New Releases in Fiction - May 2019!

Covers for THE FLATSHARE, THE SEVEN OR EIGHT DEATHS OF STELLA FORTUNA, THE SATAPUR MOONSTONE, EXHALATION, and THE PARIS DIVERSION
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Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Hello and welcome to our look at some new releases at the Johnson County Library! Each month we look at five fiction titles making their debut that we think you should know about. You might not find these books on the bestseller lists, but that's okay, as we love putting the spotlight on books you might not have heard about. Give one - or more - of these titles a chance to make it in your hold list. We hope you find something new!

The chick-lit genre, personified by titles like BRIDGET JONES’ DIARY and CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC, doesn’t quite hold the share of the market that it used to, as it’s been overshadowed by other romance genres, but if you’re looking for a sharp, witty, warm romance between flawed yet likable people who are surrounded by a cast of quirky characters, then place your hold on THE FLATSHARE by Beth O’Leary. A feel-good story of two strangers who who share an apartment but rarely see each other - Tiffy is an overworked publicist for a tiny book publisher, while Leon is a night nurse. Their communication begins with Post-Its left on the microwave regarding trash pickup and the leftovers in the fridge, but quickly blossoms into much more. This is the kind of book that will leave you with a smile on your face and genuine affection for the characters.

THE SEVEN OR EIGHT DEATHS OF STELLA FORTUNA by Juliet Grames. Grames’ debut novel is a sweeping story of the American immigrant experience centered around Stella, born in poor, rural town in post-WWI Italy. Growing up with Tina, her younger sister, by her side, Stella is smart, fierce, and determined, but also, quite possibly, cursed, as the tale of the Fortuna family is laced with seven (or eight) near-death experiences. They eventually emigrate to a booming America, where survival in this new, strange country is just as difficult as scraping a living in the old one. Astounding and heartbreaking, rich in the American experience, Grames has crafted an intimate, powerful tale that sounds like it was told in whispers at family dinners between sips of grappa when the tables are cleared of food, the kids are busy playing in the backyard, and family secrets start to come out. This an elegant and epic tale that is going to be a perfect book group selection.

THE SATAPUR MOONSTONE by Sujata Massey is the second in a delightful historical mystery series set in Bombay, India in the 1920s. Perveen Mistry is the daughter of a respected, high-ranking family who joins her father’s law firm. She is called to the province of Satapur, where the local governor and his eldest son has died suddenly - and under suspicious circumstances - and where rule is currently split between a British Raj and the governor’s wife. ​As the only female lawyer in the area, Perveen can offer services to clients who have special needs - including the cultural and religious practice of purdah, where women aren’t allowed to be in the presence of men. She quickly realizes she’s walked into a situation filled with political backstabbing - in both the figurative and literal sort - and must untangle the investigative knots before she becomes one of the victims. Massey, who also wrote the excellent WIDOWS OF MALABAR HILL, features smart, memorable characters and a courageous heroine in Perveen Mistry that will ensure a long series for a while to come. Fans of classic mysteries with wit and heart should pick this one up.

EXHALATION Ted Chiang. Chiang is one of science fiction’s leading lights, a short story writer who constantly pushes the envelope in a genre known for thinking ahead. (His short story “The Story of Your Life” was used as a basis for the 2016 movie “Arrival” directed by Denis Villeneuve and starring Amy Adams.) Chiang has won almost as many awards as stories he’s written. In EXHALATION, Chiang avoids the spaceships and lasers sometimes seen in sci-fi and writes complex, thoughtful stories using technology as a distorted mirror to view the human condition. In one story, a device allows people to communicate with versions of themselves from different realities. In another story, a former zookeeper is tasked with raising beings with human-level artificial intelligence for a company - until the company goes bankrupt and the zookeeper must make difficult decisions. If you’re the sort of person who avoids sci-fi because you’re not interested in spaceships and lasers, Ted Chiang will dazzle and impress you - as well as making you think of the world a bit differently after you end a story.

When it comes to the international spy novel, Chris Pavone is one of the best of the genre, even though he’s not a household hame like a Daniel Silva or Brad Thor. Instead of novels with too much plot featuring people with guns chasing other people with guns, Pavone brings some welcome depth and nuance to the table and often infuses his work with twists that are genuinely surprising instead of eye-rolling. THE PARIS DIVERSION features Kate Moore, who is the head of a CIA station in Paris - but also has the responsibilities of a wife and mother. Her husband, Dexter, is an investment banker who is looking to make a big splash, but his plans are put at risk when a terrorist standoff occurs on the lawn of the Louvre. Kate, who rushes to the scene, soon realizes that the attack is a distraction for something else entirely, and must track down the real reason, which might be connected to her - all the while trying to balance her teetering marriage and finding a present for a son’s birthday party. Whip smart and full of those delightful Pavone twists alongside an ensemble cast with alternating points of view, the wheels-within-wheels plot will please a wide array of fans and will no doubt be seen at many a beach or pool this summer.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy! Be sure to check back in our catalog for more new releases!

Gregg W.

Written by Gregg W.

Fun fact: I have surprisingly strong opinions about comic book characters.