Spring Book Preview: April 2014

March 19, 2014 Bookish Chatter 6

Spring is just around the corner…make that meteorological Spring!  I don’t know about you, but I’m growing quite tired of the drastic changes in weather. One day it’s sunny the next day the ground is covered in snow.  The one plus to the cold weather is having more time to examine upcoming books!

Following are the first half of the April releases I’m really excited about!  I’ve included the publisher summary. If you’d like to preorder, simply click on the book image or title link:

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (April 1):  A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died; his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history; and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island–from Chief Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward him; from Ismay, his sister-in-law, who is hell-bent on saving A.J. from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who persists in taking the ferry to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, he can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, though large in weight–an unexpected arrival that gives A.J. the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J., for the determined sales rep Amelia to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light, for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world. Or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming.

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige (April 1): Somewhere over the rainbow…something has gone terribly wrong.  A twister has hit Kansas again, and this time it whisks away a girl named Amy Gumm. At first, Amy is thrilled to have left her trailer park life behind. But instead of the magical land where troubles melt like lemon drops that she knows from the books and the movies, she discovers the place has been destroyed. And it’s all Dorothy’s fault. Amy soon joins up with the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked—a group of deposed witches and warlocks who are determined to end Dorothy’s oppressive reign, and who need Amy’s help. They teach her the secrets of witchcraft and combat and then they give her an impossible mission: steal back the Tin Woodman’s heart, the Scarecrow’s brain, and the Lion’s courage. And when she’s done, Dorothy must die.

The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor (April 1):  Ireland, 1912. Fourteen members of a small village set sail on RMS Titanic, hoping to find a better life in America. For seventeen-year-old Maggie Murphy, the journey is bittersweet. Though her future lies in an unknown new place, her heart remains in Ireland with Séamus, the sweetheart she left behind. When disaster strikes, Maggie is one of the lucky few passengers in steerage who survives. Waking up alone in a New York hospital, she vows never to speak of the terror and panic of that terrible night ever again.

Chicago, 1982. Adrift after the death of her father, Grace Butler struggles to decide what comes next. When her Great Nana Maggie shares the painful secret she harbored for almost a lifetime about the Titanic, the revelation gives Grace new direction—and leads her and Maggie to unexpected reunions with those they thought lost long ago.

Frog Music by Emma Donoghue (April 1): Summer of 1876: San Francisco is in the fierce grip of a record-breaking heat wave and a smallpox epidemic. Through the window of a railroad saloon, a young woman named Jenny Bonnet is shot dead.

The survivor, her friend Blanche Beunon, is a French burlesque dancer. Over the next three days, she will risk everything to bring Jenny’s murderer to justice–if he doesn’t track her down first. The story Blanche struggles to piece together is one of free-love bohemians, desperate paupers, and arrogant millionaires; of jealous men, icy women, and damaged children. It’s the secret life of Jenny herself, a notorious character who breaks the law every morning by getting dressed: a charmer as slippery as the frogs she hunts.

In thrilling, cinematic style, FROG MUSIC digs up a long-forgotten, never-solved crime. Full of songs that migrated across the world, Emma Donoghue’s lyrical tale of love and bloodshed among lowlifes captures the pulse of a boomtown like no other.

Be Safe I Love You by Cara Hoffman (April 1): Lauren Clay has just returned from a tour of duty in Iraq in time to spend Christmas with her family. As she reconnects with her old friends, it’s clear to everyone in their rural New York town that something is wrong with Lauren. But her father is so happy to have her home that he ignores the warning signs—her odd behavior and the repeated phone calls from an Army psychologist. Things seem better when Lauren offers to take her younger brother Danny on a trip to visit their mother upstate. Instead, she guides Danny into the glacial woods of Canada on a quest to visit the Jeanne d’Arc basin, the site of an oil field that has become her strange obsession. As they set up camp in an abandoned hunting village, Lauren believes she’s teaching Danny survival skills for the day when she’s no longer able to take care of him. But where does she think she’s going, and what happened to her in Iraq that set her on this path?

With all the boldness and intelligence she brought to So Much Pretty, Cara Hoffman ignites the dark truth about war and homecoming in this literary page-turner that is sure to linger long after its surprising secrets are revealed.

The Ballad of a Small Player by Lawrence Osborne (April 1): Set in the lushly dangerous world of Macau’s casinos, THE BALLAD OF A SMALL PLAYER is a riveting tale of risk and passion by Lawrence Osborne, author of the critically acclaimed novel The Forgiven. Doyle is a corrupt English lawyer who has escaped prosecution by fleeing to Macau and Hong Kong, spending his nights drinking and gambling and his days sleeping off his excesses. Taking refuge in a series of luxury hotels, he watches his fortune rise and fall by the moment, as the baccarat tables decide his fate. Dissolute and increasingly apathetic, he wonders whether destitution-or even death-would prove more satisfying than his current existence.At a moment of crisis, he encounters Dao-Ming, a beautiful and enigmatic native Chinese woman who seems to offer salvation, in the form of both money and love. But as his past threatens to catch up with Doyle, it may be too late. With echoes of Paul Bowles and Ian McEwan, this gorgeously vivid novel will enthrall critics and readers alike.

The Island of Doves by Kelly O’Connor McNees (April 1): Susannah Fraser lives in one of Buffalo’s finest mansions, but her husband has made it a monstrous prison. When a mysterious woman offers to help her escape, Susannah boards a steamboat for Mackinac Island. But after being a dutiful daughter and obedient wife, it is only as she flees that she realizes how unprepared she is for freedom.

An exceptional woman of early America, Magdelaine Fonteneau has overcome convention to live a bold and adventurous life, achieving great wealth and power as a fur trader. But Magdelaine has also seen great tragedy and lost all that was dear to her, and she is no longer sure her hardened heart is capable of love.

Now, Magdelaine seeks redemption by offering safe harbor to Susannah. But as their friendship grows into something miraculous, it changes each woman in unexpected ways. Each needs to learn to love again, and only together can they realize a future bright with the promise of new life…

No Book But the World by Leah Hager Cohen (April 3): At the edge of a woods, on the grounds of a defunct “free school,” Ava and her brother, Fred, shared a dreamy and seemingly idyllic childhood—a world defined largely by their imaginations and each other’s presence. Everyone is aware of Fred’s oddness or vague impairment, but his parents’ fierce disapproval of labels keeps him free of evaluation or intervention, and constantly at Ava’s side.

Decades later, then, when Ava learns that her brother is being held in a county jail for a shocking crime, she is frantic to piece together what actually happened. A boy is dead. But could Fred really have done what he is accused of? As she is drawn deeper into the details of the crime, Ava becomes obsessed with learning the truth, convinced that she and she alone will be able to reach her brother and explain him—and his innocence—to the world.

Leah Hager Cohen brings her trademark intelligence to a psychologically gripping, richly ambiguous story that suggests we may ultimately understand one another best not with facts alone, but through our imaginations.

The Remedy: Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Quest to Cure Tuberculosis by Thomas Goetz (April 3): In 1875, tuberculosis was the deadliest disease in the world, accountable for a third of all deaths. A diagnosis of TB—often called consumption—was a death sentence. Then, in a triumph of medical science, a German doctor named Robert Koch deployed an unprecedented scientific rigor to discover the bacteria that caused TB and soon embarked on a remedy—a remedy that would be his undoing.

When Koch announced he’d found a cure, Arthur Conan Doyle, then a small-town doctor in England and sometime writer, went to Berlin to cover the event. Touring the ward of reportedly cured patients, he was horrified. Koch’s “remedy” was either sloppy science or outright fraud.

But to those desperate for relief, Koch’s cure was worth the risk. As Europe’s consumptives descended upon Berlin, Conan Doyle returned to England to become a writer, not a scientist. But he brought Koch’s scientific methods to the masses through the character of Sherlock Holmes.

Capturing the moment when mystery and magic began to yield to science, The Remedy chronicles the stunning story of how the germ theory of disease became fact, how two men of ambition were emboldened to reach for something more, and how scientific discoveries evolve into social truths.


This post is just the first HALF of the April releases I’m excited about! Title releasing in mid-to-late April will post tomorrow!

What books did I miss? Which books are you excited about?

6 Responses to “Spring Book Preview: April 2014”

  1. Joyce Tremel

    These sound really interesting! I’ll be interested to see what you think about Dorothy Must Die. I’m not sure I could buy Dorothy as the “bad guy.”

  2. Tif
    Twitter: tiftalksbooks

    Dorothy Must Die has me very, very curious!! I want to check that one out for sure!

  3. Farin
    Twitter: miss_farin

    So much overlap with my list. April is going to be nuts!

  4. Becky
    Twitter: BeckyLeJeune

    I can’t wait for DOROTHY MUST DIE! Super excited about that release. I have a couple of early April releases in house for review that I can’t wait to get to as well, HIDDEN by Catherine McKenzie and WAITING FOR WEDNESDAY by Nicci French. I did a dorky happy dance when they both arrived!!!

  5. Kelly from Readlately.com

    I’ve been hearing about A.J. Filkrey a lot lately and I would definitely read the Hager Cohen. Had no idea McNees was coming out with a new book this month! Thanks for this 🙂