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ISBN: 9780062060587
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Published: Harper - June 9th, 2015

I really liked SJ Watson’s smart first thriller, Before I go to Sleep, which was made into a movie starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth.  So I was also excited to check out Second Life.  I have mixed feelings about this one.

Julia’s sister, Kate, has been murdered, bringing out all sorts of repressed guilt about Julia’s having left her little sister as soon as she saw a way out of their miserable household.  Now she has to find a way to explain to Kate’s son, Connor, who Julia and Hugh are raising, what’s happened to his mother.

But Julia can’t rest until she actually knows who the murderer is and why he took her sister’s life.  And that desire leads her to much darker ones.  Her search leads her to internet chat sites in pursuit of the kind of men Kate found interesting.  And one looks very interesting indeed.  So Julia uses herself as bait to lure her suspect into the open, and in the process disappears down a rabbit’s hole of lust, intrigue, and deception.

I thought this book bogged down on the lust bit in the middle, and didn’t really find its way out until the twisty ending.  But the surmises at the end left me satisfied with the novel as a thriller.

Lots of you loved Before I go to Sleep, so I’ll be anxious to hear what you think about Second Life

ISBN: 9781250039835
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Published: Thomas Dunne Books - May 5th, 2015

When Nickolas Butler visited Saturn last year he talked about his next book, which would be short stories he wrote during and after his time at the venerable Iowa Writer’s Workshop.

Beneath the Bonfire is that book.  These are stories of the upper-Midwest: of flue collar workers and farmers and people living off of the land.  They are stories of misfortunes and misdeeds, of love and loss.  But what they all share is the fluid, compelling writings that we came to love in Butler’s Shotgun Lovesongs.

Butler just has a way of drawing out emotion and evoking an atmosphere that puts you right there in the character’s heads and alongside them with a six pack.

The beauty of short stories is often that you can pick them up and put them down so quickly, but not so with Nickolas Butler – you just want to keep reading because he’s just that gifted.

ISBN: 9780307271037
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Published: Knopf Publishing Group - March 3rd, 2015

Ishiguro, world renowned for Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go and his fifty other highly decorated novels, breaks new territory with Buried Giant.

The book, which is set in a Britain peopled with pixies, ogres, and dragons, follows the journey of an elderly couple as they travel to a neighboring village to visit their son.

Along the way they befriend warriors with different agendas, and various other seemingly innocent people.

The book reads almost like a fairy tale, but as it unfolds you realize that almost every element is a metaphor for something else, and the story itself is a journey through memories lost and a tale of love and vengeance.

We are clearly in the hands of a master storyteller as we enjoy The Buried Giant on different levels.  Fans and readers new to Ishiguro will be mesmerized.

ISBN: 9780061670893
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Published: William Morrow & Company - March 24th, 2015

I knew I’d like this novel because I always enjoy Marisa’s books.  She does ‘women’s fiction’ in such an intelligent way and her characters have a way of having a tenacious hold on my imagination.

The Precious One is the story of Willow, a shattered, naïve, and, until recently, homeschooled 16-year-old who is most beloved by her posturing, intellectual father, Wilson.

And it’s the story of Taisy, Wilson’s estranged other daughter form the first marriage he abandoned, who never felt like her father’s precious one at all.

It’s a novel about the family you’re born into and the family you choose and all of the pain and the joy that can come from loving them both relentlessly.  

ISBN: 9781501214325
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Published: Brilliance Audio - February 24th, 2015

Mac McClelland is a brave, risk-taking, and award winning journalist who has reported from every corner of the US and around the globe – from Thailand, Haiti, Australia, Burma, Uganda, and Turkey to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Bhutan.  She’s appeared on major national and international media outlets such as C-Span, MSNBC, PBS, NPR, Al Jazeera, Democracy Now, the BBC, CBC, and Deutsche Welle.  She has been witness to unimaginable atrocities, and now she suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Mightily.

In her new memoir, Irritable Hearts: A PTSD Love Story, Mac tells us her story with incredible clarity, honesty, and insight.  It’s a horror story told with a wry sense of humor.  It’s a love story written from the rawest places of the heart.  It’s a seeker’s journey through unplumbed depths of the psyche.  It’s a case study; a call to arms for research and understanding; an honest account for fellow sufferers who feel isolated and alone; and the determined manifesto of a soul unwilling to surrender.

I feel privileged for this inside glimpse into the pain man people live with every day and not many people acknowledge, much less endeavor to understand, and I closed this book feeling like a more humble, compassionate person for having read it.  That’s a tall order for one volume, which speaks volumes for the book itself.

Read Irritable Hearts.  It will do wonders for your own.

By Herman Koch, Sam Garrett (Translator)
ISBN: 9780385346856
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Published: Hogarth - October 29th, 2013

This book was Saturn’s Book of the Month selection, and it was fun to hear everyone’s comments.

The dinner is told in the five ‘courses’ of a five course dinner and narrated by Paul as her and his wife, Claire, have dinner in a fancy restaurant in the Netherlands with his funning-for-prime-minister brother Serge and his wife. 

At first you think Paul is merely cranky, complaining about the restaurant, the company, ect, but slowly you get to see that it’s all a little more sinister than that and that Paul is narrating as though any normal person would share all of his opinions and that he’s a sympathetic character, while you as a reader stay to get a handle on the underlying story and become increasingly repulsed.

This book is a best-seller around the world and I can see why it’s one everyone wants to discuss – come get your copy and let’s talk! 

ISBN: 9780062311115
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Published: William Morrow & Company - April 21st, 2015

The Bone Tree is the sequel to last year’s big Natchez Burning, and the second in a trilogy of stories set in Mississippi  that begin with unsolved Klu Klux Klan murders in the 60’s.

Penn Cage, the mayor of Natchez, has seen his beloved father charged with the murder of his old nurse, Viola.  Rather than stand and face the charges as Penn expects, his elderly and ailing father goes on the run, and it looks as if he’s enlisted the help of old friends and maybe even killed a state trooper in the bargain.

The law in two states and the FBI are involved, and Penn’s fiancé, newspaper editor Caitlin, can smell a Pulitzer.

With just about all of the players working at odds with each other, a deeper story of corruption and evil at the very highest levels starts to be revealed.

You will definitely get more out of The Bone Tree if you’ve read Natchez Burning, and the two books together are a must read for fans of Iles, historical fiction, political thrillers and on and on.  It’s the “must-read” book right now, and we have a few signed first editions in the store at  this time ( 6/2015).

ISBN: 9780545561549
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Published: Scholastic Press - March 31st, 2015

Jennifer Nielsen, author of one of my favorite middle grade trilogies, The Ascendance Trilogy (The False Prince, ect.), has begun a new saga set in an alternate Rome where the Emperor is threatened by senators and generals with access to magic from the gods.

Nic, an escaped slave, has unexpectedly been given magic and the ability to communicate with animals, including a griffon.  But an un-asked for power is seldom a gift, and Nic finds himself in a fight for his life and that of his family and friends…

Mark of the Thief is clearly the beginning of a fun new series all middle grade readers should just devour.

ISBN: 9781451626124
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Published: Touchstone Books - April 7th, 2015

I zipped through this 700-pager like a guilty pleasure on Thanksgiving.

It’s narrated by Margaret Pole-who, to hide her claim to the throne that the Tudors ascended, marries beneath herself to a kindly and stalwart Tudor supporter.  She has no plans to threaten the new royal family and wind up in the Tower liker her beloved brother and other relatives before him.

But eventually Margaret becomes guardian of Prince Arthur of Wales and then advisor to his new bride, Catherine of Aragon.

Another story of power and intrigue, lust and greed, The King’s Curse gives us what Philippa Gregory does best – a titillating peek behind the curtains of a most intriguing period of British history.

ISBN: 9780385532556
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Published: Doubleday Books - March 24th, 2015

I’d read an early David Levien book, but this one seemed far more cohesive and compelling to me – Levien has come into his own alongside the gory ranks of Tomi Hoag and Cody McFadyen and the like.

When Frank Behr, a down on his luck PI in Indianapolis notices a billboard with a $100,000 reward for information leading to the whereabouts of a young woman, he takes the no-win case and stumbles onto the trail of a serial killer who is leaving his artfully arranged ‘masterpieces’ all around town.

This is a gory book, and not for the faint of heart.  But if you like your heroes struggling with their own inner demons and your bad guys to be pure evil, this one’s for you.