Have we Met Before?

There’s nothing more exciting than finding a new author to enjoy. For this month’s genre book discussion everyone selected authors who’d recently (somewhere in 2009) been published for the first time. I think this is something we try to do on a regular basis, find new authors to embrace, but it was nice to hear about so many new voices all at one time. So here’s what everyone read:

Ann: A Beautiful Place to Die by Malla Nunn has recently been nominated for the Edgar Award in the Best Novel category. Set in South Africa in 1952 just as the Apartheid laws are being placed in effect, this debut novel features Detective Sergeant Emmanuel Cooper, who’s called to a remote village of Jacob’s Rest to investigate a dead body. The body turns out to be that of the local policeman and member of the powerful Pretorius family. As Detective Cooper investigates, he finds that Captain Pretorius led two lives, and unearths a lot of dirty secrets throughout the town. The book brings to the forefront racist Afrikaners, Zulu customs, and the low status of women. It’s definitely not comparable to the No. 1 Ladies Detective series, but more in line with the dark works of Arnaldur Indriðason and also reminds me of Tom Rob Smith’s Child 44.

Carol: A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick was my debut novel pick. Sure I was drawn in by its bestseller status, but once I started reading, I couldn’t put this one down. Goolrick has delivered an original, very sensual, and gripping read. This book has it all–love, passion, hate, revenge, poison and plenty of twists, turns, and suspense. Readers meet the lonely Ralph Truitt in 1907, as he waits for a train. Turns out Ralph is awaiting a very special delivery, the arrival of a reliable wife. Catherine Land has come to remote Wisconsin in answer to his advertisement. Although Ralph immediately realizes that Catherine is not who or what he expected, he is charmed by her beauty, and he asks her to go to St. Louis to bring home his son who hates him. Catherine, however, has secrets and dark plans of her own, but nothing will turn out as either of them plans.

Chris: The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet by Reif Larson. Tecumseh Sparrow Spivet, a 12-year-old genius, is a dedicated cartographer. So dedicated that he makes maps for all of the places he sees, the people he meets, and most everything he witnesses or even reads about. Why? He wants “to figure out how the whole thing fits together.” When the Smithsonian becomes aware of his work, they think it’s the work of a grown man and want to honor him with the prestigious Baird Award. When T.S. shows up to accept the award as the 12-year-old that he is, the President of the Smithsonian is taken aback. But he quickly decides that this youngster is the best thing that can happen to the Smithsonian and to science and to the future of science, so they roll with it. And if you want more quirkiness, meet T.S’s family. This is an engaging story, further enhanced by side bars of maps, illustrations, etc. throughout.

Emma: The Cradle: A Novel by Patrick Somerville. It’s 1987 and young pregnant Melissa sends her husband on a mission to retrieve an antique cradle taken by her mother Caroline when she abandoned her husband and daughter years ago. The search isn’t simple since Caroline has remarried twice and is out of the country. 10+ years later a second story revolves around a middle-aged couple, Renee and Bill, whose son is voluntarily joining the army and heading to Iraq. Renee is particularly unhappy with his decision fearing that she will lose another son. Eventually the two stories connect.

Evelyn: Veracity by Laura Bynum. In 2045 in a world where uttering a “red-listed” word could result in your death, Harper Adams is a monitor for the government. Because of her psychic abilities, Harper can “see” people’s auras and emotions that they may be trying to hide. When her daughter Veracity’s name becomes red-listed, Harper chooses to work with an underground resistance to fight for freedom. The book has been described as a blend of Orwell’s 1984 and The Handmaid’s Tale. When I first read the jacket of this book, I knew instantly that I had to read it. I knew it had potential to be great, I wasn’t let down. One of the best books I’ve read in a long time. This one will stay with you. Highly recommend.

Dori: Starvation Lake by Bryan Gruley. Nominated for an Edgar Award for Best First Novel, this dark story begins when Detroit Times reporter Gus Carpenter returns to work for his small hometown newspaper in Michigan after being let go from the Times. Gus’s youth was dominated by his years as goalie for the local hockey team, whose infamous coach had supposedly drowned in a snowmobile accident years earlier. When his snowmobile suddenly reappears, Gus and the local police reopen the case, uncovering secrets that shake up the town and Gus’ perception of his past.

Rosemary: The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama is a sparkling and heartwarming debut novel, which also explores the more serious issues of modern life in India. Mr. Ali has too much energy to spend the day with the other retired men at his mosque, and he is definitely getting on his wife’s nerves at home. He cooks up the brilliant idea to start a marriage bureau for the wealthy of his city. The bureau quickly becomes a success, and soon he must hire an assistant. With Mrs. Ali’s help, he hires the quiet and smart Aruna, a young Brahmin woman whose family is experiencing financial troubles. The lives of Mr. and Mrs. Ali and Aruna become entwined with their clients as they face the challenges of arranging the perfect match.

Stacey: Descent into Dust: the extraordinary adventures of Emma Andrews, Victorian lady and vampire hunter by Jacqueline Lepore. While visiting her cousin Roger and his family, young widow Emma Andrews finds herself and another houseguest Valerian Fox become engaged in a fight against a powerful, evil vampire. This book is the first in a trilogy and, if the next two books are the similar, readers will find engaging characters who are as good with their clever minds as they are with their deadly weapons.

Did you find someone new to embrace? A book or an author who intrigues you now? Me too! But leave a little room on your book pile so you can be ready to read literary fiction, the next genre, with us! Literary fiction can be described as often prize-winning, character driven, uniquely stylized, and technically complex. Go on now, get busy and read!


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