"Nothing makes me happier than finding that little-known or first-time author who really deserves to make it, and selling a boatload of their books -well, that and putting just the right books into each customer's hands.." jill
Ariana Franklin was the award-winning author of one of my favorite historical-fiction series – Mistress of the Art of Death. She died in 2011, just before completing this novel, which her daughter Samantha Norman, herself a successful writer, columnist, and film critic, finished.
The year is 1141 and England is consumed by a war between Stephen and his cousin, the empress Matilda, for the crown. And when royals battle, no one is safe.
A mercenary named Gwil stumbles upon a young girl who has been brutalized by a depraved monk and his roving band, and he nurses her back to life. But Emma, now renamed Penda by Gwil, has no recollection of her former life and prefers to pass as a young boy.
The pair become famous for their skills at archery and end up at a castle that’s being fought over by the royal cousins as an important river passage.
The duo is drawn into the intrigue and their lives are forever changed.
It’s sad that this was Franklin’s final book as her writing is always a great glimpse into a time long gone. Thankfully for us, The Siege Winter is a fine final novel.
If you like your thrillers twisty and your red herrings in abundance, Paula Hawkins’ psychological thriller The Girl on the Train will likely be one of your first great reads of 2015.
Rachael rides the train to London every day, and has created a fantasy life for a couple who are often in their yard as she goes past: Jess and Jason are wildly in love and have a fairy tale life. Except one day, Rachael sees Jess kissing a man who isn’t Jason and the next day she reads in the paper that Jess, whose real name is Megan, is missing.
Just about anyone in the novel could have done just about anything, and that’s what makes reading it so fun. Your imagination goes down countless avenues before you discover what is really going on – and by then you have definite opinions about each of the characters.
If you had a water cooler at your work, The Girl on the Train would be the topic of discussion as you gathered around it, just like Gone Girl was two years ago.
There is a club in London so exclusive that its number of members never varies. Men must agree to join, but don’t always get what they bargain for.
This novel, set in Victorian London, was totally not what I expected to read. This first novel by 28 year old Lauren Owen is already garnering literary prizes for a most surprising adult genre – Vampire Fiction.
If you loved the smart writing in Deborah Harness’ novel, The Quick should definitely be on your list.
In 1984 in a small, seaside town in Britain, Corinne was 15 and convicted of a gruesome, ritualistic murder. Amid rumors of Satanism, the town kept a watchful eye on their youngsters and dreaded the day when they’d grow into teens themselves. Corrine was locked up, and the key thrown away.
20 years later, ex-detective Sean Ward takes a case as a private investigator to re-open Corrine’s case. With the advent of new DNA technologies, the evidence suggests that she might not have acted alone.
However, the more Sean digs, the more secrets he uncovers about a fearful community that has always protected its own.
Simon Waterhouse and Charlie Zailer are back, and stumped by a crime that’s been confessed to by an obviously innocent man, and corroborated by his closest friends and all the people closest to the murdered woman – everyone swears that Tim, the not grieving husband – did it, and he agrees and demands to be locked up.
Despite knowing that they don’t have their man, the duo have nowhere to turn but to the brilliant, egotistical Gaby Struthers – Tim’s true love and the main reason it would make sense for him to have committed the crime.
And as the murdered woman was, by all accounts, a miserable human being who reveled in making everyone around her miserable too, it’s hard to see why everyone didn’t want to do her in.
In typical Sophie Hannah form, The Carrier leads the reader down one dark path after another before finally revealing what should perhaps have made sense all along.
People in Hannah’s books aren’t nice. Life is messy. Crimes are for real with bad consequences and those charged with solving them lead complicated and distressing lives themselves. If her crime writing wasn’t so masterful, we might find ourselves wondering why we lose ourselves in a new Sophie Hannah mystery every year.
But we sure do!
Karen Perry is a pseudonym for two best-selling Irish authors and together they’ve crafted a fine thriller.
Harry is in Tangier, preparing his wife’s birthday dinner. He leaves their sleeping son, Dillon and dashes out for a last minute gift. While he’s gone, an earthquake devastates the city and reduces their apartment building to rubble. Dillon’s body is never found.
Five years later, Harry and Robin live in Dublin, but their grief and guilt have driven a deep wedge between them.
Then one day, on the streets of Dublin, Harry spies an eight-year-old Dillon walking with a strange woman…
Fast, and while somewhat predictable, still able to deliver some surprises. The Innocent Sleep is a very satisfying read.
Elena Ferrante is one of Italy’s most acclaimed authors – about whom the Boston Globe wrote “Everyone should read anything with Ferrante’s name on it.” So how could I resist?
Elena and her best friend Lila are growing up in a poor neighborhood in Naples in the 1950s.
My Brilliant Life is a vivid study of the characters, young and old, who make up their narrow world, and their naive attempts to escape it for a richer life they can only barely imagine.
The book jacket says My Brilliant Friend is also a story of a nation – of Italy’s post-war generation undergoing numerous changes as the country finds its place in a new world order.
If you like character driven-novels with very human players, you’ll love the way Elena Ferrante’s book celebrates the everyday with uncommon passion and skill.
Night Blindness is an incredibly strong first novel.
Jensen Ledakis has to leave her sculptor husband and artists’ model career in Santa Fe and go precisely where she’d avoided going for so many years – home.
When Jensen lost her beloved brother, Will, in her teens, she retreated to boarding school, passed up admission to Julliard, and eventually ran off with Nic – all in an attempt to run away from her memories.
But now her father, the famous, charismatic Sterling Reilly is sick, and she can no longer come up with excuses to avoid Connecticut.
Jensen’s story is full of heartbreak and redemption; self-awakening an self-forgiveness. And though it’s a long, hard path, it’s one we’re eager to take as debut author Susan Strecker shares her powerful and moving novel, Night Blindness, with us.
You know those emails that promise that you’ve won the lottery or that they are from the daughter of a Nigerian diplomat? They are called 4-1-9 scams – and Laura Curtis’ father was taken in and duped for all of the money he had by one such scam. The book begins with the police at the scene where her father has driven his car over a cliff.
Laura, unable to face what had happened, vows revenge, and she sets about tracing the emails back to their source.
As you might imagine, there are layers upon layers of lies involved, and the novel bounces from Canada to Nigeria, telling the stories of the players.
An interesting premise with what I think of as a ‘European film’ conclusion – neither what you expected nor what you wished it would be.
Preppy, perky Dabney Beech has always had a gift for matchmaking. When she sees a couple who are a perfect match, she sees them surrounded by a rosy, pink glow. When she sees a couple who are mismatched, she sees and ugly, green haze.
Her husband, famous economist John Boxmiller Beech, and her daughter Agnes (who is clearly with the wrong man), are doubters, but in Nantucket, there are 42 happy couples who will attest to her gift.
The only time Dabney has been wrong, it seems, is with her own love life. Clendentin Hughes was her high school love, and her took her heart with him when he went off to Asia to become a reporter 27 years ago. But now, suddenly, he’s back.
Matchmaker is another pitch perfect beach read from Saturn Booksellers favorite Elin Hilderbrand. It will make you laugh, cry, and want to embrace life to the fullest. A big accomplishment from one novel!