Blog Post Submitted by Name of Tara Kehoe

At this session I spoke about books that have been published over the past year (or will shortly be released) that I recommend.  I attempted to include a variety of genres, though suspense books are currently in high demand now so this type of books appears on my list most frequently.  Before I jump in, I want to issue a disclaimer: I have not read every book published in the past year!  I wish I could have, but I do have to eat, sleep, and work.  So I am sorry for the many books out there that I have not yet had a chance to read.

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari. Published June, 2015. Genre: Non-fiction

Comedian and actor Ansari narrates this surprisingly informative exploration into finding a mate in today’s tech-centered world.  Klinenberg, a socialist at NYU, and Ansari conducted extensive research on dating. The two interviewed hundreds of men and women and traveled as far as Tokyo, Paris, and Buenos Aires (and as close as Wichita, KS) to find out how people look for romance.  The results are often surprising and frequently hilarious.  Online dating may seem like a wonderful and endless supply of potential great hook-ups but can lead to the dreaded paradox of choice: too many choices can lead to never making a decision.  Many potential partners communicate initially only via text message (where a misspelled word can doom you to be forever viewed as a dummy.)  You will laugh, you will learn, and you will be surprised.  It’s not often you find a book that is really funny AND informative.  I recommend the audio as well (narrated by Ansari).  Great book to pack on vacation.

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll.  Published May, 2015. Genre: suspense.

This a fresh twist on the dark suspense genre. I predict this will become a movie and Gone Girl and Girl on the Train fans will enjoy this title. Ani is a highly successful magazine editor living New York city with her filthy-rich fiancé.  After formative years of always trying to fit in with the “rich kids”– Ani has finally made it.  But a documentary film featuring Ani brings back a lot of buried memories.  Slowly, the shocking truth behind Ani’s past and the subject of the film get revealed.

Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson.  Published  September, 2015. Genre: YA/Historic Fiction/Supernatural

It’s 1849 in Georgia.  Many settlers, like Leah’s family came for the gold– which is running scarce these days.  But Leah has a secret: she can sense gold.  Her talent helps keep her and her parents afloat but they try not to draw too much attention.  Until the horrible day when Leah returns to find her mother and father brutally attacked.  Neither survive.  So teenaged Leah is left under the care of her father’s scheming brother.  Her best option seems to be to join a westward journey to California dressed as a boy.  Here is the first book in a trilogy; it is rich with unforgettable characters and takes us on a journey into the past under the massive sky of the American West.  Much like Leah’s talent for finding gold, just the slightest whiff of magic is all we need to make this a nearly perfect tale.

Why Not Me? By Mindy Kaling.  Published September, 2015.  Genre: Humorous memoir.

Loveable Kaling is back with another funny and honest memoir.  Between disclosing Hollywood beauty “secrets” and revealing the truth behind the often less-than glamorous life of a TV star and writer, Kaling seamlessly offers real emotion: searching for genuine friendships and real romance in LA, finding acceptance of who you are, and almost crashing on a cross-country flight with her friend BJ Novak.  If you like hilarious irreverent women you will love Why Not Me.  Many readers say they feel like they wish Kaling was their best friend.  I highly recommend reading this one in audio format.

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood.  Published September, 2015. Genre: Literary

Atwood’s keen eye gazes into an imagined near future.   An economic crisis has affected millions and Stan and Charmaine are among the many now unemployed and homeless.  Charmaine works as a cocktail waitress once a week for the little money the couple now survive off. Tired of living out of their car and fighting off vandals, the two move to a new city advertised in an infomercial as the necessary solution for a happy peaceful life.  In this new place, residents live one month a year in a comfortable home provided for them by the government and work a satisfying job.  Alternate months are spent as prisoners where last month’s inmates swap their cell for your (shared) home.  This dystopic literary critique of society is reminiscent of Atwood’s famous book, The Handmaid’s Tale.

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter. Published September, 2015.  Genre: Suspense/Mystery

When Claire and Lydia’s older sister Julia disappeared without a trace, the tragedy tore the family apart.  Twenty years later, Claire’s husband Paul is brutally murdered right in front of her.  But the aftermath of Paul’s death is even more shocking. Claire discovers horrifying videos on Paul’s computer that makes her question the validity of their entire relationship.  Claire finally turns to Lydia for help, and the two seek out the truth—which is far worse than they could have imagined.  Here is a can’t-put-it-down suspense thriller with dark twists and turns that will shock you.  Fans of James Patterson and Dean Koontz will enjoy.

The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow.  Published: September, 2015.   Genre: YA/Sci-Fi

Here is a Sci-Fi accessible by all (even non-Sci-Fi readers!). Years ago, the world was overcome by raging wars.  The most advanced Artificial Intelligence being created, known as Talis, was tasked with coming up with a solution for peace.  Talis’ answer?  All children of those in a position of political power will be kept as hostages.  If their loved one declared war?  The child will be executed. Princess Greta’s world is stable (other than the looming threat that at any time she could be killed) until a new hostage, Elian, joins their community.   Here is an enjoyable read that will make you question our way of life, and one you will not soon forget!  (companion book coming!).  Fans of the Hunger Games trilogy will enjoy.

The Lake House by Kate Morton.  Published October, 2015. Genre: Literary

Where: A vast Cornwall estate.

Who: The Edevanes; a wealthy beautiful family

When: a midsummer Eve party in 1933

What: baby Theo disappears

Years later, in 2003, Sadie Sparrow, a detective on forced leave after getting too personally involved in a case stumbles upon the Edevane estate, now in shambles.  Sadie becomes fascinated in the case– grown so cold over the years.  Alice Edevane, one of Theo’s older sisters (who was just fifteen when he went missing) is now an elderly woman and an extremely successful mystery writer.  Sadie joins with Alice to try to save the real mystery of the past.  Layers upon layers of time and inter-woven mysteries come together in this highly readable and enjoyable literary tale.   While this may not be fast-paced book, it is interesting and suspenseful enough to be a good book to pack on a trip!

The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean.  Published December, 2015.   Genre: Regency romance

A fun and steamy Regency road-trip romance!  Sophie is the youngest of the infamous Talbot sisters.  They are like the Kardashians of London society: beautiful, fun-loving, and always the subject of gossip.  Except for Sophie, who hates society and would prefer to run a small village bookstore.  After a particularly disastrous garden party, Sophie runs (literally) into the Marquess of Eversley– a known rogue.  She begs for a ride away for awful event, and he says no.  But she sneaks onto his carriage, presumably heading to London. Except, the carriage takes Sophie in the wrong direction… and she finds herself on an unexpected journey fraught with scandal, danger, and romance.

Delicious Foods by James Hannaham.  January, 2016.   Genre: literary

This unique powerhouse of a book is dually-narrated, alternating chapters between a young man who lost both of his hands, and by crack-cocaine. After her beloved husband is killed horrifically in a violent hate-crime, Darlene is left all alone to care for their young son Eddie.  Devastated, Darlene becomes addicted to crack and quickly degrades into an existence of single-minded purpose: the need to get her next fix.  Desperate, broke, and out of drugs, Darlene is approached by a stranger driving a rag-tag group of other street-dwellers in a large van to places unknown: a “better life” is promised. Instead, Darlene works on a farm for a group known as “Delicious Foods”; a place that runs on a system closer to slavery than employment.  But Eddie never loses his determination to find his mother.  Race, addiction, modern-day slavery, child abandonment, and so much more are tackled in this book: a tragic tale that eventually leads to redemption.   Will appeal to fans of Richard Price.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi.  Published January, 2016.  Genre: memoir

People are talking about this one!  And once you read it, you will too.  This is very hard book to forget (and you will not want to).  Kalanithi, a neurosurgeon and lover of literature–was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer at the age of 35.  A future imagined with his wife Lucy (also a doctor finisher her residency), is now re-imaged.  Paul wrote this book as he was dying, and yet it is extremely life-affirming.  Paul had always pondered life’s greatest questions, which inspired him to study the great works on literature and to dedicate his career to understanding the human brain.  When Paul was forced to confront his own mortality (far sooner than he expected), this man decided to ponder the meaning of life and death with grace and he indeed, left us with this great gift of a book.

The Long and Faraway Gone by Lou Berney.  Published February, 2016.  Genre: Mystery

Two unrelated crimes occurred in Oklahoma City over the same memorably hot summer in 1986.  The first was the disappearance of Genevieve, a troubled teenage girl who brought her thirteen-year old sister Julianna to the local fair, said she’d be back in 10 minutes, and was never seen again.  The second was the brutal slaying of six movie theatre employees after a robbery went from bad to worse.  There was but one survivor: young Michael working his first job.  Twenty-five years later and Julianna is still haunted by the loss of her sister and determined to find out what happened to her.  Michael, who now goes by Wyatt, is a PI working in Las Vegas.  Wyatt’s friend asks him to work a case in Oklahoma City, a place Wyatt swore he’d never return.  Berney presents this elegant mystery layered upon unforgettable characters in this searing western-noir tale. Will appeal to fans of Tana French’s mysteries and the HBO series True Detective.

A Murder Over a Girl: Justice, Gender, Junior High by Ken Corbett.  Published: March, 2016. Genre: non-fiction

In 2008, Lawrence “Larry” King, a fourteen year old student at E.O. Green Junior High in Oxnard, California was shot to death by his classmate Brandon McInerney.   Larry had been recently going by the name “Letecia” and wearing heels, dresses, and makeup to school.  Psychologist Ken Corbett sat through day after day of Brandon’s trial, he was tried as an adult for first-degree murder.  The dense argued that Brandon was sexually harassed by Letecia, driving him to kill her in an internalized form of self defense.  This is a quick read courtroom drama – yet implications of this case and how it ended are profound.  Gender identity rights, prejudices, male aggression, child abuse, poverty, legal questions, and so much more are addressed.

The Passenger by Lisa Lutz.  Published: March, 2016.  Genre: Mystery/suspense

Who is Tanya Dubois?  Who knows?  But she didn’t kill her husband. Nonetheless, Tanya runs.  She changes identities as often as other women change shoes. “Borrowing” from others along the way, Tanya/Amelia/Debra/etc. keeps running.  Reader remains unclear of our heroine’s past crime(s) and Lutz slowly unravels the thread.  This is a stellar, stand out in the crowd fast-paced, adrenaline-racing thriller with strong female characters.  It takes a stand on right and wrong that becomes murkier and murkier as the story progresses.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld.  Published: April, 2016.  Genre: romance/ classic re-telling.

Extremely enjoyable read!  A modern Pride and Prejudice which is snarkily romantic and impossible to put down.  Lizzie and Jane Bennett fly home to Cincinnati to be with their father after his heart attack.  The eldest (and smartest) Bennett sisters lived in Manhattan, while their younger sisters (Lydia, Mary, and Kitty) all still at home in varying states of incompetence.  At a party, they meet Charles Bingly, a rich doctor who just moved to town.  Bingley is famous as the most recent star of the reality show “Eligible” (think “The Bachelor”) and the matriarchal Bennett pushes her daughter (Jane especially) to pursue him.  Surprisingly, Jane and Charles hit it off.  But Charles’ friend Darcy is a real jerk – insulting the Bennett’s, Cincinnati, and Lizzie herself.    Great book to pack on vacation.

Everybody’s Fool by Richard Russo.  Published May 3, 2016.   Genre: literary

Richard Russo has written many wonderful literary tales over the years.  But, perhaps his most beloved book was Nobody’s Fool.  In a pool of incredibly memorable fictional characters penned by this master, Donald “Sully” Sullivan is the one we can’t forget. Sully was played by the late and great Paul Newman in the movie version of Nobody’s Fool.  Now, nearly twenty years later, Russo offers to us a follow up book to Nobody’s Fool. In Everybody’s Fool, we return to Bath, a sad and run-down small town in upstate New York where Sully is back to old tricks.  The rest of the town’s quirky characters – running from the dim-witted, brave, virtuous, and pitiful – all ring true.

And we are now entering into future publications.

Modern Lovers by Emma Straub.  To be published May 31, 2016.  Genre: literary

In the 1990s at super-liberal Oberlin College; Elizabeth, Andrew, Zoe, and Lydia started a band.  They played local shows and had a small following, and then–because life happens, they broke up.  But one song (lyrics penned by Elizabeth) had the potential to make it big.  Lydia soon quit college and became a real rock star– with a tragically young heroin-overdose death to boot.  Lydia made Elizabeth’s song famous.  Now, Elizabeth and Andrew are married to each other and live next door to Zoe in a hipster up-and-coming Brooklyn neighborhood.  Their children are teenagers and they are somehow staring down fifty.  When a film studio wants to make a documentary on Lydia, they need Elizabeth, Andrew, and Zoe to sign over the rights to tell the story of the band.  But Andrew refuses.  Here is an engaging tale of relationships, identity, and friendships; melding the everyday with the unique.  Fans of Julia Glass will enjoy.  A good summer/beach read with some substance.

The Girls by Emma Cline.  To be published June 14, 2016.  Genre: Literary/Historic Fiction.

People will definitely be talking about this one! (they are already). This is fiction inspired by events carried off by Charles Manson and his “cult” of female followers.  It’s 1969 and Evie is fourteen years old, wealthy, and lonely.  After her parents split up and both are preoccupied following their own path (with new partners and lives), Evie is left to her own devices.  The girl is painfully awkward and acutely aware of and constantly embarrassed by her changing female body.   Evie’s only friend is Connie- an equally awkward girl.  The two have a falling out and Evie is truly alone.  She notices a group of girls at a local park: they are long-haired, dirty, and breathtakingly beautiful.  Evie becomes obsessed with one such girl: Suzanne.  Evie covets Suzanne’s perceived freedom and confidence.  Evie begins spending her days at the “ranch” where everyone follows a charismatic leader named Russell.  Grounded in the real-life history of a horrible event at a tumultuous time in our history… Evie’s story rings true to anyone who has ever felt alone and insecure.   Read-alike is Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides.

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware.  To be published July 19, 2016. Genre: mystery

After a night of too much drinking, Lo Blacklock is sleeping it off in her basement flat in London when she hears a noise– it’s a masked man is standing in her living room.  Lo is not physically hurt much by the intruder, but her nerves are shot.  However, she cannot nurse her damaged psyche long as she has an important business obligation. As a writer for a travel magazine, Lo has the chance to sail to Norway to see the Aurora Borealis on a billionaire’s private yacht.  The yacht is extravagant, and the guests are pampered.  But during her first night on board, Lo wakes at night to the sound of a woman’s scream followed by a loud splash.  Lo is convinced that someone murdered the woman staying in the cabin next to her, but according to everyone on the yacht, that cabin was empty.  Is Lo’s trauma causing her to see danger where there is none?  Or is something sinister happening?  From the author of last year’s hit debut In a Dark, Dark Wood, here is an old-school mystery that relies on plot twists rather than gore and shock value.  Ware’s writing style  has been compared to Agatha Christie.

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena.  To be published August 2016.  Genre: suspense

Folks, here is another can’t-put-it-down psychological suspense thriller destined to be a big hit this summer.   We start with a couple having dinner at their neighbors’ home.  Lots of wine, food, and a bit of flirting.  Anne is still trying to lose the baby weight, and feels jealous of Cynthia’s fine figure.  By the time the last bottle is uncorked, Cynthia is opening flirting with Anne’s husband Marco.  The sitter had called to cancel at the last minute, so Anne and Marco left their 6 month old baby Cora sleeping next door.   With baby monitor in hand, the young couple checked on Cora every half hour.  Anne and Marco stumble home a little after 1am.  The crib is empty.  Cora is gone.  Here is an examination of what happens when the curtain is pulled back on a family: revealing the lies and betrayals in their totality.  This is a quick read, with sparse and formal-sounding language– a storytelling style that makes this twisted tale all the more disturbing.

And here are some books that were made into movies coming out soon.

The BFG by Roald Dahl.  Movie release date: July, 2016. Genre: Childrens/fantasy

The “BFG” means the “big friendly giant.”  Here is a classic story for the young and the young at heart, by beloved author of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.  Movie release date: September, 2016. Genre: YA/Horror

This is the creepy tale of a young man’s search for his grandfather’s past brings him to a children’s home that has been long-deserted.  Or has it?

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.  Movie release date: October, 2016. Genre: Suspense

A suspenseful tale with the most unreliable narrator.  High anticipated movie!

And, while you are waiting (years) for tickets to the Broadway show…

Read Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow!  Genre: Biography

The biography of Alexander Hamilton which inspired the wildly successful show.

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