Thursday, January 01, 2015

February Treasures in My Closet

My New Year's Resolution this year was to not be bound by as many dates for blog tours or reviews. That means I have more freedom to read whatever I feel like reading. I just bogged down last year in "requirements". For pete's sake, I'm not in school. I like the serendipity of picking up a book and falling in love with it when it's not the next book I "have" to read.

This means that I just might have more time to read some of these February treasures. And, there are enough of them to keep me busy all month, but it will be my choice. Want to check out the February book releases?

Kate Alcott takes a young woman from Fort Wayne, Indiana into the back lot of one of the greatest films of all time, Gone with the Wind, in her latest novel, A Touch of Stardust. When Carole Lombard hires Julie Crawford to fend off reporters, Julie becomes a witness to two great love stories; the "undeniable on-screen chemistry between Scarlett and Rhett, and offscreen, the deepening love" between Carole and Clark Gable. It's a vivid, romantic novel filled with Old Hollywood details. (Release date is Feb. 17.)

Divorced mom Maeve Conlon, a single mother and bakery owner hiding dark secrets, returns in Maggie Barbieri's Lies That Bind. Maeve's moving on after the events of Once Upon a Lie, when her father dies of a massive heart attack. On the day of his funeral, Maeve learns she might have a sister she's never met. Is the vandalism of her bakery connected to the search for her sister? Maeve takes matters into her own hands. (Release date is Feb. 17.)

I'm always interested to see what twists and turns Lou Berney brings to his novels. The Long and Faraway Gone looks back at events of the summer of 1986 when two tragedies rocked Oklahoma City. Six movie theater employees were killed in an armed robbery, while one survived. And, a teenage girl disappeared from the state fair. Neither crime was ever solved, but twenty-five years later, those events still haunt the survivors. Wyatt, a private investigator in Las Vegas, is taken back to the mystery at that movie house robbery, the one that left six of his friends dead. And, the sister of the girl who vanished will stop at nothing to find answers to her sister's disappearance. Now, fate brings these two damaged souls together. (Release date is Feb. 10.)

Chief Inspector Odd Singsaker of the Trondheim Police Department returns in Jorgen Brekke's Dreamless. A promising young singer is found dead in a clearing in a forest, with an antique music box placed on her body. Singsaker fears the worst when a second young singer disappears in a case that is somehow connected to a centuries-old ballad written by a mysterious composer. As time ticks by, the elusive killer seems as if he will stop at nothing. (Release date is Feb. 10.)

From Norway, we move to Denmark's "Queen of Crime", Sara Blaedel. The Forgotten Girls are only remembered when Louise Rick, the new commander of the Missing Persons Department, releases a picture of an unidentified dead woman. An older woman identifies her as a former ward of the state mental institution, a "forgotten girl" abandoned by her family. However, Louise discovers the woman was issued a death certificate thirty years earlier, along with her twin sister. Louise's search takes her closer to her own childhood home, and closer to her own past. (Release date is Feb. 3.)

Novelist Richard Price's crime novel, The Whites, is written as Harry Brandt. Back in the 1990s, Billy Graves was labeled as a cowboy after he accidentally shot a boy while working as part of an anti-crime unit known as the Wild Geese. After years working dead-end jobs, he's in his early forties, a sergeant in Manhattan Night Watch, a team of detectives who respond to all felonies from Wall Street to Harlem between one a.m. and eight a.m. But, when the victim of a slashing is connected to the former members of the Wild Geese, the bad old days are back in Billy's life. (Release date is Feb. 17.)

Amateur sleuth Kate Shackleton returns in Frances Brody's A Woman Unknown, a combination of intricate plotting and nostalgic post-WWI English country setting. Kate is hired by a man who wants to know where his wife, "The Woman Unknown", goes when she's supposedly taking care of her sick mother. The death of a banker in a hotel room throws Kate into the depths of a more sinister investigation, a complex, and personal, one. (Release date is Feb. 10.)

John Clarkson introduces an unusual protagonist in Among Thieves. When Olivia Sanchez is fired from a brokerage firm, and then blackballed, she turns to her cousin for help. But, his partner, James Beck, is an ex-con who will help his friends no matter what, even if he has to take on an international arms dealer, a misfit band of Bosnian mercenaries, the entire Russian mob, and some crooked Wall Street hedge fund managers. James Beck has to outsmart every twisted villain trying to kill him. (Release date is Feb. 3.)

The Marauders by Tom Cooper is another novel filled with a cast of misfits.

When the BP oil spill devastates the waters of the Louisiana Gulf Coast,t he citizens of the little bayou town of Jeanette scrabble to replace their lost livelihoods. One of them is Gus Lindquist, a one-armed, pill-popping shrimper with only a childhood dream, discovering the lost treasure of pirate Jean Lafitte. On his journey, Lindquist meets a motley crew of characters, including a slick-talking BP middleman out to make his carer by swindling the townspeople of Jeanette, including his own mother. (Release date is Feb. 3.)

I'm fascinated by books about books so I'm excited about Samantha Ellis' How to Be a Heroine: Or, What I've Learned From Reading Too Much. A passionate argument with her best friend led Ellis to realize she'd been trying to be Cathy Earnshaw of Wuthering Heights her whole life when she should have been trying to be Jane Eyre. So, she embarks on a look at the literary ladies she has loved since childhood. A lifelong reader explores those heroines that shaped all our lives. (Release date is Feb. 3.)

The back cover of Marc Goodman's Future Crimes calls it "provocative, thrilling, and ultimately empowering. I find it scary. Goodman is a leading authority on global security. In this book, he eposes the alarming ways criminals, corporations, and even countries are using new and emerging technologies against us. (Release date is Feb. 24.)

David Handler's Phantom Angel sounds right up my alley. "A wickedly funny private eye novel set in the dark underbelly of New York City, where the worlds of Broadway and organized crime meet." Street-wise Benji Golden is hired by Morrie Frankel, the last of the great Broadway showmen, to track down a hedge fund billionaire who promised to invest in Morrie's latest show. But, when Benjie finds out some odd information, and quits the case, Morrie is found gunned down, and Benji is stuck in the middle of a high profile murder investigation. (Release date is Feb. 10.)

Kristin Hannah takes readers back to France, 1939, in The Nightingale. "In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are. And sometimes, perhaps, we don't want to know what we would do to survive." Hannah's latest novel is about women in Occupied France, and the dangerous choices they made to save their children and their way of life. (Release date is Feb. 3.)

Interested in a debut story collection? Katherine Heiny's Single, Carefree, Mellow is "A tender and ruefully funny look at varieties of love, secrets, and betrayal in ten stories that form a guided tour of the human heart." (Release date is Feb. 3.)

Stark House Press has been reprinting older crime novels for the last few years. Now, they bring back two complete novels in one book by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding,  Speak of the Devil/The Obstinate Murderer. The first of her suspense stories is about a murder aboard a cruise ship. The second is about an aging alcoholic called in to solve a murder that hasn't happened yet. (Release date is Feb.)

If you recently read the report saying how horrid open-plan offices are, you might appreciate Jonas Karlsson's The Room. Bjorn finds the office space inhumane, so he's thrilled when he discovers a small, secret room where he can escape and work in a civilized style. Bjorn's bizarre behavior unsettles his coworkers, and drives them to a terrible point from which they may or may not be able to return. (Release date is Feb. 17.)

The second story collection for February is Kelly Link's Get in Trouble. The author Michael Chabon has called "The most darkly playful voice in American fiction" takes readers into her fictional universe in nine stories. (Release date is Feb. 3.)

Collete McBeth's standalone thriller is The Life I Left Behind. Six years ago, Melody Pieterson was attacked and left for dead, found by a dog walker. A neighbor and close friend was found guilty. And, for years, Melody has hidden away from the world, feeling betrayed. When another woman is attacked and killed in the same style soon after Melody's neighbor was released from prison, she begins to wonder if the wrong man was convicted, and someone else is still out there, preparing to strike again. (Release date is Feb. 24.)

The Sculptor is a graphic novel by Scott McCloud. It's an unusual urban fable about a man, David Smith, who is giving his life for his art. He made a deal with Death to get his childhood wish, to sculpt anything he can imagine with his bare hands. But, now, he has only 200 days to live, and can't decide what to create. And, discovering the life of his life at the last minute doesn't make it any easier. (Release date is Feb. 3.)

Don't you love the cover of Ander Monson's book? It's Letter to a Future Lover: Marginalia, Errata, Secrets, Inscriptions, and Other Ephemera Found in Libraries. Monson's essays look at the traces readers leave behind in books, and he reflects on the human need to catalog and annotate, the pleasures of reading, the nature of libraries. (Release date is Feb. 3.)

Sofi Oksanen's When the Doves Disappeared was a #1 best seller in Finland and Sweden. Now, this story of occupation, resistance, and collaboration in Estonia during and after World War II is being published in twenty-nine countries. In 1941 in war-ravaged Estonia, two men deserted the Red Army. Roland, a freedom fighter, goes into hiding when the Germans arrive. His slippery cousin, Edgar, abandons his wife, Jundit, and takes on a new identity as a loyal supporter of the Nazi regime. By, 1963, when Estonia is once again under Communist control, Edgar is desperate to hide his past life and remain close to the Communists in power. But, his fate remains tangled with his cousin and wife. (Release date is Feb. 10.)

Here's an unusual premise for a juvenile book. What if prehistoric creatures were online? John Bailey Owen's #Prehistoric: Follow the Dinosaurs allows readers to follow prehistoric creatures, learn what scientists have discovered about them, and find out what they're saying to each other. It's facts, what appears to be photographs, and humor designed for readers 8-12. (Release date is Feb. 24.)

A Brief Stop on the Road from Auschwitz is journalist Goran Rosenberg's moving memoir about his father. On Aug. 2, 1947, a young man gets off a train in a small industrial town in Sweden to begin his life again. He survived the ghetto of Lodz, the death camp at Auschwitz, the slave camps and transports of the final months of Nazi Germany. Now, his final challenge is "to survive the survival". Rosenberg returns to his own childhood to tell the story of his father, and the chasm between father and son. (Release date is Feb. 24.)

Bestselling Icelandic crime writer Yrsa Sigurdardottir is back with the fifth installment in the Thora Gudmundsdottir series, Someone to Watch Over Me. A young man with Down's Syndrome has been convicted of burning down his assisted living facility and killing five people, but a fellow inmate has hired Thora to prove Jakob is innocent. If he didn't do it, who did? And how is the multiple murder connected to the death of a young woman, killed in what was supposed to be a hit-and-run? (Release date is Feb. 17.)

Anne Tyler's fans will be eagerly awaiting her new novel, A Spool of Blue Thread. Abby Whitshank always begins the story of how she fell in love with Red in July 1959 with the same introduction. Tyler takes us into the Whitshank family, today and back through generations to reveal the very nature of a family's life. (Release date is Feb. 10.)

It's quite a collection for February, isn't it? I'm looking forward to a month of discovery. Are there a couple books here that appeal to you?


Diane said...

As always I found quite a few new books in that list and am adding them to my Hold list at the library. What fun!
I do not always agree with you but we agree often enough. You are my go to blog to find new books and book series to read. Glad you are continuing to write for us.

Kaye Barley said...

Oooooh, writing furiously to add some of these to the list with no end! Especially excited about of Ander Monson's book. I very much enjoyed A Touch of Stardust and looking forward to hearing what you think, Lesa. And I think "serendipity" is a delightful idea!!! (and isn't it a lovely word?)
Happy New Year - sending hugs!

Lesa said...

Oh, Diane! Thank you for saying Lesa's Book Critiques is your go to blog for new books and series. Thank you!

Lesa said...

Hi Kaye!

Hugs coming back at you! Thank you. I'm looking forward to A Touch of Stardust. And, thanks to "serendipity", I don't think I'll miss this one. I've missed some books I wanted to read in the past year or so. Happy New Year!

Margie Bunting said...

The David Handler book is already on my to-be-read list, and Anne Tyler's books are always enjoyable. Also on my list for February are Jonathan Kellerman's Motive (Mike and I both read his books), James Swain's Take Down (his Tony Valentine series is awesome), and Laura Lippman's Hush (all of her books are great).

Jan Cook said...

I,also, like books about books and am always looking for new titles. If you have time, could you tell me your favorites? Hugs

Lesa said...

You have a terrific list, Margie. That TBR list never seems to get any smaller, does it?

Lesa said...

Yes, Jan. My favorite is 84,Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff. Here are some of the others - Any of Miranda James' books. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. Goodnight June by Sarah Jio. The Moment of Everything by Shelly King. Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein. Parnassas on Wheels & The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley.And, I know Anna Quindlen has written some essays I loved about books.