A selection of the books Terry loves. Terry is another cross genre omnivore, with a particular passion for entertaining characters, exotic locales, and more than a dab of romance.
Isaac Severy knew his death was imminent, so before he took matters into his own hands, he wrote his adopted granddaughter, Hazel, a cryptic note about his work, the need to destroy it, and instructions to deliver his final equation to a person who is unknown to her. It is a complete puzzle to her (as she has never liked math), made urgent because Isaac insists that more deaths will result. Hazel has always felt like a misfit among the Severy family of geniuses, mathematicians, and physicists, especially since her bookstore in Seattle is currently failing and she is living in the backroom because she has nowhere else to go. As Hazel searches for clues that will lead her to fulfill her grandfather’s last wish, many secrets about her adopted relatives begin to unfold. This is a fun and literary mystery from a debut author to watch.
It may or may not be a coincidence that you are reading this review (and possibly this book). Since every coincidence is orchestrated by the Coincidence Makers (CM), it is hard to determine if free will exists at all. Enter this world where the CM class of ‘75 consists of Emily, Eric, and Guy. “The General” leads them through the steps and the foundations that allow them to work on this parallel plane, and we will see how coincidences can be manufactured and manipulated by this highly skilled group. But to what purpose, and why? You will have to read this genre-bending, unique novel to find out.
“Be careful what you wish for” takes on new meaning in this thoughtful YA debut. In the middle of the Mojave Desert, the town of Madison, Nevada has a secret. This is a secret they guard with great fervor and intent, as they know what will happen if this secret is discovered: Every citizen in Madison gets to make a wish on their eighteenth birthday, a wish that always comes true.
But, as we all know, wishes have consequences, and Eldon Wilkes has seen the results of these unintended consequences throughout his town and in his own family. With his birthday on the horizon, he is deeply conflicted. His parents are pressuring him to wish for money, which they believe will solve many of their problems. Eldon doesn’t necessarily believe that that this is the right wish for him, and he believes that wishing is the root of many of their problems. As the countdown to his birthday reduces the amount of time he has to figure this out, Eldon’s coming of age journey takes him to some unexpected places … all the way to a satisfying conclusion … at least for some.
It is not a (complete) spoiler to tell you that Vivian Miller’s husband is a Russian spy. You will know this within the first 30 pages. But for Vivian, this revelation is beyond uncomfortable, because it is her job at the CIA trying to uncover the Russian spy network of sleepers that have assimilated themselves into life in the U.S. And while comparisons to “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” are inevitable, you are in entirely different territory here. Vivian and Matt have been married for 10 years and have four small children. The discovery of Matt’s background and duplicity puts Vivian and her children in jeopardy as she tries to find a way to save her family and her job. The turbulent storyline is interspersed with a recounting of her past memories of falling in love with Matt and starting their life together.This is a hard-to-put-down ingenious suspense thriller .
Tom Hazard is 436 years old, though he looks like he is in his 40s. He was born in 1581 and, unlike the rest of us; he ages only one year every 15 years. Not only does his condition keep him young, it protects him from illness. This may sound like the ultimate immortal life, but for Tom it has been a lonely and sad existence since his wife died of The Plague in 1623.
In the late 1800s, Tom discovers that there are other people in the world with the same condition and he joins their “society” for his protection (and theirs). He finds himself living by rules that make his life, well, unlivable. But, what keeps Tom going is the hope that he will be reunited with his daughter Marion, who he believes, has inherited his condition.
The story of Tom’s life through the centuries and the famous people he meets (Shakespeare and F. Scott Fitzgerald!) is mixed seamlessly with the narrative of his current life as a history teacher (of course!) in London. Tom’s observations are a poignant commentary about the current issues of the day and the meaning of life. This is an engaging and fun read for everyone.
How would you live your life if you knew the exact date you would die? In 1969, the four children of Gertie and Saul Gold— Vayra (13), Daniel (11), Klara (9), and Simon (7)—spend what may be their last summer together in the heat of New York City’s Lower East Side. When they hear about a traveling psychic who can tell them the day they will die, they cannot resist the draw to go to her. The Immortalists is the story of this family, each of the four siblings, their lives and deaths, and the love that binds them together. It is told against the background of our own history and weaves Jewish heritage and traditions seamlessly into the story narrative. It is a moving journey through life’s choices, the acceptance of who you are, and ultimately, what is most important in life. This is an exceptional book and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Samantha (Sam) James is a mess. She is an alcoholic, a complicit partner in domestic abuse, and completely unstable. She knows this about herself even as she continues to drink, date her boyfriend, and show up at work sleepless and incapable of clear thought … night after night and day after day. Sam has little or no self-worth and believes that this is the only life to which she is entitled. Her working hours are spent trying to save other people as a way to redeem and save herself. She is the top psychologist at Typhlos, a psychiatric institution in Manhattan, and the last stop for hard-to-reach psychiatric patients. She prides herself in her ability to fool all of her co-workers, her boss, her patients, and her best friend, David, while maintaining her status as a superhero on the job. This is a compulsive, engrossing, and outstanding debut.
Comparisons between Petrie’s Peter Ash and Child’s Jack Reacher are inevitable. They are both ex-military with interesting backstories, and they are both laden with enough idiosyncrasies to keep us engrossed for years of happy reading. But Peter Ash is from a different era and suffers from PTSD. We have more insight into his inner workings than Reacher’s and this is very appealing in Petrie’s series character.
Peter Ash has been home from his tours in Iraq and Afghanistan for over a year. He spent most of that time away from civilization, drifting and camping in remote parts of the U.S.. He did this mostly to avoid the white static that overcomes him when he is inside a structure, a result of his tours of duty. He returns from his self-imposed exile to be of service to the family of his best friend, Jimmy, when he learns that Jimmy committed suicide. But when he begins to work on Jimmy’s house, he finds a suitcase filled with cash and things begin to add up to a bigger story and a family in danger. Peter finds himself coming alive again as he uses his detecting skills to uncover what really happened and the violence that follows seems to be salve to his suffering soul.
What I loved about this book and Peter Ash is the honesty of the story and Ash’s character … and the action and the dialogue weren’t bad either. I am late to this series, which has won multiple industry awards, but I will not hesitate to make sure that mystery readers find a new series to follow and a novel character in Peter Ash to love. – Terry
I admit it. I am a sucker for a smart, sexy, funny, damaged private detective in a small town setting. And that is what I have found in Goldman’s excellent, engrossing debut. Niles Shapiro made a reputation for himself by solving a case that eluded the police several years ago. This, in combination with his long-time friendship with Edina Police detective Anders Ellegaard, brings him into a case involving a local woman who has been murdered in her home under unusual circumstances in the quiet town of Edina, Minnesota. Niles has lived in Edina all his life, knows his way around the frozen terrain, and is in touch with most of the locals. In fact, some of the people from his past become major suspects as he investigates this crime through the freezing and icy Minnesota winter. Goldman is an Emmy Award-winning television writer whose credits include writing for Seinfeld and Ellen. All of this makes for an entertaining and lively read. I can hardly wait for the second book in this sure-to-be-a-hit series.
I could not be more charmed by this mystery within a mystery by a master in this genre – Horowitz. From the start, you know you are in for a treat and a mystery far beyond the latest installment from fictional English sensation Alan Conway. When Editor Susan Ryeland sits down to edit Alan’s new Atticus Pünd mystery, we are right there with her, reading along. And by the end of manuscript for this delightful/playful/somewhat satirical romp through the English countryside, we are intrigued. It will be no surprise to any mystery reader that the manuscript is incomplete, the author is dead, and our illustrious editor turns into an amateur sleuth, but the enchantment continues as we learn more about all of the characters (suspects) known by Alan Conway. Magpie Murders is fun, creative, and simply a great read.
This laugh-out-loud debut cozy features broken-hearted wannabe obituary writer Riley Ellison. She works in the local library by day, and tries out a dating service in her off-hours in an effort to move on with her life after her long-time sweetheart leaves her in Tuttle Corner, Virginia for greener pastures in Colorado. Riley has a reputation as a bit of a troublemaker after her grandfather (an obituary writer) died under mysterious circumstances and she pressed the town to look into his “suicide.” So when her high school friend, Jordon James “commits suicide,” Riley doesn’t believe it for a moment and begins to look into her death when she agrees to write Jordon’s obituary. All of these plot lines are wrapped around some humorous moments and some great quotes about writing obituaries. For those looking for a new cozy heroine to root for, give Jill and Riley a try.
This literary thriller is a stunner … both for its unique format and plot and for the two unforgettable characters whose lives are both heartbreaking and violent. Samuel Hawley has a turbulent and disturbing past and is the sole parent to his daughter, Loo, following the death of his wife. The circumstances surrounding the twelve bullets lodged in Hawley’s body and the story of his life is one narrative. Alternating chapters follow Loo from the age of 11 to the present day. She is precocious, brilliant, and resilient, and has inherited some of her father’s violent tendencies. After moving erratically around the country throughout their lives together, they move back to Olympus, Massachusetts, the town where her mother was raised and where her grandmother still lives. Their integration into that town is a rocky path for both of them, but ultimately brings them together in unexpected ways.
The mystery of Hawley’s past (including the death of Loo’s mother) drives both narratives in this non-stop, beautifully paced, and elegantly written novel. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
In the publishing world where so many new books are compared to existing bestsellers to explain their merits, it is refreshing to read something that is new and different. In the not-too-distant future, private enterprise has seriously moved into the space exploration. The Wanderers of this title have been selected for their experience and their personality profiles to be the first astronauts to visit Mars. Before leaving for Mars, they are hired to live in a simulation that mirrors their future trip. It is somewhat shorter than the actual expedition, but contains the same time frame for traveling to, and returning from, Mars. The only difference is that that they will stay on Mars for one month during this simulation when the actual trip will consist of a one and a half year stay.
What is unique about this book is that it is less about the expedition itself and more about the personalities and personal lives of Helen Kane, Sergei Kuznetsov, and Yoshihiro Tanaka … and some of their family members. In this way, it is more of an SF psychological thriller than a space adventure, and in the end, it is about their personal journey and transformation.
I am sure that comparisons will be made between The Lonely Hearts Hotel and The Night Circus. Both have a sense of magic hovering in the background and introduce fascinating protagonists with unique talents and personalities. In The Lonely Hearts Hotel, Pierrot and Rose are raised in an orphanage in Montreal in the middle of the Great Depression. Both suffered early childhood trauma at the hands of the nuns who ruled the orphanage with iron fists. But in the midst of dire despair, they find each other, discover their (almost magical) gifts, and make plans for their future. None of this plays out smoothly and their lives take discouraging turns and twists away from each other and into the depths of the Montreal criminal underworld. Ultimately, they will reunite and move toward their dream of creating entertainment that will wow their world. This book is captivating and joyful and romance rules much of the plot despite some of the dark subject matter.
Near the end of the 1987 school year, 14-year-old Billy Marvin, and his two best friends, Alf and Clark, are obsessed with Vanna White. This obsession drives these three boys to concoct a scheme to obtain copies of the recent edition of Playboy with her pictures in it and make a small business out of reproducing the content. The results are hilarious and a blast to the past.
Billy lives with his single mother in an old, rundown house in Wetbridge, New Jersey, where his other passion is coding with the latest computer (a Commodore 64) to create a winning entry in a computer game contest. In the midst of trying to create the game of his dreams, where the hero rescues a damsel from an impossible fortress guarded by a mountain filled with ogres, along comes Mary Zelinsky, the smartest girl in town, who also loves coding and is very good at it.
Laugh along in a stream of nostalgia, wonder if the hero will rescue the girl, the boys will get their magazine, and what the future holds for Billy and Mary. For all ages.
I couldn’t put this book down, beginning by being drawn in by one of the most compelling first lines I have ever read. This multi-cultural debut is about two very different people, from very diverse circumstances and backgrounds.
Jacob Fisher is a devout Jew living and working in his orthodox Brooklyn neighborhood. He has a troubled past, but a miraculous current life, until the unthinkable happens and his family is killed in front of his eyes. Rosie grew up in the rural south and has returned to her hometown in Alabama following the breakup of her marriage. She works very hard to reestablish herself and reclaim her life. It takes her a very long time to warm up to this newcomer who has no place in her community.
Ultimately, this is a beautiful examination of human connection and finding a reason to live again after all hope is gone.
J.J. Gesher is the pen name for co-authors Joyce Gittlin and Janet B. Fattal. This is their debut novel together following their successful careers in screenwriting.
Lucky Boy is a timely and heartbreaking immigration story, and a masterful debut. There are two immigrant families at the heart of this accomplished novel. Young marrieds, Kavya and Rishi Reddy, are second generation Indian Americans who live in Berkeley and want to become parents. Their attempts to get pregnant have not been successful and they find themselves on the road to adoption.
Solimar (Soli) Castro-Valdez's story is one with which we are all too familiar. She traveled from central Mexico to Berkeley where her cousin helped her find a job and provides her with a way to begin her life as an illegal immigrant. When she finds herself pregnant, she incorporates her son into her new life as a nanny for a young family. When her life unravels, the interests of these two families intersect after Soli is detained and her son (Iggy) goes into foster care with the Reddys.
The collision course these two families are traveling toward is almost too terrifying to read. All three parents love Iggy unconditionally. There is no singular winner in this race to claim a beloved son. This is a current and important story of our time.
This may be the most unique detective to grace the pages of a Los Angeles mystery novel. Ide’s debut is captivating in its setting, character, timing, and beautiful prose. Isaiah Quintabe (IQ) is uniquely qualified to solve crimes no police force in Los Angeles would touch. He helps the underserved in his community find the answers they seek while maintaining a solemn and solitary lifestyle in his fortified South Central LA apartment. In the first entry of what is sure to be a winning series, IQ introduces Isaiah’s background and the people who influenced him in chapters that alternate with his present life. In the current day, he has a problem to solve that brings him full circle to his childhood world of rap, murder for hire, and a lot of money. Blending authentic characters with the plot and pacing of a pro makes Ide an author to watch.
As booksellers, we are always looking for something new; a book that explores unchartered territory where others have not yet gone. We found it.
What is Dark Matter? Some of that answer is for scientists and others much smarter than me to explain, though this extraordinary novel does a great job initiating readers to the concept of a window into the fifth dimension.
Jason Dessen is a very smart man. He is also a very content man, who lives a simple life as college physics professor with his wife, Daniela, and teenage son, Charlie, in suburban Chicago. He often wonders where his life would have led him if he had made different choices, like pursuing his theories about quantum mechanics. When he finds out, the results are not what he or anyone else could have predicted. I don’t want to ruin this wild ride of a novel with any of the plot lines; I just suggest that you run to Mysterious Galaxy and pick up this book immediately. Just don’t plan to do anything else until you have turned the last page.
Our August Fantastic Firsts SF Selection. Signed first editions available while supplies last.
Hamilton is a master at his craft and this series starter proves this yet again. Minutes after Nick Mason is released from a maximum security prison after serving five years of his 25-year sentence, his freedom is taken once again. Though no longer behind bars, he finds himself at the beck and call of Darius Cole, a criminal mastermind who is serving a double-life term, but who has the financial power to rule those who serve him from his prison cell. Nick finds himself caught between two lives: the one where he was once a husband, a father, and a petty thief ... and a second life waiting for phone calls dictating his movements into a life of crime he never imagined for himself. I am waiting breathlessly for the next installment!
Right from the start of Hawley’s page turner, you know you are reading something extraordinary. The characters are beautifully drawn, the story is tight and compelling, and you will have a hard time putting down this sure-to-be-a-hit thriller.
Scott Burroughs is a painter who is just starting to make a “splash” in the art world when he accepts a ride on a private plane from Martha’s Vineyard to Manhattan. Also on the plane are business man, media mogul, and millionaire David Bateman, his wife, and two children, Rachel, age nine, and JJ, age four. Completing the passenger list is Bill Cunningham, a stock broker who may be in trouble with the SEC, and his wife, Sarah. Fifteen minutes into the flight, the plane crashes into the ocean. Scott and JJ are the only survivors.
Scott manages to swim himself and the young boy to safety, only to find themselves (and the incident) under intense media scrutiny. Much of the novel is the back story of each passenger on the plane, building a link between the present and what actually happened in the minutes before the plane crash. Before the Fall combines the investigation into the accident and the relationship between Scott and JJ to create a compelling drama in the midst of a media circus. Noah Hawley is an Emmy, Golden Globe, PEN, and Peabody Award-winning author, screen writer, and producer and this debut thriller is sure to be another winner.