Next week brings a stylish debut set in 1930s Manhattan, the sophomore effort by the author of Alice I Have Been, a fresh caper from Peter Spiegelman and a sequel to Jonathan Burnham Schwartz’s Reservation Road. In nonfiction, NPR-correspondent turned Fox News host Juan Williams has his say about honest debate in the media. And there are plenty of usual suspects to keep the pages turning.
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles (Viking; Penguin Audio) is a debut novel about an upwardly mobile young secretary making her way though 1930s New York Cafe Society. According to the UK’s Telegraph, “the best feature of Rules of Civility is its fast pacing and irresistible momentum. The language is snappy, too, full of period idiom and witty one-liners… Katey Kontent has the brains of a bluestocking with the legs of a flapper and the mores of Carrie Bradshaw.” And here’s the buzz from our own GalleyChat on Twitter: “So much fun! Mad Men set in the 30s!”
The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin (Delacorte; Random House Audio) is a fictional exploration of a 19th century icon, Mercy Lavinia “Vinnie” Bump – all of 32 inches tall – who joined the circus and married the tiny superstar General Tom Thumb in the wedding of the century, orchestrated by impresario P.T. Barnum. Popular with indie booksellers, this one also got some mentions on our Twitter Galley Chat. It’s the the sophomore effort of the author of the national bestseller Alice I Have Been, about the woman who inspired Alice in Wonderland.
Northwest Corner by John Burnham Schwartz (Random House; Large Print, Thorndike) is a sequel set 12 years after the tragic events of Reservation Road, turning the focus from the father of a boy who was killed in a hit-and-run accident to the perpetrator of that crime and his long-estranged, now-grown son. On the NPR website, critic Sarah Weinman calls it “one of the most emotionally commanding novels of the year. ” PW says that “[despite] a sanctimonious streak… Schwartz is otherwise exceptional at describing the chemistry of desire, creating emotional tension, and making his characters feel more like flesh and blood than fictional constructs.”
Thick as Thieves by Peter Spiegelman (Knopf) is an Ocean’s Eleven-style caper story by the author of Black Maps, which won the Shamus Award for Best First P.I. Novel, as well as Death’s Little Helpers and Red Cat. This one gets a B+ from Entertainment Weekly: “Spiegelman weaves a complex, satisfying tale around gang leader Carr, a onetime CIA trainee with a level head and an increasingly untrustworthy bunch of co-conspirators. Though the end has perhaps one too many surprise! moments, Spiegelman’s sharp prose and deft plotting elevate this [effort].”
Bannon Brothers: Trust by Janet Dailey (Kensington; Large Print, Thorndike ) starts a new series with this well-paced but unremarkable love story between an injured cop and the artist who inspires him. PW says, “Dailey’s prose is lovely, with imagery that clearly evokes the setting, but the contrived plot never overcomes its formulaic pattern, and readers will figure out the solution long before Bannon does.”
Full Black by Brad Thor (Atria; S&S Audio; Large Print, Thorndike) is a thriller about a former Navy SEAL and current counter-terrorism operative.
Ghost Story by Jim Butcher (Roc; Penguin Audio; Large Print, Thorndike) is book 13 of the supernatural Dresden Files series featuring Chicago-based wizard Harry Dresden. PW finds it ”less accessible to newcomers than many of its predecessors, though longtime fans will be gratified.”
Merciless by Diana Palmer (Harlequin; Audio, Brilliance; Large Print, Wheeler) is a romance about the spark that grows between a guarded FBI agent and his efficient assistant.
Spell Bound (Otherworld) by Kelly Armstrong (Dutton; Audio, Recorded Books) is the 12th and penultimate entry in Armstrong’s bestselling series. PW says, “Armstrong keeps the focus on hip, impulsive, and likable Savannah, building suspense with plenty of plot reversals and betrayals. Fans of the series won’t want to miss what is clearly the first battle in an Otherworld war.”
Muzzled: The Assault on Honest Debate by Juan Williams (Crown) explores what the Fox News analyst sees as political correctness in the media. Kirkus says, “much of the narrative is a long exercise in complaint about his bad treatment at the hands of NPR management, in which Williams overlooks, it seems, the Ailesian right-to-work credo, which holds that all employees serve at the pleasure of their bosses and there’s no such thing as tenure or appeal.” The author will be on The Daily Show on July 26 and the 700 Club on August 5.
The Real Girl Next Door by Denise Richards (Gallery) is a memoir by the reality show star and small-town girl who made it in Hollywood, only to find herself in a painful, high-profile divorce from Charlie Sheen, raising their two young daughters alone as her mother was dying of cancer.
The End of Molasses Classes: Getting Our Kids Unstuck–101 Extraordinary Solutions for Parents and Teachers by Ron Clark (Touchstone; S&S Audio) makes the case for education reform. PW says, “Clark’s ode to his academy is overloaded with glowing testimonials, but educators and parents will find much to emulate in this passionate, motivating tool book.”