Hello and welcome to our new releases roundup for Fiction for the month of April, 2018! If this is your first time here, my name is Gregg and I’m a Readers’ Advisory librarian here at the Johnson County Library. I’ll take a brief look at some of the well-reviewed titles that are published this month that we’ve either read or have heard great things about. You’ll not find John Grisham, Michael Connelly, or Janet Evanovich on these lists. It’s not that we don’t like them – we do! – but those are authors who most folks have already heard of. We love spotlighting books and authors that you might not be familiar with, or are brand new and deserve a bit of attention. Feel free to tell us about the under-the-radar titles that you’re excited about.
Mixing together historical fiction and psychological thriller – two literary tastes that go well together - is Christine Mangan’s TANGERINE. Set mostly on 1950s Morocco, this twisty novel about jealousy and identity involves two friends from different social classes who knew each other from boarding school who meet again in Tangiers, Africa. Alice is in an unhappy marriage, new to the area, and terrified to leave her home, while the more carefree and mysterious Lucy suddenly appears and helps her discover the markets, cafes, and beautiful streets outside her home. But the friends share a dark secret from their past, and when Alice’s husband, John, suddenly disappears, Alice and Lucy’s dysfunctional relationship threatens to consume them all. Lushly written and with a strong sense of place – the description of Tangier’s twisty, languid streets and bustling markets will make you run to travel websites to look up the cost of flights to Morocco - this will please fans of Suzanne Rindell’s THE OTHER TYPIST and Erin Kelly’s THE POISON TREE.
Keeping with the historical fiction theme but going back a few years – well, okay, more like a few thousand years – is Madeline Miller’s glittering, brilliant CIRCE, destined to be a 2018 book club favorite. Based on the character in Homer’s Odyssey who’s mostly known for turning men into pigs, Miller transforms the story into a thoughtful exploration of feminism, isolationism, and above all, the ability to change. Born the daughter of the immortal race of Titans, Circe is very much a disappointment, not as beautiful as her mother or as powerful as her father, Helios, a sun god. Trying to find a place in this world on her own terms, she is exiled to an isolated island for the crime of discovering and learning a form of forbidden magic. When a Greek general from the Trojan War washes up on her shore, she must choose between the unchanging gods or the chaotic, squabbling mortals she has a fondness for. Personally, this one’s going right to the top of my best of the year list, and I don’t see it moving off that particular spot anytime soon. If you haven’t already, be sure to pick up Miller’s SONG OF ACHILLES, about the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus that altered the course of the Trojan War, which is equally as good as this one.
As a proud member of Generation X, I fondly remember going to the library as a young reader to browse the “Choose Your Own Adventure” novels, which were adventure or mystery stories that required you to make choices that altered the plot as you went forward. (We still have some in our collection if you’re curious!) Sadly, you don’t see many of those for adults. But Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris’ MY LADY’S CHOOSING mixes the ability to choose your own twists and turns of the story with a rollicking Regency-style historical romance. As the novel begins, you’re new to the courtship season, and you have an array of suitors in front of you. Do you choose a rugged Scottish Highlander? The dashing but scandalous rogue? Or the handsome but reluctant Lord? The authors fill the pages with a wonderful mix of wit, romance, and baudy humor, while keeping true to the classic romances that fans around the world love. This one’s a guaranteed crowd pleaser, and we won’t mind if you mark your page with a finger, skip ahead, and see what happens if you took another path - we’ve all done it!
The best novels about Big Important Topics will often take heavy, abstract concepts and boil them down to the personal level. Authors who write characters we relate to and can get behind provide a lens through which we can see those Big Important Topics and make them relatable and understandable. Jonathan Evison’s LAWN BOY introduces us to Mike Munoz, a young man who just got fired from an entry-level gig on a landscaping crew in an affluent Washington state suburb. Mike doesn’t have a lot of things going for him. He’s poor, lives on a reservation, his mom works double shifts to help keep the family afloat, and his brother has special needs. The deck is stacked against him, but the does have enthusiasm, a quick wit, and determination, and he tries and tries - and fails - to chip away at a small piece of the American Dream. One day, however, he catches the break that he’s long sought. Mike Munoz is a memorable character and this coming-of-age story is full of warm humor and big heart, and readers will quickly grow to love him and his observations on class, race, and culture as he looks from the outside in – and finally breaks through.