For this peek into a few of the page turning goodies that will appear on bookshelves this upcoming January and February of 2018, my focus is on fiction as many of the best new offerings seem to fall into that category.
In the months to come, I promise not to neglect any interesting works of nonfiction that are bound to arrive,eager for attention there. For now, let us devour these tasty bookish morsels being served up for our future consumption:
Sizzling Slices of Mystery Meat: Our first course is a debut novel from English writer C.J. Tudor,The Chalk Man, that brings with it some of the fearsome flair of the 1980s.
Eddie Addams is a school teacher still haunted by playing a role in the past that brought down a teacher from his childhood days. That's not the only thing from those days that comes with bad memories as a visit from Mickey, one of his boyhood buddies, reminds Eddie of that time when he was twelve and the two of them,along with a few other pals, discovered a dead body.
Not long after Mickey arrives back in his life, Eddie sees those chalk symbols that he and his friends used as a secret code cropping up all around him,particularly near a new set of victims. Is this connected to that long ago murder or are these simply inspired by that tragic event? Tudor sets up a mix of Stand by Me with Midsomer Murders that should provide readers with some extra chills this winter(January):
Janie Van Duyvil was just as surprised as anyone in her family when her beloved brother Baynard brought home from London a wife named Annabelle to New York. Many eyebrows were raised in society yet she was willing to give Annabelle a fair chance.
However, when Bay is found dying at a party in his own home, Janie uncovers a whole new world of secrets and lies. With Annabelle vanishing into thin air and no one else willing to look deeper into her brother's death, she teams up with an ambitious reporter named Burke, who helps her find out but to what advantage of his own?
Lauren Willig is well at home when it comes to mysteries set in the past and even with her Pink Carnation series finally completed, her future as a writer is bright indeed(January).
As the economic landscape is quickly devolving in late 2009, more pressure is placed on her to lay off staff at the Ellery Consumer Research Group in her own department, leaving her severely lacking in help to say the least.
While other department heads,such as burnt out recruiting director Rob,benefits manager Leo and hustling for a promotion Lucy, are struggling to stay on payroll, their status is strongly challenged when Rosa becomes severely ill. Covering for Rosa becomes part of their job ,repaying the loyalty that she's given them all, yet how long can they manage to pull it off is the new skill that can't be placed on any of their resumes.
Looking back at the recent past is not as easy as it seems and somehow, Medoff handles it with wry humor and well earned drama that makes this story feels as current as today's headlines(January):
During her stay, she meets Sam, a young scientist who slowly grows troubled about the weapon that he and his fellow researchers are developing. Over time, June and other residents, like her roommate Cici and segregated construction worker Joe, soon realize that the ultimate goal of Oak Ridge is to bring the atomic bomb to terrifying life.
Historical photos are added into to give more of a sense of time and place to the story yet Beard's writing is vivid enough,making them that extra dollop of icing on top of a supremely crafted cake. For a fictional take on the real life men and women on this project, The Atomic City Girls are grand company to keep up(February):
The life of Eleanor Roosevelt is showcased in White Houses by Amy Bloom, told from the perspective of Lorena Hickok, a long time friend and romantic partner.
The two of them first met during Lorena's journalist days, well before Franklin Delano Roosevelt began his presidency. Given a staff position, Lorena had access not only to Eleanor but to the inner workings of FDR's administration which lead to personal insights she could not share with the world at large.
Amy Bloom does have a knack for elegant portrayals of complicated lives and this novel has the potential to be one of her best yet. Hopefully, her new novel will also inspire readers old and new to seek out more about Eleanor and Lorena, a pair of ladies who made real history together and then some(February).
When their parents are killed, Tommy and Billy McBride are of one mind in seeking to avenge those deaths. However, that forces the brothers to team up with John Sullivan, a vicious land owner who made their father's ranching life miserable and is eager to hunt down supposed suspect Joseph, as an excuse to go after the aboriginal tribes in the area.
Eventually, Tommy finds it hard to join in with the mob mentality and driven by his conscience(as well as the love of an aboriginal woman) to break away from Billy's determined course of brutal action in the name of "justice".
This story has a familiar feel to it yet is free of the standard tropes of the Western with not only location but emphasis on the emotional cost of choices that may not be taken back but could be retreated from before it's too late(February):
A Happy New Year of reading to all and to all a good book! While it may seem that next year might be as off putting in some ways as this year was, take hope in the fact that good things are on the horizon such as season two of Victoria on PBS. It is comforting to see a historic leader who was able to make the phrase "grace under pressure" a true reality and a fine example to those who came afterward-may we see that like again and soon: