GALLEY CHATTER: 2015 Titles To Read Now

Editor’s Note: Our intrepid GalleyChatter (some call her the “Galley Whisperer”) Robin Beerbower tirelessly tracks down galleys, making her an authority on what to read next. She is active on the Edelwiss Community board, using it to spot titles and gauge developing buzz among librarians (you can join in; just register on Edelweiss and “friend” Robin).

Below, she wrangles the many titles librarians were enthusiastic about during the most recent session of GalleyChat. Many of them are available now for free download via Edelweiss and NetGalley (remember to nominate your favorites for LibraryReads).

Join us for the next GalleyChat, Tuesday, Jan. 6th, 4 to 5 p.m., EST (details here),


One of the many interesting aspects of monitoring GalleyChat is observing the various genre themes or appeal factors that emerge from the fun mess of tweets. In November love and romance were on the minds of many. This month the focus was on books noted for their moods and settings.

Not Your Grandfather’s Westerns

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This past year an abundance of westerns has been published and leading the pack for 2015 is Mary Doria Russell’s retelling of the events leading to the O.K. Corral shootout, Epitaph (HarperCollins/Ecco, March). Collection development librarian Janet Lockhart (Wake County Public Libraries) called it “compulsively readable” and “A bravura piece of storytelling.“ Russell’s first book, The Sparrow, is still a top choice of books groups. It will be exciting to have something new to recommend.

Black River, S. M. Hulse (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, January) was also one of Janet’s favorites.  She says this novel of a former prison guard returning to his home town to bury his wife and come to terms with a violent act is “A haunting story of faith, forgiveness and grace set in a beautifully rendered rural Montana landscape.” It’s been chosen by the ABA as one of ten titles on their “Winter/Spring 2015 Indies Introduce Adult Debuts” promotion.

On the Edge of Your Couch

Even though we couldn’t technically call these titles “suspense thrillers,” they still kept us enthralled to the final pages.

9781476789637_a6e7bWhen John Searles (Help for the Haunted) calls a book “intriguing, surprising, and even shockingly funny at times,” we listen, and a couple of us raced through Jessica Knoll’s Luckiest Girl Alive, (Simon & Schuster, May). This absorbing study of a woman trying to get out of a bad past by remaking herself into a perfect mold wasn’t quite the Gone Girl readalike we expected, but it was still a fascinating story.

9781476786506_78243Lori Lansens’ story of conjoined twins, The Girls, is a perennial library favorite and her latest, The Mountain Story, (S&S/Gallery, May), about a group of strangers who get stranded in the woods above Palm Springs, California, is already receiving attention. Stephanie Chase (Hillsboro, OR, Public Library) said it’s “a deeply moving story of survival, and of the choices we make in our lives. Lansens does a wonderful job of weaving in the stories of the four characters, and moving between the current desperate situation and events in the past.”

9780804178112_7a06cCreepy gothics are always hot and House of Echoes by Brendan Duffy (RH/Ballantine, April) has a great northern New York state mid-winter atmosphere, and the story of a clueless family moving into a crumbling manor house and dealing with inhospitable town residents reminded me of an M. Night Shyamalan movie.

9780399169526_2629dJudging from the positive responses on Edelweiss and from GalleyChatters, I’m going to summon my psychic powers and nominate M. O. Walsh’s My Sunshine Away (Penguin/Putnam, February) as a 2015 contender for a word-of-mouth bestseller (Entertainment Weekly backs us up, saying this is “sure to be a breakout.”)  Three GalleyChatters gave this story of a crime in 1989 Baton Rouge told from the viewpoint of a teen boy high praise, including Vicki Nesting (St. Charles Parish Library, LA) who wrote, “The narrator’s voice is amazing — self-effacing and melancholy, humorous and heartbreaking as he slowly peels back the layers of his close-knit community in his attempt to solve the crime.” NOTE: Check out the video that author Walsh created for our Penguin’s First Flight program and join us for a chat with the author on January 21.

Favorite Authors

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Three forthcoming novels by popular authors are sure to please library patrons.

Anne Tyler heads the list with the February release of her 20th title, A Spool of Blue Thread (RH/Knopf), a novel full of her trademark quirky and sometimes exasperating characters who continually fumble with day-to-day relationships. Another book that undertakes the complexities of domestic relationships — only on a much broader scale — is the eagerly anticipated second book in Jane Smiley’s The Last Hundred Years trilogy, Early Warning (RH/Knopf, April).

Laura Lippman’s Hush Hush (HC/William Morrow) is a continuation of the Tess Monaghan series, and Stephanie Chase said “While Hush Hush features an interesting mystery and heartbreaking incident at the heart of the story, the real story of the novel is the home life of private investigator and long-time series lead.”

Other Favored Titles

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Every once in a while a readers’ advisor receives a patron request to find novels with “teachable moments,” so Susie Sharp’s (Eddy-New Rockford Library, New Rockford, ND) mention of Helen Gaynor’s Memory of Violets (HC/William Morrow, February) was well received.  Susie described this historical novel based on actual events as an interesting look at a sad time in London history when many homeless children were required to sell flowers and watercress on the streets by day and sleep in doorways by night. This could be a great readalike suggestion for The Orphan Train by Christina Kline.

Salem Public (OR) librarian Ann Scheppke gave top marks to Rachel Joyce’s The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy (Random House, March), a companion novel to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. Ann said it’s “a bittersweet and funny examination of love and loss” and recommends that if a reader hasn’t read the first book, to perhaps read both simultaneously, alternating books as the story progresses.

By now, you may be feeling the pain of Joe Jones who ended the chat by saying “These chats always make my TBR list grow and completely ruin my well-made reading plans for the existing list.” If you want your own list to become even longer, join us for the next GalleyChat on Tuesday, January 6, 2015, 4-5 EST. Remember to “friend me” if you want to keep up with my Edelweiss recommendations.

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