Nerdy Special List April 2016
I’m so excited April is here, because not only is it my birthday month, about 93 people I know and love also have birthdays. There will be lots of celebrating ’round here! (With loads of cake and ice cream, of course.) On top of that, Kimmy Schmidt and Amy Schumer return this month to our TV screens and I’m ready for some serious laughs.
April is also a fab month for books. Below are the new releases my blogger friends and I recommend.
From Jen at Jen’s Book Thoughts:
King Maybe by Timothy Hallinan (Soho Crime, April 12)
Timothy Hallinan’s fifth Junior Bender mystery involves a lot of burglary and bad luck, with a few murders thrown in for good measure.
A Hollywood has-been producer has a bone to pick with Junior. He tells Junior they’ll be square if Junior breaks into the office of “King Maybe,” a studio exec who holds people’s lives—or at least their entertainment aspirations—in his hands.
The producer wants to know if King Maybe is planning to steal his movie idea. It’ll be 10 minutes in the office, the producer promises. But that isn’t quite how things work out for Junior.
Smart, funny, and captivating, this caper is exciting and insightful. The complex plot, the fascinating characters, and Hallinan’s astonishing gift with the English language make this an absolute must for mystery fans. No matter if you’ve read the first four books in this series or not, you can pick up King Maybe and enjoy it from start to finish.
From Rory at Fourth Street Review:
The Exiled by Christopher Charles (Mulholland Books, April 19)
Have you ever picked up a book outside your typical reading genre for quite a few unconnected reasons? I do not, typically, but one of my latest reads, The Exiled, was just such a case.
First, I recently took a road trip to West Texas (from Denver) by way of Alamogordo, NM (I’ll save you the trouble of looking; it’s in very, very southern New Mexico). Those of you familiar with your southwestern American geography know I drove almost the entire length of New Mexico, north to south. It’s barren, rural, and can be brutally hot, but I was quite taken with the countryside.
Second, two of my favorite authors recommended the book—Frank Bill and Patrick deWitt. And third, the author’s short bio said Charles, pseudonym for Chris Narozny, resides in Denver, meaning we are practically neighbors!
Although these reasons have very little actual reasoning behind them, they were enough to make me pick up the book. It’s a good thing, because it’s excellent.
The Exiled is set in rural New Mexico, the home of Wes Raney, a former homicide cop who made one too many bad choices while working undercover in New York. Choices that cost him his job and his family.
As punishment, he is exiled to a two-hundred-mile stretch of southwestern desert. Solitude suits him, but he’s thrown right back into his old mindset when a grisly murder scene is discovered in an underground bunker.
Although the novel works well as a mystery, Raney’s character is so well developed and gripping that Exiled could simply function as a character study, with strong hints of crime. Intense, spare, and gritty, it’s a first-rate page turner that I flew through in two days.
The Exiled is for anyone who loves a good detective novel where the detective isn’t so good, and for those who appreciate a strong story with strong writing—and a fair amount of blood.
From Erin at In Real Life:
Quiet Neighbors by Catriona McPherson (Midnight Ink, April 8)
Imagine your last trip to a bookstore you love—wouldn’t it be nice to have stayed there? Now imagine it’s a small, old store in a quaint Scottish village, and the proprietor offers you a job and a place to live when you’ve recently left your whole life behind. That’s what happens to Jude in Catriona McPherson’s latest standalone novel, Quiet Neighbors.
It turns out that the titular neighbors are anything but quiet. Everyone has secrets, even the young woman who arrives not long after Jude does and pronounces herself to be the bookshop owner’s daughter.
The town itself has secrets, too, and when Jude starts poking around into the darker corners of the past and present, she finds some of them are downright dangerous. And this is before we even get to the secrets Jude herself keeps.
There’s a lot to love about this book: an enchanting setting, a cast of characters with each more fascinating than the last, and a web of stories that will make you sad to reach the last page. McPherson has already proven she’s a masterful storyteller (if you haven’t read her previous books, you should!), and Quiet Neighbors is a classic mystery whose complexities are a joy to read.
From Lauren at Malcolm Avenue Review:
I Will Find You: A Reporter Investigates the Life of the Man Who Raped Her by Joanna Connors (Atlantic Monthly Press, April 5)
As you can guess from the title, this is neither a light read nor an easy one. It is a powerful and important one.
Author/journalist Connors was raped at age 30 while on assignment for her newspaper. She then lived for more than 20 years, mostly in silence, under the weight of all that was forced on her. With her daughter about to go off to college, Connors was moved to tell her children about her rape.
Her disclosure leads to a painful and emotional journey to find out more about the man who raped her, in the hopes of understanding a bit about the whys and hows and perhaps taming some of her demons along the way.
I Will Find You is an inseparable mix of reporter on assignment and woman on a mission. It provides insight not only into rape culture, but race, abuse, and power. It’s a story of survival and adaptation, written with the care of a journalist and the emotion of someone forever changed by violence. Connors not only discovers more about her rapist, but about herself.
From Patti at Patti’s Pen & Picks:
The Body in the Wardrobe by Katherine Hall Page (William Morrow, April 26)
This is the second good book I’ve read by Katherine Hall Page in as many months. The Body in the Birches introduces Sophie Maxwell as a second amateur sleuth to series heroine Faith Fairchild. I loved both of these books.
In Wardrobe, Sophie is adjusting to a new life in Savannah, Georgia, and Faith Fairchild is dealing with her daughter and school bullying, along with the possibility of moving to a new parish.
Because of Faith’s experience with dead bodies and mysteries, Sophie calls her when she finds a body in a wardrobe in the house where she’s staying. These books demonstrate a solid friendship between the two women, which I really enjoyed.
I had taken a break from reading this series [ed. note: this is book 23], and I’m either going to start at the beginning, or just go back and read what I’ve missed. Highly recommended!
Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld (Random House, April 19)
I took this book home last Christmas and devoured it in two days, despite the holidays being insanely hectic. And it’s 500+ pages. I just couldn’t get my nose unglued from it, a testament to Sittenfeld’s skill since I already knew how things end up for Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. Or, rather, Liz and Dr. Darcy, as they are in this modern interpretation of the Jane Austen classic.
Liz writes for a women’s magazine and Jane is a yoga instructor, both in New York City. The sisters return home to Cincinnati when Mr. Bennet has a health scare. There they meet Chip Bingley, a recently transplanted doctor. He’s also a minor celebrity after his stint as a bachelor on the dating show Eligible, though he failed to choose a “soul mate” on the season finale.
His romantic luck changes when he meets Jane, but the same can’t be said for Bingley’s neurosurgeon friend Fitzwilliam Darcy, whose snobbish behavior toward Cincinnati and its residents repels the feisty Liz. What follows is a story both familiar and fresh, contemporary and classic. It doesn’t matter whether or not you’ve read Austen or Sittenfeld or neither. Eligible is a thoroughly charming read for anyone who appreciates sharp, witty writing.
On a related note, Jen featured me at Jen’s Book Thoughts as part of her photo series showing where her readers are reading. In my picture, I’m reading another notable April book, Michael Robotham’s Close Your Eyes. As for where I am, you can go there and see.
Which April books are you looking forward to?