, for you to get a feel for her writing:

The kitchen was as neatly arranged as the shop. Bowls, knives, mixers, pastry bags, sifters—everything needed for the work of the day was right where it should be. The dish-towels were clean and dry, the floor spotless. And in the middle of it stood the girl, her sadness perfectly at home in the tidy kitchen. I could hear nothing, not a word, not a sound. Her hair swayed slightly with her sobs. She was looking down at the counter, her body leaning against the oven. Her right hand clutched a napkin. I couldn’t see the expression on her face, but her misery was clear from the clench of her jaw, the pallor of her neck, and the tense grip of her fingers on the telephone.

The reason she was crying didn’t matter to me. Perhaps there was no reason at all. Her tears had that sort of purity.

So there you go: Several short story collections from which you have nothing to fear. Well, be advised, they may be habit forming.

Richard