Spot-Lit for June 2015


These titles – from established, emerging, and under-the-radar authors – are some of the most anticipated new releases based on a consensus of advance reviews, publisher interest, and bookish social media.

Click the book cover montage below and then the Full Display button beside each title to read summaries or reviews or to place titles on hold.

Montage 2

Notable New Fiction 2015 (to date) | All On-Order Fiction.

Spot-Lit for January 2015


The new Spot-Lit list of notable new fiction is here.

Yes, Spot-Lit posts will appear a little differently this year.  We’ll announce here on the blog when a new list is ready and provide a link that will display all the titles directly in the library catalog. You can also find the selected titles right on the main catalog page – just scroll down to the Notable New Fiction of the Month carousel below the search box.

If last year is any indication, we’ll be featuring many of the fiction titles likely to end up on the 2015 best-of-the-year lists that will begin popping up in December – so why wait? Each month we’ll be letting you know about some of the year’s best reads often before they’ve even come off the press.

Some January highlights: Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Effect (follow-up to the popular The Rosie Project); a bunch of smashing debuts (Black River, Bonita Avenue, The Unquiet Dead, The Girl on the Train, The Bishop’s Wifeand the additive Etta and Otto and Russell and James); Pierce Brown’s highly anticipated SF/dystopia, Golden Son (after last year’s Red Rising) and Hugo-winner Jo Walton’s philosophical fantasy, The Just City. These are just a few of our selections, so take a look for more good reading to help you get through your January hibernation – enjoy!

Notable New Fiction 2014  |  Notable New Fiction 2015 (to date)

Spot-Lit for May 2014


In May, this reader is particularly looking forward to the next installment of My Struggle and the books, largely grounded in the written word, History of the Rain, and The Word Exchange. But your tastes may point you toward new books by Michael Cunningham (transcendent emotional inner worlds), Anthony Doerr (intertwined voices in WWII France), or Peter Heller (his second novel, following his popular The Dog Stars). Mystery readers pining for Spenser might try Wolverine Bros. Freight & Storage; and for those of you who like western-themed mysteries, definitely take a look at Any Other Name. Thriller fans may want to grab I Am Pilgrim, Natchez Burning, or Prayer. If you go in for the paranormal, check out the zombie thriller Omega Days, or Charlaine Harris’s (of Sookie Stackhouse fame) new series opener Midnight Crossroad. For steampunk fans there’s Highfell Grimoires. And in romance, you’ll find a range from contemporary to chick-lit to urban fantasy to inspirational.

Read more about May’s Spot-Lit picks by clicking on the titles and reading the summaries or reviews.

General Fiction / Literary Fiction 

All the Light  Snow Queen  History of the Rain  Painter  My Struggle

All the Light We Cannot See  by Anthony Doerr
The Snow Queen  by Michael Cunningham
History of the Rain  by Niall Williams
The Painter  by Peter Heller
My Struggle: Book Three  by Karl Ove Knausgaard

First Novels

I Am Pilgirm Book of You  All That Is Solid  Remember Me Like This  Word Exchanbe

I Am Pilgrim  by Terry Hayes
The Book of You  by Claire Kendal
All That Is Solid Melts Into Air  by Darragh McKeon
Remember Me Like This  by Bret Johnston
The Word Exchange  by Alena Graedon

Crime Fiction /Suspense

Natchez Burning  Prayer  Any Other Name  Bred in the Bone Wolverine Bros

Natchez Burning  by Greg Iles
Prayer  by Philip Kerr
Any Other Name  by Craig Johnson
Bred in the Bone  by Christopher Brookmyre
Wolverine Bros. Freight & Storage  by Steve Ulfelder

SF / Fantasy / Horror

Midnight Crossroad  My Real Children  Queen of the Dark Things  Highfell Grimoires  Omega Days

Midnight Crossroad  by Charlaine Harris
My Real Children  by Jo Walton
Queen of the Dark Things  by C. Robert Cargill
Highfell Grimoires  by Langley Hyde
Omega Days  by John L. Campbell


Collide  Somebody Like You Skinny Bitch Gets Hitched Beautiful Distraction Sparrow Hill Road

Collide  by Gail McHugh
Somebody Like You  by Beth Vogt
Skinny Bitch Gets Hitched  by Kim Barnouin
A Beautiful Distraction  by Kelsie Leverich
Sparrow Hill Road  by Seanan McGuire

To see all on-order fiction, click here.

A Nice Jacket (tie is optional)

In a recent blog, Lisa confessed to judging books by their covers. Now it is my turn to enter the confessional. Please don’t judge me.

I’m a browser.

Sure, I read reviews and get excited by their eloquent descriptions. Inevitably, in a state of rapture I’ll put a reviewed book on hold, sometime later I’ll be notified of its arrival, and sure as shootin’ I’ll have no memory of placing the hold and no interest in the book. It’s either not a genre I read or the description sounds depressing or the colors on the jacket clash. Perhaps at the time an epic intergenerational romance between a potato bug and a budgie tickled a particular nerve, but now it just seems so overdone.

So yes, I browse. And typically I look for authors that are new to me rather than tried-and-true scribes who would all but guarantee an enjoyable reading experience. My selection process is rather complicated and technical, but I’ll try to boil it down:

 The books I select must have appealing jackets.
With quirky artwork. And a nice font.

Thus I end up with some unusual reading material, things that I would not necessarily choose from a review, and have the added bonus that the book is in hand and can be read immediately (before I forget why I was attracted).

It’s always interesting in the line of duty to rediscover a book that I’d found through browsing but had since forgotten. Here are a few titles that I read in the mists of yesteryear and recently rediscovered on the shelf.

The Scheme for Full Employment by Magnus Mills Scheme for full employment
How do they create full employment in the UK? By building factories that make parts for the vans that drive between the factories to deliver the parts that the vans need as they wear out delivering parts for the vans. Got it? This system works perfectly until the company’s employees break into two different ideological groups and mess things up.

IntoxicatedIntoxicated by John Barlow
In 1860’s England an entrepreneurial hunchback midget engages the help of a businessman to create an exciting new elixir using rhubarb and coca leaf. The process of coming up with the perfect formula for Rhubarilla is described in great detail, shedding some light on a practice that is taken for granted in our modern industrial world.

The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl by Tim Pratt Rangergirl
Marzi is the night manager of a coffeehouse, but her true love is cartooning. Specifically, she creates The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl, a neo-western cowpunk adventure. More and more, Marzi starts seeing the world through Rangergirl’s eyes. One day she finds a secret door in the coffeehouse that leads to … well, a strange and dangerous place created by Marzi’s mind. Both the “real” world and the world behind the door are in grave danger, and Rangergirl is the only one who can save the day.

gaudeamusGaudeamus by John Barnes
Author John Barnes writes a story in which the main character, science fiction author John Barnes, is approached by an old friend who spins a wild tale of telepathy pills, Native Americans dressed in clown suits, and an enigmatic technology called Gaudeamus. Strangely enough, Barnes is already deeply involved with a Web cartoon called Gaudeamus that makes references to his friend’s adventures. Gaudeamus the book mixes bits of autobiographical material from Barnes’ life into a fantastical plot to create a unique reading experience.

Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi agent to the stars
Many books and movies speculate on what would happen when humans and an alien race meet for the first time. Agent to the Stars is a first-contact story where the peaceful aliens, gelatinous blobs who communicate through foul odors, are savvy enough to know that earthlings will find them unpleasant. So, before revealing themselves to the entire human race, they hire an up-and-coming Hollywood agent to create a positive image for their people.

So there you have it: a collection of admittedly weird books that I never would have discovered without walking the library’s aisles. If this is not your typical method of book selection, give it a try. Perhaps you’ll soon discover your own version of foul-smelling gelatinous blobs that will burrow their way into your heart.

Spot-Lit for September 2013


To read reviews or place holds, click the titles below then click the Full Display button.

General Fiction / Literary Fiction 

Dissident Gardens    Enon    Lowland    Woman Who Lost Her Soul    Maids Version

Dissident Gardens  by Jonathan Lethem

Enon  by Paul Harding

The Lowland  Jhumpa Lahiri

The Woman Who Lost Her Soul  by Bob Shacochis

The Maid’s Version  by Daniel Woodrell

First Novels

Edge of Normal       Burial Rites       Just What Kind of Mother Are You       Alex

The Edge of Normal  by Carla Norton

Burial Rites  by Hannah Kent

Just What Kind of Mother Are You?  by Paula Daly

Alex  by Pierre Lemaitre

Crime Fiction / Suspense

Execution       Strangled in Paris       Then We Take Berlin

Execution  by Adrian Magson

Strangled in Paris  by Claude Izner

Then We Take Berlin  by John Lawton

SF and Fantasy

Maddaddam       Mage's Blood       Gideon Smith       Vicious

MaddAddam  by Margaret Atwood

Mage’s Blood  by David Hair

Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl  by David Barnett

Vicious  by V.E. Schwab

Romance and Western

Tear You Apart        Blackmoore       Rebellious Heart       Wreaths of Glory

Tear You Apart  by Megan Hart

Blackmoore  by Julie Donaldson

Rebellious Heart  by Jody Hedlund

Wreaths of Glory  by Johnny Boggs

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

Spot-Lit for July 2013


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.