Spot-Lit (September, 2012)

Uber-popular authors such as Lee Child, Ken Follett, James Patterson, J.D. Robb, and Stuart Woods hardly need us here at Spot-Lit to give their new novels more attention. But did you know that superstar kids’ author J.K. Rowling (the Harry Potter novels) has a new book for adults? Other popular authors with new titles include T.C. Boyle, Michael Chabon, and Junot Diaz.

In the debut category, September brings new novels looking at the Iraq war (Fobbit, The Yellow Birds), a thriller grounded in a familiar-looking financial crisis (Black Fridays), a centenarian’s adventures upon escaping from a retirement home (The 100-Year-Old Man…), Japanese steampunk (Stormdancer), and the second in a knockout historical sci-fi series starring H.G. Wells (Map of the Sky).

Other treats this month include a newly discovered novel by noir-master James Cain, a political thriller by Hank Phillippi Ryan, and a novel of supernatural horror by Stefan Kiesby. See below for summaries of these books plus others. Click the titles to read more about them or to place holds in the library catalog.

General Fiction / Literary Fiction

Casual Vacancy  by J.K. Rowling
Tensions roil in the seemingly idylic town of Pagford, England when a council member dies and a contentious election is held to fill the vacant seat. After the astounding success of the Harry Potter novels, Rowling releases her first novel for adults.

San Miguel  by T.C. Boyle
Two families – one in the 1880s and one in the 1930s – seek freedom and self-reliance on a tiny island off the Southern California coast. Told with Boyle’s assured command of characterization, pacing and period detail.

Map of the Sky  by Felix J. Palma
Palma’s debut, The Map of Time, wowed readers with its intricate plotting and inventive story-telling – expect more of the same here as he weaves time-travel and mystery into interconnected plots and includes H.G. Wells and Edgar Allan Poe as characters.

Telegraph Avenue  by Michael Chabon
Small-potatoes Brokeland Records on Berkeley’s Telegraph Avenue is threatened by the announcement of the opening of a new music megastore nearby. The midwife spouses of the record store owners face their own personal and professional challenges in a powerful story that stretches from 2004 back to rock ‘n roll’s glory days.

John Saturnall’s Feast  by Lawrence Norfolk
A young orphan kitchen-worker at a manor house rises to become a great chef, and vies for the hand of the maiden of the manor in this sensuous treat.

Panorama City  by Antoine Wilson
In this thoughtful, and intriguing novel, “slow absorber” Oppen Porter thinks he is dying, so he records on audio cassette everything he thinks his unborn son will need to know.

This is How You Lose Her  by Junot Diaz
Stories of the passions, foibles, longings and weaknesses of the human heart from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

First Novels

Fobbit  by David Abrams
In this Iraq war novel that is very much in the spirit of Catch-22 and M.A.S.H., Abrams takes aim at the goings-on at Baghdad’s Forward Operation Base.

The Yellow Birds  by Kevin Powers
Two men form a fierce and emotional bond as their platoon fights an extended, bloody battle in the Iraq war. The fog of war and its hidden costs are powerfully depicted.

The People of Forever Are Not Afraid  by Shani Boianjiu
Three eighteen-year-old girls join the Israeli Defense Forces. Ever alert to danger they also find themselves reflecting on the day-to-day activities of families at checkpoints and the passionate energy of refugees.

The Three-Day Affair  by Michael Kardos
A two-bit rock band drummer finds himself party to robbery and kidnapping when his friend jumps into his car with a girl hostage after holding up a convenience store.

Black Fridays  by Michael Sears
A former Wall Street trader is in the thick of it when, after his prison stint, the only kind of work he can get puts his life in danger – a life he is actively re-examining as he also tries to reclaim his autistic son from his unbalanced ex.

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared  by Jonas Jonasson
The title alludes to the escape and adventures of a still-lively man from the clutches of his nursing home. This hilarious novel by a Swedish author has sold almost 2 million copies worldwide.

Stormdancer  by Jay Kristoff
When disaster upends her mission to find a supposedly extinct griffin for the Shogun, Yukiko finds herself exiled and alone on an island with only the wounded creature for company as she fights to return to her homeland and to help the griffin fly. First in a new fantasy series.

The Map of Lost Memories  by Kim Fay
Irene Blum goes from Seattle to Shanghai then on to Cambodia in search of ancient Khmer scrolls, accompanied by a scholar and with her dying lover – who each have their own reasons for seeking the scrolls.

Something Red  by Douglas Nicholas
In a debut mixing fantasy and mythology, a group of 13th-century travelers encounter a host of fantastical and historical characters and discover an evil force in the woods which they must confront before an epic snowstorm sets in.

Crime Fiction /Suspense

The Cocktail Waitress  by James M. Cain
The recently discovered manuscript from the noir-master who gave us the classic books/movies: Double Indemnity, The Postman Always Rings Twice, and Mildred Pierce.

The Other Woman  by Hank Phillippi Ryan
Newspaper reporter Jane Ryland is investigating the mistress of a candidate just days before a pivotal Senate election. Meanwhile, detective Jake Brogan is on the trail of a serial killer – are their cases related?

Death in Valencia  by Jason Webster
The second in Webster’s mystery series featuring the flawed inspector Max Camara looks into the death of a popular and outspoken chef and the political interest in redeveloping the neighborhood where his restaurant was located.

Dead Anyway  by Chris Knopf
A man left for dead has himself declared so by his physician sister then seeks out whoever it was that put the hit on him and his wife in this chilling and inventive tale of revenge.

SF / Fantasy / Horror

Dirty Streets of Heaven  by Tad Williams
The souls of earth’s recently departed are soughts after by flawed angels and temptress demons in this new urban fantasy – but suddenly the souls are disappearing.

Your House is on Fire, Your Children All Gone  by Stefan Kiesbye
Four young friends’ innocent play reveals their village’s darkest secrets in this novel of atmospheric dread that’s been described as a combination of Shirley Jackson, the Brothers Grimm and The X-Files.


With Blood in Their Eyes  by Thomas Cobb
Based on a true story sparked by a shoot-out in Arizona a century ago this is a richly detailed look at flawed men, driven by their passions.

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