Our #LibFaves17 Picks

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books collectionsthe dry janeWe enjoyed seeing so many of you participate in #LibFaves17 (thanks for making Jane Harper’s THE DRY an official 2017 Top Ten pick!).

Now here are OUR #LibFaves17 picks (aka our 2017 “Recommended Reads” from the newsletter):


Also available in audio
Finally, a book version of that romantic trilogy of films that Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy collaborated on… And most especially reminiscent of BEFORE SUNRISE. I’m also fondly reminded of the first boy that I ever fell in love with, his name was Lenny Grant, we were both sixteen and attending a summer writing program in Boston. It may as well have been Europe…

THE STANDARD GRAND by Jay Baron Nicorvo
THE STANDARD GRAND is reminiscent of Frank Bill’s CRIMES IN SOUTHERN INDIANA in terms of its grittiness and the ragtag group of misfit anti-heroes trying to survive in the wilderness. And I’ve always loved reading novels that were written in a sort of rushed exuberance as if the author just had to share his or her story…

KNIFE CREEK by Paul Doiron
Also available in audio
Paul Doiron’s Mike Bowditch (my favorite bad-ass does everything on his own terms Maine game warden) is back for more! In KNIFE CREEK, Mike and his girlfriend Stacy (a bit of a rogue operator herself) are hunting wild rampaging boars that are destroying their beautiful town and surrounding environs. During the hunt, the couple discovers a dead infant in a shallow grave. Mike is a game warden but he’s got the instincts of a seasoned detective and must find out who committed such a gruesome deed. He just can’t help himself. And I love him for that. A home explosion that nearly kills him, an encounter with two very strange “sisters” wearing matching red wigs one of whom may or may not be a long-dead co-ed (or was she kidnapped?), and a small town that’s full of suspects… Mike’s clearly on to something here, but what?

FRESH COMPLAINT by Jeffrey Eugenides
Also available in audio
I’ve always loved short story collections (see Shobha Rao’s AN UNRESTORED WOMAN, Tom Perrotta’s NINE INCHES, David Bezmozgis’ NATASHA, Helen Ellis’ AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE, Lauren Holmes’ BARBARA THE SLUT, James Franco’s PALO ALTO). The intensity of dipping into a life, briefly, and popping right out of it again… Of meeting someone at a particularly vulnerable and strangely fascinating moment in their lives… Of sharing that moment with them but never fully knowing when it began or where it ends is particularly exciting to me. And in Jeffrey Eugenides’ new short story collection FRESH COMPLAINT, meditations abound on life at every stage and at its most banally bizarre moments. Readers are thrown into a period of post-college idealism (and dysentery), mid-life pregnancies (and an ensuing tragicomedy), rebuilding after failure, sex studies in the jungle (and leaving one’s inhibitions behind), the worshiping of a musical instrument, a green card marriage and finally death. And we are treated to it all with a healthy dose of slightly off-beat characters.

THE WIFE BETWEEN US by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
Also available in audio
There’s a marketing specialist at Macmillan whose taste in books I trust completely. I will not name names, because she is my secret “book Santa” and I refuse to share her. Since 2004, she has very occasionally sent me manuscripts to read. She has always chosen a book that I end up loving, hating deeply, or at the very least ends up inciting an incredibly visceral reaction. I won’t list the favorites she’s sent, because her identity will most certainly be revealed. And now let’s talk about her latest manuscript, THE WIFE BETWEEN US. There is no train. There is no girl. There is drinking (all good stories need alcohol, right?). There is an unreliable narrator (but those are the most intriguing, aren’t they?). There is a handsome husband (marriages are always fascinating to dissect, good or bad!). There is “another” woman (a thriller always needs a mysterious “other,” right?). And that’s all I can tell you. Read it. And let’s talk about that ending.

INDECENT by Corinne Sullivan
An insecure shy teacher’s apprentice barely out of college at an all boys boarding school is tempted by the popular boy… He’s brash, he’s arrogant, he’s the leader of the pack… But, will she do what’s right? I can’t help but think of the only younger man that I ever dated. During the summer before I went off to college I dated a rising senior. He wore Polo cologne, had long hair and we spent most of that summer in hidden corners and behind closed doors. But it’s not the same, is it?

JAR OF HEARTS by Jennifer Hillier
Also available in audio
You’ve all had that boyfriend… that magnetic attraction… you can’t look away… there are butterflies in your belly. But what would happen if you went to jail because of something HE did to your best friend? Would you forgive him? Well, not so fast… You were there too that night and you might have even helped, but it took 15 years for anyone to make the connection back to you. During those years, you coasted, you thrived (with lots of guilt), you were a rising young exec enfianced to a wealthy business owner. But you got caught and went to jail and now, 5 years later, you’re free. But what does that mean now that your life has completely shattered? And of course now they say that your beautiful ex-boyfriend is back at it (killing that is) and he’s lurking in the shadows of your new life…
Oy. What a mess. A fun mess for readers, that is.

OUR KIND OF CRUELTY by Araminta Hall
Also available in audio
Verity + Mike sitting in a tree C.R.A.V.I.N.G. First comes (a twisted kind of) love, then comes marriage (to another man), then comes murder?
With traces of Brett Easton Ellis’ AMERICAN PSYCHO (our protagonist Mike is totally detached from reality [or is he?] and is preoccupied with his physical appearance) OUR KIND OF CRUELTY is the story of a one-sided obsession. Or is it? Mike loves Verity and does everything to make her happy. But when she moves on (after his alleged infidelity) he can’t or won’t let go. But there’s something missing here. What parts of their love story is he forgetting to tell? And why would she invite him to her wedding to another man?


A TWIST OF THE KNIFE by Becky Masterman
As a native Tucsonan, I’m a huge fan of Becky Masterman’s Brigid Quinn mystery series, set in the Old Pueblo. With each entry, Masterman offers thrilling and emotionally satisfying novels starring a 60-year-old heroine. Imagine my delight when America’s beloved librarian, Nancy Pearl, recommended the series during NPR’s “Morning Edition!” (Each book can be read individually but I’d recommend starting with RAGE AGAINST THE DYING.)

A CROWN OF WISHES by Roshani Chokshi
Also available in audio
I loved Roshani Choskhi’s debut, THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN and there’s no sophomore slump with A CROWN OF WISHES. Princess Gauri must team up with her enemy kingdom’s Prince Vikram in the Tournament of Wishes. Gorgeous writing, lots of action, feisty and lovable characters… This book has it all and will be enjoyed by all readers, not just teens!

Also available in audio
If you were among the millions of fans of B.A. Paris’s debut psychological thriller BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, then get ready for THE BREAKDOWN! Leaving a party late one night, Cass Anderson drives home during a massive thunderstorm. On the way, she sees a stalled car with a woman sitting inside it. But Cass continues on, without stopping, to the safety of her own home. The very next day Cass learns that the woman she saw was murdered. Then the phone calls start. And she’s starting to forget things: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a stroller when she doesn’t have a baby… Is Cass going crazy or is she playing into the murderer’s hands?

Also available in audio
After reading Edgar-Award winner BLUE HEAVEN, C.J. Box immediately joined the ranks of my favorite authors. PARADISE VALLEY, although it can be read as a standalone, is the end of a loose quartet that includes BACK OF BEYOND, THE HIGHWAY, and BADLANDS   all starring police officer Cassie Dewell. Cassie’s been hunting the Lizard King serial killer  his victims are truck stop prostitutes, aka “lot lizards.” With nothing left to lose, will she finally catch him? A strong female protagonist, terrific supporting characters (tip of the Stetson to Bull Mitchell), an atmospheric Western setting, and consistently ratcheting suspense? Count me in!

GLASS HOUSES by Louise Penny
Also available in audio
When asked what my favorite time of year is, I usually say Christmas but honestly, it’s the day I find out that the new Louise Penny book is available to read. Like many of you, I have lovingly read and recommended the Three Pines series to anyone and everyone who will listen. It’s been a joy to watch Armand Gamache, Jean-Guy Beavoir, and the residents of Three Pines including Clara, Myrna, Gabri, Olivier, and Ruth evolve and big changes await Gamache in GLASS HOUSES. This book marries all the signature elements of her series with a climatic grand finale action sequence that brings to mind BURY YOUR DEAD and HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN. I’m still at a loss for what to read next because GLASS HOUSES was so magnificent and I bet many of you will feel the same way.

A DANGEROUS CROSSING by Ausma Zehanat Khan
Ausma Zehanat-Khan has a special way of making complex humanitarian issues understandable in her mystery series starring detectives Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty. In A DANGEROUS CROSSING, the Syrian refugee crisis becomes personal when the Canadian detectives go to Greece to search for an old friend who’s gone missing while working to help expedite immigration for refugees. Khattak is reminiscent of Louise Penny’s Inspector Armand Gamache (and not just because both are Canadian); as a practicing Muslim in charge of the community policing division, he’s capable, thoughtful, and sensitive, examining the emotions that drive people to crime. His hockey-loving partner Rachel Getty holds her own and the pair are formidable when working together. Though this is the fourth book in the series, readers can easily jump in without getting lost. Or they can start with Khan’s excellent debut, THE UNQUIET DEAD and continue with THE LANGUAGE OF SECRETS and AMONG THE RUINS.

They have three strikes against them:

  1. They’re poor.
  2. They’re driven.
  3. They’re girls.

Poornima is still mourning the loss of her mother when she meets Savitha, a newly-hired Sari-loom worker. Savitha is even poorer than Poornima, but somehow sees the beauty in everything. A friendship blossoms and grows until an act of cruelty drives the girls apart. From the darkest corners of India all the way to Seattle, the two girls never stop searching for each other. Will they succeed? Weaving together urgent issues of domestic abuse, human trafficking, immigration, and feminism, Shobha Rao has delivered a literary and highly discussable tale of female friendship.

ACHTUNG BABY by Sara Zaske
As a mother of two young boys married to a German, Sara Zaske’s ACHTUNG BABY: An American Mom on the German Art of Raising Self-Reliant Children is of particular interest to me. The book’s blend of memoir and call-to-action is a welcome juxtaposition to modern American parenting. Zaske advocates for parents to help develop “selbstandigkeit” (self-reliance) in young children and provides many ideas to help them do just that. I can’t wait to learn more from Zaske during her “TODAY Show” interview on January 3 during the 8am hour.

days yaaAnd while she’s new to our team, Emily Day has quickly established herself as our resident YA expert with her perfectly curated “Day’s YA” recommendations.

THE HAZEL WOOD by Melissa Albert
Also available in audio
the hazel woodMany fairy tales begin with “once upon a time” and end with “happily ever after.” Melissa Albert’s debut novel, THE HAZEL WOOD, is not one of those. Reminiscent of Emily Carroll’s THROUGH THE WOODS and Emma Donoghue’s KISSING THE WITCH, Albert has hit the nail on the head with this magically creepy and mesmerizing homage to fairy tales. Though Albert’s novel is not a retelling of a classic fairy tale, she has managed to create a completely original narrative filled with riveting characters and a captivating plot that still retains some of the elements of more traditional tales. THE HAZEL WOOD is an obvious choice for lovers of fantasy novels and classic fairy tales, but it will also appeal to fans of YA mystery novels, such as E. Lockhart’s WE WERE LIARS, and stories about the discovery of deep, personal truths, such as Nicola Yoon’s EVERYTHING EVERYTHING. Albert’s enchanting debut novel is truly something special and will leave you with the lingering notion that our stories are all around us, influencing us and comprising our most inner beings.

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