NoveList Plus 2017 STAFF PICKS

Visit the bottom left hand side of the Library’s website and you’ll see an icon for MARVEL!  Take an adventure and visit NoveList Plus to see what that librarian staff picks for 2017 must-reads!

THE ESSEX SERPENT

Publishers Weekly:

In Perry’s (After Me Comes the Flood) excellent second novel, set in the  Victorian era, recent widow Cora Seaborne leaves London with her 11-year-old son, Francis, and loyal companion, Martha, and goes to Colchester, where a legendary, fearsome creature called the Essex Serpent  has been sighted. Scholarly Cora, who is more interested in the  study of nature than in womanly matters of dress, tramps about in a man’s tweed coat, determined to find proof of this creature’s existence. Through friends, she is introduced to William Ransome, the  local reverend; his devoted wife, Stella; and their three children. Cora looks for a scientific rationale for the Essex Serpent, while Ransome dismisses it as superstition. This puts them at odds with one another, but, strangely, also acts as a powerful source of attraction between them. When Cora is visited by her late husband’s physician, Luke Garrett, who carries a not-so-secret torch for her, a love triangle of sorts is formed. In the end, a fatal illness, a knife-wielding maniac, and a fated union with the Essex Serpent  will dictate the  ultimate happiness of these characters. Like John Fowles’s The French Lieutenant’s Woman, whose Lyme Regis setting gets a shout-out here, this is another period literary pastiche with a contemporary overlay. Cora makes for a fiercely independent heroine around whom all the other characters orbit. (June) –Staff (Reviewed 04/17/2017) (Publishers Weekly, vol 264, issue 16, p)

 

FATAL

Library Journal:

With his new stand-alone, Lescroart takes an infrequent step away from the lives of lawyer Dismas Hardy and his pal Abe Glitsky (last seen in The Fall) to introduce Sgt. Beth Tully of the San Francisco homicide squad. Beth is a hardworking single mom whose longtime friend Kate Jameson initiates an affair with a married man named Peter Ash six months before he is murdered. Beth and partner Ike McCaffrey are assigned to investigate the killing, propelling Beth into the uncomfortable position of interrogating Kate in a manner that barely falls short of accusation and causes a painful rift between the friends. What follows is a complicated turn of events that brings about the deaths of two more victims before Beth and Ike are able to sort through their growing list of suspects. VERDICT True to form, Lescroart handles his multiple story lines with aplomb, enticing readers to leave Dismas Hardy behind—for now. [See Prepub Alert, 7/18/16.] –Nancy McNicol (Reviewed 10/01/2016) (Library Journal, vol 141, issue 16, p73)

 

THE ALICE NETWORK

Library Journal:

/* Starred Review */ In May 1947, Charlotte “Charlie” St. Clair and her mother have crossed the Atlantic so the unwed Charlie can discreetly end her pregnancy in a Swiss clinic. A chance to search for her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared during World War II, gives Charlie the courage to break free and head to London. Rose may have been involved in the French Resistance, and her last known connection was a woman named Eve, who carries her own war secrets. Even with the background detail given at the  novel’s outset, there is so much more to learn as these characters are thoughtfully developed through interior decision making and the  actions they take. Allowing Charlie to describe present events, while Eve shares her experience as an English spy for the  real-life Alice Network  during World War I, creates a fascinating tension that intensifies as the  finale approaches. VERDICT A compelling blend of historical fiction, mystery, and women’s fiction, Quinn’s (“Empress of Rome” series) complex story and engaging characters have something to offer just about everyone. [See “Summer Escapes,” LJ 5/15/17.]—Stacey Hayman, Rocky River P.L., OH –Stacey Hayman (Reviewed 06/01/2017) (Library Journal, vol 142, issue 10, p96)

 

THE HEARTS OF MEN

Booklist:

Butler’s best-selling debut novel, Shotgun Lovesongs (2012), garnered widespread praise for its poignant depiction of small-town life in a Wisconsin farming community. Using the backdrop of  his home state once again, this time centering on a Boy Scout campground in Wisconsin’s north woods, Butler’s latest work follows the  erratic fortunes of  Nelson Doughty, an aspiring Eagle Scout and virtually friendless outcast. During the life-changing summer in 1962, Nelson unexpectedly befriends a popular older scout named Jonathan Quick, who, after the pair loses a clandestine contest between scout troops, abruptly betrays him, prompting Nelson to rat out his peers in a camp scandal. Decades later, after surviving a harrowing tour of Vietnam, Nelson ascends to the rank of  scoutmaster and finds himself in charge at the  same campground where Jonathan’s teenage grandson and daughter in-law are involved in a very different but similarly unsettling incident. Butler achieves a rare triple play here of  brilliant characterizations, a riveting story line, and superlatively measured prose, putting him in the  front ranks of  contemporary American writers of  literary fiction. — Hays, Carl (Reviewed 2/1/2017) (Booklist, vol 113, number 11, p28)

 

THE GIRL BEFORE

School Library Journal:

Emma and Jane have a lot in common; they even look alike. Each has been through a traumatic experience and needs to move into a new London apartment, but neither has much money. They both see a gorgeous, glamorous (but minimalist) flat on Folgate Street that is, miraculously, within budget—assuming that the  renter meets the  owner/architect’s strict requirements: no alterations, no rugs or carpets, no pictures, no potted plants, no throw pillows, and about 200 other stipulations. The flat should be experienced as is and, in fact, is meant to transform the occupant rather than the  other way around. But there’s something very compelling about the apartment. When Jane moves in, she learns that Emma was the previous resident—and that she died there. Told in chapters that alternate between Emma’s and Jane’s stories, the  book ratchets up the  tension page by page as Jane can’t resist looking into Emma’s life and death. By the end, readers will have no idea whom to believe or how far any of the characters will go to get what they want. VERDICT Teens who gobbled up Paula Hawkins’s The Girl  on the  Train and Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl  will be clamoring for this page-turning psychological thriller, which is already being made into a movie by Ron Howard.—Sarah Flowers, formerly at Santa Clara County Public Library, CA –Sarah Flowers (Reviewed 03/01/2017) (School Library Journal, vol 63, issue 03, p153)